My first 50 miler – Cayuga Trail 50

I had been looking forward to this race for a while.  Actually since 2013.  The problem is that it never fit into my schedule.  Odd thing is that while I have run 100 milers I have never run a 50 miler; this was gonna be sweet.

Me and Mel Pre-Run

I headed out Friday afternoon – got to the crummy hotel room that Mel and I shared and basically went straight to bed.  Woke up in the morning and copied Mel for breakfast – a bagel, though I had jam she had peanut butter or something.  We got our gear on and drove to the start – not even 5 minutes.  There we saw Chris Geisler and a few other familiar faces who all knew Mel cause she’s fast or so I’m told 🙂
I was with Mel when we were lining up to start and I looked back and said
“I should be moving to the back so I don’t get too excited from the start.”  Mel called me up to point out this guy wearing those sandals as if he were Mexican or something – odd thing is that he was wearing a kilt as well?
The race started and I stuck to the plan – heart rate in Z1, mid range at most.  It was embarrassing (sorta) that I was being passed by people I just knew would finish behind me, but as I listened to them labour through the first 8 km I realized that I wasn’t even putting an effort (all things relative) in and I was already starting to pass people.
Snapped whilst running.
After the second steep climb I was talking with some folks that are from my general area (Guelph) and I paced with them because we were travelling about the same pace up until my magic number 14.5 or something.
I kicked it up a bit and started to run in Z2.  Body felt good here.  I was nervous because I didn’t want to get over excited and run too fast and just burn out.  I kept an eye on my HR and tried to keep it below 160.
Once I was about 20 km in and in the circle of the lollipop, there were some wicked downs.   I cruised down this in a more controlled fashion than normal but I still had a lot of speed.  I just couldn’t help myself and as I was hitting the downs aggressively, I thought to myself, I am going to pay for this later in the race.
 The way back was good.  Two things though – I think I was pacing a little to fast and there were more wicked downs that I took too aggressively.  Little thing I gotta remember for next time, take the downs fast, but not too fast.
Running through the gorge
As I was finishing my first lap Mel was on her way back out and said that I was too close to her 😐  Maybe I was pacing too quickly.  But I carried on.  I looked at the running time, and thought that if I could just keep up the pace, I could sub 10 this thing.
It wasn’t too long into the 2nd out and back that my HRM decided to stop registering anything.  I took off the strap since it was useless.  Now I had to go by feel.  This was scary but I pushed the anxiety to the side and focused on the task at hand – running.
I am pretty sure that I let up on the pace a bit.  I didn’t have any real way of being able to tell.  Having said that, I couldn’t take the downs as aggressively as I did at first and that is what I am going on.
The 2nd most notable thing about the 2nd out and back was that I was passing fewer people.  The most notable thing was that I caught up to Mel.  She was in bad shape and as soon as she saw me conceded that I would beat her.  I felt really bad, I gave her a hug and told her not to give up.  I filled up my bottles cause we were at an aid station and took off.  As far as I was concerned, the race wasn’t over yet.
I ran along a fairly easy part of the trail and got to what I think they call the “Stairway to Heaven” (and for good reason, this staircase is steep and long).  As I started up I saw Mel pacing with this guy in blue I passed before the aid station.  I panicked. I thought I must have really slowed down, but I needed to get up the fucking staircase first.  The guy in blue floated up the stairs.  I started to think that he ran my race plan better than me.  I stuck with him since his pace was swift.  I was pushing hard, though probably not quite a tempo pace, but we were some 72 km in.
I followed him and I’d loose ground (literally sometimes), then I’d catch up and run on his heels then loose ground… over and over until this girl asked if I had some water.  I handed her my bottle since I knew the aid station was close and as we rounded the corner we realized we were at the aid station.  I took my water bottle back and bolted by the aid station.  As I did this, the guy in blue went to his drop bag, there were literally 5 km left.  I left that poor fucker ( I mean that in good fun – I swear like a trucker) at the aid station and never saw him again.  A guy in orange was leaving the aid station and asked me what the running time was.
9:24
He said something like, I think we might be able to make this sub 10.
I thought to myself – fucking right I am and continued to push.  I actually hadn’t thought about the time since the half way point up till that point and now I wanted to make every minute count.
In the last 5 km I passed 4 more people, one of them was in the last 500 m to the finish.  She looked at me and said “finish strong” as she walked it in.
I moaned the whole way across the HOT field and crossed the finish line.  I think I said FUCK as I finally was able to stop cause the woman that was filming said she was doing it sans microphone and wished she got my reaction on audio.
I was baking at this point and got some ice – cooled myself down and 4 minutes later Mel came in.  What a trooper.
I am very happy with my race performance even though I think I had a 20 minute positive split.  It could be worse but also could be better.  The plan worked, I executed pretty well, some tweaks to be made (downs, finding the perfect pace). Last thought, I think I found a distance I really like (not to say I don’t like 100’s and that I would never consider a 200), it is long, but not such a big commitment that it ruins you for about a month or so.
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