Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Race Report - Beast of Burden Summer 100

100 mile races are tremendous learning experiences/opportunities, and I have always approached these ultra endurance events with the notion that I should walk away from a particular race learning at least two things - something about myself personally and something about myself as a runner (about running in general, training, fueling, hydration, etc...).  That notion, to me, is just as important as finishing the race, going sub-24 hours, setting a personal record, etc...  At the 2010 Beast of Burden Summer 100 Mile Race (the "Summer BOB") I learned the following:

(1)  You (or at least I) cannot wing a 100-mile race and, if I choose to do so, i should be prepared to suffer.  You may recall from the August 5, 2010 post titled, "FOMO and the Beast of Burden Summer 100" that the primary reason for running this event was to come up with some alternative justification for going to Buffalo, and to avoid a few of the family outing events with the in-laws.  My training going into this event was minimal due to the toll taken on my body at Badwater in July.

(2)  I am a far more determined person than I give myself credit for.  Was it determination to finish what I had started, or determination to shirk family duties, or both?  Maybe a little of each?

So, against that backdrop, here is a short recap of my humidity laden and water logged 100 miles at the Summer BOB.  Yet, before getting into it, I would be remiss to mention that the real purpose of the trip to the Lockport area (despite my prior posts to the contrary) was my father-in-law's wedding, which was ultimately an extremely pleasant experience, one that was well worth attending.  I often make fun of Buffalo (it is so easy) and claim to abhor spending time with my in-laws, but in reality they are all wonderful people that I do not get to visit with enough.

I had very little in the way of expectations going into this race.  It was to act more as escape from family obligations than anything else, but would also be an opportunity to see some familiar faces (Frank, Emmy, Phil, etc...).  I also got to make some fantastic new friends, see some amazing first time 100-mile attempts, and further bolster my belief that running in the rain isn't always fun.  The girls deposited me at the start/finish area at around 9:00 AM.  The 10:00 AM race start had its advantages and disadvantages.  On the plus side was the ability to have a few extra drinks at my father-in-law's wedding Friday night, knowing that I could sleep it off until around 8:00 AM.  The negative was that I was not at all used to a late start for a 100-miler.  By the time we started it was already fairly hot and humid, and I kept remembering looking at the time thinking, "shouldn't I have put in more miles by now?"

The course starts in front of Widewaters Marina on the south side of the Erie Canal and is run entirely on the flat Erie Canal towpath.  After a short stint on the south side, you cross the Exchange Street bridge and head to the north side for a majority of the 25 mile "out-and-back".  There is once catch.  The can is open for boaters during the day.  If you are approaching the bridge and hear a bell signal that the bridge is going to go up, you have two choices - run like hell to beat the bridge and make it across before it goes up, or get stuck waiting for it to go back down (actually, you can also climb the stirs and cross on top before the bridge goes back down).

Race Director Sam P.

Much of the first 12.5 miles was spent with Frank at a pace that was quite a bit too aggressive for me, hence the 11:53 AM (1:53 into the race) Twitter post: "12.5 done with Frank.  Too fast. :)".  Hitting the turn-around I would eventually let him go ahead, running solo most of the way back to the start/finish.  It was very humid out.  My head was killing me, my legs were tired already.  I would post on Twitter twice more before reaching the end of the first 25 mile out-and-back : 1:53 PM (3:53 into the race) "Feel like crap already!  haha" and 2:20 PM (4:29 into the race) "Reduced to a walk."  I called my friend Aaron who was driving from White Plains to pace for 50 miles and told him he could turn around if he wanted to.  If he had said o.k., I probably would have dropped at that point.  But, he said he wasn't turning around, so I wasn't dropping.

Running with Frank.

Heading out for the start of out-and-back #2 I ran (or walked) in to race director Sam PasceriSam was not only directing the race, but he was running it as well.  We talked for a second about how we were struggling early on in the humidity, and I told Sam that I had planned on walking much of the second out-and-back, so "catch up and we will hang for a while."  I walked for a bit, Sam caught up, and somehow things turned around.  The next Twitter post at 3:18 PM (5:18 into the race) was, "Holy shit.  Running again.  Now with sam p."  Then another at 3:59 PM (5:59 into the race), "100 milers are a series of ups and downs.  That is what is so great about them.  For now we are up."  Then came the rain.

The second out-and-back was a lot of fun.  Time went by quickly as Sam and I got to know each other better.  I was actually surprised to see a 50-mile split of 10:01 when we returned to the start/finish area.  Aaron was there, but not quite yet ready to get going, so I sat for about 5-7 minutes before we took off.   We actually had a decent third 25 mile stretch, but the rain was just horrible at this point.  Everything was wet.  Little, tiny, annoying, rocks were getting in my shoes.  My left knee hurt.   It was cold.  We would flip-flop with Frank and Emmy every now and then, ultimately finishing the 3rd out-and-back at about the 16 hour mark, with the final in-race Twitter post of "The rain is miserable, but I'm with Frank and we have 75 done in 16 hours.  More ups and downs, but all is good.  25 to go."

The next 12.5 miles were tough.  I hooked up with a guy named Rick from Italy (now living in New York) who was attempting his first 100-miler.  It was just about all walking at this point, which lead to an interesting and funny conversation with Aaron during which he announced that he was turning back and that he couldn't take any more walking.  I don't think it was intentional, but it eventually would motivate me to run, and after reaching the 12.5 mile turn-around, seeing Sam attempt to vomit several times, we did just that.  Turn the volume up on the iPod and go, just like we did at Badwater heading up Whitney Portal Road (I actually kept thinking about that last surge at Badwater and used it to get my ass moving).  We would catch up with Rick (he had moved well ahead of us earlier in the out-and-back).  "How's it going Rick?"  Pointing to his knee, "No work."  "You can't run at all?  If you move now you can actually go under 23 hours in your first 100.  You can rest up later."  Somehow he pulled it out, finishing in 22:51:39. 

Me...I was so psyched to be finished.  Aaron and I ran well for the last mile and a half or so, finishing in 21:47:14.  It was good enough for 4th place overall, and actually 1st in my age group (and yes, there were actually other people in my age group, 6 to be exact).
The race itself, aside from the weather, a few geese and some swooping bats, is a very, very good one.  The course is dead flat, great for those seeking PRs.  The volunteers are top notch, and the aid stations were always well stocked - I was met by someone asking me what I needed.  I can see this event growing in the years to come.  They have some pretty cool buckles too....


  1. Awesome job, Anthony. You underestimate yourself, for sure. Just look at how many times you bounced back at BW! You are a rock star on a rock star streak. Quite awesome to watch.

  2. Great job, T! You've got some serious late-race heart, and I look forward to seeing it on display as you get up Whitney even faster next year! Keep up the great work!