A Staten Island triathlete and endurance coach ventures into the ultramarathon realm where there are seemingly no limits to human endurance. In 2013, he successfully finished the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning (picture of 2013 Grand Slam finishers above; I'm second from right), becoming only the 282nd person (since its beginnings in 1986) and only the fourth New Yorker to finish four of the oldest and most prestigious 100 mile ultramarathons in the U.S. in only 10 weeks.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

SI Trail Fest 50k and Western States 100 Entry


 Where exactly do I begin?

Well, I'll start from the beginning. I got up, ate a breakfast, showered, and shaved.

Oh, maybe I should fast-forward to the interesting parts. :-)

OK, this was Decision Day, the day I know my fate with the Western States 100 lottery. This was also the day I ran an ultra as well, the Staten Island Trail Festival 50k starting at Willowbrook Park and basically run all over the Greenbelt.

Twice.

Yeah, there was a 25k race that did one loop and a 10k that did part of a loop, but you know me. I always go for the long stuff.

And 2 loops equals 50k.

And yes, my girlfriend was running the 50k also. Along with our mutual friend and several other people in the club.

Speaking of which, we now have two new ultrarunners in the club! Congrats Chris and Andy for enduring your first 50k race.

Hopefully the first of many. :-)

This race can be a bit tough at times. It's not because of the course in general. It's that the 50k runners start at the same time as the 25k runners.

And we all know that 25k runners will maybe run a bit faster than the 50k runners.

But, as a competitive runner, it takes a will the size of the Titanic to hold back in that beginning loop. And like the Titanic, if I stay with that group, my goal for a good race could easily sink.

But, I did go out fast. Heck, I had to keep up with Andy. You know, the guy with the awesome 3:04 Brooklyn Marathon time.

And those first 3 miles were a bit uphill. By the time I got to the multipurpose trail at mile 4, I was pretty much gassed.

And I still had 27 miles to go.

Anyway, I couldn't stay with Andy so I FINALLY decided to slow down a teeny bit by the time I got to around the Latourette House Aid Station at mile 6.

Just a bit though.

The rest of the first loop was a big blur. I knew I was running way too fast but I had a head of steam that can't be stopped. So I decided to go with it a little.

I started to lose it a bit with 2 miles to go in the first loop. Definitely not good. As I rounded the corner, through the finish line area, and out for the second loop, I take a look at my time.

2 hours 4 minutes. Holy crap; I did around 2 hours 18 minutes last time.

The second loop is the "lonely loop", No 25k people to push me along, and except for the 10k people (who started 2 hours after us) finishing up along the same trail, the rest of the course was desolate.

I slowed down much the first 5 miles of that second loop and went into "ultra mode". That means "slow the f--k down you stupid retard and manage whatever energy you have left."

It was a rough transition to a slower pace on the multipurpose trail but by the time I got to the Latourette House Aid Station again, I started to get back into somewhat of a groove. I was walking some of the steeper hills but at a very brisk pace.

I knew I was in 5th place all along, but halfway around the 2nd loop, I caught back up with Andy, who was in a bit of difficulty. After saying some encouraging words to him, I started off...

...until another runner basically blasted by both me and Andy and was gone in a half mile.

So, I was back in 5th place again, but starting to feel better.

In order to excel in ultras, you need to take a very methodical approach, listen to your body, and manage whatever resources you have left in order to get the best possible result. If that means slowing down or walking up hills, that's fine. If that means stopping at aid stations to make sure you're properly fuelled back up again, so be it. But management is king when it comes to these races.

And I managed myself very well in High Rock, where any one of those numerous hills could have taken me out to the woodshed and shot.

By the time I got to the last aid station, 3 miles from the finish, I know I was solid enough to make it.

The last 2 miles were downhill, and boy that I get a head of steam those last 2 miles. Nobody, I mean nobody, was going to pass me then.

I got to the finish with a smile on my face and relatively intact. 4 hours 38 minutes. 5th place overall and 1st in my age group. Probably about 10 minutes faster than last year.

My girlfriend also did very well also, and I'm proud of her for completing this tough course. Both she and our mutual friend are great partners on the trail, and they push each other well in races like this. :-)

 A little barbecue after the run, waiting and cheering the 50k people to the finish.

------

Soooo, the 2nd half of my day went like this...got home from the race, soaked in bathtub and heeded my call from nature on the porcelain throne.

Oh that's right...the interesting parts only. Sorry about that. ;-)

Logged on to my computer, went on twitter, and linked over to the website that had the final results.

Now remember, I only had a 21% chance of winning, so I was a bit pessimistic and resigned.

Well, I did a search on that website and my name came up. My jaw dropped. I fainted.

Well, no, I didn't faint. I really wanted to jump for joy but that would cramp me up big time.

I'm in the Western States in 2013. I'm also doing Leadville in 2013.

So it makes kind of sense to register for Vermont and Wasatch Front 100 and try for the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning.

Four 100 mile races in four months. The sheer insanity if it attracts me like a fly to a steamy, juicy turd. ;-)

It was an incredible day today, and it looks to be an incredible year next year.

Congrats to all those who ran the Staten Island Trail Festival Races this year. I will be making sure your name will be announced at the January meeting. :-)


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