Wednesday, September 29, 2010

trail mix-up six hour run: race report

The Trail Mix-up Six Hour Run was originally planned as a trail run - but extensive tornado damage forced a reworking that moved the course to the park roads. In terms of nomenclature, it wasn’t really a “mix-up,” it was more like a derailment. The actual course was a shortened version of the Queens 60K and Metropolitan 50M/Kurt Steiner 50K layouts. The trail mix-up was figure eight, roughly a quarter mile shorter than the layout of those two courses. The distance was 2.62 miles and contained an out and back portion and a loop portion. In the final hour or so, the course was shortened to just the 1.26 mile loop portion.

My plan for race was to reach the 50K distance - which worked out to a dozen loops. To count for grand prix points in the BUS series, runners had to cover a minimum of 26.2 miles. I’ve run three six hour races (where I averaged about 33 miles) in the past. As a example of heading into an event with no expectations and surprising myself with the outcome - the 36.8 miles I covered during those six hours in Forest Park turned out to be a PR! I didn’t realize that until I looked up my mileage from the prior six hour runs! But I’ve gotten ahead of myself.

Emmy, Rob and I car pooled to Forest Park, leaving my house just after 7 and arriving there in about 40 minutes. There were plenty of familiar faces (but a good number opted for the Vermont 50 Miler that same day), including Noonie, Byron, Gail, Eliot, and Phil (who worked the scoring table), to mention just a few. There was one major aid station at the mid-point of the figure eight. Richie got the race underway just after 8 - and off we went.

If I did two loops an hour, I would reach 50K. While thirty minutes a loop seemed a bit conservative, at least at the outset, I expected the mileage to catch up with me. I ran the first couple of loops with Byron and Gail - much faster than I had intended. I typically go out fast (the first two loops were 23:45 and 23:13, respectively), but was surprised to see the next 3 loops go by even faster (22:26, 22:28, and 22:32, respectively), for a five loop split of 1:54:26 - at the half marathon mark.

Since I felt strong (which I suspected had plenty to do with the 20 degree cooler temperature), I just kept up the pace. I thought about stopping for my Ipod, but decided to skip it and stay focused on maintaining a decent pace. While I increasingly slowed over the next five loops (23:56, 24:31, 24:56, 25:10, and 25:34, respectively), a 2:04 split for the second half marathon - my marathon split was 3:58:36 (a 9:07 pace). That left me just over two hours to cover another 2 loops for a 50K!

At that point I was more than pleased (if not surprised) with my race. I took a quick break at that point to towel off and grab some orange Gu chews then pushed on. The 11th loop, at 27:39, reflected that side trip to my drop bag. But I picked up the pace again for the 12th loop, and ran a 26:15 to reach the 50K split in 4:52:30 (a 9:19 pace). Now that I had reached my mileage goal, any additional distance was gravy. But now I would add some walking to the mix. My 13th, and final main loop, took 31:48 (and shows the walking breaks).

With roughly 35 minutes left on the clock, Richie moved me on to the short loop. While I could have squeezed in one more main loop in that time, I was more than happy to ease up the pace. I completed two small loops (2.52 miles) in 33:28 and another 2/10's of a mile of the short loop when the whistle sounded to end the race. All together, I reached 36.82 miles (an average pace of 9:47). That was good enough for 4th place overall, and first in my age group. The reward was pizza - and Southern Tier Harvest Ale (a growler of which awaited in my cooler)!

It was fun socializing afterwards (although we missed Eliot, who left after he logged 26.2 miles) while we waited for the result to be compiled. Byron took first place, and Gail was the first woman finisher (Noonie took second place and Emmy took third). During the clean-up, Richie announced the availability of a stray watermelon(!) - which I gladly offered to adopt. Carrying that huge melon back to the car was, seriously, the hardest part of my day :O

Here are some race photos.

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