Well it's now 3 weeks from the 50th running of the JFK 50 Mile Race and I'm finally getting around to writing a report. Part of the reason is because I wasn't sure I should write one. Definitely was not sure I deserved to write one. But in the end I decided that I had disappeared from the racing and reporting on the forums for long enough. So even though this is an unconventional "race" report I decided to write it, and post it.
How long have I been away from racing and posting reports? Well In Oct. of 2009 I went to the 1st North Coast 24 Hour and was having a good day. I was returning from the injury that took me out of the 2009 World Championship Race in Italy that May. I was running well and Andy (the U.S. Team Doc) and others were commenting on my return to form and how smooth I looked. Then just when I was about to take over 2nd place in that National Championship race, my legs just quickly gave out. I struggled on for awhile longer but it just kept getting worst. With almost 5 hours left I dropped with 116.2 miles. I just hadn't put in near enough miles in training after recovering from the injury. I barely made it back to the hotel that night where I spent hours in a fetal position on the bed unable to move much at all and going back and forth with whether to call an ambulance or not. Since that race over 3 years ago, I've only entered events to race, and actually showed up twice. None in 2010, and in 2011 I entered and showed up at Cornbelt 24 Hour and the Last Man Standing Big's Backyard Ultra. Cornbelt I was partially prepared but had even less miles in training than I had for that North Coast. Showed up anyway optimistic as I am an figured that I would go for some new American Age Group records and see what happened. But in spite of being in 1st place at 50 miles in barely over 7 hours, I again could feel the legs failing way too early and rather and trash myself without being able to reach my goals I dropped right after doing some cooldown laps with Donna (girlfriend and crew). For the Backyard Ultra though I was nowhere near prepared I showed up, because I needed to. Among the many things in my life that were messing with my heart, mind and running, was one of my younger brothers was dying of cancer. So I decided I needed that trip and time to myself. When I was on my final lap there (I bonked on the lap and timed out), my brother died. I only ran 37.5 miles there (but only got credit for 33.3 because of not finishing the last lap in time).
There were some other races I entered and Many more I planned and dreamed of but the plans always crashed due to either another injury destroying my ability to train, or another life issue robbing me of the motivation and focus to train. Both resulting in my Base (which was never great to begin with) eroding with each passing year. I averaged less than 35 miles a week for both 2010 and 2011, and this year , it's been a LOT less than that.
When this year began I thought, why not try to get another streak going. Force yourself to run, or give yourself a run even when life was making you feel like you couldn't or shouldn't. The runs were usually really short, even just 1.5 miles a lot of the days but it became my longest streak. It wasn't any mileage to write about, being only 37 miles a week average for those first 5 months (with only 2 real long runs during that whole time of 20 and 25 miles) but I thought it would improve. Then the streak ended in June at 197 days, my longest by far ever. After that the motivation left me in a big way.
For the next 4+ months there were LOTS and LOTS of ZERO's in my training log. Some weeks were all zero's , other's had 1 or 2 short runs. Almost all runs were 3 miles or less. There were VERY rare "long runs" of 4 or 5 miles. No that's NOT 4 or 5 hours, that's 4 or 5 miles. The weight which was already way over race weight went higher and higher. Then finally in late October my company sent me out of town for about 3 ½ weeks. I figured well I'm going to be working a lot of 12+ hour days while there, but I won't have the other things in my life that are detours for my running so maybe I can use that trip to jump start my running by really pushing the issue and jumping my mileage as much as I could.
But where does the JFK 50 Mile come into all this long narrative? Well this spring when I realized that this year was the 50th running of the 50 mile race, well I just had to dream about doing it. The JFK 50 Mile was my Debut Ultra Marathon. I hadn't really trained for an ultra, plus made a bunch of rookie mistakes, yet I still pulled off a 7:31 then. I had said after that very painful experience that I would never run another ultra unprepared for it (I have previously broken that promise to myself, a bunch of times). I had always planned on coming back to JFK to see just how fast I could run it prepared. That was 2003 and I've never gotten back to it. So I just had to see if I could get in it. But what's this? They've got qualifying times now. Damn. But wait a minute, in spite of almost no races in years, there was that Cornbelt 24 Hour that listed my over 51 miles with my drop out time of 7:23. Hey that not only qualifies me, but I can also send in my entry with the first wave. Plus just to be sure I sent it overnight delivery.
