Sunday, November 27, 2011

2011 JFK 50 Miler

Back in the early summer there was great interest by many people to go and run the JFK 50 Miler and with the new registration process you had to be sure in July that you wanted to go, otherwise you were not getting in.

My plan was to try and get a male and a female team down to JFK and thought it was going to be hard to get a women's team but I should have more than enough guys to field the three person team.  In the end, I was the lone male and I was able to get a very strong female team signed up.

Fast forward to November.  In one form or another all of the runners that were doing JFK were at my race the RI 6 Hour.  I felt like all I needed to do was get through the 6 hour then I could finally focus on JFK.  Up until then I hadn't given much thought to many of the plans we had to make for JFK because I was pre-occupied with the 6 Hour organization.

Once the 6 Hour was put to rest for another year, we made some travel plans and on Friday morning around 7am the 4 runners plus Karen's husband Kevin and daughter Eva were off to Hagerstown, MD.  Fortunately the ride was uneventful and we arrived around the time we had planned.  We were staying at the host hotel where packet pick-up was, so it made things even simpler the day before the race, we checked-in, brought our stuff to our rooms, grabbed our race numbers and then all went out for a short run to loosen up the legs after being crammed in a car for a good part of the day.

Two friends that Jackie and I know from Canada were going to be at the race and we had hoped to have them join our crew of 6 for dinner and as though all the planets lined up we bumped into them at the packet pick-up and they were staying right accross from an Olive Garden, so they got there a little early put our name in the hat and by the time we arrived we only had about a half an hour wait.  It seemed everything was coming together well for us and we would be able to eat, get back to the hotel room early, get our stuff together and get to bed early so we could be awakened at 4:30 am for the start of our long race day.

Race morning came fast, but everyone seemed to have rested well.   We drove from Hagerstown to Boonsboro in the dark of morning and arrived at the school for the pre-race meeting and/or to stand in a line for the bathroom, depending on who you were.  Once the meeting was over we made our trek to the starting line, which is over a half mile from the school.  As soon as we arrived, we hear "Three minutes until the start"  WHOA!  that came quick.  The four of us quickly stripped down to our race gear and moved a little closer to the front and before we knew it BANG!  the 2011 JFK 50 had started.

The race starts on a main paved road, which you are on for just over 2 miles and in that time you climb around 1000 feet.  I stayed slow and behind many people that I would later pass, but knew there was no need to sprint out in the first miles, because this was going to be a long day.

After those climbing road miles were over you dropped into a short trail section, which was just a short tease of the terrain that would come soon after.  The short trail section lead us to another paved road that would again rise about for over a mile before we finally got onto the AT section that we would stay on until about 15.5 miles.

The AT section is very rocky and is covered in many, many, leaves.  I saw numerous people take tumbles in front of me, just as I had in 2007, but this year I was careful and never even came close to hitting the ground.   For most of the AT I was running with Ian Torrence.  This was his 17th time running this race, so I knew, he knew what he was doing, however earlier in the race he stated that he would not break 7 hours this year, so although it was nice to follow him through the AT, once we hit the canal path at 15.5 I had to get down to buisness because I had some time to make up.

The C&O Canal Path was mostly uneventful.  The path is basically a marathon and has no turns to speak of.  It is flat and made up of hard packed dirt, it was a little forgiving on the legs, but tough to keep the mind in the game when fatigue and boredom sets in.  I thought I handled both well, and when hit with what I thought was going to be a major breakdown I stepped up to the challenge and worked through it and finally made it to the end of the canal path and was about to start the 8+ mile trek on the rolling pavement that would lead me to the finish line.

The last 8 miles had each mile marked in reverse order.  It was a nice little countdown to the end.  At first 8 to go seemed short, but then 4 to go seemed like the longest run I would ever have to conquer.  By the time I got to the 1 mile to go mark I was happy the race was almost over.  Content that I would run under 7 hours and just got it in.  It was a nice way to finish the race.  I wasn't in horrible pain as I have been in at the end of the other two 50s that I had run and I was able to run every step of this race and the last mile would be no different.  I cruised in at 8 min pace, came down the final 600 meter which is a slight uphill and heard my name over the loud speaker.  I had finished in 23rd place in 6:55:08, a time I was happy with, but you always want more.

Now that I had finished, my attention turned to the women.  When would I see them come in, how was their race going?  I had no clue how the last 7 hours had gone for them.  The good thing was I did not have to wait long for the answer.  Karen was seen coming down the long straight away with another woman on her tail.  She was able to hold her off and finished as 4th woman in 7:07:35.  Not too long after we spot Jackie's bright green shirt.  She was going to smash her sub 7:30 goal with a time of 7:19:53 and a 7th place finish in the women's division.

Now we waited for Issy, we knew that with a descent finish from her that the women would not only win the team title, but would beat the women's team record from 2002.  Fortunately for us we did not have to wait in suspense too long, Issy had run faster than she thought she would, running an 8:20:29.  The girls smashed the old team record of 25:11:16 with a 3 person total of 22:47:57! 

2011 Women's Team Champions!

In the end we were all pretty happy with our results.  We went in to the gym to warm up, get some food and wait for the awards.  After that we jumped on a trolley bus type of vehicle which carried us about a half mile to the car and we were off, back to the hotel.  After taking a very refreshing shower we went to a restaurant called Barefoot Bernies to grab some grub and a celebratory beer.  After that the group, minus Jackie and I went to Dairy Queen for some more celebrating!

The night ended in true Turtle fashion with Jackie, Issy and myself pouring some bombers into some pint glasses and falling asleep while still chatting...I would say it was a successful trip.

Jackie, Me, Issy, Karen...the morning after.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Trail Striders Part 4

In this episode the Trail Striders you will learn about the wandering creatures social habits.

If you have missed the first three episodes of the Trail Striders, see them here:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Trail Striders, part 1 and 2

When we were at the TransRockies race they showed us a video of the days events every night.  For the opening of those videos they came up with a fun little documentry series about the "Trail Striders".  Every nights video started off with a little bit more informtaion about the "Trail Striders".  Well they finally started releasing those videos to the "public" last week and will be releasing one a week until they reach the finale.

You can see the first two videos below.  I will continue to add the videos as they become available.