Sunday, December 23, 2012

Queens Fat Ass 50K, Alley Pond Park, Queens. 12/22/12

Photo credit to Frank Collela

Last Sunday, I decided to mail in my application for the Broadway Ultra Society's (BUS) Queens Fat Ass 50k/30k to take place yesterday Dec. 22.  First, I can't say enough good things about this event.  It is not a true "Fat Ass" (which in in the ultra world means "Get off your Fat Ass and come run our No Fee, No Frills, but organized Run/Race."  First, we paid a $20 fee.  TWENTY DOLLARS for an ultra is just awesome! Thank you, Richie!

The Frills included an indoor heated field house and a real bathroom. A fully stocked Aid Station.  The race was hand-scored and officially timed by a team of volunteers who did it the right way (by writing every lap split down as we ran through the start finish each time). We got wool embroidered winter hats.  We were gifted a goodie bag from Gatorade full of samples.   There was pizza, coffee, hot chocolate at the end of the race.  Trophies, about 8 deep, were awarded.  Personalized award name plates get mailed out in the future.  When you attend a $20 race that does all this for the runners, it make you wonder why pay so much more for a race.

BUS can always use donations to keep things going. If you want to know more about what BUS does, here is a link to all the wonderful events they put on.

Pre-Race Stuff.  
Friday, my throat started to get scratchy and my head congested.  By Friday night I could not swallow without pain.  I made two cups of echinacea tea, packed some stuff, and went to bed.  I was up, on and all off night, because the burning was waking me up.

I had made plans with Alanna to go to Queens.  She offered to come pick me up on her way north.  I couldn't bear to call her the morning of a race that she was planning to attend with me and tell her I couldn't go.  I wasn't coughing and didn't have a fever.  I didn't want to get her sick, but I also didn't want to bail on her either. So I sucked it up and went.

As we sat in the car, I tried to set some goals. On one hand, I wanted to take advantage any opportunity I had to run well.  But on the other hand, I knew I wasn't 100% and this run was happening in what seemed like less than ideal winter weather (37 degrees on the surface but with constant gusting 20 mph winds, the "feels like" temp was actually 26-27 degrees.  It must have gotten colder because we did get flurries).

I do run well in the cold, but sometimes it is nice to just run with a friend.  To talk.  To spend a day together in motion.  The idea of hanging out with Alanna, who is probably my most favorite person to run with, sounded really nice.  The fact that the race was only $20 meant it would not break my heart to not RACE IT.... But I know myself well enough to know that not racing something is rarely an option.

The Course.
Accurately measured 10 x 5k laps.  Richie was hilarious at the pre-race meeting, starting us off by stating. "Last night I marked the entire course with orange arrows... They are not there anymore."  Phil McCarthy did go back out pre-race and re-mark over Ritchie's faded marks for us and it was perfect.

We ran a flower shaped course on park paths (asphalt, some torn up by the storm), with the stem consisting of a half mile hill to the flower petal part that loops around the park for about 2 miles just before we head back down the stem to the turn around cone.

We knew about the up hill, but once in the park we continued to go up.  We had a nice fast downhill stretch, until we hit a short but pace slowing uphill which usually had a nice head wind.  We looped back towards the path we just entered the park on allowing us to see runners ahead and behind us.  We continued to the right, meandered around the park with some more downs and uphills. There was a final steeper longish uphill section to tackle before we worked back down the long downhill section that we would then have to climb back up NINE MORE TIMES :).

The course was not "easy." But I don't think it was "hard" either.  I found it "challenging but well balanced."  Just when my legs would burn from an up, we had a down hill that I used to shake things out and make up lost time.   I ran every single step of this, so I can't say it was not runnable.

The Race.
An 8 minute pace for 31 miles sounded like it could hurt.  But the gun went off and like Pavlov's dog I just reacted.  Off I went, settling down behind the first 3 men.  Within the first mile, the guys started to pick it up and I let them pull off ahead.  I didn't think I should be dipping too deep into the 7:00 minute pace range just yet or ever during this race.

I ran the entire loop, feeling really good but I failed to look at my loop split.  I slowed at the Aid Station, grabbed a gatorade, drank half a cup, tossed it in the trash and did the loop again.  At this point I was running by myself (and pretty much ran alone the entire race with the exception of passing people I was lapping).

(Fueling:) In the morning I had coffee and ate a Cherry Almond Bonk Breaker Bar.  I  drank a small can of Mt Dew and small bottle of gatorade during the car ride over. I also ate a banana.  Before the race I took 4 Endurolytes just for insurance.  I stuck two gels in my pockets and lined up at the start when we were finally ready to go.  I only drank gatorade at the Aid Station, about 9 cups of a few oz each minus what I accidentally spilled on someone's leg (I am so sorry). That was it for the 31 miles.

After the second lap, I decided I was going to try run non-stop through lap 5, taking that gel at mile 11 and then assess how I felt.  I hit lap 2 and noticed the clock read 50 minutes.  25 minutes per lap.  I wondered how long I could run 25 minute laps.

