Thursday, May 9, 2019

A Few More Loops at the Thom B, 'Cuz Why Not?

The Finger Lakes runner's Club's Thom B Trail Runs is local, low-key race around Hammond Hill State Forest. The marathon comprises three singletrack loops, plus a mini loop at the end to even out the distance. The event also has one-loop 13k and two-loop 26k options. The small field size and 20-minute drive from my house made the marathon ideal for a final long effort even though I was a week into my three-week taper for the MMT 100. I'd run this race twice before, in 2014 and 2017 when the longest distance was a four-loop 52k instead of the marathon, and I've run the main loop dozens of times in training.

The Thom B is small enough that I thought I had a shot at winning—or at least winning the men's race. That is, until Ian Golden showed up at the start as a last-minute entry. Ian's been running well as of late, and in March he took the win at the inaugural Castle to River 50k against a pretty solid field. I also didn't expect to keep up with Ellie Pell, though I knew she's in training mode for the Buffalo Marathon later in May. I'd been running pretty well myself this year at the smaller, local trail races, and have learned enjoy and feed off of a competitive mindset, even if a race only has a few dozen starters. I also hoped to score some big points in an attempt to win the FLRC 2019 Stonehead series.

From the gun, Ian quickly took off up the rocky dirt road and vanished in the fog as he turned onto the trail. I expected to never see him again. I wanted to run the race at about 90% effort, and even at 110% I knew I'd have no business trying to hang with

Friday, May 3, 2019

Massanutten Mileage

Here we are at the start of May. The area's flora is quickly brightening and well on its way to full bloom. Trail surfaces are drying up and daylight hours are increasing. In other words, it's a great time of the year to come out of hibernation and step off the roads onto the trails.

The following are scattered thoughts on what has been my strongest training block to date.


At the time of this writing, we're only 15 days out from the Massanutten Mountain Trails 100, which happens to be my focus race for the first half of 2019. This past weekend (April 27-28) I completed a huge training block for MMT and am now in the midst of a three-week taper. I think this has been the best training block I've ever had, for any race or distance, and am feeling very confident about breaking 24 hours at Massanutten.

Starting the third week of December, I began the training block with a series of two or three tempo interval workouts per week for five weeks. I followed that up with a string of several 70- to 80-mile weeks, mostly on roads and occasionally on a treadmill. I largely avoided snowy, icy trails so that I could increase my cardiovascular fitness with tempo intervals and steady paced, medium length runs. The treacherous footing on trails would make the pace so slow that I wouldn't be able to benefit from

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Palmers Pond FatAss 50k

As part of my buildup toward the Massanutten 100, I signed up for the Palmers Pond FatAss 50k out in Almond, New York. Colin Bailey and Michael Valone decided to resurrect this gem, continuing with the no-fee, no-frills, no whining mentality of a true fatass trail run. (Just google "fat ass" if you don't know the term.) In fact, 2019 was only the second year of the event, following the inaugural 2016 run and a two-year hiatus. Registration was free on UltraSignup, but due to permitting, there were a limited number of spots and it "sold out" quickly back in January. The only fee of any sort was to bring something to share at the course's sole aid station.

The course comprises two different loops that are each run three times. The West Loop measured about 5.1 miles on my watch and was somewhat more forgiving terrain, while the East Loop measured 5.4 miles and had more mud, more hills, and a half-mile bushwhack section. The race HQ slash aid station sat roadside in the middle of the forest, where we'd pass through following each loop and have access to our gear in our cars, if needed.

The DEC trails around Palmer's Pond State Forest are all ATV- and snowmobile- friendly—in other words, wide, smooth, and not all that steep. This is a stark contrast to all the singletrack DEC trails I'm used to running around the Ithaca area.

The real challenge here was the mud. The trails would make for some fast 50k times when dry, but early April's heavy rains turned the race into a 32-mile mud run. What I thought was a likely PR was instead one of the toughest and slowest 50k races