Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Green Lakes 50K - PT 2: Race Day

Now…Race Day… (continued on next blog post or is it previous?)

If you want to hear all about the pre-race, please check out the other blog post on Green Lakes but if you want to hear about the race itself….read on.

So I get up at 4:15 on Saturday to get my act in gear. With Green Lakes starting at 6, I wanted to arrive around 5 – 5:15. Factor in a 20 minute drive and time along with the wonderful morning wake-up, 4:15 seemed like the right time. It was also in this morning period that I decided to go with the Women’s Medium Reebok top. In order to feel comfortable, I wore it on my way to the race too, under other clothes of course. One benefit with a loop course, I could always switch it out to the Nike or even the black singlet (which I so wanted to avoid). Another decision, I made was that on my way to the car, I was not going to check out. I wanted to keep open the option of coming back to the hotel for some rest if I finish early enough since check-out was noon. 6am starts are wonderful things in that regard.

Around 4:40, I was in the car and on my way to Green Lakes. As I got closer to the site, a line of cars began to form all going to the same spot. It was clear we were the racers. Once I parked, I hauled all my gear to the start/aid/finish area. Check in was easy and drop bags had spots along the wall. I found a great spot right where I would make a turn to head back out on the course. With my spot picked, I set up everything I might need out in an easy to find fashion. Quick in – quick out is how I like to be. My Nathan Quickshot Plus was ready to go filled with my Gatorade/Pedialyte/Water Mix as were my other two Nathan Handhelds. Also, I had a large bottle of my pre-mix solution out to fill-up if I did not want to switch handhelds. It was about this time, I put on my ultra-trusted speed shoes: La Sportiva’s Vertical-K. While I had time, I mulled about and did the necessary bathroom trips to clean my systems out for less worry.

Yet, I found something to worry about. Mere minutes before the start, I forgot my sunglasses were in my car! Easy to forget with the sun now just coming up around 5:55. I darted over to the car and got them with a few ticks to spare. I stashed them in the Quickshot Plus where my drop bag was. With the temps being so cool and the loops being 7.77 miles, I felt I did not need the fluid on the first lap. The gels pinned to my shorts would suffice.

Now it was go time…..

As we were given the 'GO' command, I started out rather casually. Mainly, doing this helps get a sense of the field without overexerting myself. My plan going into the race was for hitting the Ultrasignup prediction time of 3:43. I knew that required me running a tad over 55 minutes per lap. However, I was not wearing a GPS watch so I had no idea of what my speed would be. However, I could do lap splits on my watch to give me a comparison lap to lap. After around 3/4 mile, I started to distance myself from the rest of the field with just a subtle settling into the race. Helping definitely was the cool weather. The course starts off with running along size a pair of lakes before we go into the woods to start some climbing. Once we leave the woods we run a long inclined grassy straight that leads into the 'Serengeti'. The 'Serengeti' was the portion of the course open completely to the sun. Think of it as rolling meadows. Going in this was the part I was not looking forward to figuring if I am going to get hot, it would be here. In fact, this is the reason why I went out the night before to get something to wear other than my black singlet. Upon the first pass through this section, there was a good fog lying just over the meadow. I was very happy to see this. The moisture in the air would help me be cool.
In a few spots, I saw deer on the path. In one spot, I saw a buck. One of the most beautifully tranquil sights. Around 26 minutes in, I pass through the 'Mid-way' aid starting that is around 4 miles into the lap. (Give or take, of course.)  After about another mile, the course dips back into the woods and takes a nice downhill turn. I opened it up in this section. Not in a stupid way to empty the tank too soon. Once, the course finished the woods, it was back along the lake (but on the other side) towards the start/finish.

As I finished my 1st lap, I was at slightly over 50 minutes. Wow. Still feel good. As I ran through the aid section, I quickly grabbed my Quickshot Plus and sunglasses with hardly a stop. Lap two was much of the same except I was out front without any idea of where anybody was. About the end of the first lake on the loop, I saw other runners coming at me finishing their first loop. (This is one of the two small sections where there is two way traffic.) On this lap, my biggest notable was nearly blowing by a sharp right turn. I caught myself just in time. This was a turn about half way through the first woods section. Thankfully, this was the only problem on the loop. On the second pass through the 'Serengeti', the fog was clearing some but it was still cool. At a few dips in the meadow rolls, I would drop below the fog line. VERY COOL!!!! My slip through 'Midway" on this lap was 28 minutes. Ok...not too bad as I was feeling good and understood I would slow some. In the end, my lap split was around 51:30. Still motoring. (I also began to pass people.)

Lap three was a repeat of the second loop with more passing of people than the last. The highlight was a woman shouting in joy about getting lapped. My split here only a few seconds slower than lap two. After doing some math in my head I could run 57 minutes to be under 3:30. Crushing. As I past through the aid station on my last trip, I dumped two cups of water on my head as the sun was coming out and said see them in less than an hour. It was a mid-race goal adjustment. At no point did I know where second was. All I figured was I had a good lead. Turns out it was around 6 minutes.

