Running Towards the Pursuit of Happiness
4/03/2022 | 70K Trail | 5:04:34
Ryan sped through the Paumanok trail, taking the win at the 2022 edition of The Long Island Trail Ultra Championship.
RYAN'S WRITE UP & MORE
The Long Island Trail Ultra Championship: The Paumanok Pursuit. This was originally a race I did not plan on running earlier in the year, but when Victor mentioned it on one of our Thursday RaT runs, I felt compelled!
Considering that I ran into a tree on a trail run 29 days ago, I think that I will take how I did as a plus. Mentally I had some big expectations, which on paper should have been achievable, but when my feet hit the trail, it was not the case. I was really hoping to go sub 5 hours, and average under 7-minute pace per mile, but that did not happen today. This was not a course record as well, as the Race Director Dave explained that someone who is now a professional runner was in the 4:30’s after doing the race for multiple years. It was before he was the Race Director and was more than 7 years ago. He said that he will get back to me on it, but I am not too concerned
Temps ranged from the high 30’s to the high 40’s by the end. The race started off with a 2.5-mile loop at the Rocky Point State Forest. There was a lead bike that was supposed to lead us through that first loop, but a little before the first mile, he was not able to climb a hill faster than I could run and ended up letting me pass him. The loop around the park was mostly single track, but since I was fresh, and I wanted to take advantage of the energy I had in my legs. I kept that momentum throughout the first leg (race was broken into legs since there was a 5-person relay option) and most of the leg was very runnable. There were several downed trees which I steepled over too. I swapped my water and Tailwind mix out around 7 miles where Cody gave me a new set. Didn’t want to waste time, so I kept moving. I knew the first two sections were going to be the fastest ones on the course, so I tried to bank as much time as possible here. Finished the first leg of the race in 1:09:02.50 which was 10.75 miles at a 6:25 average.
Leg 2 was a lot of fun, as there were a good number of straight sections which allowed me to pick up speed. There were also a handful of main road crossings and residential road crossings, so I was able to see Cody a few times for exchanges. There was one tree that was down (which should have been chopped up more) that all the runners had to climb over. It had its branches hanging out all cockeyed and such and scratched me up a bit. I ate a wafer during this leg, put my sunglasses on since I was heading east, directly into the sun, and exchanged bottles at 14 or so miles. Cody also came in clutch with the lube since I was getting some chafing downstairs from my bold decision to wear half tights. Not the best choice, but Vaseline and Squirrels Nut Butter make a great combo to prevent that. By the last mile of leg 2, the trail started to have a good number of switch backs. I knew that leg 3 was going to have those, along with rolling hills, so I figured that I must have been getting close to the transition area. I was indeed correct. Finished the second leg of the race 50:07 which was 8 miles at an 6:16 average.
Leg 3 was where the “real” fun began. To start the leg, I pit stopped for a hot second (probably only 30 seconds) at the john. Off to a good start already. Cleared my bowels movements up and carried on with a new set of water and Tailwind. Also went into the studio listening to some jams. Right away the trail starts to climb, and I aggressively attack the first couple of hills. After being gassed going up these, I make the executive decision to get up the hills as quickly as possible, but by also using the least amount of energy. And then I would be able to throttle the downhills. This worked out well for the most part but resulted in a number of high 7-minute miles. No worries, I had banked some time up, so it was all good. Cody was hoping to hike in to get water to me around my 23.5-mile mark, but ended up realizing he would not make it, so he decided to hike into a different location and drop it off around the 26.5-mile mark. The constant up and downs were not great on my quads, but the more annoying thing were the moguls on the trail. Yes, you heard that right. Moguls. I had never experienced them before (trail running at least), so as more and more of them popped out on the leg, I tried my best to ride the edge so I would not have to keep stepping into these giant potholes and messing up my rhythm. After many miles of this, there came a point where the trail forked, and you could either go left or right. To clarify, the RD did a great job with his team marking the course putting caution tape every minute or so (at least at my pace), so I knew that I was on the right track. As I got to this fork, I noticed it turning left, and I didn’t pay any mind to the white trail blazers which in hindsight was directing me right. The caution tape (three pieces), as well as the trail arrows pointed left, like the entirety of this race so far, so I followed the caution tape. According to Strava, at 26.1 miles, I made this turn, and when I got to 26.4, I had noticed that I had not seen any caution tape or white trail blazers. There were multiple directions you could turn, with no instruction, so I figured I must’ve done something wrong. The races Facebook said that if you had not seen either of these markers for a few minutes, then go and retrace your steps. I got back to the fork and pulled out my phone where I had the course downloaded and realized my mistake. The course was marked incorrectly at that section. After speaking with the RD post-race, it turns out that locals don’t take too kindly to this race, and sometimes will rip the cation tape down or worse: change it. Needless to say, this discouraged me a bit, adding .75 total distance onto my race. I kept following the course with caution, and found the water Cody left for me, now at 27.5 because of the navigational mishap. I let him know that I was going to be a few minutes late, and after a sketchy road crossing, and a little trail section, it was onto the transition area. Finished the third leg of the race in 1:21:16. which was 10 miles at an 8:08 average. I also told the race director about this, and he was not too happy at the time. Snagged 3 Advil from Cody, gave him my empties, and I was on my way.
Leg 4 was like a baby leg 3, with a few rolling hills, and more moguls, but the tough part about this leg was the steep downhills. At this point my legs were already pretty sore, but the technical downhills made me put a lot of unnecessary pressure on my quads. After a mile or so of that, the trail leveled off quite a bit, and I was able to get into a good rhythm again. Not as straight as the second leg, but still good enough for mid 7-minute miles. Along this leg I started doing things to kill time. I ate two fruit snacks, and put Icy hot on my hamstring, quad, rib, and quad to numb the pain. Had to hit all the good spots. Nothing too crazy, but mentally I was staring to count down the distance left in the race. A good exchange of bottles a few miles before the next aid station, but this would be the last time I fueled up until the end. Finished the fourth leg of the race 55:01 which was 7.5 miles at an 7:20 average.
Leg 5 came about pretty quick, and the transition area had the timer, Cody, and one other person. I was not looking to hang around, and thought I would see Cody one more time, but to use a term coined by Victor himself, I was running drunk. About 30 seconds later I thought to myself, why did I not exchange my set of bottles? I was in too deep and wasn’t going to turn back. With only 7 miles left, I had to work with about 1400ml of water. Over the next few miles, I portioned myself with several hundred ml at a time, so I would make it to the end with no fluids. Popped the only GU I had in my pack as well and chugged along (it was an intentional liquid pun). This was not as technical as the previous two legs, but I was not doing a great job picking my legs up, so getting towards the low 7-minute miles were not attainable. Tried my best to get there, but the best I could do was a 7:05. Big Bootie Mix took the stage for the final few miles, and kept the positive vibes rolling. Finished the fifth leg of the race 49:04 which was 6.75 miles at a 7:16 average.
Overall, I am happy how I did and know that I would have been just under 5 hours if wrong turns were not made. It happens and is all a part of the adventure! Also, I am really thankful for Cody spending his Sunday crewing me (on 45 minutes of sleep), the volunteers out and about, as well as all the kind words people have expressed. I have a little bit of work to do before the Greenbelt 50K in May but look forward to the training block ahead. Until next time.