Many On The Genny 2017

First I must thank Ian Golden and my Red Newt Racing team for all their support and encouragement leading up to this race. I must thank Trail Methods, specifically Sheila and Eric Eagan, the RDs for putting on such a great event. 

This past Saturday I was fortunate to run in the inaugural 40 mile race, Many on the Genny in Letchworth State Park. A few weekends ago, I was able to preview the course with the RDs, Sheila and Eric, and already I knew I was in for a great time.

The course boasts over 7,000 feet of elevation change in 40 miles. The first 20 follow the gorge trails up one side of the Genesee River and then back on the Finger Lakes Trail for the final 20.

[Photo: Many On The Genny Race Website]

I spent the weekend at my parent’s house, so I woke up at 2:30AM on Saturday to drive up and catch the shuttle to the race start. It rained a bit that morning, so it was nice and cool at the 6AM start. I saw a bunch of people I know including Pete Kresock, Chris O’Brian, Michael Valone and Katie O’Reagan. The race is capped to 125 runners, so it had a really great small town feel. I wasn’t nervous, mostly excited to start.

The race began with a yell from Eagan and Rich Heffron and Scottie Jacobs (two of my RNR/MPF teammates) took off. Pete, Katie and I started running together for the first few miles that included a loop around the park before getting into the gorge trails. Talking to Pete is always fun because he is so experienced. He just flies down hills, where I hobble and exhibit baby deer movements.

I missed a turn early, but realized my mistake after about 30 seconds, so it wasn’t too bad. We stayed together mostly until the first climb around mile 10. I started hiking and I heard them coming behind me. I remembered this from my preview a few weeks ago and stuck to my plan of hiking the hills even though I could have attempted to run. 40 miles is requires a lot of energy, I had to save it. Hiking also gave me time to eat and drink.

[Photo: Ron Heerkins Jr. Goat Factory Media]

After the first climb we we spit out onto a road section for 2.5 miles. This is where I saw a guy ahead of me and eventually caught up to him. He introduced himself as Rob (happily married with three kids) and we ran together for the next 10 miles. That part was a blast and definitely the high moments of the race. We were cruising and chatting (so much so I forget to hydrate as much as I should have) and the miles flew by.

We got to the halfway point together, refueled and set off promptly. Right after the aid station you were supposed to turn left and cross the bridge to get to the FLT. However…straight ahead of us was a rainbow. A rainbow you could RUN THROUGH! Not under it, but THROUGH IT! Caught in the amazement, we ran straight and missed that turn. Luckily I stopped us, checked the map and we turned around only wasting a few minutes.

No shame, that wrong turn was worth it. I would do it again in a heart beat.

A few miles later, Rob pulled ahead and I let him go, I needed to concentrate on my race. At mile 25 I remember thinking, “ok, I’m feeling good, I can run 15 more miles.”

Then…SPLAT! I took a fall and fell on my right rib (not the previously injured one). That began the mental downfall that plagued me from miles 30-35. My rib hurt almost like I had a nagging cramp. I also took a few hard downhills and my feet/ankles were getting sore. (Undertrained woot woot). I started getting in my head about tons of stuff.

My friend who passed away.

My relationships.

What I was doing.

How much I missed Ithaca.

How mad I was that I forgot to refill my water.

I was mad that I was crying.

Everything just came up and I was a dehydrated, emotional mess. It didn’t help that this was in the 8 mile stretch with no aid. That felt like FOREVER.

I told myself I could stop. 30 miles was enough. No shame in stopping.

But I wouldn’t let myself quit. I might have a death wish or something. But I told myself I could cry like a baby if I wanted, but I was not stopping unless a bear ate me (which I would have welcomed at that point). It was a pretty low few miles.

However, I made it to the aid station, ate a bunch, chomped on ice, got my pack refilled and just breathed. Seeing the people also helped. They were so supportive! All the aid stations were great, they really took care of me refilling my bladder, asking what they could get me, not overwhelming me. It was amazing.

I ate a bunch of PB&J and drank a bunch of Mt. Dew and set off again. Only 5 miles to go.

After another mile, I almost started to cry again, but I ate the best two gels ever (THANK YOU JASON!!!! I LOVE YOU!!!!) and, for some reason, I stopped feeling bad and started to enjoy things again. I think the hydration helped, but also, I just needed to feel that low moment and keep going. I needed to believe I would come out of it.

I did. I finished.

Rich won in like 6 hours. What a boss.

My first 40 miler was completed in around 7 hours and 7 minutes.

It was beautiful, terrifying and an experience I will find hard to replicate.

My reward? Eric is sick and give me entry to next year.

Too soon.

I currently am sponsored by On Running, receive product from Barney Butter and am a part of rabbitELITE. 

Gorges Ithaca Half 2017

First, I must thank Ian Golden and the Red Newt Racing team for both supporting me and putting on the race. They did a great job!