Similar to my last lap at Sulphur Springs, I slowed. Unlike there, it was not as bad. I felt a little gassed in the meadows but still worked the wooded downhill section. On the final lake stretch, I felt warm. Not quite overheated but ready to get the race over with. I knew at each point if I was hitting a split that would get me to 3:30 and I was still doing that!

With my final right turn to the last 'straight-away', I could see the clock and pushed. Final lap split was a shade over 55 minutes. Time: 3:28:27. Tim Hardy, the RD, came up to congratulate me and inform me I had set a new course record. For some reason during the race I thought it was 3:10. Not sure why but I did. So it was a nice bonus to break the CR by 5 minutes and win by 9 over Jason Mintz.

Having a four hour drive home, I limited my lingering at the race. I stayed around 45 minutes after talking with a few people. Also, it was at this point that I decided I would not make it back to Hotel Skyler. Just felt I would rather use the time to get on the road. So what did I do? I called up and checked out by phone! Can't say I ever did that before. Luckily, I could do that as I had taken everything with me when I left earlier in the morning.  On the drive home, I stopped at the usual Cortland, NY Arby's for a giant Jamocha shake. I mean I deserved it. Thankfully, the drive home was good as I could remain on cruise control the majority of the time. And yes, I was driving in my slippers. All about comfort. Following, one more pit stop for gas and drinks in the Poconos, I made it home not long after 2pm. That left me with a lot of my Saturday. Win!

And that is the tale of my Green Lakes Endurance Run 50K. Maybe next time, I will go back for the 100K. It was a wonderfully organized race with wonderful support.

 (Since this race, I've been back on the roads but will be hitting another ultra soon!)

Green Lakes 50K - PT 1: Pre-race

If you have been following my exploits on the interwebs (well other places aside from this blog), you might be aware of my 50K ultra race. Regardless if you have or have not, sit back and read a little recap of GREEN LAKES ENDURANCE RUNS – 50K.

Around a month back I was in Maine on vacation and had a planned FKT attempt in my schedule. As you know the attempt never occurred thanks to the weather creating some high winds. To fill that void as well as get my third 50K in for the year, I was kicking around the idea of running the 50K at Green Lakes. I really starting looking into it once I returned from my trip. Particularly since I had to make a decision with it being a week away.  If I opted for the race, I would need to find a hotel room since it was a 4 hour drive up to the Syracuse region. The hotel part was tough. Everything was pricey. Only later on did I realize Syracuse was starting back up and the NY State Fair were occurring. Luckily, I found a good quality hotel 20 minutes from the race site. (And only a few blocks from the university.) So on the Wednesday before the Saturday race, I went all in.

With having such a long drive from Philadelphia on a Friday evening, I managed to get out at 2pm from work so I could hopefully make it up around 6. Prior to leaving the house in the morning, I packed the car with the items I needed. (Or so I thought…) Mere minutes into my drive, I landed in some traffic on I-76. Should have expected it but it was yet rush hour. However, once I got onto the PA Turnpike’s Northeast Extension, I found a good groove. Felt good about my travel time now. Then….BAM! No, not an accident but traffic crawling in Binghamton, NY. Arg….. There goes the 4 hour hope. I was headed towards 6:30 now. Not too bad. Still had to figure out food for dinner. Thankfully, I know the route I was taking and a fabulous Mexican establishment with easy on and easy off access. You guessed it…Taco Bell. As I passed through Cortland, I took a familiar exit to grab some grub. Black Bean Burritos are great while driving. This stop also meant being only 30 minutes from my destination, Hotel Skyler. I’ll fast forward check-in because we all know what that is. But once I got to my room, called the Mrs. and unpacked, I realized…..disaster!

Of all the things I forgot to triple check….my racing attire. My singlet, racing shorts and warm-ups all were back in Philadelphia. I was panicking. Immediately, I hopped onto the free wifi (at least I had my computer) to find a running store open. I pull up the site for the local place and find out they had closed a few minutes ago. NO!!!! I took a few deep breaths and went into my racing bag that usually has my racing shoes and extra cool-down clothes. Things were looking up. I had a pair of racing shorts but not the proper under support. I’m a briefs racer. Didn’t have those. I had a singlet but it was black. A fall back was developing. I had shorts and runner tees for warm-ups. Everything else nutrition-wise I had all set. I laid everything out to assess the situation. The one bit I kept coming back to was the singlet. I did not want to race 31 miles in black in August. Back to the internet, I went….I searched for a DICK’s Sporting Goods.

LUCK! One was 7 miles away. To ease my mind, I sacrificed some rest and went hunting for tops. Upon entering the store, I head straight for the men’s dept. hoping to find a small singlet. Once again, luck. However, it was Nike and I do not like to buy Nike products. (Including Starter and Converse.) Not feeling good I also hit up the women’s dept. More sort-of luck. They have a Reebok top that seems like it would work. Being unsure, I buy the two less than ideal options with plans to return the one I don’t use.

And with my purchase completed, back to the hotel, I went. From there, the rest of my evening was peaceful as I had everything laid out like I needed….