Monday, December 17, 2012

SeaShore Ultra

Race recap:  SeaShore Nature Trail 50k 2012

SeaShore Nature Trail 50K, I ran this race last year as my first 50k Ultra...and although I "thought" I had a good plan, I crashed and burned.  I went out to fast, could not control my pace, and at the 20 mile mark, the wheels came off...I just wanted to quit.  In fact I did quit, mentally I checked out, sat down on a log at the 64th Street Aid Station and resigned to getting my first DNF.

But while sitting on that log, I must have said "I quit" out loud and another runner heard me and talked me into continuing.  The words that convinced me to keep going "You have to walk as far to get back as you would to finish."   That was enough of a kick in the shorts to get me back on my feet and to keep going.  I did not get the name of this runner (a female) but if you are reading this "THANK YOU."  I finished in 6:49:16...

For a full year, I've been looking to get my revenge.  My goal for 2012 was to finish in under 6 hours.


After running 40+ miles the week prior, my prep started on Monday when my official taper began.  I ran a total of 10 miles Monday and Tuesday and took Weds, Thur, and Friday off.  I began to fuel up Thursday night with a monster plate of spaghetti for dinner.  Friday night I cooked up a big pancake dinner.  For lunch both days I went with lite meals supplementing each with a clifbar or two to get in a few more carbs.  Saturday morning I awoke up at 0345 and had 3 large pancakes.  At 0600 I headed to the race site and had a clifbar on the way.  That completed my carb load and prep race prep.

On a side note during the drive to First Landing State Park the morning featured a breath taking sunrise, I wish I could have gotten a picture but I was driving.  The sky was filled with a purple/pink haze...God was surly at work.

The race conditions were near perfect, at race start 0815 the temps were around 40 degrees.  I decide to go with a long sleeve tech-T (black) with a short sleeve tech-(orange) over top, a pair of Long Distance Race Ready Shorts (black) and my orange and white Nike Air Pegasus shoes.  I carried a water bottle and wore my Garmin 201 GPS.  I wanted to wear a pair of gloves but forgot them during the excitement of pre-race.  

My hands were a bit cold at first, but within the first miles my hands warmed up and everything was fine.   The race ended with temps in the mid 50s.  We had a few moments of bright skies and sunshine, but for the most part it was an overcast day, with no wind.  A perfect Ultra day.
This year my plan was to run with George N. a local Ultra Runner/Pacer/and Race Director for the 24 Hour Run For Cancer.  I've been mostly self taught when it comes to ultra running and last year taught me I have a thing or two to learn.  When George offered up his help, I jumped on the chance to run with him.  

George has run this event many times in the past and knows the course/trails very well.  His plan was to run all the flat sections, down hills and fast walk the up hills for the opening half.  Then turn it on during the back half and put the hammer down when the feeling was right.  I've never tried a run/walk routine before, but with an open mind I hooked up with George and the adventure lessons began.

(George and I taken at George's 24 Hour Run for Cancer 
I had completed 75 miles)

Note:  My GPS struggled with satellite receptions all day, many of the times checking our pace I saw the dreaded "Weak GPS Signal" flashing at me.

Mile  1  10:41 -- The trails at First Landing State Park are well maintained and easy to navigate.  Although a "trail run," I would not call this a difficult or technical trail.  The trails are wide and although rolling there are no real climbs.  The footing is mostly level with only a few rough areas of roots/sand to navigate over.  There are a few bridge crossing but then again the footing is solid and level.  The only real problems I had were during the latter stages for the race when it got hard to pick up my feet.  In those final miles, I caught a few roots and had to take a few quick steps to avoid hitting the deck.

Mile  2  10:41, Mile  3 12:50, Mile  4 11:36

Mile  5 11:29 -- We past thu the first Aid station (64th Street Aid Station) nearly on target with our goal pace, I picked up a cookie on the fly and moved on to the far turn around point.

Mile  6 11:33, Mile  7 11:11

Mile  8  12:09 -- Passing thu the 64th Street aid station again, I picked up some fluids and a snack.  I carry my own water bottle (hand held type) and here we were able to get a top off.  The aid stations were well stocked with smiling, helpful faces and plently of treats.  Along with fresh Gatorade I also snagged a few cookies and headed back out on the trail.  During most marathons I carry GU packs and hit them about every 6 miles chased with Gatorade.  During this event I poured the GU right into my bottle allowing it to dilute with the GatoraideThis makes taking the GU much easier, a mix of lemon Gatorade and strawberry GU...yummy!

(Map of First Landing State Park)
Mile  9  11:28

Mile  10  1:55:29 -- 11:46, Normally when I'm pacing myself I keep a close eye on my GPS to ensure I remain on target.  Today I was relying on George's experience and sense of pace.  Without fail George kept us on our goal, we were hitting our targets right on pace.