So I got in and it became another in the long line of races I plan for and dream about, where I was sure I could get in shape and actually go and RACE in a performance I could be proud of. But like most of my dreams of late, it didn't happen. Finally as the months passed with virtually no training and the weight increasing with the race approaching, I pulled the plug on yet another race. I decided I Shouldn't, Couldn't, Wouldn't, do the race and even cancelled my hotel reservations.
But when I got to where my company sent me and started to run again after almost 2 weeks with only ONE 2 mile run, and in spite of feeling VERY Bloated, Huge, and SLOW in that plodding, the internal conflict began. I seem to have 2 sides, one I call my Vulcan side, that side is logical, I like being logical. The other side is Weird, Crazy and well Not logical, this side I call my Martian side. So it went like this. Martian side starts with "Hey you know since I'm running again maybe I could get ready and still do JFK". My Vulcan side resisted a display of emotion by busting out laughing and replied, "You call this running, have you listened to how your feet are pounding as you plod along?" Martian: But I'm doing 6.5 miles today. Vulcan: Yeah and that's by FAR your longest run in OVER 4 months. Plus you're on a flat track, running slow yet still barely making it to your 2 minute walk breaks each 1.5 miles of running. Martian: But what about...Vulcan: Quiet, I'm not done yet. You're way OVER 30 pounds above your race weight, and even that race weight should have been lower than it was. Plus for the past 4 ½ MONTHS you've averaged FIVE count them FIVE miles a WEEK. JFK has some pretty good climbs for you to drag your extra gut up and then pound down them with. Plus it has those carpets of rocks on the AT that always kick your butt even when your feet are nimble, which they are not. The race is LESS than a month away. Now forget this completely illogical idea. Martian: BUT I paid 200 dollars to enter it and it's the 50th running of it and I want that medal that says 50th running of a 50 Miler. Besides, I know I'm going to be embarrassed by what is sure to be a very poor performance by my old standards but I just also know that I NEED this race. I NEED to do something Crazy for myself and I NEED to feel like I'm a Runner again, maybe even feel like a Racing Runner again. Vulcan: To get that medal you have to actually finish the race and in less than 12 hours. Do you think you can do that? Martian: Well I know it'll be painful but, Yes, I believe I could find things in me and my past to get me to the finish and in time. I'll leave it up to you to come up with the plan to do that. Vulcan: Of course you'll leave me the task of coming up with a plan to turn your crazy idea into reality. But you've got one thing right it's going to be Painful.
So I came up with a plan. Then got my 2 Weeks of training in. Jumping up to 46.5 miles in one week and 55.5 miles the next. This included "long" runs of 11.5 miles, 15.5 miles and 20.5 miles. I even managed to take my walk breaks out to at least 2 miles between them. Although I didn't lose much weight, I did manage a few pounds. But I didn't do any hill training. This was something to worry about has though the plan my Vulcan side came up with had me walking ALL the hills, even the easier ones, saying "logically that's your only hope", I was worried about the pounding from the down hills, especially carrying the still extra 30 pounds. The rest of the plan was to go out REALLY easy. Back in 2003, the AT section of the race really beat me up, literally with twisted ankles (several times) and a couple of falls and trips. So I knew that first 16 miles were going to be the key to my chances of finishing. I had to take it easy enough and walk enough there to have something left for the 26.3 miles of the flat towpath and then the 8 miles of hilly country roads to the finish. In 2003 I came off the AT section in 2:17, this time I was hoping I could do it in 3 hours. Yes after 2 weeks of training I was already setting time goals. Even hoping that I could not only finish but also do the 50.3 miles in less than 10 hours. I'm a hopeless Dreamer, what can I say. But also telling Donna, "if it takes me more than 10 hours, so be it. I just have to get to the finish in less than 12 hours to get that "damn medal". Then I started my "Taper". Quite the taper, a 10 day span with only 3 runs, a 5 miler, 2 miler, and 1.5 miler.
