the 2009 sybil ludington 50k was my 4th time retracing the legendary route of the female paul revere. this year, however, i was a little concerned about the announced course change that took us north along lake mahopac instead the traditional southern route. but, when i checked the revised course on the map posted at the vfw hall, the change didn't seem too bad. i would stick with my target of 4:30 and see how the miles played out. in a change from prior years, i wore my fluid belt and took along two 6 oz. bottles of gatorade.
on the drive to carmel, emmy suggested we run the first ten miles together. that sounded like a plan and we did run together for the first 7+ miles. in addition to the north side of the lake, the revised course started further south on route 6 than the original. that "small" change removed the initial downhill! but the new finish line was alongside the park, well short of the statue of sybil, so things balance out. with the initial climb, mile one was 8:35 - the only individual mile marker on the course. the rest would be in 5 mile increments, and one at the marathon split.
i thought the first mile was too fast since it was predominately uphill. i would have preferred starting with 9 minutes and easing into an 8:30 pace. by mile 2, emmy and i were in 5th and 6th place, and a huge gap had already opened between the first and second place runners and the 4 of us bunched up behind them. as we made the right turn onto the new route, anthony and wayne cheered us on. maybe it was the unfamiliar stretch of new course on the north side of the lake, but i missed the mile five marker.
we returned to the regular course, route 6n, at mile 5.8 - a nice downhill stretch. emmy picked up the pace and we soon passed the 4th and 5th place runners. since i had no split from mile 5 to work with, i wasn't too comfortable picking up the pace at that point. but since the next 5 mile stretch was familiar, i pushed on. after mile 7, emmy pulled back a little. while i was still feeling strong, i pushed on ahead. i reached mile ten at 1:18:05 - and, at the 10.2 mile aid station, grabbed some water and a bag of cape cod kettle chips (mostly for the salt boost).
during the next 5 miles i traded places with 2 other runners, one of whom was the eventual women's winner. i also said hi to al t., one of the early starters, just after mile 12. the most bizarre incident took place just after mile 15, which i reached in 1:57:32 - and involved a nasty little dog. after the left turn coming off the boyd's corner reservoir, this tiny bundle of snarling snapping energy ran down the hill of his house onto the street and started to chase me! i was torn - on the one hand i was angry enough (to be in this predicament) to stop and eat him! on the other, he didn't seem to be gaining on me - so i just kept running until he got tired of chasing me!
by the time i reached anthony and wayne at their 16.9 mile aid station, the heat had started to catch up to me. i grabbed a handful of m & m's and pushed on. at the 19.1 mile aid station i said hi to joe, who was there waiting there for jill. the stretch along white pond, which led up to mile 20, is one of my favorite parts of the course. i reached mile 20 in 2:39:05 and realized i'd been running by myself for the last 5+ miles! just up the road, the husband and wife team that manned the 21.7 mile aid station were familiar faces. i passed up their offer of sunscreen. insteal i stuck with water and gatorade, then pushed on.
the heat had now begun to take its toll on my energy level. on the first climb along peckslip road i found myself walking up to the crest! this rolling 1+ mile stretch includes a short bit of unpaved road before the turn off onto church hill road - which itself includes 2 large climbs! i found myself walking to the crest of each of those two hills! this would be the first of two 47 minute 5 mile stretches. that 5 miles took me 47:02 - well off the sub-40's i'd run for the earlier segments. i reached 25 miles in 3:36:07.
at this point i began to get frustrated - i had stopped at that aid station and the earlier one to refill my water bottles and yet now felt parched and dehydrated. the sun was really exacting a toll - it took me 12:45:72 to reach the marathon split at 3:38:52. the prime reason i wasn't a happy camper here was that i found myself almost 9 minutes off the 3:30 target i had wanted for the marathon split. midway between miles 10 and 15 i readjusted my time target down from 4:30 to 4:20 - not a smart move, mentally, on such a hot day.
while i had still had an outside shot at that ambitious target, i just couldn't keep it together. i had seen wayne in his car and he told me i was in third place. tom also drove by and offered some encouragement. but my major late race hassle, calf cramps, had caught up to me - argh! between the marathon and finish line i found myself fighting off increasingly frequent calf cramps. i fully expected to be passed at any point along the last five miles. even at the last aid station, mile 29, the finish line still seemed like it was an eternity away.
one of the funniest moments came as i approached - at a walk - the top of the very last hill on the course. alicija was up there and shouted "frank, don't walk, the finish is only 400 yards away!" i had forgotten the new finish was on the road, alongside the park! that was incredibly great news and i picked up the pace. after cresting the hill, i saw anthony at the finish with his camera - but was distracted because there was someone laid out in the finish chute! and that scene itself was punctuated with the sirens of fire and ems trucks that rush past me to an emergency on the other side of the causeway!
i was so relieved to finish - in 4:25:23! while this was my fastest sybil, i was still nagged by missing 4:20 by over 5 minutes. that disappointment was quickly erased when anthony told me i had finished third! still, a minute later, i found myself greeting richie with "hello vincent!" i don't know where that came from?! he said to me, "richard, or richie - who's vincent?" definitely time for me to rehydrate! so i sat on the back of the station wagon with ted and drank water as i waited for the others to finish.
while we were at the finish line, lee brought over some sandwiches for us - which was great! but the post-race spread (including a birthday cake for joe) was waiting for us back a the vfw hall. it was a great time for socializing - emmy, rob, susan, frank, ellen, grant, lee, richie, joe, al p. al. t., jill, joe, tom, and chip, just to name a few in the crowd! a great way to end what is always a great event!
here are my race photos (with links to additional pictures).
great photo taken by chip!