Nov 26, 2010

NYRRC Knickerbocker 60K: 9:39:something

I suppose that if 37.2 bone-crushing miles of hilly asphalt wouldn't serve as a wake up call, nothing will. Time will tell if this wake-up call stands a test of time that will produce real results, but, from the very first mile, I just felt... heavy. And I crashed early, and basically walked the last 20 miles - a few isolated instances of running, but mostly - walked.

The day was otherwise great!

With friends, trying to stay warm before the race

I forgot how awesome a running venue Central Park is. There were a million people there! And they were so fast! The people who run in The Park are real deal.. people routinely whoosh by at sub 6-minute pace.. it's really cool to see.

And they were also so excited! I've never run an ultra with so much crowd support. Most of them presumably had little or no idea that an ultra was going on in the park that day, so I guess they saw "60K" on our race bibs. I've never seen so many people cheering in any race, NYC Marathon notwithstanding. People were giving me high-fives, and way-to-gos, and great-jobs all day long!

Anyway, Laps 1 and 2 were pretty typical early-ultra miles. Walked all the hills, except when I didn't. In laps 3 and 4, I really did walk all the hills. In Lap 5, my friend Moses, who recently completed the NYC marathon, rode his bike down from New Jersey and hung out with me for an entire lap (which must have seemed excruciatingly slow for him.) It was great to talk to someone for an hour! That would turn out to be my last sub-1 hour lap. Lap 6 is the first time I felt unable to run, and I basically walked the entire lap. In the past, walking a lap like this has allowed me to recover enough that I could start running again; not today. I walked all of lap 7, too.

At the end of lap 6, a volunteer told me that I had 2 hours and 20 minutes to complete the race - that there was an 8:30 cutoff. Under normal circumstances, 12 miles in 2:20 would be no problem - but not after 25 miles and especially not when I felt so... fat.

Anyway, in the first half of lap 7, I figured that I would take a DNF after 8 laps, due to missing a cutoff. But at some point in the loop I thought, "that's lame" and realized that, aside from having an official finish, there is absolutely no reason or excuse for me not to complete 9 laps. So when I finished lap 7 and the same volunteer told me she was wrong, and the cutoff was actually 8 hours and not 8.5, I didn't really care. On lap 8, I was largely on my own. Still walking most of it, here is actually where I ran more than about 15% of the loop. So when I came around after the 8-hour cutoff, most of the volunteers were gone, but a few people and all the equipment were still there.

One asked, "Are you finished?"

"1 more to go."


... and he gave no indication that I wouldn't be finishing the race. The volunteer who had told me about the cutoff was gone. At this point I really thought I could do the last lap faster, but despite my best effort, it turned out mostly a walk. The sun set and it got dark on this lap. I snapped a photo with the moon in the background on the home stretch.

Home stretch: 1/2 mile to go.

When I got to the point where I could see the finish line, I couldn't see anybody. The timing mat, the tents, the barriers - all the equipment was gone. Maybe the volunteer was right.
It wasn't until I was actually at the finish line when I saw a man waiting. He walked up to me, looked at my watch, and asked if I had my time. He wrote it down on a folded up piece of paper. Cool! I'm going to get an official finish after all! I asked if I was the last person, and he told me there was one more person on the course. I thanked him for waiting and said goodbye.

"Wait a minute, I've got a plaque for you." And he handed me this totally unexpected and ultra-cool plaque!

Cool Plaque!!

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  1. Nice job Steve. You showed up and I did not. Remind me about this next year.

  2. I don't know how you do it, but I'm glad you do. It's really inspiring to read that you finished it even after being told you wouldn't make the cutoff. Well done Steve.

  3. Way to stick with it and finish! And props to the RD for giving you an official finish and an ultra-cool plaque!

  4. I'm delighted for you, Steve. :) I was there that day pacing a friend for his last 3 and a half laps, and I remember seeing you. When I remarked to my friend about your obvious commitment despite your pace, he said "That's Steve Tursi. He's in the ultra community." Some day soon, I hope to be as well. :)