Well this last weekend I ventured up to New York and Philly to run the Dirty German 50K! This trip was nice because I got to visit with a good friend on Long Island plus get to run with him at the 50K. I enjoyed some "exciting" travels to and from, but all in all really had a great time!
I finally got around to writing a race report so here it is! Enjoy!
Stayed with a good friend up on Long Island and we drove down that morning. He was also registered for the 50K. I'd say we left his place around 0430 and arrived in Philly with plenty of time. Grabbed our packets and got everything else ready to go. It was cool, but not too bad. I opted to go ahead and start the race with a shirt.
The run was two laps of 15.55 miles.
The race director shouted go and we all started running in almost a cross country format. It was a large field about 200 yards long, we hopped on a small sidewalk then onto some single track.
One pet peeve I have is races like this where everyone starts at the same time! That means 25K, 50K, and 50 milers. (granted the 50 milers were doing a different course) It's SO irritating when you're trying to place.
So off we went and I was right up front. I'd say in the top 15-20 or so. The thing was I had no idea who was 25K and who was 50K. The pace was fast... much faster than I'd like to go in a 50K, but I figured I'd get up near the front and see who's who and what's going on.
Once on the trail I tried to slow down to my pace but people were regularly passing me. I kept thinking to myself that everyone is running the 25K cause there is no way people running a 50K would go out this hard on trail.
The trail wasn't as muddy as I was expecting but there were plenty of puddles and slightly muddy parts. We ran next to a beautiful little river where people were fly fishing! After about 15 minutes or so people finally stopped passing me and i was leading a small train of around 6 runners. If you know me and trail racing I hate having people on my heels. Oddly, it didn't bother me too bad, but I did let them pass at the first aid station.
I was really surprised to see that the course wasn't as hilly as I was expecting. There were a few very short slightly rocky climbs but that was it. The rest was very smooth single track. About 30 minutes in I was getting passed by a guy from philly about my age. I decided to stick with him and we just chatted the miles away.
We reached the turnaround in 55 mins and I realized I had forgotten to take my gel at 45 minutes! whoops. We ran across this off camber hill in grass that was uber annoying. Then it was a big U-turn onto a cement cycling path! This was about 1.5-2 miles long.
Me and my Philly friend ran through this section really well and finally made it back to the single track. I was so happy to be back on soft ground again. This part of the trail retraced a mile or so of what we ran earlier, then it was on to a new section of single track.
We passed through an aid station and I slowly began to drop him on the first climb out. i then popped out in this grassy meadow next to a train track. I ran along the tracks and all the sudden saw a pink ribbon off to the right. I looked over and the trail took a hard right. I saw some people running off on the trail and had realized they missed the turn that I almost missed! I shouted at them, but they didn't hear me. I continued on.
This section of the trail winded around in some beautiful tall tress in some dense foliage. It was stunning. I started to zone out here because I was having so much fun, then all the sudden the people that had missed the turn were ahead of me! Ugh. That's frustrating. They had come back but skipped the section I did, because they had cut the trail. They should have gone back and done it, but I figured I'd let them deal with that.
I kept an eye on my watch and realized I may come in around 2:15 for this first lap which translated to a 4:30 50K. It was at this point that I realized I may set a new PR! I didn't want to think about it too much and just kept running my comfortable pace. This section of the trail become very muddy and sloppy which was actually kind of fun :) I caught up with one of the guys that cut the trail because he'd gotten slightly lost again. He followed me till he finished the 25K.
We continued on and I could see cars and new we were close. Finally we popped out back at the race parking and I rolled in from my first lap at 2:13:55. An 8:37/mile pace.
I couldn't believe I knocked off that lap so quickly and easily. I ran over to my bag with my nutrition and grabbed what I needed. I also took off my shirt and left it there. I was ready to rock and roll this second lap. This aid station took me 1:29. I was off for my 2nd lap.
I had all my gels in hand along with a Honey Stinger Waffle. I waited to eat them till I was back on the single track out of sight from the aid station in case another runner came in. i didn't want them to see me. At this point I figured I HAD to be in the top 5 or so of the 50K. I knew for SURE there was at least one 50K runner ahead of me.
