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2015 Finger Lakes 50s Race Report

Race data on Strava

I chose this as my first 50-mile trail race with the perception that it was “easy” (on paper, relative to Virgil and Cayuga at least) and well timed as a training race for Twisted Branch (though I did intend to really race it, just not as a goal race).

The hills were entirely reasonable. The mud was something else: I certainly expected mud, though not the quantity and quality and variety that we faced today. Given the choice I'd avoid a muddy run, but I'm not afraid of it (after completing last year's Sehgahunda). The mud mainly presented some interesting strategic and technical challenges: increased wear and fatigue on the legs, more focus required on otherwise not-very-technical trails, and most importantly it required a singular dedication to making up time on what dry ground was available.

Since this was in a way my first 50-mile race (I got in 54 at Mind the Ducks but that's a different thing), it was a very interesting challenge to figure out the math of how much effort to put into the early and middle miles in the context of the trail conditions.

Thus the middle miles were tough mentally (though I didn't hit any really low points), and felt very slow. Walked more than I should. The last loop, though, I attacked with renewed vigor, reasoning that with much fewer runners on the course and a few hours of drier/sunnier weather, the conditions could be no worse or even a little better. This turned out correct, which fueled a positive attitude, and I ran everything I could and worked a lot harder. In the end it was just additional perceived effort—overall pace was about the same as the previous lap, but I'll take that over a significantly slower finish.

Hydration and calorie intake worked out well. Tailwind, gels, a couple of Clif baby food things, and light aid station grazing. Goals today regarding nutrition were to listen better to the body, simplify, be more proactive and flexible and focused, and I think I made very good progress with all this.

Didn't fall once, just a few slips and slides. And I got totally stuck in calf deep mud and had to spend a bunch of time trying to muscle my foot (actually both feet) out without losing a shoe. The Altras worked well though they get a little heavy when caked with mud. The frequent stream crossings were appreciated for cleaning shoes and cooling off the feet. Kinda wished I still wore Vibrams regularly, they can do very well with mud, though there could have been a traction problem. I have no clue how that guy in Lunas survived the race.

The weather was great.

I had some new "ultrarunning experiences": lots and lots of mood/energy changes (though nothing dramatic), some long stretches of total focus and really living in the moment, a deep sense of connection to/between the land and my body, and some emotional moments approaching the finish line.

Official time 10:17ish, no idea on place. Lots of people were dropping distance or DNFing. I had really wanted to finish in the mid-9s, but that was clearly out of the question a few miles into the second loop. But overall I'm happy and consider this race a success.

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