I am already maxed out on available time to train so I am good with the knowledge there are limits to my results with running. That said, since I continue to train over the last 14 months and on I’d expect some personal racing successes; imo those haven happened yet. Until yesterday.
On Sunday, May 29, 2011 I ran the Pineland Farms 50k in New Gloucester Maine. My only finish in a 50k was last year in 8:22 at the Pisgah Mountain Trail Race; I went into Pineland with a goal range from 6:30 to 8:00 (based on ignorance of my fitness level).
This race was a two-loop race, across mowed farm fields, some trails and forest road. The grade is constantly hilly, without any kind of killer hills. It just keeps rolling up and down. The race breaks down into two bigger loops, first a 10 mile western loop and then a 5.5 mile eastern loop (on either side of route 231).
1) Lap 1- the start was quick and forgiving- the trail weaved close by the Pineland campus before heading out into the fields. I had decided to try and avoid looking at my GPS watch all day and worry so at 5k I decided to peek and I was at 10:15 per mile pace, too fast. I eased back a bit and settled into a smarter pace and after an hour of running the sun came out and it started to get hot, and humid. I started to run with somebody who was matching my pace- eventually I learned he was shooting for closer to a 6 hour run and I let him go as I felt my pace start to strain. It was a fairly uneventful loop, and alone I crossed the road to the eastern loop started to run with a girl Heather who I had done some earlier running with. The heat in the first field started to get to me and luckily the trail headed in to the woods for almost all of the loop so with hydration I felt some energy return. A main goal of the day was to speed through the aid stations- they came up every 2-3 miles, so there was no need to waste time. I lost Heather at an aid station as I breezed through as she stopped. I finished this loop and the entire first lap alone, and basically ran the whole remainder alone save for people who happened along at the same speed for a while. I crossed the start line and looked at my watch for the second time- around 3 hours and 12 minute per mile pace. I threw my glasses to my son Jason- they were either steaming up or just catching the sweat and overall not adding any value.
2) Lap 2. Seeing my son and friends at the start was energizing so I headed into the woods running well (again, my perspective on what running well is for me!) along the easy trails. Already on lap two I was walking the hills I had run on Lap 1- but it was what I needed to do. As soon as I hit the fields, the heat was pretty draining and I drank as much as I could. I decided to count off the signs that appeared every 1k to track progress and they seemed to go by pretty quickly. Funny, without my glasses it was tougher to read the signs till I got there and on occasion I would forget how many k were left even though I had read the previous sign. I was refilling bottles more frequently on this lap right away (I used a Go-Lite Swift with 2 20 oz bottles) and downed more frequently, Succeed electrolyte tabs. I started to cramp while in the fields so I had to stop and stretch and paid more attention to hydration and salt tabs/snacks. As I approached the start/finish to cross to the eastern loop I looked at my watch (for only the third time in 25 miles) and saw I had accidentally stopped it at 3:40 and miles ago. I was blind as to pace, and made the decision to finish that way. I was going to go as hard as I could and worrying about time wouldn’t add any value. I had to stop again in the first field to stretch as my cramps started again, but once in the woods they went away. I was in a slow jog and walk the hills pattern (and the eastern loop was fairly hilly) and going as fast as I could. I knew it was slow and was hoping I could keep loop 2 less than an hour slower than the first to break 7 hours. I reached the final field, around 48k and started to run harder- of course again in the heat I was nearing cramps so had to back off a drop. I crossed route 231 and trotted towards the finish line- Jason yelled encouragement to me as I saw the clock for the first time at 642.
I have to say, the best part of the race was having my son Jason, there as I finished. He had helped me before and during the race and I grabbed him tightly and celebrated with him.
I may have finished down in 97th place (out of 138) and been of no interest in the bigger picture of the race but the work I have done was paid back in my personal success on the day……
Some pictures and video of the day http://tuco.smugmug.com/Racing/Pineland-Far-ms-Ultra-Festival/17299380_HJKpGH#1313687160_x6PwQQv
And congrats again to my friend Dean- now under six months into running and down over 80 pounds in that time ripping off a 3:25 25k. Darn good work!
My race review can be found here… http://tucooutdoors.weebly.com/race-reviews.html