I dropped back on the single track and downed a gel and munched on my Waffle Stinger. I ate about 3/4 of it. Oddly enough, once I was done eating I was ready to run! I picked up the pace and was running again. I started playing with the numbers in my head and knew that I'd have to run around a 2:15 to break 4:30 total time. I figured that wasn't possible but did want to PR and new my old PR was around 4:45 set back at my first 50K ever.
I was moving along side the river again at a great pace. I felt relaxed and comfortable. The terrain was very runnable.
A few times I came up on some people riding horses and off course I had to get off the trail for them, cause the last thing we want to do is spook a huge horse. That was a bit annoying to wait for 7 horses to pass...
I continued on and kept looking for that first aid station. Once there I quickly refilled and asked how it was looking in front of me. He said i was around 13th. I thought maybe he was confused and meant 3rd...
I continued on at a quick pace. We ran up this small hill to a flat O&B type section on an elevated trail. I really pushed the pace a bit here. The trail dropped back down by the river and I hadn't seen another runner since I left the start/finish area and that was about 45mins ago! I was starting to wonder what was going on. I was hauling some ass and wasn't passing or getting passed.
This section was pretty brutal because I was so alone and the trail was so flat. I couldn't justify any walking here! I just kept running waiting for that section of cement cycling trail. Finally after about an hour I came to it.
This was brutal. I thought it would be nice to be on the trail, but boy was I wrong. It was tough on the feet and I missed the soft single track. I actually walked a min or two here. Finally after what seemed like forever I was back on the single track trail. I walked for a minute to take a gel and all the sudden some girl comes flying past me! Then not a minute later comes another guy in hot pursuit! GEEZ! What kind of race is this?!
I finished my gel and began my pursuit! I wasn't looking forward to this after that tough paved section but I began feeling much better. The next aid station said I was at mile 27. I knew I had around 4 miles left. I did the math in my head and knew that if i could run around a 10 min mile I would finish under 4:40 and set a new PR.
There was a quick climb away from the aid station then the grassy meadow next to the train tracks. I really focused here and thought about maintaining a nice quick pace.
I couldn't see anyone ahead of me but seriously doubted I'd be getting passed. I knew the trail much better this time around and knew how close I was to the finish. My sub 4:30 finish slowly passed but then I saw I may have a chance at sub 4:35. I continued to push the pace through the tress and mud without slowing for a moment.
Finally i could see the parked cars for the race and looked down at my watch to see 4:34:xx. I knew I had more than a min of running left.
I then popped out of the trail and saw the finish. I finished my second lap in 2:20:19 which was a 9:00/mile pace. Total time was 4:35:42. Final pace = 8:51/mile.
I couldn't have been much happier with my time. I crossed the line and there was Scott. He opted to finish the 25K instead of the 50K. It was at this point I realized I really was around 13-14th place! I honestly couldn't believe it. I run one of my best trail races ever, set a new PR, and ended up 14th or so.
Regardless, I set a new PR by ten minutes and had run as close as I can get to my perfect trail race. Nutrition was spot on and my pacing wasn't too bad.
Saw Scott at the finish line and chatted with him for a minute. He grabbed a brat for me and I downed that while we got the car packed up. I also cleaned off in the creek behind the start line. felt great to dip the feet in such cold water! This was a fun race for sure. The course was beautiful and the aid stations were great! The only issue I have is that I feel it's possible people were out there cutting the course. They weren't taking numbers at the aid stations so the whole race was on the honor system. Whether or not people cut the course or not doesn't matter now... but I like to think that ultra running is beyond that.
I know 4:35:42 may not seem too fast, but I definitely hadn't been training for a PR, so a PR was a very pleasant surprise! I hope everyone is doing well and staying safe with all this stormy weather we've been having. Next up for me? The Summer Solstice 6hr Endurance run! I did this one last year and can't wait to give it another go this year! Hopefully I can get those 40 miles I wanted last year!!