Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Who Let The Cows Out? Moo.

Finger Lakes 50s: 25K

July 6, 2013

So even though my second stab at the Finger Lakes 50s 25K was SLOWER than my first, I still had an awesome time. Most importantly, my mom came with me to beautiful upstate NY to camp out IN A TENT for her very first time! There was no Thermarest, no camp-stove. There was a privy, though. She didn't really appreciate that part...but lived to tell the story. We camped out with a view of the campfire and within earshot of the cowbells that would be clanging at 5AM the next morning.
Mom and I at the start of the race--I convinced her to go camping for her first time EVER! 
After race director Chris Reynolds gave the requisite pre-race talk (in trail races, these talks/directions traditionally are filled with self-deprecatory tongue-in-cheek jokeswarnings about potential animals out on the trail, information about trail conditions, and special commentary to hard-core road-runners who will potentially become angry and aggressive later on about missing a turn and getting lost, thus destroying their carefully developed negative-split plan...well that never happens) someone counted down and our seriously motley crew began a nice, long downhill on Potomac Road.

Big smile BEFOREhand...

The Motley Crew!

I didn't have to try to not overdo it, since overdoing it is not in my body's physical lexicon/muscle-memory. At this point I was the penultimate runner, and though intellectually I was okay with it, emotionally I wasn't okay with it.  In the end, you're still last. But at least you finished. I was thinking this the whole way, along with enjoying the course.

One of many beautiful single-track sections of the trail
We then made a right turn into the cool and dark forest on the Potomac trail. The first few miles (well the first 5.3 miles to be exact) flew by. When I reached the second aid station, I was surprised that I had covered this mileage without so much as a "when is this going to end" thought. I was huffing and puffing but feeling pretty okay at this point.

The lushness of the Finger Lakes National Forest is astounding as it weaves in and out of cow pastures and cool forest
Then the course weaves in and out of cow pasture and deeply wooded forest, some of it on the edge of a slightly precipitous ravine. At the 5.3 mile point you do 3 mile out and back using the same aid station. For some reason, that particular section of the course felt the longest. In your mind it's only three miles. But three miles is three miles, especially for a slow runner like myself. I sustained myself with Coke and Twizzlers, and ice in the sports bra. WHO KNEW?
My new friend, the Twizzler.

From then on you continue making a huge loop through the forest, entering cow pastures with pleas on the gates to CLOSE THEM lest you wish to be chased by herds of cows through the woods. Sounds eerily like a slasher movie.

Let's talk about the copious amounts of sole-sucking mud that slowed most people down except for the few annoying prancers who seem to glide over anything in their minimal shoes....shoot. There was so much mud in fact, that I seriously considering pretending I was in a spa, plopping down right in the middle of the trail and taking a mud bath. But wait, I did  take a mud bath, albeit unintended. Several mud baths.
This mud was pretty dry
And then there was this kind of mud. I lost my right shoe several times. Although it was really annoying having to tread through so much mud, this was when I felt my most hard-core. Yeah, cuz that's what trail-runners do.
On my left knee is probably the insect that basically tried to eat my entire leg.
In trail running, you get to hop over branches and fallen trees, jump over snakes, turtles and frogs, dodge cows and their steaming patties, and wade in really fun puddles. Trying to side-step these things is just plain, um, ROAD RUNNING. No offense, friends.

I was grateful for the mud-cleaning.
There were many points throughout the course that REQUIRED you to stop, breathe, and take in the scenery. This is why I love both trail running and road running in the country. There are endless scenes like this.

The dappled sunlight is breathtaking
At one point, a wilderness person told me to look to my left. I thought maybe there was a bear, or a herd of cows. But he was pointing to the excellent vista, making sure that in my alternating misery,   bliss, and incoherence I didn't miss nature's bounty. Thank you, Mister AWESOMESAUCE wilderness rescue guy!
I looked left and could see for miles
I can't get enough green. They should bottle this.
My favorite part of trail running is technical single-track. My least favorite part of trail running is beautiful single-track that goes on forever. And ever. And ever, under the unforgiving rays of  mid-morning, early summer sun. The last three miles of the FL50's course is half in cow pasture, half in the forest on a very straight trail. And because it is the last section of the trail, it seems like days until you can reach the finish line.

This literally went on forever, I think.
But I finished straight into the arms of the illustrious RD, Chris Reynolds!

And then mom took lots of pics that unfortunately were just tooooooo unflattering, So I'll leave it at this one! (But thanks mommy!)
Exhausted and feelin' wonderful
If you haven't considered trail running, you ought to. It can be some of the most rewarding, challenging, but satisfying running you'll ever do. You get to participate in everything that nature intended us to be doing. Just get yourself out there, dudes.


  1. I love your account of this race! And if running in mud or other tough terrain doesn't make you feel hard core, I don't know what will! Congrats on your finish!

  2. You are so inspiring. You make me want to do trail running. Amazing. Truly.

  3. Thanks so much. I live for it!

  4. Such a good write up! You Rock. One of only a few blogs I read, seriously :-)

  5. Hi Mirna, you are very inspiring and awesome. I didn't make it to FLs this year-hope to see you at a run! Seeing you and your smile is always so uplifting. I love running, too!

    1. Thanks Zsuszanna! Will you be at Wildcat this year?

  6. As always-- an inspiring account of positivity and physical endurance. :)

    1. Gracias Elbeepee! Next summer it's for the TINS!

  7. This may be the single best race report I've ever read. Especially love how you kept losing your right shoe. But not your left one. And your description of the pre race briefing, and the very motley crew, and how the beautiful neverending pasture trails can be the worst. That was high larious. And how you charged through everything! The hug from the RD! And that you embrace the DFL race strategy, a favorite of mine.

    1. Thank you so much for your encouragement and positive feedback!

  8. And your love and gratitude shine through so clearly. So, so inspiring.

  9. Awesome race report! I especially enjoyed the mud pictures. Isn't it true about the long straight stretches? Longest trail miles EVAH!

  10. LOVE LOVE LOVE !! Amazing you are1

  11. I've been waiting for you to post this! I ran the 25k too! I heard you make a comment about taking pictures for your blog so tracked it down when I got home. Great writeup and fabulous job at the race! :)

  12. I too love twislers and ice in my bra when I run. Mud? Uh, I'll admit, not my favorite. But you can't help but feel like a bad @ss after a mud run!!
    Just found your blog and looking forward to reading more from you!
    All the best!

  13. You are inspiring. I just started running (like, day one of the Couch to 5K program) and I loved reading this. You have a wonderful writing style too.

    1. Why thank you-you'll do great on the C25K. Just keep your goals in mind any time you lose motivation, which you won't!