May 12, 2009

Race Report: Long Island Greenbelt 50K 25K


Trying to look good for the camera with 1 mile to go

I'm in a slump.

My running just hasn't been right the last two months. Something's been off. And - my motivation has been off. Weight has been up. Which causes the motivation to drop more. Which causes my training to drop off. Which causes the weight to go up. And so it spirals..

As such, I was not looking forward to this race. Running 31 miles through the trails of long island just did not appeal to me on this month. For two weeks prior to the race, the dread was building and it did not stop. When I woke up the morning of the race at 5am after being up til midnight and saw the heavy pouring rain, thought about the 7:30am 50K start time and decided to take it easy. The 25K had an 8:30am start time. Much more appealing.

I arrived at 7:45am and informed them that I'd like to switch to the 25K. After declining an offer to start the 50K late (no thanks..) I got checked in waited for the start. At exactly 8:30am, race director extraordinaire Nick Palazzo started us off under overcast skies with no rain but high humidity.

The first (and last) half-mile of the course runs on the asphalt streets of plainview and I quickly decided that I ought to walk the hills, even the mild road ones, even though I was only going 15 miles today. I'm glad I did. Many of my runs start feeling crappy and I fall into a rhythm within a mile where I start feeling fine - that didn't happen this day. My run started out crummy and only got worse from there.

The trail was actually not that bad - yes there was mud but it was isolated and usually avoidable. I actually learned something on this run - it's sometimes better just to go straight through the middle of a puddle because the dirt is actually more solid there than it is at the edges.

The course, by the way, is an out-and-back (50K'rs do it twice) north from Plainview to Cold Spring Harbor. The southern portion of it is quite nice with few road crossings and two well-stocked aid stations. I would have really enjoyed this if I felt better. There are rolling hills that take their toll but they aren't too bad. Then, at about mile 5, at the northern extreme of the course, the trail turns into a sadistically unrelenting series of short but steep hills, that can only be described as nasty.


2681 feet of elevation gain, 5632 ft of total change in 15.5 miles

Suffice it to say, coming out of it with 5 miles to go, I was shot. I've gone 40 miles longer than this without feeling this bad. It just wasn't my day. I slogged it in at 18-20 minutes per mile and just endured the last part of the course. I ran when I can, but it was very painful. To make matters worse, I was chaffed, probably as a result of the humidty. The mud which wasn't so bad on the way out had gotten pretty nasty in parts on the way back. I just wanted it to be over. When I finally did finish in 4:04, 82nd place out of 92, I was extremely relieved that I didn't have to do it again.

Race organizers had a great finish line set up, people were hanging around talking and eating the great food -- but I wasn't in much of a mood to hang out, so after eating a couple of sandwiches I left.

And it's such a shame that I didn't have a good time.

This is a great race. It's run by great people. A great course. Absolutely no complaints about it all. Yet, I had a miserable experience, one of my worst race experiences ever, and it completely my fault and my problems that made it bad.