This was my second year running the Seneca 50K. I volunteed in 2019 and ran it last year at the beginning of the pandemic in our area. We were sitting on the edge whether we would have all the permits required for the in-person race.
This year we had wave start at around 10 people per wave, with 3 mins apart. By the time I started, the trail was mostly empty. I was on pace with a 7 hour finish. I was not able to catch the previous wave, normally I would. I even had hard time keeping up with my own group.
Our group of 10 started with a steady pace of 10 min pace. That was way too fast for me, but I held on for the first mile. I know, it is a mental thing. We all should run at a pace we are comfortable with. Both of my legs/shin areas started cramming up, which made every step very heavy. I couldn’t flex my toes. By the second mile, I couldn’t keep the quicker pace and dialed back to a more comfortable one, but damage was done.
By third mile, the rest of my group had caught up to me. Plus probably a few more from one behind them. There were 10 of them, and they were like a train, behind me. I stepped to the side to let them past.
For the next few miles, I ran and walked and met up with a guy, Carlos. He was hiking with his poles. He entered the event injured and only hoped he can hobble to the finish. All power to him. In a normal year, I would wait at the finish line for him, but this year, no spectator was allowed. We talked about races and he was sharing the one in New York called SRT 100k where they give you a map and you go out and find your way to the finish. The walk with Carlos for maybe a mile loosen up my muscles and I was no longer cramping.
Then a lady and I after passing Carlos, began our chase for our group. I was still fresh by then. Our group of 10 was pretty much together. Slowly we picked them off. 2 or 3 each time. It was a long chase. By mile 15, about halfway, I was able to catch up to the front of our group, well maybe the 3rd or 4th place of our group. There was one guy I couldn’t see.
The rest of the race, I was moving much slower and a few of them passed me back. I finished at 7:15 (h/m). This was 45 mins slower than last year.
It was great weather. Way better. In fact the best for running. The course is dry. Last year, some sections were a bit swampy, but this year, all the mud can be avoided.
My second half was way tougher. After reaching halfway, we had 7 miles running back. That section was super long. From there we headed back to Rifleford and in the past, this was a cinch. I had done this both during Stone Mill 50 and Seneca last year. This time, it seemed forever. It took me maybe around two hours for that section.
Runners talk about to be able to flow with the trail. I did not find any flow at all. I was wearing a new pair of trail shoes. My body by then was spent. Legs were okay but I was just low in energy. I broke out my lunch. This year they said no ultra food provided, so we, at least for me, carried my own lunch. I made an advocado ham sandwich beforehand. It was 12 noon and I was hungry. By running and walking, eventually I got to rifleford.
There was only 4-5 miles left. I might have been able to finish before 7 hours, but I was no longer into the race. This race has a decision point near the end. We could if we want to go to the finish line and earn the 28-mile marathon finish or make a loop around the lake for a 50K finish. We were way ahead of the cutoff, so people I was with chose the lake. I was mostly walking. It was very tempting to choose the marathon finish, if not for my other race (CRAW virtual). We needed a lot miles to run around the world, so I decided to add on 5 more miles, walking it if necessary.
I caught up with a Marathon Maniac. I was one too since 2019. He is an older gentleman and he was walking too. So I said hi and talked to him. He is likeable and we shared stories. He has just done Savannah last weekend and going to do Virginia Beach Shamrock next weekend. He is from Oregon. Then we started running. He was relentless, and even ran all the uphills with no pause. We kept the pace to the finish. A lady behind us, commented that he brought good vibes and positive attitude to the race.
During the course, I saw the two people I ran with during Stone Mill. Thank God, I was able to keep ahead of them, otherwise I would be stopped every minutes. They had an odd pacing timing. This race, I was kind of doing that too. It is like 30 seconds run and then 10 seconds walk.
I was thankful I only gently rolled my right ankle early on, like at mile 3 ish. It was a new pair of shoes and I felt like I was balancing on a rollerblade. The shoe is warbly, maybe just my feeling. I like stable shoes. This pair is not it. You could shift to the left or right. Just a weird feeling that something bad would happen if I run on it. Luckily, it was a gentle roll and it didn’t hurt. I usually rolled my left foot though and every time it hurts badly. I am glad I did not roll my left ankle this time.
I saw couple people tripped and felt. The lady I was following, tripped twice. There was a man ahead of me, he tripped and did a roll on the ground and landed back on his feet and ran again without a pause. Not sure how he did it, but that was some ninja skill. I was fortunate that my whole race was injury-free.
It is rare I got extremely tired from a race. This race, I felt drained after I finished. I could hardly walk. After I got home, cleaned up, had dinner, and felt asleep. It was good. I then woke up in the middle of the night, had a second dinner before going back to bed. It was awesome. I felt great to able to race so soon after doing a 100 mile run. Of course, my time was not optimal, but it was good feeling.