STRAVA Summary

Monday, November 24, 2008

JFK Race Report

My first impressions of JFK are of a low tech, but well run race. It seems to attract runners of all abilities, ages and from far a field. In my previous post I had discussed the issue of temperature and weather to wear shorts or not. Up to half an hour prior to the race, I was still debating. I eventually decided to leave the tights on, boy was I glad of that. Kevin and myself got to Boonsboro and the high school gym a little late. The pre race briefing had already started, that was when I realized that I had left my sunglasses in the car. So I ran to get them and came back as everyone was filing out of the school and towards the start in downtown Boonsboro. When I foudn Kev still in the school he was talking to Dave Champion from Kitchener, who we had come across in the Ontario Ultra Series. He was looking for a similar time to us, around 8 hours, but he had to go to the porta john prior to the race so we left him, hopefully to see him later. It was about half a kilometer walk to the start, but that gave us time to get accustomed to the cool air, and after a while that felt OK.
The gun went off right on time and we slowly started the climb up to Mt. Washington just as the sun was coming up.
The first 9k are more or less straight up, a few dips here and there, but mostly up. We took it farily easy, but still found ourselves passing lots of people as we climbed, once we passed the first aid station we found ourselves on paved trail and climbed more and we walked a lot of the up hills here. To the top of the mountain we felt good, but had to keep reminding each other we had a long way to go. Once the paved trail ended we found ourselves on single track which over time got more technical as we went, to the point where you really had to watch your footing. On this part of the course I got talking to a young guy from Knoxville, TN called CJ, he was only 18. Finally after about 25k we emerged to an aid station which signalled the start of the 26.3 miles of tow path along the old C & O canal. A this point we crossed the rail tracks which have stopped runners in the past, as well as today. We heard trains before we got there and later. We also saw a train go by not long after being on the trail.
The Tow Path was easily the hardest part of the race as far as I was concerned, not for the difficulty of the terrrain or anything, but mentally it was tough get through this part, you get a couple of hours into a race and still know that you have 30k or more before you get a change of scenery. Through out this part of the race we were continually passing or being passed by the same people, most of them seemed to be veterans. Our strategy (if you could call it that) was to run for as long as possible, then walk for a short while, then run again. Along the tow path I thought it might warm up some, but no. The wind was still in our face and it was still cold, glad I left the tights on. This was the first time in a race that I tried hot (actually warm) soup, and it was great. Easy to digest and warmed the insides a bit. Also started to drink Coke at the aid stations. (Probably the most Coke I have ever drank in day since I was a kid).
When we got to the 2nd last aid station on the tow path, there seemed to be a back log of runners. So I didn't linger long and soon we found ourselves alone, I started to second guess whether or not we were on the right trail, but there were no other options. So on we went and gradually we caught up to more runners. We hit the last aid station on the path and turned up a long climb to the "rolling hills", 8 miles to go. At first I found this part hard, Kevin would run ahead and wait at each aid station (which were getting closer together at this point). Now hot chocolate and potatoes were offered, Kevin was getting into the M&M's big time. As we hit the last 3 - 4 miles I seemed to get a spurt of energy and pushed hard and now Kevin started to have issues. Anyway we beat the rolling hills and turned the last corner and pushed it for the last 1/2k into the finish. Finishing at 8:39, 97th & 98th place out 1000 runners. We ran into Dave again and he had finished in 8:08, his better training regime had paid off for him. It's Tuesday now and as I sit here, the stiffness is subsiding and I'm feeling rather good. I didn't feel any worse than if I'd run a marathon, and feel that it I could do that again easily. As I've heard from others, these Ultras are mostly mental and I found that out from about 30k in to about 70k, after that it was toughing it out to finish, which we did.

1 comment:

Marci said...

Great race report and congratulations. Nice medal!