The temperature just crested the freezing point as ~200 runners counted down the start of the Caumsett Park 50k in Lloyd Harbor, NY, last Sunday. It was once again time for the USATF 50k National Road Championships, and I was back for the second time after my breakthrough PR here four years ago (3:20:48). I'm a bit older now, but also more experienced, and like most Masters runners I was curious if the equilibrium state of age and wisdom was still net positive and PR-worthy. It was going to be a fast race for sure, and just ten weeks off my broken collarbone, it would guarantee what we all hope for in a race - an epic result or an epic blow up, and a trip to the pain cave either way. Mother Nature gave us a nod by parting the snowy skies for a few hours, just enough time to enjoy the speedy 10x5k loop course.
|(Me and Jean Pommier, bundled up like a couple of West coasters, photo courtesy of Max Pommier)|
|(Michael Wardian and I do the selfie)|
|(Michael Wardian, Ethan Coffey, and Alex Hetherington stay warm at the start)|
|(Jean Pommier, Ian Torrence, and Emily Harrison are ready to roll)|
|(And we're off!)|
|(Lots of snow, but the path is clear)|
|(The amazing Jean Pommier v5.0)|
|(The new counter-clockwise course direction had plenty of slight descents)|
|(Didn't take long for the front pack to peel off, photo courtesy of Max Pommier)|
|(Michael, Ethan and Joe pacing early on)|
|(Boyd Harrington demonstrates the turnaround)|
|(Jean, Alex, and I pacing together, photo courtesy of Max Pommier)|
|(Runners cruise by the old farm house in the Park)|
As lap 8 continued on, I started to have some issues as my collarbone began exposing its unique fatigue. The titanium plate was frozen (it felt like heartburn in my shoulder...not too bad, but awkward), and the muscles around it soon started to tighten and pull at my neck like a frustrated octopus. Crap, not quite healed. I started doing a limited T-Rex swing with my left arm, which slowed me down about 10-15 seconds per mile. Jean was also slowing, citing some dizziness, so Alex dropped us both and pressed forward to catch Boyd.
|(The out-and-back gave us all a chance to size up the competition)|
|(Fun had by all! Photo courtesy of James Carbone)|
I hit the marathon mark in 2:50:57 (BQ!), and walked a few aid stations to catch up on liquids and beat back my twitchy calves. Each rest allowed my neck to loosen up, surprisingly, so I kept taking 5-second walks and hoped Jean "The Closer" Pommier wouldn't catch me. The last out and back showed me my standings - Alex was catching Boyd, but they were three minutes up now, and Jean was nowhere behind me. If I kept at it, I would be in the Top 10 and Top 3 for Masters. Michael Wardian gave me one last word of encouragement as he cruised by for his finish (that means I would be lapped AND chicked today), and I leaned forward for the last lap.
Lap 10, in true last lap form, was a blur of this-is-why-we-do-speedwork mantras, whimpers, and the soundtrack of the Pharrell Williams song "Happy" which had been stuck in my head for most of the past week. I distracted myself by cheering on the other runners (one of the great advantages of a loop course), and they were happy to return the favor. As I got to the out-and-back section, Boyd and Alex were shoulder to shoulder in the last 800m! Inspired, I kicked and cruised to the finish in 3:25:49, good enough for 7th place, 2nd AG, and third Master. Phew! I'll take it. I started to ice my shoulder, only to laugh that it was still colder under my skin than on top of it. Such a strange new factor!
|(Emily Harrison with her course record check!)|
|(Ethan Coffey is the new course record holder!)|
|(Bringing home the shwag! And $100 for bar tabs)|
My thanks to the GLIRC and the many volunteers that helped make the 2014 Caumsett 50k a big success, and sealed their fate as one of the fastest courses around. It was great to be back! And congrats to all finishers who braved the cold to have a little fun. I will see you again soon.
inov-8 Race Elite 140 Trail Short
inov-8 Race Elite 230 Tight
inov-8 185 ThermoMid Jacket
Injinji Compression OTC socks
Custom Road Running Shoes