SRT 20 miler

I’m very lucky to have so many amazing trails within minutes of my house. Since moving to New Paltz, NY in February, the Shawangunk Mountains have been my playground.

I decided to participate in the Shawangunk Ridge Trail run/hike 20 miler as a tune-up and test for my 50k this coming weekend. In the inaugural event, Ken and Todd offered 3 days of racing to those who share the thrill of running wild on the trails of Hudson Valley. A 74-mile jaunt began Friday night. Out of 5 starters, only one man finished – kudos to him for toughing it out! Saturday hosted the 32 mile option – this one tempted me but I am not yet prepared to run such long distances so close in proximity. Plus, I heard that the first section of the 32-mile race was brutal! I opted for the 20-miler on Sunday, which turned out to be a perfect option for me.

Trail blazes marked our course

Trail blazes marked our course

The race was point-to-point and un-supported which made it interesting. The trails were blazed by the Trail Conference, but there were no other markings. There was a GPS app you could download and 2 checkpoints along the course, but beyond that you were on your own. About half of the race took you through some great technical trails. You then transition onto the roads and run down the mountain before turning onto the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail for the last few miles to the finish.

When we were released onto the trails, I went off the front along with 3 other guys – I could tell this was going to be a fast race. As the leader Jason pulled away I jumped in front of the other 2 guys for our first section of climbing. Before long we hit some descents and I could hear the 2 guys coming up quickly. I stepped aside to let them pass – this was a “training” race and I was not about to take any risks. This allowed the 3 guys to open a substantial gap on me but I was fine with this. Before even hitting 2 miles one of them went down hard with a twisted ankle. After making sure he was okay I once again took off into the woods – still a lot of miles ahead!

Passing through checkpoint one it was time for the long, gradual climb along Old Minnewaska Trail. I could see one, then both men ahead of me as I made my way along the path feeling both strong and confident. When I made my first pass I urged him to hop on as Jason was just ahead of us, but I continued on alone. When I reached Jason I let him know that no one was with me and we chatted for a while as we hopped onto the Undivided Lot trail – one of my favorites! I offered to take a turn pulling but Jason had a different idea. He said he would pull me through the woods if I pulled him up the hills and along the road. I have to admit Jason – I did not want to be pulled through the woods 😉 But I am not opposed to working together, and thought maybe it was a smart idea to settle in for a while and save myself for later in the race. Jason again took the descents with a tenacity that I was not willing to partake in that day. And sure enough he took a rough tumble in turn. He appeared to be no worse for the wear and continued on. Once we got to the first “climb” in that section it was my turn to take over and pull. But I realized pretty quickly that Jason wasn’t coming with me. Sorry Jason – it was time to run my race! (read Jason’s race report here)

Photo credit: Tom Bushey

Photo credit: Tom Bushey

Crossing over the road onto Chapel Trail – I forgot how tough that section is! I resorted to power-hiking at that point – this year I have learned when to embrace the power hike as a smart move and not to be ashamed of it! I was excited to arrive at Spring Farm because I knew there was only a little bit of climbing left to do on this course. I became anxious when I did not see a checkpoint there, as this was the section of the course I was unsure of. I came across Ken and asked him about the trails ahead. He assured me that I wouldn’t have any issues finding my way and I left it at that – forgetting he doesn’t know me and how easily I become lost 😉 Sure enough I popped out onto the carriage road, turned in the direction I knew was correct, but quickly questioned my route. I stopped halfway up a climb to look around, then started heading back down the hill before realizing I would have to run it again if it was in fact the correct route. I then resorted to pulling out my phone, pulling up the app, and confirming that I was on course. Phew! Now I took off at almost a sprint to make up for that unwanted break.

Photo credit: Tom Bushey

Photo credit: Tom Bushey

Before long I hit the second checkpoint onto Mountain Rest Road. This is a long, steep, and curvy downhill that I love…to ride on the bike. It was refreshing to hit the pavement and pick up the pace, but within only minutes I was ready to get off that road! My quads were not happy with the pace I was tackling and the undulating stretch seemed to go on forever. Once you get to the bottom of the mountain you turn onto another road that offers a short climb (to which my legs were not happy to respond) before turning down another road with a steep descent. I reasoned with myself that the faster I ran, the sooner I would be on the rail trail 😉

20140921SRTrace

Photo credit: Tom Bushey

Onto the rail trail at last – at a spot where I run a majority of my recovery miles. A section where miles tend to tick away quickly and effortlessly. Not today! The heat and humidity were starting to really take their toll and I felt like I was moving backwards. Passing the Rail Trail Café where I knew I’d be enjoying lunch soon gave me that last boost knowing I had less than 2 miles to go. And finally the trestle bridge – with no shade and thick, hot air I definitely got that dizzy feeling that the diagonal planks create. The finish line was just ahead and I was happy to see it!

