Monday, 13 October 2008

Canadaigua Lake 50 mile relay

Wow...what a week! About 40% of the miles I ran this week were run in a few hours out in beautiful Canadaigua, NY. The weather has been great for running and the fall foliage in this area is spectacular.

Miles for the week: 61

Monday= Rest
Tuesday= 10 mile loop from apt. down through Cayuga Heights, up Gun Hill through Cornell campus back home
Wednesday= Speed workout: 8 miles total-- 2 mile warm up-- 8 X 800 @ 5:25 pace 60-90 sec. walking recovery-- 2 mile cool down
Thursday= easy 4 miles around SUNY Cortland campus
Friday= easy 5 miles from apt. behind airport and back
Saturday= Can Lake relay-- 25 miles around one of the Finger Lakes
Sunday= easy 3 mile shake out run in morning in Danby Forest while volunteering; easy 6 mile night run down Warren Rd. and back

Last year Michael W., Tom M. and myself ran the Can Lake 50 relay with a three person team in preparation for all of us running the NYC Marathon. Earlier this year, while we were on a training run, Michael briefly mentioned his interest in running the race as a two person team. My first reaction was a laugh and possibly a "I don't know about that one!" The more we talked about it and the more he "sold" me on it I finally agreed to wait and see how I felt after Iroquois 100. Well...needless to say I recovered much faster than anyone, including myself, would have imagined so we decided to give it a go.

Michael and Maria (his girlfriend who was visiting from Colorado) picked me up early Saturday morning for the approximately hour and a half ride to Canadaigua. When we arrived we quickly got our numbers and packet, said hi to familiar faces and met some new friends. Michael got ready to run the first 10-mile leg. I noticed some fast looking guys in the first leg but reassured myself that Michael is no slouch. Off they went down from the community college as Maria and I jumped in the car to meet them at the next checkpoint. The driving along and rolling down the window yelling at our runner is part of the fun too! After waiting for a little while at the exchange point chatting with other teams and volunteers we finally saw a runner. I threw my sweatshirt off and started bouncing up and down getting ready to run just assuming it was Michael. Well...the closer he got the more we realized that it was not Michael...whoa! and this front runner from Rochester was flying!

The GRTC Team brought in some fast runners and had built at least a 90-second lead on Michael and I. When Michael came in and tagged me I hammered down the road knowing that I only had about a 3.65 mile leg with some pretty good climbs and a big downhill at the end. My only intention was to catch this guy. I huffed and puffed and pumped my arms up the hills in pursuit. After turning a corner about half-way through the leg I caught glimpse of him. "Yes!" I said to myself, because I could see a big hill in the distance, which I knew I would catch him on and then I could fly down the hill and get a little cushion for Michael going into the infamous Bopple Hill leg. That's exactly what happened and I missed the record for that leg by like 27 seconds.

Bopple Hill is something that Michael looks forward to. He has trained specifically for this hill and was going for the record on this leg. However, the GRTC member who would be running this leg (Ted Thull) has the record. Michael ran an incredibly tough leg up this monster hill that our car had a tough time going up but missed the record by less than 10 seconds.

As the race unfolded we continued to run super strong enjoying picturesque views on a clear, sunny day. I couldn't believe how good the both of us were running and we were having fun too. It was just one of those days. I wondered if we could hang on without crashing as we were starting to wrap completely around this awesome lake. It helped to have run it the previous year because certain parts of the course became familiar to me and I also recognized some of the same people from last year too.

Towards the last couple of legs (around the normal 20 mile mark for myself) I could feel fatigue starting to settle in. I knew that they saved their fastest guy (Dave Bradshaw) for the final 7.5 mile leg to try and catch me. Did we build enough of a cushion to elude this? The suspense was killing me.

I took off on the final leg and all the starting and stopping was catching up with my body. This combined with the openness of this leg offering little shade made me look over my shoulders a couple of times in vain. I knew he was back there somewhere...just didn't know how far. There were times on this last leg that I felt so good putting together some 6- minute miles but also some times where I just slogged up the hills. As I charged up the hill to the finish I gave one last glance over my shoulder and realized that we had it wrapped up!

I crossed the finish to greet RD Tom Perry with a time of 5:13:48. After I caught my breath for a second Tom came over and told me that we had the second fastest time ever! GEEZ! I had no idea! What a sense of accomplishment I felt for an idea that I pretty much laughed at when Michael initially proposed the idea.

This race is definitely worth checking out. It's only been going on for 6 years but is organized and run like a 20-year event. Tom Perry and company make sure that every detail is laid out for you ahead of time. I love that sort of information. All of our relay legs were itemized with elevation profiles, directions, records, etc. which is so nice to have. Food, accommodations, and prizes are also very generous.

The views! Oh my god...the views! Surreal at times and like Tom said, "You don't trip looking at them because you're on the road not the trail". The 50-mile seems like it would be a grueling race but the 50K and relay are definitely manageable for a road race in my opinion. It's great satisfaction to look at this huge lake and then realize that you ran the whole way around it on a Saturday. I witnessed Ed, Todd, Dan, William, and Matt all come through as 50 mile tough guys...great job guys!

If you're in the Finger Lakes Region in autumn put this one on your calendar!

Quote of the week: "I tell runners to divide a race into thirds. Run the first part with your head, the middle part with your personality, and the last part with your heart". --- Mike Fanelli, club coach


From the time I could stand upright I was chasing soccer balls around with older children at the fields where my father...

Follow Yassine on Twitter