Saturday, November 17, 2007

JFK 50 Miler - Hagerstown, MD

This is the country's oldest (45 years old) and largest (over 1300 participants) ultra. Its relatively flat - not generally my favorite kind of course. But a chance to run a sub eight hour 50 miler. And I have rental property in Virginia, but haven't met my tenant there. This was a good excuse for a fall visit.

This year the race attracted Mark Lundblad, Eric Clifton, Greg Crowther, Eric Grossman, and Sean Meissner: ultra luminaries from across the nation. Perhaps it wasn't quite so crazy to fly across the country to go. It was frigid the morning of the race: 28 degrees. Although I lived in the DC area for many years, I'm now a California cold weather wimp. So I stayed in the shelter of the schoolhouse where morning of registration was done as long as possible. With ten minutes to race time, I started walking to the start line with the over a thousand other people running. I had never seen such a crowd at an ultra. The gun went off before many of us had reached the starting line.

We ran up the road to where the trail started a couple miles away. It was a steep enough hill that many runners started walking. I kept running and passed many people since I had started late. We turned onto the Appalachian Trail and enjoyed the respite from the asphalt for a while. That is until the descent started. Unlike most California ultras, the trail was covered by rocks. In my lightweight New Balance 790 ballet slippers, my feet were cut into small shards by the constant impact on the sharp stones. The occasional rises on the Appalachian Trail provided welcome respite from the downhill punishment of the rocks.

Eventually the hills yielded to the flats of the C&O Canal Towpath. This was around the 15 mile mark. I hit it at around the 2:30 mark. I was running with two sub 3 hour marathoners, Michael Dunkle (who would finish a few minutes ahead) and Robert Ayers (who faded to 8:32), easily clocking 7:30 miles at that point.

Since my goal was eight hours I slowed down to try to do eight minute pace which should easily get me the eight hour overall time. We ran 26 miles on the path. I came off of the path at 6:45, with eight miles to go. We were now going up and down rolling hills on asphalt. It wasn't that fun running out on the road, but the traffic wasn't too bad and the weather was nice. I felt like eight hours was in the bag, so I settled into an even 8:30 minute pace to finish under 8 hours and not blow up. Mission accomplished. I finished at 7:57.

Then off to my favorite restaurant in the world: the Inn at Little Washington, in rural Washington, Virginia, for a fantastic celebratory meal.


Blogger Michael Hayden said...

Nice Work Adam! Did you apply for WS100?

see you in a few miles...Michael Hayden

6:45 PM  
Blogger Adam Blum said...

yes, we'll both find out tomorrow I guess

2:54 PM  
Blogger Brian Rook said...

Don't know if you guys would be interested, but I'm in the midst of reading one of the best books, ever:

"Again To Carthage" is the name of the book written by John L. Parker, author of probably the most critically acclaimed novel about running ever written. ("Once A Runner)

"Again To Carthage" is very difficult to find at the moment (I got my copy at Fleet Feet here in St. Louis) and can only be purchased at running/specialty shops from what I understand.

Anyway, just wanted to throw that out there...

6:01 AM  
Blogger Adam Blum said...

What I really want to get first is the original: Once a Runner. I've only seen it online for a LOT of money.

4:05 PM  

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