Muddy Sneaker 20k (I’m gonna walk up the side of the mountain)

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Ever have one of those dreams where you just can’t manage to walk up a hill?  No matter how much you try you just don’t go anywhere.  That is the last 2 miles of the Muddy Sneaker 20k trail race in the High Tor Wilderness Area, and the picture above tells you all you need to know about what it feels like.

I’ve done my share of trail running and much prefer it to running on the roads or even on the canal path, but I have not done much in the way of trail racing.  Also when I run on trails I tend to choose pretty mild trails, like the ones around Mendon Pond Park.   I’ve raced plenty of cross country which often incorporates trails, but they are rarely single track and they are never what trail racers would call technical and what I would call rocky and rooty. The Muddy Sneaker was my first real experience racing on trails, and it was some introduction.

Now in its 15th year the Muddy Sneaker 20k course winds around a mountain making several trips up and down with a high of 1900′ and a low of 750′.  It is a mix of grassy logging roads, rocky single track, muddy single track, several stream crossings and lots of logs to jump over and duck under.

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The picture above gives you a good idea of what large portions of the course looked like, although that crossing was the easiest.  One of the crossings was about 20 feet wide with an ice shelf extending out over the water about 8 feet on each side.  The ice shelf promptly collapsed when another runner and I stepped on it at the same time.

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Going into the race I figured I could run 7 minute pace.  I have no idea why I thought that, I guess I assumed the ups and downs would even out and the mud would just slow me down a little.  At the very least sub 1:30 seemed very doable, and I was actually on pace to run well below that until I got to mile 10.  From mile 10 to 11 the course goes from 1060′ down to 750′ across the largest stream/river crossing then back up to 1120′.  From mile 11 to the finish doesn’t get any better, the course climbs another 500′.  For the first time ever I was forced to walk during a race.  I simple could not lift my knees high enough to do anything that would qualify as running for long stretches during those final 2 miles.  If you watch starting at around 9 minutes into the video below you’ll get some idea of the steepness of the accent.

When I hit the mile 12 marker I stopped and looked behind me.  Coming up the hill was a runner who had dogged me the whole race.  I had lead for most of the race, except for a few minutes early on and a few minutes around mile 6 when Alan Evans zoomed by me on a steep downhill.  I had really hoped I had put enough distance between me and Alan over the last 6 miles, but alas I had not.  I was forced to push hard the last .4 miles.

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It was without a doubt the hardest few minutes of running I had ever done.

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In the end I managed to hold off Earl for a 1st place finish with a time of 1:31:30.  Aside from the great long sleeve tech shirt, socks and glow in the dark Nalgene bottle that everyone got, I also won a great hat and a pair of Saucony Peregrine 4 from Medved. I need to thank Eric Eagan for encouraging me to try out some trail races, and I can’t wait for Medved Trail Madness in a few weeks.

A special thanks to Alex Tong for the pictures!

Edge of the World: so long winter racing!

Another winter racing season in Rochester, NY has come and gone.  And once again Roadkill Racing dominated the Freezeroo races.  With the unfortunate ending of the Polar Cats races the Freezeroo is pretty much the only game in town from December through February.  I’ve done pretty well in the series over the years, and so have other members of Roadkill Racing.  Here is break down of the last 4 Freezeroo Roadkill series finishes (out of about 200 male runners).

2010-2011

1st Matt Roberts
13th Joe Williams

2011-2012

1st Jeff Bigham
2nd Chanse Hungerford
3rd Joshua Perks
5th Matt Roberts
18th Joe Williams

2012-2013

1st Kenny Goodfellow
2nd Joshua Perks
3rd Jeff Bigham
5th Matt Roberts
14th Joe Williams

2013-2014

1st Kenny Goodfellow
2nd Dave Rappleyea
4th Matt Roberts
5th Joshua Perks
11th Joe Williams

This years final series results here.

As you can see we have done really well. Next year when our women’s team is fully up and running I expect them to dominate the leader board as well.

I’m not going to give you a blow by blow description of the final race.  Kenny ran like an absolute beast despite the howling wind and Matt finally raced one of these Freezeroos blazing past several runners during a sub 5:30 final mile.  I think the rest of us were just happy to get out of the wind and have a beer.

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You can see the 10k results HERE.

Heart felt thanks to the many Greater Rochester Track Club members who put on the races, YellowJacket Racing for keeping accurate time, the various town police for keeping us safe while on the sometimes very busy roads, the Rochester Photo Crew who take nearly all the pictures on this blog, and Running4morefun who does the video.  With out all of you we would just be running around in the cold.

Freezeroo #5 a return to racing.

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Way to excited to be racing in 10 degree temps.

Ever since I PR’d in the 5k back in early November I’ve had a tough of it on the roads.  My turkey trot race was terrible which I blamed on the 10k xc race in the snow a few days before, December was a total no go because of the snipping and my 2 January Freezeroo races were both subpar which I blamed on walking pneumonia/tuberculosis.  Aside from the weather which was less than idea (10 degrees and 10+ mph winds), there was no reason I could run a good race at Freezeroo #5.

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That stupid t-shirt scarf was not helpful.

Freezeroo #5 an 8 miler in Greece in memory of Tom Brannon.  Because I had been racing so poorly the last few months, and doing pretty much no speedwork either I didn’t know how fast to race.  I decided I would go out with Kenny for the first mile and worry about the other 7 miles later.  This actually worked out pretty well.  The first mile was mostly downhill and with the wind so I had a very easy time going through the mile in 5:18, just a few steps behind Kenny.  Once we turned and lost our downhill and tailwind I quickly dropped off to around 5:30 pace and Kenny pulled away.  A runner named Brian Barker from UofR was running with me and we came through the 5k together in 17:05.

I made a move away from Brian just past the 5k mark and open up a bit of gap during miles 4 and 5.  As we turned onto Long Pond Road for the long stretch back into the wind my pace fell of dramatically.  I’ve always felt a bit like a big sail running into the wind, and I went from running a fairly comfortable 5:35 pace at mile 5 to 6-6:10 pace the last 3 miles.  It was just about mile 6 when Brian passed me and opened up a 10 second gap which he held onto for the rest of the race.  I tried many times in those last 2 miles to surge and catch him but I only managed to close the gap by a few seconds each time before fading again.

Overall I’m very happy with my 46:15 finish, and I’m looking forward to the final Freezeroo which is a 10k out in Ontario on February 22nd.

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There is no one near you Kenny, watch you footing!
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My first time wearing tights in a race.

 

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It’s gotta be the shoes.

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Sorry you are blurry Joe, I blame the cold.

  

The last Freezeroo is setting up to be a great competition.  Kenny and Dave are only few seconds apart in the stands, and if I can put together a good race I have a shot (all be it a long one) of catching Brian for 3rd.

Results Here.