Race Report:: Canandaigua 50 Mile Race

The Canandaigua 50 mile race course was just as beautiful as I had imagined that it would be. The course was also just as challenging as I had anticipated it to be. As I toed the line at 7:00 a.m. on Saturday (Oct. 6) I was prepared for a difficult race, little did I know how prophetic this would be.
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I ran the first 15 miles at a slow but steady pace, for I knew there were some tough hills ahead and my preparations for this race were much less than my 50-miler in June.
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Lara, my crew chief was doing really well at keeping me motivated and I enjoyed chatting with other runners from time to time.
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As I began my climb of the infamous Bopple Hill, the bear of the race, I started walking up the incredibly steep hill.
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I had barely gone 2-300 feet when I started to feel nauseous and a bit dizzy. I drank from my water bottle and tried to continue, but it became so bad I had to sit on the guardrail for a moment. After a few seconds the feeling passed so I continued on, but in a couple minutes I again felt overwhelmed. I sat down on the guardrail for a bit until the feeling cleared, then continued. This went on the entire way up the hill. Lara was waiting at the top of the hill and someone said to her that she should bring me some water. She met me a few hundred feet from the top and we walked up together.
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I really didn’t know what was going on with my body at this point, I had never felt so nauseous during a race, especially less than a third of the way into a race. At the top of the hill I drank heavily and headed off again. After awhile I could run some, but anything that resembled elevation gain had me walking.
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Lara met me a couple times over the next few miles and gradually I did start feeling better, but I just couldn’t get back up to speed again.
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By the 20 mile point I was becoming very concerned about reaching the next aid station, let along finishing the race. My super crew Lara was tough and kept me moving.
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I ran/walked to the aid station just past the marathon point. I past the 26.2 mile marker in around 5:59:00, a full 1 hour and 20 minutes slower then during my 50-mile race in June.
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If anyone could have given me a reason to stop at that point, I think I would have. I could barely run anything that wasn’t downhill, and wasn’t so sure if I wanted to continue – but no one offered me an excuse so I moved on out towards the next aid station. About the only reason that I could find in my head to keep going at this point was that if this race was going to beat me it was going to have to take me down kicking and screaming.
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I continued on the best that I could, but merely a shell of my normal self, I had never, ever experienced such a bad race before. Let me insert a note about the weather at this point. According to Lara the temperature was hovering in the high 80’s, almost record temperatures for western NY in October. To top it off it kept raining with alternating bouts of sunshine – which turned the race route into a sauna.
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I made it to the aid station at the 31.3 mile point and Lara informed me she was going to jump in at the next aid station (Vine Valley) to pace me. The Vine Valley aid station, at mile 35.6, was the first chance that pacers had to pace. Originally Lara was going to pace beginning at mile 42.5. This girl knew I was in trouble and responded in such an overwhelming manner that I get all choked up about as I write – I think I can never find the right words to express what this meant to me…
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Anyway I shuffled on to Vine Valley and shortly after this Lara joined me.
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I was jogging the downhills for the most part, but just couldn’t get my legs to move on the rest. Lara did her best to try to at least keep my walking pace strong, but I knew we were racing against the clock. We passed through the next aid station at mile 38.8 and I tried to do the math as we walked up the hill leading from there. I still had enough wits to figure out there was no way short of a miracle that I could beat the 12-hour cutoff.
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We arrived at the second to the last aid station at mile 42.5. A race official had just arrived in his car and I looked him in the eye and he told me what I already knew, I had 1-1/2 hours to travel 7.5 miles. Based on my last 10 miles I knew that I needed much longer than that and we would be arriving at an empty finish line and in the dark. Nothing that I had tried in the last 27 miles had worked to get me running properly again, so I sadly threw in the towel and plopped into a chair.
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As I write I deeply regret not pushing on to the finish, maybe I wouldn’t feel as lousy as I do if I had at least crawled over the finish line. It was a bitter pill to swallow and the taste lingers in my mouth. I can come up with an extended list of little things that probably contributed to my fall, all related to race preparation and my travel. To be sure the high-80’s temperature and humidity on race day didn’t help. If it is any consequence I believe I ran the best race that I knew how, I just didn’t toe the line with a full tank of gas.
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I do want to take this opportunity to thank the best crew person that I could have asked for. Lara you went above and beyond to keep me going and I know that without you I would not have found the fortitude to go as far as I did. I hope that I will have the chance to come back and take on this race again in the next year or two. And when I do I can only pray that you will be there for me, because then I know I will have every advantage that a runner could ask for! Sis, you’re a superstar!
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7 thoughts on “Race Report:: Canandaigua 50 Mile Race

  1. hey man, i’m sorry to hear you didn’t do as well as you wanted in the 50-miler. if it’s any consolation, just the fact that you attempted it (and that it was your SECOND one in a few months) is more than most runners ever accomplish. so i say…well done! are you home now? i’m looking forward to catching up with you…

  2. hey man, i’m sorry to hear you didn’t do as well as you wanted in the 50-miler. if it’s any consolation, just the fact that you attempted it (and that it was your SECOND one in a few months) is more than most runners ever accomplish. so i say…well done! are you home now? i’m looking forward to catching up with you…

  3. Sorry about your bad race. You managed to hold on amazingly well. I mean – who runs into trouble at mile 15 and keeps going until 42.5? 10/10 for effort, and better luck next time, Jack.

  4. Great race report. It’s always interesting to hear all the details, both good and bad. It sounds like you could have used a “Queasy Pop” out there on the course-http://www.trailsandtribulations.com/2007/10/queasy-pops.html
    Lara sounds like a great crew and pacer-def a keeper!

  5. Jack,
    Still catching up from my trips…
    Two things – one, bummer about the race. I agree – heat/sauna, two races in a short time and the knee injury probably all contributed. Some times things just come together wrong – sounds like that happened to you.
    Two – is Lara your sister?

  6. Great race report, I love the pics!! Sorry to hear about the DNF, but to be honest I’m sure the sauna-like weather had a huge part to do with it.

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