Here’s a short “run report” on something I attempted last week. Many of you will know the FLT’s Interloken Branch as the über muddy part of the Finger Lakes 50s loop. I wrote this for my blog, but decided to copy and paste here. If you want, you can read it on my blog, complete with pictures, and find a bunch of other race reports and miscellaneous. http://runningthegorges.blogspot.com/
With virtually every spring and summer race cancelled, Fastest Known Time runs have been all the rage these past few months. Ultrarunning media outlets are reporting en masse on FKTs, with loads of obscure new routes popping up and times falling on some of the more competitive FKTs.
Early this year I had the idea of establishing a baseline FKT on the Finger Lakes Trail’s Interloken Branch in the Finger Lakes National Forest. This trail runs 11.2 miles north to south through the forest, connecting with the main FLT at the Interloken’s southern terminus. It’s mostly flat singletrack and notorious for it’s copious volume of mud, especially on the sections where horseback riding is allowed. Anyone who’s run a loop or three at the Finger Lakes 50s is familiar with the southern half of the Interloken.
As of February there was no FKT listed at FastestKnownTime.com, so I figured I’d be the first to put it on the site. After running around in the FLNF on the final day of the Aravaipa Strong 100, I decided to commit to an Interloken Trail FKT attempt sometime later in the spring, once the trail had a chance to dry out. The plan was to run the full out-and-back, 22.4 miles, unsupported. I came home to check the official FKT Web site and found that Dana Wood, of Corning, New York, had beaten me to it only a few weeks earlier. He had run the out-and-back in 3:47:22 on April 5, starting and ending at the southern end.
I thought 3:47 would be fairly easy to beat given the amount of mud and water Dana says he had to contend with. I even did a scouting run over the trail’s northernmost four miles—a place I’d only run once or twice before, several years ago. The Interloken Trail north of the Backbone Trail is more or less the same as the southern section, but with a nice grassy trail edging around Teeter Pond.
Overall there was less mud than usual and it wasn’t an overly hot day—mid-70s and partly cloudy with low humidity. In other words, perfect running conditions for this trail. (Or at least better than your typical weather at the FL50s!) Despite running on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, physical distancing was easy as there were not that many people on the trail. I reached the turnaround on Parmenter Road in 1:51:13, took a one-minute break to remove a pebble from my shoe, and headed back south. The northernmost mile was flooded, so I was running through 3-4 inches of standing water near the turnaround. These miles were slow going, but it was better to get through it near halfway than have to run the final mile through that mess to finish at the northern end.
Three miles past the turnaround it was like a switch flipped in my brain and I 100 percent lost the will to run. I was well ahead of pace and not even too tired—I just didn’t want to run anymore and couldn’t convince myself otherwise. All of the sudden the FKT wasn’t worth the mental anguish. If Hayley wasn’t home alone with the kids I would’ve been perfectly content walking the last 8-9 miles, enjoying the cool breeze and the extra time in the woods. Instead I grudgingly ran-walked back to the car. Around mile 18-ish my legs were sapped of all energy and the shuffle-hike was miserable from there. I reached the car over an hour slower than I thought I was capable of.
For now I’ll chalk it up to cumulative stress from raising two babies during a global pandemic, but it could also be a musculoskeletal issue. At this point I don’t know. I’ve had a lot of crappy runs lately but felt good the week leading up to the FKT attempt, thinking I was over the fatigue since I’d been sleeping better. I only ran a few miles the week after this run. The following Sunday I ran eight miles at Kennedy State Forest and felt the best I had in several weeks. As of this writing, I still plan to take another week or two off and try to reset my body so I can get in a decent training block for Cayuga Trails and Twisted Branch. I might also give this FKT another try once I’m rested up and better prepared.