Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Buckeye 50K 2012

Buckeye 50K - July 14, 2012

 A little bit about my history of this race: BT50K was my first trail race, in 2007.  I overheard some friends talking about trail training runs on Sunday.  At this point I had no trail-running experience, but I decided to join the training runs.  I did all the training runs and still had time to sign up, two weeks before the race. (How things have changed! This race now closes in a couple of days… It is the most popular local trail race.)

I ran the race in 2007 without a water bottle.  My time was 5:14 (a good time for a beginner, Vince was impressed) finishing 28/149.  I was then hooked into trail running.  I ran again in 2008 (5:21, a hot day with better overall placement, 19/156).  The 2008 report is here: http://drtrunning.blogspot.com/2008/07/buckeye-50k-summer-2008.html

In 2009 I decided to get serious and set a goal of 5 hours.  Everything was going fine. I was in pace for a 4:55 finish after the last aid station, but I hit a terrible wall, 3 miles before the end, and finished at 5:04. That was back when I was carbo-loading. I had ran out of sugar/fuel. It could not happen now that my fuel is fat.  See my report here:  http://drtrunning.blogspot.com/2009/07/buckeye-50k-2009-race-report.html

In 2010 I had a conference and in 2011 I was injured, so 2012 was my come-back year for this race.  But, 2 weeks from Burning River, I was not sure if I wanted to race this, or run it comfortably.  I asked other friends and opinions were divided: 1) Don't do it.  2) Do it, but treat it as a training run, not a race.
So, here I am at the start, with no plan, no goal.  I am running with a water bottle and my 3d camera, taking pictures of friends along the way. 

Here are a few pictures from thes start:  Rose (stretching) and Susan looking (top).  Vince (race director, bottom) counting the seconds to race start at 7:00 AM in nice cool weather.


I started too fast (for me).  My first 3 miles were: 8:43, 8:05, 8:33.  These were rather easy, mostly downhill miles.  I was following Rachel Nypaver.  Mark Pancake passed both of us early on.  On mile 4 we hit the first hills.  I was surprised to see Rachel run through the hills!  I walked them (like most hills in this race) so mile 4 was slow (11:30).  I continued through the Snowville Aid station, running 9:30 min miles average.

I was feeling tired, like this was not my day.  I was wearing old worn-out lightweight shoes that felt bad for the dry uneven course (this was one of the driest summers in memory.) The weather was too good for me to have an advantage over other runners (I prefer muddy course and hot -much hotter- day). At the back of my mind, I was blaming myself for going out faster than usual. At some point I thought that I might have to drop out.  Rob Lisy passed me around mile 7. I told him I did not feel well and did not have a good feeling for the race.

I was running mostly alone, when in the way to Pine Lane I heard someone coming from behind.  A rather noisy runner (foot noise and water bottles bounching up and down).  It was Mark again. I must have passed him at an aid-station.  He asked about my goal (I don’t have any). I asked about his goal, surprised that he was running at a pace for a 5 hour finish.  Closer to Pine Lane I caught up with Rachel.  We chatted for a while. We saw a lot of runners coming back.  I then pulled slightly ahead and arrived first at the turn-around point.  I spent almost no time at aid stations so I was first to turn around.  

Here are my aid station times for the first half:
  • Oak Grove to Snowville: 55 min (53)
  • Snowville to Boston: 52 min (49)
  • Boston to Pine Lane: 40 min (39)
  • First Half: 2:27 (2:22)
In parenthesis are my times from 3 years ago when I finished at 5:04. So this year I was 5 minutes slower at the half. At the half point I was about 25th overall.

