Sunday, November 23, 2008
JFK 50 Miler --11/22/08 -race report
Besides pizza, finishers get a medal and Hostess Twinkies (part of my dinner in car ride home)
Done --time to get the HE@#$% inside
looking for drugs while on towpath -where's the Vioxx that Wayne gave me?
the lonely towpath...looking for aid stations and m & ms
Coming into the Gatherton Gap aid station at mile 9.3-will the drinks be frozen??
Susan, Jen and I ---warm in the gym before the 7 a.m. start
It was with trepidation that I signed up for this 50 mile race. I had run last year with Frank (it was his 2nd JFK 50)and he and discussed entering. He wanted to join the 500 mile club:) and I wanted to run the course faster than my 10 hours of last year. S0 we both agreed to enter -what a bummer - he got closed out and I didn't!! Meanwhile, Meredith, Anthony, Wayne -all of my friends -had other plans such as Stone cat and javelina or rest:))) Then, I ended up doing Stone cat after NYCM --my choice, I know...but I love cats and Stone cat beer. Fortunately, our new friend Susan was running her first 50 mile race and her friend Jen was entered too. I had plans to start with them, and hook up before the start. So....I drove down on Friday afternoon. All was well until 1-81. Snow!! Standstill traffic..fortunately Anthony called me on the cell phone and we had a long talk about Javelina -- I was happy to finally get the details of the 100, as well as bide my time in stop-n-go. When 7 O'clock approached, I called Susan. "We've missed packet pickup also", she said. So, both of us would get our stuff on raceday morning....I got to the Days Inn and checked in --it was so cold that you could barely walk from car to motel!! As luck would have it, a chinese restaurant was in front of the motel so I ordered some takeout ($4!!!) and settled in my room to pack for the next day. At 5:15 the alarm went off --as usual, had tossed and turned.
The motel coffee area was alive with runners --we all discussed the weather, and I settled on 4 layers -- !! Figured could take stuff off and wrap around my waist or give to Susan's companion Glen who was crewing!!! So, in the dark, I drove down route 40 and route 66 to arrive at Boonsboro High school gym. I met up with Susan (thankfully I found her, after 10 minutes of panic, as she had picked up my bib!!!)
Glen and Jen. I was so happy to find them!! You mean we have to walk to the start? Susan and Jen said?? Yep --and so we walked out into the cold field (we all went behind a trailer to go to the bathroom) --I put my finish line drop bags in the van -it was a surreal experience watching the runners n the dark, with frozen breath, walking to the main street.
The start--We 3 huddled together and then when we started the slow climb up the hill, it was also an amazing sight to see the front runners way up the mountain!!! Jen and Susan took off and I was on my own. I settled into a slow jog as we hit the A.T. ---Had forgotten how tough that first climb was. 2 miles straight up. At least we warmed up. The sun was coming out and it was actually beautiful up on the ridge. I started to pay attention to how my body felt --quads tired but OK. No achilles pain. Hamstrings tight from car --left calf tight...but I can do this!! No, I can't do this! My mental state wasn't great.
Abruptly, we hit a paved path --a huge climb, again -had forgotton this too. After the climb, we went into the A.Trail again, and then came out to the first aid station --my water bottle had frozen, and I was thirsty so had some slushy gatorade...brrr. My diet throughout the day consisted of m and ms, potato chips, pretzels , coke and S-Caps (which were on the aid station tables) and Advil.
Everyone was complaining that all the liquids had frozen, including their Camelbaks. this time really had to pay attention -tons of rocks, roots, pilings, and runners in front and behind me. Stressful and difficult!! This section seemed like forever plus we had a nasty wind!! Finally we came to Weaverton cliffs switchbacks (mile 15?) -in one mile the AT would be over ---yeah!!!!! I actually like the switchback trail. I took my time going down and took some photos. It was uplifting to run through the line of people cheering at the bottom. But no Glen! I had taken off 2 layers and wanted to give them to him...
We then wound our way around some single track trails to the C and O Canal towpath...the wind whipped up and I felt the fatigue. Got some fluids and PB and J and walked...it seemed like a million people passed me and they all seemed fresh. I was dead tired and couldn't move -how would I run 32 miles more??? This was when I questioned my sanity. Why was I doing this? I had just run a 50 mile race 2 weeks ago and it was tough but completely rewarding, and I was with friends. I did not need to do this. My watch said 3:20...last year, I had caught up with Frank and we had walked-run the entire towpath together, while talking to other people! That was what kept me going and I was alone this year. I slowly picked up the pace and caught up with a group wearing the same 'HAT Run 50K' long-sleeved neon yellow top that i was wearing. It was the 2 race directors from the HAT run, plus their 'babes' ---so, they entertained me for 10 miles, and were actually so happy that i was wearing their top that they offered me (and Frank) a free entry next year --both of us entered but never ran, and out friend Tim had sent us our shirts and hats...'What else would we be doing today?', said one of the guys..'cleaning our cabinets??' We all laughed. They eventually pulled ahead of me and I fell into a depression again. Finally, we only had 6 miles to go on the towpath -horray!!! Each mile is marked and we got off at mile 84. I was at mile 78. I picked up the pace and counted down the miles --I was running a 10 minute pace, and passing slower (5 a.m. start) runners left and right. I looked for my friend Tammy. How could these people be outside for 14 hours? How could they start at 5 a.m.?? Amazing determination. At mile 36, I saw Susan. She was walking .
How do you feel? I said..she said she was running for 8 minutes and walking for 2, and felt good. We stayed together until mile 42 when THANK GOD the tow path portion was over --5 hours of sing the same muscle groups --5 hours of 26 miles along a river...it was 3:20 p.m., and we were given reflective vests to wear on the 8 mile rolling last part of the race -horray!!
I got on the undulating roads and felt so good!! We had 1:40 to break 10 hurs. I remember that last year I felt good on this part, while Frank was beat up and he an worked together to run a 12 minute pace. So I thought that i could do a 12 minute pace this year. I clicked off the first few miles, downhill miles, in 9 minutes --both into the wind...OK --if I could just keep this pace. It was getting colder and darker, and I passed 20 people as I ckicked off the miles. With 4 to go, we went into a little village and there was Glen! 'Susan's right behind me', I said. With that, I pushed on, excited to be so close. But --the wind picked up as we went through the farmland. Finally I hit mile 49 -the best mile of the race! I passed about 5 people -even passed a woman who said 'good job' as was going up the hill to the finish..9:42:03! I got my medal. Gave the finish line person my vest and bottom bib portion and found Glen. We waited for Susan. It was so emotional to see her coming up the hill --finishing her first 50 miler!! In the cold and wind, and on a tough course (Jen, BTW, blazed through in 9:20).
We immediately went into the gym for a hot shower and coffee. Susan had fallen hard on the tow path (ironically -not the AT) ---she went to get bandaged up and then she nd Glen drove me to Boonsboro HS the finish is at Williamsport HS)--I was never so happy to get into a warm car. Will I do this race again? Not sure. The entry fee is $135, and it may go up next year!!! But what an experience --to be part of the largest and must historic ultra...I actually enjoyed knowing the course and the routine from last year but wouldn't do it again alone!! Dinner in the car on the ride home consisted of Hostess Twinkies, 2 cups of coffee and some chocolate expresso beans --that's some diet -who said Ultrarunning was healthy?.