We have always enjoyed camping but we had never taken a dog camping before. That is until we added this fun guy to our family. Caspian presented some challenges so we decided if we wanted to take a trip our only real option was to take him with us. Little did we know the world of fun he would open up to us.
Caspian loved playing in the water at Allegany State Park in NY.
This ball of energy came bounding into our lives in March of 2014 and before we knew it we were taking her camping in July in NH to continue our new tradition.
In June of 2015 we fell for this guy and Paxton became part of our lives. In August of the same year we went camping on the Adirondacks and he came along for the adventure.
Tomorrow we take on a new adventure. We are going to Letchworth State Park in NY. We have been there before but not camped there. For the first time we are going to take two of our dogs on a camping trip at the same time. We will be taking Brynn whop has some experience camping and plenty of experience with us and being out and about. Then we are also taking Sammy, a 4 year old Bernese Mountain Dog. We adopted Sammy in March of 2017. He is very energetic and excitable. For some reason we like the challenge of taking new dogs on excursions. This will be a fun and exciting adventure.
In addition to camping with our dogs I am running a trail race on Saturday, Sehgahunda Trail Marathon & Relay with some friends. A bunch of us are all camping at Letchworth and then running in races there. So this will be a fun new experience.
This year I have been focusing mostly on longer type runs. My shorter runs are usually 5-6 miles with long runs of 13 miles at least once a month, since last October. Yesterday the plan was to run 10 miles. I didn’t get there. I didn’t feel right the whole run and ended it with only 8 miles. It never feels good for me to end short of my goal.
Today I knew I wasn’t going to have time for a very long run as I had a busy day ahead of me. So that was already weighing in the unmotivated to run side of the scale. Not to mention if I had to run I had to be out the door relatively early. No later than 8 AM. More weight to the just don’t run side of the scale. Upon waking up I checked my phone and it was confirmed that the temperature for this morning was 20 degrees. Even more weight to the side of the scale killing any desire to run.
As I got up this morning I was getting things done and literally telling myself, ” I am going to run today”. Once I had my morning chores done I started to think about what to do next. The answer was “I am going to run”. That is what I kept telling myself. I started to think about what I needed to wear and got out my cloths and dressed to run. As I was getting ready, I knew I still didn’t really feel like running and didn’t want to go out in the cold.
I told myself I would just do a short run. I would run my standard 5k distance route that I know well right outside my house. No thinking no more decisions to make. Just to get out and run. Often when I don’t really feel like running I just go for an easy slow paced run just to get some miles. I knew it was going to be cold, so I told myself I will just run hard. If I run hard I will warm up faster and stay warm longer no matter what the weather brings. And the weather sure brought it. It was cold and windy.
Also I didn’t take any tech with me other than my watch. No phone, no camera, no music. Anyone who has run with me much knows that is a huge deal. I went out to just run by feel and make the best of this run. I checked my watch at the very beginning just to assure myself that I was running a decent pace to start. Then I check it again when it buzzed at mile three.
At mile 3 I was very happy and surprised to see that I was at a much faster pace than I expected and I knew I had to push myself for those last .11 miles and maybe I would just do it. Do what? Reach one of my personal goals.
So, what exactly can happen when you go out and run? You can run one of your best runs and reach your personal goals. I have had a goal for a while know that I want to run a 5k at a sub 9 minute pace. Guess what? Today on this day I didn’t even want to run, I achieved that goal. I ran an 8:55 min/mile pace. I got out and ran. I put in that effort when I didn’t even really want to and I made it happen.This is what you can do when you do the things that you don’t really want to do. You reach your goals.
It’s all about being there and putting in the effort. Just show up, just run. It won’t always be pretty and you won’t always feel like it, but you will be able to achieve more than you ever thought you could as long as you show up.
One of our friends decided we should take on the Mt. Tom Challenge instead of our regularly scheduled local trail run. So at the last minute the night before the event we decided that was just what we would do.
The Mt. Tom Challenge consists of going straight up a mountain. Then going around and down the other side. And you do this as many times as you can in two hours. There is no warm up to the incline. You immediately start going up the mountain as soon as the race starts.