I was afraid to tell Donna at first when my Martian side won out. Not only was it a crazy idea, but I figured that she would feel obligated to crew my sorry too big butt and therefore would be looking at a long boring day waiting for me to maybe make it to the next aid access point where she would also have to fight traffic/parking. Plus in the end when I DNF'd (likely) she'd have to try to consol me in my depression. But she took it well, maybe she knows me too well. Besides, I partially blamed it on her, telling her that one of the things that inspired this crazy decision was the thought of how she decided to show up at the Start Line of the Paris Marathon 2 years ago where like me she had booked a race (in conjunction with her running girlfriends) and expected to get in shape and hadn't managed it. She said she did it because she had gone all the way to Paris and besides "I wanted that Damn Medal" (and shirt).
So with my 2 Weeks of training and 10 days of taper we were off to get a few hours sleep in Harpers Ferry WV and then drive to Boonsboro, MD at Oh Dark Thirty. I knew that there were friends of mine, both local, and not local, like my U.S. Team mate/Captain Roy Pirrung, and John Fenton from RWOL in the school gym where we were all gathered, but I didn't see any of them and none of them came up to me. In a small way I was grateful so I wouldn't have to explain to them why I was so pudgy and slow. How I would be way behind them and just hoping I could find it in me to get across the finish line today. We then do that LONG walk to the start line, just has the sky is getting light. It's in the low 30's but doesn't feel that cold. With a predicted high of 40's I was VERY pleased. If it had been the weather we got in 2003 where it got into the 70's, I wouldn't have had a prayer. This time I line up WAY in the back, instead of near the front like I'm used to. There were close to 1000 runners in front of me. The gun goes off before I can get my coat off. I take it off and hand it to Donna, get a kiss from her and said "Wish me Luck, I'm gonna need it" (one of my Rocky lines).
We're off and running in a crowd. Starring at 50 miles in front of us, but in a Race. I'm actually in a Race. I had decided that I would try to offset the pain that was coming by trying to remember that. To cherish that, the experience of being back out there. Out were a Runner belongs. At least where I belong. I did just that too. As often as I could during the race, I would remind myself that at least I hadn't missed yet another race. There were times, more often in the early miles, mind you, that I would look around, take a deep breath of that crisp Fall air and just soak in the sights around me (even on the towpath that so many dislike, there is some REALLY great scenery), and enjoy the feeling of pushing myself to not only keep going but to actually try to hang with someone. Even re-pass someone that had passed me a bit ago. Everyone who enjoys the Adventure Collecting that I consider going to and doing races to be, and has had a long lay off from that, will know what I was feeling. Of course the feeling is much better when you're actually prepared for the return to Adventure Collecting.
We started up the long road climb up the mountain to the trailhead. It just keeps climbing and climbing and I just kept walking and walking. It was hard to stick to this part of the Vulcan's plan. Such a long walk, especially this early in the race. Later I was to discover that it was going to be MUCH easier to walk and walk. But I tried to walk briskly and noticed that in spite of some passing me as they continued to run at least some of the uphill, I was able to stick pretty close to them even walking. Plus I passed others that were walking. Then we finally hit the trail, not literally, though, that would come later. This part of the trail is only rocky, not Miserably rocky like what was to come. It's a short section of trail followed by more road that included a MUCH Longer and Steeper climb up and up to the next longer section of trail. During the next trail section the Miserable carpet of Large and Pointy/Sharp rocks really starts. There is nothing about this kind of technical trail that I like. Nothing. I can't even say the scenery because there isn't any, at least none that you can see without stopping. All you can do is get a crick in your neck from starring at the ground TRYING to find your next foot placement in time to actually put it there safely without rolling your ankle or going for a flying header. I also don't understand this tuck and roll crap. Yeah, I can see it if you're going down at least a semi smooth trail, but even my Martian side isn't crazy enough to place my head and/or back (spine) in close proximity and therefore sudden contact with this carpet of sharp pointy rocks by trying a rolling maneuver. No if something besides my feet are going to come in contact with them it's going to be my hands first and hopefully nothing else. This section of trail lasts a few miles then briefly has some ground that was meant to be tread on by humans who are trying to move from one place to another quickly.
