May 17, 2010

Race Report: 3 Days at the Fair 48-hour

I always thought "3 Days at the Fair" was a weird name for an ultra. For a series of races with names like, "Muddy Marathon", "Running with the Devil", and "Mountain Madness 50K", 3Days seems .. out of place. And, as a practical matter, it's inconvenient. How do you assign a twitter hashtag to "3 days at the fair"?? Do you bother correcting friends when they ask, "Are you running that 48 hours in new jersey thing?"

Ultimately, this is a small issue, and not a decision for me to make anyway. On the other hand, this is my blog, and I can call the race whatever I want.

Following is my race report for the "DEATH BY ASPHALT" 48-hour race in Augusta, New Jersey.

I had the pleasure of running this race with some great friends - especially Shannon McGinn, Meredith Murphy, Tom Sperduto, and Ray "The Cesspool of Ultrarunning Knowledge" Krolewicz. Also present were Eddie Murphy, Zoey Murphy (about to celebrate her first birthday!), and Iliana Dimitrova - Iliana drove up from NYC and paced me through my darkest hours in the middle of the night while most everyone else was sleeping. Iliana - you're the best. Thanks. And of course, Race Director Rick and his family are incredible hosts who did everything they possibly could to make the race as pleasurable as possible for us. It was incredible.

Then, as an added bonus, more friends including Frank "rundangerously" Coella, Emmy Stocker, and Susan Warren (who won the woman's 24 - congrats, Susan) showed up early Saturday morning to run the 24-hour race. Last-minute entrants!

And even with all of these great friends, my only regret is leaving early before yet another friend, Cherie Yanek could arrive and pace us for a few laps.

So, what about you, Steve?

"Having trouble with the heat and humidity, Steve? Go sit in the INDUSTRIAL REFRIGERATOR we have at the Aid Station!"

I left after 24.5 hours. After a long long LONG time feeling really really crappy, I rebounded and felt great for a few laps. But - I knew I had to leave in the afternoon (I wasn't planning on staying the entire 48 hours) and was advised to take it easy. I knew I wouldn't be able to hit 100 miles before 3 or 4 pm, so I opted to leave in the morning and get a head start on weekend errands.


Embedded Garmin Connect Log above - if you can't see it, click here.

There were moments in this race where I honestly felt "this is the crappiest I've ever felt in an ultra in my life." And the lows lasted a long, long, LONG (did I remember to tell you it was long?) time. They say that It Never Always Gets Worse, but that certainly seemed to be the case as the humid Friday afternoon continued on.

So - speaking frankly - the factors working against me were the heat/humidity, the asphalt surface, and my bodyweight, which is 305.6 lbs this morning. It made for some really miserable miles and hours. And things generally went very slowly.

Meredith Murphy put it best:
"as someone who has done many 100 mile races, includin a 25 hour PR, getting to 100 miles at the 48 hour race was extremely hard and slow going. the mental aspect is daunting, the surface was severely unforgiving, and the format just taxing inside and out. now i know why, when i see results of 48 hour races, most of the distances are so low. i did just over 100 miles and was around 18th place i think. "
Everything else about this race is top-notch. I can't say enough about the RD and his volunteers. Logistically this race will spoil you for everything else there is. A fully-equipped kitchen at every mile. You make an order as you come through and they have it for you on the next lap. Seriously! "I'd like a grilled cheese." "No problem!" And sitting out there the next time you come through 0.85 miles later is a hot buttered perfectly-grilled cheese sammich. Really - this is an excellent race and you can do a lot worse than participate in it.

Seemingly proving that everything is all mental, when I decided at 23.5 hours that I was going to leave at 24, I put two of my best laps of the race in. And finished very strongly. The scorekeeper asked me to do one more lap after 24 hours just to help him keep his sanity (technical reasons), and I happily obliged as I took off to run half a lap to catch Tom and walk with him for a little bit to finish. Really, it's mental.

My official numbers:
Time: 24:27:57
Distance: 61.76 mi

In terms of distance, the second-longest I've ever run, And twice as far as I've ever run on asphalt. In terms of duration, the longest I've ever run. by far.

Unofficially - Elevation Gain: 936 ft

Here's some more photos of the course for your viewing pleasure
A horse show! Cool!

Coming through the main aid station and start/finish

All sorts of the kind of stuff you'd see at a fair

Snack bar turned into aid station

Eddie and Zoey holding down the Murphy fort

Main aid station and start/finish from another angle

Greenhouse. They had a chicken show in this area as well. At dawn, this part of the course was noisy with rooster calls.

They've got golf carts. We weren't allowed to use them - pity, I might have gotten to 100 if I could have driven.

Asphalt.

Asphalt.

Asphalt.

Asphalt.

We had a brief (~100-yard?) reprieve from asphalt every loop

Love my asphalt breaks

By Saturday, the equestrian show was all set up and going on and it was fun to watch!

Equestrian!

Equestrian!

Asphalt.

Crew and tents

My drum. I tapped it on every lap.

Shannon, cranking them out early in the race.

My tent/dropbag

New entries for Steve's blog are published every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 10:00am NY time