As always - raising money to kick cancer's a$$!!!! http://pages.teamintraining.org/nyc/nyc14/mbielik
Apparently whatever "training" I've been doing the last month off of the base I built on the treadmill in the harsh winter is still working. After my extremely good finish at the Bear Mt. 50-miler in May (see previous blog post for that write-up), I don't recall doing any true speedwork, intervals or tempo runs. Maybe I should write workouts down again? What I was doing was running to work every morning and then running a couple extra miles on the treadmill before showering and going to work. So I was getting up fairly early to do all that about 4-days a week. I would also run home and sometimes extend the run a little longer. Adding them up it would be about 10 miles or more 4 days a week. I generally run these fast, but not timed. So maybe these are shorter tempo runs? I did some long runs too but nothing too long. Aside from pacing for 14 hours at Massanutten for 40 miles, I think I did 26 miles most in one day between Bear Mt. and TGNY100. Still, I felt like I should have a nice base and given my performance at Bear Mt. I was hopeful that I should be able to run this race well and at least break my 100-mile PR of 23:08 at Old Dominion in 2012. My "A" goal going into this race was sub-21 which is a 12-minute mile average that includes all the stops along the way (let's say there were 20 aid stations along the course and I stop for 5 minutes at each one. That would add 100 minutes to my time so if I ran an 11-minute mile every step of the way, I would finish the run averaging a 12-minute mile).
The week before the race starting with the Saturday before it was not the best one I've had. I had some weird stomach issue that caused me to feel a little nauseous although I didn't throw up or have it go the other way either. Mostly just intestinal pains and if I ate certain foods (dairy, greasy) it would be worse. So I didn't eat a lot and stuck with bananas, dried crystallized ginger, bread, and my miracle chicken rice soup. By Thursday I was feeling better. Also that day, a fixture in my running ultra life that you know from reading these blogs, David Snipes came up from Richmond, VA to visit and run the race as well.
Race plan and course- My plan was to run 25-30 miles with Snipes and then take off on my own. At mile 62, I would pick up my pacers and have support the rest of the way. I would not have had anywhere close to the finish time I had if not for the amazing support my pacers gave me. My Team in Training friends and awesome runners Kelly Barbera, Sarah Evans, Joe Lyons would take turns running with me while the others would have a subway and bus adventure to get to the next aid station. Then I had my amazing wife (technically not, but fundamentally true) as a bike pacer with me from mile 62 to the finish. She created a basket for the bike to hold supplies and even manufactured a way to keep the video camera on it to take hands free movies. She's a genius with crafting things. I was estimating I would be at the 100K (62 mile) split at 5:45PM. Since I paced the race from mile 62 last year, I had a good idea what the course from then on would be like. The race is roughly 95% asphalt with the rest trails or boardwalk boards, although there are plenty of sections where you can move from asphalt onto grass or dirt surface on city greenways or sidewalks. A lot of the race is completely exposed to the sun, and as the race is on the Summer Solstice, chances are we wouldn't have a "cool" day to run in. Here is what some of the turnsheet looked like. I printed out the turnsheet, then laminated it and cut it into smaller sections (1-2 aid stations). I put those on little carabiners and gave them to my pacers for mile 62-finish while I had all 100.
|Turnsheet for the start to mile 30.|
|Map of the course|
|Aleks' awesome contraption for the bike|
Race Morning - I set my alarm for 3:45AM. The start is a 10-minute cab ride from my apartment. It's nice to be able to sleep at home and then easily get to the start of this race. Everything I needed that morning I prepared the night before. I did forget sunblock but a fellow runner, Doron Kenter, was able to give me some at the start. We left the apartment at 4:15AM and got to the start at 4:30AM. We check in and pick up our souvenir race shirts only to put them in Sniper's drop bag for the 100K mark (I messaged Aleks to take the shirts out of the bag when she got to the 100K aid station because Snipes was tossing the bag afterwards). The only problem with this urban race was there were no bathrooms at the start except for the McDonald's but the line was long from all the runners wanting to go. There may have been some other options but we knew there would be places on the course (public bathrooms). We take a few pictures with friends that are running and chat. Shortly before 5AM the race director Phil McCarthy (an amazing ultra runner and current U.S. record holder in the 48-hour race - 257 miles) gave us some last minute instructions as did his helper and another ultra legend, Trishul Cherns. Finally, we get a huge group photo before we start. We're running a little late and sometime after 5AM (I never looked at my watch for the time) we were off and running.
