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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Yom Kippur Ultra Marathon

Well, this was really called the Staten Island 6-hour run, but it was also held on Yom Kippur so I think my name is appropriate. The day started out heavily overcast and foggy, for which I was glad. It was kind of warm and running in the sun would have been a drag. The course was in Clove Lake Park along a 2 mile loop. It wasn’t actually a loop, but consisted of a single straightaway with a loop on each end of it. There were only two minor hills, but I’ll tell you once you started running 30+ miles they began to feel like mountains, especially when you were trying to maintain an even pace.

I had two goals for the day. The first was to see how far I could go without food or water and the second was simply to see how far I could go. I ran for the first hour without taking anything in. I was running really well though, so I decided that if I wanted to keep doing so, it would be in my best interest to start eating and drinking. So much for my Yom Kippur fast.

For a while I was running with the same people loop after loop. I kept trading places with some guy wearing the number 3 for a while. Eventually though I dropped everyone around me as I was able to maintain an even pace and even slightly quickened pace. Pretty soon I was started to lap the other runners. In fact I lapped everyone except the first 5 finishers. I came in 7th place overall. The 6th place finisher was the winning female runner who only had about 1 mile more than me. I ran a total of 38.4 miles. Short of my goal of 42, but I was very happy with my finish. In fact, this was the best I’ve ever finished overall in any race I’ve ever done. Perhaps I have a future career in ultra running.

I didn’t have any profound thoughts while running. I didn’t get bored and I never really felt like stopping. I just felt like running and I did all that I was capable of. I did think that I went out a little too fast, judging by the way I started to slow down at the end. I was glad it wasn’t a 50 mile race, because another 12 miles would have been very painful. I have no regrets though as I wanted to see what I could do. Since there was no set distance or finish line, I could quit the race anytime I wanted. I stopped running one minute and thirty seconds before the 6 hour mark. Towards the end of the race, you were transitioned from the 2 mile loop to a shorter .4 mile loop to facilitate scoring. I did one small loop, and saw how little time was left and decided to get a jump on the massage tables rather than to add a quarter mile to my distance. Unfortunately, they weren’t doing massages and were stretching instead. I decided to go for it anyway, which was a mistake as the next day my hip flexor was feeling irritated. I think if I did get stretched I would have been fine the next day. It’s ok now though and I’ll probably start running again tomorrow.

The highlights of the course included a small water fall. The waterfall really started to flow during the race when the sky above opened up and it started to pour. I liked having the rain hit me, but the drawback to that though was it made the dirt path just to the inside of the paved trail all muddy. I like running on the dirt to take some of the pounding off of my legs. There were also plenty of ducks and ducklings along the course. At one point a whole posse of baby ducks was in the middle of the course. It was like an obstacle course having to run around them; they certainly weren’t afraid of the runners passing them.

I knew a couple of people in the race that I met during previous ultra marathons, including the winner Byron Lane. We are both sponsored Hammer Nutrition athletes and posed for pictures together after the race with our awards. Hopefully, he will send a copy of the pictures to me soon so I can post on my blog.

I know I said in my previous post that I was going to back up this race with the Westchester Triathlon the next day. There was no way that was going to happen though. I could hardly sleep during the night from the minor aches and pains I accrued from the race. I know if I would have even attempted it, I would have suffered badly and probably not even finish in time. I decided what was the point in that? Also, I was gone all day and going to the triathlon would have meant I would have been gone two days in a row and would have deprived my wife the use of our car, which she needed to use. So all totaled it just didn’t make sense to go. Instead I took my kids to the YMCA where we all swam around for an hour or so. A much better way to recover.


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