This past Saturday I competed in the Cayuga Trails Marathon hosted by Red Newt Racing in conjunction with the USATF 50 Mile Trail Championships going on at the same time.
First, I have to give a HUGE shout out to my friend Samantha Leblanc for CRUSHING her first 50 mile and coming in 7th female overall! She did so amazing and is one of my trail inspirations. She is so strong! I can’t wait to race with her again!
In short, it was a blast and I found my trail legs again.
I decided to do this race not too long ago and just see what happened. In the same fashion of Thom B. Trails a few weeks ago, I just wanted to get onto the beautiful Ithaca trails that I love and have some fun. The race is also hosted by my team and is a big social event around here. I was excited simply to see some familiar faces and meet some new ones.
I arrived in Ithaca the day before the race to help with registration. I felt really excited and not at all nervous. My sleep arrangements the night before included either a wood floor or a reclining chair, and that was chosen by me. I just needed a place to crash and I wasn’t expecting optimal sleep before this race. I didn’t really care, as it was not a goal race and I planned on DNFing if things went to hell.
The morning of the race, I still felt great and excited. I saw many familiar faces at the start line and was comforted that the trails were full of 50 milers who had started 2 hours before us. My teammate Laura Kline, Nora Mciver-Sheridan and Natalie Thompson were all doing the marathon as well, so I was in good company and felt comfortable. The race began and we all stayed mostly together, trading places throughout the first few miles. Laura and I talked for the first half of the race and she reminded me to hike the uphills.
That saved my legs and I felt great. We even joked that the day was so nice and it felt really good to run, that we should have done the 50. I stayed on top of eating and drinking and from miles 10-20 I felt solid.
The only hitch I had was two times right after aid stations, I clipped my toe on a rock and when I braced myself from falling, my nutrition (I think it was Gu Brew) squirted out of my handheld. I still took in other calories, but that was a bit of a setback.
Nora had caught up to me by about mile 18, and she and I stayed together from 18-22 around the huge stair climb. I felt good getting up the stairs, but at the top I knew I was headed for a bonk if I didn’t get to the aid station at mile 22. I slowed down and let Nora go and just focused on getting to the checkpoint. There was nothing I could do as I had eaten my last Gu and my liquid calories were lost to the trail.
Once I got to the aid station, I scarfed down a few Clif Bars and refilled my bottle and got on my way. I knew Nora was long gone but I started to feel great again, so I picked it up a bit (or it felt like I did) and wanted to finish in second place strong. All was well until we hit a spot near the waterfalls that was full of tourists and people enjoying the day. I got caught up in a leash of a dog held by a boy and took a bit of a tumble. We just both went the same way when we tried to avoid each other.
I lost my breath and started to get upset as one does when you can’t breathe. However, I only had 2 miles to go and the blood wasn’t too bad. I just scared myself so the next half mile was spent calming down. I didn’t want to be crying at the finish line.
The last mile was beautiful and mostly downhill with few things to watch out for.
I finished second female with a watch time of 4:22:59.
I am sore today, but no injuries, blisters or anything to be aware of. I feel very happy with how I did and was reminded that even taking time off will not allow my body to forget what it is capable of.
A few things I learned and will practice for any upcoming races:
Practice going downhill (thanks for pointing that out Ian)
Hike early (thanks Laura)
Eat and drink early (I did this and it worked!)
Always have liquid calories in your bottle in addition to solid calories (Again, it worked!)
For technical races longer than 4 hours like this, carry a pack or try not to fall and lose nutrition (what can ya do?)
Thank you to Ian Golden, owner of Red Newt Racing and the Finger Lakes Running Company for the great event and all the help the past few years. I would not be here without you. Thank you to On Running for the fantastic shoes that drained well and prevented blisters even though I did not wear running socks. Thank you to Barney Butter for pre-race nutrition and the delicious products that fuel my daily nutrition.
Congratulations to my other team Strong Hearts Vegan Power who was racing Ragnar Poconos the same day. My thoughts were with you all <3