Sunday, March 2, 2014

Caumsett 50K road US championships: more birthday gifts!

I was so looking forward to this run on my birthday weekend, on the second day I became the youngest of a new group of older guys! I worked hard for it, meaning training hard through January. By beginning of February, the hard work started to show at Jed Smith where Rich Hanna was unbeatable (3:13 at 49!) and just wanted to use the run as a long run test, in particular to see how long I could run at a sub 6:20 pace. As usual, I did a recovery run the day after the race, a 10K at 7 min/mile then a slightly faster run on Monday. At this point I felt a sharp pain in anterior tibialis, took a day off, ran again on Wednesday (February 5), then 2 days off which made the pain disappear at least at rest. Did a track workout on Sunday which I had to interrupt at mile 9 because of the pain. There is never a good timing for injuries but I was frustrated that this came at a point I felt in such a great shape. Took another week off, ran for 4 days with pain and took 10 days off to heal and taper. This Friday, I went for a test run and the same pain came up at mile 5 miles, not good, 2 days before the big race... I flew to Newark on Saturday, commuted through New York in heavy traffic but had a good 6-hour sleep in Huntington, close to Caumsett Park. A start at 8:30 am was great to handle the jet lag.
The first good news of the day is that the temperature was a few degrees above the freezing point, overcast skies but no wind despite the park begin next to the Sound and potentially quite exposed to the elements. And the snow was only announced for Sunday night, With that, it was cold but bearable with 2 layers, a hat, gloves and tights. And the bike path was in perfect conditions, clear of the packed snow from a few weeks ago.
Unlike the races I'm now so familiar with in California and where I know so many people, both runners and volunteers, that wasn't the case at all here. But I knew that Scott Dunlap was coming and indeed, he was the first one to wish me a good birthday run.
I was also glad to see elite Michael Wardian, whom I pace a few years ago at the North Face 50-mile championship in San Francisco.
Before the start, I also had a chat with Ian Torrence, and we ended up running the first mile together with Scott. With the injury, I had little expectations of doing great today, yet I didn't believe a slower pace was going to help.

Speaking of familiar faces, my son Max made me the surprise of driving from New Haven. I discovered him in the crowd 5 minutes before the start. His running experience, his smiles and encouragements at every lap, were a huge boost and made a big difference for me today, what another gift! And he took may pictures of us on the course, never getting tired of seeing us coming through again and again!
The top 3 runners (Michael, above, Ethan Coffy, hidden, took off at a sub 6 min/mile pace and I felt that our first mile was too slow, at around 6:40, so I picked-up the pace with Scott and another tall runner, Alex Hetherington, 46, of Vienna, VA.
We kept rotating the lead around a 6:20 pace, leading us to very even lap times: 20:17, 19:38, 19:37, 19:51, 19:54, 19:59 (each lap being right on 5K/3.1 miles). In the 6th lap, Scott was third and I tried to stay with Alex but I couldn't quite keep up the pace. I was so thrilled that I had only felt my tibialis muscle and inflammation around the half marathon, but the joy wasn't enough to keep the 6:20-25 pace which was required for a 3:19 time, the M50-54 US age group record for the distance.
I closed the 7th lap in 20:58 which wasn't too bad except that I was losing the momentum. I actually started feeling dizzy, feeling pain in my head and neck and my vision being altered so I started alternating walking and jogging.

