Apr 21, 2008

Race Report: my first Ultramarathon

I'm pooped. (:

I don't have time right now to write a lot about the race, so this blog post is just going to be a bunch of bullet points. Probably easier to read that way anyway.

As most of you know, yesterday I ran the Jack Bristol Lake Waramaug 50K ultramarathon. 50 kilometers = 31 miles, about 5 miles longer than the regular marathon of 26.2 miles. I finished in 7 hrs 43 minutes, a little slower than I expected, but that's not important because I wasn't doing it for a time, but rather for a finish.

I sent a number of text messages to both my wife and to twitter during the race, which actually are turning out to be a nice log of what happened:

7:20am At the starting line of the 50K. I was running late and had no coffee this morning. Fun time ahead!!
7:29am One minute to start!!!
9:17am 8.3 miles in.. Just grabbed pbj at an aid station. Feeling ok so far
9:37am Heart rate over 160. Not feeling tired, but walking a little to get it under control. A little foot pain.
9:56am 20 miles to go! Some of the faster runners are lapping me now.
10:29am Half marathon in 2:28. Right on my target.
11:04am Past the halfway point now. Gotta be patient...
11:15am Pain in stomach, right leg, both feet. Not bad but annoying. No more long runs in these shoes after today.
12:31pm Mile 21
1:01pm Mile 23 my hands are swollen
1:11pm Mile 23.7 just 7 to go
1:55PM just passed 26.2 the marathon distance
2:50pm almost to mile 30.. just over a mile to 31
3:04pm home stretch.. less than a mile to go
3:13pm finished 31 miles in 7hrs 43 mins... that is what I call a long run.

I went to bed last night at 8pm and my sleep was kind of restless, I guess because of leg pain. Woke up at 7am, and even now I'm kind of groggy and tired. Today I am sore and sunburned. Walking around the office slowly, but not limping. Feeling a little light-headed and groggy. Not hungry or craving any food, but rather thirsty.

Thanks to my new friend Andy Cable, who caught up to me around mile 15 and stuck with me until about mile 29, until I started jogging for the finish. Just two weeks prior to this, Andy had completed the Umstead 100-mile endurance run - and here I was talking about all the pain I was going through for a measly 31 miles. I'm such a wuss. (:

Also thanks to my other new friend Annette, who ran with Andy and I for about about 5 miles near the end.

Both of you's made a long race much shorter.

Other thoughts:
* On December 15 I was 270 lbs, today I'm 300 lbs. I really felt the weight I put on over winter, especially in my knees - a pain I'm not really accustomed to. Because of yesterday, I am officially going into aggressive weight loss mode, and you can expect to see a few posts about my progress there.
* I think I really am starting to know what to expect regarding my two 50-mile races this fall. I *must* put in some serious training, especially long runs. Consistently.
* I met a guy who has run at least 1 mile per day, every day, for the last 27 years. Interesting but brief conversation.
* Asphalt sucks, I am going to do a lot more trails for now on.
* My shoes - new balance 992s - I should have my head examined. I've worn them on a lot of shorter runs without incident, but never on a long run. For some reason I chose to run in them yesterday rather than in my tested and true long-run shoes, and I paid for it with foot pain, and maybe the knee pain too.
* I was able to manage my heart rate effectively for most of the race, didn't experience any sort of "creep" because I was going pretty easy. Pretty consistently 120s to lower 130s when walking, 150s when jogging. I don't think I ever broke 170.
* I did have some brief episodes of stomach pain. Not sure why, I wish I could remember what I ate prior to the pain. They didn't last too long, though.
* depending on who you talk to, swollen hands indicate either too much, or too little water. or too much, or too little salt. I'll have to do some research to see what the deal is.
* patience paid off. I was able to cross the finish line without killing myself by taking it really easy for most of the race. I had plenty in the tank for the 2-mile kick at the end. In fact, almost all of my discomfort both today and yesterday came just from being on my feet for so long, not for putting in too much effort..
* they have some well-stocked aid stations at ultras. PBJ and turkey sandwiches, chips, candy, cookies, coke, advil, salt capsules, gatorade and water.
* The volunteers, all of whom are also ultrarunners, were really helpful - not just in handing out gatorade, but also in giving advice, motivation and just saying the right things - which i thought was very cool.

Very happy to have my first ultra behind me. I can already tell, the experience I gained yesterday will be absolutely invaluable for my plans later this year. stay tuned to this blog and to twitter for updates on how those plans and their training are progressing!


