Race Recap: Sehgahunda Trail Marathon Relay

A few weeks ago, some running friends and I made the trek to upstate New York for the Sehgahunda Trail Marathon and Relay. Organized by Fleet Feet Sports Rochester and Yellow Jacket Racing, we made the trek to run with some friends who live in the area and are part of the Fleet Feet Endurance Team.

Our weekend started with a great trail run at a favorite local spot. Friday, we picked up packets at Fleet Feet and got to see both locations. The staff were friendly and the running gear selection was excellent. The weather wasn’t great (39 degrees and rainy – in June!), so we spend the rest of the day inside, resting up for the race. The race includes a marathon and a 2- and 4-person relay option. We were signed up for the 4-person team and were ready for a fun day.

Saturday morning, bright and early, we made our way up to the Mount Morris Dam. The Dam is on the Genesee River in Letchworth State Park. The Dam is remarkable. I had no idea that the Sehgahunda Valley was so deep and wide. The sights were simply amazing!

Mt. Morris Dam

It was a gorgeous day, cold, and bright. A small group gathered at the start and listened to some last minute instructions.

Sehgahunda start

Runners were told to mind the trail, watching for roots, rocks, and “gullies”. Having never experienced a gully, I asked some local runners. Apparently a gully is a ditch with a stream in the middle. The trail is advertised as highly technical and it didn’t disappoint. I ran the first leg, about six miles through open plain, forrest, and rocky hillside. The trail was highly technical, with roots and rocks galore. I lost count after about 10 gullies. Some were little bumps in the trail, others were deep crevasses with a mud puddle at the bottom. One was easily 5 feet deep with sheer mud sides. Crawling was required. Another had a flowing stream in the bottom, requiring a shuffle through six inches of swiftly moving water. I loved the course. It was well marked and the trail was clearly identified and well thought out. It was clear that runners organized and planned the course. It was such an enjoyable experience to run that I lost track of the miles.

I made it through my miles quickly and managed to pass a few people. I loved the scenery and enjoyed the challenge of the new terrain. I was covered in mud by the time I reached the incline up to River Road for the exchange.

Sehgahunda exchange 1

Each exchange point was staffed with helpful volunteers who filled water bottles and passed out food and drinks. A great food selection was available at each check point – chips, fruits, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and a variety of commercial fuels from Honey Stinger.

Overall, I loved the course and had so much fun. Everyone I interacted with was amazing – helpful and happy. Every aspect of the race was well organized and carefully run. The Fleet Feet Endurance Team did an amazing job. I would highly recommend the Sehgahunda Trail Marathon and Relay for trail runners looking for a challenge. I hope to be running it again next year!

On Going Out Fast

I’ve been off the grid for a while. I haven’t been blogging much, or in social media much, but I have been running. Part of the reason I haven’t been blogging is that I’ve been busy. But that isn’t all the reason. I just wasn’t sure what to say. I’ve done some fun things – the Sehgahunda Trail Marathon relay (post coming) for one – and tried new things (coconut oil for cooking; post coming there, too). But what I’ve really wanted to do is improve my running speed.

I’m three years out from surgery. The weight of that anniversary has been on my mind. It’s starting to get to the point that I think I can’t use “I had knee surgery” as an excuse any longer. I also desperately want to return to my pre-surgery pace per mile before it becomes out of reach. Three years is a long time. Yep. Three years is a long time.

So I’ve been working on my speed. Doing some speed work, but mostly just increasing mileage and doing a tempo run every week. And it’s working. I am getting a little faster, slowly but surely. The heat and humidity are no friends of mine and I’ve had some trouble with a change in my asthma medication. But, despite those setbacks, I’m getting faster. A few weeks ago I had a glorious moment. During a tempo run, I hit my pre-surgery 5k pace. And I held it for a mile. It felt amazing. My legs hit their stride and I was in the perfect rhythm for running. It felt like coming home.

The danger of this improvement is that I can’t manage it. I can get to my old long run pace for three or four miles. Five if conditions are great, but I can’t maintain it. Feeling that feeling of running at my pace is addicting. It’s like a bad relationship. I know it isn’t good for me in long runs, but I can’t stay away. It just feels so good. And, as a result, I’ve had two disastrous half marathons in the last month. Honestly, I didn’t know what I would say about them, so I haven’t written about them. This weekend, during bad half #2, I had an epiphany. I was walking at mile 9 (sigh) after having had a great first five miles. And that’s when it hit me – I had gone out too fast. I haven’t gone out too fast in so many years I nearly forgot what it felt like. My old pace is just so close that it lures me in and I find myself in a familiar rhythm, home. But I can’t hold it and inevitably end up burning out and slowing, walking and shuffling, dejected, to the finish line.

I think it’s time to stop half marathons for a bit. I need to find my rhythm at this new speed. I want to see if I can find my pace again. Then maybe I can learn to control it. Maybe three years isn’t so long…