Cayuga Trails Marathon - Ithaca, New York
Elevation Range: 436' - 1168'.........3953' elevation gain
June 1, 2019 - The race "starts and ends in Robert H. Treman State Park where it ascends the gorge trail, passing through the Lucifer Fall's area in the upper gorge and the Finger Lakes Runner's Club's Old Mill AS, before wrapping out/connecting with/descending on the Rim Trail. Both sections are double/triple track trail which was intentionally chosen to allow the field to accommodate packs while minimizing potential impact to more sensitive surrounding single-track. Once clearing IronHeart Racing's Underpass AS runners will cross a creek and ascend single-track through and beyond the Finger Lake Land Trust's Lick Brook Gorge. From there it feeds through to Buttermilk Falls State Park where it begins the lollipop loop, traversing the upper old reservoir, merging with a scenic park road and descending on the old Burma Road to Trail Roc's Buttermilk AS. From there it ascends the Buttermilk Gorge Trail on its way back to the start."
It was a good day in New York for me. Not used to racing shorter distances, the event started at a quicker tempo than I am used to as the course immediately tilted uphill. Holding back a bit, knowing that my leg speed has not returned after a couple years of injuries, it was still difficult to just jog up the hill in the back of the pack. Once I woke up, I fell into line behind the mid-pack runners and eased into a comfortable climbing rhythm. The trail is fairly technical with roots and rocks and a gazillion steps for the tourists. Since everything was wet from rain the day before I backed off a bit more just to make sure my center of gravity was always above my feet as they slip-slapped up the trail.
My Hokas weren't the best choice for traction, but they protected my feet from the pounding. Up and over the first thousand feet, I rode the train down the other side, winding back and forth through gorgeous eastern deciduous woods. I was feeling good, despite the pain in my right foot from my latest injury excuse. I ran through the pain and was enjoying the effort. The falls through the gorge along the course were just as beautiful as those at Watkins Glen, with fewer tourists along the way to navigate around.
With no regard for time I refueled at each aid station and continued on. The mud at the top of the second climb slogged everyone down. I just walked through it and was in no hurry. Many steep butt slides up and down forced you to step out of the main track and adapt to keep from falling. All part of the fun of a muddy trail race.
I rolled away from the rest of the train down the long descent to the half-way aid station, a real quad-buster, but all systems were good and I let it go faster than I normally would have. It felt good to fly. With a bit of momentum I headed up and out of the half-way point and comfortably rolled out to about twenty miles before I slowed for some fatigue, but mostly because of the rising thermometer approaching 80 degrees with high humidity. Ugh!
After a couple people I had been back and forth with all day passed me in the closing miles I rolled the rest of the way down hill without exertion to finish in an even six hours. One quick stumble and fall a couple miles before the finish left me dirty and scratched up a bit, but I still felt good for the overall effort. It was strong and sustained. My climbing and descending were better than those around me and all I could hope for. All I lack at this point in my recovery is leg speed. I am ready for summer racing.