Monday, October 14, 2013

Can-Lake 50 Race Report---5:47:22--Running Out of My Mind!

RACE REPORT FINISHED!!!!!!!! Here are some photos taken from the event from some photographers at the race site: Al Randt and Natalie Werner

Photo 15 minutes before the start!!!

It is almost race time!

The Start with Daven

First few miles

Coming off the turnaround at mile 36

Heading into the loop at mile 33 ish


Ashlee Prewitt's Photo of the Finish:

This race was incredible!  I still cannot fathom what I did on Saturday. I felt like I was just running nothing special. Little did I know that I would run a great time that Tom Perry (RD of Can-Lake) would mention in an email to me  as being the fastest 50 mile time since 1985 in the region.  I keep asking myself  {How did I set myself up for such a solid performance?  How did I run that quick? What juice am I on?  Was it the shoes?}  And through this race report maybe we can shed some light on what might have potentially led me to having my break-out performance of my short career to date!

I ran with my Craft and Karhu gear as my main sponsor for the road edition of the race with my sleek Mammut Active Visor, Ultimate Direction SJ Essential Belt and Jurek Bottle with my Acidotic Racing Tatoos!  

Ashlee, my lovely girlfriend who is a big component in this race performance, and myself made the trip out to the Finger Lakes to celebrate our 3 year anniversary and to have some great fun together. I signed up for the Can-Lake 50 well in advance before it was sold out and so this race was a definite race on my schedule for quite some time.  This was my peak Fall Ultra and it was such a pleasure to finally have Ashlee experience an ultra with me.

We drove out to Canandaigua in the late afternoon and headed to the Super 8 Motel after some yummy dinner at a restaurant in Seneca Falls, NY. Tomorrow was going to be the big day. We got some shut-eye and then the alarm sounded at a brisk 5:30 am. I still wanted to get a Gatorade and maybe a coffee before the 7 am race start just to make sure I was fueled up and ready to run around the perimeter on an entire Finger Lake.  We headed to the Wegmans across the street and got our goodies. The coffee shop was not opened yet but I did have a nice glazed doughnut and some Arctic Ice White Gatorade I could swig on before the 50 miler would begin. We headed to the venue that is held at the Finger Lakes Community College and proceeded with the check-in process. I got my sweet neon orange shirt and then went out to the car to get my bib on.  

It was  a cool morning with the temps near 42 or so though they would warm up to 75 or so by mid-day.  I was trying to decide if I wanted to run with gloves or not but I made the decision to not use gloves because I thought the temperature would warm quickly and of course surely I would be throwing my gloves to the side within the first few miles as I would warm up.  

Ashlee would be out along the course at the aid stations except for the first few so that she could grab some gas for the car and some breakfast because we had to rush the morning so we did not have time to pick-up much.  Awaiting the start of the race, I had my Craft  Performance Thermal Wind Top Half-zip which kept me warm before we headed out.  I was excited about the race and I noticed that the current course record holder was running the event, Daven Oskvig. Daven had run the course record the previous year in a blistering fast time of 6:19:08 and that was my main goal or focus in terms of time.  I knew that if I could average under 7:35 or so a mile I would have the record. With the course having rolling Upstate New York hills and the famous 1.5 mile long Bopple Hill that is an average grade of maybe 6.3% and tops of 25% grades, this course was going to be a challenge. It was not your average flat 50. The Can-Lake 50 website:  mentions about 3,500 feet of elevation gain which is not incredible by ultra standards but enough to pose a challenge.  

THE RACE----------
The race was delayed because there was not any officers at the first traffic light in town to begin the race. So we waited until 7:10 am for the race to begin. Ashlee snapped some photos of me and I kissed her goodbye as we headed out.  I started my pace just having fun running with a WAL-MART WATCH!  I forgot my GPS watch at Confluence Running, the store I work at on Thursday so I was going to be running a 50 miler with only a full-on timer.  I would have to rely on my body to tell me the signals of going too fast or slow.  Maybe running without a GPS watch was one key factor to why I ran so well?

