Friday, January 13, 2017

Race Schedule For 2017

With the huge spike in ultrarunning popularity, many races now fill up quickly and one must sometimes commit to events up to a year in advance. Planning race weekends and training blocks eight to twelve months in advance can be a daunting task. Fortunately, Upstate NY and the surrounding regions have a nice variety of events to choose from, with new races popping up every year. We're lucky to no shortage of beautiful and scenic courses. 

Jamaica Pond in Boston, during a New Years Day run.
2016 was a really solid year of running for me, with the race season ending on a very high note at the Oil Creek 100 in early October. The last two months of the year were kind of a setback, as I was slowed by Achilles tendinosis and didn't get to run much in November or December.

Getting back into a good flow in late December took a few weeks, but now I'm starting to build back up and capitalize on the strong base fitness that I had worked toward during Oil Creek training. I don't think I lost a ton of fitness during those two monthscross training and strength training served as damage control. Now I'm looking to gain some strength and speed for the upcoming season. Here's what's on tap for the year.

February 4: Cast-a-Shadow 6-Hour Snowshoe Race

I've yet to run a time-based race, a Rochester-area trail race, or a snowshoe raceso why not check off all three off in a single day? This is contingent on getting a few more solid snowshoe training runs in before then. The course is a two-mile
trail loop that's run continuously for six hours, with some weird rule about extra time added if the groundhog sees his shadow.

The day I'm writing this, January 11, I was planning on a long-ish snowshoe training run but everything began to quickly melt when the mercury topped 50 Fahrenheit. My backup plan is to run FLRC's Super Frosty Loomis Snowshoe 10k, held the same day as Cast-a-Shadow. For Cast-a-Shadow, the goal is to run at least marathon distance in the given six hours.

April 1: Springletrack Fat-Ass Trail Marathon (hopefully)

My friend Adam invited me to come down to the Gunks and run this with him like we did in 2015. The course is a scenic tour of the Shawangunk Ridge from the Mohonk Preserve to Ellenville. As a true fat-ass run, there's no scoring system or entry fee, and runners are self-sufficient. Mike Siudy has been organizing these runs for years and really knows how to plot a challenging and beautiful course.

April 9: Skunk Cabbage Classic Half Marathon

This is the Ithaca area's biggest and oldest road race, and I'll be running it for the fifth time overall, and third after I don't have to work the graveyard shift the night before. I don't really have a goal in mind yet, but if I can work on leg turnover enough during the next three months I might go for a PR. Either way, and all-out effort won't be ideal because...

April 15: Breakneck Point Trail Runs 42K

April is when Mother Nature finally breaks free from that winter funk, and for some of us that makes for a busy race schedule. I'm heading back to Breakneck to try to improve on last year's 7:00 effort, now that I know the course and will be in better shape for all the steep and technical climbing.

April 30: Seneca7 Relay

The Seneca7 is a seven person, 77.7-mile road relay that starts and ends in Geneva, NY, and circles Cayuga Lake in a counter-clockwise direction. Hayley and I are on a team with five friends. Each team member runs three legs. This will be my first relay of any kind, and the fact that it's ultra-distance around a lake makes it sound that much more awesome. Plus I haven't been back to Geneva since Hayley and I got married there on the lake front over two years ago.

June 3: Cayuga Trails 50

We have a stellar ultramarathon with national class competition right here in our own town. Once again, the race serves as the USATF 50 Mile Trail Championship. This will be my fourth run at Cayuga and third in a row where I try to break 10 hours. Last year didn't go too well, so this year I'll try to remain more focused and dial in the nutrition right from the start.

June 24: Many On The Genny

Letchworth State Park, also known as "The Grand Canyon of the East," is home to this new 40-mile trail race. The course circumnavigates the park down one side of the Genessee River and up the other. I've no goal in mind for this race, but suspect it will feel much easier than Manitou's Revenge did last year only two weeks after Cayuga. Many On The Genny is a first-year race created by #TrailsRoc co-founder Eric Egan. The race sold out quickly and I registered for the waitlist, but it only took about two weeks to get accepted into the starting field.

August 12: Eastern States 100

In only its fourth year, Eastern States has really grown in popularity and sold out in three days. I was considering this last year but the timing didn't work out, but fortunately I got on in for 2017. Aside from Cayuga, this is my other big goal race for the year. It looks like a super challenging course with some nice scenery, and a finish wold give me two tickets in the next Western States lottery.

December 9: Millinocket Marathon

This road marathon in Maine has really taken off over the last year. The marathon and half were created in 2015 to bring extra tourism dollars to Millinocket's struggling economy. Race entry is free, with the promise that every runner will spend money locally on food, lodging, etc., to keep local establishments in business. In 2016, there were over 500 finishers between both distances, and there are now over 1,500 regiustered for the 2017 races. It was Hayley's idea I sign up for this—neither of us has ever been to Maine before. Millinocket is also pretty close to Mt. Katahdin and the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.

What's next? 

The first half of the year looks pretty loaded. I'm not ready to commit to anything big after Eastern StatesI know that one will take a lot out of me and require plenty of recovery time. Fortunately there's a good number a fall ultras in the area, so hopefully I'll be up do running a few of them. I'd really like to focus on a 50k PR at Water Gap, and/or run the JFK 50, but I doubt it would happen this year. Additionally, I'd like to fit in at least one bigger adventure run, such as the Presidential Range Traverse in New Hampshire or the Cranberry Lake 50 in the Adirondacks.

The off season is the best time for planning out the year. What races are you running or volunteering at? Does anyone have advice on Eastern States?

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