sometimes you just have to start running and see what happens! on the drive down to central park for the knickerbocker 60k, emmy and i tried to outdo each other with excuses for bagging the race - between her nagging foot injury and my undertraining, neither one of us looked forward to the 9+ loops of the park! but since i skipped the knickerbocker last year because of poor weather, i wasn't about to blow it off, undertrained or not, in the face of perfect running conditions!
my prep (and to call it that is a dramatic overstatement) for the race consisted of only two long runs; the nyc marathon and the maine marathon. in between, i filled the gaps with short races - lots and lots of 5ks, actually. my longest run during that period topped out at 13 miles, and my weekly mileage barely edged over 50 - not close to my typical race training. so bowing to that reality, i set a 6 hour target for the 60k.
i've only one run 60k race in the past, the queens 60k at forest park, in march, 2008. i ran that one in 5:46:38 - and didn't think i could (or would) approach that finish time in central park. i did think that i had a few good loops in the tank, so i planned to run the first 5 of the 9 loops in 1:35 or better - then see what i had left... and hold on for the final 4. as it turned out, being undertrained - and having no expectations - may have been just the thing.
before the race started, we picked up our bibs and d-tags at the nyrr club. the most welcoming sight there was richie, our b.u.s. president, who directed the race! when i walked over to the park entrance at 90th street, i was surprised (maybe shocked) at the huge turnout - around 200 runners! i had expected maybe 50 or 60 runners - not triple+ that number - for this generally low-key event! and there were plenty of familar faces in that crowd - rob, phil, frank, nick, sal, anthony, wayne, al, eric, eliot and shiran - just to list a few there that morning!
the race started with a northbound 1.4 mile out and back, then 9 loops of the 4 mile course bounded at the south end with the 72nd street transverse and the north end with the 102nd street transverse. there were plenty of volunteer out on the course cheering on the runners! i will mention that the 72nd street transverse reeked of a nasty horse stable - it was the worst stretch of the course in my opinion. the north bound portion on west drive seemed decidedly hillier than its southbound counterpart on east drive.
at the risk of getting ahead of myself, here are my splits (pardon the rounding):
after the initial out and back, i went through the first loop well under my 35:00 target - and immediately thought about cutting back the pace. since i didn't seem to be pushing it, i decided to go with it for a while longer and see how the faster pace felt. i went through the first 5 loops well below my targeted pace and was no worse for the wear. after 6 loops in 3:32:23, just below the marathon split, i readjusted my target down to 5:30. with only 3 loops left, i thought i could squeeze them out in less than 2 hours.
in fact, just before setting off on the 7th loop i stopped and grabbed some coffee and a bite-size baby ruth bar from my drop bag! i was in the mood for some caffeine - and the chocolate bar was a just a little treat (a break from the chips i'd grab from the aid station). up to that point the only food i had was a bag of cliff cran-rasberry shot blocks which i ate during the third or fourth loop. despite the caffeine - and chocolate - i hit the proverbial wall in the 8th lap! at 38:49, it was my slowest loop.
what really snapped me out of that funk was the shock i got when the lap counters told me i had 2 laps left to go - not one! thankfully, richie was there and cleared up the problem - i was, in fact, on my bell lap! an interesting twist from that distraction, shiran and i had been running most of the race together +/- a few seconds on either side. that stop with the counters let him open a 45+ second gap on me. i didn't catch shiran until we were on the start of west drive! at that point i was in "let's get this over with" mode!
then, for one last surprise, i caught sight of emmy half way across the 102nd street transverse. she was moving so fast that i didn't catch up with her until halfway down east drive! that was the first time i'd see her all day! i had only seen rob on the out leg of the initial out and back! and phil looped me at just as i was finishing my 5th lap! except for shiran, i ran the entire race with just my ipod for company! phil lesh and friends accompanied me through 8 loops, and green day carried me for the last one!
we had a great time socializing at the finish (it was a first ultra for both eric and eliot)! phil won the race - and it turned out that it was nick's 200th ultra finish! afterwards, emmy, phil, rob, and i went to a great irish sports bar that was kind enough to serve 20 oz. irish pints (instead of mere 16 oz. english ones)! what a great way to rehydrate after a long, long, day running loops of central park!
here are the race photos.
here are a few more race reports: emmy's, phil's, and anthony's.