Throughout the day runners continued to venture in – everyone wearing smiles from an awesome adventure on a challenging yet fun course. The race was exactly what I had hoped for. I was happy with how I paced it and how I felt – just the confidence boost I needed! And of course I was aiming for the overall award…
SRT awardCongrats to everyone who tackled any of the SRT challenges! Thank you to Ken and Todd for creating such a cool event. And of course thank you to Inov-8 and 110% for providing gear that allows me to run my best! This was my first time racing in my x-talon 190’s. I knew they would not be necessary for the road and rail trail portion of the race, but I was definitely happy to have them for the technical sections. And they did not feel uncomfortable or slow me down on the road and rail trail. This was my first time racing with the Race Ultra Vest and testing the full fluid capacity (2 liter reservoir + 2-500 ml bottles). I will be writing a product review of this vest soon, but for now I will tell you this was more comfortable to race in than I imagined! Another staple to my trail racing are 110%’s Flat Out Sox. Tackling long miles on uneven terrain my legs welcome these fatigue-reducing compression socks to keep me feeling fresh through the finish line.

Finish time – 2:32
Lunch on the course – vegan bean & sweet potato burrito 🙂

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Spring Dual Race Report

spring dualRace #1 for the weekend was the Spring Dual Against Cystic Fibrosis. It had all of the elements of a great race – less than 1 mile from home, a short but intense distance to warm up for the upcoming season, and it raised money for a great cause.

It had rained the previous night leaving wet roads, but we were lucky that the weather cooperated with us race morning. For a small local race, I was excited to see some sexy bikes and fast athletes in transition. This was going to be fun!
StartThe runs were identical – a 2 mile loop – half on a cinder rail trail and half on the road. My plan was to take it slightly easier on the rail trail, and then open up once we turned onto the road heading back to transition. The plan worked well and I came into T1 with an 11:53 split. Despite realizing during the national anthem that I left my gloves in transition (frozen fingers strike again), I had an uneventful T1 as I headed out onto the bike course.
1st TransitionThe bike was a 12 mile TT – an out-and-back on a flat road. It was here that I noticed my lack of training outside. It wasn’t windy per se, but it sure felt like it as I struggled to maintain a respectable pace. After the turnaround I felt a little more settled in and was able to pull off a negative split. That was probably due to 1) seeing the chasing females behind me, and 2) perhaps there was a tailwind 🙂

It’s always exciting for me to get off the bike and start run #2, because that is where I feel strongest. As you may have already seen in the video that was posted, as I was dismounting the bike I hit the brakes only to have the rear tire fishtail behind me. Oops! Gotta get those first race mishaps out of the way. The roads were still wet, and I had my training wheels on the bike – that tire has been on the trainer for over a year and is in desperate need of replacing!
2nd TransitionTime to finish the race with the 2nd run. And this is where I put the most thought in prior to the race. With a tough trail race the following day, I wasn’t sure how hard I wanted to push if I had a big enough lead. But at the same time I don’t like getting into the habit of “letting up” when I feel confident in my lead. I was feeling good at this point so I decided to stick with a solid 2nd run. I aimed at passing a few of the guys and finishing strong. Had I been paying attention to my splits I would have tried to push that 2nd run a little harder to more closely match the first run, but I was happy with my finish.
FinishOverall the race was great! Well-organized, great volunteers, and a fun course. Other than needing some more work on the bike, I felt great. Now it was time to have a celebratory lunch at Karma Road with some friends – Evan and Jess who tackled their first duathlon – and smiled the whole way!
Evan and JessNext up on the duathlon schedule…Cary Du Classic🙂

Run 1 – 11:53
T1 – :31
Bike – 31:50
T2 – :33
Run 2 – 12:34
Total – 57:22

* all photos courtesy of Jared Avigliano

Coming Attractions for 2014

It’s been way too long since I have checked in, so let me just fast forward to where I am now and what lies ahead for 2014!

