0 SPF Race Report

The 0 SPF Trail Half Marathon was on Saturday. This race is limited to 140 people, but I suspect they could draw at least twice that many. I made it to Victor around 7:15am for an 8:00am race start. I saw lots of familiar faces, which is one of the great things about trail races! In particular, the Rochester trail running community is amazing!! I warmed up a couple of miles and I definitely felt ready to go!

I knew that Matt Lipsey and Daven Oskvig were the two to watch. Sure enough, at the start, Matt took off up the first climb. This climb went up about 100 feet in a quarter of a mile or so. It definitely thinned the field right out of the gate. I let him go and staked out second place. This was definitely my type of course. Lots of rolling hills, rocks, roots and a little pavement. There were not long climbs, long descents or mud.

I was getting a little feedback along the course from Ron, who was also shooting some cool video – more on that later. At the halfway mark, I was about two or three minutes back of the lead, and my gap over Daven was minimal. I had a rough patch coming out of the turnaround and I had to walk up one of the ascents. Then, just like that, it was gone. I started zipping along again, and while I knew I was not going to catch Matt, I was having a blast!

I was glad I picked the Salomon S-Lab X-Series for the race – they worked out perfectly! I finished second overall in 1:44:46. The race has been held four years and I ran the third fastest time on the course. I’d like to pat myself on the back for that, but I’m pretty sure the conditions were just perfect on Saturday.

As I mentioned earlier, Ron was shooting some video out on the course. Check it out here! It’s only a minute long and it’s definitely worth checking out.

You should definitely consider putting this one on your calendar for next year. Great race. I can’t say a single bad thing about it.

My next race is the Green Lakes 50k on August 6. I’ve heard rumors it’s going to be a stacked field – I can’t wait!

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Preview: 0 SPF Trail 1/2 Marathon


Tomorrow, I’m racing the 0 SPF Trail Half Marathon. The race is in Victor, New York. I’ve never done it before, but it’s a hilly course.

Here is a look at the course and the elevation profile:


It should be a pretty competitive race. The field includes Daven Oskvig and Matt Lipsey. With that being said, I think Kip Tisia’s course record is probably safe (since nobody has come within eight minutes of it).

I’m guessing the course will be dry (since we are in a drought) and I’ll be going with the Salomon S-Lab X-Series. This has been my go-to shoe for everything of late.

Check back next week to read my race report!

Have a great weekend!

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First Half Recap

The first half of the year is in the books. Here is a quick recap of where I’ve been and where I’m going.

Where I’ve Been:

Lake Effect Half Marathon
Badgerow Last Man Standing
Zion 100
Cayuga Trails 50
Vegan Power 50k

Where I’m Going:

Green Lakes 50k
Jug End Loop Ultra
Free to Run Marathon
Oil Creek 100
JFK (maybe)

For the first half of 2016, I covered 1,434 miles. My best race of the first half was Vegan Power 50k and my worst race of the first half was Zion 100. My goal race for the second half of the year is Oil Creek. Stay tuned and follow along to see how the second half of the year goes!

What’s on your calendar for the second half of the year?

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Race Report: Vegan Power 50k

The Vegan Power 50k was on Saturday. It was my second time doing this race, and it is definitely one of my favorites! The race is organized very well, the race directors are awesome, the course (6 loops) is pretty great, there is fabulous post-race (vegan) pizza and the race always draws an awesome crowd of runners!

I got up bright and early on Saturday (it was actually dark and early) and headed to Massachusetts. If you’ve never been to Western Massachusetts, you should check it out. It is quintessential New England. Upon arriving, I saw lots of familiar faces. Trail runners are the best. We are like a little traveling circus, and this race was no exception. It was about 6:30am, and there were already lively discussions of food, beer and running. Sometimes, you just feel like you’re home.

I jogged around the parking lot a bit and I felt rather spry. Cayuga Trails was only two weeks ago, but I knew I was going to have a good day. Sometimes, you wake up on race day and you feel like a sloth in cement boots. Other times, you are a unicorn, and you’re ready to shoot rainbows out of your eyes. I was ready to shoot some rainbows.

