Finger Lakes 50-Miler: A Muddy Mess

photo credit: Pete Kresock This was the easy part.

photo credit: Pete Kresock
This was the easy part.

The Finger Lakes 50-Miler was on Saturday. Let me preface this post by saying it did not go well. The course was “underwater” earlier in the week, and it did not get a chance to dry out. On race morning, there was a chance of rain – but it ended up pouring buckets.

The race started a few minutes late but it wasn’t a big deal. After a short road section, the race turned onto trails. They were muddy, but pretty much what I expected. It was the kind of mud that we have all run in at one point or another. You watch your step, you get a little dirty and life goes on. A little over a mile into the race, we turned into a pasture. The mud got deeper, a lot deeper.

A short while later, the mud nearly sucked my left shoe off. I had to stop and slip my heel back in, which was no easy task considering I was standing in ankle deep mud in the middle of a race (during a downpour). I took a deep breath and tried to regroup. I started running again and – F*CK – there goes my shoe. It got sucked completely off my foot and was buried in the mud. There you have it – I was 1.6 miles into a 50-mile race and I was NOT having fun. There wasn’t any solid ground to put my shoe back on so I ran about ten yards in the mud in my sock. I tried to undo the laces but they were soaking wet and caked in mud. It was hopeless. I managed to jam my foot back into the shoe and I started running again. By this point, I had fallen back to 10th place or so. I was trying to stay calm – I knew the front group went out too fast.

Since I was unable to adjust my shoe, I made a slight modification to the way my foot was hitting the ground. I found that toe-striking in the deep mud was much more effective at keeping my shoes on. This was a much-needed modification since the mud got much, much deeper. The sections of the course that were shared with cows and horses had parts where the mud nearly reached your knees. Sadly, I’m not exaggerating.

As the race went on, I was slowly but surely picking people off. The 50k and 50-mile races started together – and you had the option of going up or down in distance – so there was no way to know for certain what place you were in. With that being said, in retrospect, I was in 1st place in the 50-mile race somewhere around mile 15 or so. Around that time, I was passed by Jack Bailey – he went on to win the race in 7:53:47.

I completed the first loop in approximately 2:18 (the race consists of three large loops and one baby loop). I switched out my bottles and started on the second loop. I felt terrible. My legs hurt and I smelled like shit (more on that later). Right around 17 miles, at a road crossing, I spotted Megan and Norah who were looking for a (dry) spot to spectate. I stopped in the middle of the road and did a quick assessment:

1) I smelled like shit. This was the inevitable result of running through cow pastures and horse trails in a downpour. I smelled like shit because I was covered in shit – or as my friend Michele called it, “cow and horse poop mush”

2) My legs hurt – they didn’t hurt from running. They hurt from getting twisted and turned in the mud at strange angles.

3) I wasn’t having fun. I like to run. I like to run challenging races. I do not like to run in cow and horse poop mush.

I said “fuck it” and got in the car – I was done. I was sad – and I still am. I really wanted this race. I had registered on New Year’s Day and I had been looking forward to it for months. With that being said, I don’t want to get hurt and I don’t want to run when it’s not fun. What can I say? Shit happens.

Twenty-one people battled through the mud for 50 miles. Full results are available here.

Results of the 50k are available here.

My Coach

My Coach

The following day, we went to Watkins Glen, New York. Megan is from there and we decided to swing by the gorge on the way to the Farm Sanctuary.

Watkins Glen, New York

Watkins Glen, New York

The Farm Sanctuary is pretty awesome:

Nestled in the beautiful Finger Lakes Region of Upstate New York, the rolling green pastures of Farm Sanctuary’s 175-acre New York shelter are home to more than 500 rescued farm animals.


How was your weekend? Hopefully, you didn’t encounter any cow and horse poop mush!

Have you ever dropped from a race?


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Finger Lakes 50s: Mud, Mud, Mud.


This Saturday is the Finger Lakes 50-Miler. It will be my 3rd ultra in 5 weeks! I’ve never been a prolific racer, and I have no plans to change that. In my opinion, the chance of getting injured (or burnt out) increases significantly with [over]racing. With that being said, I really wanted to do these three races (Cayuga Trails, Vegan Power and Finger Lakes) so I figured I would give it a try!

Finger Lakes 50s has a rich history. Despite being in the middle of nowhere, past winners include Leigh Schmitt, Brian Rusiecki, Aliza Lapierre and Nikki Kimball.

The Course: The course is a 16.5 mile loop that you run three times (there is a .5 mile baby loop at the end).

