Hey Everyone! I realize this is old news but I promised it. For whatever reasons, I'm finding it difficult to make time to put this on my blog. So here it is-the long version. A shorter version will appear in Ultrarunning Magazine sometime soon.
The short version is I had a good race. This was my second time running this course and I finished in 23:26:42-a little over an hour faster than last year (24:38). I was the first female and only female to finish (2 others started) and placed 9th overall out of 19 finishers and 29 starters. I reset the female course record I set last year!
Sept 19 & 20, 2009
The Iroquois Trails 100 is a fifty mile course on the Finger Lakes Trail system in Virgil, NY. The course is broken down into three sections-the Alpine Loop, the Pipe Line Rd loop and Daisy Hollow. The Alpine Loop is just shy of six miles long and goes up and down the ski trails of Greek Peak ski area. The Pipe Line Rd loop is accessed by a mile long climb up a paved road to the Finger Lakes Trail. The trail is a mixture of hardwood and soft wood forest. There are some sweet, runnable sections through the pine trees where the trail is soft and cushy. Other sections it’s hard to keep a steady pace with ups, downs, roots, rocks, stream crossings and fallen trees across the trail. The Daisy Hollow section is a thirteen mile out and back over Greek Peak again and beyond on the Finger Lakes Trail with a little bit of dirt road mixed in.
The race started at 6am Saturday morning with a chilly temp in the 40s. I wore my favorite pair of Brooks PR short, a short sleeved shirt under a long sleeved shirt, a hat and made in Vermont Darn Tough socks. Last year I wore Montrail Hardrock sneakers which worked well over the rough terrain protecting my toes. This year I was going with the Brooks ASRs which is what I’ve been training in all year. They don’t have as much toe protection but are a bit lighter than the Hardrocks. I also had on my Ultimate Direction hydration pack. I figured it was what I was going to use for the whole race so I might as well get used to carrying plus it keeps me warm.
There were 29 registrants this year compared to 26 last year. Along with 26 fifty mile racers, we all lined up behind the line scratched in the dirt between the tiki torches with the clock counting down next to us. We all counted down the last ten seconds and were off! It’s a slight downhill to the dirt road where we pick up the ski trail on the Alpine Loop. In a little less than a mile we were turning right to head up the trail. It was a nice hike up and I made sure to look over my shoulder and catch the red glow of the sunrise behind the mountains. Once at the top, it’s a short flat before you’re heading down a service road back to the bottom. Ian was waiting for us on a corner to make sure we went the right way and to cheer us on and I wondered how did he get there so fast?
We climbed back up to the top of Greek Peak only to run down another ski trail that parallels the initial one we went up. Ian warned us it would be wet and rutted on the way down. My feet got a little wet but I have been through worse (the Finger Lakes 50 mile on July 4) and had already decided I wasn’t changing my shoes. By the bottom, my quads were talking to me a little bit and I began to wonder how they would hold up.
I got back to the Gatherings aid station and Jack was there with the camera. I grabbed a potato and headed off to the Pipe Line Rd section. Walking up the hill to the trail head, I was joined by Matt Davenport and Greg Loomis. Matt started chatting with me by apologizing for poor race etiquette by passing me at the VT50 two years ago right at the end. Unfortunately his calf cramped up on him after he passed me so that I passed him back and beat him. First, I had to ask who he was and then admitted that I barely remembered it. I accepted his apology and said no worries since I had forgotten all about it.
Matt, Greg and I more or less hung together for this second section of the course. The guys would get ahead of me on the downhills but I would catch up on the uphills. Getting out from under the power lines on this loop was a nice change. Greg got ahead of matt and I coming down from the cell tower but we caught back up when he stopped to question a course marking. I trusted my instincts not to turn there and stay the way we went last year which turned out to be true.
We got back to the Pipe Line aid station and Jack was parked on the side of the road waiting for me and taking pictures. He refilled my hydration pack; I grabbed another GU and was off. I wasn’t at the Gatherings for very long since the next aid station on Greek Peak was only 3.5 miles away. My pack was fine and Jack suggested keeping it on the lighter side for the hike up Greek Peak. I got a potato for the road and headed out figuring Matt and Greg would catch up.