|Pre Race strategy|
|Race morning with Michael Ryan, David Snipes, Me, Gray Weaver, and Shannon MacGregor|
|Group photo of runners and Race Director Phil McCarthy and ARD Trishul Cherns in the front.|
|Phil and Trishul giving instructions before the start|
Mile 0-4.75 (48 minutes into the race) - The race begins on 46th and Broadway in the heart of Times Square. As is normal apparently for every ultra race, all the runners take off like it's a 5K! The first three miles, the group I was with averaged a 9 minute mile. I think we all know we are going to start slowing down and take walk breaks at some point and it's nice and cool in the morning so might as well take advantage of that. So north we go up Broadway, into Central Park, up West drive. Funny enough, someone mentioned as a joke to watch out for raccoons in Central Park but since it was daylight, I said the raccoons would be asleep now. We walk up the Great Hill, and I see a raccoon peaking out. I try to get a video of it but it does the squirrel trick of climbing up the tree and circling around so I can't get a good video. We run down Harlem Hill and exit the park and head to Morningside Drive. We head North, making a left and then a right to go North again until we arrive at the first aid station - Grant's Tomb. Here, Mary Harvey is running the aid station and provides us with homemade coffee cake and blueberry muffins.
Mile 4.75-9.3 (1:35 into the race) - On familiar paths, we head north until we merge onto 12th Ave and pass by Fairway before heading under the Henry Hudson Parkway making our way into Riverbank Park along the Hudson River. We pass the familiar ballfields by 145th St. and I know bathrooms are coming up but they may be closed at this hour. Luckily, there were three port-o-pottys near them and they were somehow clean. I take my bathroom break while the others continue on and I'll catch up. Now I didn't think they were going that fast but I had to log some 7 minute mile pace to catch up to them after what seemed like 10 minutes right after the tennis courts before the George Washington bridge. Before that, near the basketball courts, I hear some weird bird like sounds and look up and about 5 green birds were flying around the top of the tree. They sounded and looked like parrots! Very strange seeing tropical birds up there but most likely someone that couldn't care for them as a pet released them. We head under the George Washington bridge and walk up the hills that follow that path. Then we continue north to Dyckman St. to around mile 9.5 for the next aid station. Here Mary Arnold greets us and promises us that as long as we don't quit, she'll be at the mile 95 aid station in Brooklyn with Whiskey and Rum if we want. I fill up my hydration pack and we head on out.
|Mile 5- 12th Ave under the Henry Hudson about to enter Riverbank park|
Mile 9.3-15.75 (3:01 into the race ) - We cross over the Henry Hudson Bridge to make our way into the Bronx. Riverdale is a hilly little section with many turns on the course. The turn sheet for this section has 25 lines, compared with 5 each for the prior two sections. After the last aid station, we were not able to keep up with the runners we were with (Michael Ryan and Shannon MacGregor) but were able to keep them in sight for a couple miles where most of the turns were. But once we lost them, we were about halfway through the directions for this section and on a part that isn't too difficult to follow. The course marking were extremely helpful as it prevented us from constantly checking the turn sheet and looking for street signs. Eventually we enter Van Cortlandt Park and a group of runners behind us catch up with us. One of them, Grant Mckeown I met on a training run of the course in April that took us from miles 35-57. He's been running in NYC for 40 years and knows everything there is to know about a lot of the parks there and the history of them. His group passes us before we head into the trails. The trail section was marked with flour on the ground. These trails are pretty cool and rugged in some parts. However, we did miss one turn and ended up going a couple 100 yards out of the way before we saw another runner coming back to us saying she thinks we went the wrong way. We never saw anything for a turn so we must think she is mistaken. But as we continue, we get to a four way intersection of the trails and see no markings so we know she is probably correct. We look at the directions and can't see where we went wrong so I run back to try to find the last marking. At this point, I stop my watch because I didn't want to get my mileage messed up compared to the turn sheet. This was quite stupid because it also stops the running time so I don't know what time the official clock is at. Plus, my mileage was off anyway so what's the difference if I add another mile to my count compared to the turn sheet? In total, my watch was probably stopped for only about a minute or so. But I really didn't know how long it was stopped at the time. It seemed like longer. As I head back, another runner is coming at me and I tell her I think we missed a turn. She doesn't believe me and continues up. A minute later, I see two guys running towards me and tell them I'm pretty sure I missed a turn and as I look to my right, I could see two women running off to that side so they must have made a left turn. Sure enough, there was some flour on the ground pointing to that direction. So I try to call Snipes but my phone is doing stupid things. Instead I run back and start yelling that we missed the turn. We get back on track, finish running through Van Cortlandt Park and make a left on E233rd st. and follow that to Bronx Blvd where the next aid station is. Along the way, Snipes was dying for some Coke or Mt. Dew. They didn't have any soda at this aid station, but they did have a ton of Halloween candy like Gummy Bears, Sour Patch Kids, and Swedish Fish. At this aid station, we wanted to see the list of runners to get an idea of how many people were behind us, because my plan was to take off running on my own at mile 25-30, but I wanted Snipes to have people to run with. Somehow, we were 13th or 14th from the bottom. So there were roughly 12 people behind us, if they were still running.
