Saturday, January 2, 2010

from the archives: 2008 "recover from the holidays" 50k

the plan - unless a last minute change of heart (weather induced) sends me over to connecticut for the boston build-up 10k - is to run the mid-hudson road runners club "recover from the holiday" fa 50k tomorrow. i ran this once before, in 2008. it was cold and icy that day - which should make tomorrow seem like old times :D

here is the race report i wrote up (originally posted on rwol masters forum and kickrunners), along with a photo of emmy and me at the finish.

Recover from the Holidays Run, 50K
Saturday, January 5, 2008
Staatsburg, New York

“Recover from the Holidays Run,” is a politically correct moniker for the traditional “Fat Ass” 50ks that appear around the holidays. I hadn’t planned to run the 13th edition of this race but, thanks to the urging of my friend Emmy (Ctmarathoner), I found myself lined up with about 50 other runners in Margaret Lewis Norrie State Park along the shore of the Hudson River. FA 50 events are as basic and informal as they can get - no fee, no bibs, no aid, no awards - just running with a bunch of like-minded crazies (and hopefully burning off some calories). This one was jazzed up a little since the race organizers provided a porta-john and water! However, despite all the pre-race warnings to bring your own everything, they did have a fully stocked aid station - with a lot more than just water. In fact, the laps of runners covering the full 50k distance were counted by the volunteers.

The 50k began my training cycle for the Umstead 100 Miler on April 5. It also served as the unofficial kick-off for my plan to lose the 10 pounds I gained from all the holiday meals. It would actually take the place of my pre-planned 20 mile long run, so I didn’t reduce my weekly mileage (taper) for this event. I averaged 8 miles a day, plus a 5k race on New Year’s Day, for the preceding five days. Emmy, having fallen victim to the anti-taper crowd, decided the 50k was the perfect distance for her last long run before the Goofy Challenge at Disney next weekend. In all seriousness, since Umstead will be her first 100 miler, this also kicked-off to her training schedule. On the ride to Staatsburg, we worked out a somewhat ambitious goal, given the hilly terrain of the course, of 30 minute per 5k lap - for a goal of a 5 hour finish.

Inside the park, as we drove to the start/finish area at Norrie Point, I notice how much ice still covered the roads and decided to switch into trail shoes. It was 22 degrees at the 9 o’clock start, but plenty of sun and no wind - good conditions in which to run. I was hoping that the day would warm up enough to melt the ice, and I could switch back to road shoes. As it turned out, the temperature never reached the mid-30s. But still most of the ice managed to get pounded away by the repeated trips back and forth by the runners. The course itself had two significant hills, for a total of 4 climbs in each out and back lap. Also, with the park open to the public, the roads had a surprising bit of traffic as the day wore on.

A couple of runners from the Broadway Ultra Society, my friends Nick and Byron, were also there. Sixty-Eight runners lined up at the start to run various distances. The subtitle on the race flyer read, “Go as far as you can - up to 50K.” Most ran fewer than 10 laps, as part of their weekly training. Only 18 runners completed all 10 laps of the 50k. I started off slowly to get a feel for the terrain and mentally noted where the treacherous ice patches lurked. Even with trail shoes I still managed to slip twice during that first lap, which I ran in 28:36 - within my 30 minute target. In fact, the next 3 laps went by quickly in 27:19, 27:13, and 28:10, respectively. That gave me a 20k split of 1:51:21.

With about 9 minutes in the bank after 4 laps - a less than productive way to measure things in a race - I stopped to use the bathroom. I waited for Emmy to catch up and she also used the bathroom. The next thing I knew that aid station pit stop had taken 7+ minutes! While I was annoyed with that much downtime at the aid station, I was happy that we could run together. The 5th lap, with the pit stop, took 35:28. The 25k split of 2:26:49 was still 3+ minutes ahead of the target goal for the half of 2:30. Even with one more, longer than necessary, stop at the aid station, the 33:23 for the 6th lap, and 3:00:13 split, was still on target for a 5 hour finish. But the next four laps played out too slowly for us to break 5 hours.

Laps 7 and 8 each took longer than 30 minutes - 32:07 and 34:10, respectively - not because we lingered at the aid station, but rather we had now started to power-walk the hills. We finished 8 laps in 4:06:31, in the same time that Byron finished and won the race. We watched as they set up a makeshift finish line tape for him to break and celebrate the victory. It was Byron’s third straight victory at this 50k. The final two laps were the most difficult ones for me, 32:59 and 33:02, respectively. Fatigue had caught up with me and I found it too difficult to push the pace. In the last lap, I could hardly maintain the pace. On the return leg of the last lap, Emmy had to repeatedly remind me to lift my knees to smooth out my stride! We crossed the finish together in 5:12:32, an average of 31:15 per lap. I wasn’t the least bit disappointed missing the sub-five target. In fact, all things considered, it turned out to be a very good start to this training cycle.

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