The hike up the Finger Lakes Trail to the top of Greek Peak was just like I remembered it-steep and with the recent rain a little slippery in spots. It wasn’t until I reached the aid station that Greg caught up to me. Jack and Amy Lane (who was there to crew and pace Daniel Larson) got me refilled and Jack warned me not to stay at the Rock Pile aid station for too long. I hurried down the trail to catch Greg who had just gone by me and hung with him briefly until he sped up on a downhill. I wasn’t too far behind him coming into the Rock Pile aid station. I stayed long enough to chug down a shot of coke and was off while Greg was chatting.
Jack was waiting for me out at the Daisy Hollow aid station which marks the end of this 13 mile third section of the course. Along the way out, the leaders of both races passed me heading back in. It was nice to see some familiar faces and get an idea on where I was in the race. Jack told me I had to run out to the road past the aid station and come back reflecting a change in the course. It wasn’t far and along my way, I was gonged by Joe Reynolds who was there crewing for his wife, Chris, who was running in the fifty mile race. Apparently some local music store lent the aid station crew this huge gong and they hung it between some trees. It was really loud and I yelled to Joe that if he gonged me again I wasn’t coming back. He did as I asked, said I was looking great and I was off with a potato in my hand.
The thirteen miles back to the Gatherings were pretty uneventful but kept interesting by passing other runners heading out and people hiking on the trail who were always kind enough to let me by quickly. At Rock Pile I had some more coke and grabbed a pb&j sandwich to munch on. Jack was waiting at Greek Peak again where I exchanged empty GU packets for full ones and headed out since the Gathering s was only 3.5 miles away and mostly downhill.
I got back to the Gatherings about ten minutes ahead of last year’s pace. I wasn’t looking forward to the Alpine Loop again especially since I had just gone by it. But I headed out knowing that when I got back that was when Jack could join me as pacer. I kept looking ahead or over my shoulder the whole way around the loop to see if anyone else was out there. I was alone except for the two deer I scared on my second trip to the top.
Jack was dressed and ready to go when I got back to the Gatherings again. I ate another potato while we walked up the hill to the trail head for the Pipe Line Rd section. Jack jumped right in to his pacer role by suggesting I try to run up some of the hill. I did a little bit and started to run more once we were on the trail but it was still uphill. Along the way out, Jeff Browning and Glen Redpath passed us heading back. They were the leaders of the 100m race. Jack and I are friends with Glen and he said to go as fast as I could now so I could get as far as I could before dark.
We didn’t spend too much time at the aid station and were off to get as far as we could before dark. It wasn’t quite dark when we had to go into the woods and at that point we had to put on the headlamps. Once we made it back up to the cell tower and got into the open it brightened back up again. Jack was a bit confused on which way to go but I knew. We started down the hill only to find there were no glow sticks to light the way and it was hard to find any other course markings. Once back at the aid station we told the volunteers who called to find Ian and let him know. We found out after the race that section had been vandalized.
We passed quite a few people on our way back to the Gatherings. It was neat to see the various lights dancing in through the trees. Someone had a green light so we thought aliens were coming to get us! Back at the Gatherings, we topped off our hydration packs, restocked our GU and Shot Block supply, grabbed a potato and were off.
We were greeted at the Greek Peak aid station with claps and cheers from the volunteers including Chris Reynolds who completed the 50 mile race earlier. Her husband Joe, who gonged me at Daisy Hollow, was taking a nap in their truck-what’s up with that?! I sucked down some chicken soup and was on my way.
We made some good time on the dirt roads between Greek Peak and the Rock Pile aid station. We had a drop bag waiting for us at Rock Pile where I topped off my hydration pack and had some more coke and a potato. Since I asked Ian to have more potatoes out on the course, I better be eating them!
The way out to Daisy Hollow seems to take forever in the dark. We were passing people along the way and finally got word that we were about five minutes away. I went out to the road, no one there to bang the gong, some more soup for me and pirogues for Jack to warm us up. The night was chilly when you stopped moving. Ian was there in his puffy jacket to stay warm. I commented to Ian I was worried about finishing under 24 hours-it would be close. On the way out, Jack said I couldn’t stop at any more of the aid stations. I had to keep moving.