Mile 15.75-21.1 (4:16 into the race) - This was possibly the easiest section to follow. "1 - Follow park pathway south until it meets Pelham Parkway Greenway and turn left. 2 - Follow pathway east to Stillwell Ave. 3-Cross Pelham Pkwy, continue east, follow pathway to entrance of Pelham Bay Park." We start the section but Snipes is running low on energy. About a half mile into it, we see a group of older women sitting on some benches with the small greenway/park to our right and the street on our left. Snipes, who I should mention all day would say "good morning", "Hello", or just talk to every stranger we passed said hello to all of them and asked if they knew of a deli anywhere. It just so happened that across the street and about 50 feet back was a deli. So I go in there and grab him a can of Mountain Dew. The temperature is starting to pick up a little but we generally have a decent breeze. We're running and walking and the walk breaks are much more frequent and longer. Finally, we arrive at the aid station. The next section is an out and back loop around the Orchard Beach area coming right back to the aid station. So if you are carrying anything that you don't need for this section, you could leave it at the aid station to pick up when you return. As you can tell from the times listed for each section, our pace had dropped notably. Roughly to 4mph (15 minute miles)
Mile 21.1-25.1 (5:12) - The good thing about this section here was because of the out and back format before the loop at the top, you get to see people ahead of you on their return. We saw a number of people. Gray Weaver, Michael Ryan, Grant to name a few. We saw Michael Ryan shortly before the Turtle Cove mini golf and driving range and he said he would slow down to give Snipes a chance to catch up with him so they could run together when I take off on my own. I also pointed out, since there was no soda again at the aid station, we could get some from the golf place on the way back. We pass Margaret Harbaugh (who I am meeting for the first time) and I chat a little with her as Snipes goes on ahead. We talk about the Bear Mt. 50-miler because she's wearing the shirt from that race. I go on ahead and catch up to Snipes. At the point where the loop begins following the "out" in the out and back, I see runners coming from the left but Snipes sees Grant and a couple runners coming from the right. This thoroughly confused Snipes because the arrows we see for the course markings are all on the way to come and go from the left. We pass the enormous parking lot on our left for Pelham Bay (Orchard Beach) and then head up some steps to a beautiful view of the beach and bay. We then head right, and soon after, pass real bathrooms on our right and might as well take advantage of them. We continue on this path but are supposed to continue on a dirt path. We miss that turn but realize as the boardwalk path comes to a dead end. So we backtrack and go slowly to figure out what we missed and realize we were supposed to turn shortly after the bathrooms. It was maybe a total of a quarter mile or so extra we did. Nothing bad. We follow this section before heading into the trails here for a short time and then come out close to where we saw the two groups coming from different directions. This gets Snipes talking about it again and trying to understand what Grant must have done to come from the other direction (he found out the reason later on but I forgot what it was). As we get to the Golf area, I go in to get the soda (can of Pepsi was all they had) and come back out and catch up with Snipes. We make it back to the aid station where other runners are taking pictures and I do some photobombs jumping up behind them. They leave before we do. They had PB&J sandwiches on white bread cut in small pieces and I grab three and eat them. Aside from those and the gummies at the other aid station and Mary Harvey's blueberry cake thing, I've been taking gels for nutrition. We then head out for the final section I will run with Snipes. It's also the longest section between aid and it took us a while for a variety of reasons.
Mile 25.1-32 (6:55 into the race) - This section goes from close to Orchard beach all the way to Soundview park (near Hunt's point I think). There are many turns in this section and unlike the other multi-turn section, there was no one around for us to follow. After a couple of miles Snipes sees a runner (Elik Hirsch) near the Cross Bronx Expressway. We are able to catch up to him because he was stuck at a long light. Also, he had gone to a bathroom and was trying to catch up with a couple people he was with. We run with him for a short while and he seems to be aggravated at the course at this point because he thinks he is going to make a wrong turn and there weren't as many arrows on the ground as he would like (or they were inconsistently placed in his opinion). We were running on Zeraga Ave and were supposed to then continue on Lacombe. Soon, we catch up with another runner (Erin Petrella) and Elik told us that she was not doing very well. She seemed lost when we got to her. We discussed for a short time that we should continue and I got out my phone and brought up Google Maps and pointed out that Lacombe is still a few blocks ahead. So Snipes and I run ahead while Elik and Erin go slower behind us. We see Lacombe and are going to bear right on it when Snipes goes up to a Fireman spraying down the sidewalk and goes up and makes a deal with him. They trade one handshake for a spray down with the hose. (I forgot to mention earlier at Orchard Beach, Snipes cooled off with one of the beach showers to wash sand off). The temperature was rising but it was nowhere like it was last year, when it was over 90 degrees and humid day and night. So now we continue through the Soundview neighborhood in the Bronx. Snipes gets some mean looks when he says hi to random people. I tell him that maybe he shouldn't be doing that in this area. But the next person he says it to is an older man with a cane sitting in a chair outside a laundromat. The guy replies, "You guys are WAYYYY behind the other runners." That gave us a laugh and we thanked him for that information. We go through some more residential area now and a lot of the gates on the sidewalk for the homes are silver or chrome. Looks fancy. Elik catches up to us and we continue to trod along slowly, making sure Erin is able to see where to go. We pass a house and a strong smell of marijuana emanates from the front yard. One of the people there leaves and in a thick Island accent says "It smells like Jamaica here!". We enter Soundview park from the Southeast and cross a basketball court that had two teenagers playing on it. Snipes asks us to hold up and shouts to the kids, "Hey, let me have the rock!". They give it to him and he takes a 3-pointer and. . . . .airballs it! Then he tries to get it again, fumbles with it a bit, misses a short layup but gets it on the next attempt. The kids were just baffled by what happened. We run the long way around Soundview Park and it feels like it will never end. It seems like we should have hit the aid station a mile ago. I slow up to walk with Elik while Snipes goes on ahead. We stay at the walk pace to make sure Erin can catch us. Finally, Snipes yells out that he sees the aid station. They have ice so I fill my pack with ice and water. I grab some gels from them. Then I say goodbye to snipes and everyone and head off on my own. Left on Story, Right on Bronx River Ave, Left on Bruckner Blvd was what I had to remember.
