Saturday, November 19, 2016

Race Report - 2016 JFK 50 Mile

Sharing some miles with trail runner extraordinaire and team mate Dink Taylor.
After my DNF at Pinhoti, I had gone back and forth about running this race this year. While my hip injury had disappeared as fast as it had appeared during the race, I really wasn't trained to race JFK. My body still felt tired and I knew it would be a bad idea to toe the line, but I was going to travel to Maryland anyway, since my wife was running her first JFK and we had a whole Fleet Feet team going, so I figured I might as well slug it out for my third consecutive JFK finish. After all, it was already paid for:-)

JFK weekend is always a great way to finish up a year of ultra running. It's the oldest and largest ultra in the country and a highlight for many ultrarunners. More than 1000 runners usually toe the start line and this year was no different. It was cold, but not quite as cold as the previous two years. As usual, we all received the rockstar treatment thanks to great people like Luke and Dink and the folks that make this race happen. 

Since this wasn't the first or second time I ran this race, I will keep it brief. Yeah, I know, hard to believe. We got our race packets, met the race director and took a cool group picture before we had our usual pre race dinner, but with a larger than usual group of friends, which was great. We arrived back at the hotel with plenty of time to lay out our gear for the next morning. Dink and I bunked together while our ladies team including my wife Anya, Kathy and Dana shared the room next door.

On race morning, Luke's brother hooked us up with a sweet van, as usual, that we took to the race start. We had stashed one car at the finish and stayed in the van until 5 minutes before race time. Everyone as wearing an extra layer or two that we planned to shed later on, usually once we got off the Appalachian Trail about 15 miles into the race, which is what I did.

Most of us stayed together for the first few miles of the race. Dink and I started to pull ahead just a little towards the end of the AT section and then I pulled ahead a minute during the descend off the AT. I waited at the beginning of the tow path section to run the next miles with Dink. We settled into a nice and steady pace, but around the marathon mark, Dink had to drop back a little. I continued on alone, waiting for the blow up. I decided to keep it steady and to allow myself to walk a little once I arrived at mile 42, where runners exit the tow path and enter the final 8 mile stretch of rolling road miles to the finish. That became my mantra as the miles got harder, "just make it to mile 42".

Finishing just in time before the hail and sleet started.
But when I finally got to mile 42, the wind picked up and the temps dropped 20 degrees within seconds. WTF! No way could I walk in this. I would be hypothermic within minutes and not even finish this thing. I soldered on, running s best I could, but it wasn't pretty. Now it was just about getting it done and crossing the finish line for my third JFK medal. When I crossed the finish line, it wasn't my slowest or my fastest finish. I finished and that's all that mattered and I was in reasonably good condition. No hotspots or blisters, no muscle aches or pains, just some slight "chafage". 

After the race, we had our usual post race group dinner and it was much fun as always. At the end of the day, our women's team won the women's team competition and the men's team took third overall. Pretty cool result at such a historic event. And we even found some time to get our edumacation on at the Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. before having to catch our flight back home on Sunday.

Dorkin' it up in front of space shuttle Discovery at the Air and Space Museum in DC before our flight home.

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