At this point last year, I was reduced to a fast walk (at least I thought I was going fast) because my right IT Band had tightened up so badly I couldn’t bend my knee to run. However, a year’s worth of butt and hip work had paid off big time since I was completely pain free. I hiked up the hills as quickly as I could and ran the flats and downhills as fast as I was able. It always felt like as soon as I got going there would be a tree blocking my way.
I got a piece of banana at the Rock Pile and kept going while Jack topped off his hydration pack and brought a coke bottle full of our Amino Vital electrolyte drink for me to carry in case I ran out. My pack has an exterior pocket that an extra bottle fits nicely in. My tummy was rumbling hungry but the aid station food had lost its appeal. I took another sip of my drink to temporarily get rid of the rumbles.
Just short of the Greek Peak aid station, we heard this loud screech come from the canopy above us followed by an owl hooting. We both jumped and looked up to see what was about to attack us. Nothing ever came and Jack made some hooting noises that were promptly answered. My guess is it was a screech owl but I have never heard one before to know for sure. A couple minutes later, the lights and the bustle of the Greek Peak aid station were a welcome site.
Per Jack’s instructions, I walked on through and admired the flashing Halloween eyeball decorations on the trees. There were only 3.5 miles to go which included a short hike to the top, then the trail levels out and you come out under the power lines. Follow the power lines a short way, cross under them and the trail is still flat until about a mile of steep downhill where the trail ends and you pick up the road that brings you back to the Gatherings and the finish line. When we came out from the woods and under the power lines where the stars were so brilliant you had a hard time taking your eyes off of them. It was easy to pick out the Big Dipper and the three stars that make up Orion’s belt.
Once back in the woods, I kept wondering when the downhill would start? This was the most painful part for me last year because the pain from my IT Band crept from my knee to the top of my calf. But not this year! The quads were feeling good too so bring it on! I didn’t run down it like I hoped because it was so dark and slippery in some places. I didn’t need to fall now. There is some sort of metal looking furnace thing that sits just off the trail which I guess is about the half way point of the steep trail. Once I passed that I knew I was almost there and a few minutes later I saw Jack’s headlamp make the S turns which are at the bottom of the trail-just another mile of road to go!
I looked at my watch and it said 23:15 or so. I did it! I would finish under 24 hours! I wish I could say I ran all the way in but I had to walk a few steps every so often and I did walk up the slight incline on the main road to the Gathering’s driveway. I made damn sure to start running once it flattened out and around the corner onto the driveway and up to the finish line. Jack, Aliza, Ian and all the volunteers cheered me in.
My goals were to break 24 hours, first female and to place in the top ten. I accomplished them all. Ian gave me the blanket off of his back to wrap myself in while I sat down and rested for a moment. Jack got himself a can of Budweiser to celebrate our success. I sat down and it felt good knowing I didn’t have to get up again right away. I even had some crazy thought that since I had finished under 24 hours I didn’t feel obligated to do another 100 miler! However, that thought has quickly faded and I’m already mentally revising my training for next year and thinking about upping the ante to two 100 milers next year.
My goals were to break 24 hours, first female and to place in the top ten. I accomplished them all.
My goals were to break 24 hours, first female and to place in the top ten. I accomplished them all.
Kelly, as ever, I am totally in awe of you.
This is truly stunning.
Congrats on the race
100 on trails in under 24 is always an amazing accomlishment.
I am not tough enough, so I like the nice flat 24 hour races with aide available almost constantly
The woods are so dark and scary
So what 100 races are you thinking of next year?
I crewed for 60ish miles of the Superior Sawtooth 100, further convincing me to not run a 100 mile trail race ... wow was that a tough course
Retired 1/1/13 ... 12/1/16 return to Gallowalking ... Running is beautiful and forgiving, it will always take you back with no questions asked.
You totally made the most of that day out. Great report, and great race!
Speed my steps along your path, according to your will.
Fantastic report, Kelly. I'm so frigging happy for you!! As Joe said, he and I were keeping tabs on you for as long as we could. It was strange going to bed knowing you were still out there.
Re two 100-milers in a year? I have no doubt that you can do that.
On another note - what are the hip and butt exercises you did for your IT band? If you could tell me in an email, I'd greatly appreciate it.
Again - CONGRATULATIONS!!!!
Leslie Living and Running Behind the Redwood Curtain -------------
Trail Runner Nation