wow! and double wow is probably more appropriate!! after he knocked off his first 50 miler at lake waramaug just two weeks ago, eliot ran his first trail run (at any distance!) yesterday, on the long island greenbelt trail. it wasn't just any trail run - but a gnarly 50k, with 3,000+ feet of elevation change (most of which is inconveniently crammed into the northern 2 miles of the double out and back course)! congrats eliot!!
here is his race report!!
Losing it …. Again – The Long Island Greenbelt Trail 50K – May 8, 2010
Another first for me …. perhaps, another first of many. Just two weeks ago, I lost my ‘50 miler’ virginity to the Lake Waramaug Ultras. It was my birthday …. candles, cake, singing, hugs, kisses, etc. Even with the rain, it was like the perfect night on the town! Yesterday, I lost my ‘trail’ virginity to the Long Island Greenbelt 50K. This was more like the back seat of a Chevy. I’m not saying it was better or worse …. just different.It would be a humid, damp day with temperatures getting into the 70’s. A few thunderstorms popped up, but we were protected from the rain with the cover of trees. By the latter part of the day, the sun was breaking and the winds were kicking up which you only felt in the last stretch on the roads to the finish at the GLIRC clubhouse. The 50K course was two ‘out and backs’ from Plainview along the northern section of the Greenbelt trail to Cold Spring Harbor. I looked at my Garmin post-race not for my pace, but for the elevation changes. There were about 3,000+ feet of total ascents & descents over the course of the 31 miles, and it felt like the concentration was all on the north shore.
I never thought I would ever run trails. Like many, I’d sprained my ankles on occasion growing up but a right ankle fracture (when I was in my mid-twenties) really made me always second guess the strength of them. But hey …. I’d give it a shot. So, with every measured step, I carefully tried to place my feet; but, even despite this care, there were at least a dozen times that my ankles and/or knees sent a ‘what-the-f…’ message to my brain. I was very apprehensive on the trail. I think this was causing me to sweat more than the physical exertion of the climbs. My ankles held up nicely, but I saw ‘stars ‘a few times whenever my right big toe caught a root or rock. It would bother me the entire day and I‘m sure that toenail is a goner. You must pick up your feet …. always.
My plan for this race was to hang back with Emmy. Haha …. hang back, right! As it was my first Greenbelt and first trail, for that matter, and after reading Frank’s blog about how easy it was to get lost, I thought that it was a good plan. I also had the pleasure of running with her friend, Noonie. The slight problem with the plan, however, was that these were two accomplished road and trail runners (both ran Boston a few weeks back), so it wasn’t easy for me to stay with them even though they were taking it easy. When we got back to Plainview the first time, I was physically spent (perhaps, I still had some residual fatigue from Waramaug in me), so I told Emmy and Noonie to go ahead for loop two. My challenge with ultra-running with others is getting into my non-rhythm …. I like to take walk breaks whenever I feel the need, sometimes even on ‘downs and flats’ while most runners never waste ‘downs and flats.’ Despite this, it was a good strategy to run with Emmy and Noonie as I felt more comfortable on my own for the second loop having been through it already.
Man …. you really gotta focus out there! Without the luxury of a tour guide, you need to pay attention to the trail blazes, ribbons, markings and your footing. Very different than road running where you can go into ‘auto-pilot’ mode during long stretches. There is no visiting La-la land on the trails, for if you enter it …. be prepared to do a face-plant on the ground! So, at the end of a trail race you can be physically and mentally fatigued. On my own, I only managed to get lost two or three times when I lost the trail, so I backtracked and since I didn’t know how to read the double blazes (turn right or left?), I waited until I saw someone running out or back and proceeded. [I should have paid more attention during Nick’s intro.]
I eventually hooked up with another runner named Darren. He was from Long Island and ran the trails regularly. The heat/humidity of the day was causing his problems …. he was starting to cramp and lock up. Just wasn’t his day, but it sure made mine. We walked up all the inclines and ran the downs so he could stretch out his muscles. Because I wanted to stay with him, I ran the ‘downs’ and started to feel more confident with my footwork while watching his footwork. He also gave me a trail blaze reading lesson for the next time. Haha. Darren and I crossed the finish together in 7:37:31 (unofficial). It was great seeing Emmy, Frank, Noonie, Grant and many of the other crazies at the finish. Many thanks to Nick and the volunteers for such a well-run event!
Happy Mother’s Day!