Sunday, July 6, 2008

Finger Lakes Fifties 50-Miler

I had a pretty successful week all around and am enjoying the absolute beauty of this area. Amidst all the running i was finally able to finish up my Associates Degree this past week and transition into my final year of my Bachelor's Degree.

Miles for the week= 66

Monday= Rest
Tuesday= 8.5 mile tempo run (6:12/mile) while Erica rode along side on her bike.
Wednesday= 7.5 mile easy run on Cayuga/Pink trails
Thursday and Friday= rest
Saturday= 50 miles

The Finger Lakes National Forest is a stunning area to have a trail race and this was my second consecutive year participating in this ultra-marathon event. Last year I won the 50K option and set the course record and also ran my first and only snowshoe race in January of this year. This year I opted for the 5o-mile race as it would also serve as a qualifier for the Iroquois Trails 100-mile race in September. Many thanks to Joe and Chris Reynolds who put so much passion into these events and maintaining the course. Another successful year in the books!

It was great to have the race on the day after the 4th of July not only because of the holiday weekend but it made for a great carbo-loading day on Friday. I hung out w/ family and friends out at Park Station and ate everything in sight knowing it would all be fuel for the following day.

I woke up just before 4 am on Saturday morning and gathered my gear for my first 50-miler. I knew that this would be different than other races i was used to because i must prepare food and fuel for the long day of running. I stocked a small cooler w/ a home made sandwich of almond butter/banana/jam and honey on wheat bread. I also had a 16 oz. Red Bull and some pre-mixed Sustained Energy. Other than that i would rely on what was out at the aid stations and carrying some Bee Stinger gels and endurolyte capsules.

When i arrived at the Potomac campsite i happened to bump into Todd Baum and chatted briefly about his preparation for Badwater...good luck Todd! I grabbed my number and mingled w/ some of the locals and some people that traveled many miles for the race. I did the same thing as last year which was set up my little "pit stop" area right next to the trail. Before i knew it i heard Chris make an announcement to make our way down to the road for the start. Just as i was walking down i see Leigh Schmitt pop out of a tent! Leigh holds the 50-mile record at this course and is a renowned ultra runner who just happened to make the trip down and register last minute. I knew i would be in for a tough day trying to keep up w/ him. I also saw Michael Wuncsh, who would be doing the 50K and probably gunning for my record, and learned from others that the field was pretty deep.

Off we went for the first of three approximately 15.6 mile loops and then a final 3.5 mile "baby" loop. The course is nicely mixed w/ single track, fire roads, meadows and the infamous cow pastures we would traverse across. Within the first few miles i wasn't surprised to see Micheal move on out of sight. Leigh, Jay and myself ran together for a few miles and then Jack replaced Jay for the rest of about 25 miles. Jack, Leigh and myself came through the first loop in about 1:55 and we all realized that we were out at a smokin' pace. I was able to keep up w/ these two experienced ultra runners for the next loop as well and exchanged many stories and conversation w/ them. I also was able to soak up some valuable ultra "tips" and felt honored to be going stride for stride w/ these guys.

By the end of about 30 miles and the second loop i was starting to feel the depletion of energy. I knew i had to get some food in me and that meant taking a little while longer at my "pit stop" and probably relinquishing running w/ Leigh and Jack. That was ok though and i took Nancy's advice of taking it easy for a couple miles and "running my race". Thanks Nancy! This turned out to be a wise choice because after a while i felt like i got a third wind! It was actually nice to be by myself and not talking or listening but to be solo navigating through the beautiful forests. I started having fun too. As i approached some people from the 50K race i would let out some "mooooos" and when they turned around laughing i would ask, "did you think i was a cow!?" I was still moving along at a pretty good pace, all things considered, and knew that my brother Jamal would be waiting at the campsite to run the final 3.5 mile loop w/ me. This motivated me to keep chuggin' along and i figured it out mathematically that i could break the 7-hour barrier if i hustled.

As i came into the Potomac campsite i was extremely energized by screaming fans and also the sight of Erica, Jim and Leo, Daura, Lydia, Makana and of course Jamal. It seemed like a big blur and i just focused on finding my cooler and chugging that last little bit of Red Bull and energy mix. I looked down at my watch and it read right around 6:32... i said to myself "boy it's going to be close".

Off we went for the last little portion and now i had some great company with me. Within the first mile Jamal said to me, "Man, i can see why you love this so much...this is awesome!" I told him about trying to beat 7 and he was all for it. He kept motivating me and telling me that i was doing awesome for already running 46 miles and change. At one point while telling him something i lost focus for a second and tripped over a root to go down pretty hard. It was the first and only time i fell suprisingly but he helped me up and we didn't lose too much time. I really pushed it hard those last couple of miles but with about a half mile to go i realized that it was inconcievable. We accepted it and proceeded to finish strong w/ big smiles with a time of 7:02 good for third place overall behind Leigh and Jack respectively. I learned that Michael did break my record...great work Michael! you deserve it. We had some food afterwards and hung out for a while enjoying the company and humor of friends and family.

Once again, another epic experience at the Fifties and thank you so much to all the volunteers, support, family and friends that participated in this event. Time to move on to the next one! Next ultra: Greeen Lakes Endurance Run 50K on August 24th. Until then...see you on the trails!

Quote of the week: "Running has made me feel the ultimate aliveness, and transcendence over body and mind, that nothing else has ever approached and that only another runner could understand."-Bernd Heinrich

1 comment:

jamal said...

ULTIMATE ALIVENESS!! i love it man.....great reading your srory!! Go sunbeamers!!!!!