Monday, March 28, 2011

Success At The NJ Ultra Fest

OK, so I am finally getting around to writing down a report of last week's trials and tribulations. Usually at this time of year, Joe & I travel to the HAT Run 50K in Maryland, a top-notch trail run on great trails which is always a great way to ring in spring. Well, this year the HAT registrations filled in 2 days. And although the HAT Run is a really great event, it has grown in size and last year I actually found that the trails were just a bit too crowded for me. So I had actually decided that I wanted to find something new this year, something that was a bit more "homey". And fortunately, my bud Johnny had told me about the NJ Ultra Fest, which just so happened to be going on on the same day as HAT Run. I really love the 50 mile distance and, although I am not fast at it, feel that it is very do-able for me, so I am always looking to challenge myself with something more. Unfortunately, that has led me to attempting more 100 mile races which I have not been so successful at. The cool thing about the NJ Ultra Fest is that it offered me something in between ... the 100K! This would be my second try at this distance and from my first go at it, I knew that even though it is only 12 miles longer than my comfortable 50 mile love, that extra 12 miles is WAY challenging! (Funny ... my first 100 mile attempt was with a DNF with 12 miles to go ... perhaps this was some kind of foreboding for me?). Anyway, back to the Ultra Fest. First of all, it was cool that it was only a 3 1/2 hour drive to get there (which equals 3 1/2 hour drive home when you're sore, tired, and stinky!). Really nice. Joe and I found our way to the race site quite easily with the assistance of Tom-Tom, our new travelling guide. We arrived to find our buddy, Jim, and his dad, Don. This weekend would be redemption runs for both Jim and I, since our DNFs at the Beast of Burden. I think we were both ready to make ammends. We quickly found Johnny and his friend Dave setting up their tents and we settled in next to them, setting up our tent "Aid Station". The plan was to put all of our race junk in the tent for easy access during the race and "camp" inside our vehicle. This proved to be an excellent plan because the wind was blowing like mad and the tent just rocked & rolled from side to side the entire weekend! We met the Ultra RDs, Rick & Jenn McNulty when we picked-up our race goodies (a really nice bag & tech shirt) and found them to be super nice, down to earth people. They were awesome and really put on a super event. A nice simple pasta dinner at the race site and Joe was off to bed to rest for his 50 mile debut while I sucked a couple of brews with new and old friends. Around 9pm it was off to bed for me, because if I don't go to bed by this time, it will be that I am up until 2 or 3am, which wouldn't bode well for my 5am start! I slept well, woke and downed a Starbuck's Double Shot to caffeinate me, and a couple of Pop Tarts, got my running gear on and walked that couple hundred feet to the starting line ... I love races where you get to camp right at the start! Joe was up to see me off and then prep himself for his 6am start. I am so used to having him be able to "get me ready" but this time I had to get myself together by myself since I didn't want to take Joe away from concentrating on his own run. At 5am, after a few last-minute instructions from RD Rick, we were off into the dark. I had looked at the map of the course, and although it seemed quite simple and self-explanatory, I really wasn't totally sure of where I was going. It was cool and the full moon helped to light the way, and I just tried to run easy. I finally felt comfortable when we reached our 6-mile turn-around point. On the way back to the start/finish I would see Joe heading out for his first out-and-back ... this was a great way to pass the day, seeing familiar faces over and over again and encouraging each other. The course was flat, which some may find this to be fast, but I find it to be quite challenging. When there are hills I know when to walk, when to eat, and get to use different muscles. Things are just different on the flat. So on and off I felt good, felt like crap, ran, walked, but got to see lots of friends and just had a great time. Just around the 6 mile point on the western section there was a pasture of Clydesdale horses ... my peeps! ... and they were just awesome. I could have stood there for hours just staring at them. But I had a job to do ... 62 miles in what I was hoping would be a PR. Throuhout the day I saw Joe and he looked absolutely fantastic! I was shocked because for two weeks leading up to race day he had been coughing up both lungs and just plain feeling like crap and had barely been able to get out for training runs. But, as usual, he somehow, somewhere, pulled another amazing run out! Joe finished his 50 miles in 11:22 and change and looked (and walked!) quite well after. Amazing. I fuelled throughout the day with just plain water with NUUN tabs and Honey Stinger Waffles interspersed with my fave tapioca pudding. This was perfect as I never felt hungry or out of fuel. Just before my last leg of 9 miles I downed my traditional 5-HR Energy with caffeine and was off. It did the trick and I had an amazing last 9 miles, completing that section in under 2 hours! I finished my second 100K in 13:23:31, a PR. Joe and I celebrated our runs with some nice spicey chicken wing pizza and for me, a couple of Harp Lagers. Up Sunday morning to talk with the other race finishers and cheer in the remaining 100 milers. We then all shared trail tales at the post-race celebration at the Long Valley Brew Pub where there was an EXCELLENT food spread!Through tears of happiness and exhaustion, RD Rick presented the post-race beer awards (a really excellent local brew) and fine pint glass with the race logo on it. The weekend of running was a huge success ... redemption for my running and finding just what I was looking for in a race ... fun with friends and a nice "homey" feeling with everyone there. RDs Rick & Jenn were the best hosts! I will definitely put this one on the calendar for next year. The drive home was uneventful with Tom-Tom leading the way ... and LARGE Shamrock Shakes to celebrate with!


  1. congrats on your PR! sounds like it was a great race.

  2. it was an awesome time, lakewood! the PR was just icing on the cake! i am finding that i really like these loop-type courses just because i get to see everyone else who is racing over and over again and love the encouragement that goes around.