I'm not sure at what point I realized it--maybe at the start, maybe five miles in, maybe after four hours--but at some point last Saturday, it dawned on me that running a technical ultra at the end of the highest-mileage week I've had in over a year was maybe not the smartest idea I've ever had.
I knew going in the that inaugural Shawangunk Ridge Trail Run would be a tough day. Race organizers Ken Posner and Todd Jennings love their technical trails, and looking at the course map beforehand, it was clear that the race would encompass some of the most technical trails the area has to offer. I love running point-to-point courses, though, and as the race was vaguely following the course of the Wagathon, one of my favorite fat-ass events, I figured I'd give it a try. Plus, I liked the idea of a self-supported "adventure." The date was pretty good as well, falling three weeks before my main focus for the fall, the Tesla Hertz Run, so I went in to the race looking for a good, long, hard effort.
As mentioned, the preceding week was the longest one I've had in some time. I ran a nice long cool down following the Whiteface Uphill Race the week before, getting in about 17 miles for the day, and wound up getting in 16 on Sunday. Monday was my friend Brian's 42nd birthday; in celebration, he decided he wanted to run 42 miles over two days, so we ran 21 miles both Monday and Tuesday. Thursday I met up with tri-geek Mark Eisenhandler and inov-8 stud Laura Kline (who would win the SRT 20 mile division) for a track workout; while it went quite well, it was certainly the toughest workout I'd done in months. Needless to say standing on the starting line in Sam's Point two days later I wasn't quite feeling my freshest.
|Photo: Tom Bushey|
The Shawangunk Ridge Trail is not a new trail per se, but is a new blaze by the NY-NJ Trail Conference that links up a series of pre-existing trails that, all together, run the length of the Shawangunk Ridge, from High Point, NJ, to Rosendale, NY, a distance of 74 miles. Ken, the first person to run the entirety of the SRT, organized three divisions: a 74-miler over the full length of the trail; a 32-miler from Sam's Point Preserve to the finish; and a 20-miler, that started in Minnewaska State Park. Only five intrepid souls took on the full beast this year (and only one finished), but the 50K+ had about 30 starters, and the 20 miler almost fifty.
|Photo: Ken Posner, I think|
I won't bore you with the details. It was just a very long, uneventful day. I basically ran solo for the last six hours. I had a nice stretch from Coxing Kill to Chapel Road on Undivided Lots Trail, a nasty little bit of single track that I actually don't mind too much; and the eleven miles or so from that point were, while hilly, pretty runnable. But, by that point I was already 4.5 hours in to the day, and the final couple hours were no picnic. I was able to manage 7:30 pace over the final five, flat miles along the rail trail and hang on for second. It was a long end to a long 116-mile week, but the goal was to get a long, hard day out, so I guess I succeeded. I guess I looked pretty crappy at the end, as Jodi seemed pretty concerned for about twenty minutes. But once I pounded a couple of Diet Cokes and some chocolate milk, I was able to settle down and enjoy my reward: