On June 3rd I attempted the Cayuga Trail 50 again for the second time. This time I had hopes to actually finish, unlike last time when I knew it was a long shot. I had recently come back from the most wonderful trip to St Thomas for Kristy’s bachelorette. Prior to the trip I was having some shin pain that was slowly getting worse. During the vacation I didn’t run at all because it was too hot and humid. This was the best decision I made, coming back from vacation my shins were 100% pain free and my head was less cluttered.
The Friday before the race I head to the Finger Lakes Running & Tri Co. in the commons to pick up me bib. The race is the same weekend as Ithaca Fest, which means the commons and Ithaca are alive with activity. I pick up some dog biscuit from a street vendor because I know Pepper will be sad when she leave in running gear without her the next day. Then it is home to get my things together for the race. After I get home I realize I got the wrong bib number. I text Ian let him know about the mix up we deicide to switch bibs in the morning.
The morning of the race I hit snooze one to many times and I’m forced to rush a bit, luckily I got most of my stuff ready the night before. I eat some chia seed pudding on the way to Robert Treman Park to arrive 14 minutes before the start. Just enough time to get my drop bag and hit up the bathroom. I don’t even have enough time to drink all my coffee. I snag a spot at the back of the line chat with Gloria for a hot moment then we are off.
This year the course is a bit different, at the top of the gorge trail we turned right over a bridge hoped on the Red Pine trail took a left turn and looped around before the first aid station. As expected I see my friend Gary at the first aid station get a big hug which he points out that I am already sweaty. Well yeah, I’m not always pretty when I run. My game plan for this race is to eat every 5 miles. I hit the 5.5-mile mark and decide to eat; I'm not hungry at all but know it is in my best interest to eat early and often. This section of the trail is this amazing single track that is very runnable. There is nothing but pure running bliss on this section. At the second aid station I eat 2 slices of watermelon and some bacon. I never ate bacon when running but I didn’t have time to eat all my breakfast so why not. The rest of my first loop is nothing but enjoyable. I love to encourage other runners and say hello to the some I know. This is why local races are the best! I make it back to the start line a full hour quicker than I did last year. I am still feeling great at this point. I change my socks and chat with my friend Nicole for a few then I am off again.
The first time I start to feel a bit poor is right around 30 miles. I run/walk with a farmer who I saved from going off course. It took a mile or two but I start to feel better at my favorite section of the course on the FLT between Old Mill and Underpass. I know the hill at Lick Brook is looming after the Underpass. This is one I was not looking forward to; during the hill I pick up a stick and use it as a pole to help me up the hill. Yeah the hill sucked the second time but I expected nothing less. Things start to fall apart on the downhill at Buttermilk; this is a section I thought I should be running. It is down hill! The EASY part! My IT band was screaming at me. I hobble into the aide station at Buttermilk to some warnings about cut off. I tell them I would not be upset if they told me I couldn’t continue. The fabulous volunteers from TrailsROC kick my ass out of the aid station and I start up the stairs. I tell myself if I make it up the stairs at Buttermilk I have to finish. By the time I get to the downhill section of Lick Brook I can’t even go down the hill forward. I turn around and head down the hill backwards. While creeping down the hill backwards I see the sweeper, Gerrit, come up behind me. He jokes around with me about my interesting technique used to descent hills. At this point my legs do not seem to be working at all, I couldn’t bend my knees. I make it to the underpass; see Nicole’s husband who tells me it is 7 more miles. I think only 7. I made it this far another 7 miles doesn't seem that far keep on truckin’. Coming up Lucifer stairs I hear Kristy and Lou calling for me. During my race I was texting Kristy she had to come get me because I couldn’t finish. Kristy wanted to finish out the race with me but I thought her chipperness would make me hate her. I chose to stay with Gerrit who had been so encouraging and kind and really the best person ever to me at my moments of suffering. When descending the small hill that felt like a mountain before the last Old Mill aid station I make my decision to drop. The way my legs were feeling at the moment the last 2.7 miles might as well been 50 more miles.
I come into the last aid station to see my friends waiting for me, it looked like a party. I take a moment to compose myself before telling them I will not be continuing. Thank you to Kristy, Lou, Katelynn, Gary, Melissa, and Walter for waiting around forever to see me. I set my ass on the ground and take my shoes off. Nothing has felt better in my life. Kristy retrieves a well-earned Flower Power for me to enjoy when recovering from DNF. I was also freezing so I steal Kristy’s shirt off her back because that is what good friends are for. When I feel like I can walk again I hobble to the car and make it down to find my drop bag and change. I see Hayley at the finish line who was waiting for me also; she will have to wait another year to see me at the finish line. She tells me some people are heading over to Ithaca Beer so we head over. I will be drinking my sorrows of yet another DNF away. Since I have the best friends ever they also pick me up some pho, which is the best post run food ever, and drop me off at home.
This race will always have a special place in my heart. Not only because I love the races in Ithaca where I get to see my running community but also because this is the race that introduced me to ultra running. Until next year Cayuga Trails 50.