04 July 2014

The Great NY 100 Miler Race Report (2014)

Photo by Ben Ko of Sarah, Thunder, and me
"You know how the NYC Marathon is a huge gathering event and excitement event for all runners in NYC? That's what TGNY 100 has become for ultrarunners in NYC," one of the runners told me. So true. Pretty much everyone in NYC was out, either running, volunteering, or pacing. It makes for 100 miles of hanging out with your friends in some really cool places. Okay, and under the Bruckner sucked, but everywhere else was pretty cool.
Otto, Thunder, me - photo by Oh Snapper

I have paced twice and volunteered once, so I knew what to expect for the last 50 miles. I was pretty blown away by how amazing the course was, and how cool it was to see New York City in a very different light.You get to run through all of these parks you didn't even know existed, swamplands, run over bridges, run past cool neighborhoods, and enjoy a very different view of New York City. It's pretty amazing.
The start. Photo by Donna S-T

The race itself is put on by American 48-hour record holder Phil McCarthy. One of the nicest guys, it's an honor to run this race.

The course is a lot of fun, and Phil really thought things out as he designed the course. You start and finish in Times Square, which is pretty neat, and the course goes through a lot of parks, bike paths, and neat streets, so it's actually a lot cooler than it sounds.

The negatives - you have to wait for street lights. There's a hideous section where you run under the Bruckner. Aid stations are water and gatorade, and anything else the volunteers buy out of their own pockets (Most of them really did have stuff.). There are turn-by-turn sheets that can be a tad confusing at signs, although some sections of the course were marked really well. (The first 100k was marked quite well.)

But the positives far outweigh the negatives.
Start of TGNY, photo by Grant McKeown

We started out of Times Square, and ended up running north in Central Park. Although it was 5am, it was still somewhat bright, and it was really exciting and everyone was in high spirits. Yay. Then you emerge from the park, running north, snaking over until you are running alongside the Hudson. You run north, north, north. Everyone was joking, laughing, and walking the hills. Yay.

We crossed over the Henry Hudson Bridge, which I did not like. We tried to yell to a group that we had noticed went off course, but they didn't hear us. After we got off the bridge, we were in the Bronx.

We ran through Van Cortlandt Park, which Phil had marked quite well with flour. We almost went off course once, but one of us noticed the slight turn and we ran through the park, enjoying it. There was a group of us, laughing, talking, finding our way, following our way.
Ray and I, mile 31. Thanks for the grub and photo, Emmy Stocker!

Orchard Beach was awesome. I had never been there before. You ran out 2 miles and when we got there, I felt silly. I had a random woman take our photo, and Ray (a newbie 100miler who finished in 29 hours) tried to explain what we were doing and she just didn't get it. I was excited to be on the beach.
Photo by Grant McKeown, returning from Orchard Beach

We waved as we ran past a bunch of guys in the Bronx smoking weed. We got slightly off course. We ran under the Bruckner, which sucked. The Triboro was a little scary but we survived. On Randall's Island, I began to get excited. Soon I would see Menachem, my first pacer (and my friend). I found a port-a-potty, which was nice to not drip dry. We hit up part two of the Triboro. 
Just after the Triboro - thanks to Kino for the photo. Look at Menachem's "fancy" running attire white undershirt & gym shorts from high school, literally.

A few blocks after we got off was the aid station and Menachem. I probably horrified him as I shoveled as many Girl Scout cookies and chips and Gatorade into my mouth as fast as I could. It was his first time at an ultra and I'm surprised I didn't scare him. He's still signed up to do the Burning Man 50k!

We took off running, and laughing. I began to get hot, really hot, really really hot. Ray and Menachem began discussing physics and my brain felt fried. I poured water on my head as I slogged behind them. We ran near LGA and the planes were close and we ran by a sulfur-smelling swamp. We got to an aid station where I picked up Melissa Woods, next pacer.

I began to feel better. We ran through a sprinkler in a park. We walked. I tried to get my focus back. Melissa took photos of the houses in the neighborhood for her friend. I welcomed the distractions and the conversations.

Ray and I shared Vaseline for our chafed bits. Only at an ultra do these things happen...
Photo by Ben Ko

We entered Alley Pond Park, I was feeling a little more clear headed. Menachem said goodbye as I shoveled down oatmeal cookies. He was a really good friend to see me suffering, and to have his awesome sense of humor. I loved it. Melissa was a bundle of energy and an amazing pacer. Ray ran with us, suffering but really in good spirits.