I start to think about how 30 minute laps equals 4 hours with 8 to go and that would be a sub-5 hour 50k on a windy day.  But as I ended lap 3, I passed a man who advised of some very inspiring race data.  He called out. "First Female! 6 minutes behind the lead men!"  Since we were on the out and back and I would see him again in a few minutes, I asked him to please let me know how many minutes I had on the second place female.

The 5th place runner caught me at the turn around.  We ran together a bit and as the two women in 2nd and 3rd were running down the hill as we went up.  He commented "Wow! Those women are in the 50k! They are flying!"  This made me think either he was in the 30k or he thought I was.  I asked him what he was racing and he said "The 50k."  I said, "Then you are flying too!" I still don't think he realized I was running the whole thing until he saw me still running on lap 7.  I saw my scout on the way back and he reported "4-5 minutes!"  So by the start of lap 4 I had just over a half mile lead.

This made me feisty and I pulled away from the 5th place guy.  I dropped some speed on the downhill and then reeled myself back in.  I noticed that I had put over 5 minutes on the women by the time I saw them next.  They were either walking the hill or slowing down.  I settled down and just tried to stay steady. The next split I noticed was 2:04:49.  This was at the half way point.  I still felt good.  This was a PR paced split giving me a few minutes of fade.  I decided to take my second gel about mile 20 and hoped to still be on PR pace by then.

I was working one lap at a time, not walking but wondering if that hill would break me.  The next split was 2:29 and I was pleased to discover it was still 25 minutes.  I finished lap 7, with 3 to go, the clock read 2:54.  Again 25 minutes.

I believe I lapped 3rd place female and saw the second place on some part of the course that let me know I could possibly catch her too before the end of the race.  I was still feeling good, but I wanted to be sure I had enough energy to get through.

I kept repeating to myself... "Working 8,  then work 9, then finish 10!"  I finished lap 8 at 3:19. Another 25 minute lap! "Working 9, then finish 10!" At some point, I lapped second place female.

I had done the math and knew if I came through under 3:45 for lap 9 I had a shot at sub 4:10 if I stayed at 25 minutes. I would be set up nicely to definitely run faster than my last PR of 4:13:02, even if I fade.  I was feeling ok, but I had no way to really know whether I was still on 25 minute pace.  I was looking at no data on the loop.  There were no mile marks. My watch was under my shirt sleeve.  I would hit split button but not look at the time.

I came through lap 9 to see the clock read 3:44.  OMG, Another 25 minute lap!

I tried to dig and it was hilarious.  I had nothing to dig into to.  I got up the hill, but it felt so slow.  I tried to open my stride on the first down hill, but the wind kicked up heavy on the last lap.  It felt like the wind was blowing me to a stand still on the shorter uphill.  I fought hard.  I got over the crest, used the downhills, but my stride was getting shorter and tight.  I tried to move faster, but just past half of the loop,I started to feel like I was struggling a lot.

But I was so proud!  This is the time to struggle.  I knew I just needed to get through 1 mile with one last steeper hill before I could use the downhill to pick up speed.  I keep fighting to lift my legs. I was sure my pace was slowing but it would be ok.  I would likely not break 4:10, but I should still PR.  I knew I did my best and I was happy!

I hit the final down hill and tried to run as fast as my legs would go.  I did get some speed.  As I turned towards the finish, I could see the clock it was still under 4:10!  I did run another 25 minute lap! But it was too close to the end of 4:09 for me to get there before it flipped.

Phil was awesome.  He caught me as I finished, giving me a hug that really served to kept me on my feet.  I mumbled something about wanting to see my split sheet because I didn't get my laps I think I ran really even.  He later wrote them all down for me, doing some quick math and expressing that he was  impressed that all my loops were so even.  When someone like Phil McCarthy (our 48 hour American Record holder) sounds impressed by something I ran, it just makes my day!

I was also proud that I was never lapped by the lead men.  I believe the first male was only 16 minutes ahead of me.

Time: 4:10:07
1st Female
4th place OA

Here are my splits:

Lap 1   24:37
Lap 2   50:22 (25:45)
Lap 3  1:15:35 (25:13)
Lap 4  1:40:16 (24:41)
Lap 5  2:04:49 (24:33)
Lap 6  2:29:30 (24:41)
Lap 7  2:54:30 (25:00)
Lap 8  3:19:29 (24:59)
Lap 9  3:44:40 (25:11)
Lap 10 4:10:07 (25:27)

Only a 68 second difference btw fastest lap 1 and slowest lap 2

I thought I had run that cold out of my system, but it looks like today is rest day as I feel sicker than I did yesterday or the day before.  Not bad, but not perfect.  Regardless, a runner's high is enough to make me feel good even when I feel badly!

Thank you for reading!

Race Photos:

1 comment:

  1. I am so impressed!!!! Way to go, girl! You are amazing!!!!!