The first few miles---I am running and talking with Daven Oskvig about my running and the race and we are out running a comfortable but solid pace.  I notice the spray paint markers on the road for each mile as I remember seeing the beautiful lake views right to the left of myself and that magic "Mile 3" marker hearing Daven's watch beep and then I look at my watch and it shows "21:03". I am thinking around 7 minute pace nice!  We are under course record time!  The effort seems so relaxed and the cool morning feels so good. I was right that gloves would have been thrown away by mile 3.  It was a perfect morning as the sun was glaring across the lake in brilliant orange hues.  It was peaceful and MAN those houses along the lake were nice too!  I was barely sweating and I just knew that today was going to be a great day to run. My body felt in-tune and I knew that later in the race, Daven and myself would be running some quick miles to get that record. Daven's father was out on the course to give Daven aid at various locations. I remember coming along a marina section and Daven yells "Sunglasses" and from the distance, his father comes running from a collection of parked cars to give Daven the glasses. I stop for a second to see if I should wait for him and then I just keep going at the pace.  I make it to the next aid station and then Daven catches up and pulls ahead of me.  At this point we are under 10 miles but near mile 8 or so. An hour of running has elapsed and I take my first gel.  Daven is a pretty interesting guy too. I thought while living in Buffalo he would be a dentist or working in some Computer Tech Firm but no, he is a Pastor as I recall. Yeah, that is so cool running with a Pastor!  Hearing all about his passion of ultra running was neat too.  We continue to exchange the lead back and forth running relaxed and well under course record pace. I had a feeling Daven and myself would exchange the lead all day and then finally have to make a push the last 6 miles to see who would come out on top.

Mile 10-Bopple Hill at 16.3 miles---------------------

I could see that Daven was sweating a bunch in the cool weather as my Craft T did not show a drop of sweat on myself. I was nice and cool and well-hydrated.  At this point in the race, the hills started forming.  They were not super steep hills but in the scheme of a 50 miler on the roads, they were a little steep.  We hit those and just remained to run relaxed. The talking kind of stopped here.  I took in all of the views during this section seeing the high hills in the distance with the fall foliage and the lake as the perfect backdrop.  Then before I knew it, Daven stopped with his father to get some aid after mentioning how running up Bopple Hill was not worth it. Of course my strategy was to in fact run Bopple Hill to the best of my ability and then surge on the long continuous downhill.  So Daven stops for aid and then BAM! This is Bopple Hill!  I was ready for like a band to be at the hill's beginning but it never came. We had caught the early starters and I made my strategic move...Running almost all of Bopple Hill. This was where I would make my initial move. I knew coming in that I could run the whole thing and actually when I started running the hill, I realized it was very similar to the Ames Hill Road incline I do just a half of a mile longer and not as consistently steep--(Avg grade of Bopple I think is 6.3% while Ames Hill is 11.7%).  At that point I ran Bopple really well and then had my stomach gurgle. I stopped to relieve myself in a person's driveway--I am sorry if it was your driveway which costed me a minute to 2 minutes then I accelerated the rest of the downhill. I hit the aid station and had my bottle almost topped off and to make up lost time, I sprinted by the aid station waving at Ashlee and the crew there. From that point on, I was running quick! I had picked up my pace on the downhill and just began to stride it out still in control not doing anything beyond my own limitations.

Post-Bopple Hill to the Marathon Point----I remember coming down another nice hill over to the High Tor Wildlife Management area. It was really interesting to see the swampy-looking land and of course as a Park/Recreation enthusiast, I was excited to view such a beautiful area. At this point in the race, I felt like I had some separation on second but with Daven being the current course record holder, he would know when to push in points I had no idea. I feel that having that type of runner behind you always plants that seed to continue to push yourself and that was something I did the whole 50 miles of the race. With my pace I knew I was probably running under 7 minutes per mile though it never felt bad or off. I still remained relaxed and strong.  It was a nice gesture of Daven's father to offer me anything as I passed his car. Some really great people out here for sure.  I kept to my pace and then came across a bridge section and hit the next aid station area knowing I was close to the 25 mile point (halfway).  I saw a parking lot section to my right as my girlfriend, Ashlee comes running asking if I needed anything like Kit Kat Bars which I felt great!  I had no desire for such treats unfortunately until the next day at least.  I topped off my bottle and the aid station crew said I was doing amazing. The temperature was just starting to warm-up as my watch was getting closer to 3 hours.  I spent a minute or 2 at the aid station and I was off. We hit a gradual uphill section and Ashlee powered into her car and followed me stating I was close to mile 28 and I was well in the lead.  We agreed that I would meet here in two aid stations down the way (approx. 10 miles) when I would really need her help and I stressed I would need her help.  My legs still felt limber and solid.  I was just running, enjoying the sights and the whole experience. I then crossed the chalk line labeled "26.2" and looked at my watch and it displayed 3:04.