Mile 60 we met Beth and Cortney. They arrived way too early and had to kill time with beer and the World Cup. We ran to the 100k mark, where Trishul asked me, "Are you going to continue?" Uh, yes. Of course! I took a bite of eggplant parmigiana, Melissa gave me a change of socks, and we took off! I said goodbye to Melissa who was so awesome she was going to work at two aid stations after she left me. THANK YOU!

Beth & Cortney had never paced at a 100 and they were really great - energetic, fun, focused. Cortney was in charge of the directions and she was really great, and I was grateful because my mind was shutting down. Beth on the other hand, was checking out the local scene, noting bars of interest and taking photos. I sucked down an enormous Italian ice and was losing my mind as I lost feeling in my feet.

Broad Channel. Cute houses. Bridges. Cortney navigating. That blister hurt. OMG it hurt. I sucked down gus and my teeth literally ached. Do ultras cause cavities? Ow.

Into the Rockaways. Beth's chatter didn't stop and her and Cortney seemed so sane that I felt like I was probably an alien. We got into mile 71 where I said hello again to Melissa, hugged Wayne, shoveled down food, changed my sneakers to something a half size bigger, and then we took off.
Yes, a large rainbow Italian ice. Oh so refreshing.

Or, we left. My feet were a swollen mess and everything sucked. My mind was a trap and I was stuck in there and I was glad to hear Beth and Cortney dealing with logistics like directions and wasn't that an adorable house and shouldn't we do a summer share down here?

Ray caught up with us as we pulled closer to Riis Beach. At that aid station, they tried to force me to eat. I was hating 100 milers, swearing to never do another one. Seriously, 50 milers are SO much more fun. Why don't I just stick with those? What is wrong with me? Next year I will only do 50s milers...except maybe Umstead and Vermont and Hinson and National 24 Championships and....

I'm an idiot. I'll keep doing 100s.

We crossed the Marine Parkway Bridge. I'm terrified of the bridge and will only either sprint over it and walk clutching someone's hand. We walked uphill and after I was freaked out so much that I couldn't speak, I asked Ray if I could hold his hand. Death grip was more like it. We walked fast. On the top, we began running.

We ran up Flatbush Avenue, which is spooky and feels like forever. And then alongside the Belt, where Wayne goes kitesurfing at Plumb Beach. I saw lots of rabbits and peed in the darkness behind a fence. We kept running.

Then we got into Sheepshead Bay. Beth was like, "WHAT IS THIS? Where are we?" High heels and cologne and fancy cars and clubs and I'm running with a headlamp, looking like a truck ran me over, feeling like it. We got to mile 80 and I said thank you and goodbye to Beth and Cortney and Pete took over.

Poor Pete. I was out of my mind. My pinky toe hated me. I changed into shoes w the toe cut out but I needed to cut out more. We tried to use glass or something to cut it further, but it was pretty bad. I was in agony. We walked fast or ran and I felt horrible. Pete talked abt triathlons, ultras, so many things. He was great.

Along Shore Road, my arch suddenly hurt. I couldn't run. I was almost in tears. I wanted to stop. Was I hurting myself permanently? I hated this. Along the water, there were tons of people fishing, hanging out, smoking weed, drinking beer, running, making out. It was bizarre. NYC is really the city that never sleeps.

Mile 90. "I want to stop. I really hurt my foot." I cried. The awesome volunteers wouldn't take no for an answer. They iced my foot, put moleskin in my shoe, fed me cookies. 

I hobbled out of there. I hated everything. The ten miles were going to feel endless. In Sunset Park, Pete bought me tea. I was falling asleep and tried to drink it. Stay awake, Cherie. Stay awake.

We hobbled. We talked. Wayne drove by the course and said goodnight. I began running. It hurt, but I could do it.

Mile 95. I have never been so happy to see anyone in my life as I was to see the amazing crew at mile 95. A small shot of rum, which was harsher on my belly than I would have thought. Keep going, girl. The Brooklyn Bridge. I hate this bridge now.

And the streets. Run. Run. Run. Run.

And somehow....done.

Me and Pete at the finish; thanks to Annette Vega for photo
I felt like crap, but was overjoyed at the finish. I sat around for a little bit, chatting. And then I was just too tired. I thanked Phil and Pete and everyone else, got my stuff, and fell into a cab. I got home and showered. I was too tired to eat. I just fell into bed with wet hair and woke up 3 hours later, famished. We went out to brunch and I felt surprisingly okay. Really really hungry.

What an amazing race. Thanks to all the volunteers, my awesome pacers, my kickass boyfriend, Phil & Trishul, and everyone else. I love you all.