2013 Cayuga Trails 50 Miler

There’s going to be one of those races at some point in your running career where you don’t perform up to your expectations.   My expectations were high; strong running, feel good and have fun but my main goal was a bit more modest: to break top ten……. and I didn’t even do that!  I was disappointed to say the least BUT the place was beautiful and I got a great workout in.

Scott, the kids and I camped in our VW poptop at Robert H. Treman State Park just a 1/2 mile from the start.  We got there in the dark because we arrived late to the pre-race meeting missing all but the very end of it and then we ate a wonderful dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Moosewood. Our good friend, Kelly Wilson, joined us.  It was late night getting to bed and it would be an early rise. At 4:30am I felt unprepared as I tried to finish packing my drop bags and making my flasks filled with UCAN and chia seeds.

With just 30 minutes before the start I gave Scott my alternate hydration pack and a drop bag (shoes and socks) with instruction to leave the drop bag at the Underpass aid station (~6.5 miles) and meet me there to change into my Ultraspire Surge hydration pack.

I was planning on running with just  the Ultaspire Isomeric handheld for the first hour.  Kelly and I found our way to the start, I left one drop-bag for the mile 25 aid station which was the start/finish and got my last bathroom break in.  Amy Rusiecki, Kristina Folcik and Carly Stroich-Eisley were just a few of my fellow New England girls there. The start came quickly.  I wanted to focus on running my own race knowing the first 3 miles were almost all uphill which is not my strength and that it usually takes me at least and hour to get into a rhythm.  The first part was incredible.  We ran along an amazing waterfall on CCC built stone steps.  Once we dropped into the woods and the trail undulated a bit more I felt a bit stronger.  I made it to the Underpass Aid Station in just over an hour and didn’t see Scott or the kids anywhere.  I scanned the drop bags and didn’t see mine. I kept moving and then heard a, “Hello, are you Debbie?  I am Meghan Hicks. “  For those of you who don’t know Meghan, she works for irunfar.com and was covering the race.  She is also a superb athlete and just won the Marathon des Sables in Morocco.

Meghan had just interviewed Scott and I for an article that will be printed in an upcoming issue of Trail Running magazine.  Back to the race…..I told her it was nice to meet her and if she saw Scott to let him know I passed through.  I was really hoping he would be at the next aid station because it would take me another hour and I would definitely need my full pack my then.  After a waist-deep water crossing and a long steep uphill I got caught by a couple woman and ran with them for a while.  We eventually popped out onto a road where a crew of people were waiting for their runner. They cheered for Jackie, who apparently I was running near and handed her a fresh bottle.  I wanted to say something that runners are not allowed to receive aid outside of the aid stations but I didn’t remember reading it in the race info and decided to let it go. After a lot of mud and tall grass running I make it to Buttermilk falls in a little over 2 hours.  It was really good to see Scott and the kids and to receive my fuel.

I didn’t stay long, crossed over the falls and climbed back up. On my way back to the Underpass aid station I began to notice a pain in the ball of my left foot.  My feet were soaked but that wasn’t the problem.  I started running with my toes curled which decreased the pain but did not take it away.  At the Underpass I grabbed a banana and kept going.  I saw Ryan Weltz (Kristina’s fiancé and crew) and heard she was running very strong.  I was excited for her.  I eventually passed through the Old Mill aid station and made my way back to the Start/finish North Shelter aid station where I would change into my alternate hydration pack.  My time was ok coming into the half-way point.  I reached it at 4 hours 32 minutes.  When I found my drop bag and opened it up I realized I had made a big mistake.  Inside were my sneakers and socks, not my hydration pack.  Ugh!!!  So, I refilled my pack that I had half full and ate a potato and a banana and took off again.  As I passed Scott, who was at the playground with the kids right on course, I told him my mistake and that I needed my fuel ASAP.  At the same time I noticed there were a couple girls just behind me.  I was loosing ground but the race was only half over, so I tried to keep a positive mindset and pushed on.  I made my way back to Old Mill aid station where Scott had somehow hightailed it to the Underpass, collected my hydration pack with my fuel and delivered it.  I needed my energy food right away.  I was relieved to get my full pack but mad at myself for making such a dumb mistake.  Now I was also thinking I should have asked him to grab my shoes!  My left foot was really killing me now. I pushed on through the ups and down, through the water crossing and back up the steep switch-backs. After a few more miles as I was running though the field I saw Kristina coming at me in first place with a determined look on her face. I cheered her on and hoped that she would keep her focus and finish ahead.  I was having a hard day but continued to move on.  After more painful miles and a slowing pace I arrived at Buttermilk in decent spirits. I told Scott I would like to change my socks and shoes at the next aid station.  I was hoping it would make me feel at least a little better.  The miles slogged by back to the Underpass where I changed my shoes and I also got passed by a female runner.  I was now in 11th place and now really mad at myself.  I downed 2 cup of soda and took off. I continued on but had nothing in the tank.  I couldn’t even muster a 12 minute mile on a flat dirt road section!  My last 3 miles were decent but not enough to catch the group of women that were just 15 minutes ahead. I was an hour slower in the second half.  That’s bad.  A half hour is acceptable but an hour is just bad!  I felt awful for Scott too.  He told me it was gut wrenching for him to see me get passed by so many.  He was exhausted, emotionally and physically.  I was disappointed, but there was nothing I could do about it after the fact.  I mentally moved on knowing that it is only a race and not even my “A” race this year. Time to focus on fixing my foot, being more diligent with planning and getting stronger on the uphills.

Despite my challenges the race was very well marked, the volunteers exceptional and Ian Golden did a great job of putting on a stellar event in an awesome park that even had the best kids playground I have ever seen.

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