|I believe this is the greenway path leading into the mile 32 aid station|
|Mile 32 aid station|
Mile 37.5-41.7 - (8:44 into the race) - I arrive at the aid station and there a a lot of people there. Volunteers and runners alike. I see Michael Ryan there and tell him about Snipes since I left him. I refill my pack with ice and water. They ask if I want any food but since I took 1-2 gels not that long ago on the bridge and was starting to heat up with the temperature and my faster running, I wasn't feeling hungry for any of the food and I still had gels and gummies on me. But then I spotted Girl Scout Cookies - Samoas!!! I shouted out "oooooohhh Samoas!" I grabbed two and shoved them in my mouth. While I should have told Michael Ryan that I was going to run faster than he wanted to go and Snipes really wanted to run with him, Mike was ready to head out after spending a lot of time at the aid station and I wanted some company and to chat with him so we head out together for the next section. We are running well and about every mile we take a short walk break. We are running past LaGuardia airport and then get closer to the Marina by the water. All of a sudden this disgusting smell of gas and/or raw sewage from a low water there hits us. It was terrible. I almost threw up from it a couple times. Finally we got away from that stench and were approaching the aid station. One of the volunteers was holding a sign before we reach the aid station that said "Free Drinks Here!"
Mile 41.7-46.5 (9:50 into the race) - We get to the aid station and Shannon MacGreggor was there. He was having some stomach issues. My stomach was feeling like it wouldn't handle most foods and I was feeling like I couldn't handle gels either. The aid station though had seedless watermelon which I knew I could handle because I was craving it as soon as I saw it. The people at this aid station also made Sushi rice with honey and it was cold. It was fantastic! After refilling my pack again with some ice and water. I asked Mike Ryan if he was going to hang out a little longer at the aid station and he was. So I was going to leave when Shannon said he would come with me and since I was going to walk a few minutes to digest the food before running. So we start out walking and I'm asking him about the run and for some reason, his food isn't digesting. It's basically just staying in his stomach or intestine and he's feeling bloated. He tells me that he will most likely throw up soon. Shannon is an incredibly strong runner and even more strong willed and in touch with his body. In mid-May, he was supposed to run a really hard 100-mile race in Virginia (The one I paced a random person on as Snipes had a gallstone). Shannon came down with Spinal Meningitis and was hospitalized (and pretty much quarantined) for about a month before the race. He was released a few days before the race and still went down to run it. While he didn't finish the race, he made it to around mile 70 before being cut off by the clock. That is one tough runner. He was saying how we will just visualize and focus on throwing up and when the time is right, he'll vomit. A few minutes later, he says it is time. He proceeds to throw up some black liquid like out of a horror movie. The crazy thing is, he said he didn't have anything that color. No Coke, no chocolate, nothing we can think of that is that color. So that pretty much proved to me that something bad was going on in his stomach. He was able to point out undigested S-Caps (electrolyte pills) that he took an hour or more before. So things really were just not processing in his digestive system. After a couple minutes of vomiting, we start walking again. Then he mentions that his toes are feet are hurting from the shoes. He needs some gauze to put under his toes to relieve some pressure. But we are not close to any drug stores. Out of nowhere, he see something on the grass and is psyched. It's a square piece of foam packing material. He picks it up, finds a bench, takes out a small tool kit from his running pack with tape and scissors and proceeds to make some padding to put under his toes. While he's doing this, Mike Ryan is walking and catches up to us. So does another runner Paul Arroyo. Finally, Shannon is all set and ready to head out. We keep walking. I know I'm losing a lot of time but I know I was moving quickly when I was on my own and maybe this extended walk break will help in the long-run. However, I do know that I should soon start to go a little faster. We cross a small bridge to get to Prince Street in Queens. We start running on the downhill section. Paul needs another walk break but Shannon, Mike and I keep running. Next, Shannon says he needs a grocery store to buy lettuce or spinach because that should help soak up and calm whatever evil is in his stomach. Next thing you know, he's gone so he must have found that store. About a quarter mile later, we pass Leavitts park and Mike needs to use the bathroom. I tell him I'm going to continue on ahead. So I take off running a good pace again. I remember from the training run that this section has a lot of turns and runs through some residential type areas. So I was paying more attention to the directions and looking closely at the street for arrows. Eventually, we hit Willets Point Blvd and it's more of a straight shot hear until Utopia Pkwy and then we enter Little Bay Park. I catch up to a group of three runners before passing them into Little Bay Park. The Aid station is right underneath the Throg's Neck Bridge.
