The idea to attempt CT50 was already in my head from the previous year. In late November/early December I signed up. My sister had passed away about 4 months earlier and I was in not the best of spots, eating junk food, not sleeping, have a few more beers then I should. Typically I love and thrive on organized schedule and routine. At this point in my life I had a difficult time getting out of bed at my normal 5:30 (really 6:00) to work out/run or really do anything. I wanted to sleep in till 11:00 which I NEVER do and be a POS. I knew I had to get my shit together and could not keep on being the slacker I was. The day after my sign up I had a perfect run, this is ‘the run’ with the views that you only see pictures of online, but I lived it. I threw myself into my training plan 100%, I didn’t miss anything. This gave me the regimented schedule and dedicated I needed to pull myself out of the funk I was in.
I missed nothing on the training plan for the first 3 months. February rolls around, anyone in upstate NY knows this month sucks for training. Luckily we had a mild winter and February shows the first signs of spring. However this month also had a lot of responsibilities that would draw me away from my training plan. With the spring weather also came an exuberate amount of excitement for running. During one run as I watch the sunrise not looking at the terrain and I sprained my ankle. I tell myself it is not a big deal, take a week off then continue running. This goes ok for the first half of March, which is a decreased version of my training plan. About half way thru March I sprain my ankle for the second time, f#ck! Now this is when I started to get into my head that I have a ‘real’ injury. Take more time off, go to PT was told I shouldn’t run trails. I listen of course because he is the specialist not me. That is until my birthday and I really want to run some distance on my birthday. How else do you celebrate being alive then running? I rocked my birthday run but 2 days later I sprain my ankle again walking the dog. I swear I wasn’t even doing anything I shouldn’t. Well, that morning I had run stair repeats at Treman, but when I sprained it I was just walking the dog. This time I am forced to take 3 full weeks off of running. For my mental state this is the worst thing possible. I eat junk food, bake lots of dessert and of course drink more than I should.
This brings me to the last week of April, to start running again. All of my runs decrease to a snails pace because I am terrified of yet another re-injury. My anxiety during my runs are at an all time high. This is suppose to be relaxing and for fun, somehow knowing this makes it more stressful. I struggle thru a minimal training schedule for the month May. June 4th, this date is looming in the oh so near future, I ponder the idea of dropping back to the marathon distance. I somehow know I should but can’t bring myself to email Ian. All of the encouraging words from friends like Gloria. “You have worked so hard for it.” From my newest running friend Nicole, “you are going to suffer but you can make it.” From Pete a simple ‘you can do it’ are thrown around my head. I don’t change distances and wait to see what will happen when I toe the start line.
The day before the race I head over to Finger Lakes Running and Triathlon store to pick up my bib. Upon entering the commons I remember it is Ithaca Festival weekend. I take this opportunity to walk around pick up some dog treats for Pepper then head home to figure out this drop bag thing. I text Doreen to see what she recommends in a drop bag. I am more concerned with this then normal because I will not have my husband as a support. Luckily I have some great friends and the always-bubbly Brielynn offered to come cheer me on. I was rather surprised and appreciate this offer more than anything. In the drop bag I decide on spare socks, a can of yerba mate, a tank top, and some Vaseline.
Finally the morning of the race, I wake up early take a quick shower. Start some French press coffee and have a breakfast of chia seed pudding with fruit. Pepper sees me get my running shoes out and gets all excited. It breaks my heart to have to leave her when I go run. I cook her an egg to try to make up for it but I know it doesn’t come close to leaving her at home.
I arrive at Robert Treman Park a bit after I would have liked, due to some extra Pepper snuggles I couldn’t leave home without. By shear luck I pull in right after my friend Gloria. I’m excited and nervous. I watch as people carry drop bags larger than I pack for a 3-day backpacking trip and wonder if I am missing something or maybe I just put a lot of trust in Ian to have great aid stations with all I need. I find the drop for my bag and use the restroom. As I walk over to the restroom I notice a long line, crap. But wait, that long line is only for the men’s restroom. For the first time in my life the women’s restroom does not have a line and the men’s does. Thank you this is awesome, and probably how guys feel everywhere else. The most amazing Brielynn is waiting for me when I come back to the start line. I am happy to have someone to encourage me and take my coffee mug when I start. Brielynn tells me to ‘do my best’ and I head to the start line.
My mantra for this race is “I’m happy to be here.” After thinking I might not be at this race it is very true! The horn blows and we are off. I start running with Gloria for about the first 1.5 miles until we come to the particularly rooty section I slow down on for fear of re-injury. I make friends with some other runners who are about the same pace. There is a group of women I run with to the Old Mill aid station where I see Gary and Maria, I am reminded this is why I chose this race, this is my running community, this is where I belong, and these are my people.