You quickly discover that most likely this is nothing like anything you have done before. Well, at least thats what I discovered. The incline is a climb of 1100 feet over a distance of .8 miles. Someone good at math figure out what the angle of that ascent would be.
Once you get to the top you head down this very brief but flat trail. It was so nice to be on flat ground again. No more climbing. Each lat is about 2.5 miles. So once you get to the top you still have over a mile to go to get back to the bottom and start again.
As you leave the flat land you come to this nice depression that was filled with snow. I couldn’t resist stopping to take a photograph here. It was such a nice spot.
The uphill climb was snow-less. Thankfully for me as my trail shoes are virtually bald. I never would have been able to get up a slick snowy slope. On the way down it was a different story. It was muddy in spots and there was varying amounts of snow. The snow could be just a dusting, to half frozen/half melted ice, to ankle deep or more amounts of snow. It was pretty tricky for me picking a route down the mountain and watching my footing. Trying to figure out where I would have the best traction. I was constantly varying my speed and stride to maintain control on the way down. And it almost worked too. At one point on my way down I over stridded and my front foot slide out in front of me and I went down. I basically sat down on my back leg bent right under my butt. I slid down the slop a little on a frozen hard snow that felt more like gravel and cut up my knee a little bit. But I was able to bounce back up and continue running. No real injury, thankfully. As I was getting close to completing my race I stepped in a thick mud hole and lost my show. As I was going downhill I ended up taking about three shoe-less steps downhill in the mud and then I had to walk back through the mud to retrieve it. (Check out my Instagram for that photo.)
When I looked at what the incline was like I was nervous I wouldn’t even be able to complete one lap. So I was very happy with the two laps I was able to complete. I completed my first lap in around 45 minutes and my second lap in about an hour and a half. I could have went for a third lap but I just didn’t have it in me mentally to go back up that hill a third time. Plus I was battling a cold, so that didn’t help. Maybe if I do this event again my goal will be three laps. It was a great but challenging event. Check out the Tyoga Running Club and the Mt. Tom Challenge.
The last race I ran was the Wineglass Half Marathon in early October. The next race I was planning to run was the Red Baron Half Marathon in early November. In the month in between I was focusing on recovering from some minor nagging injuries and getting over a bad cold. So, my running was not what I would have liked it to be. I was already anxious about running Red Baron because I have never run on terrain like (Hills) that for that long of a distance (13.1 miles). I was very concerned about those hills. With the encouragement of my friends at STRC I lead a group run to practice the first 6 miles of the Red Baron course which is where most of the hills lie. After the practice run I felt like the hills were doable for me. I felt a little relief. In the days before the race doubt began to creep in once again. In the time between the two races I never ran anything longer than 8 miles. I was not sure I would be able to sustain my effort for the whole race. Everything about this race was different for me. Different terrain. Different start time. Different needs for pre-race food consumption. It had me very unsure about just about everything. My mind kept cycling between maybe I could PR or maybe this will be my worst half marathon distance run yet.
On race day I was already a step ahead of the game from my pre Wineglass experience as I had remembered my headphones and remembered my battery for my camera, both of which I forgot at Wineglass. When you are a both a runner and a photographer you try to figure out ways to take photos of your races thus the camera and battery. I was at the race venue and feeling good. The weather was great. I was relaxed and able to meet up with some friends, chat, and feel relaxed. I was recruited to take a few photos pre-race by STRC. Thanks Scott. That helped me take my mind of the race. I was ready to go.
As the race started, I began at the back of the field since I had been taking photos. I found this disconcerting for some reason, even though it’s a fine place for the pace I run. For the first several miles I felt pretty good. Maybe too good. I began to think I went out too fast, so I slowed down some and found a friend to run with and talk to for a little while. The hills rolled by. On the largest hill of the bunch it was tougher on me than I would have liked but I did not succumb. I was able to surmount the obstacle without feeling like I gave too much of myself and depleting my reserves.
