Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Todd's Race Report

Following is a guest report from Todd, a recap of his 50 mile run from this past weekend. I promise you don't need to be a runner to enjoy this one!

Congrats again, Todd. Hope you are recovering well.


So Sunday was the “Ocean to Sound 50 Mile Relay”. For those of you who don’t know, this is 25+ year old 8-person relay race that traverses the entire width of Long Island starting at Jones Beach (the Ocean) and ending in Oyster Bay (the Sound). I was one of 3 individuals who ran the relay as an “individual” this year, completing all 50 miles solo. Let me start by stating that while I ran all 8 legs, I was not alone for a single moment of what ended up being 9 hours and 55 minutes of arduous running. I was supported by an amazing group of 5 colleagues from Cantor who all chipped in and ran with me for various legs/distances of between 6 and 18 miles. So a big “thank you!” to Alex, Bobby, Avi, Jim and Brian. I could not have completed this endeavor without your support and encouragement. Words cannot begin to express my gratitude.

LEG 1 – 6 miles
I pushed off from Jones Beach at 7:00am with my first running partner, Alex. After a quick jog along the boardwalk, the bulk of leg-1 followed the bike path from the Jones Beach Amphitheatre along the Wantagh Causeway. We had beautiful views of the ocean at sunrise and there was lots of horn-blowing and cheers from all of the other race crews. I was feeling great and we were sticking to a planned 10-minute/mile pace, but what struck me right away was the heat. It was not yet 8:00am yet it was already pushing 70 degrees. My heart rate was running higher than I would have liked and I knew it was going to be a long day.
Leg 1 – 1:04 (10:42 mm)

Leg 2 – 6 miles
The second leg traversed a very flat course thru the streets of Massapequa. The Nassau County Auxiliary Police were out in force and really did an amazing job of controlling traffic for the runners. During the entire 50 miles, I did not have to stop for traffic a single time – pretty amazing. Leg 2 was fairly uneventful although I continued to be concerned about the heat. The first elite runners (who started an hour after we did) began to pass us. Watching these guys go by running 6 minute/miles was exciting but also a bit disheartening. I couldn’t help think about how they were going to be done in a few hours, and I still had a long slog ahead of me.
Leg 2 – 1:03 (10:36mm)

Leg 3 – 6.3 miles
I swapped out Alex for Bobby and we headed off for the start of leg 3 which was mostly on paved bike path through Bethpage State Park. We had a bit of shade and it was really nice to be off of the streets and away from cars. This was one of Bobby’s longest runs, so we eased back into a nice, leisurely pace. The course traversed out of the park and along the Beth Page Golf Course (home of the U.S. Open). As I watched the golfers enjoying themselves, I thought to myself “wouldn’t it be so much nicer playing golf than running 50 miles?” But then I remembered that I don’t pay golf, so on we pressed.
Leg 3- 1:10 (11:12mm)

Leg 4 – 5.8 miles
After a quick bathroom break and a little chicken soup, I headed out on leg 4 with Avi. Avi is training for the NYC Marathon and would be running the next three legs with me. Avi had fresh legs and was excited to finally be running after waiting around for the last hour or so. I needed to dial him back from an initial 9 minute/mile pace. I was starting to feel the heat and my heart rate was now high enough that if I didn’t start to bring it down, I could easily end up in trouble. I began to really focus on my breathing, nutrition and Avi and I started to walk the uphills.
Leg 4 – 1:07 (11:35mm)

Leg 5 – 5.7 miles
The pain begins. While I was still feeling relatively good physically at this point, the middle of leg 5 is where my mind started to play games. I was 25 miles in and only ½ way done. The sun was still rising along with the temperature and my heart rate. Avi was great at helping get me back into a better frame of mind and I figured if I could just get done with this leg, it would be 5 down and 3 to go. I would grab some food at the next rest stop and try to get some of my energy back. So at the end of leg 5 I proceeded to have two more cups of chicken soup. My stomach did not like it one bit. I was conflicted with the choice of trying to hold down the food I knew I needed or throwing up so I could feel better. I opted for the former and just took some time to relax and let my stomach settle down before heading out on the next leg.
Leg 5 – 1:09 (12:09mm)

Leg 6 – 6.5 miles
The wheels come off… So the vim and vigor Avi started with on leg 4 were now gone. The heat was really beginning to take its toll on us both. We were now in the thick of the mid-day sun and the temperature was pushing 80 degrees. The course traversed up into Huntington and we had beautiful views of Huntington Harbor to help take our minds off the pain. The course continued up into Lloyd Harbor and down and across into Cold Spring Harbor. My friend, Micky happened to be driving by with his daughters and a few words of encouragement and a friendly face gave me enough energy to complete the steep downhill on Snake Hill road to the end of the leg. I was completely shot at this point. I met up with my crew and proceeded to lay flat on my back as I began to contemplate how I was going to run another 13 miles.
Leg 6 – 1:30 (13:56mm)

Leg 7 – 7 miles
I managed to get myself off the pavement, but the despair was really starting to set in as Jim and I started out on leg 7 (the toughest leg of the race). Jim had been waiting since the middle of leg 3 to run and I felt horrible that I was so incapable of running a decent pace with him. In fact, I was barely capable of running. But true to form, Jim was ever the optimist. He somehow helped pull me out of the doldrums and aside from walking the uphills, we managed to keep a fairly steady pace for the next 7 miles. When I wanted to walk, Jim would give me a minute and then get me running again. My quads were throbbing, but Jim kept me thinking about just finishing leg 7 and only having 1 more leg to go. While I certainly wasn’t seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, I realized that I was definitely going to finish. It was going to be painful, but I was confident that I would emerge victorious at the end of the day.
Leg 7 – 1:34 (13:30mm)

Leg 8 – 6.4 miles
Brian was waiting for me at the start of leg 8 with his wife and two sons. He looked fresh and ready to go. I felt like garbage. I only had 6.4 miles to go, but it seemed like an insurmountable distance. We hit the 1 mile marker into leg 8, but the race coordinators had incorrectly marked it as mile 2. I had a brief moment euphoria as I thought we had just knocked down two of my last 6 miles, but the joy was quickly destroyed a mile later as we passed a second “mile 2” sign. I managed to choke down a Hammer Gel with caffeine which gave me a bit of a boost. We were in the home stretch. With about 3 miles to go, an officer from the Oyster Bay Police Dept. found out that I was running all 50 miles and proceeded to give us a police escort for the next 3 miles. I’m still not sure if he was protecting us from the passing traffic or waiting for me to pass out. In either case, I appreciated the thought and knowing he was behind us gave me a little extra motivation to keep running. As we entered downtown Oyster Bay, I knew the finish line was just a few tenths of a mile away. As we approached, I began to hear the encouraging cheers of my wife, Liza and I could see my two older children waiting to run last 50 yards to the finish with me. As we all crossed the finish line together, I felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment for what I had just achieved, but those feelings were eclipsed by the appreciation I felt for the 5 friends who had stood by me for the last 10 hours and the family that had supported me through months of training. In my mind, they were the real winners of the day.


Anonymous said...

damn, that was a fine read. thanks for sharing, bro, and big congratulations on a seriously incredible accomplishment!

wiley said...

Damn dude. I shouldn't have read that in my office. Very proud of you and tears in my eyes. Hopefully no one walks in.

Anonymous said...

Like Wiley, I'm teary, too, having just read your log, Todd. But that's to be expected from a mother-in-law who adores her determined, focused son-in-law.


Anonymous said...

Holy Moly, that was some accomplishment. Mind over matter all the way home. Top stuff Todd.


Dave said...

Great accomplishment, great write up my friend.