Tuesday, April 24, 2012
the 34th annual sybil ludington 50k on saturday was the 6th time i've run this race over the last 7 years. in 2006 sybil was my very first ultra. except for last year, i managed to make it back every year since. that's despite the fact that each year i repeated swear it will be my last sybil (because of the traffic runners have to compete with over the course). this year it would be my longest run since the mhrrc "recover from the holidays" 50k in january. except for a pair of 30k races last month, i haven't gotten in any decent long runs this training cycle.
with that training backdrop, i had a 5 hour time goal in mind. the course is one large - hilly - loop, starting and finishing in carmel, new york. it traces the historical route sybil ludington rode on horseback to warn the colonialist that "the british were coming." except for the first mile, mile markers were spaced at 5 mile increments (with splits for the half marathon and marathon distances noted). i had a 22 ounce handheld with me for hydration (and a couple of gus).
the first mile went by in 8:34 - which was way too fast. with the high humidity (the threat of rain was ever present for the first few hours), a nine minute pace would have been more realistic. i reached the 5 mile split in 42:48 (just over an 8:33 pace). it would be my fast 5 mile split of the day. the next 5 miles, at 44:15, also came in under a 9 minute pace. i had reached 10 miles in 1:27:04 - just under an 8:45 pace. by that point the sun had started to burn through the clouds.
my half marathon split was 1:56:08 - which was on pace for a 4:40 finish! regardless of the math, that wasn't a realistic target. i expected to finish much closer to 5 hours (and was surprised at how close to 5 hours it actually took). my next 5 mile split, at 46:06, had crept over a 9 minute pace. my 15 mile split was 2:13:11, still under a 9 minute overall pace. but the next 5 miles, at 48:13:09, which got me to 20 miles in just over 3 hours (3:01:24), slowed the overall pace to 9+ minutes.
from that point on my pace dropped to 10 minutes miles - with the next 5 mile split at 52:44 (25 miles in 3:54:08). my marathon split clocked in a 4:07:17 - which gave me just under 53 minutes to finish the last 6 miles. with 10 minute miles, i could reach that target. as it turned out, i reached 30 miles in 4:46:53 and had 13 minutes for the last mile. just before the mile 30 marker i started to get calf cramps (despite plenty of sodium and an s cap at the halfway point). it took me 11:28 - and i crossed the finish in 4:58:26... way too close for comfort!
all in all, it wasn't pretty - but it was fun. as usual, i swore it would be my last sybil - especially since dodging traffic seemed unusually fierce this time around. but i wouldn't be surprised to be there again next year :D