Marathon Point to Mile 38---(My Breaking Point)----- THREE HOURS AND 4 MINUTES!!!!!!!!  Wow!!!! I was really impressed with my running. That meant that If I kept my pace, I would maybe finish around 6:10 or so which would place me about 10 minutes under the course record pace. I knew that I could run that quick so I kept the pace.  Little did I know, I guess I picked up my pace more-so.  If I was to run that additional marathon, I would have been about 10 minutes under 3:04 which meant I was moving.  Seeing Ashlee at the aid stations helped me to carry my spirits and my one gel every 30,40,60 minutes was paying off. The pasta the night before did great too besides my little bathroom stop after Bopple Hill but that is Ultra Running for ya!  I accelerated the road section here slightly into the next aid station at The church at Middlesex.  I passed the aid station with a decent bottle and now knew the next big climb was coming as I was told it would happen near the 50k point near mile 30-32. I was ready.....The next four miles I rose to the challenge. The road had a nice climb out of the Church aid station at Middlesex what felt like immediately. I ran the whole uphill section maintaining my pace and effort. When the downhill rolling hills came, I let myself go and picked up time.  Running through this whole section, I felt ready to go. I was ready to run strong and I hoped it showed.  I was mentally strong and really began to realize that I was on to a fast performance.  The recollection of this performance really did not hit me until I looked at my watch with 8 miles to go but we will get there in the story.  I felt strong from the hill and the downhill sections and loved getting into a more residential section.  I blasted down the hill to the next aid station still feeling strong but the heat of the day starting to make me feel it. I was not sweating a whole lot as Craft makes some solid wicking shirts but the direct sun was a little much.  I dumped water onto myself at Vine Valley Aid Station and talked to the volunteers that it was getting a little hot but I was still feeling just fine.  I now headed into the out and back section where I knew I would have a chance to see where Daven would be.  I headed out to the out and back along a small and narrow road and WOW was that lake beautiful.  The views from this road were spectacular.  I ran to a man and woman cheering me on saying Hooray for first or something to that extent.  I continued down the way knowing it was about a 5k section.  I kept going seeing no markings on the road. Had I made the wrong turn????

WAS I LOST????  At this point in the race, I was starting to fatigue just a little though still felt pretty decent. I was moving hard at this point. I wanted the win.  My mind started fleeting to myself going off course and ruining a chance at the record.  These things happen to me.  I kept going until I saw a little arrow on the road marking the turn-around.  Whew, ok, I made it.  Now that hard part felt like it was over. I made the right turn and now could really run. I picked up my pace.  I saw Daven approach me at what looked like a close point. Maybe he was 7-12 minutes behind me. That was still close with about 35 miles in the race.  My legs were getting a little on the cramping side from the pounding of the roads and the heat of the day. By this point, it was near 70+.

The next section to the aid station, I was tired.  This section Vine Valley to the Top of Bare Hill Climb had me not feeling so hot. I felt like this whole section was an uphill. I contemplated walking a few times and the road then made a sudden turn from the exposed farm roads to an off access road.  The hill lay before me.  I did not want to run steep uphills anymore.  My run went from a solid pace to a tip-toe pace.  I could see the aid station at the top and I would power-hike and run, powerhike and run just to see if I could recover a little.  I thought about how Daven looked pretty good and that every moment I walked, he could be gaining on me.  I pushed really hard at this section, downed two gels and drank my whole handheld bottle maybe 14 oz out of 20.  I finally made it to the top aid station exhausted.

Mile 38 to the Finish----"I wish I was Done ALREADY!!!! "  I cooled off at the aid station and knew this was it. I was near mile 40 and the finishing point was now. What was I made of.  I had felt great almost all the way through 38 mile before mentally I almost wanted to give up.  I got all set-up at the aid station and mentioned how that hill killed my legs.  I mentally prepared myself and off I went.  Running the rolling hills completely exposed to the sun, seeing every mile marking on the road made this section feel like eternity.  The last 12 miles was my personal gut check. I thought back to all of my hard training runs and all the effort I placed in myself so that I could perform on this day. I wanted the best performance out of myself I could possibly do.  It was cool. I really had to mentally will myself in the race. I was alone. It was getting hot. I felt a little dehydrated and the gels I was ingesting would only take a little sting out of my ailing legs but not the brunt of the pain.  I grimaced a lot from here on out.  I was running out of steam.  So what did I do?  Did I fold here? Or did I rise to the challenge?

