Thursday, September 19, 2013

Virgil Crest Ultra---"50 miles of trail-mountainish goodness"

The Virgil Crest Ultra is a Monster of a race! With 10,000 feet of gain and loss, slow rocky, rooty single-track Finger Lakes Trail, this race is a punisher of a course.  Oh yeah, and you summit Greek Peak at 2,189 feet from 1,180 feet in about a mile and a half (That is running up a ski slope!).  The course record is 8:34 or so which is a smoking fast time for the course and I hope to be able to run right around that time on the slow end though my real goal is to run a super fast course record time that will stand for many years to come.  Looking at my race at the Cayuga Trails 50, I did not race to my ability with my badly twisted ankle and I still managed a 7:45 effort though wound up off course for a 8:00 on the dot finish.  That type of performance with the similar amount of vertical would place me 30 minutes above record pace.  Now all I need is to be able to run to my potential and hope for dry conditions so I can run the downhills fast and not get slowed down by the mud.  If all the stars align, I think that a 7 hour performance is in the cards.  I have been running tons of vertical both up and down and though I have been on the tired-side of running, when I taper in the next 2 weeks, I should be primed to handle the course the best I can. 
Wearing my Mammut MTR longsleeve zip on a nice cool morning--46 degrees
(Best quality apparel around!!!)

Here is Ian Golden's RD of Virgil Crest's description of the course:

"The revised course uses an out-back format, repeated for the 100, starting and ending at Hope Lake Park with a turnaround point just shy of Daisy Hollow Rd. The hills are pretty constant, runnable in most parts and steepest in the mid-section around Greek Peak. Approximately 44.5/89 miles will be run over hilly single track trail, with 3.5/7 miles of dirt/gravel forest road and 2/4 miles of asphalt. Elevation gain and loss is roughly 10,000/20,000 feet. The hills are constant and the terrain technical at times. Respective cut-off times are 16.5 hours for 50-mile, 36 hours for 100-mile and 28 hours for relay." (Golden,V-Crest RD).

I have trained out on these sections ever since I have moved to Cortland and I love it out there.  I feel that if anyone will have an advantage, it will be me.  This race for me is the ultra in my backyard as being only 7 miles from the start is fairly close.  I am excited to finally run another ultra as I have taken a break since the Cayuga Trails 50.  I crave that longer distance and I feel that my training has set me up for success at the distance.  Running fast tempos, uphill, downhill, long 3-4 hour runs of marathon to 50k distance have helped to curate a level of speed out on the longer endurance events.  I can handle a faster pace but still can remain patient and strong ready to make a huge pace change that can win me a race.  Sept 21st is the date and I look forward to representing my sponsor's new gear at the event:  Mammut, Acidotic Racing, Fits Socks, Karhu/Craft and Dion Snowshoes. 

I plan on wearing my best MTR gear and apparel for the record attempt including my MTR 201 shoes the best in light, durable, and fast shoes!

**Oklahoma Vacation:
The trip began with Ashlee and myself heading out on the long car ride to Oklahoma from Cortland, NY. We left late Friday evening and drove the 24 hours straight through taking turns.  It was fun to spend that time on the roads but I was happy to finally make it into Oklahoma.  We ended up scooting to Norman, to spend time with friends for a day or two as we would spend the rest of the week with her family. Once in Oklahoma, I put my Mammut MTR shirts to the test.  With humid and HOT conditions in the morning---Mid 70's at 7am to around 85 by 9am and 80% humidity and 90-110 temps by mid-day, I was sweating more than a human should sweat. It reminded me about all of those tough sweaty runs in the Oklahoma sun.  My MTR 71 shirts act like mini air-conditioners and were able to keep me as dry as possible.  In those conditions it is impossible to come out not pouring with sweat.  Though I was indeed drenched on the skin, what was picked up by the shirt was actually whisked away by the wind.  Mammut makes amazing technical shirts that fit great and never cling to the body nor ever make you feel "heavy".  The runs were tough in the heat but I managed.  I ran some hills and tried to find as much shade as possible.  The photo below shows some of the dirt roads I had the chance to run on---(lovely shade to boot but only for a mile then I was back in the sun).  After a few days with the family, we headed to Arkansas to visit Ashlee's sister.
Oklahoma dirt road!
Ashlee and my own favorite bar! Best sandwiches around!
Oklahoma float trip.
We floated the Illinois River which was a blast! A lazy river in the hilliest sections of Oklahoma, home to the Cherokee Nation was the best experience.  My Mammut visor saved me from sunburn! Our group consisted of about 23 people of our closest friends and family. It was such a great time swimming in the Illinois as tons of rain days earlier made the water nice and cool.  It felt great.  It was fun catching up with everyone and truly a remarkable experience. 

Searcy Arkansas::::

We also spent time with Ashlee's sister, Sarah, her kids and her husband at their new home in Searcy Arkansas.  Just heading to Arkansas, the weather was much cooler.  It was still hot and humid but the fact of having more trees and higher elevations helped to keep the high temps near 85 in stead of 110.  I had two runs in Searcy. The pictures below showcase the Searcy Country Club Road that had some lovely views, nice homes, and some decent hills with a steep 7% grade.  It was fun running in a different area and the BBQ in Searcy at the Flying PIG was the best BBQ I have had in a long time.  It was nice to get some decent running in here and I must say that Arkansas is a pretty cool state.  It has a very backwoods, outdoor feel and the terrain is very unique with bluffs, mountains, high hills, and tons of trees! 
The nice homes by the country club
View on Country Club road in Searcy, AR
Searcy, Arkansas
****Training in Cortland, NY

On the trip back we had heard the rain had shifted east and had flooded Cortland and other locales in Upstate NY.  The weather was super cool and it was great after a wonderful vacation to get back to the basics again and our routine.  I began to continue to up my mileage and to begin my training for the Virgil Crest Ultra.  Running up every steep hill in sight was my challenge! 
The Cortland Monsoon-tons of rain and flooding after the trip back from Oklahoma
The top of Ames Road!
Ames Road and its dreaded 11.3% graded hill!
The sunset through the clouds
Cortland, NY from 1,954 feet on Pendleton Street--A beautiful sunset. The perfect view of the city of Cortland and its surroundings with a perfect sunset to encapsulate a lovely scene.

Finger Lakes National Forest
Located near Watkins Glen, NY
Trails cross over bridges
Marsh Trail (Blue Blazes)
Winding single-track

The day of directing the Catherine Valley Half Marathon in Watkins Glen, I was heading back home and noticed a sign for the Finger Lakes National Forest and decided to head that way into the forest.  It was a great decision.  Not only are the trails amazing through here but the signage is spot-on.  This National Forest is beautiful with lovely vistas, cool single-track, and great winding trails.  Running this makes me consider running the Finger Lakes 50 next year. What a great place to run in.  I encountered some horse trails too and ran in the thick soft mud and had to avoid many horse pies!  There is nothing better than winding through the woods just experiencing nature in such a unique and exhilarating way.  Moving through nature is a cool concept to think of and that is what has gravitated my running to the trails.  The challenge is always there, and the experience is...Priceless!

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