Thursday, August 30, 2018

No. Sleep. Till Hammondsport! — Twisted Branch 2018

I. Naples


Now in its fourth year, the Twisted Branch 100k Trail Race is one of the more challenging ultras in New York and the northeast. The point-to-point course follows the Finger Lakes Trail's Bristol Branch from Naples down to Mitchellsville, then heads east along the main FLT before finishing at Champlin Beach in Hammondsport. The singletrack trails are somewhat remote and technical, serving up a healthy dose of rolling hills and steep climbs as the course twists its way through various state, county, and privately owned lands. The race also packs a punch with 11,000 feet of elevation gain and a 1,500-foot net loss.

I'd been hoping to run this race for the past few years, but other commitments meant I had to put it on hold. The point-to-point format on terrain similar to the FLT in the Ithaca area really appealed to my tastes. I finally committed to it early in the year when I signed up for all three races in the inaugural Empire State Triad Series. This series is comprised of Many on the Genny (40 miles) and the Cayuga Trails 50, with Twisted Branch as the 100k+ grand finale, measuring long at nearly 65 miles. The buildup in distance throughout the summer seemed like a logical thing to do. My main focus was a good performance at Twisted Branch since it's the only race in the Triad I hadn't previously run.

The pre-race logistics were different than anything I'd been through before. Because of the 4 a.m. start, the shuttle buses from the finish line to the start run the night before the race. That meant arriving at the finish line in Hammondsport on Friday

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The Time I Ran 40 Miles For a Garbage Plate

Author: P. Allan Kresock
Date: 20 August, C.E. 2018
Topic: The time I ran 40 miles for a garbage plate
Category: Non-fiction
File under: Race reports

I've resided in Upstate New York my entire life — 35 years, 7 months and 28 days, to be exact — before finally experiencing  Rochester's signature dish affectionately known as a garbage plate. I like to run a lot and I like to eat a lot. This is my story.

I ran along the top of the canyon, taking in the view of the Gennessee River several hundred feet below and winding through the damp singletrack. I let the lead pack of four go on ahead and settled into my own rhythm, alone. I briefly considered trying to hang with the leaders' easy pace, but it felt just a little too fast for the opening miles. That pack included women's defending champion Ellie Pell, eventual men's winner Phil Nesbitt, and two guys I didn't recognize. Only 38 miles to the garbage plate remained.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Cayuga Trails Course Guide

Overview

The Cayuga Trails 50 has quickly become one of the northeast's premier ultrarunning events. Race Director Ian Golden created the race in 2013 under his Red Newt Racing brand. The event was conceived as a way to draw runners to the Ithaca area to immerse themselves in the beauty of Ithaca's best trails and to experience the community that Ithaca is known for. Ian added a marathon to the event in 2016 to increase participation. Since 2014, the race has served as the USATF 50-Mile Trail Championship, making it a selection race for Team USA to compete at the IAU Trail World Championship. There is also a large cash purse up for grabs, overall awards, raffles, and in-race premiums from the race director himself, and additional USATF awards for overall and age-group winners. What's more, the 50M is part of the new Empire State Triad — a three race series that includes Many on the Genny and Twisted Branch and has a ranking system for finishers off all three.

The course circumnavigates Ithaca's two state parks, Robert H. Treman and Buttermilk Falls, both of which are popular destinations among hikers, tourists, and vacationers. The parks' trails offer up some of the nicest scenery on the east coast, traversing through, over, and around dozens of waterfalls, gorges surrounded by natural stone walls, ravines, old growth forests, and a lake. The course crosses over a small dam, runs past a historic stone mill, and traverses trails built by the Civilian Conservation Corp in the 1930s. The route encompasses a wide variety of terrain, including singletrack and doubletrack trails with varying degrees of technicality, stone stair cases, several creek crossing, a few paved and dirt road sections, rolling hills, and one very steep, switchback-laden climb. Most of the course is runnable, but constantly having to change gears and adjust your stride can be very challenging.