The race went off right around 7:00am. There was a lead pack of about three and a chase pack of about three. I was running right behind Daven Oskvig, and I knew he would be my toughest competition. We finished loop one (5ish miles) on course record pace. Going into the race, I didn’t have a race strategy. I wanted to be flexible and see what happened. In that moment, after five miles, I decided I was going to try and Zach Miller it. For those of you who aren’t ultrarunning geeks, that translates to “take off now and try and hang on later.”

Long story short(er), I dropped a quick mile – and a quick loop – and gapped the field. I can’t say for certain, but I think I may have drawn a few snickers from a couple of the race directors (looking at you, Jake and Benn). Were they amazed by my running prowess or giddy over the inevitable implosion later on? Regardless, the “take off” part of my plan was complete. I kept pushing through loops three and four. I knew I was on course record pace, and I still felt pretty decent, even as the temperature was rising. Loop five was a bit more challenging, and doubts started to creep in.

I finished my penultimate loop in a bit of a tizzy. I poured lots of water over my head, finished off some coconut water and started moving again. I felt like the walls were closing in, and as I hit the big hill for the last time, I was reduced to a walk. I resisted the urge to panic, and at the top of the hill, I was able to start running again. One of the bonuses of a loop course is that you regularly see other runners throughout the day. Words of encouragement from friends are awesome, and words of encouragement from complete strangers often do the trick as well!

I was really struggling with a couple of miles to go, but I managed to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving. Finally, the finish came into sight and it was over. Yay! The “hang on” part of my plan was now complete as well. I managed to take the win and set a course record of 4:08:49. It was a really good race for me and I’m super happy with the result.

Full results of the race are available here.

Big congrats to everyone who ran, especially the kickass folks from Strong Hearts Vegan Power. Samantha took first place and was flying all day long! Huge thank you to race directors Ana, Jake, Benn and Michael, as well as all of the volunteers!

My next race is 0 SPF in about a month.

How was your weekend?

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Preview: Vegan Power 50k

This picture was "borrowed" from Laura Kline

This picture was “borrowed” from Laura Kline

The Vegan Power 50k is tomorrow. This is a relatively new race (third year) in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. The elevation profile is fairly tame; however, it isn’t a fast course by any stretch of the imagination. There are twists and turns everywhere you look, and there are more than a couple of roots to stumble over.

Last year, I took first overall in 4:19:41. However, last year, the race was three weeks after Cayuga Trails. This year it has only been two weeks, and my legs are still feeling it! It should be an exciting race, as the men’s field is pretty stacked, and the women’s field is wide open since the two-time champ took a pass this year.

Check out an amazing video on the race here.

It has been really dry in New England lately and I think the course will run fast. In addition, the weather should be perfect. I expect the course record (4:16:22) will probably go down.

I don’t really have much of a race strategy. This is a loop course – each loop is just over 5 miles – and you do it six times. This makes it super convenient for staying hydrated. It’s a pretty course and there is lots of support at the start/finish area. In addition, all of the money raised for the race goes to a great cause!

Check back next week for race results and a full report!

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Race Report: Cayuga Trails 50

Almost Done!! (with Laura Kline) Photo: Kate Paice Froio

Almost Done!! (with Laura Kline)
Photo: Kate Paice Froio

Cayuga Trails 50 was on Saturday. As always, it was awesome!! I have so many things to say about this race, I don’t know where to begin. If it seems like I’m rambling, I probably am. Here goes nothing:


I knew I was undertrained going into this race. I did some quick math last week and discovered that I was averaging 47 miles/week in the eight weeks leading up to Cayuga. In those same eight weeks, I did one run – yes, one – longer than 15 miles. With that in mind, I knew I needed a conservative race strategy.

The Strategy

My plan was to hit the halfway mark between 3:40 and 3:45. I made it in 3:46. Not terrible! I would have made it in 3:45, but I had to stop twice to get rocks out of my shoes. It happens.

The Race Begins

After a 25-mile warm-up, the real race began. I hit the aid station at mile 28 and Ian (the RD) offered me some free race entries in exchange for carrying a watermelon to the next aid station (4 miles away). It was tempting, but I took a pass. I was still hoping for a sub-8 finish and that wasn’t going to happen with a watermelon in tow!