I did not feel I was racing at this point.  My running was rather comfortable and I took pictures of runners in my way back, as in this picture of Suzanne Pokorny running through the rough (full of roots) Pine Lane section of the course:


In the second half I passed a couple of runners, but at the Boston Station I got passed by my friend, Charles Twigg. I kept going, trying to stay in touch with Charles, but he was running very strong and soon disappeared from view. I passed maybe another runner or two, and then, at about 1.5 miles from Snowville, I caught up with Rob Lisy. I was a bit surprised, considering that he passed me early on and seemed very strong.  We chatted and ran together for a while. Then I pulled a bit ahead and, at the stairs down, just before Snowville, I passed Brad Polman

In this picture, I am crossing Snowville Road, just before the aid-station. 

And a picture of spectators and volunteers cheering the runners:


I left Snowville at 4:02 with Brad just behind me. The best I could hope to cover Snowville to finish is about 60 minutes, so a finish under 5 hours seemed unlikely.

And then, THE RACE STARTED! I found an incredible energy, and passed about 8 runners right after Snowville.  I caught sight of Charles ahead of me, climbing the long stair case. He was still running strong.  I eventually caught up with him and ran a couple of miles together.  While following him, we passed a few more runners, including Steve Godale and, later, Jim Chaney.

While on an uphill, heading to Ottawa Point (2 miles to finish), Charles asked for our average pace and then he said that it was impossible to break 5 hours. At this point, I took off!  At Ottawa point I saw Lloyd Thomas and was told that I am in 7th place overall. I was happy to refill my bottle with cold water at this point!

I ran the last 2 miles as fast as I could. I passed one runner at the first mile. Then I saw the sign saying 1 mile to finish (which is actually wrong, it was 0.7 miles to finish at this point). I looked at my watch and saw that I had 10.5 minutes to break 5 hours.  So, an under 5 hour finish seemed possible now. I ran this 0.7 mile segment as fast as I could.

In the parking lot heading to the finish, I passed one more runner.  I hate to do that (pass a runner with 100 yards to the finish of a 50K), but I cannot hold myself back.  I was thinking that he will sprint when he saw me coming from the back, but he did not react.  So, I passed him and stormed at the finish ahead.

I finished at 4:55 in 5th place overall (4th male, first Grand Master, ahead of anyone over 37 years old!), which is a trail 50K PR for me and 10 minutes better than my previous BT50K best time.  Together with Mohican 50, this is my best race ever.

After the race I stayed around and took pictures of my friends finishing, including Charles Twigg who, for the first time, broke 5 hours and finished first Masters.  Here are pictures of Marty Butler and his lovely daughters, and legend runner Joe Jurczyk, after whom the race was created.


Looking at my time splits for the two halves of the race, they are almost even (give or take a minute). In the 2nd half I passed about 20 runners, 15 of which after the last aid station (Snowville). My time from Snowville to the finish is 2 minutes faster than the same section going out, which is pretty amazing, not only because I am supposed to be tired and slower, but also because the course is harder coming back than going out.

I might be the only runner (from the top 12 at least) with even splits. Shaun Pope who won the race has a 26 minute positive split. The two guys that I passed in the last two miles have 32 and 34 minutes positive splits.  I don't know why I finish so strong (I suspect it is my low-carb nutrition – I had my usual low carb breakfast of eggs and salad and ate very little during the race), but it is really nice to pass runner after runner instead of being the one being passed. Even splits and a strong finish is a blessing IMO :)

 Here are my aid station times for the 2nd half:
  • Pine Lane to Boston: 41 (39)
  • Boston to Snowville: 54 (51)
  • Snowville to Oak Grove: 53 (72)
  • Final Time: 4:55 (5:04)
Compared to my times from 3 years ago (in parenthesis), I was slower in every leg of the race, except for the last one, and that’s what made THE BIG difference.

After I went home, I downloaded my Garmin data.  My average pace for the entire race was 9:41. Mile 30 was 7:47.  And the last 0.6 miles of the race were at 7:12 pace, the fastest of the entire race!

Overall, I am very pleased for my even pace and strong finish!  I just hope that this race will not hurt my Burning River 100 in two weeks!

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