Lexington, MA. Landlocked Forest. 50k Race. Five 10k loops. Run hard or go home is what I was saying all week leading up the race. We'll I ran hard....then slow...then hard...then went home.
Lap 1 - With Adam Wilcox and Sam Jurek (running the 10k) bolting off like lighting, I settled into my own pace sitting in about 4th position. We made our way through a nice meadow, hit the woods for about 100 yards, then out into the open on some power lines. We ran on the power lines for about half mile before turning left into the woods...or maybe we should have gone straight??? Sam, a 19 year old Harvard student, and I took the left into the woods and headed on our way. Soon thereafter, Sam Jurek said how did you guys get ahead of me? You must have taken a wrong turn. We backtracked a bit, found are way and proceeded ahead not knowing how far off/on course we were. We ended up just under the 6 mile mark at the end of the loop and both decided to take a lap around the meadow (the half and full marathon runners did one and two loops of this before they started off into the woods) to hit the 10k mark. I ran through the start/finish, not needing any aid.
Lap 2 - It was clearly Adam out front now with Sam and I chasing. Although not much of a chase, we were probably 10 minutes behind him at the beginning of this lap and that would grow to about a 30 minutes for me at the end of the race. We ran this loop hard, easily the fastest loop of the day, which would be my demise at the end by the end of the race. Temps were still cool in the woods, but you could tell out on the open power line section, that the heat was approaching. After this loop I switched out my water bottle and grabbed a few Gu's to go, making my first stop for aid.
Lap 3 - Still going strong through our third lap, both Sam and I had been discussing life in general and making the miles tick away. We both thought are second lap was too fast and decided to dial it back down a bit and even mentioned a slower 4th loop with a strong finish on the 5th. We started passing a bunch of people on this loop and it was fun picking out racers to catch and finally pass. We both started to walk some of the hills during this loop knowing we still had 12 plus miles to go. Sam is another example of why I do ultras. A cool guy to talk to and we learned a lot from each other. He even mentioned a study concerning "mind over matter" which really hit home in the next loop.
Lap 4 - Is where my "wheels came off" so to speak. Sam and I had been running stride for stride for about 22 miles and I hit a wall. My legs became jello and I simply need to slow. Not sure what it was really. Lack of food? I had 5 gels up to this point. It was about 3 hours in to the race so I would say that is about right. Salt? I was sweating pretty good but had taken two S caps at the start of each loop. Water? Maybe a little light on water. Should have been taking more in possibly. Whatever it was, I told Sam I need to slow and he politely said he'd see me at the finish. I thought that making the 50k finish was impossible at this point. I was tired and no longer wanted to run. Maybe I could drop down to the marathon and get a good training run in I thought.
I finally staggered my way to the start/finish and asked RD extraordinaires' Bob Crowley and Josh Katzman if I could drop down to the marathon and simply take a few laps around the meadow. They said absolutely not and insisted that I keep running. I felt like junk and wanted to stop, but somehow, with the help of my now pacer Norm Sheppard, I got through the last lap.
Lap 5 - With Norm pacing me, conversation about his Grand Slam completion and all the highs and lows brought my spirits back. I initially told Norm that my pace was real slow and he seemed relived, not wanting to get pulled around the course any faster than he is used to. I eventually picked up the pace when I caught a 50k runner who passed my during the 4th loop and the competitive edge came flowing back. I told Norm that we had just passed a 50k racer and that I wanted to put some time between us. I ran all the hills that I walked at the end of the 4th loop and really felt good at this time. So we both picked it up and made good time to the finish. Mind over matter I guess.
After the race I drank a ton of water, coke (mistake) and Gu brew. I felt really dehydrated. I was actually talking to the winner Adam Wilcox and another runner, when I felt nausea come on and I jumped up, grabbed my drop bag and headed to my car. I thought, If I puke behind my car, no one will see. I didn't even make it 50 feet before I let it all out. I knew my stomach wasn't right but this was bad. After about 2 minutes, I was dry and feeling a little better. I've never gotten this sick at a 50k race before and only really once before at the MW 100.
Not sure of the stats yet. But safe to say it wasn't my best race. After holding down second for much of the race, I think I finished in about 4th or 5th. My time was 5:05 which is slow for this course. I think Adam did it in 4:30ish. Looking back, I need to drink more water while out on the course. I need to pace myself better and not get caught up in the moment. I felt real good during the second loop. Too good, if you ask me, and I paid the price. I also need to get back that killer instinct I had when I first started ultras. I wimped out and wanted to quit and just do the marathon. I need to sack up and finish what I started. NO EXCUSES!!!
As always the TARC crew put on a great race once again. After volunteering at the Spring Classic and running the Fall Classic, I know the TARC trail series will be around for awhile. Bob Crowely and Josh Katzman are first rate RD's and deserve a ton of credit. Also a big thank you to Norm Sheppard for helping me through that last lap.
Shoes: Tecnica Diablo Max
Update: the results are in here. Fifth place it is...