This open section is a short field where there is an aid station. I long ago found, at least for me, the key to preventing GI distress is to consume only liquids (or an occasional gel) and to limit my calories to about 240 an hour or less. I therefore had planned to carry only one 24 oz hand bottle with 1 gel in the hand holder and tiny pouch on my race bib holder belt in which I had crammed in 2 snack baggies each containing 1.5 scoops of Perpeteum. This way I could just blow past most aid stations without stopping until the bottle was drained, in about an hour. Then if Donna was waiting at an access point with a full new bottle I'd just change them out, or if like this field, which was 9.3 miles into the race and I had told her not to meet me there, I would stop and get the bottle refilled with water at the aid station and add one baggie of Perpeteum to it. Then the VERY short reprieve from the Rocky Hell was over and the worst and longest section was beginning. This section is twice as long as the previous, being 6 miles and it is not only rockier, as impossible as that seems, but in the last couple of miles in it there's a long rocky downhill that will finish trashing quads, especially ones so unprepared as mine. This is the section that really torn me up in 2003 with falls and ankle rolls and it did it again this time in spite of my MUCH slower pace. I just couldn't believe that I ran it so much faster back then when this speed seem like it was pushing the crazy limit. It again gave me a few ankle rolls, but not as bad or as many this time, maybe it was the Hoka trail shoes that helped there. I also tripped and went flying twice (but also less than last time). Both times my hands (and the handheld works wonders here) made contact, but unfortunately so did my left kneecap, both times with a rock. That still is painful to touch 3 weeks after.
FINALLY we came off the AT and I let out a big "Woo Hoo, now we can run on the towpath and Good Riddance to the AT". I believe to each their own and know that many feel the opposite but I also know that my outburst was met with a chorus of agreement from those around me. I was worried as it was about 3:20 into the race that Donna might have started to believe she missed me and leave for the next access point 11 miles further at 27 miles. I had told her that I would be coming off the trail anywhere from 2:30 to 3:00 and here I was 20 minutes after that. But my Long reports are useful to more than just me to re-read before other races, she had found my Ultra Debut report and re-read it and had figured out I was more than dreaming with the 2:30 early prediction. Being that it was only 13 minutes slower than when I was much lighter and in much better shape. She thought since I had said my plan was to take the AT section so easy it might be closer to an hour slower by this point. So she was right.
She asked how I was doing and I replied that the trails, hills, and rocks had taken a toll but I was still doing alright. Even if this was already longer, time wise, than I had gone in my longest "long run". I took off my long sleeve shirt, leaving a singlet and changed from my trail Hoka's to road Hoka's. But then forgot to pull my tights off before doing that so I wasted more time getting the shoes back off and on again. The Racer in me was evident in my saying "Look at all these people passing me while I'm sitting on the ground" She handed me a new bottle and said "don't go chasing them too hard to get back past them, you have a VERY long way to go yet". But I'm sure she knew I would try to chase them back down anyway. She was probably just hoping to temper my competitive side just enough that I wouldn't do something really foolish. With a kiss I was off again.
As we hit the C & O Canal Towpath I was rejuvenated, at least some. Between that and the competitive juices seeing groups of runners after groups of runners as far as the eye could see on that flat and mostly straight towpath, the pace increased . Plus I didn't have any hills to walk up so I just kept running. The groups started to fall has I chased them down and passed them back. Occasionally I too was still being passed but the numbers were definitely in my favor on that. Finally after 3 or 4 miles without a walk or stop at all, I forced myself too, having to tell myself that like Donna said, "there's still a VERY long way to go", I take a 90 second walk then start to run again. Slowly the runs start to be shorter and shorter and the walks a little longer. But I'm still doing pretty good considering (I even got a rare mile split during one of these early towpath miles and it was 8:41). The runs are still more than a couple of miles between the walks. From time to time conversations are started up with other runners that are doing about the same pace as I am. That's another one of the things that was missed during this long race drought I've been on. Sometimes due to a question or comment, I would bring up that "I trained all of 2 weeks for this race". They would think that I'm joking or exaggerating like runners often do, but then would realized that I wasn't when I explained the 4+ months of 5 mpw and the 2 week plan. I also told them that that due to that and this (patting my gut) I'm doing this much slower than 9 years ago when it was my 1st Ultra. I could always tell though that they were thinking, "Ok buddy but I bet you won't be hanging with me much longer and then it will get very ugly for you when the crash and burn starts with the death spiral." They had every right to be thinking that if they were, because that was still in the back of my mind too. With each increasing twinge in the ITBS, or Hip Flexor, or Achilles, or tendon on front of foot at ankle, all problems that have haunted me with DNF's and DNS's in the past, I would wonder, "is this the beginning of the end?" But then I'd tell myself "Just keep pushing. You're doing fine.