I live a few miles from these trails, run them regularly throughout the year, and have run the CT50 each of the past four years. I find the race challenging but highly rewarding, and always come away with some new friends. The purpose of this guide to give runners an idea of what to expect on each section of the course, with a reasonable amount of detail. For event rules, announcements, logistics, etc., you should consult the race website and/or detailed pre-race e-mail.

Note: This post was updated 7/16/18 to reflect course changes for 2018. The course is always marked thoroughly with flags, arrows, and chalk; I reference trail names and colored blazes in this guide to provide direction during training runs. I'll update with additional photos of the trails when I am able to get them. 

The course essentially runs 12.5 miles from lower Treman out to the base of Buttermilk Falls, then 12.5 miles back. Marathoners do this once, and 50-milers twice. Some of the inbound portion of the loop overlaps with the outbound portion and some of it is different. There are three aid stations on the loop and you'll reach two of them twice. 50-milers will have

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Running in the OBX

We took a vacation to the Outer Banks in North Carolina over the last week of May. This was my first time in the OBX, and my first time in North Carolina aside from passing through the state en route to other destinations. Hayley and I, along with the extended family on my dad's side, rented a beach house in the town of Corolla, on the north end of the OBX only a few miles south of the Virginia border. The house was huge, but was just big enough for our party of 15 adults and 3 small kids.

My father's cousin and her husband, Debbie and Sean Hunt, own the house and gave us a great deal on the price for the week. We had our own private pool and the Atlantic Ocean was a five minute walk away. Also of note: the Hunts own a microbrewery in Fairfax County, VA, called Mustang Sally Brewing Company. I haven't had the opportunity to try their beer yet, but I'm confident that they know how to brew a great beer.

Sunny Daze, our home for the week. 
I won't go into too much detail on the vacation, since this blog is mainly about running. Instead I'll just provide a few notes about some places I ran and hiked, or would have liked to if given the chance, plus brief details on some other interesting stuff. Most of the interesting but non-running itinerary is toward the bottom of this post.

After a night in Quakerstown, PA, for my cousin Elizabeth's wedding, we arrived in Corolla on May 27, the day before Memorial Day. I'm told it was early enough in the summer for us northerners to beat the heat, but temperatures in the mid-to-upper 80s and near 100 percent humidity were still more than I was used to. I managed a few runs on the bike path that follows NC-12 — the state highway that serves as the main through-way for the entire length of the OBX. A few rows of

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Bear Mountain Blues

It had been three years since my last romp through the woods in Bear Mountain and Harriman State Parks. I had a rough day at the 50k there in 2015, and it remains my slowest 50k to date. They say time can heal all wounds, right? Well when I registered for North Face's ECSNY 50-mile, those mental scars had healed pretty well and I forgot just how difficult the terrain can be, leading to unreasonable expectations and some prolonged suffering.

2018 was actually my fourth time running the North Face's New York event. I ran the half marathon with Adam in 2012 when I was new to trail running, returned in 2013 to run the full marathon during the buildup toward my first ultra, and then ran the aforementioned 50k two years later. Although I signed up pretty late this year for the 50M, it fit into my schedule and I'd been strongly considering for quite awhile.

PC: Joe Azze/Mountain Peak Fitness
The course is a loop that starts and ends near Hessian Lake at Bear Mountain Sate Park, although most of it runs through the adjacent and much larger Harriman State Park. The land has a lengthy history behind it dating back to the Revolutionary War era, and it contains about a third of the Appalachian Trail's 90 miles within New York State. Bear Mountain also serves as the locale for the obscure Bob Dylan song "Talkin' Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues."
Well, I run right down and bought a ticket
To this Bear Mountain Picnic
But little did I realize
I was in for a picnic surprise
Had nothin’ to do with mountains
I didn’t even come close to a bear
I spent the night before the race renting a room via Air BnB at a guy's house in Newburgh, 20 miles from the park. Vincent, the owner, was there during my stay, along with his buddy who was visiting from Houston. They asked about what I was up to for the weekend so I told them. Usually conversations with unsuspecting non-ultrarunners turn into a sort of Spanish Inquisition with a lot of awkward explanations about eating and peeing, and disbelief on the side of the non-ultra parties. "Really!? I don't even like to drive that far, har-har." Although neither men are trail or ultra runners themselves, they were unfazed by my discourse and tales of previous races. Vincent, in fact, had section-hiked the AT, and his friend had several