I meet back up with Gloria and we chat about our upcoming Utah trip. I love evaesdropping in races. I listen to the runners’ reactions who have never been on these trails before. Some of my favorite are The Brothers. These two are a bit rowdy, one is carrying a backpack that is huge and probably weighs 20 pounds. I tell him if I need anything I will be asking him. Both shocked by Lucifer stairs, talking about how ‘trippy’ they are and difficult to go down. I chuckle and state they are much harder to go up. Later on one bother falls on the trail, the other gives him a hard time for about 5 minutes then asks if he is ok. Only brothers would not ask if the other is ok first. Vegan Power and I continue to be amused by these two. I hit my feel good miles. You know those miles when you are invincible; my are always in between 3 and 8.
At the Underpass aid station I decide I should probably eat something, I snack on some watermelon and oranges. The Brothers and Trekking Pole Guy stress about cut off times and question the volunteers. I listen and realize I don’t care about cutoff times, if I make it I make it and use my mantra “I am just happy to be here.” I wait for Gloria then we are off to the second and highest water crossing.
This climb was brutal, don’t know why it seemed harder than last time but it did. Not a good sign if I want to finish. At the top of Lick Brook Brielynn is waiting to encourage me, I am thrilled to see her and it gives me a much needed boost!
On my way thru the top section of Lick Brook I see some of the elites coming back thru. Wow they are fast! This is what is so cool about running. Here I am a attempting my first time running 50 miles and these crazy fast people are out here on the same course. On the downhill section of Buttermilk my ankle start hurting a bit but nothing too bad. I enter the Buttermilk aid station to see Gloria and Jeff on their way out. To my surprise the volunteers ask me what can they get me, if I need water. All the attention makes me a little uncomfortable. I know this is what they are here for but typically I am one not to be fussed over.
After eating some watermelon I head up the stairs. At this point I realize I will not be completing the 50 miles. I start to process this idea and realize I am not too upset by it. I’m just happy to be here and having fun! I start to re-adjust my goals, what distance will I be happy with today? I would be stoked if I made it back to the Underpass aid station and decide to make this my new goal. At the top of Buttermilk I see Brielynn’s smiling face again, I tell her I will not be finishing and there is no way I am doing the Lick Brook climb again! Brielynn tells me I’m doing great and it doesn’t matter if I don’t finish. She is 100% right! I say goodbye and head back into the top of Lick Brook. Now I also start to add another dimension to the race, along the race Ian has laminated cards with prices on them. I find my first one, which says Farm to Feet. Well I don’t think people that run fast would have been able to see this card lurking along the side of the trail, bonus to being slow! At the road crossing I see my friends Melissa and Walter. I chat with her for a bit then float off happy to be on the trails on this beautiful day. I start to see marathoners coming the other direction and I look forward to see fellow Ever Exploring Girl Kristy. I come across Kristy after she made the Lick Brook climb, she seems in good spirits and I promise her some flower power will be had at the end! We both continue on in opposite directions I somehow scoop up 3 more prizes and come across my favorite part in the trail. After coming off a small hill in Lick Brook I come into a field of wild flowers that is seriously the most magical moment of the whole day! The smell is intoxicating and I am reminded how happy I am to be here once again.
At the Underpass I grab some Vaseline from my drop bag for the minor chaffing I have after the multiple water crossing and wet shorts. I eat some more watermelon and joke with the aid station volunteers that I will soon be getting passed by the elites. I start to reconsider my decision on how far to run today because it is getting hot! I decide to run back until I see Kristy and return with her to the finish. I come to the bottom of stairs at Treman, good thing I know what is in store for me. I see Pete coming down the stairs; he seems surprised to see me. I tell him I haven’t quit yet and keep truckin up the stairs.
I come into the final aid station I'm looking for something caffeinated, I ask for iced coffee which I'm not surprised to hear they don’t have. Instead I have some warm coke, which actually kind of hit the spot. I finish out my final 3 miles spotting Gloria and Jeff less than half a mile from the aid station. I wish them luck and head to my finish line, I didn’t know it would be my finish at this time but when I hear Kristy cheering for me when I roll in I know there is no way I am going back out there. I drop at mile 25 happy to be here and happy to have finished as many miles as I did. Now time for some food and BEER!
For me Cayuga Trails 50 will always be more than a race it is therapy. I am beyond happy to complete 1 loop of the race this year, however I know I will have to finish 2 loops in my life. Thank you Ian for putting on a great race, all the volunteers, and fellow runners! Such a wonderful day would not be possible without all of you!