Driving to this race Saturday morning, I was really excited. My dad was coming to the race.

To watch me run. To watch me in my element. For Father’s Day.

This is all I thought about before, during and after the race. The only thing I was going to do was try my best, whatever that meant. I was using this race to get a baseline for speed. I had not done specific training and that was very freeing.

Get ready for the story of pain.

The race started outside a barn across from a hayfield. It was quite picturesque and made even more so by the blow of Ian’s ram’s horn that started us off. 

Immediately I was chasing Katie O’Reagan and a few other men. Katie is a super fast elite who races often in Upstate NY. She also did CT, but the 50 mile option. Girl is badass.

My legs kind of stumbled at the start, but I eventually found my stride and started taking advantage of the slight downhill. I caught up to Katie and another guy as we started on the Black Diamond trail. I ran with the guy for the next 4 miles and get ok. I knew I was going to suffer, I just was hoping to hold on.

After mile 5, I looked at my watch for the first time and saw a sub-6 mile. For me and my lack of training at this point, I knew it was too fast and I was putting myself in a hole. I decided to consciously slow down and let the guy go.

Then, it started to get hot and we were exposed after coming off the trail and by the waterfront. I began to suffer mightily and just tried to keep going. It felt like I was slogging through 8 minute miles. I was just waiting for Katie to catch me so I wouldn’t have to worry about her catching me anymore. 

A whole other issue I had besides fitness was the heat affected my gut. I had to poop from mile 6 on. I tried as hard as I could to ignore it, but I was facing a code brown.

At the last aid station, mile 12, I actually stopped, drank Tailwind and asked to use the bathroom that I knew was in the children’s center behind them.

They said no.

So…I made my way down the road a bit, found a few bushes and…well…relieved myself. After that, I felt a bit better in the gut, but then got a cramp in my rib (yup, the bruised one) and spent the next half mile massaging it out. That last mile was rough. 

The home stretch is almost a mile where you can see there finish line, but it’s still so far away. All I thought about in that mile was how happy I was the my dad had come to see me. I was in a lot of pain, but he was at the finish line, so I knew everything would be ok.

(Photo credit: Jeff Holbrook)

I finished, he was there, it was the best!

After the race, we spent the morning getting brunch, talking and getting him fit for shoes. I cannot think of a better way to spend the day after a race.

Dad, I love you. I love how I get my quirky habits from you. Peanut butter on everything, let cereal get mushy and then add peanut butter, cooked carrots are better than raw and most meals can be improved with some sort of “crunch” topping (for him it’s cheeze-its and for me it’s corn nuts). Thank you for coming to my race. Thank you for spending the day with me. 

You are the best. I love you.

I run for Red Newt Racing, On Running, Rabbit ELITE, and Strong Hearts Vegan Power.

Men Who “Get It”

I’ll be honest, I don’t meet many men who really understand the female body and psyche. I get it, it’s hard and most men (my father included) either believe women are just small men or are too fragile to work hard.

Things are improving, which has given me both hope and healing.

The first guy who “got it” for me was Ian Golden, my sometimes coach but mostly “advisor”(?) from Red Newt Racing. The way he knows what I can handle and saw things in me I could never dream of is just one of the ways he gets it. He knows my stresses, always says the right thing (even if it sucks, it’s true) and though it may hurt in the moment, it makes me better.

The second guy who got it was David Roche. I shared emails with him and he convinced me not to injure myself by running a race just to prove myself. He understands the female body and his training philosophy is just great. Always eat more than enough. Take things easy, build up slow and then get it done. His wife Megan’s success is just an indicator of his running knowledge. I am fortunate to be part of his SWAP group even though I am not his athlete. Each week he congratulates each athlete for their races, writes articles with great advice and is just overall excited about life and running. I want to get drink with that guy! Soon perhaps?

The final guy who just gets it is Jonathan Levitt from Inside Tracker. I met him through SWAP and blogging and through his help, I’ve changed my nutrition and recovered from extreme fatigue. We’ve discussed training, trails, food and just loving running out of the context of Inside Tracker and I consider him a friend. He is one of the brain children of the hashtag #restdaybrags which I love. During my period off, it was nice to have companionship as he just had a race at Boston. We healed together and he encouraged me to trust in the process.

We need more men like these guys. We need men who get it. It is so important for the progression of female running.

Click To Tweet

This is obviously just my experience and other men do get it. I can’t not mention Weldon, he knows how awesome he is.

Tell me some of yours.

Who are other men who get it?

Getting to know TrailsRoc

Although I constantly rave (rightly so) about Finger Lakes Running Company and the Finger Lakes Runners Club in Ithaca,  I am very lucky to be surrounded by many fantastic trail communities here in Central New York.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to spend some time running and relaxing with the founders of TrailsRoc, the trail running mecca located in Rochester, NY. A group of amazingly talented runners started this group over 5 years ago and it has successfully put Rochester in a trail running boom. I had the pleasure of staying with Eric and Sheila this weekend and was taken on a run-tour of the Many on the Genny course Sunday morning.