The big news is that I have moved to New Paltz, NY as of February 1st! 🙂

Photo courtesy of capturemidhudsonvalley.com

Photo courtesy of capturemidhudsonvalley.com

Lancaster County is a wonderful place. I was lucky to have ridden through the beautiful countryside, run on some of the most amazing trails, and make many wonderful friends. So why leave? Sometimes you just feel stuck, and that is what I was experiencing. It was time to move on and create new amazing adventures. Most of you who know me well know that I can’t sit still for too long. So I followed my heart and it led me to where I am today! I have many fond memories of my time in Lancaster, and I will be returning often to revisit some of my favorite places (and people of course).

New Paltz – I had visited the area a few times in the past 6 months and it was not hard to fall in love with this place. Located near the Catskills, it is home to the Shawangunk Ridge which includes the Mohonk Preserve and Minnewaska State Park Preserve. This means bunches and bunches of trails to run on which makes me squeal like a little girl 🙂 With the 20+ inches of snow that landed over the past week I haven’t had the opportunity to get out on the bike and explore, but from driving the area I know that my bike and I will spend hours together – a big smile on my face the whole time. Hurry up Spring!! With a gym, a pool, and multiple vegan food stores and restaurants within walking distance, I’d say I hit the jackpot!

Beauty surrounds New Paltz

Beauty surrounds New Paltz

New Paltz is also home to the infamous SOS Triathlon and American Zofingen Duathlon. And it’s also not far from Escarpment. To any of my friends who are planning to do any of these races, want a weekend training somewhere new and exciting, or just want to visit me – you are more than welcome 🙂

A look ahead at my race plans – I am very excited about the progression of my 2014 race schedule. Here is a sneak preview:

1) I have a number of road races on the calendar where I will join my favorite crew – Strong Hearts Run Club. Every time we race together I meet new awesome people that I am honored to call my friends. We have created a community that is both full of positivity and motivation. Join us on Facebook to keep track of our events, and hopefully you can join us at one of them!

Strong Hearts to the Front!

Strong Hearts to the Front!

2) Team Strong Hearts Vegan Power is coming back in 2014 – bigger and badder! We are currently fielding teams for Cape Cod Ragnar Relay and Adirondacks Ragnar Relay. We made quite the impact last year and it was our maiden voyage. In 2014 we plan to step it up a notch as we share our message: For the animals, for the earth, for your health. Go Vegan! If you are a vegan who loves to run, check out the video below to get a taste of our adventures. And get in touch if you want to join us in 2014!

http://vimeo.com/77557797
ragnar crew

3) Duathlon Worlds takes place early in the season this year. Although duathlon wasn’t my focus in 2013 and I did not attend the National Championship, I competed in 3 duathlons which placed me 1st in the national rankings for the 35-39 Age Group. This *should* qualify me to attend this year’s World Championship in Pontevedra, Spain. Hopefully I will have the opportunity to race for Team USA again this year!

4) Racing short course early in the year allows for a nice transition to longer course racing. I plan to compete at Ironman 70.3 Syracuse again this year. Last year’s heat got the best of me on this awesome course so I want to redeem myself in 2014. If all goes well I would like to earn a slot to the Ironman 70.3 World Championship – another race where I need to redeem myself 🙂 This year the Championship is in Mont-Tremblant, Quebec and I have heard nothing but great reviews of that location.

5) Next I will increase the volume steadily for my final phase. 2013 brought me much success in trail racing and I plan to continue that streak this year with various trail races scattered throughout my calendar. After tackling my first 50k without properly training for it, this year I plan to race Blues Cruise again to take a nice chunk off my time. The big goal for 2014 is to race the JFK 50 Mile Run in November to round out my season. I’m really looking forward not only to the training, but experiencing such a legendary event.

Wait…there’s more – I am very excited that I will be a part of Team Inov-8 again in 2014! My loyalty to the Inov-8 line is unwavering – since first trying their shoes in 2012 I knew they were the perfect match for me. And since then my love affair with the brand has been blossoming. Tri shoes, road shoes, trail shoes, off-trail shoes, fitness shoes – they have it all! Each and every pair I own has a distinct purpose in my arsenal, and each and every pair puts energy into my step as soon as I slip them on. On top of that they have an expanding line of apparel and packs which continue to impress me. Inov-8 knows what an athlete needs to perform at their best and they deliver an exceptional product that not only outperforms the competition, but also provides a level of comfort which is crucial. I can’t wait to try their newest addition to the family, the Tri-X-Treme 245.
tri shoeCheck out what Inov-8 has to offer – you may find your new true love. If you have questions about any of their products or about natural running in general don’t be afraid to ask 🙂

I couldn’t be more excited about what lies ahead this season. And I hope to cross paths with all of you during this year’s adventures. Until then, I better get to training!