I had skipped the Caumsett Park 50k last year, but ran in 2007 and 2008. While I looked forward to revisiting the race (which doubled as the USATF National 50K Championships), I wasn’t excited about running multiple loops into the wind. The course is located just off the Long Island Sound and the winds can be fierce. But the weather forecast predicted sun, temperatures in the 40s, and winds of 10 mph - great conditions.
The course, as I remembered it, was basically 12 loops. Last year the course (along with the start/finish) was changed. Runners had to be transported to the Marshall Field House instead of the traditional staging at the Winter Cottage, adjacent to the parking lots. The 2010 edition would follow the original, pre-2009, course - or so we thought. I (and most of the runners it seemed) learned race morning that the course would be ten 5k loops!
While I had planned on a dozen loops averaging 23 minutes to hit my 4:30 target, there was a mini-scramble at the start to recalculate pacing strategies! Instead of 23 minutes, a 27 minute loop average would equal a 4:30 finish on the 10 loop course. I wore shorts, a short sleeve tech shirt under a long sleeved one, gloves, and a wool cap. Despite the predicted increase in temperature, I never felt warm enough to discard the second shirt, gloves - or hat!
My first loop was exactly 25 minutes (roughly an 8:03 pace). I ran that one, and the second (25:24) with my friend Shiran, who I hadn’t seen since the Knickerbocker 60K last November. He was also targeting a 4:30 finish (and would go on to run a 4:31). But he wanted to pull back to 27 minute loops, so I continued on. I felt pretty good and thought I could get in at least five 25 minute loops, before dropping it down to 27 minutes.
I reached the 25K split in just under 2:05 (2:04:32), a pace to finish in 4:10. I didn’t have another 2:05 25K in me, but with 27 minute loops, I had a reasonable shot at a 4:20 finish. The next three loops worked out to 26:09, 26:53, and 26:33, respectively. But then my luck began to slip. Midway through the eighth loop my right calf cramped up. It was a bad omen, and the full import would catch up to me in the ninth loop.
The ninth loop was an excruciating 3.1 miles - filled with alternating calf cramps! It seemed that every other word out of my mouth was an expletive! It was my slowest lap, at 28:12, and put a 4:20 finish in jeopardy. Luckily, I pulled it together for the last loop and managed a 27:26 - despite the ongoing cramps. The 4:19:42 finish shaved almost 4 minutes off of my prior Caumsett PR (4:23:03) and was good enough for third place in the USATF m45-49 age group!
I ran most of the last two loops with Emmy, who took a nasty fall as she made the right turn down to the Summer Cottage turnaround. Despite that painful spill, she ran in with me as I finished - and then headed right back out for her final loop. It took a while for the cramping to work it’s way out of my system, but I didn’t seem any worse for the wear! There was plenty of post-race food (and I especially enjoyed the vegetarian chili) and socializing!
There were so many friends and familiar faces at this race - here is just a partial list: Emmy, Rob, Phil, Grant, Nick, Frank, Richie, Eliot, Anthony, Susan, Beth, Shannon, Shiran, Elaine, Steve, Roger, Ruth, Byrum, Ira, Mat, and Noonie! Apologies to anyone I left off. Plus, Scott Jurek came by after his group run in Prospect Park that morning and ran a loop with Jenny, then cheered on the other runners!
Here are my loop splits:
4:19:42 - 8:22 pace
Here are some race photos.