Mile 46.5-51.4 (10:51 into the race) - I don't remember anything from this aid station. They were helpful in giving me ice and water. But I didn't need much else here. In fact, I was not at this aid station very long. I maybe ate a banana at the aid station. I take off walking, then transition to running. I exit the park and then head onto a Greenway parallel to the Cross Island Parkway called the Joe Michael Health Walk (which is a 2.4 mile paved walkway but is very wide. The Cross Bronx Pkwy is to our right and the Little Neck Bay is to our left. There is some softer grass and dirt to the left of the paved greenway. I run on the softer surface for most of the stretch. This section is completely exposed to the sun and it feels hotter from the cars travelling fast right by us. Still, I run this entire 2.4 mile section until I'm forced to stop at a traffic light to cross Northern Blvd. I pretty much averaged 9 minute miles up until here. Then there are a number of uphills that eventually take us into Alley Pond Park. At Alley Pond Park, there is a nice shaded trail section that is run on extremely soft and bouncy wood chips. I also take a short restroom break in the woods. I exit the trail and run on paved walking paths in the park. Soon I spot a rabbit. I find this very amusing as I wonder if I'm being a "rabbit" and going too fast and will burn out later on. I take a video of the rabbit. I continue on and then pass a set of real bathrooms and decide to take advantage of that because you never know when the next set will be that are at least unoccupied if open. When I exit, I see some runners (it's Margaret from earlier with her pacers) walking on uphill ahead and wonder how they got there because I was running well so I know they couldn't have been catching up to me from behind. It turns out, she was ahead of me and they stopped in the bathrooms as well. Soon we get to the aid station.
|Alley Pond Park - shortly before spotting a rabbit|
Mike 56.4-62.2 (12:57:20 officially into the race) - This aid station was the healthy aid station. They had a ton of fresh fruit options. I thought I spotted watermelon and was going to take some when I realized it was Papaya! So I ate a bunch of that and grabbed a cup to take more in with me once I left. It was still feeling a little hot and I hadn't eaten that much and I knew I would need more calories in me to keep running the way I have been running. I was hoping my stomach would feel better soon since it was 6PM and the temperature should start cooling down. This section took me into Flushing Meadows Park. As soon as I get to the entrance I see a lady selling Italian Ices. I was so thrilled to see that. I asked for one. Originally I asked for Cherry. Then she opens the cart and there was Cookies and Cream. But that looked more like ice cream and she said it was so I got a Rainbow Ice instead. It was incredible! She put about 4 scoops or more in a cup and I just ran with it while eating it. It was heaven! I'm running through Flushing Meadows Park. People are BBQing, playing football, and futball, and with remote control cars, and skateboarding, and everything that is great to do on a Saturday early evening. I get to the Unisphere and head left (south). There's a concert going on towards the end of this part of the park. We head past Meadow Lake and Willow Lake and then cross over the Grand Central Parkway making my way to Forest Park. I get onto 80th Rd. and halfway up this part I see a runner who thinks she is lost. She did the 100-miler two years ago and was doing the 100K this year. For some reason, she didn't trust that she should keep following the road into Forest Park. So I convinced her to follow me and in a matter of seconds, I spot one of the course arrows. We run through Forest Park and I'm getting excited that I'm about to pick up my pacers and only have 38 miles left to go. I see through some trees on the winding downhill we have to the exit of the Park that the aid station is there. We cross the street and I'm ready to see my friends and have them run and bike it and experience it all with me.