One of the cool things about Cayuga Trails is there is “stuff” stashed along the trails. Pies, gear, etc. Basically, you pick up a card hidden along the trail and then exchange it for cool things at the finish. Right around mile 29, I picked up a card from Altra – awesome!! It was my lucky day (more on that later). I (barely) made it to the top of the big climb and started running again. A few miles later, I was having some gel and fumbling around with my handheld. I accidentally dropped some garbage, which I went back to pick up. Alas, I must have also dropped my Altra card, although I didn’t notice at the time. Sadness. Maybe it wasn’t my lucky day after all!

I ran pretty well into Buttermilk – I was 75% of the way through the race in 5 hours and 55 minutes. 8 hours was still possible. I got out of Buttermilk in a hurry and started heading back to the Underpass aid station. Right around this time, I realized it was getting hot. The sun was out, and the temperature was in the low 80s. Great for sitting on the beach. Not great for running 50 miles. I hit Underpass in exactly 7 hours. I had one hour to run almost 7 miles. Uh oh. At this point, I realized I wasn’t going to break 8 hours. I was starting to have a tough time with food and fluids, but I kept pushing on.

A short while later, I heard footsteps for the first time in ages. It was Corrine Malcolm – she was about 6 miles away from a National Championship. Pretty cool! We chatted a little bit, and eventually, she pulled away. A couple of miles later, more footsteps. Zach Ornelas, who I had passed at mile 37.5, was cruising along with Sabrina Little. Sabrina was putting in an impressive late charge, but I knew that barring disaster, Corrine was too far ahead.

With less than three miles to go, I could smell the barn (literally and figuratively). I heard footsteps one last time – a quick glance back and I saw my friend, friend of the blog, vegan and athlete extraordinaire, Laura Kline. She was killing it, and it totally gave me a boost that got me to the finish. We crossed the finish line together in 8:28. I thought we were SO cool for crossing the line together until I found out that everyone was doing it this year.

Brian Rusiecki and Ben Nephew

Brian Rusiecki and Ben Nephew

Brian and Ben have run a couple of hundred trail races/ultras between the two of them. If you are a trail/ultra runner in the Northeast, you’ve crossed paths with these guys.

Zach Ornelas and Sabrina Little photo: Mountain Peak Fitness

Zach Ornelas and Sabrina Little
Photo: Elizabeth Azze

And the finish of the day, as well as the picture of the day, goes to Zach and Sabrina. Clearly, Laura and I need to up our game for next year.

Jared Burdick, me and Cole Crosby (left to right)

Jared Burdick, me and Cole Crosby (left to right)

I’m pretty happy with my race. I was looking to rebound after my DNF at Zion and this definitely helped. Considering how warm it was, I really don’t think I could have expected anything more. Cayuga Trails is such a great race and Ian does an amazing job as race director.

Full results from Saturday are available here.

If my math is right, the finish rate this year was 68%. That is really low for a 50-miler – it just goes to show how tough the conditions were on Saturday. Congrats to Tyler Sigl for an out-of-this-world performance that will probably be the top graded 50-mile performance of the year. Congrats to Corrine who took down a thrilling race for the ladies and will fly under the radar no longer.

Check out this very cool video by Jared:

Here’s a race recap from TrailRunner.com.

Still looking for more Cayuga Trails? Other blog posts:



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Cayuga Trails 50: My Own Preview

The forecast for Saturday is sunny with temps in the low 80s. That will resemble the ’14 race a bit, and I suspect the heat will get to some of the participants.

As far as my own race, I have modest expectations. I ran really well last year, and I have little hope of eclipsing that time.

Over the last eight weeks (excluding this taper week), I’ve averaged a stunning 47 miles/week. Since there’s nothing I can do about that now, I’m hoping the quality of my miles trumps the quantity of my miles!

My race strategy is similar to last year. I’d like to hit the halfway mark in 3:40-3:45 and then see what happens. I think that will put me in the vicinity of Dr. Jay and Mike “the burrito” Welden, so at least I’ll have some good company out on the trails.

Things I did not do to prepare for this race:

– core workouts
– long runs
– crossfit
– eat healthy
– get enough sleep
– stay hydrated

Things I did to prepare for this race:

– register online
– looked at race pics from last year
– chatted with friends about the race

Check back next week for a full race report.

Have a great weekend!

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