The second half of the race was what I was hoping would be the fun part for me. It consists of a lot of downhill which I actually enjoy. To my surprise it was not as easy as I would have liked. By miles 7 and 8 I was feeling pretty tired. I could tell I was slowing down already. Maybe I did go out to fast after all. All the second thoughts and doubts were getting to me. By mile ten I was feeling the pain. My hips were tightening up and I was doing anything I could to just try to stretch them out. I would occasionally check my pace and seeing how much I’d slowed down try to push myself for just a little more speed. I didn’t have any left though. As I was crossing the bridge back the school I could barely lift my feet off the ground. I almost started walking, but I knew I was so close, I knew I could make it. I pushed on at a run, however slow at that point. At the bottom of the bridge my friend from earlier in the race that I ran with caught back up to me, as I thought she might. She pushed me and challenged me to give this last stretch all I had. She challenged me to sprint through to the finish, so we did. Or at least I tried.
I didn’t run the race I had hoped for or finish with the time I hoped for. But I also did not run the race I feared or the time I feared.
The race was a great event put on by a great organization and a stellar bunch of volunteers. I had a great time with the challenge and I will be back next year to take it on again.
I’ve known for about 52 weeks that I would run this race again. I ran my first half marathon here in 2015 and I knew I wanted to do it again and do it better. This was the one race I knew early on I would run this year.
Last year I was nervous if I would even be able to do it, but I did. This year I did something I had never done for any other race and I set for myself a pace/time goal. As the race began to loom on the horizon, I began to get nervous that I would not run well and what felt for me like a terrible race over basically a half marathon distance for a relay did not help the nerves.
I am not good at prep and planning for events like racing. I am more of a just go and do type person. So I was relieved when several of my friends running Wineglass asked if I wanted to car pool with them. Perfect, several fewer things to have to worry about on my end. Meet at the specified time and ride up with them. No decision making or planning by me needed.
The night before I felt like I was all prepped and ready to go before going to bed. All my clothes were laid out, racing and pre/post clothing. Gear laid out: hat, gloves, belt pouch (for chews etc.), compression sleeves, and headphones. I had everything in the same room in close proximity to make it almost impossible to forget. My wireless headphones were plugged into my computer to ensure a full charge so they would last the whole race. I had my camera out and battery plugged in to charge so it would last the whole race. Yes, I said camera. I’m a photographer and try to take a camera with me wherever possible.
We got to the starting location for the half marathon nice and early. Plenty of time to relax, stretch, eat, prep, and do all the pre-race things that only other runners are privy to. As I was getting ready I realized I forgot band aids to prevent chaffing (guys you probably know what this is about and maybe the girls too). Strike one. The always-prepared Eric Williams thankfully had some extras that mostly worked. (I don’t want to talk about what happened when they stopped working. LOL.) As I was getting ready to run I realized I my headphones were definitely fully charged, because they were still at home plugged into my computer. This is after spending hours trying to put together a decent running playlist to pump me up throughout this half marathon. Strike 2. As I am getting to the starting line I get my camera out to take a few photographs of the crowd of runners and the scenery only to discover that this battery too was still at home safe and sound fully charged. Strike 3. I was really hoping this was not a 3 strikes and you are out type of situation.
I was really starting to get down on myself for being unprepared right before the race. Not good. Fortunately for me Joette Foster was with me. She of the always-positive attitude gave me a quick attitude adjustment and got me back in a positive frame of mind.
As I waited alone for the race to start, if one can be alone in a group of thousands, out of the crowd materializes friend and fellow runner Georgia Tucker. We talked about the pace we were each planning to run and settled in the area where we figured we should be in the crowd, no pacer running the pace we were targeting. Unfortunately for Gorgia, but fortunately for me, she could not get her music service to connect so she too had no music to run with either. We ran and talked for 10 miles. In addition, we stayed pretty much at the pace I wanted for the entire 10 miles. I actually could not believe I could run and chat for 10 miles at basically my goal pace. Running and talking with Georgia helped me to not think about the running or the miles I’ve run or the miles still to go. It was so enjoyable to run with someone I knew and could talk to. I had my Garmin watch set to notify me if I was going too fast or too slow for the pace I wanted. That allowed me to just glance quickly and see if I needed to speed up a little or could slow down some then just keep talking and keep on keeping on running with Georgia.
