Wednesday, April 30, 2014

2014 sybil ludington 50k: race report

when i ran the 2012 edition of the sybil ludington 50k i had no idea it would be two years until i completed my next ultra!  in fact, my longest run since the 2012 race was the44 miles i logged at the greater ny 100 miler in june.  the pain in my right foot had become unbearable - a pattern that seemed to repeat itself as my mileage increased during races.  not only did i not run ultras during that period, but i only ran 2 marathons (it would've been 3 had hurricane sandy not led to the cancellation of the 2012 nyc marathon).

that's a rather long-winded introduction to this race report - but the point is, on friday night i had a case of pre-race jitters that would rival any newbie!  add to that the pouring rain when i woke up on Saturday morning, and the prospect of starting the race (much less finishing it) didn't seem very likely.  but the rain stopped, i signed up for the race, put the bib on - and lined up with everyone else(butterflies aside).  i had put in plenty of training miles during my recovery/base-rebuilding.  the issue for me was mostly about getting my head back into the ultra game.

as for the race, my goal was a sub-5 hour finish.  that may have seemed like a stretch, but my 2012 time of 4:58:26 was 5 minutes slower than my 2011 finish - and well off my pr for the course.  my plan was to string together as many 9:50 miles as i could - and brought along my ipod in case i needed some inspiration along the way.  in addition to the ipod, i carried an expresso lov gel, a packet of power gel gummies, my buff, a pair of gloves, and a headband in my fanny pack.

the volunteers carpooled the runners to the start.  tom drove hiroshi, emmy, mike and me in his car.  the best part of the start was the lack of rain!  not only wasn't it pouring (like when i woke-up) but event the light drizzle that followed along on the drive to carmel had stopped.  that itself was just the auspicious kick-off we needed.  my first mile was a 9:23 and felt good, although the humidity was thick - and would linger for a couple of hours.  the remaining mile markers (except for the half marathon and marathon splits) would come at 5 mile intervals.

i figured that 48 minutes 5 miles splits would get me under 5 hours.  but, that would probably be a stretch.  even so, i my first 5 miles came in at 47:46 and my second 5 miles at 48:21, for a 10 mile split of 1:36:17 - a solid 10 minutes off my 2012 10 mile split of 1:27:04.  still, it was on pace for 5 hours.  but by the time i reached the half marathon mark in 2:06:55 - still off my 2012 split of 1:56:08 by 10 minutes - a 5:10 became a more realistic goal. it was unlikely i'd be able to make up 10 minute during the second half.

as it turned out, my next two 5 mile came in at 49:33 and 49:36 - for a 3:16:27 split at 20 miles. that was a solid 15 minutes off 2012's 3:01:24.  but i was still feeling good.  i had started on my pack of power gel gummies (and some chips at eliot's aid station, then soda from richie's traveling aid station just past the half marathon mark).  for the most part, however, i was just drank water at the aid stations.  now i'd start drinking gatorade as well.

during the next 2 five mile stretches i slowed down significantly.  it took 53 minutes to reach 25 miles and almost 54 (53:57) minutes to reach 30 miles.  the split at 30 miles - just over the causeway - was 5:03:27.  there was not way i'd run a 6:30 mile to squeeze in under 5:10.  but, somehow surprising myself because of the annoying calf cramp i had in my left leg for the last 4-5 miles, i managed to run an 8:14:33 last mile!  that was a minute faster than my first mile (and probably my fastest mile of the race).  i was more than happy with the 5:11:41 finish :D

i was even happier back at the vfw post when i learned it was good enough for 3rd place in my age group - now that was a surprise!  the real highlight for me, however, was just covering the distance.  i've run a lot of 50k's over the years, but to finish this one, and finish strong - after such a long break - was incredibly satisfying.  i'm not sure what my next ultra will be, but there certainly won't be a 2 year interval in between them ;D

here are the rest of my race photos (the photo of me running was taken by eliot as i came into his aid station at mile 10).

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