Thursday, May 8, 2008

thoughts on long island greenbelt trail 50k


the race information packet for the 2008 long island greenbelt trail 50k arrived in today's mail. i cited portions of that letter in my 2007 race report. since i managed to go off course 4 times in the first loop, one point is worth repeating.

"Which brings up Point 7 again: 'If you travel more than 50-60 yards without seeing a marking, you have almost certainly gone astray, and should retrace your footsteps. ... The bottom line is that it is YOUR responsibility for staying on the course, PLEASE KEEP AWAKE!' That emphasis is from the original text!"

this time, if my navigation skills don't abandon me, i'd like to run this course in 5:30 - my original 2007 goal.

check out anthony's blog for a great preview of the race. not only does he have up the course map and an elevation chart, but he has links to race reports as well.

as an extra special treat, here is emmy's 2007 race report, which was published in the hi-tek newsletter, but never found its way on-line:
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race report by Emmy (happy Mother's day to moms - and congrats to those who raced today)

The May 12 Greenbelt 50K sounded fun and different. A fair but challenging course on Long Island's Greenbelt trail network (7.4 miles of north - south trails up to Cold Spring harbor). It was part of the ultra grand prix series. This year a 25K race was added. My friend Frank was entered so I figured I would try it out and maybe do the 50K if up for it. We got in the mail a 3-page letter warning runners that it was easy to get lost and that we would have to find our own way back onto the trail. It sounded much more menacing than we both imagined. Well, 6 hours and 55 minutes later I survived 31 miles of trails (a double out and back course) with getting lost (Frank got lost 4 times and probably went 33 miles) and ended up in 4th place for the women - Frank came in in 6:22 -both of our times were actually right on target for this difficulty of a course.

What an adventure! I had a blast at times, hiking, complaining and talking with the other runners. The key, according to the seasoned trail runners, was just to hike and walk when needed and run with caution! and eat and drink a lot. We were to follow the white blazes and orange ribbons (which at times did not appear when one needed desperately to see them) up the trail, down and back up and down for a total of 29 miles - we started at 7:30 a.m. with about 50 people and ran 2 miles on the roads - at this point my calf was sore and I yelled out to Frank as we doubled back, "I'm in pain!" He said, "dropout and volunteer"' (plan B). I decided to switch shoes - our drop bags had been driven to the trail head - and once we got on the trails the muscle stretched and it felt better.

I followed this amazing German woman Helma, who is known for getting lost on this course - but she had run it so many times, she knew where to go. The first 4 or so miles were flat and pretty - then, after an aid station, the fun started. We had to climb up a mountain, navigate roots and wooden pilings, go up and around and back down a mountain to the turn around. The cruelest part of the run was that the aid station, located near the scenic Long island Sound, was way down a cliff - try getting down and back up with tired quads! Every runner had to check in down at the station.

I did a lot of walking and hiking which suited me just fine. Cruel also was the speed with which some of the lead runners were coming back. I truly wanted to cheat and turn around at times - I had lost Helma and was running with a guy who ran finished in 7 hours last year. He told me that we had to make each leg in 1:40, so that became my goal. My first leg was almost 2 hours(!) and back was 1:37. I thought about stopping at the 25K, but had seen Frank going back out and I was running with a sister and brother who were doing their first trail ultra and were doing my pace (slow!). That inspired me to turn around and go back out. Only halfway - what a feeling of dread. On leg 3, northbound, the 25K runners were coming in, that had started at 8:30, as well as the faster 50K runners. Everyone said hello to each other. I endured the hiking and climbing at the northern end and was relieved to see Frank coming back. He was about 25 minutes ahead of me and I was afraid he would have to wait 3 hours to get a ride home!

At the northern end, I was elated - the clock said 5:12, and i knew I had 2 hours to finish in around 7 hours. I picked up the pace as I knew I could break 7, if I didn't get lost too much! I did lose about 5 minutes trying to find a trail head across a road. Going back out, I saw the runners I had been with and we said hello. I finally saw Helma (she was in last place, bless her heart). I started to feel good and was all by myself - this was tough as I made a wrong turn twice and was so mentally tired i couldn't find my way. I have never been happier to see the final aid station. My watch said 6:12 -only 4 miles to go. This was the LONGEST I'd ever been on my feet in a run. Fortunately the trails were flat and easy to run on. I passed a woman who had been in the front as she was nursing a sore knee.

Finally at 6:53, we hit the road and the final stretch to the finish line. Frank was drinking a beer. All the finishers got cool baseball hats. The trails were a real test of endurance - I had never hiked or run that far on trails. A lot of the runners were training for longer races like the Leadville or VT 100 (Frank) or Nipmuck. All we talked about at the finish was getting lost. The Greenbelt was a good trail runner for a beginner like myself and I recommend the 25K. A lot of people hiked the 15.5 miles - on a gorgeous May day, that's not all that bad.
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here is how the 2008 race turned out for me.
here is how the 2008 race turned out for emmy.

3 comments:

AnthonyP said...

Thanks for sharing Emmy's report. Should be a soggy course out there with all the rain we are getting today. See you tomorrow.

CTmarathoner said...

well..in reading my report I can see that I can do better this year -except it is going to be soggy! and I forgot about the road and tunnel crossings and the steep climbs at the end. Hey -why did you post that ugly after-photo of me? But we are modeling the Greenbelt 50K baseball hats! I have a photo of Nick finishing Sybil and will bring it tommorrow.

Divaleh said...

Thanks for sharing! I hope I can keep up with someone (anyone) :)