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Crescent Trail Self-Supported FKT

So this is what I do on my day off now, when Hayley's at work. The idea was to do a long run someplace I'd never been that I could complete and be home by dinner time. The Crescent Trail in Perinton, NY, just south of Rochester, looked cool so I drove up there for the day. Monday, May 21, called for beautiful weather and I had nothing else planned for the day. I was also feeling well rested two weeks removed from the North Face ECSNY 50 at Bear Mountain, and wanted to get this run in before leaving for vacation in the Outer Banks.

The trail as listed as one of several Fastest Known Times (FKT) on Eric and Sheila Eagan's Trail Methods FKT Regional Zone. Following the site's rules and attempting the FKT was more of an afterthought. The time to beat was 6:51:20, and it seemed reasonable to better that time without running the route at race effort. There are a few different FKT categories listed on the website. I decided on the two-way, self-supported run, meaning I'd run a 35-mile out-and-back route without relying on any outside help. I carried all my own food, water, and gear, aside from a hidden water jug

Monday, June 18, 2018

Seneca7 Snowflakes

When Team Dawn to Dusk crossed the finish line in Geneva at the 2017 Seneca7, it was decided on the spot that we'd make every effort to loop the lake again the following year. Circling an entire Finger Lake in a team van, while one of us is running, and while 300+ other teams are doing the same, has a very unique appeal. The area around the lake is transformed into a whole other world, complete with uniformed weekend warriors, sub-elite road runners, cyclists, hashers, and Ford Windstars adored with team monikers like "7 Fiesty Trash Bags." When registration for the 2018 race opened on Halloween, we were one of the lucky few able to register online before the server crashed and the race filled up in minutes. We were headed back to Geneva.

The Seneca7 is a seven-person road relay that's advertised as 77.7 miles around Seneca Lake, starting and ending on the lake's north shore in Geneva. Each team member runs three legs of various lengths, while the non-running members travel from one checkpoint to the next in a single vehicle. The 330 teams are classified into divisions — Men's, Women's, Mixed, and Cycling. Teams enter their

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

And This Old World Is a New World and a Bold World

Mike Stewart and I jog up and around the Cornell Vet School to stretch out a bit and get away from the throngs congregating in and around Barton Hall. I'm feeling pretty anxious and ready to get this party started. Recent tempo run training has me thinking a 1-hour 27-minute half marathon is doable, even with the expected cold and wind. The warm-up run feels a lot smoother than last year's, when I could tell right away I'd be having an awful morning.

NY23 congressional candidate Ian Golden is emceeing the starting line, and a handful of cries of "Golden for Congress!" arise from the pack. I decide then and there that a double long-sleeve shirt is overkill, so I remove the base-layer and tie it around my waist since I can't spot anyone to toss it to. Then we start running the slight incline up Tower Road and everyone's all like "It's a new dawn, it's a new day, and I'm feeling good."

Four miles in and I'm not feeling too good going up Dodge Road. Things don't improve over the next few miles and the

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Introducing The The MK Ultra



Sure, we know you can run 100 miles. You've run ultramarathons over the highest mountains, through white-out conditions, and across the most remote deserts in the world. But do you have the mental tenacity required to complete the distance while out of your head on mind altering substances? Ever wish you could push your body to the brink while living that acid trip scene from Easy Riders, all in the name of national security? Then the MK Ultra might just be for you!

