JFK 50 Miler

JFK 50 Miler
Apryle & I Prerace
10th place 6:24:39

2.6 miles 17:50 (6:51 per mile)
15.5 miles 2:04:06 (12.9 miles = 1:46:16; 8:14 per mile)
41.8 miles 5:19:10 (26.3 miles = 3:15:04; 7:25 per mile)
50.7 miles 6:24:39 (8.9 miles = 1:05:29; 7:29 per mile)

Upon receiving my first clinical assignment in Ephrata, PA, I decided to sign up for the JFK 50 in Boonsboro, MD. Prior to my decision to target such a historic event in November, I had been maintaining fitness by running 60 to 80 miles per week. At twelve weeks out from JFK, Apryle and I developed a training plan that consisted of one long run, two moderate runs, and four ten milers to fill out the week.
Month
Day
Miles
Time
Pace
Long Run

September
31 to 6
64.82
9:05:00
8:24
16

September
7 to 13
72.44
9:13:26
7:38
18

September
14 to 20
86.53
10:35:35
7:20
31.07

September
21 to 27
66.44
8:14:52
7:26
16

October
28 to 4
81
10:05:42
7:28
26

October
5 to 11
83.46
10:16:01
7:22
24

October
12 to 18
71.25
9:00:35
7:35
16

October
19 to 25
57.63
6:46:16
7:02
13.1

October
26 to 1
95.24
11:52:23
7:28
26

November
2 to 8
56.73
7:56:45
8:24
16.2

November
9 to 15
74.33
9:29:55
8:40
14

November
16 to 22
94.14
11:58:14
7:37
50.7

Apryle Prerace
Interestingly enough, this was the least amount of miles per week I have done preparing for an ultra or even an 8-kilometer cross-country race. However, I boosted my average pace per week and that appears to have made more of a difference than mileage. Additionally, I focused more on one long run per week than several moderate runs per week.

In the last weeks of August I was in the North Cascades doing some high mileage and steep elevation gain with Apryle. Then in early September I returned to Austin to start my fourth semester of Physical Therapy school and train in the scorching Texas heat. 

Stuart Range in Washington
At the end of October, Apryle and I traveled north to Harrisburg/Ephrata, Pennsylvania for my first clinical rotation, where I acclimated to the cooler temperatures of the north.

In late September I decided to do my first race since the Austin Rattler at the end of March. It was a low-key race called the Lighthouse Hill Ranch 50K. I covered the distance in 3:52:33. With that time I knew that I had my work cut out for me if I expected to break 6:30 at JFK, so I turned up the pace and upped the long runs.

4×800 vs 3200 Challenge in Austin
The training went smoothly until early November when I tweaked my back and was forced to take a few days off of running. I eased back slowly, as indicated by the slower pace and dip in mileage three weeks out from JFK. I have never been a fan of the taper so it was tough for me to see such a drop in mileage so close to the race. However, I put it behind me and continued to press on.

Kenny Janasko & I in the college days
On race day I felt primed and ready to go; Apryle made the trip to Boonsboro with me and we went over a rough plan for meeting places during the race. I also got a chance to meet up with my old friend, college teammate and JFK 50 standout Kenny Janasko (6:12:47 2012 & 6:16:45 2013). Between Apryle’s support, Kenny’s course advice, and my solid year of faster-paced training, I was confident.

I started the race at the tail end of a lead pack of roughly 10 guys and chatted a bit with former Mount Union competitor Tim Kelly. However, upon entering the AT trail section I dropped off the back and ran alone for that stretch of miles. I had previewed that section on November 8th and felt a little shaky about it. I was concerned about rolling an ankle, however, the leaves had cleared off the trail and it was much more runnable on race day.

Somewhere on the Towpath
In the transition from AT to Towpath, I noticed I had developed icicles in my hair and decided I should ditch the stocking cap for my hat. The twenty-degree weather on race day did not hinder me as much as I thought it might given my central Texas residence for much of the year. Apryle was there to meet me with food and water and it was a great boost to see her after about two hours of solo running in the densely wooded AT trail.

I hit the towpath and according to the post race splits averaged 7:25 per mile on that stretch. I remember being passed once or twice and passing about four people myself. From what Kenny and Apryle were telling me at various points, I was in tenth place. At around 38 miles I remember Kenny telling me that I was 6 minutes ahead of his time from the previous year, which was motivating but I ultimately relinquished that advantage.

Photo credit:


When I got to the road section I had nothing left and had to take a rest and walk the small hill. I thought that I was in trouble at that point. If the section of road continued to have even the smallest inclines I would be forced to walk. But the road stayed rolling in nature and I got a second wind and was able 
to hold tight at 7:21 
pace. This was the first ultra I have ever run without completely falling apart in the latter part of the race.

Finish; Photo Credit:

My finish could have been stronger; however, I can think of very few instances where I have finished a race strong. In high school 5k’s I would try to build an insurmountable lead so that I could not be kicked down. In college I lost All-Ohio spots because I had no finishing kick and since starting ultras I have lost 50+ spots in the Leadville 100 in the last 30 miles because my pace would be stifled to a slow trot. Perhaps it is due to poor nutrition or perhaps it is a mental block. Whatever the reason, I will continue racing and trying to figure it out.



I don’t remember what clothes I wore; but they undoubtedly were materials left behind by someone at a high school track meet back in 2006… The shoes: Apryle’s mother found some Nikes on clearance in a mall in Harrisburg. Dihydrogen monoxide: I took a handheld water-bottle filled it with hot tea… and lost it somewhere on course (thanks to the person that mailed to my parents address!). Food: Thanks to everyone at the aid stations; I think I had about 12 gu packs… but my memory escapes me.
Kenny, Tyler & I Post Race

Apryle & I Postrace
Just squeaked on next to the podium
To quote Slug from Atmosphere: “Some day I’m going to be so cool, but for now I’ve got cheap shoes so I keep losing”. In all seriousness all the fancy tech gear and light-weight shoes can make you look like a runner, but what really makes the runner is the dedication, miles and fortunately or unfortunately genetics.