I thought about myself and how crazy I am for running ultras but the lessons you learn from them are so key.  I fought hard every mile. I took the race one mile at a time. I knew if I could make it a mile, I could make it to the next.  With 10k to go I was so done with this race. I was holding on just to finish. At this point I felt like my running was a crawl though I guess split-wise it probably was in the 7 minute range.  I handled every downhill and uphill well to the best of my ability. At this point in an ultra, I had run 38 splendid miles and the last 12...well, I need to work on that.  I made it to the second to last aid station with Ashlee there and she mentioned I had a nice lead. I of course never thought I had the race in the bag though while looking at my watch through this section maybe with 8 to go, I saw I was just at 4 hours. I began stalking my watch to speculate what time I would finish.  At the aid station, I dumped tons of water that Ashlee had gotten for me all over my head to cool myself off. I refueled and said my goodbyes as I headed closer to the finish.  I thought to myself, "How can I survive?"  I felt like I was a lead body that could hardly move.  I mentally pulled myself along the road sections up and down the countryside of Upstate New York.  I never take where I am in a race for granted. There have been too many times where I have been complacent and it cost me a better position or a race.  I eventually turned onto Middle Road...The BUSIEST Road in the race.  I was so done with the race at this point, it was survival.  My fatigue made me angry at the cars coming so close to me that none moved to the other side as I was running all on the gravel side of the road those cars were moving into the shoulder inches from my face like it would be a fun thing to hit a runner.  I did not like it one bit. I kept going, my focus on ahead.  I crested a small hill to the last and final aid station.  I met Ashlee and she asked me where my watch was. I told her I was at 5:23 and had less than 5k to go.  I refueled for my final push, kissed her goodbye and off  I went.  Soon, I would be finished....soon. At moments I wrestled with walking, I kept shuffling my feet.  It was embarrassing. I then tried to call on my body to make one last push when I saw "2 to go".  I was so ready for this race to end.  I had to hold on. I then thought of Daven coming up on me the last mile and outkicking me to win.  That is one thing about an ultra, when you run in a position for like 4-8 hours and then passed in the last few miles, that is demoralizing.  I could not have that happen to me.  I pushed my body to the mile to go marker seeing the FLCC signs knowing I was there. I slowed down at this point.  I hit the dead end and went around to the finishing road.  Once I had hit that road, I knew I had done it.  Relief was what I experienced most. Seeing Ashlee and everyone at the finish at my 5:47:23 time was amazing.  WOW! I had run out of my mind.

I never thought I could run that much under the course record.  My second half did not even feel that great.  Now I am up for the points title for the USATF Niagara Ultra Race Series and I will have to race at Mendon Ponds on Nov 2 to ensure my win. Just for showing up and finishing, I think I will have the title. I am in recovery mode still, but I might as well test the body after huge runs for me at Virgil Crest and Can-Lake.  I do not know If I can repeat such performances in such little time again so I might as well go for the title.

I would like to thank Ashlee for giving me such inspiration and motivation throughout this run. She was my good luck charm.  Thank you to Daven Oskvig for having such a great course record in place, to challenge me during the run and to be such a fabulous competitor.  Thank you to all of my sponsors for making me look and dress the part and for believing in me.  Thank you Mammut, Fits Socks, Acidotic Racing, Karhu/Craft, Dion Snowshoes, and my work at Confluence Running for helping me reach my dreams. Thank you to the awesome volunteers and to Tom Perry for being an amazing ambassador for Ultra Running and for putting on a stellar race!

Items used in Race: *Mammut Active Visor
*Ultimate Direction Essential Belt and Jurek Bottle
*Walmart Watch

What have we learned here?????????

This is where you come in. Comment leave your thoughts about the race.  What led me to this top performance which for me has been the highlight of my career so far?  I think the answer lies in a large sum of different factors: smart training in the late summer, resting after Virgil Crest, having Ashlee at the race, Daven Oskvig pushing me throughout the race, decent morning weather, solid nutrition, this list goes on.

CONCLUSION: With this performance, I hope I can inspire others to follow in my footsteps. Truly, I did not do anything special on the day. I did what I love to do, Run! Plain and Simple.  That is the best strategy. When running becomes all about science-peak performance stuff, I lose interest. Running is about the simplicity of the activity and that is why I love it.  In ultra racing, we push our own limitations and that is the coolest thing about these races. I have to test myself more so than the competition. I have to be better than myself and fight my insecurities.  At Can-Lake, it was my day. I ran smart, maybe too quick too early but I ran based on how I felt and on the day, I guess I was feeling pretty solid.  My closing words are this:

Enjoy what you love!  Have a wonderful Fall into Winter everyone!

1 comment:

  1. Wow! That's a totally insane pace! Congratulations and well done!
    Ultra marathon 50 miler wannabe here ;-)