Tuesday, January 5, 2010

eliot's mhrrc "recover from the holidays" 50k race report - guest post


i'm so happy to post eliot's race report from the "recover from the holidays" 50k he ran this frigid weekend. it's wasn't his first ultra - the knickerbocker 60k last november was his first race beyond 26.6 miles. but it was eliot's first 50k (on the road to his first 50 miler) :D

eliot, on the right, eyes open :D

MHRRC’s ‘Recover from the Holidays’ (aka, Fat Ass) 50K
Norrie Point, Staatsburg, NY

January 3, 2010

I write this first-ever RR as a relatively ‘new’ 47-year old runner and very, very, very ‘inexperienced’ ultra-runner. As background, my ‘late’ passion for running really began with the TRRC Putnam County Classic 8-miler on July 4, 2008. Since then, I’ve managed to log in 25+ races (mainly, NYRR and TRRC ones) which included 3 full marathons (w/ NYCM – ‘08 & ‘09), 10+ half marathons (w/ the ’09 NYRR 5 borough Grand Prix series) and my first ultra-marathon on November 21, 2009, the Knickerbocker 60K. So, please pardon the lack of the detail in this RR that ‘experienced’ runners usually crave ….

The forecast for Norrie Point for Sunday morning was for temperatures from 15 to 19 degrees, wind gusts up to 40 mph, wind chill real feel temperatures from 0 to 5 degrees, total cloud coverage and snow showers to boot. Ominous .… right? Who would even think about running any kind of race in this weather? The answer …. someone like me, I guess …. someone that caught a bug. I’m not sure when I got this bug; but, where I got it is no mystery to me. It was Emmy Stocker and Frank Colella that passed it on.

The RD, Pete Colaizzo, was okay for an early start for me so that I could finish early. So, up until 6:20 am that morning, the plan was to see Emmy and Frank on the course up there. But, at the last second, their combined experiences told them to opt for the more local Boston Build-up 10K in CT (still in frigid weather) …. while my inexperienced head said, ‘What the heck? It’s in your backyard anyway. Just go check it out. You can always cut it short and make it a long training run.’ Besides, I was still having regrets from cutting short the Roxbury (CT) marathon at 16 miles in December. So, I felt I owed it to myself to at least start and try to finish this one.

I arrived at 8:00 am and there were already 3 other runners itching to start early; Bruce (one of Emmy’s CT friends who I also saw at Roxbury) plus Patrick and Jason from HVTC. So, I quickly hit the porta-john, grabbed my running pack (w/ sunglasses, shuffle, cell phone, Chapstick, aspirin, salt packs, and my balaclava) and we were off to the races. Since it was a loop course, I did not carry the added weight of water and food (very unusual for me); which was a lesson I learned from the Knick 60K. I wore 4 wicking layers on top (plus a down vest that I removed after the 2nd loop and put back on for my last one) and winter tights and shorts. I opted for ‘old’ road sneakers as opposed to my trail ones (left in the car). On my head, I wore the UT Texas Longhorns beanie cap I stole from my nephew while visiting Austin last year. This got me a “Go Texas!” shout-out from the lead runner almost every time we crossed. And, I wore my lighter Garmin watch w/ foot pod as opposed to my GPS one which proved to be a mistake. The mile-to-mile details are fuzzy because the foot pod froze at about 11 miles and stopped recording mileage, but I do know from my watch that I finished in 5:25:21 (at about a 10:30 pace overall), which was just under my goal time of 5:30:00.

Patrick and Jason were regular runners in the park, so they knew the course lay-out. Bruce and I followed them for the first out and back 5K loop (there would be 10 of them) and Bruce and I managed to stay together for about 25K. We chatted with a few other runners as other groups mixed in and out (some doing all 50K, some not). But, I basically kept quiet listening in awe to all the ‘war’ stories that these veterans shared about their running and tri- experiences, heartaches and successes.

The roads were remarkably free of snow at the start with a few ice patches that were visible. The wind gusts were absent throughout most of the mid-course because of the shielding from the hills, but they could be felt in the open areas and especially off the water by the Norrie Point marina. I never appreciated hills so much! There were 2 hills each, out and back, and I followed the lead from the HVTC guys and power-walked one each way. For myself, I also took a quick breather at the turnaround each time (customary for me at my weekly long run at home). And, I stopped by my car at the end of every loop to drink my Gatorade (I wasn’t thirsty but made myself drink), to eat a Power Bar after loops 4 and 6 (after that, they were frozen solid – Emmy warned me of that) and then to log my name in for the loop at the RD’s table. At about 4 loops the snow started to fall lightly, which made for a very serene and beautiful setting. The roads quickly became covered and the town trucks came out to plow and sand the hilly parts around the 30 or so runners. Even though there were still many slippery spots, they did a great job overall of keeping the roads in fairly decent condition for a snowy day. After 5 loops, I was figuratively on the downhill …. counting down the loops to the finish. Nothing was stopping me now. As I cruised in during my bell lap, I saw Bruce driving away. I smiled and waved. He did the same. All in all, I am thrilled that I finished this race despite the weather conditions. And, I can still remember hearing Bruce telling me somewhere along that cold, windy, hilly road in Staatsburg, NY, something like, “It’s too late for you. I can tell that you are already crazy.” I’ve learned new things about myself during each of these long haul races. So, if that’s what I get for being a tad ‘crazy’ …. it’s worth it to me.

here are the race results.

here is a nice write-up from the poughkeepsie journal.


Pam said...

Most excellent write up Eliot - welcome to Frank and Emmy's world.
I hope you'll still play in "my world" every once in awhile. :)
I'm pumped for you ... proud of your accomplishments in 2009/early 2010. Go get em' in 2010 and beyond!

--- Pam

CTmarathoner said...

Eliot --awesome report!!! Frank couldn't have said it better himself!! You definately captured the essence and spirit of the day --saw snowy roads in the photo but didn't realize that it started to snow so early in the day. and thank goodness for the hills without wind. the greatest feeling in an ultra is when you can start counting down those loops or miles!!! am sorry we didn't make it up but you had Bruce to run with and we'll have many more, hopefully. BTW --Bruce goes out very fast!!! he always has (in Norfolk, for example, I didn't catch him til mile 7, and Roxbury til mile 20!!)...so you did well to chug along for 25K with him.

UltraBrit said...

Fantastic report! You write like a veteran race reporter. I think you have the bug really bad! You are crazy! Like, Pam, I hope you'll continue to play in our world, but I'm also hoping that Pam and I can get the bug and join you guys in the ultra world before too long also. Congrats on running a great race and thanks for sharing all the wonderful details with us.

Pam said...

That is one bug that I will fight off like the plague. I'm happy with 26.2 and have absolutely no need to cross that threshold! I'll watch with admiration from afar ... kind of like I do people who know how to dance (I have two left feet and can't keep a beat).

--- Pam

Eliot said...

Thx for all the kind words and support! And, Frank ... Thx for giving me a place to express myself.


Just_because_today said...

Great report Elliot!~ I cant believe you are such a new runners and already an ultra marathoner!