|Exiting Flushing Meadows Park with the Unisphere sticking out of the trees behind me|
Mile 62.2-66.6 (13:48 into the race) - Wow. My spirits sure shot up after getting to this aid station to see three of my four pacers (Aleks, Kelly, and Joe). I checked in with the aid station captain and assistant race director Trishul Cherns and also saw Paul Kentor volunteering here. He helped fill my pack with ice and water. As for food, this was the 100K finish and they had pizza and eggplant parm here. I did NOT have any of that, no matter how tempting it was. There was a giant uncut seedless watermelon though. Aleks was awesome enough to take the duty of cutting it into slices. It was delicious. I had a few slices of that and once I was sure I was all sorted out, we left the aid station. This was the point in the race last year that I began my pacing duties for Mark Leuner, so I had a good idea of what was to come. One of those things that I was really looking forward too, was an Italian Ice stand. Before I reach it, we are waiting to cross a street along with Cherie Yanek and her pacers. I tell her I'm heading to the Italian Ice store across the street and it didn't take a lot of convincing to have her get some as well. I get there first and they have about 40 choices of flavors. The one that piques my interest was cotton candy! I get a large or extra large (can't remember now). I carried and ate it just until a little before the next aid station. On the way we pass a casino (Aquaduct Casino) and it is a huge place. Who knew this was out here? We cross the Belt Parkway to Cross Bay Blvd and head south to the Joseph Addabbo bridge. Right before the bridge is the next aid station. Given the stop to get the Italian ice, we made good time in this section. It's not surprising given the pickup I got with my pacers. When we get to the aid station, I chat a little with the aid station captain Yuri Esperson and say goodbye to Kelly, who we will meet up again with at mile 90. She was going to take the subway and then a bus to the next aid station. It would take her about two hours. Sometimes, it is just as fast to run than to take public transportation!
|Aleks and Joe waiting for my arrival at the 100K (mile 62) aid station in Forest Park|
|At the Forest Park Aid atation|
|Getting my Cotton Candy Italian Ice!|
|The Joseph Addabbo Bridge|
|Exiting the bridge and entering the Rockaways|
|A bird's nest - maybe a hawk?|
|Mile 71.5 aid station - Rockaway Beach|
Mile 71.5-75.2 (15:22 into the race) - At the aid station here they had seedless watermelon and also a special salt/spice flavoring for watermelon. I had been taking my enduralyte (Electrolyte pills) and Tums roughly every hour or two. But it doesn't hurt to get more salt, especially when I had been sweating a lot all day. They also had some interesting specialty cookies here. I don't remember the brand or the flavor I took, but I ate at least half of it on the run but chucked the rest because it was a heavy snack. Also at the aid station, I asked how many people had come through and they said that I was the 13th person! So with 30 miles to go, and generally feeling good, I was hopeful that I could break the top-10 if I didn't fall apart in the next 30 miles (which is always a real possibility in a race this long). Now while I say I was generally feeling good, I should mention that around this point I really just wanted to be done with the race. While crossing the bridge to get into the Rockaways I mentioned to Joe that I really wanted to get to mile 75 because there would be less than a marathon to go. Then it is easier to break down from there. Even so, I was really just wishing to be at mile 95 and only have 5 miles to go on extremely familiar territory (Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan). After heading West on Shore Front Parkway, I felt the need to use a restroom again. Luckily, since this is a beach, there were public restroom right by us shortly and no need for panic or public defecation! It's still light out being the first day of summer and roughly 8PM and Aleks tells me that there were two extremely drunk girls who basically wobbled and fell over each other as they were walking down to the street level from near the bathrooms. The stretch continues and we run by streets lined with beach houses. It feels like just about any beach town and very far removed from NYC. I remember it was already dark when I was here last year and I had no idea we were running by with views of the ocean to the left of us. I feel a little bit of chafing on my shoulder coming from the hydration pack so I decide that now is a good time to give it to Aleks and just use my hand bottle. No pun intended but that move really took a lot of weight off of my shoulders. At the last aid station, Aleks took a banana and kept it in the bike rack to eat later. Since I was eating too much and I didn't grab other food for her to hold at the aid stations she asked if I wanted it now but I said no, she could have it. A very funny scene to me was when she quickly biked to the opposite side of the street and far down the road. We lost sight of her until I look across and see her standing next to the bike eating the banana and just staring out us with some look like "This is my banana, everyone stay away", as she stared at us running by on the other side of the road. It's just something you had to see or be there to laugh at. We make it to Jacob Riis park and the next aid station. They set it up this year a couple hundred yards closer than the year before because there were no available tables anywhere else.
