Cayuga Trails 50, Part I: Pre-Race

It’s not often that the proper words to express my feelings, experiences, and emotions do not flow freely from my mind, through my fingertips, and out onto my laptop screen.  In fact, writing is usually my outlet for these kind of situations, and yet today, 3 days after the Cayuga Trails 50 (my first 50 mile race) I still cannot find the right words to convey that day to you.   I purposely waited a few days post race to write this report so that I could see if those words would magically come to me. . . and yet here I am, legs and feet mostly healed, but brain still in a fog, a mix of emotions swirling around in my head, my story larger and more powerful than any words in our language that I can find.

How do you describe one day so absolutely perfect, yet so unpredictable?  So ridiculously brutal, yet so beautiful?  So lonely, yet so loved?  So painful, yet so peaceful?

Now that that’s out of my system…..I’m going to try my best to share my story and I hope you enjoy the report!

The Cayuga Trails 50 Course

You basically start out at North Shelter in the Robert H. Treman State Park and run 3 miles to the Old Mill Aid Station, 4 miles to Underpass, 5 miles to Buttermilk Falls, 6 miles back to Underpass as part of the “lollipop loop”, the 4 miles to Old Mill again, and then the 3 miles back to North Shelter at the start.  Then you get to do it ALL AGAIN!  (There is a marathon that starts two hours later and they do it once.)

Race Director, Ian Golden did make a slight change to the course the day before the race, which he is famous for doing!  He added an extra one mile loop that we had to do on the outbound direction of each loop prior to reaching Old Mill.

Slightly confusing course map prior to race day, but it all makes sense now!

Here’s the sick elevation that lies ahead for you if you decide to do this race too:


So that’s what I was in for!  I also knew I was in for creek crossings and lots of stone stairs.  I had a feeling the trails themselves would be less technical than the rocky, rooty ones I trained on for this.

On a side note, this course is great for your crew to get back and forth to aid stations to support you. My family had no trouble doing that and it was their first time crewing me!

Speaking of My Crew. . .

Bad shot of my husband Jeff, but there are my boys Hunter and Eli on our drive to Ithaca.

Day Before Race FOOD

I tried to get nice and hydrated the day before the race. I will admit that I was feeling nervous and not terribly hungry, but when we stopped at Perkins for lunch my boys made sure that I ordered the highest calorie thing on the menu.  A huge burger with an egg, bacon, lettuce, onion, and tomato on a brioche bun.  I also had raspberry tea and it all really hit the spot!


After that we checked into our hotel, the Super 8, unpacked our things, and then drove to the Ithaca Commons to pick up my race packet at the Finger Lakes Running and Triathlon Company.   We walked around the Commons only for a few blocks because there was a festival going on and my son wanted some Cornell swag from the school store that was there.  I didn’t want to log too many steps before race day, so we headed back to the hotel to drop things off and then to Texas Roadhouse for dinner.  Grilled salmon, baked potato, and corn, and about four of their amazing rolls made up my pre-race dinner.  Needless to say, I was feeling ready to run off all that energy and couldn’t wait for it to be morning.

Back at the hotel, I prepared 3 drop bags in case Jeff and the boys weren’t at an aid station and I needed something.  It was hard to predict what to put in them so I just threw a bunch of stuff together and hoped for the best.   I also packed a backpack for my crew full of things I knew I would want and told them to make sure to had it with them whenever I came in.  (Nuun, Clif bars, Golden Oreos, Honey Stinger waffles and chews, Swedish Fish, clementines, chips).  I really had no idea how I would be feeling and what would sound in the later stages of the race.


My Trail Sister, Jen

Jen got into town with her family about the time that I was packing and organizing my stuff.  We messaged about what we were going to wear and both agreed that the bibs were way to large for the shorter shorts we wanted to wear.  I’m not sure if you can tell by the picture above, but I still had to fold the bottom tag under so that it wouldn’t hit my leg when I ran!

In case you are new to the blog, Jen and I met during our first ultra, a 50K race that is local to me, called Ironmaster’s 50K.  We found ourselves wandering aimlessly down a fire-road around mile 18 of the course.  We had both been in a zone and completely missed the orange markers.  It turned out to be the best thing to ever happen to us because we finished the race together and have been so close ever since.  Sometimes in life when you think you are lost, you really aren’t.   You are exactly where you need to be, crossing paths with people you are supposed to meet…and I truly believe that.  I can’t even say for sure that I would have been in Ithaca this year doing Cayuga without Jen to share the journey with and to inspire me everyday!  I definitely know I wouldn’t be on my way to my new goal…..which I will announce at the end of Part II 🙂

Here we are on the day we met at Ironmaster’s, a few miles from the finish!  Jason had also been lost off course at the same place.  It’s always good to know you’re not the only one!


I hope you enjoyed Part I

It should be easier for me to replay the events of race day now that this post is done.  I feel like I’m heading into race morning all over again, getting excited and antsy to share it with you all.  Hmmm….maybe I should carb up so I have the stamina to get through it.

My thoughts leading up to this race as I sank under the covers of the most comfortable hotel bed ever…in this exact order…

  • I hope my training was enough.
  • Did I do enough climbs in my training?
  • Maybe I should have done more actual stairs.
  • What would my body feel like after going past my longest run to date, about 34 miles?
  • Past my longest training run of 5 hours or so?
  • How would my stomach do?
  • I am going to pay really close attention to the flags so I don’t get lost again.
  • I am SO ready for this.
  • I GET to run these beautiful trails tomorrow morning that I may not ever run again.
  • I can’t wait to see Jen in the morning.
  • Shoot, I brought the wrong eye drops….
  • This is going to be a long night if I don’t shut my brain up, so I’m just going to picture myself running my favorite trail…..

Answers to these questions and more coming soon in Part II . . .