Race Report: Sehgahunda Trail Marathon

Just a scatter of thoughts about the day:

Went to bed at 8, finally fell asleep at 9:30. Slept pretty well till about 3:15 when I became wide awake. Got everything packed up and put into the jeep and headed out to grab some breakfast.

Apparently nobody except for Wegmans was serving breakfast and I ended up with a stale Cinnamon Raisin bagel and an Orange Mango Naked Juice. Not the best Pre race meal but it’s what I had to work with. Took of picked up fellow TrailsRoc founder Ben Murphy and headed out to Letchworth. Almost nailed a deer as we neared the start line. Pissed me off a bit and got my blood up a little.

Took my time getting ready then hopped on the bus shortly after my wife and family arrived. Back at the start I got the rest of my gear on then went for a quick loose up run. The ladies took off then it was our turn 15 minutes later. After meeting up with Ben, Sean and Eric (who was unfortunately not sharing in the pain today) I mosied on over to the Jeep, grabbed my gear, said my goodbyes and wandered to the start.

My adrenaline was pumping. My HR was at about 92 at this point, 40+ higher than my resting HR.I joked with someone about not giving up no matter what, and the EMT’s would have to chase me onto the course to pull me off of it.

Temperature…70 degrees.

3 of the 4 trailsroc gang: Ben, Me and Sean

The 4th member who we missed on the course...but made awesome signs ERIC

My awesome little support crew Riley and Emma

gearing up

ready to go...yes a smile

I geared up with my Salamon pack which had PB M&M’s, PBJ wrap, GU, S-Caps, Gatorade and Ice cold water on board. I taped up my foot prior to the start to give some extra stability. Altra Lone Peaks have done me well, and I chose to stick to them. Jublo Sunglasses would play a huge part in my comfort today as well as my Northface hat and GVH jersey.

Had my bluetooth headphones working and phone in the pack. Queued up my Sehgahunda playlist that began with the full score from Gladiator, and away we went. (I also had a borrowed GoPro that I would use up till it ran out 3 hours later)

Start to Checkpoint 1


6.1 miles
1:04 (10:57)
EG/EL:  +483/-411

The start was very compact and took 2+ miles in before it was comfortable to actually run. Tucked in behind Doug DeWeaver and tried to keep the pace slow and steady. I actually ran longer than I wanted to and caught up to Ben at the first hill and began my walking. I would walk every hill and ant hill this day, that was my plan. I watched as others bounded up the hill, but stayed with my strategy of efficiency. It works, I know it does.

Before we knew it there was the access trail to the first CP, and away we went. The 2nd part of my strategy was walk up a majority of the CP, make quick CP stops and continue on. The CP are for the most part, all uphill (which means you also have a nice downhill to bank time) More effeiceny.

Seeing the faster runners coming down from the checkpoint was pretty cool, never saw Sean as he booked out fast but saw several others I recognized (if if I am nobody to them) and caught Dan O on his descent and he looked great.

Pulled into the first CP, yelled out my number told my wife Gatorade, made the swap and was out in 30 seconds. Then back down the hill.

I tried to make this as easy as possible for my wife as I really want her to crew me, I think it is good for our relationship and a way to bring her into what I was doing. I setup my aid kit and made a list of what would be needed each time. The distance between some checkpoints gave me time to revise this mentally or inform her of what I needed next time.

photo by Barb Boutiller ... Fleet Feet

Checkpoint 1 to 2


2.5 miles
29:14 (11:28)
CP TIME: 1:50
EG/EL: +205/-188

A short jaunt out of CP 1 and back onto the course, nothing special happened here except we started to pass a bunch of the ladies at this point. The access to CP2 was “annoying” to say the least. LOTS of shoulder high grass made it feel like the jungle. Or my backyard. It was also open so the sun started to be felt.

Pulling into CP2 I saw Dan about a 1/2 mile ahead, and figured I was doing pretty good. The next CP would be almost 7 miles and I decided it best to replace everything. Water, Gatorade, Gu. Having Ice cold aid stuff from my wife I believe was key to me having no hydration or heat issues. I kept my body really cool and stayed on top of pretty much everything.

I still felt pretty good, and grabbed a couple watermelon slices from the table and took off.

quick in...

...quick out

Checkpoint 2 to 3


6.8 miles
1:27 (13:15)
CP TIME: 1:43
EG/EL: +701/-670

Somewhere after coming down from this CP I was passing some ladies and stumbled going down a hill. Stretched out my groin and right hamstring pretty bad and landed hard to where I felt how bad my knees were feeling. I also happened upon a rock in my shoe and pulled over to take care of it. Better to deal with it than the after effects from it. At about mile 12 my legs were evident that I was not back to shape and the past month ravaged any hope I had of gettign a decent time. It would be a mental over physical battle from here on out. Up to this point I was only walking the hills/climbs but made the decision to switch over to the 4:1 run/walk as much as I could. Something I should have done much earlier, and probably would’ve finished better.

Pulling into the CP I wanted to keep them as short as possible. I allotted 5 minutes for this one as I knew I would have to do a full refill, but since I split most of that at the last CP it was much shorter. I continually passed people in the CP who went past me a while back. Elyse told me later, some guys were in there for a very long time. With the heat I don’t blame them, I just kept doing what I was doing as it was working.

