Saturday, June 22, 2013

Adjusting to 50 mile race recovery!--Vestal 20k!!!!

So, I am now in my training back from the Cayuga Trails 50 miler.  In the week after the race, I had moved into my new place in Cortland with my lovely girlfriend, Ashlee and had raced the Vestal 20k.  Just a word of advice on 50 mile post-race recovery: Running a race a week after a 50 miler is CRAZY!  On the same day as the Vestal 20k was Confluence Running's Grand Opening. We had all kinds of Reps in from Scott Sports, Newton, and Brooks. We had giveaways, clinics, and all kinds of fun. 

Training for the Vestal 20k did not happen if you take moving heavy objects up 4 flights of stairs as running.  With that all on my plate, it was hard. I thought I was insane for running the race. My body had not recovered though all of my serious tightness from the Cayuga race was almost all gone.  I was hoping a solid run at the race would help boost PR for Confluence Running-my main motivation for the race.  Race day came quick as I hopped into my car at 6 am and off to Binghamton. I made it to Vestal by 7:15. Race time was set for 8 am. I did my normal routine: I checked in at the race, signed up, went for the warm-up/bathroom break and stretched my sore body for an extensive day of racing.  People often talk about how the Vestal 20k is a rugged uphill race.  With all of the uphill training that I do, I found the Vestal 20k to be a great challenge though in my racing career, I have encountered much crazier courses but they often are on trails.

The race went out just fine.  I settled in with the group and was running with this one guy for about 800 meters then as I was in about 5:30 pace he quickly dropped back and then I was on my own.  Just myself, a cop car, and the lead bike.  We hit one uphill that I ran with technical ease...onto the next hill. With my fatigued body, it would have been really difficult I thought to run my pace but I was making it happen.  I crossed the first mile in 5:37 after running about 2 decent hills.  I settled into a rhythm as the Real Hills came into sight. With my uphill training, I could manage the hills, but my weakened body was showing signs of venerability.  As the hills came up one after the next, I was thinking..."Man, these are tough! And everyone's says that the last 10k has even more hills!"  It is then that I began to just maintain my pace uphill and let my body respond to the run. If I was going to slow,  I would slow. I did not have any extra gears.  By mile 5 of the race, I was tired. The rapid series of steep ups had taken its toll already.  I was slowing from my 5:37 pace per mile and felt like this run had become more like a fitness run for me than a race.  I just could not push myself the way I am used to.  I started thinking about why I signed up for the race: I wanted to prove myself to the Binghamton Running Community and to help provide some Confluence Running marketing since I was debuting a Confluence Singlet.
By the 10k point as we crossed onto Highway 26, there was the steepest hill that almost made me walk. I tipped-toed to 26 then prepared myself for the worst.  I was in survival mode and could only imagine a group of guys flying by me. I felt like I was running 7-8 minute pace.  I had the feeling I would be caught.

I had a bunch of people with the race cheer me on and said I had like a 2-3 minute lead at 10k.  That was pretty solid.  I kept moving allowing for the gravity of the downhills to take me through. I grabbed water at the aid stations and just hoped my body would not give out.  On 26 with all the cars flying by, running on the shoulder of the road was taking a toll on my knee.  I held it together counting down the mile markers as they came: 7.......8.......9.....10!  Once I made it to mile 10, I knew that I could still win this race.  I had picked up the pace from miles 8-10 knowing that with the downhills, others would be gaining ground on me.  I did not see anyone behind me and the big hill was coming up.  I came out onto a stretch and I thought that this long gradual incline was the "HILL" everyone was so worried about.  I also was amazed that the whole last 10k was primarily downhill with a bunch of small steep manageable uphills. I ran up that last hill and knew once at the top, that the race was mine.  I crested the top and then headed down into the neighborhood.  I then was able to pick up my pace and bring it home.  With a sigh of relief I crossed the line in 71:30 or so for the race.   I managed a tough run and stuck it out. And with the results, I managed an average of 5:47 which I will take anyday given my physical state.  It was an amazing race and the course was a great challenge for a road race. I know that the first 10k is the hardest portion of the race and if you can survive that portion, the rest is almost all downhill.  I would like to thank everyone at the race and my Karhu Racing Flats and Fits Socks that helped my feet feel great and allow for me to perform to the best of my ability.

Looking forward, I am happy I ran the Vestal XX. It is one of those races people love to hate and for myself, I see a great course with a great challenge.  I hope to be back next year, shooting for a 68-69 minute performance!

Amazing Binghamton Press Release on the race:

Race results for 2013 Vestal XX---

After the 20k--I had a slight Runner's knee issue that I have been able to improve.  Yesterday, I ran some great hills in Binghamton and then this morning began my preparation for the USA Mountain Team Race by running up Greek Peak and doing a series of loops.  I feel that both trail systems are very identical in terms of elevation and terrain. So if  I can master Greek Peak, Cranmore will turn out to be a huge success!

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