It is not super hilly – there is +/- 4,000 feet of elevation (less than half of Cayuga Trails). This is the course profile for each 16.5 mile loop:


With that being said, this year’s challenge will be mud!! I inquired about the course conditions yesterday and here was the response:

“It was underwater yesterday. A lot of the trails were small streams…”

Well, there goes my plan! I was hoping for a smooth, runnable course that I could knock off in about seven hours. No such luck. Instead, I’m left trying to figure out which of my shoes will suck less (literally and figuratively) in that much mud (I’ve narrowed it down to Scott Kinabalu 2.0s and Inov-8 Race Ultra 290s).

Aside from the mud, the weather should be decent. It looks like it might be dry on race day and the temperature will top out around 80 degrees – not bad for July.

While I don’t enjoy running in mud (I’m way too much of a princess for that), I think it will be a fun race. There are some great prizes and I’m really hoping I can snag one. Going into this block of races, this was the one I wanted the most, so we’ll see what happens!

Do you enjoy running in mud?

If you had to pick between mud and hills, which would you pick?

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The Time Gunhild Swanson Stole Western States

The Western States Endurance Run was this weekend and it was very exciting.

On the men’s side, eight of the top ten from 2014 were back (Ryan Sandes withdrew the day before due to illness and Max King took a pass).

At the front, the race was remarkably similar to the 2014 edition. Rob Krar started out conservatively with Seth Swanson following along. By the mid point of the race, it was Krar, Swanson, François D’Haene and Thomas Lorblanchet. It was clear that the winner would come from that group. On Cal Street, Rob Krar was Rob Krar, and he gapped the field. He powered along under course record pace with Swanson battling to stay close. Rob had a nice cushion at the river and the only question was whether or not he would break the course record. In the end, he didn’t get the record, but he took the win with another amazing performance. Swanson was second, just like last year, and Jared Hazen, only twenty years old, took third.

photo credit: Bryon Powell/iRunFar

photo credit: Bryon Powell/iRunFar

On the women’s side, this race was being billed as a battle between Stephanie Howe and Magdalena Boulet. It did not disappoint. Stephanie managed a lead for much of the first half of the race – bolstered by Magda running off course for a couple of miles. However, Magda was in charge by mile 62 and she surged to a first place finish in her first 100-miler. With that being said, she’s lucky it’s the Western States 100 and not the Western States 105. Kaci Lickteig went by Stephanie Howe late in the race and was taking chunks out of Magda’s lead. She ended up a mere 15 minutes behind her. Stephanie hung on for a strong third place.

photo credit: Bryon Powell/iRunFar

photo credit: Bryon Powell/iRunFar

Full results of the Western States 100 are available here.

With that being said, the highlight of the day was Gunhild Swanson. She was attempting to be the first woman to complete the race at age 70 (or older). Clearly, Gunhild has a flair for the dramatic.

After going off course late in the race, Gunhild was barely making cutoffs. She hit Robie Point – mile 98.9 – with 17 minutes to go. In other words, she needed to complete the final 1.3 miles in 17 minutes. She was greeted at Robie Point by Rob Krar, Tim Twietmeyer and others. That’s quite an entourage. Gunhild hit the Placer High School track a short while later with her finish still in doubt. As she hit the last straightaway, less than 100 meters from the finish, the crown was deafening.

photo credit: Bryon Powell/iRunFar

photo credit: Bryon Powell/iRunFar

In what may have been the most exciting Western States finish ever, Gunhild snuck under the 30-hour cutoff by a handful of seconds – and the crowd went wild!!

photo credit: Western States Endurance Run

photo credit: Western States Endurance Run

Check out Gunhild’s post-race interview here.

photo credit: Bryon Powell/iRunFar

photo credit: Bryon Powell/iRunFar

For more amazing race coverage, check out iRunFar.

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2015 Western States 100: Results


1) Rob Krar 14:58:59

2) Seth Swanson 15:17:28

3) Jared Hazen 15:37:30

4)  Gediminas Grinius 15:40:57

5) Thomas Lorblanchet 15:56:30

6) Julian Chorier 16:34:42

7) Ian Sharman 16:44:30

8) David Laney 17:01:37

9) Andrew Tuckey 17:19:18

10) Paul Terranova 17:43:18


1) Magdalena Boulet 19:05:21

2) Kaci Lickteig 19:20:31

3) Stephanie Howe 19:32:54

4) Aliza Lapierre 19:43:21

5) Emma Roca 20:11:59

6) Nicole Studer 20:19:54

7) Sally McRae 20:27:33

8) Caroline Boller 21:44:11

9) Erika Lindland 21:47:25

10) Nikki Kimball 22:01:55

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This & That.


First, how awesome is this picture of Scott Jurek from the other day?! He’s heading into Massachusetts today and he’s absolutely crushing the Appalachian Trail – have you been following along?

