12 May 2013

Greenbelt 50k Race Report (2013): Rain, Mud, Rain, Sweat, Butter Cookies & Fun!

Greenbelt 50k might be a week after Bear Mountain 50 Miler, but it's only a short trip away, AND not too far from my parents (Okay, so it's probably not THAT close, not that much further than to my house....), why not? Good trails, fun times, let's do it!

I got out there and the skies were grey and we thought, "Maybe the weather will hold out?" They were predicting rain. Lots of it. And just before we started, it began to rain. Yuck. Rain=chafing. And grossness.

I was wondering as I ran, at how I smelled so hideous. Why did the rain make me smell horrendous? UGH.

The course is a lot of fun - you do a short out and back on roads - about 2 miles. Then you do two out-and-backs on this nice trail. It's fairly runnable - lots of short steep ups and downs, lots of roots, some road crossings (including the annoyingly busy Jericho Turnpike), but pretty, single-track, lots of flowers in bloom, green bushes everywhere, and a nice view of the Sound when you get far enough north. Three aid stations, fairly basic, but with those delicious butter cookies you get in those blue tins. YUM! I'll run faster with those in my belly!

I started out pretty hard, 8 and 9 minute miles, feeling good. The hills can kick your butt, and with the rain, some were a lot slicker than I would've liked. I got lost twice early on, losing a few minutes, but what's a few minutes in a 50k? A few extra minutes FUN!

I was pouring sweat in the gross rain and humidity and feeling pretty disgusting. I kept my food intake low - I had 5 gels and a bunch of those delicious butter cookies and a small bit of watermelon. 

When I went out for my second out-and-back, it began POURING. Raining cats and dogs and rhinos, as I like to say. I joked with passing runners, "I forgot my lifevest," and "Nice day for a swim." It was miserable and I grew cold and worried I'd get cold. But then it stopped and everything began to be a lot better.

Crossing Jericho Turnpike SUCKED. I ended up dancing as I ran across, partially bc I had Madonna's "Hung Up" in my head, partially because I was hoping if I danced, the cars might stop.

They did.

The last few miles I hammered it. I WANTED TO BE DONE. I ran on the roads to get to the finish, pushing like a maniac. There were cars, but I was finishing.

And then I did...across the finish line. Quite a bit slower than last year, but my PF was hurting a lot, and my asthma sucked every uphill....so keeping a fast pace was really hard. Or as fast as I wanted.

I baby-wiped it up, and put deodorant and lotion and a change of clothes on. And then I really lived it up Long Island-style...I spent the afternoon shopping w my mom (who was there to cheer me on at my finish) at a giant mall named after a poet. FUN!

05 May 2013

It Was a Bear of a Race at 2013 Bear Mountain 50 Miler

I run North Face Endurance Challenge Bear Mountain 50 Miler because it is nearby to me, because I love Bear Mountain, and because it challenges me. I am not the strongest technical runner, but I do it for these reasons. Oh and tons of my friends run it, so it basically feels like a big party. Run a little faster, run with one friend. Slow down, run with another.

I had a lot of fun during the race due to running with a lot of awesome people, especially Amy who I met during Traprock. I also spent time meeting other awesome runners, like Caitlyn from Boston/now Costa Rica, and Ashley from Brooklyn, and Justin who became part of the Pain Train. It was a lot of fun.

But unfortunately, my asthma sucked on every single uphill. I sounded like a 2-pack-a-day smoker wheezing on all the uphills. I sucked on my inhaler 20 times (instead of the 2-4 times I normally would take it). I normally don't run with my inhaler, because usually my lungs behave while running but not today. Misery. And also, my plantar fasciatis was hurting on the road sections and any super duper rocky section. Uber fun.

But despite all the suckiness and the pain, I still had fun.

The field was the absolute biggest it's ever been - I almost passed out when picking up my number when I discovered they had over 500 people signed up and there would be two waves. WHAT?! But the waves really helped smooth things out and it was a little less crowded than last year, honestly - at the beginning in the tight spots anyway.

