of the four caumsett park 50k's that i've run over the last 5 years, the 2011 edition was easily the toughest because of the all the rain (and the ever present windy conditions at the park). in past races it seemed to be a struggle against the cold and wind, or just the wind itself. but the seemingly constant rain (there were a few decent breaks) became a real downer (excuse the pun) by the sixth loop. still, when the last of the 10 loops was finally finished - after almost 5 waterlogged hours (4:43:37) - i was glad i gutted it out.
that's saying a lot because mentally, as early as the 3rd loop i was ready to pack when i passed the conveniently warm staging tent at the turnaround point. i started "bargaining" with myself at that point - first with "i'll just do 5 loops and stop at 25k." then notching 5 loops got me to think, "well i do another for 30k." that was followed by, "now i have no excuse not to run another one, for a decent 20+ mile day." and so the internal dialogue went, until i eventually dragged myself through the last loop!
it wasn't all that bleak - when it wasn't raining - we had some pretty nice weather. the last two loops, in fact, were dry ones. but by that time i was thoroughly soaked (and had been for hours), which contributed in no small part to my only physical discomfort of the day - serious chafing. i started off with plenty of glide, but by the sixth loop, it was apparent that running in soaked shorts would take its toll. aside from that glitch, i was no worse for the wear.
i actually had a game plan for the race. since the course consisted of ten 5k loops, a sub-30 pace per loop would bring it in under 5 hours. with all the weather forecasts of heavy rain, my goal was simply to get in a decent long run. since this race was part of my base re-building phase, i didn't expect much in the way of speed. but after i felt good with a trio of 26 minute loops, i readjusted my goal down to 4:45 (still way off my 2010, but something to focus on). if i ran the remaining seven loops at a 28 minute pace, a sub 4:45 was doable.
here are the loop splits (from the jms racing services printout):
4:43:37 - 9:08 pace
the toughest loops, in the heaviest rain, were 7 (29:47) and 8 (30:43). when the rain ended i still had 2 more loops to go. even with the end in sight, it was a mental struggle to head back out for the ninth loop! luckily, the layout of the loop has the easiest mile of the 5k first! the second mile is the most demanding, physically, because it has two decent climbs (which seem to get bigger with each successive loop). the third mile is the toughest, mentally. it's basically flat - but the headwinds are ferocious!
as i sometimes do in long races - by the start of my last loop i was in my "let's get this thing over with" state of mind. that - not speed - accounted for the fastest split (28:49) since the my fifth loop of the course! the warm tent waiting at the finish was another incentive! but once i finished and changed into some dry clothes i encountered the only real disappointment of the day - there was nothing meaningful in the way of post-race food and drink!
in prior years, when the event was staged out of the winter cottage itself (not a tent in front of it), runners could count on a serious post-race spread at the finish. it was missing this year - and it's absence was sorely felt. maybe it was because of my slow finish - but the only thing in the way of food was a tray of ham sandwiches! i actually went out the aid station across from the tent to grab some nourishment!
aside from that one post-race downer, it was great to catch up with so many friends! a quick list of those i saw before, during, and after the race: emmy, phil, mat, elaine, shannon, francis, john, larry, ray, frank, herb, admas, byron, al, nick, alicja, and richie (who both started the runners and announced the awards) - just to name a few!
will i be back for a 5th one next year? well right now, the jury is still out on that one.
here are some race photos.