"We get to the 27 mile aid station and meet back up with Donna. She tells me I'm looking good and I reply that so far I'm hanging in there. She says she can tell that I've picked up the pace a bunch the last 11 miles. This time I don't stop but just keep walking with her for a couple of minutes while swapping out the bottle, and putting some Hammer balm on the ITBS. Then I'm off for another 10 or 11 miles till the next crew aid station.
This is where the death spiral started. Somewhere between miles 27 and I think about 33, the runs started to quickly get shorter and the walks longer. Besides being in a lot of pain I was also having a hard time catching my breath. With each walk I'd be huffing and puffing and it would take longer to get back under control, only to start getting out of breath again just scant minutes into the next run. The miles between 33 and 37 were ENDLESS, or so they seemed. With each mile I'd go into a faster death spiral. The negative voice that's inside all of us that just about always shows up at least sometime during a race, was screaming at me loud and clear. "You need to give this insanity up. You're not even trained this time. Look at you gasping for air and at this so much slower for you pace." "You can't keep this up, you really need to stop but at least you should be walking more". "You know that I'm right you're going to walk more and more till you're lucky if you're running at all". "Plus since you've got like 15 miles left you'll be lucky to walk to the finish". "You know you can forget that sub-10 Hour goal, only a Silly Dreamer like you could even think that you could have pulled that off with no training and carrying that extra 30 pound mid-section." "JUST QUIT, you don't belong here."
"SHUT the HELL up Darth Galloway!" Was my response (I had read long ago that you should give your negative voice a name so you can tell it to be quiet by name. And to me Galloway was one of the people I call Dream Stealers, by telling people they can't do this or that, or shouldn't even try. They should just lower their expectations of themselves and take it easy from the beginning, therefore stealing a Dream of a high goal before it's even dreamt). "I CAN do this. I CAN still go sub-10, so be Quiet." I got him to stop screaming, but he was still there constantly saying over and over "you can't do it, you can't do sub-10 it was a stupid goal and it's slipping away very fast. You'll be lucky to finish in the 12 hour limit." His negativity slowly began to rub off and sink in. I started to whine to those near me, "Where the heck is the 37 mile aid station (I think it's actually closer to 38 miles). " Knowing that sometimes a shot of calories can help get the mind (and body) turned around, I finally took the one Hammer gel I had in my hand bottle holder. Oh and somewhere during this death spiral a few people on bikes were coming down the towpath on the opposite side towards me. The lead bike had a boy that looked about 10 on it and it appeared he was having trouble with keeping it up and straight. Just as I get to him he veers directly at me. I barely managed to jump out of the way to avoid being run down. A short time later another runner catches me from behind and says "Nice job on avoiding the Bike of Death back there. His Dad really read him the riot act over it".
Then finally there was Donna. She had walked to the end of where people had spread out before the aid station so she could meet me quicker. I ask if she has a clean/dry shirt for me, she does. She tries to hand me a new bottle, but I being the Cranky Runner, say "I asked for a clean shirt not a bottle" She being the Angel Crew that she is didn't throw the bottle at me and just tucked it under her arm while she was fishing in the heavy bag of my crap that she was hauling around for the shirt. She asked "how you doing?" I replied that I was crashing and walking longer and more often and couldn't catch my breath. I said, "the sub-10 hour is slipping away fast." She replied quickly and firmly, "No it's Not, you can still make it." After changing the shirt I told her I needed to tie my shoes looser as the laces were bothering my tendons at the front of my ankles but I can't reach them. I ask someone else's crew member if I can use their chair and I sit while Donna re-ties the shoes. We walk some more, probably 5 minutes, maybe more. Then I take the bottle and give her a kiss and say "I guess I need to try to start running again." I start and it's very slow and painful, but off I go. I now have about 12 miles. 12 more miles for it all to fall apart when coming into this aid station 1 more mile felt enough to prove my negative voice right.