|Running on Shore Drive with the Beach to our left|
|Mile 75 - Jacob Riis Park Aid Station|
|Sunset overlooking the Marine Parkway bridge into Brooklyn|
|Sarah and Kelly waiting for us across from Sheepshead Bay|
|I had my headlamp on to make sure I could see the message in chalk|
|Leaving the aid station with Sarah pacing me now|
|The start of the Coney Island Boardwalk|
|It was about to gt very crowded and we had to get to the parachute jump (tall structure way ahead)|
|Sarah and I with the Verrazano Bridge behind us|
Mile 90.8-95.8 (19:52 into the race) - At the aid station, I was disappointed to see Gray Weaver there because it meant he dropped out of the race. But he was in great spirits and happy to be helping out here. I also heard from him that Snipes was still out on the course and he even found Jacqueline Choi's (another runner) credit card that she dropped earlier in the race! I didn't feel like I could eat real food here even though they had some nice snack options. They did have soda and I figured, caffeine and sugar would be a good combo and you don't need a good stomach to digest that liquid fuel so that's what I took. I heard a lot of good words of encouragement from all of my pacers at the aid station and the aid station volunteers as well. I did find out that I was in 9th place but spent a lot of time looking at their sheet and asking too many questions about other runners instead of just preparing to head out. That's not a bad thing because my mind wanted to know these answers and with 10 miles to go, there is still plenty of time to enter slow walk mode and it could take 3 hours to do those 10 miles if I'm not mindful of taking breaks when needed. So all my pacers head out of the park with me for about a block or two before Sarah and Joe head towards a subway to eventually meet me at mile 96. So it's Aleks as usual on her bike and now Kelly running with me. Kelly was very entertaining on the run. At this point in the race and at night, a runner can just feel tired and not feel like talking much and feel more like sleeping. She was in great spirits and was talking about lots of things. The race had us running on 4th Avenue (same as the NYC Marathon) going from 66th St. all the down to 1st street and actually one block more to Carol Street. This stretch was somewhat annoying because we had to make sure the street was clear of traffic before crossing. Doing that for 66 blocks was a hassle but at least we really only had to pay attention to one direction each block because the streets are one-way. But it also entailed running off of curbs and up onto curbs. This section on 4th Ave was 3.4 miles long. It sure did feel like it but felt easier than the prior section with the bridge. I think the reason it felt better was I was able to judge my running and walk breaks using the street numbers. I would set a goal in my head that I want to run 5 blocks or 10 blocks before taking a walk break. Then take a 1-2 block break. Then start running again. Sometimes I would run an extra block or two if the light was in our favor or about to change. We hit the single digit blocks and soon enough, make a left on Carol Street. Then we pass some through a very nice neighborhood with amazing brownstones until making a right onto Hoyt st. This was more like the normal city streets I am used to with storefronts everywhere. We're doing great and run/walking and heading into the final aid station before we cross the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan and to the finish.
Mile 95.8-100.4 (really 103 on my watch. ??? time into the race!) - Finally, I've been waiting for this aid station forever. I knew I would be picking up all of my pacers and we would all be heading into Manhattan to finish the race. At this aid station, Mary Arnold was here as well as Paul Kentor. She did have Rum and Whiskey but I passed on it because my stomach still wasn't great. Instead I had some Gingerale because it had the calories and may help calm my stomach. Paul filled my waterbottle with ice and water. I was trying to spend a lot of time there but Paul would have none of that and got me out of there before I wasted more time. So this was it. The final section. We all knew how to get to the Brooklyn Bridge and then it was just a matter of getting to Times Square. Unfortunately, we had to go UP the bridge. There was no way I was going to waste energy going up the bridge when I had 3.2 miles to run in Manhattan. So I walked the up part of the bridge. Whether daytime or nighttime, the views from the Brooklyn Bridge are always incredible. We got some pictures on it as we walked. One of the buildings also had a clock and I figured it may be possible to still break 21 hours or finish before 2AM but it would be really tough. When we got near the top of the bridge, I started to run. As the bridge then went downhill, I really started to run and I didn't tell anyone what I was doing. I figured they wold figure it out. I may have shocked them a little because I picked up my pace to 8 minute miles and faster going down the bridge. Once I got to the end, I took a needed walk break. Then we continued doing run/walk but frequent intervals until probably a little north of Chinatown. Running up Spring Street and then Lafayette, all we could notice was that so many people were starting their night out and waiting in line at clubs. The bars were packed and the music was blasting from just about every block we pass. It was at that point when I noticed someone else running with two other people ahead of me. No one else in their right mind would be out at this time running on these streets so I know it's another one of the racers. I recognized the person as Michael Samuels who came in 2nd place two years ago. This gave me a spark of energy so as we got closer I started to run. I give Michael and his two pacers (all on team RWB - Red White and Blue, raising money for vets) some words of encouragement but I keep running and don't look back. I have in my mind that they started running too but probably stopped when they realized they couldn't keep up with my pace and I wasn't stopping. Finally, probably 15 blocks later, I take a quick walk