Monday, March 08, 2010

The Caumsett 50k USATF 50k Road Championships - A Good Day for a PR


Yesterday I had the great pleasure of joining 200 runners for the Caumsett State Park 50k in Lloyd Harbor, NY, put on by New York Ultra Running. As the USATF 50k Road Championships, lots of speed demons were out to enjoy one of the first sunny days to come after a long, hard northeast winter. What better way than a 10 lap loop course with fellow ultra warriors?

As I warmed up with Team Inov-8 runner Ben Nephew, we agreed that the day had a lot the right ingredients for a breakthrough PR. Although the temp was in the high 30's, the sun would warm up the day to ideal low 50's by the halfway point. Short of some wind gusts, this was MUCH better than snow/sleet/sub-zero Caumsett 50k's of the past. Plus there were a lot of great runners here - 2x defending champ and course record holder (2:56) Michael Wardian, Scott Jaime (pronounced Hi-Me) from Colorado, 50k Masters American Record holder Dan Verrington, 24-hour American Record holder Mark Godale, 24-hour National Team member Phil McCarthy, Montrail runners Annette Bednosky and Jill Perry, the great Scott Jurek, and a half dozen more that could go sub-3:30 on a good day. I felt like a kid meeting my favorite rock stars!
(Ben Nephew and I sport the new Team Inov-8 shirts)

(Staying warm at the start)

My personal goal for the day was to improve on my 50k PR (3:37 at the 2009 Ruth Anderson 50k). My speed work was going INSANELY well over the last three months, particularly by teaching me that I could be in a lot of pain and still hold my form. To achieve a PR, like any stretch goal, you need three things. First, you need to show up (check). I know that sounds simple, but as we all know, getting the start line healthy and ready can be tough. Second, you need the opportunity, like a day of perfect weather and runners faster than you (check). Third, you need to believe that it is possible to achieve something beyond your best (check, thank you speedwork). Let's DO THIS!

At 8:30am, Suffolk County Legislator Jon Cooper sent off the 50k runners (30 minutes ahead of the 25k runners) and the front pack quickly spread out. Wardian, Jesse Regnier (in his first race beyond 8 miles), and 2:19 marathoner Malcolm Campbell went out hard, running 5:30 min/miles. Scott Jaime and Malcolm Campbell each ran solo at a sub-6 pace a few steps back, and Dan Verrington, Ben Nephew, Mark Godale and I clocked 6 min./miles in the next chase pack. Dan was doing most of the work in our pack, letting us know right up front that he was shooting for "3 and low teens since the 45-49 50k American Record is soft at 3:17". I guess he would know - it's his record! We finished the first lap in 18 minutes. My God, this was fast.

(Mark Godale, Ben Nephew, and Dan Verrington chasing Scott Jaime)

 (Michael Wardian and Jesse Raginer finish up lap #1)

We got sight of the Womens race on the out and back section, and front runners Annette Bednosky, Jill Perry, and Yolanda Flamino were sticking close to each other. Last years champ and course record holder, Kami Semick, was not present today so it was anyone's race. They were all keeping each other in sight.

(Jill Perry leads Annette Bednosky and Yolanda Flamino)

Ben Nephew was nice enough to help pace the pack with Dan, but around lap 3 (mile 9) Dan picked up the pace charging the uphill grades and dropped us. Mark Godale fell off the pace, and Ben and I speculated that he probably wasn't in peak shape thanks to daughter #3 recently arriving. We both had 3-year-olds and knew how that could crimp a training plan, but #3? Fuggetaboutit.

(Scott Jaime gives a thumbs up)

On each subsequent lap, we molted layers of hats, gloves, sleeves, wool, etc. until we were down to our tank tops in the 45-degree air. Ben continued to do the lion's share of the pacing, running with a short and powerful stride from all his snowshoeing. I was nursing a sore shoulder from a sex-related injury (best if I don't provide detail on that one, but let me recommend that you stretch out before ANY strenuous exercise), but otherwise feeling strong. The aid station volunteers at both stops were amazing, and we barely had to slow for whatever we needed.

On lap 6 (mile 18), my body demanded a bio break and I made a absurdly efficient 20-second stop at the port-a-potty. Ben wished me well, and from that point on he would be little more than a dot on the horizon. That was okay though - I knew the last third was going to be a three-night stay in the House of Pain, and it felt proper to venture into that valley of darkness alone.

 (Local ultrarunners not obeying the speed limit)

I wasn't alone, however, since thanks to the loop format I got to see EVERYONE. The New York Ultra Runners were having a great day and making the most of the early signs of Spring. I exchanged atta-boys with 78-year-old Sam Soccoli from North Babylon, NY, and the famous Roy Pirrung who was defying his 62-year-old age with a sub-5 hour pace. 70-old Patricia Delaney was also making good time, and always had a smile on. They sure breed 'em tough out here!