Second, check out this awesome video (made by Jared Avigliano) from the Vegan Power 50k last weekend:

Third, have you entered my Western States giveaway contest? If you haven’t entered yet, you have until 9pm EST.

Have a great weekend!

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A Review and a Giveaway.


The Review

“Our Mission is to create irresistible, affordable, convenient superfoods using certified organic, mostly raw ingredients. They’re as good for the environment as they are for you, making the world cleaner and healthier with every bite.” – Alice Benedetto, RN, President & Founder

I first stumbled across Raw Revolution bars at Strong Hearts Café. The bars are organic, vegan and mostly raw. They come in many delicious flavors. The company is headquartered in New York, and the bars are made in New York.

Raw Revolution recently released Glo Bars – the flavors include:
Creamy Peanut Butter & Sea Salt
Mixed Nuts, Caramel & Sea Salt
Peanut Butter, Dark Chocolate & Sea Salt

Glo Bars are vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, high protein, high fiber and low in sugar. Not only that, they are DELICIOUS!! These bars melt in your mouth. It’s hard to believe that something so good is also good for you.

Best Uses:
– breakfast
– snack
– post-workout
– dessert

Worst Use:
– in competition – I think they’d be a bit messy. In addition, I like something higher in carbs during a run/ultra

Check out the Raw Revolution website for more information.


The Giveaway

I have a few extra Raw Revolution Glo bars (and some other running snacks) that you can win! Here’s what you need to do:

The Western States 100-Miler is this weekend. This is the Super Bowl of ultrarunning in the United States.

Check out the elite men’s field and the elite women’s field and predict the third place finisher in each field.

For tiebreaker purposes, predict the overall winning time (it’s just about being closest – it doesn’t matter if you go over). For reference, the winning time in 2014 was 14:53:22, and the winning time in 2013 was 15:17:27.

Sample: Ryan Sandes. Kaci Lickteig. 15:15:55.

Get it? Got it? Good.

Leave your entries in the comments section below. I will accept entries until 9:00pm EST on Friday.

Good luck!!

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Race Report: Vegan Power 50k

The Vegan Power 50k was on Saturday. This was my first time running this race, but my friend Laura Kline won last year and highly recommended it (spoiler alert: she won again this year). The race is held in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, which is in the Berkshires.


The race was about an hour from where my parents live. I left bright and early on Saturday and enjoyed a fantastic sunrise on the way there.


I managed to find the parking area and I caught a shuttle to the start. I got there around 6:30 for a 7:00 race start – perfect! It was enough time to get ready, but not so much that my nerves would get the best of me. I picked up my race packet and my bib was lucky number 13. I chatted with Laura for a little bit and I met Skott, another member of the Strong Hearts crew. On the starting line, Laura and I were shivering – totally normal for a race on June 20th. I think it was about 50 degrees. A few months ago that would have felt downright balmy!

The race started and we took a short paved section that led to the forest. The course is 6 loops that are 5+ miles each. The elevation profile for the entire race looks like this:


As you can see, there were a few hills on the course but they were fairly modest. The challenges on this course were the roots – so. many. roots – and the sharp turns. It was hard to get any momentum going because there were so many [nearly 180-degree] turns. With that being said, the course was unbelievably well marked. You couldn’t make a wrong turn if you wanted to. Honestly, I’ve been on tracks that weren’t marked as well as this course.


There was an aid station at the halfway mark of the loop. It was operated by the one and only Uptown Vegan. There was also an aid station back at the starting area with lots of good stuff. There was definitely not a shortage of quality, vegan food and drink!

For the first half of the race, I was slowly building a lead. By the halfway mark, I think it was a few minutes. Jared was giving me some great feedback on the course so I knew how much of a cushion I had. I hit 25k in about 2:06.

I slowed down a little bit the second half of the race. I was still a little tired from Cayuga Trails three weeks earlier. I was also trying to preserve my legs for Finger Lakes 50-Miler, which is in less than two weeks! I ran the second half in about 2:13.


My final time was 4:19:41. I missed the course record by a few minutes, but I was okay with that.

Full results of the Vegan Power 50k are available here.

For winning the race, I received an awesome prize pack from the Catskill Animal Sanctuary.


Ana Wolf, the race director, did an amazing job! It was great to meet her, Michael Menard, Benn Griffin and Jake Dissinger.


I think this race is great for:

  • first-time trail runners
  • first-time ultra runners
  • vegans
  • vegetarians thinking about becoming vegan
  • meat-eaters thinking about becoming vegan
  • people who enjoy races with a “community” feel
  • people who enjoy northeast singletrack

    The race is probably not great for:

  • people trying to set a PR – the course had a few too many roots and sharp turns
  • close-minded people

    Check out these race reports from other runners:


    Ferns & Peonies

    Influential Vegan

    Keep running!

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