in short....maybe. I think that the mud at the Finger Lakes was deeper and sloppier, but the mud in Vermont this past weekend went on for more miles. Either way, they both made for very tough running conditions. I passed hundreds of mountain bikers.
A very brief race report will follow (don't have too much time to write about running as my Masters defense is in 6 days and I just landed in San Diego for the WAIS Divide Science Meeting). I did finish the race, with a decent time of 10hrs 39minutes (5 minutes short of a PR). At the 25 mile mark, I was on pace to finish in under 10 hrs, and then it all fell apart. The second half of the course was awful.
For some reason the official results posted on Vermont50.com do not have me listed and I've been emailing them trying to get this error corrected. I missed PR'ing by 5 minutes....which is quite amazing to me since this course had about 5000 more feet of elevation gain than Finger Lakes and was just as muddy. I had fun, and that's what was important. (Although I did manage to run 49.5 miles without falling or wiping out, and within sight of the finish line biffed hard...muddied myself up real good - murphy's law i guess).
This was my last Ultra of 2009 (although not necessarily "race" of 2009 as I might throw in a 5k or something before Antarctica) It's good to say that. I need a break from my year of ultrarunning.
Despite the fact that I really have no time to be screwing around with additional races with all of my thesis stress right now, I did squeeze in my 2nd running of the Rochester Marathon this past weekend. (Literally "Squeezed". I drove up Saturday afternoon, ran Sunday Morning, and drove home Sunday night)
I wanted to run it again this year for four reasons:
1. I was so completely pissed off at last year's 90 degree /100% humidity debacle that I wanted to redeem myself (and run a respectable race in honor of my late father - who also ran the Rochester Marathon in 1989). For those of you that don't know, last year's race was literally canceled at the 20 mile mark after 4 hours due to extreme heat and humidity. Aid stations ran out of water and people were suffering from heat exhaustion all over the course. I barely finished after walking over 5 miles with a miserable time of 4 hrs 33 minutes. (after having ran a 3:53 marathon only a few months prior)
2. I am still leaving the Vermont 50 option open, and I needed a long "training" run 2 weeks before. This fit in perfectly
3. I wanted to see my mom and sister for the day.
4. I wanted to see if the course was really as shitty as I remembered it, or if I just thought it was because of the horrible heat last year. Basically, I wanted to give what I remembered being a horrible course, a 2nd chance.
I went into the race not trying to PR. Back in May, I re-ran the Pocono Marathon and shattered my previous Marathon time by 14 minutes when I finished in 3:39. I had no intention of racing that fast in Rochester, and simply wanted to have a nice, easy, and fun race. Add to that the fact that I am still recovering from the Leadville 100, I was simply shooting to have a respectable finish.
The course was slightly modified from last year, but more or less the same. The first 9 miles takes you from downtown Rochester, past East Rochester, and into Perinton/Fairport. This was my favorite part of the course. You get to see neighborhoods, and a lot of people out cheering for you. And then began the dreaded bike path....
Last year I remembered the course drops you onto a bike path along the Erie Canal and stayed on it for what seemed like FOREVER. It was nice at first, but then seemed like it would never end. I remembered not getting off of the path until almost mile 25. Surely I had to be exaggerating in my mind though right? Nope. The bike path really does go from mile 9 to about mile 24.5: Over 15 miles of what seems like endless running along the most monotonous bike path.
The difference this year was that the temps were mostly bearable. It was a sunny day, and by about 10:30, it did start getting pretty warm (mid 70's)....but nowhere near as bad as least year.
I ran the first half a lot faster than I wanted and knew I would pay for it later. Unlike with Pocono, I was not in peak road marathon condition and couldn't maintain this pace. I have been in trail/ultra mode all summer. I ended up hitting the proverbial marathon "wall" at about 18 miles, and slowed down a lot for the last 1/4 of the race. All in all though I did what I set out to do. I enjoyed myself. I crossed the finish in a respectable 3hrs and 51 minutes and was able to make a fair re-assessment of the course. What is that assessment you ask?
Well my initial assessment from '08 was pretty close. I really just don't care for the course. I don't think I'd go as far as to see it is awful, but I don't see myself returning for it next year that's for sure.
So...I'm glad I did it. I got to hang out with my sister a lot, I got to redeem myself and run a decent race for the old man, and I got in a much needed "long run".
So what about Vermont 50? Still don't know. If I can finish my final thesis draft by Tuesday, I am going to sign up. If not, then it will have to wait until next year. (or whenever)
oh and by the way. My new favourite running companions: Hammer Gels and Cliff Shot Blocks
Well, it's 1 month until my Masters Defense and it is officially Crunch Time! I have incredible loads of work to do in the next 4 weeks it's ridiculous. As I've always done though, whenever I feel overwhelmed with work and deadlines coming in from every angle, I take a deep breath, count to 10, and say, "Bring it!". grrrr.
To sum up.
I have three weeks left within which to finish writing my thesis, proofread it, and print it out for my committee to rip apart. I I have currently finished drafts up through my "methods" section, and still have to complete my results, discussion, and conclusions. Then, I will have approximately 10 days to write and prepare my defense presentation while at the same time attending a 4 day West Antarctic Ice Sheet Meeting in San Diego (the last week of september). Immediately upon getting back, I will have 3 days to make final preps before my Defense on the 6th.
In the meantime, I also have to submit an abstract and prepare a poster and talk for said WAIS Divide meeting In addition, sometime in there, I have to download all appropriate paperwork for Grad School Applications for PhD programs and request transcripts, GRE scores, and contact people for letters of recommendation.....and then actually go through the on-line application processes for however many schools I decide to apply to besides Penn State (probably 2, but maybe 3).
Also, I am still planning on getting in Rochester Marathon and possibly Vermont 50 being that they will realistically be my last chances at races before I depart for Antarctica.
Finally, I have to get everything in order for what now has been a moved-up deployment date for Antarctica of November 2nd.
The good news is that in 35 days from today, all of this will be done (except maybe the grad school apps).