Archive for December 2015

Part 2: Going 60K

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Begin at the beginning (Part 1) and without further adieu, part 2:

All week, I had been trying to track down just the right gels that I had been training with all summer. I thought I had enough to last me through all of the fall races, but I had thought wrong. I went to two different Jack Rabbit Sports in the process of tracking them down and in the end had to settle for some new flavors.

I may not have found the Strawberry Banana Power Gels I was looking for, but I did walk away from the Upper West Side Jack Rabbit with some last minute words of wisdom that echoed in my head all weekend.

“Go slow.” The clerk said. “You’re going to feel good and feel like going faster. Go slower. You’re going to hit 26, and feel like going faster. Eh, don’t do it. Go slower. Then, when you got maybe 5K left, eh, go for it.” 

I knew patience would be the name of the game, but it was good to hear it one last time just in case I got any… ideas.

Since my Mister insisted on coming (I felt bad 7 hours in the cold park sounded like a less than ideal spectator situation), I suggested he meet me two hours in. This helped:

-him have less time waiting around
-helped break up the race into smaller mental breaks for me
-helped me relax and not go out to fast because someone was waiting for me

I saw some runners used rubber bands to keep track of their laps (start with 9 on one wrist, and move 1 at a time after each loop) and decided that would be the best way to keep track. I was so glad I did! By mile 28, I defiantly had a touch of the fuzzy running mind and could only count my remaining loops in terms of “Uhh, 37ish minus this many hair elastics” *holds up wrist.* It was a very efficient method of keeping track of 9 laps.

Miles 1-13- Already forgot the first loop was the longest, very disappointed when I got to 72nd and couldn’t take the transverse. Nice and easy, no music, looked forward to seeing my mister.

Miles 13-25- Switch into music mode. I dive right into the soundtrack of “Hamilton.” Two hours and forty five minutes of catchy tunes that plays like a big long audio-book? Yes, please! By the time I came through mile 25, I was barely into Ac II. I paused it and saved it for later.

Miles 25- 29 – My Mister joined me for a 4 mile lap, while carrying a heavy running pack full of too much stuff I packed!

Miles 29- 33- On my own again! More Hamilton!

Miles 33-34– The Mister joins me again on my last lap, and then he cuts through near the reservoir to meet me near the finish. All this time I am attempting to do math (with little luck). I am pretty sure a sub-7 is still possible, but I’m not exactly sure. And if it is possible, I’m not sure I can pull it off at this point.

Miles 34-37.5– I run almost the entire rest of the way, with maybe a miniature walking break strategically timed with one of the tougher hills. I’m pretty tired at this point. No more gels, no more water, any thing else and I risk upsetting my stomach for no reason and missing a chance for the sub-7.

I expect to see the Mister on the final reservoir hill, but he is just past the Met! It was perfect timing and just as I was thinking about kicking down a gear (soo tired), I find a last burst as he begins to run with me one last time up that damn hill.

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And just like that- I was done.

6:59:56!

196 out of 351 finishers
45 out of 103 women
5 out of 18 women AG

A very, very special thanks to this handsome man who supports my endless running/ talking-about-running every step of the way.

 

 

 

 

The First Ultramarathon, Part 1: Getting to 60K

I found a spot against the wall, and settled among the other runners- fixing their bibs, attaching timing tags, finalizing their layers, and doing just about anything to delay their inevitable dip into the blustery fall morning. I would probably be outside for 7 to 8 hours, at least, that’s how long I guessed it would take me to finish the NYC60K. Seeing as how it would be my first ultra, and I have never ran more than 26.2 miles, guessing was all I could do.

Then, a thought popped into my mind, so obvious that to have missed it I suddenly felt like I had sleepwalked my way into that crowd of ultra runners.

“What am I DOING?”

The bib pickup was tiny by comparison of a typical NYRR race, but then again, this was no typical race.

For many, the NYC60k, formerly the Knickerbocker, slips by quietly since it falls about two weeks after the New York City Marathon. It consists of -a dazzling and mind warping- 9 laps around Central Park (1 five mile loop, followed by 8 four mile loops). In many ways, it is the antithesis to it’s five borough predecessor. Where the Marathon features a flashy course, unbroken miles of spectators,and nearly 50,000 finishers, the NYC60K sets you loose in Central Park until your heart is content (and then some), most of the spectators are actually also the course Marshalls, and less than 400 runners even begin the race, let alone finish it.

My first foray into ultra running came a little over 2 years ago when Charlie, aka Runner Brother, signed up for his first 50 miler- the North Face Endurance Challenge at Bear Mountain.

I have no idea why he did it, but he did and it was brutal. B-ru-tal. Yet aside from the excruciating pain I witnessed, I will never forget my first glance at the ultra runners through the darkness that swathed their 5 am start. Their faces were mothers and daughters, brothers and grandfathers, but every calf looked like a tree trunk. To the uninitiated, such as myself, they looked like figures out of mythology, athletes beyond reason.

Two and a half years later, after crewing half a dozen ultra’s for my brother and completing three marathons of my own, I was ready to run my own ultra.

As I picked up my bib, I wandered back out into the hall, anxious to find a place to take advantage of the heat and get everything into place for the race.
I looked at the bib they had given us: some sort of thick plastic strip was stuck to the front with instructions on how to remove and secure the old timing tech. To me, it looked as intimidating as if I had just been handed launch codes. I looked at the runners around me. We resembled each other in neither age nor sex, and they all seemed to have attached their alien timing strips.

I paused, The Thought had struck me- “What am I doing?”

So simple. I had the race on my mind for months, and this was the first time doubt had crept into my mind. Doubt so rational that the fact it had never crossed my mind before that moment almost struck me to the ground.

Did I think this through? Am I sure I am supposed to be an ultra runner? Do I belong here?

And then, slowly, I recalled week by week each run- each footfall- that had brought me there.

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Catskills this summer. (two charlie’s pictured) Photo via Cat’s Tail Marathon

I remembered the night I ran home along the west side highway, trailing gently behind a duo of runners for security in the darkness while trying to beat the impending humid, summer rain.

I remembered the trail run where I joined a seasoned group of ultra runners to run once last trail check along a portion of (and for) the Cat’s Tail Marathon-my old cross country fears and (let’s face it) reality of always being near last seized me all morning, but I left the trail feeling free and empowered.

I remembered every early morning. I remembered every long run I could have stopped short, but instead chose another loop, another out and back, another couple miles.

Was I actually worried I might not complete the distance? I thought, no, not for a second. The trick now was to simply relax and not crash and burn out anywhere before mile 30. I could so that.

Never-mind “what was I doing here”- I belonged here.

 

Part 2: Going 60K