I think it was during this CP I actually saw Eric  & Sheila!  I was way to focused. Also the last time I saw Dan O, and watched Mike Ryan zoom down the course.

Checking in ... photo by Eric Eagan

Checkpoint 3 to 4


2.3 miles
35:36 (15:09)
CP TIME: 2:54
EG/EL: +222/-241

The distances between CP got smaller but my distances got slower as well. Somewhere along the way I made the consious decision to eat my PBJ wrap while I walked. Good decision. I started to feel a bit more knee pain at this time. Grabbed another watermelon, ice cold water and a tablet. Wiped the face down to get the salt off and out of my eyes. I saw ots of runners dropping at this point from heat exhaustion.

Checkpoint 4 to 5


1.7 miles
26:36 (16:21)
CP TIME: 2:26
EG/EL: +273/-294

Ugh. Lazy feet strike again. During this stretch I had a mental battle with myself as I hit the point on the course where I tripped and hit hard 4 weeks ago. I walked the section almost 10 minutes of it. I just kept struggling with the fact that I was tired legs and THIS is where it happened. Nearing the CP I rolled my right ankle scaring the beejezzus out of some poor guy. Nothing serious. Longer stop on the CP for some more gatorade and tablets.

Checkpoint 5 to 6


2.5 miles
37:36 (15:37)
CP TIME: 2:12
EG/EL: +360/-314

This section sucked, big time. long climb and lots of rocks. Got to see the girls as this would be the last CP anyone was allowed at. Watching the Relay runners on fresh legs come flying down was a bit disheartening. IT looked like I was walking through a battlefield at this point with people stopped and sitting. 22 miles done, I would finish, but how long. My time goal of 4:45 had passed and there was no way I could do 5:00 in the time that remained. Survive.

Just survive.

Checkpoint 6 to 7


1.3 miles
21:52 (16:35)
CP TIME: 1:30
EG/EL: +138/-258

After slowly goign back down the long climb I was back on the last section of technical trail. Sehgahunda wasn’t finsihed with me. She tripped me and rolled my left ankle, then 1/2 mile later she tripped me again causing me to barrel dive and land on my shoulder. Demoralized I picked myself up swore at her and told her I was still goign to beat her no matter what sh did. Rolled in to the 2nd to last CP to find Barry handing out ICE COLD REDBULL.

I’ve had Red Bull once before a run, and it was…um interesting. I packed the can in my pack and ascended the next hill. I ran walked the road , something everyone else was doing at this point too.

Checkpoint 7 to 8


1 mile
11:52 (14:03)
CP TIME: 2:04
EG/EL: +120/-34

Last CP. I popped open the Redbull and drank about half,  grabbed a handful of Skittles and went on my way. MY family would be waiting for me at the next stop. The finish.

My mom came down to watch the abuse with the girls

CP8 to finish

To Finish Line

2.1 miles
22:29 (10:30)
EG/EL: +85/-17

I continued the run walk, until I could see the FF sign on the road. It was about this time that the Redbull kicked in. I willed myself to a 8 min mile pace that turned into a sub 6 over the last 1/2 mile (which included …1 more hill) turning into the parade grounds I forgot about my knees and just sprinted. Sprinted with anything I had left. Crossed the finish line and grabbed my arrowhead.

Sehgahunda…I beat you.

Finish 26.3 miles/5:39

26.3 miles
5:39 (12:53p)
CP TIME: ~15min
EG/EL: +3111/-2809
AVG HR 162 Max 196

All in all my immediate thoughts on the day and race were not positive, hence my delay in posting anything worthwhile. I’m glad I did. I took a walk Sunday afternoon and followed that with a talk with Coach Ian. So in the end the positives FAR out weigh the negatives coming out of this race:

-Time was nearly an hour off where I wanted and should have been
-I still tripped and rolled both ankles
-I let a lot of negativity cloud my race around miles 20-22
-I finished way outside of where I wanted to place and behind several people I shouldn’t have
-Parts of this course felt harder than they should have

-I completed a trail marathon after being down on training for the prior month
-I had no problems with heat
-I had no problems with hydration or fueling
-I had a great wife who adapted to the situation and provided what I needed EVERYTIME I came into a check point
-I sprinted much of the last mile
-I just spent over 5.5 hours on my feet on the trail.

The end of this race had the heat rising to about 85 degrees, you really felt it on the out and backs at the Checkpoints, which were for the most part, open and in the sun.

Ice went to the knees quickly - photo by Eric Eagan

"awww crap! I forgot to stop my watch (5 minutes later)" photo by Eric Eagan

Displayed proudly. An awesome hand made finishers medal.

relaxing, you can see the aid kit....

Final Thoughts

In the end, this wasn’t my race. I trained nearly 18-20 weeks for this, and still managed to run it despite losing a month of good training going into it due to injury. I’m proud I finished this course, on this day. It was a good training run. Next year, I’ll be back and I’ll shoot for my sub 5, and I’ll go another 26.3 rounds with Sehgahunda. It was great to have the support out there, between friends, volunteers but most importantly family. Could I have done this without them, yes, but it made it that much more of an enjoyable experience having them and especially my wife involved as much as they were.

So now I turn the page and look ahead. 100K is on the horizon, 19 weeks away. The injury is a fading memory and I have determination to finish OC with a decent time, but with a slimshot of a WS100 qualifying time.

I know I know…don’t get my hopes up.

Better to try and fail then never try at all.

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