when i woke up saturday morning to thunder and lighting outside the window there wasn't a more sobering way to dampen expectations that i'd even start the long island greenbelt trail 50k this year. amazingly, within a half an hour all the rain had stopped. by the time emmy arrived for the drive to plainview, talk had switched to how muddy and wet the trails would be out on the course. the other variable would be humidity.
before the trail, there's a short 1.8 mile out and back stretch on the road. i ran that portion with grant. when we got to the trail, i said hi to ira, who was volunteering at the race to complete his vermont requirement, and joe, who was on his bike to support jill (and he took pictures along the way). the first few steps on the trail seemed dry enough. but, as it turned out, the portion before jericho turnpike would be the slipperiest and muddiest. it would be at its worst on the inbound leg of the second loop!
after we crossed jericho turnpike, i ran with alicja for a few miles. the weekend before, alicja ran 120 miles across long island, from jfk to montauk (in 26 hours!) to raise funds for breast cancer research. she would go to be the first woman finisher today! but for the moment, she made sure i didn't get lost :D the greenbelt trail, in addition to the gnarly hills and multiple road crossings, really tests your inner boy (or girl) scout skills. practically everyone who runs it manages to go off course at least once!
at my first greenbelt (2007) i went off course a record four times! the second time (2008) i got lost only twice! today, i managed to get off course just once. there's about 5,000+ of elevation change on the course. it seems, to me, that most of that change is crammed into the few miles that lead up to the cold spring harbor turnaround point. by the time i was within a mile of that turnaround, my eyeglasses had completely fogged up because of the humidity. i wasn't worried about the climbs as much as staying on course and not tripping over the roots and branches!
as i climbed down the huge wooden stairs that led to the aid station, glenn took pictures of my soggy arrival. instead of fluids or food, the first thing i needed was a dry paper towel - which i then carried with me for the rest of the race! including the road stretch, i reached the first turnaround in 1:28:48 - well on target to go under 6 hours. with unfogged glasses and a handful of jelly bellies i was on my way. except for handfuls of jelly bellies, all i would eat during the race was watermelon (and the occassional pretzel for a salt boost).
but even with clear eyeglasses, the inbound leg found me off course in short order. as i climbed out of the aid station i said hi to alicja and grant as they headed in. not to far behind was susan, and just behind her were emmy and jill. at some point before the first road crossing i found myself following yellow blazes for about a quarter of a mile - instead of white ones, and realized that i wasn't in kansas anymore. i started with low-key expletives and worked my way up the some really nasty ones, as i retraced my path to find the missed turn.
once back on the trail, all was well again. despite that small detour, i completed the inbound leg in 1:20:46, for a cumulative time of 2:49:35 for the first loop (which included the road portion). at the turnaround i saw ira, richie, and glenn before i headed back out on the second loop. this time i managed to stay on course without a problem. i reached cold spring harbor in 1:21:41 and completed the second inbound leg in 1:32:57 (slowing down 10+ minutes in that final quarter).
i finished the trail at 5:44:14 and then took almost 4 minutes to reach the finish at the glirrc clubhouse. as i approached the final turn i saw ira, who was heading out on the course as a sweeper. i finished in 5:47:58 - which was good enough for 10th place overall, and second in my age group. i celebrated with the first, of what would be a few, yuengling lagers as i waited for everyone to finish!
here are my quarter leg splits:
completing the first loop.
the finish line.
post-race muddiest feet competition :D
here are a few more race photos.
and check out emmy's great photos.