At Lap 8, I hit the marathon mark in 2:48 (almost a PR!) and fought desperately to hold my form. Michael Wardian gave a few words of encouragement as he lapped me, slowing but still on course record pace. At the turnaround, I could see that Dan Verrington had passed Scott Jaime, but Scott was keeping him in sight. Ben was still holding on strong and was about a minute ahead of me now. The Womens race found Yolanda Flamino in front after dropping the hammer on lap 3 and gapping the other women by a good 15 minutes. Annette Bednosky, however, was picking up speed in one of her classic negative split finishes.

(Ben Nephew keeps cranking)

As I entered Lap 10, my stomach knotted up, my head started spinning, and my muscles began twitching like crazy. My pace had slowed to a 7 minute mile as I walked the two aid stations to try and get more liquids in. The pain. My God, the pain! I could feel my heartbeat in the back of my eyeballs. But as the mile markers reminded me, this was almost over. Annette was kind enough to pick up the pace and run along with me until the last 1/2 mile, and I gave it everything. I crossed the finish in 3:20:48, good enough for 6th overall.

 (Mark Godale and Dan Verrington talk about the race)

I laughed out loud as I crossed the finish line. Did that just happen? Did I just take 17 minutes off my PR? Either the training is going well, or I have been seriously sandbagging for a long time now. As I spoke with the other finishers, it turns out many of them had breakthrough days. Michael Wardian (2:55) had beat his previous record by 40 seconds, with Malcolm Campbell (3:04) getting second with a great performance. Scott Jaime (3:13) had passed Dan Verrington (3:15) to claim third and the Masters win, but Dan set a new 45-49 age group American Record in the process. Ben was quite pleased with his 3:18 best on this course, and Mark Godale charged in the last laps to finish a few minutes behind me. Jesse Raginer clocked a 3:28 in his first 50k - not bad at all!

 (2010 Womens 50k Road National Champion, Yolanda Flamino)

(Scott Jaime gets the Masters payday from RD Amy Goldstein)

Yolanda Flamino won the Womens division in 3:34, with Annette Bednosky (3:43) taking second and winning the Masters division in a time well under her goal. Jill Perry (3:47) fought through some tough spots to hold onto third. (full results)

 (Scott Jurek, me, and 2010 50k Road National Champion, Michael Wardian)

(Sporting the hardware with 3rd place Womens finisher Jill Perry)

I felt like an Olympian with all my medals (a gorgeous finisher medal, a USATF medal for 6th overall and a USATF medal for 2nd in 40-44), and was tickled to get the $50 check for third Master. Paydays are rare in this sport! My thanks to RD Amy Goldstein, her wonderful volunteers and sponsors, Howard Nippert and the crew at USATF, and the nice folks of Long Island for putting on a great race. Thanks to the opportunity, assistance, and support you provided, I had a breakthrough day!

(Schwag overload! I'm in heaven...)


  1. Haha, a "sex-related injury"?? Haha...that's a new one.

    17 mins?? Awesome new PR Scott - wow, sounds like the conditions were ripe for fast times out there. Great recap as always!

  2. Good to meet you. Congrats on your awesome race! See you at Miwok.

  3. Well done! Was Scott Jurek just hanging out with the ultra crowd? I had the good fortune of running a short 4 miles with him in Central Park on Saturday (courtesy of Jackrabbit sports) and came away so impressed and humbled by the guy. Now I'm tempted to try an ultra. Why can't all super-athletes be nice and attitude free like him?

  4. Holly cow, Scott. Are these your photos? I mean, from your camera? Is it time to stop on it and get a bigger paycheck? :) Congrats. And yes, I'd like to know how did you manage to be so sloppy to get injured.

  5. Congratulations Scott! I knew you were in great form after your SF Half. Good luck with your upcoming road marathons!

  6. Hey Scott - Very nice job! I'm glad I ran into you at the hotel and chatted a bit.

    Good luck on the rest of the season and I'm sure we'll see you again at some other USATF 'masters' race.

    How in the hell do you take such good photos running so fast??


  7. Cherie - Awesome to meet you, too! Thanks for volunteering just one day after a tough 50k. You were angels.

    G - Yes, Scott Jurek decided to join the fun at the last minute since he was in Manhattan and Brooklyn running with local groups. He got a ride from a friend and had a casual run. Per usual, he was one of the most positive people out there.

    Olga - Yes, my pics, although I ditched the camera half way through. But it seemed too pretty not to capture.

