emmy, susan and anthony
sometimes it's hard to believe how fast time flies by. lining up for the long island greenbelt trail 50k for the second time was one of the those moments. had the first one really been a year ago? seemed like we had been here just last week! that was in sharp contrast to the days that led up to the race. aside from the memory of how long it took to finish last year (6:21) and how often i got lost (4x), i had little recollection of the details. so much so, that it took rereading race reports to realize just how many road crossings were on the course (7), and how steep the hills at the north end of the trail were!
emmy, rob and i drove down to plainview together. in a first for us, we tried out rob's handheld gps device as the navigator. despite the somewhat authoritative female voice instructing us to make this or that turn, we occasional ignored the directives and improvised our way there. each time we strayed from the script, she would remap the route and start in with new directions for the revised route. very cool and very big brother-ish at the same time!
while we arrived early, it still seemed that all our friends were already there! anthony and staci (divaleh) were there. i ran into john (jholtthief) on my way to the packet pick-up and he introduced me to peter. at the entrance to the clubhouse i said hi to admas, and congratulated her on the great profile of her in the current issue of the club news insert to the nyrr magazine,"the runner." there is also a great retrospective on ted corbitt in the new issue of the magazine. i also stopped to chat with phil and richie, both of whom - along with admas, were volunteering at the race. by the time i actually got my stuff, it was no longer early - and i wound up rushing back to the car to drop off the shirt (and find a secluded spot to relieve myself).
i lined up just as nick gave the final pre-race instruction, via bullhorn. that's when emmy mentioned that my neighbor, noonie, was running today. she had won this race back in 2006, the last year the course was an out and back to the south shore, followed by an out and back to the north shore. that was a pleasant surprise - especially since the last race we had be to was the 2007 edition of the soapstone trail run! after a quick hello, the race went off.
with the memories of the course suddenly fresh in my mind (and no plans to get lost) - i had an ambitious goal of 5:30 - and a more realistic one of a sub-6 hour finish. the first part of the course was a 1.8 mile out and back from the clubhouse to the trailhead. i ran that in 14:50. from the trailhead to the northern turnaround at the cold springs harbor lirr train station was 7.2 miles. i ran that stretch in 1:15:09, for a cumulative split of 1:29:59. normally, that would have made me very happy. but just before the lawrence hill road crossing i had to stop and make a bathroom pit stop.
after the turnaround, heading back on the return leg i made two more pit stops. after i pulled off the trail for the third time i had a hard time keeping a positive mental attitude. smiling for me was definitely a tough sell. despite those two side trips, i still finished the inbound leg in 1:27:50 for a cumulative time of 2:57:49 - on pace for a sub 6 hour finish. my second outback leg was slow, 1:48:45 - but no bathroom pit stop for that entire stretch. while very encouraging, i was spent physically. by the time i reached the turnaround, 4:36:24 into the race, and headed back on the inbound leg, even walking the hills in cold spring harbor park was grueling!
while a sub-6 was theoretically possible, it was impossible as a practical matter. as if to underscore that point, i wound up having to make one more bathroom pit stop! then, if that wasn't bad enough, just after climbing the hill on the other side of syosset-woodbury road, i found myself off-course! unbelievable! i asked a father walking with his young son, daughter and dog - but he was unhelpful. i retraced my steps - this cost 5-10 minutes - and found where i had gone off course. what a relief!
there was a good thing to come out of that. as i was heading down the right trail, i noticed susan puzzled and about to make the same wrong turn i did. i got her attention, and we wound up running back to the finish together. in the it's a very small world category, she had meet emmy at the bear mountain endurance runs a few weeks ago. and this race was her very first ultra - after having done boston last month! it was a lot of fun finishing up the remaining distance with her. and by the time we crossed the finish line, not only had my smile returned - but i had forgotten all the bad intestinal karma that had bedeviled me all those hours!
in short succession, rob, emmy, anthony, then staci all finished. i was very happy to have a sam adams cherry wheat beer in hand to congratulate them as the crossed the finish - and joined me in a few beers. all in all, the 6:43 finish was pretty disappointing - but it was still a great day. can't imagine any other way to have spent it!
check out emmy's race report (which includes photos).
check out anthony's race report (which includes a great slide show).
check out staci's race report.
check out the race photos.