But then something happened. I was running and doing so decently and the minutes were passing and I wasn't dying to walk. First it was 5 minutes, then 10 then 15 minutes. Yea it still hurt like hell and yes I still wanted to walk, or stop, but I wasn't dying to. I'm not sure what it was, the gel finally kicking in, or the clean and dry shirt which felt so much better (the singlet was soaked with sweat and I put on a short sleeve because I figured the sun was going down and with all my walking I'd freeze), or was it the 5 minute walk, or my Angel Crew's Firm belief in me. Maybe it was them all. But I had pulled out of the death spiral just before the final crash and burn. I had regained some of my pace and was holding it. Yes there were some still passing me, and some of those I was still playing leap frog with, but I was still passing others that I didn't see come by me again. It was still WAY too early to make any guess about if the sub-10 was still going or gone, but I wasn't going or gone. I wasn't done yet. So with the walk breaks back under control a bit I managed to cover the last 4 miles of the towpath. They had told us that if we didn't get to the end of the towpath by 3 p.m. we would have to be issued and WEAR, a reflective vest for the last 8 miles on the roads. There appeared to be a stigma attached to that by some that were around me, but though I preferred to not wear it, I didn't really care that much. It was now 3:08 p.m. so we would have to wear them. There was a man in at the front of the line of volunteers that were holding up the vests to put over our heads, I ran passed him and as he protested that I had to wear it, I replied, "I know but I wanted the pretty girl to put mine on", as I stopped at the girl right next to him. She laughed and said "Sorry" to him.
As much as I like the towpath, I was very glad to be off it because now we were in the "home stretch". The 8 miles of "Rolling" country roads. Of course "Rolling" as we all know means Hills. Hills that might not bother you too much if they weren't preceded by the past 42 miles but now seem much more daunting. The first one comes right away, and it's very steep and semi long. Steep enough that almost no one runs it. I'm certainly not, I didn't 9 years ago either. Even walking it is quite a chore and it leaves me breathless again. When I finally get to the top I tell myself you have to start running again so get going. But the hills will just keep coming and coming all the way to the final uphill finish. I know I can't run them, not now. It was a choice, and as the Vulcan that came up with the race plan said, a "logical one" to walk the hills in the first 16 miles, but now it's not a choice. I'm breathless just running the flats and the down hills are truly painful but I'm determined to run them both. I decide that is the only way to still have a shot at the sub-10 with the amount of uphills that I would be walking between here and the finish. At the top of each of the MANY hills I would say to myself "It's only pain, and it's supposed to hurt. Just run." Then I'd be breathless again almost right away and I'd say over and over again, "You can't walk, you don't have time. You've got to make it to that next hill first". At the top of the down hills I'd say, "take the pain, you have to get some speed going down so take it". Then I'd be huffing and puffing up the next hill. With each mile marker I'd check my pace, now that the miles were clearly marked. In spite of all the walking (even the slightest upgrade I'd consider it a hill and use it as an excuse to walk and try to catch my breath), they were still between 11 and 12 minute miles. I didn't know how long I could keep that up as each hill (both the ups and downs) seemed to take a deeper toll on me. I'd try to do math in my foggy head and then would tell myself, yet again "It's going to be tight, IF you can maintain this, so maintain it, for at least one more mile. Just keep pushing." The miles slowly pass, still leap frogging, still passing people and still sometimes being passed.
We get to the last crew aid station at mile 46 and I turn the corner and there's Donna. She's a little shocked to see me. She says "you must have turned it around since that 38 mile aid station, because I didn't expect to see you for a while longer. I just got here so almost missed you". I tell her about the turn around and how between the gel, shirt, walk and her, I managed to stop the crash. She hands me the last bottle and I tell her to pour half out. She says "yea you only have 4 miles to go. You can make it, just keep going". Gives me a kiss and says "see you at the finish".