    Scott/FastED - It's all in the numbers. I took 100 photos in two laps, and got 8 keepers. ;-) Congrats again on being the Masters 50k Road Champion!


  8. Dude. spill it on the sex-related injury. rotator cuff? leather straps too tight? you know we will think of far worse than what it actually is. Troy

  9. Way to go Scott! Great report and congrats on the fast time :)

  10. Many congrats to you Scott-You continue to inspire me and make me seriously consider trying the "gonna throw up speed workouts" You ran fabulously! Thanks for talking with me! Great photos too...(I pirated one for my blog...:)Thank you!

  11. Steal away, Annette! Nice job keeping your cool and having a great finish time. I linked to your blog above...


  12. Wow, nice job.

    As you continue to accelerate and throw down improbable PR's (by the way, I think you're now capable of a sub-5:50ish 50 miler-- next year?), you make me feel:
    1) slow and in decline
    2) lazy for not attempting more regular and methodical speed work (my wussy excuse is that close to a 6 minute mile pace my right hamstring tendons start to feel like they're going to tear, aside from the aerobic issues), and
    3) too controlled and timid with my lovemaking.

  13. What a start of the season, Scott, the Stanford coaching and your hard training are really paying off!
    Great competitive field and emulation you are picking with all your travel.
    Good luck at Boston. Missing you on the California trails! ;-)

    Farther Faster

  14. Awesome! Well done! Congrats on the PR.

  15. Tremendous result for you mate, felicitacions. How many years have you been running? I have been at it for 18 months and attempting my first 100k on May 14th. Excited and nervous at the same time. Any advice? Cheers.

  16. Congrats on a stellar run. Also, thanks for the awesome photos and recap. Seems like it was a great day for the New England running contingent (Ben and Dan).

  17. My guess is you were "seriously sandbagging" ;-)
    Congrats, Scott!

  18. Very good run.Your times seem to be improving with your age! What speedwork were you doing in the build up to this race?

  19. MarkT - Timid lovemaking...hmmm, you have HOW MANY kids? 3?!? Not buying it one bit. My guess is that you are just properly stretching. ;-)

    Malcolm - 100k! Wow! Congrats to you for signing up. My experience with the 100k is that hydration, calories, and sunscreen matter more than ever. Be diligent on all three fronts. That and I often say to be sure you have some internal motivation to keep you through the tough spots, but I think Pearl's smile is all you need.

    Paul - I think the big breakthrough on speedwork was that I actually started doing it. ;-) I do two sessions a week, mostly on the treadmill - one 6-8x800 (@ 5:30 min/mile pace), and one fartlek with 3-4 mile repeats (@ 5:45 min/mile pace). I also added a short speed session to every third long run - after the long run, do 3 miles on a treadmill at your goal marathon pace. If you can get through it, you're gold at that pace (note - this workout is very exhausting, so don't try it too often). Lastly, I should note it has been helpful to treat these hard workouts with respect - ease up the day before, warm up properly, rest afterward - so that you can give it your all and adapt quickly. I'm about to switch up the speedwork since I have a 1500m and 5000m in July, so I'll write something up about what's working.

    Thx for the comments!


  20. Yeeeoooww! Sweet stuff, I'm stoked for you, Scott, and totally inspired. Let's hear it for speedwork! Also, I'll have to see what I can do about incorporating some stretching into foreplay. I'd hate to have a nasty injury (although it didn't seem to hold you back much!)

  21. Scott- your coverage is quite a bit deeper than the usatf:

  22. That is awesome, Scott!! You absolutely killed it. And it goes without saying that you could have taken a few minutes off without the camera.

    Congrats on a huge p.r., my friend.

  23. Way late to comment here but awesome PR, Scott. You must still be on cloud nine.

  24. Always love the pictures and the stories!!! You're Amazing! Okay, throw a little advice to us mortal non-ultra runners. B2B- when attempting 2 marathons in 2 weeks, do you take it easy on the first one? Run slower than what Im capable of? Or just "go for it"??? It was fun to see your comment on my blog the other day!
    Thanks coach!

  25. Hey, Lindy!

    If you're doing two marathons, you get honorary status with the ultra gang. ;-)

    My advice would be to just go for it. Be sensitive to any pain that feels like an injury - you don't want to miss the 2nd one because you pushed through some sharp pain in the first one. Don't be afraid to make that call as you go. Otherwise, pull out all the stops for your recovery between the two races - ice baths, massage, stay hydrated, etc. - and be sure to start running/moving again within 2-3 days. You don't have to do mileage, but at least go clock a mile or two at your goal pace.

    See you out there!


  26. Advice noted and appreciated!


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