Finding My Ultra 3.0 - Caumsett 50k Race Report
For what seemed like an eternity, race morning had finally arrived. My Spring race season was about to begin at the Caumsett 50k located in Lloyd Harbor, New York. The Caumsett 50K is an odd race. Why the USATF would chose to hold a National Championship race in March, on Long Island is beyond me? They could not have selected a warmer, more easily accessible location? Besides the location and timing, this race was broken down into 3 categories; 50k Champs, 50k and 25k. The total number of runners was around 375 people on a relatively flat and looped 5k course.
Caumsett provided me with opportunities. The opportunity to celebrate the fitness I had accumulated over the Winter. The opportunity to dial in my nutrition and hydration during race conditions. The opportunity to learn about and grow from, finding my ultra.
Being my first ultra distance race I had only one true goal and that was to do the race fully self-supported in preparation for the Traprock 50k in April. Racing fully self-supported would allow me to test my nutrition and hydration plan. I used a hydration pack that was filled with 40 ounces of water that contained two electrolyte taps of Watermelon Nuun and 800 calories of CarboPro.
I spent the Winter in the woods and on the treadmill so I was very aware that I was going to pay the price of running 50k on pavement.
I'm admittedly incapable of doing "advanced" math while I'm racing. I easily lose track of miles and I'm totally inept at predicting splits more than a mile out. Thankfully I have a trusty Garmin that keeps things simple for me; Race Time, Current Pace, Average Pace. Based off my training, the course and weather I felt that I should be able to maintain a 7:30 min/mi on the aggressive end of the spectrum, a 7:45 min/mi on the comfortable side or a 8 min/mi pace on the conservative end of the spectrum. Success would be warranted with pacing anywhere within this spectrum.
Now that I knew the price of admission it was time to toe the line.
Despite my legs not feeling terrific I effortlessly settled into a pace towards the aggressive end of the spectrum. As I began to tick off the early miles I quickly noticed that the hose connected to my hydration bladder was kinked. For the first 10k I fidgeted with the hose and bladder as I ran; shaking it, pulling on the hose, squeezing the bladder in an attempt to get more than a drop out. I couldn't fall behind my nutrition/hydration plan this early in the race. Do I stop to fix the issue or keep running and hope for the best? I compromised and took the pack off while running and was able to resolve the issue. My stress level immediately dropped and enjoyed an instant dose of adrenaline. (7:40, 7:24, 7:30, 7:23, 7:22, 7:26)
On a looped course with nearly 375 runners the next 14 miles felt very lonely. I didn't hit a low point or feel depressed it just felt like my immediate surrounding environment was void of sound and stimulus. The typical sounds of feet hitting the pavement, volunteers cheering, watches buzzing and runners breathing weren't present. Thankfully this vacuum of space and time was popped when I saw Meliss and Noah. Nothing has the ability to change an athlete's perspective like seeing and receiving the support and encouragement from loved ones. This feeling of loneliness on a race course was something I had never felt before. I can only assume that as the distances get longer, the time spent by oneself will greatly increase and loneliness is but one emotion to be dealt with. I finally heard my watch beep, Mile 20. Mile 20? What the hell happened to miles 7-19? I certainly was not in the zone and I have no idea where my mind went but I was definitely surprised that I had just ticked off 20 miles. (7:33, 7:20, 7:19, 7:32, 7:30, 7:17, 7:28, 7:33, 7:25, 7:47, 7:31, 7:38, 8:02, 7:51)
Right after mile 22 the Pavement Debt Collector came for his payment. The lack of time running on pavement had started to take its toll. It was time to establish short term, achievable goals. I set my sights on reaching mile 26 with strong technique and form. I crossed the marathon timing mat at 3:25. I stopped to walk for a second to celebrate this small victory. After a quick pat on the back and some encouraging internal dialogue I was back to running. (7:58, 8:12, 8:49, 8:44, 9:05, 8:33)
As I crossed the marathon threshold the course was starting to thin out as the elite runners and a majority of the 25k runners had finished. Becoming aware of this wasn't very uplifting however I did feel a sense of pride and empowerment knowing that I was on the home stretch of my first 50k.
Going into the last 10k I knew things would get ugly. My goals were to stick with my nutrition/hydration plan and to maintain strong form no matter what.
Crossing the finish line was laughably anti-climatic as there was no cheering or congratulatory gestures by the volunteers or fellow runners. So, I celebrated by myself by walking over and asking for my finisher medal then cracking a cold can of coke and pounding it. Caumsett 50k. 4:10. (9:55, 8:46, 9:37, 9:15, 9:16)
Ill take the next couple of days to recover before the final build and prep for Traprock.
I can't say that I would run this race again unless I had BQ intentions but I would run the 25K. One aspect to this race that should be noted is the major intersection located by the Start/Finish and the out-and-back. This intersection is a great place for spectators to set up shop as you can see the athletes multiple times. It would be very cool to get a large group of racers and supporters to the race and create an over the top cheering section. This would really make this race unique and stand out.
Next tune up race is Xterra Shepaug 25k Trail Race on March 26th.