break, but mostly because we are waiting to cross the street. I'm pumped with energy knowing we're so close to the finish. Unfortunately, Aleks isn't able to navigate the streets here as easily as the runners. And at some point, we lose Joe too but he catches back up. When we get to Madison Square Park, we accidentally follow 5th Ave instead of staying on Broadway. When Joe catches up to us, he asks us why we are on 5th ave and we say we are not. Then I realize that the buildings ahead of us don't look as bright as I would picture Times Square to be and take a look at the street sign and sure enough, we are on 5th Ave. So we hang a left at the next block and get back onto Broadway. I looks at my watch and look at the current time of day and I think it says 2:02AM. I'm a little upset because I see that I was so close to finishing sub-21 hours. But I'm so close to being done and that's what I was really looking ahead at. We get to 33rd St. and I know we have less than 1/2 mile to go. We're all getting excited and trying to avoid the crowds of bar goers. Finally, we are standing right across the street from the finish line. The people at the finish are waving as we wave back but are stuck waiting for the light to change and cars to stop crossing the street. We run towards the finish line and my pacers break away from me while I cross the line (Chalk writing that says TGNY 100 Finish). And that was it. But I still had to do my one squat! Some amazing runners including Mark Leuner and Snipes are in a group called The Animal Camp. When they finish a race, they do a bunch of push-ups. Personally, I think doing squats is it more fitting because how hard is it to do push-ups after finishing a long running race? :-) Anyway, I was so happy to be done. I get a hug from the race director and my finishing Buckle. He also tells me that I finished in 8th place and came in at 20:52. Because of our late start, I still managed to break 21 hours! I got my pacers with me and took some pictures with all of us at the finish. I thanked them for everything, and then went to sit on a yoga mat in the middle of times square and ate some cold pizza. Two of the earlier finishers, 1st and 2nd place (Tommy Sung Pyon - 15:19 and Sky Canaves - 19:06) were there and were in great spirits and congratulating me as I did the same to them on their ridiculously fast times. Speaking of times, here is the Garmin Data on my race http://connect.garmin.com/activity/526639058.
|Approaching the finish line in Times Square|
|Race Director Phil giving me a finishers hug|
|I could not have done as well as I did without my awesome crew, From left to right - Joe Lyons, Aleks Zuber, Me, Kelly Barbera, Sarah Evans|
|I look like a dead body. Sky Canaves, 2nd place overall is sort of mocking me.|
|After my shower and a change of clothes.|
|Snipes finishing the race!|
|I was so happy he stuck with it and finished. He deserved this one!|
I'm incredibly thrilled that I was able to hit that goal time of sub-21 hours. Out of 55 people on the entry list for the 100-miler, 35 finished. There's no doubt that weather played a huge part in the results. The last two years, the temperatures were in the 90s and the humidity was high. Just running in that type of weather one week later made me thankful I didn't have to deal with it during the race and shows the real strength of the runners that finished the race in 2012 and 2013. One thing I wonder is if I could go sub-20. These races are so long and take so much mental and physical stamina that any small mistakes can come back 10-fold and make you pay later on. So when I wonder if I ran my pace the first 30 miles, would I have been as strong the last 30 as I was for this race? I think it is something that only a lot more training and more races and practice will tell. But how many more 100s will there be? During the race, I was thinking about the next 100 in late August, UTMB (Ultra Tour Du Mont Blanc http://www.ultratrailmb.com/page/20/UTMB%C2%AE.html) and just imagining how tough it will be, since it has over 30,000 feet of elevation gain and the same amount of loss, and it starts in the evening. So most likely, I'm going to be racing for much more than 32 hours, and going through two evenings. When I finish (no ifs!) UTMB, I wonder if I will do more 100s. Experience goes a long way in these races. But maybe 50s are more my thing. What I do know, is I do keep thinking about doing more 100s (Western States, Hardrock, Bighorn, and TGNY100 again and again) so maybe they'll always be something I want to do every year. Time will tell. For now I'm proud of what I've been able to do and so happy to be surrounded by so many positive people and friends.
I want to give a huge thanks to Aleks for putting up with my training and still coming out to pace me on the bike for 40 miles and not have much interaction with me or my run pacer because she couldn't bike right next to us most of the race. I also truly thank my run pacers Joe, Kelly, and Sarah for travelling to the outer reaches of NYC to run (slowly for them) and commute on trains and buses from roughly 5PM to 1AM. I hope you all enjoyed that experience and maybe you will decide to do it one day too and if you do, I will run with you (either in the beginning of the race if I'm running it or I'll help pace you if I'm not running the race). Of course this race would not be possible without the vision of the race director Phil McCarthy. The amount of days he must have gone through to organize this and put it on makes running the 100 miles the easy part! Thanks also go to Richie Innamorato and Trishul Cherns for helping Phil organize and mark the course. Another big thanks goes out to all the volunteers at the aid stations. Karen Braswell, Mary Arnold, Mary Hogan, Paul Kentor, Jessica Woods Bee Namphung, Wayne Pacileo and Melissa Woods, Gail Marino, Julian Addison, Gary Scarano, Yuri Esperson and so many more volunteers that I didn't name. Also, Richard Chung, Atsede Aemro-Selassie and Ben Ko for taking photos of the race. I need a better way to finish this blog entry. Thanks everyone and next up is Running with the Devil 12-hour in Mountain Creek NJ as a training run for UTMB.