Apr 16, 2008


joey's self-portrait

just some quick updates...

This weekend, I am running my first ultra - a 50K (31 mile) in Connecticut, at the lake waramaug ultras. If anyone will be around, please say hi. http://www.roadntracksports.com/LWUM/

I have added to my calendar two new events: a walkathon for cancer, and a century ride. in the walkathon, you have 18 hours. my impression is that most people only go for a small portion of that (someone from the team needs to be on the track at all times, that's the only requirement), but i'm kind of interested in the moving all night aspect of many 100-milers, and maybe this thing will be an opportunity to do that on a smaller scale. http://events.cancer.org/RFLrocklandNY

also added is a century, a 100-mile bicycle ride in june. and since my judgement is totally out of whack, i may go for the 145 mile nyc to montauk option. we'll see. http://ridetomontauk.org/

had my first race of the year this last weekend:
hook mountain half marathon in 2:27:58 http://www.windcoweb.com/hookhalf/

april total thus far: 33 miles run/walked.
total in 2008 to date: 104.5 miles

finally, i was really inspired watching a documentary on the badwater ultra, called 'running on the sun.' go check it out if you haven't already.

Apr 4, 2008

beginning of April update

Look not at the fat guy, but at the photographer's reflection


How can it be?

Actually, I am pretty much all better now. But a very bizarre incident involving my ankle sidelined me for about ten days at the end of march and I'm feeling fatter than ever. With the new job (I got a new job BTW), I can't say I've spent a lot of time thinking about my exercise, and much less my diet, but it is something that I need to think about.

I still haven't run a step, but that will change this weekend as I do my last long run in preparation for my first ultramarathon, a 50K in connecticut, in two weeks' time. The strategy for that race will be just to hang out in the back of the pack, go as slow as I need to in order to complete the 31 miles in relative comfort. I actually am pretty well-trained, and feel rather unconcerned about my ability to complete the 50k, however having an extra LSD in the bank this weekend buys me a little insurance, something that can't hurt.

I've not been completely without exercise though. My new job is close enough to home that I can walk there, and I've logged a total a 5 miles walking on the bad ankle. Also did a power spin class on Wednesday, and completed it without incident.

So yeah. In case you haven't heard, I got a new job.

I'm pretty psyched about this. It's more of a pure java development position than what I was placed in at GE. And I feel like I'm really contributing to the team and learning a ton at the same time. The situation at GE was that they were hiring developers and putting them in positions that largely included end user support and monitoring tasks - a situation that resulted in an employee turnover rate pretty close to 100%. The new job is not like it - and there's something nice about the fact that all I'm expected to do when I come to work is write code. Even better, in several cases I'm also tasked with designing the solution and that the guidelines are not restrictive - effectively allowing me to choose how I implement things. It's a lot of fun.

Oh, and the job is located here in Suffern. 1.8 miles away - I can (and do) walk to work.

The consequence of this, by the way, is that I've had to juggle some plans. The job started very quickly - 8 days from initial interview to first day on the job - GE waived my two weeks notice requirement - and as I result several things I had been planning on got canceled. There will be no keg-schlep up Tuckerman Ravine - because I don't want to take a day off work in my second week. As a result, there will also be no Death Race for me in 2008 - though I might go there anyway and help out. My ski season is also pretty much done - which is a particular drag considering I have some unused ski tickets. My running of course has suffered due to the injury for sure but also the mental strain of a new job (this is true for me in general) leaves me exhausted and, injured or healthy, exercise is not exactly something that I'm eager to do - this will go away when I settle into the routine.

So, bringing this full circle, I am pretty psyched about the plans I'll have this summer. I am going to push over the next couple of months or so to get back to my pre-Christmas weight by Memorial day, and then continue until I'm actually starting to get lean by labor day - which happens to be when I'm doing a 50 mile mountain ultra. And professionally, If I continue learning at half the rate that I've been this last week, perhaps I'll be a somewhat competent java developer by then, too. So things are exciting and I'm looking forward to seeing things develop.

Oh, and if you're interested in getting different than the 2 or 3 one-page updates per month this blog will provide, you can always follow me on twitter - http://twitter.com/stevetursi - and get 2 or 3 one-sentence posts per day. nice.

Totals through april 1:
Jan 2 mi
Feb 20.5 mi
Mar 49 mi
Total: 71.5 mi