A mile 10 the wheels started to come off a little bit for me and I could not keep up my pace and Georgia and the pacer I really wanted to stay in front of pulled away off into the distance. I was still running ok but could feel the strength leaving my legs. I just didn’t have much left in the tank. I was excited to see my friends at STRC and the SOAR kids cheering runners on and that gave me a quick boost of energy but it didn’t last. I was able to finish the race at a good time for me 2:15:32. This was a significantly faster PR for me. I felt good almost the entire race. I was happy with the results.
The race was great and I enjoyed it and felt accomplished by my run. However, by far the best part for me was the post-race. Over the past year being involved with running groups and clubs like STRC I have gotten to know so many runners, where in previous years I had known none. If anyone was there to cheer me on at previous races it was my amazing wife, Debby and one of my dogs. I’ve gone to several races where I showed up alone, run the race, and then immediately gone home because I didn’t know anyone.
This year was totally different. This year I knew at least a dozen people who were running in either the full or half marathon. This year I had friends, support, and comradery from the running community. This is something I would never had and I would have even known was possible without joining great running groups like STRC and No Meat Athlete, Corning. They welcomed me into their group and made me one of them. They supported me throughout this journey and encouraged me to work hard when I didn’t think I could do it.
When I crossed the finish line I first looked for my wife. She’s been there supporting me through all my craziness. She pointed Joette out to me in the crowd and we congratulated each other on a well-run race. We found, Lindsay Barrile, the person who has been the captain of this running crew I have been fortunate enough to fall in with. Lindsay planned great workouts and training for us and I did more structured running thanks to her than I ever would have. Let’s face it I would have done no structured running workouts without her. We found the speedster of our group Eric and the four of us got our picture taken together, which I had never done before at a race. We sat and recovered together. We talked about our races, where it went well for us and where it came off the rails. We shared our successes.
We all went to change into some dry cloths so we could enjoy the rest of race day together. I was able to find Debby in the crowd with one of our dogs who was very excited to see me. It is always great to have the support of my loving wife and one of our great dogs after a race. It always helps to ease the post-race discomfort when you can be snuggled by a dog.
Our group of runners was able to reconnect after changing and watch more of the runners finish there races. We were joined by another friend Sarah Wellington who was able to return after spending some time with her family. We were able to hang out, socialize, and enjoy some great food and a few beers on the always-fabulous Market Street in Corning, NY.
While we ate we were able to monitor another friends progress in the full marathon thanks to the Race Joy app. Brande Flaitz was running the full marathon and we wanted to cheer her on. I was in communication without other STRC members out on the course cheering and they were wondering about her progress. I was able to relay her position using the Race Joy app. We were growing concerned that she had become injured as it seemed she had fallen off her expected pace for the race. Brett Shelton who had been cheering with other STRC members and the SOAR kids ran out to meet her at mile 24 and see how she was doing. As we tracked her progress it was suggested that we go out to the course and meet up with Brande to support her in this effort. Thanks again to the Race Joy app we were able to find her exact location and drive over and meet up with her around a mile or so out form the finish. Sarah who was still recovering from her race and her own injury broke into a sprint upon seeing her and ran out to support her. Lindsay, Joette, Eric, and I all joined them.
Brande was clearly in pain. She was gutting it out through the pain of her injury. We were able to walk and ran with her towards the finish line where she successfully finished her race. Despite being injured, she was still moving at a decent pace. I couldn’t keep up without running. I had never been a part of something like this. A group of people supporting each other and encouraging one another to push our limits. This is what running is. This is the community of runners I have been lucky enough to become a part of is all about.
Brande didn’t get to run the race she had envisioned but she ran the race she could given the circumstances she was dealt. She gutted it out through sheer force of will and determination when many others would have given up. She ran a race many others including me could not have run. I am proud of her for her toughness and her ability to dig down deep and see that race through to the end. This was a day I will never forget for so many reasons and I am so glad I was there to be a part of it. I am so glad I became a runner.