Mile  11  13:04, Mile  12  11:23, Mile  13  12:53, Mile  14  13:14, Mile  15  11:47, Mile  16  14:25, Mile  17  12:09, Mile  18  13:02, Mile  19  9:58

Mile  20 3:47:27 -- In 2011, this is where I came undone, I rolled into the 64th Street Aid Station at mile 20 and I was spent.  It was this scene of my near DNF that haunted me for over a year.  This year, I ran into mile 20 with a totally different perspective and it was so nice to run into this aid station knowing I had a lot left in my tank.  George and I the pit stop after making up some ground on a flat section of the course.  We got our bottles refilled, grabbed a few snacks and ran on.  And to be honest I wanted to get out of this place as fast as I could.

Mile  21  10:38Mile  22  11:44, Mile  23  10:47, Mile  24  11:20, Mile  25  11:46

Mile  26.2  4:55:00 -- At this point-on the course we passed a little sign that read "You Are An Ultra Marathoner Now."  I thought that was a nice touch.

Mile  27  10:52 -- As we approached the last aid station (Cape Henry Aid Station) another sign was along the trail proclaiming "3.2 miles to go."  That some how gave me an extra kick in the butt knowing I could do anything for 3 miles.  As we turned on to Bald Cypress Loop, I put the hammer down as it was go time.  George and I had said that whenever either of us felt we had a kick, it was okay to pull ahead.  The closing three miles I felt like I was really moving, I passed a handful of other runners and felt very strong.  Looking at my GPS times it looks more like I was able to maintain as others were falling off their paces....that is still a win.

Mile  28  11:01, Mile  29  11:51, Mile  30  10:25

Mile  31 5:54:02 -- I motored out of the last wooded/trail section and on to the asphalt road way which closed out the 50k.  After dragging my feet over the roots, sand and rocks, it was so nice to have a solid footing again. With that extra spring in my step I turned on whatever I had left.  I never race the other competitors, I'm racing the clock, but during this last section I had a few "targets" to run down.  And run them down I did...if my memory serves me right I passed six other runners during this closing section.

(This is one of the few race photos
where I don't look like "Dead Man" running) 

Crossing any finish line is an outstanding high, and seeing a PR on the timing board makes it all that more special.  Finishing this race I could not wait to get some fluids in me, a quick bite to eat and then see George as he crossed the finish line to thank him for pacing us so well.  After the glow of the PR began to wear off the pain set in.  But I will say that yes I was beat, yes I was tired and yes I was limping around a bit but overall I felt "alive" vs the walking dead of last year.  I limped around at the finish area for awhile to see some of George's friends finish, people I've seen at races but never really knew.  It was fun to chat with them about the day and to enjoy the finish as a community.

Then I got cold...  Seeming out of nowhere I got the chills.  And that brought on an over whelming desire to get out of the wet clothes I had been running in for nearly six hours.  I manged to say my goodbyes, thank George once again and hobbled my way to my car...a good quarter mile away.  The question then became, I ran 31 miles but could I "Zombie Walk" another .25 miles.

With a quick change of clothes and the car heater on HIGH I sat there and downed my favorite post race drink "a Yoo-hoo."  Once the sugar levels returned to my brain I proceeded to txt my wife and friends about my PR.  Next I popped open my Twitter account and posted a PR tweet.  The power of social media can not be over estimated...many times during the day I thought about how much I wanted to let my on-line friends know that I met my goal.  The same friends who encouraged me, supported me and allow me to live thu them as they met their personal goals.  For all the bad the internet can offer...not enough is said about the good! #runchat #marathon #ultrachat

(50k, before)

(50k, after)

This was a great race and I look forward to running it again.  If anyone is thinking about a first 50k...I would highly recommend this race.  On the day, I learned a lot about pacing...and although at first I thought the run/walk plan may be to slow, I'm convinced of it merits.  As with a marathon, you can't win the race, or set a PR in the first few miles, but you sure can lose them.  


The Official Results, as posted by The Tidewaters Striders, "PR Baby" 50k in 5:54:02


A lot of the folks I met this weekend had run multiple Ultras, 50 Milers and 100 Miler Races.  Up to this point I can't get my mind around a 100 mile race/run, but I'm going to try and get into the JFK 50 miler and see where this takes me.  I asked my wife why do I do this....her reply was You're Crazy.  I love her!


  1. That's what my Fiance says. But she is so supportive. Whenever I need a crew she is the first there. She helps me get all my drop bags and food ready. She's pretty awesome

    1. A good wife/fiance/GF is worth more then anything else.


  2. Great work!! I am so excited for you! Love those Nike favorite shoe. I also had GPS problems there (last year) which was odd because I never have problems there on my normal trail runs. I couldn't get a gps signal for 10 miles last year....ulgh. Enjoy some rest, you've earned it!

    1. Thanks, I have a pretty old unit Garmin 201, been using it for 10 plus I figured it was just me.


  3. Can you tell me what the temperature was like this day? I am entering for the 2013, thank you!