What is it like to run 50 Miles around a homemade 4 mile loop?
Well, I would say it is really not that sexy, nor absolutely breath-taking. No mountain peaks, no ocean views, no beautiful wooded trails, just pavement around some buildings take shape the beauty in the mundane.
My route was one that I have run many times before and felt that running this route was a good enough course and loop that would allow for me to check in for ample aid, allow for proper social distancing, and was a fast-enough route that also offered a nice mix of a few short hills followed by mostly flat paved pathways.
The two days before the run would go off, we had some windy and rainy weather roll through which caused many tree limbs to come down; some actually over the route that I would be running. As I scoped things out the day before, it looked like this run would be more like a trail run that a road run.
I awoke at 7 am to scarf down some breakfast. I had some toast with bananas and peanut butter as well as some Nuun to help make sure I had some solid fuel in me before the run.
The weather forecast was cold: right around 34 degrees and would eventually warm up to near 50 degrees. What I did not account for was how windy the day and the race course actually would be.
My wife and myself made our arduous 1.5 mile drive to the race course. We set-up a chair with all my nutrition: mostly Boom Nutrition Gels, Nathan Exodraw Handheld bottles with Tailwind in them and some potato chips and bananas.
By 9:15am, I was off running. I hit my first mile in 6:07 and then started to settle into a fast but controlled pace of around 6:30 minute miles. The wind was whipping around which gave me the harsh memories from the Caumsett 50k, where the wind was a major factor on my race performance.
When I run the 50 mile distance, I often approach the race in 3 parts: First 25 miles, 50k, and then the second half. My goal for the first 25 miles is always to run as smooth and relaxed as possible while still maintaining a strong pace. It is all about threading the needle as too hard of a 25 mile effort will ultimately lead to a very hard 2nd half. In the next section, how I feel going through 50k will ultimately give me a real gauge of how the rest of the run will feel. If I feel strong through 50k, I usually maintain well through 40 miles before fighting some lows leading to the finish. If I feel worn down through 50k, I need to ease off the pace, take in more nutrition and re-evaluate how I hope to get to the finish line as fast and as together as possible. 50 miles is all about maintaining an efficient cadence and use of your energies. You want to run fast, but consistent and strong. This I feel has been my best distance.
Back to the Run:
Through 25 miles, I felt really strong and controlled. The course started with cross-winds followed by about 2.5-3 miles with a straight headwind. I was soon finding that my pace and effort would need to change if I were to remain consistent to the finish. I still kept a strong pace going and hoped I could bank some time leading into the final miles. I was consuming 300 calories and hour: 1 gel and one and a half bottles of Tailwind in my 22 ounce handhelds.
I started out at a nice goal pace I would give myself for 50 miles on the road. I was shooting to run under 5:47:23 which has been my PR in a 50 mile road event. I would just need to average 6:57 a mile to do it. I hit my marathon in 2:54:01 and then 50k in 3:27:16 which were great paces to finish around 5:30 for 50 miles. I would need to maintain 6:36 pace to do it. It was really by mile 37 where I started to lose pace, as the effort of pushing through the wind became harder and harder. It was at this moment that I had to remain strong and tell myself that I could push through the fatigue and pain.
It is often in these moments of pain and doubt where I go to my motivators of why I do this…
In this run’s case, it was for all the medical personnel risking their lives to save lives and fight Covid-19 cases here in New Jersey. I did this run to raise funds for the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund which provides the best resource for the state to purchase much needed PPE and supplies for the medical workers as well as to fund NJ businesses most affected by the Pandemic.
I slowed off my pace and dealt with the results of running a little too fast in the conditions. I had many moments those last 3 loops where I was so ready to finish as I was giving up time left and right.
I gave it my all and pushed the last half loop into the finish as my legs felt like complete lead. I finished in 5:51 officially- off my 5:47 goal. It all came down to miles 47 and 48 where I did some run/walk segments which put my pace near almost 9-minute miles. It was not pretty but I was very pleased with my effort. I never tapered or really prepared for this run like it was a real race as I hit 90+ miles for the week with this run and did it more on a whim. You can learn a lot from these types of efforts and as my first own race/time trial, I felt it went well considering how I put myself into a tough grind of a day.
50 Miles is a long way! That is not joke. But as I went through the morning into the afternoon, it was great to be outside, doing an activity that I truly love.
I think we can all find new ways to challenge ourselves and during this difficult time, being creative with how we exercise and compete is going to have to change. We can still find fun ways to push ourselves and have fun while being safe. I hope this post inspires you to try your own homemade run!
Special Thanks to:
My amazing Wife: Ashlee- She took great care of me throughout the run as she switched-out my bottles and checked on me after each loop!
Thank you those who donated to my GoFund Me:
And to my sponsors and brand partners for your continued support.
6 Nathan Exo Draw Handhelds
361 Degree Meraki 2
Fits socks low Cushion in Black
Nathan Boco Hat
Coros Pace Run Watch
Finger Lakes Running Company Arm Warmers
Janji Mexico 3 inch Split Short
Team MPR/RNR Trucker Hat (Post-race)
Choucas USA Beanie
Lots of Raspberry Boom Nutrition Gels
Mcdavid USA Run Compression Sleeves
361 degrees Team Jersey
After the run, it was time to celebrate with a nice post race cheese pizza and some craft Beer!