Monday, May 19, 2014

Ice Age 50: 2nd place, 7:04:16

It is hard to put in words my experience at Ice Age. My feelings on the race are all over the board. I kept trying to write up a race report then proceeded to erase every word because it really was hard to put into understanding what I took away from the race. I mean, on one side, I would say the day was nearly perfect. The course, the runners, my nutrition, my legs, my mind (no low points at all, can you believe that?)…amazing. I had a blast. What other race can you run/race the first 15 miles laughing with your fellow competition? I came away with new friendships and a renewed love of trail running and of course, once again, cemented the fact that the 50-mile (trail) distance is my absolute favorite distance of any running. With that side, I also came away feeling very unsatisfied and almost upset. Weird, right?!

I do 90% of my running in NYC. It is a mix of Central Park roads, bridal path, maybe a tiny bit of flat single track when running up to the George Washington Bridge and back. On weekends, I split between some hillier Connecticut running and get in the occasional Vermont ‘long hills’ weekend but the moral of this training story is my feet rarely feel true trails BUT I trained ridiculously hard for Ice Age. Week after week of consistent, non-stop 85-95 mile weeks since December...all aimed to have a top notch performance at NYC half marathon and Ice Age. The problem I have is that my performance wasn’t top notch. Ah, sounds kind of horrible. I just can’t be totally happy with the day. Yes, it is easy to explain to me that I should have picked a less technical race though there are those who would argue that Ice Age is not technical. Hmm, I’d like to disagree. It is technical in the sense of losing 20-30 seconds per mile on the harder bits. It is technical versus flat road. It is technical versus a girl who sucks at descending. I would say my time is respectable but what hurts my competitive soul is that the 1st place girl (Kaci Lickteig) won by 23 minutes. 23 minutes! Let me say, Kaci is a rockstar -- and I was lucky enough to run and chat with her for quite a few miles. She had an incredible, yes, even if I trained in up and down single track everyday -- I don’t think I could have beaten her. I would have closed the 23 minute gap. I maybe would have been able to stay with her for 35 miles not just 20 or so. The one thing I gurantee is that my descending would have been smoother. Alas, not the case. My training backyard is what it is so either I pick races that suit my style of training (JFK 50-miler sounds very good to me) or know that these other traily, technical races will challenge me and my run skills (I very much loved the Ice Age course but my mile splits did not). It would be tough to pull off a win at one these competitive races without getting more trail training in. I know...what a sob story but like I said, the race was amazing. I was as ready as I could have been, my body felt perfect. Hydration and fueling was perfect. My family was out on the course cheering. Mike got me all my gels at perfect times and the coke at 40 miles was the perfect booster.
I would give you a play-by-play of the race but it wasn't that interesting. I pretty much ran in 2nd the entire race and almost entirely solo for the last 30. I never hit low points or had anything really exciting happen (that's a good thing). I did swear too many curse words on those damned, short descents. If I put some of those naughty words on here it would definitely spice this race report up but I'll take a straightforward 50-miler because sometimes races send you way too much excitement than you would like.

Just some of my cheering crew
My 2nd place did qualify me for that ever coveted Western States slot and as planned, turned it down. I don’t want to do a 100-miler right now especially not a 100 that I can’t properly train for. I am planning to use this entire summer to work on my leg speed and hopefully turn that into a sub 2:43 marathon and grab a golden ticket to the olympic marathon trials. I am dying to give it another go at a 50-miler but will have to wait until end of November/December. I am eyeing a few races but leaning towards the fast and furious JFK 50.