In the meantime, the format of the course allowed for some look of what was ahead and behind you thanks to an out-and-back and turn-around between mile 2.5 and 3 of the loop. Also, those of us in 5-year age groups (M40 and above) had to display our age group on a special bin in the back of our racing tops (last time I experienced that was at a French Nationals 10 years ago and I don't recall we had such bibs at the World Masters). Here is Max catching me looking at the back of a runner at the end of the 7th lap.
And, yes, that runner was wearing a M50-54 bib, darn, I was going to get caught soon! As much as the beginning of the race was pretty clear with our stable pace, it was a very different matter as the race progressed especially as the contingent of 25K runners started their race one hour after our start. With runners of all ability, from 18 to 75, it was all about lapping or getting lapped. To my surprise, Michael wasn't the first one to lap me in lap 7 but Ethan Coffrey, 31, of Tennessee who won in a blazing 2:53, lowering Michael's course record by 2 minutes.
While some were keeping having a great day, I was drowning in the 9th lap and clocked an abysmal 26:15 (8:27 pace, oops!). I even got passed by this other M50-54 runner and that didn't help. At the end of lap 9 I saw another one behind me in the out and back and, this time, decided to pick-up the pace again to a still painful 8 min/mile in the 10th and last lap. I was glad it was over, crossing the finish line in 3:37. Disappointed with my time but happy to have even finished given the very little training through February, even making it into the top 10 (9th male, chicked only once, phew!). Later I found out that I had actually won the M50-54 competition which was a nice consolation. Good for three more birthday gifts: the finisher medal, a top 10 bronze one and the golden medal for M50-54 1st place, felling blessed!

All results are already available on JMS Racing Services' website., a very professional timing, including a marathon split valid for a Boston qualifying time (mine wasn't so good today, a lame 2:57, still 33 minutes below the M50-54 bar, but not as good as the unofficial 2:49 of a month ago at Jed Smith).

The women race was won by Emily Harrison, 28, from Flagstaff, AZ, with an amazing time and new course record of 3:15! (So fast that she is blurry on this picture...)
 A sincere thank you to the Greater Long Island Running Club (GLIRC) for this very professional yet friendly organization of a national-class event, to the Race Directors, and the many volunteers who spent hours standing in the cold this Sunday.

And the injury? Thankfully it didn't bother me during the race, must have been the cold which served as icing to contain the inflammation. It's pretty hot tonight but not as bad as two weeks ago, there is progress. Let's see how it evolves tomorrow, my next race is only in 6 days, my 9th Way Too Cool 50K, can't miss that!

Thanks for all the birthday wishes on FaceBook, this will help me keeping running for another half century, if not faster, at least farther! And, hopefully, along many of you: thank you for the gift of you friendship, support, emulation or encouragements!


Maya said...

Encore une fois très bon anniversaire et un grand bravo et bravo à Maxime pour son soutien la solidarité familialle chez vous n'est pas un vain mot et c'est le resultant d'annees d'amour et d'exemple !
Très fiere de faire partie de tes proches et très heureuse d'apprendre que ta bless ire t'as laissé en Paix Durante cette course même si le froid a jouénson d'anesthésiant !
Encore bravo

Scott Dunlap said...

So great to join you on your birthday run! Thanks for all the pace work, and it was awesome to see Max. Very impressive debut in your v5.0 days!

parent said...

quel beau cadeau d'anniversaire tu t'es offert! bravo, bravo bravo!!!
nous connaissons ta ténacité qui ne faiblit pas avec les années!
Nous t'embrassons fort
Marie et Bruno

Anonymous said...

Magnifique que tu aies pu faire cela malgré ta blessure...
bonne continuation dans cette classe d'âge...
Papa et Maman

Brigitte said...

Que dire? sinon chapeau bas Jean et 50000 bravos! le plus dur l'an prochain cela va etre de trouver un championnat US des 51 km (lol)pour ton prochain anniversaire!!!
Bravo pour ces 3 médailles! et à nouveau Bon anniversaire!
Bises de Provins.

PS: la course des remparts (21km) aura lieu comme chaque année en septembre à provins, je connais les organisateurs si tu veux je peux leur demander que tu fasses 2 tours!!!!

Anonymous said...

Super ! BRAVO Jean ! Espérons que cette blessure au tibia puisse se soigner rapidement ! Grosses bises de Miche Alexeï et Sophie en vacances dans les Bauges

Mark Tanaka (Ultrailnakaman) said...

Happy Birthday, Jean, and congrats on winning the...50-100 age division!