Sunday, March 2, 2008

rr: caumsett park 50k

The sub-title for this race could be easily be "around and around" for the 12 loops that make up the distance. The course, even with two hills - the first, just after one mile, and the second, just before two miles - was very runnable. Throughout the day, a raw, nasty wind repeatedly gusted up as we approached the turnaround and then returned as we started another loop. That unrelenting wind made the course a lot tougher than it would have been on a warmer day.

My friend Emmy met me at 7 and we drove down to Long Island together. Just after 8 we pulled into a full parking lot - a rare sight for a local ultra. But this race was also the USATF 50k national championship. Michael Wardian, the winner of the JFK 50 miler in November, was a serious favorite to run under 2:51 and set a new national 50k record. His 2:55 missed the national record by 4 minutes, but he did set a course record. What I found amazing was his marathon split was roughly 2:20!

One great thing about this race was getting to see so many friends. At the risk of leaving someone out, i ran into the following Broadway Ultra Society runners: Ritchie who manned the registration table, ran some of the course, and did the awards, Byron, Phil, Al, Nick, Admas, and Ruth. I also got to meet up with some friends from the Kickrunners and Runnerworld Forums: Meredith and her husband, Eddie, Stacy (her very first ultra!), Anthony (his 3rd Caumsett), Ira, and Brennan. Before the start, Nick said a few words about Ted Corbitt and, after a brief moment of silence in his memory, we got underway.

My last 50k, the Mid-Hudson "Recover from the Holidays" in January, was basically a training run. Emmy also ran that race with me and we both finished in 5:10. It was the unofficial kick-off to my Umstead training cycle. Now mid-way through training, Caumsett would be a tune-up race. My time goal was a 4:30 finish. I wanted to get in a solid 20+ miles in an 8 minute pace, or better - and a marathon split under 3:40. Last year my pacing yardstick was a 23 minute loop. I would use that same goal again today.

The first loop is short - maybe a third, to half, a mile - to adjust for the overall distance. The full loop is 2.61 miles. Ten loops is approximately the marathon distance. I ran the first loop in 15:54. I caught up with Brennan and we ran together for the next three loops: 20:23, 20:07, 20:33. Brennan then went ahead and I began to wonder if I hadn’t gone out a bit too fast. Each of those loops was under an 8 minute pace and, cumulatively, on target for a 4 hour finish. Since no amount of wishful thinking would get me across the finish line in 4 hours, I dialed it back a bit. The fifth loop was 21:22. Still a bit fast, but a more realistic 8:07 pace.

I started the sixth loop with a 2 minute bathroom stop, and still managed to complete it in 23:03. I wasn’t about to look a gift horse in the mouth, but last year I ran a solid race for 10 loops - only to crash and have to crawl through the last 2 loops. I didn’t want to repeat that experience, so I again dialed back the pace. Loops 7 and 8 were in 22:35 and 22:29, respectively. From that point on i felt the fatigue begin to hover over me. The ninth loop, in 23:29, gave me a cumulative split of 3:10. At that pace I could try for a sub-4:20 finish.

The 10th loop was a solid 23:53 and my watch showed 3:34:06 - a probable marathon split between 3:35-3:36. While the 10th was my first loop at a 9 minute pace, my overall pace was approximately 8:10 for those 26 miles. If I could keep it together for the final 2 loops, a sub 4:20 was a realistic target. Last year, at this point in the race, I had slowed down significantly - my 9th and 10th loops each took 25+ minutes, and the final 2 loops took 28+ and 27+ minutes, respectively. Those 4 loops ended a chance at a 4:30 finish last year. Today, I felt the same fatigue, and the unrelenting wind gusts were just as demoralizing, but I didn’t hit the wall.

Loop 11 was 24:07, a 9:09 pace. I slowed even more in the final loop, 24:50, a 9:26 pace. Still, I finished in 4:23:00, an overall pace of 8:28! While this was not a pr for me, it was the fastest 50k that I’ve run in well over a year. Given all the ups and downs of my February training, I was extremely pleased (if not relieved) to have gotten in such a solid performance. Right behind me, in 4:26 was Emmy. It was her first sub 4:30 50k and a pr! Even more impressive, it was her third straight week with a long race. Last week she ran the Albany marathon in 3:41, and, the week before, she ran the Martha’s Vineyard 20 miler in 2:33.

The food and awards ceremony was inside the field house. I was a little bummed to learn that despite a 20 minute improvement over last year’s finish, I actually dropped two places - from 2nd to 4th - in my USATF age group! Oh well, just have to run faster next year. On the other hand, aside from her pr performance, Emmy was the first masters finisher and collected prize money! After the awards ceremony came even more socializing. Between a turkey sandwich and two cups of lentil soup, I talked with Anthony, Ira, Ritchie, Phil, Al, and Nick (among others). Then Anthony, Emmy and I went back outside to support the runners still out on the course.

All in all, couldn't have asked for a better day! Next up, the NYRR Colon Cancer 15k in Central Park next week.


emmylou said...

awesome report--non-runners reading it would think you are nots going round and round for 12 loops! Phil told me that the men's competition was stiff this year -despite running faster than last year, he came in 10th instead of 7th. So you should be proud --so how come you never mentioned the 23 minute strategy to me???? I could have used that!!!Am glad you ate well after the race --every time I looked for you you were by the food:)Did you eat some jelly bellies later?

Macii said...

Good work!

AnthonyP said...

Well done my friend. See you soon.

Joseph Ferrara. Sellsius said...


Meredith said...

Great pictures! You had a fabulous race, it was great to see you again. Looking forward to running around in circles with you at umstead :)

rundangerously said...

wow, emmylou doesn't sound the least bit like ctmarathoner - but somehow i think they may be related :)

meredith, working on putting up a blog roll and definitely adding link to yours!

joe, yours will be the first non-running one i post :)

thanks again macii!