On Saturday, April 2, the BUS (Broadway Ultra Society) 6-Hour Race took place in Hendrickson Park in Valley Stream, NY. It took place along with a 3-hour race in conjunction with the New York Ultrarunning Grand Prix Awards Luncheon. This was the second year the luncheon (previously a brunch) took place in the administration building at Hendrickson Park, and the administrators and village officials should be commended for permitting us this great event! In previous years the brunch was held at the GLIRC clubhouse in Plainview, Long Island, preceded by voluntary group fun runs on the roads or trails. Last year the brunch was moved to Valley Stream and an organized 3-hour race (not an ultra for most people) was held beforehand on the 1.453-mile park path loop. This year, BUS director Rich Innamorato decided to hold a 6-hour race as well as the three-hour, with the 6-hour being a scoring event in the 2011 Grand Prix.
The weather forecast was good for race morning, with temperatures to reach the low 50's. I uncharacteristically opted for a long-sleeved shirt, wary of possible cool temperatures. Despite this being a grand prix event, I couldn't quite get out of the fun run mindset, especially since the one man who's been my toughest competitor in my ultra career, Byron Lane, told me beforehand that he wouldn't be able to come. That, with the Boston Marathon being two weeks away, and a 30-mile tough trail training run the week before, left me hoping I wouldn't have to push too hard on this race, and a PR was not one of my goals. I didn't even look back to see what exactly my PR was, or how many laps that would be.
The usual crowd began to gather before the start, although quite a few of the regulars were in North Carolina running the Umstead 100. But it was great to see those who were there, not just the runners but the volunteers and the race directors of the other Grand Prix events. And the crowd suddenly got younger as Dennis Ball arrived with his friends from the Tri-Life triathlon team, most of whom were first-timers at a BUS event. Dennis himself hasn't run a lot of ultras, but he came in a close second to me at the Queens 50K last year, and beat me at the Knickerbocker 60K last fall, as well as the St. Patrick's Day Marathon in March, and he also won a 50K in New Jersey in March. That Knickerbocker performance in particular worried me, as it was not too far off the distance we would be running this day. And I couldn't help but think that one of those guys could be a real speedster too.
At the 8:00 start, Dennis and I ran side-by-side and had a nice friendly chat, although we kept a brisk pace, about 7:20 per mile. I felt that it was a little fast, but it was still comfortable, and I didn't want Dennis to get ahead of me. After an hour of side-by-side running we took turns making pit stops, the result of which left him about a minute and a half ahead. At the north end of the loop I could see that he was keeping the same distance ahead of me each loop, so I just tried to stay patient. After about three and a half hours at the same fast pace, I caught up to him again and we ran side-by-side again for a few loops. But then he waved me on saying he couldn't keep up the pace. Of course, I didn't know if I could keep up the pace, but I tried to get some separation. Eventually I lapped him as he was walking and saying that his shin was giving him pain. That enabled me to relax a little, which was good, because it seemed like the wind from the south was picking up quite a bit. So I did ease up on the pace a little, thinking of Boston, not worrying about a PR, and having only a rough idea that I would finish with about 46 miles.
To finish the race, the course was marked off in 100-yard increments, with a numbered stake in the ground at each mark. I finished on the east side, running against the wind, and relaxed as the seconds wore down. I passed the #17 mark and thought I might be able to reach 18, but the whistle blew about 5-10 yards shy. I wouldn't blame a runner for giving himself the next mark if his momentum carried him through a second or two after the whistle, but if I really wanted that mark I would've pushed it the last few seconds, so as John Garlepp came by with the clipboard noting our marks, I gave him 17. Besides, I was two laps up on Dennis, so why would I care about 100 yards? Well, my final total was 47.46 miles. My previous PR, set at the Staten Island 6-Hour in 2008, was 47.48 miles. By my calculations, .02 miles equals about 35 yards, and I ran about 90 yards past the mark. So there you have it. But it's my own fault for not knowing my exact PR and for not pushing at the end. BUT, I remember that finish in Staten Island, and I remember just reaching a similar mark when the whistle sounded - no extra distance. So even though my official scored distance is not as much, the actual distance run was more, so in my personal books I'm giving myself a tie for a PR!
Dennis got second and Michael Ryan third. Gail Marino, a true veteran, won the women's race, with Dennis's tri friends Susan Schmelzer, Brittany Klimowicz (a 2011 Badwater entrant) and Allison McDevitt taking 2, 3 and 4. And I was also given my 2010 Grand Prix championship award, my second after 2007, with Jodi Kartes-Heino receiving the women's award.
But it was a great day, lots of great friends to run with, and even with the wind the weather was beautiful. It was great to see Grant there helping out, even if not running due to recovery from surgery. Barbara S. ran well, we had a quartet of Franks - Collela, Stonitsch, and Deleo and Pellegrino who ran together a lot of the way. Jim Morris, my co-crew from Tim Henderson's Vermont run, ran well. Sal, Sam, Tim Ryan, Bruce, Lanny, Bob Falk, Lydia, Lucimar, Ruth, and so on - my apologies for not naming you all. Quite a few came for the 3-hour as well, including Al Prawda tossing a baseball while he ran, Elaine Acosta arriving late after another race in New Jersey, and Mike Costello, my Badwater pacer from 2009.
Pics: 1. Jodi and me receiving our Grand Prix awards; 2. Dennis, Michael and me, 1,2,3; 3. Gail and me with the 6-hour trophies; 4. Dennis and the Tri-Life team