Let me tell you that this race was crazy hard. My spring trail shoe-2013 La Sportiva Ultra Raptor!
This is what the trail looked like in the gentle sections. Underfoot, there was extreme roots everywhere, super steep climbs reminiscent of New Hampshire trails but on tight single-track and dangerous descents. This year the race started at Gatherings Restaurant right near Greek Peak. I began with a group of about 12 at 8am for the long day up and down the highest peak, Virgil Mountain in Cortland County at 2,188 feet above sea level. What is amazing about this area is that you do not need high altitude to face such a crazy intense challenge. All it takes is many multiple 1000ft steep ascents to destroy your quads. The first section of the race, I flew up to Virgil Peak and then down the many switchbacks. I just enjoyed the day and tried to stay focused. Once I made it to the 4.5 mile mark which I thought was the initial turn-around I became confused on where to go. Luckily, I had a man I was passing tell me to follow the private drive about a quarter of a mile to the forest rangers and the next section of trail. I did just that and then followed down into this new section of trail. I slowed down here to ensure I would not get lost. This section was disorienting with about 4 creek crossings and a nice uphill to the turn-around at Stonepile Junction. I fueled up at the turnaround and clocked in at 50 minutes. I knew that if I kept that pace, I would run 3:20 for my overall time. I ran back through the many people on the trail-slowing as people came by. I hit Virgil Peak and the the big descent into the beginning of the race. As I came across the last creek crossing, I saw my father with camera in hand snapping all kinds of photos. I soon left Tone Road and then hit the finish where I would have to do the same loop all over again. My body still felt pretty fresh but I knew that the next 2.4 miles straight up to Virgil Mountain's summit would be the deciding factor for me. I power-walked some sections and then ran the easier sections as the terrain began to flatten out. Once I summited the second peak past Virgil Peak, then my legs were starting to feel it. I was losing my strength in my legs and really needed some food. I was about 17 miles in and was ready to take a nap. I just did what I could and kept running tough. Once I made the major turn-around at mile 20, I was done. I was ready to call it quits at that point and I knew I would run below 4 hours but I was nowhere near low 3 hours. The trail and the amount of people on it helped to delay my pace. I almost twisted my ankles about 19 times(each time I came across someone on the trail as I veered off of it). The last 6 miles I was just trying to survive. I needed more carbs but my stomach was a little off so I just stuck with light water and gatorade to solve those woes. I walked the tougher uphill sections I easily ran over the first time and then came the steep descent. I took all day on this because with my fatigued legs, I did not want to slip and fall into a gorge 30 feet below. The steep sections were dangerous at times and so I just wanted to manage myself in such a way that I could come back in one piece.
I crossed the line in 3:54 which was not bad for a debut and for learning 4 extra miles of trail I did not run on the Sunday prior. I won the overall for the race and was given the chance to race in the Cayuga 50 miler which plans on being an insane top-notch race where Max King and Sage Canady among others will be there. I hope I can build on my strength and be able to run 50 of the best miles of my life against these guys.
Time to prepare for the Reach the Beach Relay in New Hampshire this Friday and Saturday coming up! I should be running about 23 miles broken up for the event and it should be a great time!
Here are some pictures from the Virgil Monster Marathon!
Monday--Easy run on flats of Cortland, 60 minutes in the rain out on 13
Tuesday---Easy run on the flats of Cortland---75 minutes again, legs were soooo tight.
Wednesday---76 minute hill run on Kellogg Road then Blodgett Mills Road--Insane 28% incline for 2 miles, legs felt like jello on the way down. Plentiful Sunshine and a titch warm.Thursday--Run of 60 minutes--legs felt really tired. Ran up hill in Homer.
Friday--80 minute mountain run-- up Ames Road-such beautiful country out there! Had a blast! A little warm and I am in need of a haircut.
Saturday--- Long run on Carson Road Finger Lakes Trail. We have crazy weather coming in and the morning had 45mph constantly flowing through the woods. Leaves were flying over-head and the trees were swaying like massive pendulums. I really enjoyed this section if trail! It starts out narrow then widens into a nice xc ski trail going up the face of a mountain. Really enjoyable. The weather was in the 60's and my pace on this trail was solid. Unlike the slow Monster Marathon race, I was really able to stretch out and lengthen my stride. It is such a wonderful thing to have access to hundreds of miles of trails just 8 miles away!!!!!
Sunday--75 minute run up on Lightninghouse road and then I discovered there is a road right by the hotels on the other-side of the interstate. Pretty Awesome actually. A nice run with big clouds. 11.8 miles!
Monday--Run on Pendleton Road up the high mountains to Tower Road and the Weather Station. A hard run but the lovely cool fall weather of the 48-52 range made for a nice day. Ran well and climbed the section up in 35 minutes not bad! THen I came back home in for a total of 78 minutes and 12-13 miles!
Tuesday/Wednesday--75 minute runs in the hills of Cortland/mountains. I am stuffed up from ragweed but I am training really well.