Monday, November 24, 2008

JFK 50 miler story: Why I ran so fast in my last miles

JFK 50 miler is my favorite 50 miler.  Unfortunately it is also my least favorite 50 miler.  But this emotional ambiguity is part of the ultra experience.  I have not done any other 50 miler distance races; however, I do find JFK to be lots of fun.

During JFK this year I was lucky enough to have a great time and share lots of laughs and just really enjoy myself.  Unfortunately by not faking misery and unhappiness I have now lost another crew member (first it was Tristan-although he sort of kept getting fired and now my sister says she is retired from crewing and will be running next year).  This really sucks!  Now I have to break in a new crew next year.  Although I heard a rumor I may get Imelda back as my crew (and she is organized and really helpful).

Well, Cindy might have been getting close to getting fired because she ended up missing my finish.  Apparently I have a problem with suddenly speeding up at the end of races.  I thought this was only a problem in marathons, but apparently I can pretend a bear is chasing me and start running faster at the end of 50 milers.  In the last 6 miles I was passed by only 6 people and passed about 15 people (including my friend from the last several years: Don Meyer who I feel terrible about passing, he is so nice and funny and quite the character).  I also went from running 15 minute miles to sub-10 minute miles.  

Although my burst of speed at the end was slightly precipitated by giving my half zip thick shirt to a runner who was clearly hypothermic.  I had seen her running at mile 27 or so when this runner passed me.  Unfortunately right after we passed the mile 46 aid station, I ran up behind her and observed her gait was really bad (staggering a bit all over the road with completely straight was not good).  The first year I ran JFK I had a similar issue and was very cold.  But this year with high temperatures in the mid-30's at best was not a good year to be slowing down.  And at this point the temperature was dropping precipitiously as the sun was slowly setting.  I asked her if she was okay but the poor young lady was just crying.  She said she was in alot of pain.  There was nothing I could do about that.  But she was shivering.  I said I would go get help and started running ahead.  But after about 50 feet I realized I would probably warm up, so I turned around and jogged back to her.  I took off my half zip thick shirt and gave it to her and started running to get help.  I finally got to the next aid station (they were spaced about 1.5 miles apart) and found someone to help me.  I told the first spectator I saw that there was a girl was in really bad shape about 800 meters back.  It was easy to describe her because my shirt and jacket were an ensemble.  By the time I made it to the aid station about 200 meters further on, the volunteers were able to confirm medical was on the way to help her.   By this time I realized I needed to keep moving to make sure I did not get chilled.    So I learned a bit about myself during this race.  I learned that if I am highly motivated that I can run alot faster for alot further than I thought.  I also confirmed that there is nothing wrong with having too many layers or too many back ups. 

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