Introducing the MK Ultra 100-Mile Trail Run, where LSD is more than just "Long Slow Distance." 

Friday, March 16, 2018

Slaying the Winter Beast

After sticking mostly to singletrack and mountain ultras in 2017, I decided it was time to change things up and train for an ultra that's flat and a hundred percent runnable. The Beast of Burden is just that. It follows the old Erie Canal towpath from Lockport, NY, eastward to the town of Middleport and back. 25-, 50- and 100-mile runners all start together and run the same 25-mile out-and-back to Middleport once, twice, or four times. I had a rough day at this race back in 2016, and knew I could return and improve by a huge margin.

As I've mentioned in a previous race report, I created my own training plan based on guidelines from the book Training Essentials for Ultrarunning by accomplished ultramarathon coach Jason Koop. In years past, I always spent the winter months dabbling in other activities like snowshowing, hiking, and yoga, and running sporadically on roads and treadmills or fumbling around on snowy trails. This winter was different. By running almost exclusively on roads and rail trails, I'd improve my endurance enough that it would carry over to trail running come springtime. The goal of the 16-week plan was

Monday, February 12, 2018

0 Degree Winter Trail Festival

At the end of 2017 I was able to squeeze in one last trail race to close out the year. #TrailRoc's 0 Degree WTF is a low-cost, low-key, no frills trail race, with a similar vibe to most of the FLRC trail races around Ithaca. The course snakes its way around Powder Mills County Park on a 5-ish mile loop, with options to hoof it for 5, 10, or 15 miles. #TrailsRoc holds the race annually to raise money for trail maintenance projects in the Rochester, NY, area, with all proceeds going back to the trails and landowners.

After plans to head up to Maine for the Millinocket Marathon fell through, I signed up for the WTF 15-Miler to run it as a workout. I figured I'd get some quality mileage in amidst a six-week training phase that involved a ton of uphill intervals at maximum effort. Halfway through the six-week phase, 15 miles on dry trails would be a welcome reprieve from shredding my calves on 12 percent road inclines.

December 9 came around—the same day I'd planned to run Millinocket—and thankfully the park was snow-free. It was quite a bit warmer than the advertised 0° Fahrenheit. In fact, it was pretty

Friday, February 9, 2018

A Brief Look Back at 2017

I realized it's been awhile since I've posted anything the on the ol' weblog. Here's a brief summary of the races and places I visited throughout 2017.

Winter Chill 5k. PC: Ian Golden.
It was a year of ups and downs and highs and lows in terms of running. I started off the year getting over a bout of Achilles tendinosis that I'd acquired after trying to return too quickly from the Oil Creek 100 in October 2016. I mostly took it easy throughout January, running lower mileage and dabbling in snowshoe running. The Finger Lakes Runners Club Winter Chill Series, comprised of a low-key 5k every Sunday in January, served as a way to get some speed back after losing fitness due to the injury.

The quality mileage and gradual ramp-up paid off. I signed up for the Cast-a-Shadow 6-Hour Snowshoe Race in early February, but it became a regular trail run when the park didn't get enough snow for snowshoes. I managed 37.5 miles
on the 2.5-mile loop course—more than I'd hoped for, and good enough for my first ever top-three finish. I followed that up three weeks later with a marathon PR, by over four minutes, at the HMRRC Winter Marathon in Albany. This really got my confidence up, as I hadn't trained specifically a road marathon in over two years. I ran the first 20 miles at a comfortably-hard pace, then upped thee ante over the last 10k to secure the PR.

Fast forward a couple of months to April, where things really started to get busy. Adam and I returned to the Springletrack Fat-Ass. The course was shortened to 20 miles after a wildfire forced some major trail closures. Just as well, since most of the course was covered in snow and the scrambles were too icy to negotiate without a legit risk of death. The following weekend I ran Ithaca's skunk Cabbage Half Marathon for