With all my whining and boo-hoos out of the way, this post will now shift gears and focus on the fact that I had such an amazingly fun time on this trip! First of, Jamie and David Donaldson are the greatest people in the world to hang with before/during/after a race. As an added bonus, Jamie's parents came out to join in the fun as well, and they're so much fun too! I pulled into Philly on Friday night, and Team Donaldson already had the first plan in place for our race preparations: Free happy hour in the hotel lobby!
Look for our own AT&T "cell-phone bars" ad in next month's issue of UltraRunning Magazine
Proving we've done our carbo-loading research, David and I had a couple Yuenglings while relaxing in the lobby...Jamie only made us feel a little bad by drinking a more appropriate pre-race beverage (water). Sure, she ended up flying through the 100 mile course in 14:58 the next day, but when you combine David's 50 miles with my 58 miles, the math clearly shows the beer carbs ended up helping us run 8 more miles *combined than Jamie. Take that, Mrs. Donaldson!
Thanks mostly to the fact that I didn't snore, we had a nice night's sleep before the race, and before I knew it we were out on the banks of the "River That Shall Never Be Pronounced Correctly By Dan" to start our run. Here we are just before the start. It's worth mentioning that we saw three accidents take place under that intersection sign during the course of the day. All minor fender-benders, but still...THREE? C'mon Philly, don't tell me you were that distracted by my bald and gangly self that much!
My plan was to push the pace a bit faster than I did my previous 24-hour run to try and find the best pace for France. As it turned out my plan to run 8:30s ended up being more like 8:08s on the first loop (including a bathroom stop!)...and then 7:58s on the second loop...and so on. The lesson here, as always, is I'm an idiot. Without someone screaming at me to slow down early on, I can never stick to a pacing plan. In this instance, Jamie and I were obviously talking too much...and watching the boat races on the river...and dodging the other folks out to enjoy the beautiful weather on the river...and basically doing everything other than saying, "Hey, maybe we're going a little too fast!". Jamie's super fast sub-15 in the end proved it wasn't all that fast for her, but in terms of projecting how I felt overall after my 58 miles (not counting the hammy), I don't think going out that fast will work for me in France. Definitely 8:45 pace from the start will be the plan there for me.
It was all smiles before 'Hammy the Hamstring' started to snort
Once I dropped, I got to enjoy the race from the Crew side of things. Tony Portera came down from NYC to pace David for a couple laps and help out crewing for Jamie too. On top of keeping us all up-to-date with his This Week in Running column, it turns out he's a tremendously fun guy to hang out with! ...and if the company of Tony, David, Jamie's parents wasn't enough, my friend Amelia also came down to join in the fun for a few hours too! Throughout the afternoon and evening I also had a chance to chat with Phil Rosentein, Keith Straw, and a bunch of other runners who were making their way through our unofficial Aid Station headquarters. Phil ended up breaking 24 hours in the race after having run the inaugural NJ100 last week! ...and while his actual quote can't be printed here, Keith's reaction to finding out he had 3 laps to go (25+ miles) when Jamie was already out on her last lap still has me laughing 2 days later!
Jamie trying to explain to the rest of us how easy it is to run a 14 hour 100 miler.
Speaking of Jamie's last lap, since we knew the course was at least 100.8 miles, we moved up to the 100 mile mark to get her official split when she was digging deep to break 15 hours. As it turned out she cruised on through just in time looking fresh and moving fast. She's definitely ready for France!
After the race we headed back to the hotel for showers and the caught the end of the Duke v. West VA game at great Mexican place.
You can't beat company like this!
Since Tony's ride back to NYC wasn't leaving until the morning (and that, by the way, is a loooong story in itself!), we convinced him to stay at the Donaldson Suite with us. He brought a sleeping bag, but that sounded silly to me since I had room in my queen bed. He agreed to share it with me on one condition:
Tony's "Man Divider" for our bed!
All in all, just a tremendously fun trip. ...and any lingering regret I may have had for not taking a chance on my hammy and pushing through 100 miles was erased when I got home and found this package from the USATF for France. With this reminder of what my REAL goal is, I know I made the right move in Philly!