Sunday, April 27, 2008

rr: sybil ludington 50k

what an adventure we had getting to the start of this race! emmy and i left my house at 6:50 for the 8:00 a.m. start and a 30 minute drive turned into an hour long one! instead of going the way she knew (we've done this race twice before), emmy tried out brand new mapquest directions and, as luck had it, stopped a few hapless souls to ask for directions - when we were literally a mile or so away from the start. anyway, what fun would it be w/out a little pre-race excitement to get the adrenaline flowing!

emmy let me off in front of the vfw hall while she parked the car. i ran inside to register with 10 minutes to spare. it was cutting things a little close because the runners get driven to the start which is about a mile down the road! luckily anthony, meredith and eddie were there and gave us a lift to the start. we arrived there exactly at 9, but the race didn't actually get underway until 9:08 - just enough time to catch my breath and say a few hellos (rob, richie, sal, tom, grant, admas, and ruth - phew)!

this frightening elevation profile of the sybil course
is courtesy of anthony's race preview!

then we started running! the coolest thing about the first mile was that i found a quarter on the road - and stopped to pick it up! aside from that find, the run down route 6 and south lake boulevard, on the southern end of lake mahopac, was the worst part of the day. no shoulder and no cars smaller than s.u.v.'s on steroids made this a stressful experience. even at that early hour there was heavy traffic! emmy, grant and i reached mile 5 in 43:03, an 8:37 pace. it was way too fast - but more a reflection of the desire to get this dangerous stretch behind us, rather than bank some fast miles. and we still had more miles along the narrow, winding south lake drive alongside the heavy traffic before we turned north onto route 32, and ran with relatively lighter traffic.

this course is full of rolling hills. while there are a few significant climbs, most are individually small but spaced so close together that the cumulative effect makes it difficult to grab any meaningful recovery on the downhills. that early in the race it wasn't noticeable. in fact, it was the heavy wind that really wore on me, not the hills. i missed the 10 mile marker, but the three of us reached the half marathon at 1:58:43, a more realistic 9:03 pace. at that point we were running alongside the boyd corner's reservoir - a beautiful (if hilly) stretch of road off the beaten path.

just beyond mile 16 was a sight for sore eyes - meredith, eddie and anthony at their roadside aid station. seeing them was definitely a welcome mental boost. i waited there for emmy and grant to catch up. then grant took off (oh to have fresh legs - haha) on ahead. emmy and i would run the rest of the race together from that point. she was already felt the effects of the constant ups and downs. and to make matters worse, she had lost the two midols that grant had given her a few miles earlier. she wasn't alone - just before the 30k point my shin started acting up again - drat! when we reached the next aid station, mile 18.7, kathy made my day with some extra strength tylenol!

the next stretch, along white pond road, brought back some rain soaked memories. this was the toughest stretch for me back in 2006 as heavy winds blew rain horizontally off white pond!! it was also the where i missed the mile 20 marker in previous years - and once again, this time around. but i knew that the next aid station was around mile 21, just before we turned onto route 52, so that was the next milestone.

the next course landmark was a run along peckslip road, which in prior years was an unpaved stretch of dirt roads. this time, we were surprised to find the entire length paved! that made for some easier running, especially on my quads. we exited peckslip road and made a left onto church hill road and a long stretch of uphill climbing until we reached the left turn onto gypsy trail road, and the location of the 24.7 mile aid station. kathy had leap frogged to this aid station from where we had last seen her at the 30k mark. she was kind enough to take my long-sleeved shirt back to the start w/her.

emmy and i reached 25 miles in 4:14:11, a 10:10 pace, and the marathon split at 4:24:24, a 10:05 pace. this was my slowest marathon split in any non-trail ultra. between the growing soreness in my shine and the heavy wind (especially the wind) the course had taken it's toll on me and the remaining 10k was starting to seem like a real slog. one highlight along this stretch was catching up to joe handlman, 78 years young! he set off two hours earlier than the race start and was on track to finish yet another sybil. in fact, there was a celebration birthday cake waiting for him at the vfw hall.

another surprise was our friend anton, from the wolfpit running club, driving alongside joe as his mobile crew. anton occasionally stopped for some picture taking and also drove alongside us for a bit chit-chatting with emmy about this and that. anton had run boston last week and was wore the new blue tech shirt we had gotten! very chic :) soon enough we reached the last aid station, 2.5 miles from the finish. we didn't linger, with about a mile to the causeway and then a straight shot back to the finish. mile 30 was just over the causeway, 5:03:45, a 10:08 pace. at that point, pain and exhaustion aside, all we wanted to do was get this race over with - so we "sprinted" the last mile in 9:21 and finished in 5:13:05, a 10:05 pace!

phew! this course definitely got the better of me out there. even with a 3rd place age group award, i was hardly pleased with my performance. there's no particular thing i can point to (except the constant headwinds really demoralized me - and i feel badly that emmy had to endure my mantra of expletives in the face of it). but i still enjoyed myself. the post-race socializing with my friends more than made up for hilly, windy conditions. and the growlers of captain lawrence beer at the awards ceremony was a great surprise! i tried the pale ale, the double ipa, and the smoked porter! somehow that made all the soreness melt away!

next up, the brooklyn half marathon!

here are the race photos.

check out anthony's race report and slide show!
check out emmy's race report and photos!

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