Early on, before we made the first turnoff on a steep uphill, an arrow at an earlier spot confused the hell out of me and I lost a few minutes trying to figure it out. I saw all the ribbons ahead, but why was an arrow pointing left if everything else indicated straight? I didn't rest until I got to the first aid station. And then after the first aid station, I had a particularly rugged awful climb down, from rock to rock being uber careful...and a bunch of people took a shortcut, saving them a minute or two (which I know because no one was within seeing distance when we began the climb). So a few spots could be better marked, but really, most of the course was exceptionally well marked.

The aid stations were very, very basic - electrolyte drink, water, coke, pretzels, chips, M&Ms. (No ginger ale or cookies, the horrors!) Oh but the volunteers were nice, especially a certain boyfriend of mine (I love you, Wayne!) who was at the Mile 20 aid station. Yay! He was in charge of telling people they missed the cut-off which sucked a lot - apparently, someone started crying and he felt awful telling her she couldn't go on.

The course is super technical. One of the most technical race courses I have ever been on. After, we were talking about how if this had been a 100miler, it would've had a much higher DNF rate b/c you are so tired, it's hard to not be clumsy and trip. I saw a lot of people turning around, walking back, limping, towards the aid stations from the opposite direction - people who had went out but tripped, hurt themselves. One guy seemed pretty despondent around mile 34 - "But I think this is the best decision." We agreed.

It was rather warm - 74. My one bottle, which normally was fine here, was a little rough and I found myself running out of water between aid stations.

I ran much of the race with Amy. We complained together, chatted, WTF on yet another hill/stream crossing/climbing over a tree in the middle of the trail. We laughed, talked about nothing, about mint juleps, that sort of thing. We had so much fun that it didn't feel as miserable as it easily could have been. It was actually fun, when I wasn't sucking down on Albuterol.

The course is longer, and according to everyone's GPS's, and more time between aid stations than promised. Apparently, Wayne said people were relying on their GPS's and ended up DNFing b/c you would be told "This aid station is at this mile" and your GPS would show you two miles more when you arrived....So it was a bit of a challenge in that way.
Drop bag fun...there's a brownie in here!

We started a pain train in the 30s. I led it, followed by Amy, Justin, and some others. It was just a follow the leader, I set the pace (I offered others to do it but everyone refused) and we complained abt the mud and water and stream crossings and rocks and hills and running and everything, and laughed and told jokes and chatted and at one point, we all went, "Choo chooo." A fun pain train.
Crackers, the key to running success!

I arrived at 40 feeling shot. My dream of sub 11 was clearly impossible and I felt depressed. Wayne was fully dressed in running gear with a "PACER" bib. Ummmm....you have been injured since December and haven't run more than a mile at a time and you want to run 10 miles with me, including the hardest up and down of the course? Sure, that sounds smart. I drank some coconut water, got yelled at by a volunteer for sitting in the middle of the course (What? It's an aid station? Whatever.) and then Wayne and I left, with Amy and her boyfriend shortly afterwards.

I felt like hell. I just was miserable. There were a ton of French Canadians we were running with, and Frankie from Queens. (We knew his name because his extremely cheerful and motivating pacer kept yelling, "C'mon, Frankie, you can do this!") Up down rock up down down down up up up up turn twist. 

I met lots of great people, and love the aid station with the crazy theme that is sponsored by Van Cortlandt Track Club. I was bonking majorly and forced down a gel. 

Timp pass. Inhale that albuertol. And again.

The uphill sucks. You climb forever, go across, then climb some more. And then you go down. And some of the down is comprised of these horrendous loose rocks that you just can't run on b/c you slip and slide and it's just terrible. Oh well. And then that other aid station and then you can run hard to the finish. Wooohooo.

Sadly I felt so miserable but I was having fun. It was a pain train, with me and Wayne and Amy and her boyfriend Rob.

I wanted to be done. I was miserable - I knew it would be over four hours slower than my last 50 miler - yes, the course was much, much harder but UGH.

And then - we were coming in. People were cheering. I took off, faster, and Wayne dropped, "I couldn't keep up." I got a medal which promptly became dirty from my filthy self, and Glenn gave me a waterbottle. Then I began cramping up and hugged Amy and sat down in the grass, shivering and cramping, waiting to cheer John Budge to his finish.

Fun, yes. Well-organized, yes. Crowded, a little. Painful, yes. But oh-so-fun!