We started a bit after 7AM which was beautiful for me and the weather was going to hit the 80s. Sheila and I glided along talking and taking in the scenery. I am so glad I was with her because I would still be out there lost if not. The course is beautiful, but a bit tricky.

I also find that since I am not a confident trail runner yet, I overthink things out there and pick the wrong way to go. 

I used this preview as a way to practice my nutrition and also try out the gear sent to me by On Running. To be completely honest, I am confident in my eating ability out there. I can usually find something at all aid stations and carry things that are simple. Before getting to the Eagan’s, I stopped at Aldi markets to get Eric the 14 green bananas he requested in return for some #TrailsRoc swag. While I was in line waiting to pay, I saw a few products that reminded me of running nutrition products…so I bought them.

Fruit chew bars, sour Starburt-like candies and baby food. All less than 50 cents each and the exact same thing I could buy at a running store. I’m sold! 

I tried out each of these things on the trail and they worked beautifully. I also made salt potatoes and drank Tailwind from the start. After about 13 miles, I set off alone, with Sheila and Eric crewing for me every mile or so. 

This is what sets the trail running community and the TrailsRoc group apart. They willingly kept driving slowly along the course, giving me aid and telling me where to go. I did not have to ask, they were the best crew I could have asked for. People in this community just do that for each other. Sheila told me that she had done the first half and the second half of the course twice before and not only did Eric, but Michael and Lisa also have crewed for her. Crewing is not glamorous, it can be boring, hot and monotonous. These people truly love trail running and what they have created out here. 

I forgot to mention, at dinner the night before I also had the opportunity to meet Michael Valone and has wife Lisa. Talk about an inspiring story he has! Perhaps I can interview him someday for the blog…

They crewed for me for another couple miles before I took a wrong turn (obviously) and ended up scrambling up and down some really steep hills. After basically swinging on trees down one of them, I realized that I was probably wrong. I thought about how many people would fall down this…so it was probably not right. I backtracked, ran a few more miles and then called it a day at 20.

I had a wonderful time with these people and their crew. I had to hold myself back from signing up for all their races…but I’ll eventually get to them. 

I have been in a running slump since the beginning of May and really most of winter.

Trails brought me back.

People like Eric, Sheila and Michael brought me back.

I will be forever grateful.

All photos are by Eric Eagan.

The Value of Female Friendship in the Running Community

I don’t know Devon Yanko.

I don’t know Amelia Boone.

I don’t know Clare Gallagher.

I don’t know Tina Muir.

Yet, through the power of email and social media, these ladies have influenced and probably extended my running career.


They are honest.

They are open about their struggles and injuries.

They admit where they screwed up and how they fixed it.

They are relatable.

When I experienced a set back, the more I talked to them, the less I felt like a screw up and the more I felt like I screwed up, unintentionally, and I could fix it.

These strong women had gone through what I am going through. They helped me to heal.

I can also not write about my female running companions without mentioning Laura Kline. Laura has had setbacks this year (at Bandera) and yet still kept her eye on the next race. She is a model of recovery and eats extremely well being a vegan athlete.

When I freak out in the middle of the night or really at any time, I immediately text her. She supports whatever my decision is (she probably would have told me I was crazy to race CT) but also keeps my head level.

Who cares if I don’t run fast times?

Who cares if I don’t get sponsors?

Who cares about a race in two weeks that might end up in injury when I want to be running my whole life?

Laura just knows.

Rather than spend more time telling you have great these women are, I’ll link to their posts below which have been essential in my recovery from fatigue.

I fear my own return via Amelia Boone

Injury Storytime via Clare Gallagher

The Art of Unlearning via Devon Yanko

Bend or Break, Free via Devon Yanko

The Physics of Vulnerability via Devon Yanko

Are You Obsessed With Your Goals? via Tina Muir

12 Ways To Deal With Injury Depression via Tina Muir
What I enjoy most about the trail and ultra community is the friendship. People are just nice! Imagine emailing Shalane or Desi…I’ve never done it, but they are so busy (rightly so) and I don’t think their response would have the desired effect. Yet, every time I’ve emailed one of these women, I get PAGES back. Detailed experiences, what they’ve done to recover or deal with setbacks (or deal with success) and encouragement.

They don’t tell me what I should do, they tell me what they’ve done and how it worked out. They realize that we are all competitors, but they want everyone to reach their potential. I cannot explain how much this has helped me.

Mostly, it decreases my stress and anxiety about running. As Amelia said in her Running For Real interview and on the blog post above, it’s not about getting back to where I was, it’s about using this injury or burnout, fatigue, whatever, to form the future runner I will be.

So thanks ladies, just know how impactful you are. I’ll see you out there!