Only 4 more miles, but how many hills is that? Just keep pushing, it's only pain, it's suppose to hurt. Then it's 3 miles, wow that was a long mile, or so it seemed. But it was still just over 12 minutes, even though it included the aid station. I could smell the finish now, less than a 5k, push it. Then it was 2 miles. That last was a good one, closer to 11 minutes. I'd like to say that I had a couple of good final miles, like I did 9 years ago, but mile 49 was tougher or maybe it was just my negative voice telling me it was, so it was back about 12 minutes. Last mile, Last hills, finally here, and we were spread out more these last couple of miles. Less passing all around. Then we entered Williamsport. As we went through town a man, a spectator yelled to me, "Great job, you're going to finish in the daylight. I tried a bunch of times and never got to finish before dark". A police officer stops traffic for each of us at an intersection and I hear him say to the next police officer that's stopping another stream of traffic, "is it 7 o'clock yet?", so the race will be over. I'm really struggling to run even the flats but finally see the last uphill to the finish. Just as I get near it a man, a pilot that I'd been playing leap frog with for probably well over 30 miles catches back up with me and says from behind "Wow man, I can't believe you're going to do it on only 2 weeks training. That's amazing." I turn around and thank him slowing to let him come along side, then add "but in the interest of full disclosure, I do have a bit of a pedigreed past to draw from." Disclosing my making the U.S. Team for the 24 Hour twice and setting the 2 U.S. Aged Group records for 100 miles and 200k 4 ½ years ago. He thought it was still amazing wanted to finish with me. As we ran up, yes ran up, that last hill to the finish we passed his son standing on the sideline and he yelled, "come on Dad, push it", and I said to him, "This IS pushing it". They announced our names, first mine then his and we were done. I could stop running. Thank all that's Holy, Donna and everyone else that had anything to do with it. They placed the medal around my neck. I had earned that Damn Medal. No I hadn't put in the work, or anywhere near it that I think I can safely say everyone else out there that day that finished had, in those weeks and months leading up to that moment. Therefore they deserved their medals a lot more, but I had Finished the 50th Running of the JFK 50 Mile, so I earned that medal in my eyes. I collapsed into my Cheering Donnas' arms. She yelled "You did it. You went sub-10!" That's right it was 9:49. I got it with more than 10 minutes to spare. Of course I couldn't have made it 1 more mile in that time, but I had gotten my sub-10 goal that I had thought was a pretty high goal considering. I don't know what my last mile time was as I forgot to stop the watch till a couple minutes later. It had been too long between races and you forget stuff like that.
Yes WAY too long between races. But now I had done one, and I believe I even meet at least most of the definition and can say I even "Raced" one. I know it's only one, but I'm hoping that it's a start. When I did this race the 1st time in 2003 it triggered a downward spiral of a few years of not much running and even less racing. Maybe this time it will trigger the opposite. In my Debut Ultra report from 2003 I said that I had heard that you "find yourself" during Ultra's. Well maybe I found the Runner in me again. I've always liked the number 13 (being a big Dan Marino fan) so maybe 2013 will be a big year for me, both Running wise and Life wise. I can still Dream.
Post Script: In case the report wasn't detailed enough, a few more notes on things. First during the race I only consumed 5 ½ bottles (24 oz each) of Perpeteum and the 1 Hammer gel. The only thing that I got at the aid stations was a couple of quick gulps of a glass of water at each aid station during the 2nd half of the race (I'm a cheap date for Race Directors). Oh and I also had a small glass of beer at an unofficial aid station on the side of the road (somewhere in the last 8 miles) where a husband and wife set up a table on the lawn with a sign that said "Free Beer". It tasted GREAT that late in the race.
Disclaimer: In case you're wondering, I don't suggest that others do Ultra's untrained. Nor should I make a habit of it (although this isn't the first time). But I do believe (even more so after the passing of my Mother, and then my Brother), that sometimes you have to Carpe Diem.
2012-12-24 9:19 AM
Congratulations, Bill. :)
Way to go Geetah! I am glad that your adventurer/dreamer side won over the Vulcan logic...sometimes we logic ourselves into a sort of paralysis that leaves us unfulfilled on several fronts, and the danger is that too many days/months/years go by before the dreamer side prevails over logic.
I had wanted to run an ultra for several years, but always found a convenient reason to put it off. I finally and firmly decided to do a 12-hour run last Labor Day Weekend, and I was able to cover over 39 miles...much farther than my goal of 50K. One of the best decisions that I have made in my adult life.
If logic was the rule of the day, life would be pretty boring, and great achievements wouldn't happen.
Here's hoping your return to racing leads to a racing renaissance of The Geetah!
Bill! Someone mentioned your name the other day and I wondered how you were doing and then I accidentally came in here and there you are! I'm going to have to come back and read this later, but I wanted to say hi!
2013-04-25 10:16 AM
Congratulations Bill. Many months later I'm reading your report. Fantastic! My first 50 Miler is May 26th in Philly. And event called the Dirty German Endurance Fest. I did the 50k last year. Your report gave me some insight as to what to expect in the later miles. Being a month shy of 67 on race day, my only goal of course is to finish. I'm using a 50 mile trading plan and have stayed the course so far. Being able to train on the course every day helps too. Thanks for your report.