Mar 2, 2009

Race Report: Caumsett State Park 50K


Immediately after finishing

The Caumsett state park 50K and 25K races, held by the Greater Long Island Running Club, consists of just over 13 2.35 mile laps of an asphalt loop on Lloyd's Neck, in Huntington, NY. There are 2 or 3 hills per loop, but it was otherwise largely flat. For the fourth year, Caumsett was chosen as the USA Track & Field 50K road national championships, so some speedy runners came out to run, including at least one guy who completed the course in under 3 hours.

Having misjudged the time to travel to Caumsett, I was atypically late, arriving only a half-hour before the scheduled start and rather stressed out. I jumped out of the car and into the back of a budget rent-a-truck, which was shuttling runners from the parking lot to the finish line, about a mile away. Check-in was quick and non-eventful, so I was ready on time. The race, however wasn't, and ended up starting about 15 minutes late.

Weather was forecast to be really nasty. Wintry mix with lots of wind. It was bad enough that a 3-mile social fun run in central park that was being held that day was canceled because of weather concerns. As it turns out, the roadway never got wet. The worst precipitation we had was a few flurries. And while there were some nasty gusts, most of the time the wind was calm, even when exposed to Long Island Sound.

There is about a 1/3 mile walk from the finish area to the start, and after waiting around a bit I started walking. almost as soon as I got there, the race started and we were off. I ran the first lap or two with Andy, a person who befriended me at my first 50K last april where we walked together for about 15 miles, again at another 50K in January, and of course at this 50K. Andy and I talked about race plans, and about how he's going to do the self-transcendence 6-day race in two months.

We said early on that a 30-minute per lap pace would be an interesting thing to strive for, and it didn't take much time before I realized that would result in about a 6:35 time. It didn't seem realistic, but I figured what the hell, I'll try it. Clearly, my original plan of going easy this whole race just to have a long run in are out the window. And I've not even gone a mile yet!

Lap 1: 28:26
While there was no precipitation, it was indeed cold, below freezing, so I ran the first lap in my gore-tex jacket. It wasn't long before I got really warm, so I decided to stash it at the end of this lap. I wasn't aware of my time this lap, although except that I was somewhere around 30 minutes.

Lap 2: 27:59
Holy smokes, including the stop to remove my jacket at the beginning, this lap was under 28 minutes! I was still blissfully unaware of my time, but in retrospect, wow.

Lap 3: 28:04
By now I was definitely noticing that my laps were considerably faster than 30 minutes, but I wasn't thinking about that. I was thinking that I shouldn't have removed my gloves at the beginning of lap 2, and I should have put them back on at the beginning of lap 3. Regrets!

Lap 4: 28:44
Another really fast lap, probably my fastest lap when you take into account that I did put my gloves back on at the beginning of this lap, and took a bathroom break while I was there. My hands were so cold that I had literally lost the use of my thumbs! Wore gloves the rest of the race. No more problems.

Lap 5: 27:46
I finished this lap really fast, and really aware of the fact that I just had a 27-minute lap. I had also gotten quite tired. With 8 laps to go, I freaked a bit at how fast I was going, and decided to sell some time back on Lap 6. I also started having some stomach problems.

Lap 6: 32:36
Having gone so hard the first 5 laps, I knew that I was asking for trouble for the last few, so I walked a lot of this lap. I finished this lap right at 3 hours, still on pace for a 6:30 finish, but I'd need an even split to do it. The walking allowed my stomach to recover.

Lap 7: 29:40
This was a perfectly-run lap, the only perfect lap of the race.

Lap 8: 31:09
The legs started feeling pretty sore on this lap, and stomach problems were returning with a vengence. Walked a lot.

Lap 9: 36:03
5 minutes of this lap were spent in the bathroom. That bathroom is where I lost my chance at a 6:30 finish. That's the bad news. The good news is that is also the last time I had stomach problems the whole race!

Lap 10: 32:32
Don't remember much about this lap, but I was definitely walking a lot by now. I was really feeling the asphalt surface in my knees! Note to self: Run trail races, not road races!

Lap 11: 32:05
With three laps to go, I had started to see the end on the horizon. Had my music on really loud and let it motivate me to run when I could. Started feeling aerobically fatigued for the first time.

Lap 12: 33:33
My slowest lap. It just dragged. Really regretting going so fast in the first few laps, I'd have a chance at an even split.

Lap 13: 32:57
The final lap went by quickly as it always does. For the first time in the race, I ran (didn't walk) the steepest hill of the course right before the finish line. As I turned the corner, I saw alex and joe for the first time since jumping on that truck at 8am. He ran across the finish line with me. That's always fun.


joey and i finishing the race! (note - there was a corresponding 25K championship race going on, hence the sign.)

My official finish time was 6:47:34, good for a 24-minute PR! My average pace through the race was 13:08. That would have put my marathon split right at around 5:43 - my marathon PR is 5:49. So it was a good run for me.

After the race we went into a warm building where, of course, I quickly tightened up. It was very painful, so I stretched out as much as I could and tried to relax. We hung out in there about a half-hour before a shuttle came to take us back to the parking lot, where we got in the car and headed home. We stopped for a couple of slices of pizza for lunch, and got some coffee. The total drive was about 2 hours, during which my legs tightened up painfully several times.

So, my intention was to run really easy, and I didn't. And running on asphalt didn't help. My legs were hurting, so I decided that an ice bath would be wise. Fun fact of the day: God gave us ice baths just so he could laugh while looking at the faces of grown men as they get into them. However, ice baths work: I've not felt any muscle pains at all since. There is some joint pain, which I'm attributing to the asphalt surface that I'm just not accustomed to.

This was my first long run in brand new drymax socks - I was preparing for a wet, sloppy race - but wet and sloppy never happened. Nevertheless, I did get a few blisters this race, but I didn't feel them during. I think they're actually the same blisters that I got 3 weeks ago at Rocky Raccoon, and they hadn't completely healed - so they came back with this first long run since then.

So that's my report. Next on my calendar is the Big Sur International Marathon on April 26th. I will have an exciting post about that in about a week.

A couple of people have asked about my celebration dinner:

Extra-rare steak, rice, baclava from Fontana, and a guinness. My kind of meal.