Gullys on the Genny

Many on the Genny is fast becoming my favorite race. It’s tough, beautiful and the Trail Methods race team is incredible. Sheila, Eric, Michael and Lisa among many others work so hard to make sure we all have a great day. To be honest, with all their support, it’s hard not to have a great race.

I also want to say a special thank you to all the aid station volunteers, especially Anne who made sure I didn’t choke on the potatoes at aid station 4.

The race takes place in Letchworth State Park (the Grand Canyon of the East) in Rochester, NY. We start at one side on the gorge and end up basically at the same place on the other side at Mount Morris Dam. There are limited aid stations so it is advised you carry a lot of water in between aid. Last year I ran our of water and it crushed my second half. I wanted to be smarter this year.

The week before this race, to be honest I didn’t feel fresh. My legs were tired, I was either in taper crazy or going to feel flat on race day. I just tried to rest them as much as I could, eat appropriately and hope for the best. My training going up had been solid, I remembered that during the race. I am not a complete novice anymore, that works in my favor now.

My strategy was to run when it was runable, eat early and fill my water bottles at each opportunity. I had water in my left bottle and tailwind in my right bottle at all times. I planned to eat every 4 miles during the first half and then every 15 minutes or so during the second. I followed this strategy as close as I could. It ended up working out for the last 4 miles, where I didn’t need anything. I’ll explain more later.

The first few miles I ran close to a few guys and we clicked off miles pretty quick. I knew I would slow down in the second half due to the gullys, so I wanted to run and use my legs when I could. I stayed in a comfortable 4th place through most of the first 20 and only had to walk a few times. A lot of major climbs last year were partly runable for me this year. That felt good. I had ups and downs but largely felt solid. I kept eating on plan and usually that brought me out of whatever semi low I had.

I crossed the halfway point at about 2:50, grabbed a few things from my drop bag, but kept going. I felt happy, why not keep going right?

I missed a turn a bit early because I was singing Fergalicious in my head and didn’t see a marker. I eventually turned around after only like 6 minutes of error. I saw my friend and awesome runner Scott Parr, who helped me turn correctly. I don’t know how I didn’t see those blazes…Fergie Ferg she don’t love me long time.

The second half of the course it just up and down. Gully after gully after gully. I knew this was coming, so I made sure to drink all my bottles and refilling them completely before the almost 9 mile stretch with no aid. Despite this, I did run out of water, but it was only about a mile from the aid station, and I felt fine to make it without suffering like last year.

I was in the moment, but also thankful to be enjoying everything. I had to walk up some climbs, but I really don’t remember walking when it was a runable section. One foot in front of the other right?

I got the last aid station where they were playing “The Final Countdown” which brought a smile to my face. I refilled my water and grabbed a banana eating that as I started the last few miles. I saved my special Gu (birthday cake flavor) for this section, just to reward myself for being almost done. However, my plan to enjoy the last 4 miles, was about to take a turn.

All of a sudden, I saw something ahead of me. At the end of 40 miles, to be honest I don’t expect to see people. That’s just how it is. The fast men are much further ahead and I usually have a gap on the next runner by a few minutes. But as luck would have it, there was a runner ahead of me.

Game on. I decided to catch him (or try to). So I increased my pace a bit, knowing I still had 3 miles to go and that is a long time. I caught him about a mile later, and then threw all my fucks to the wind and start to go. I honestly left like I lived up to my nickname Gazzellie. I was running from this guy and he was chasing me (thankfully he breathed easily haha).

I have never raced that hard at the end of an ultra. I really went for it, I felt like I was going to puke. If he wanted to pass me, he was going to work for it. I gave it what I had left, because hey, I like racing and that is what I trained for.

Those last few miles were all pain, but also so fluid. I felt like I was dancing over the roots and rocks. My feet just knew where to go. I would not give up even if he passed me. But oh that was so hard.

Finally, in the last half mile, he broke, but I didn’t know that so I kept sprinting. I came around the bend and seeing Joe Reynolds ring the cowbell was like St. Peter at the gates of heaven. I crossed the finish line and fell into Eric heaving.

Damn it felt good!

I went sub 7 hours, which was my goal, and got 6:49 and change. I worked hard and got to race at the end. My strategy of eating early and constantly drinking worked very well.

Phil Nesbit, local cop and hero, won the race in 6:23 (I think?) and another Ithaca native got second. I’ll take third, one place better than last year.

It was a great day. Thanks again to Trail Methods, TrailsRoc and everyone who came out to support. Thanks to Red Newt Racing and the Finger Lakes Running Company for all their encouragement, gear and faith in me.

See ya next year at the dam!

2 thoughts on “Gullys on the Genny”

  1. What an amazing race story El. I’m so happy for you! I’m a long time reader but don’t comment a lot — I absolutely wanted to congratulate you! Such wonderful work.

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