The Knickerbocker 60K is a mild Ultramarathon (I say that because hard core Ultra Runners only consider a 50 miler and up Ultras) consisting of 9 laps around Central Park totaling 37.2 miles.
I had been signed up to run this race for a few months, and during a conversation with Ed from the “Dad Posse” he asked me why I would want to run such a crazy race? After a day or two of introspection it came to me… Fear. Fear was the reason I was running this thing. I was afraid of this race from the get go and wanted to take it on head first.
I was a little nervous as I had only run a distance no greater than 17 miles in the last 4 months, which some would say is poor preparation. Whatever.
2 weeks prior I was actually stressed about it. The week of, not the case. I was actually more excited just to run because I had taken the week off from physical activity, which to any of you who know me personally is like torture.
The night before the race I spent ‘preparing for battle’ as I like to say. I made 3 Powerade Redbull 50-50 mixed drinks for the run. I also made 7 mini burritos made from rice and beans. Why? My hero runner, Scott Jurek, is a naturalist and isnt into Gels and Goos. Quite frankly, neither am I , they are gross. Take yourself back to the 70’s and 80’s when these things didnt exist, what did runners do? Eat burritos? Maybe not, but that is what I had in store for my “Brunch” tomorrow.
Once my bag was packed I made my staple pre-run meal. Pasta with fresh shrimp. Its the perfect meal and Im never hungry when I wake up. I ate this and watched the 2006 Ironman Championships which is a great way to get inspired. Try it. Oh, and try and not shed some tears too, impossible!
I was in bed by 10:30, 11 o’clock and had dreams about the race. I woke up every two hours.
Woke up at 6AM, had some Bustelo and was out the door by 6:30.
Elizabeth (or Ms Ritz) had been generous enough to offer up holding my bag-o-goodies prior to the race! So nice, thanks Eliz! So after dropping my stuff with her I went over to the Road Runners and geared up. I made a few friends at the start. One of these gals, Jessica, happens to be running the Disney Marathon in January too! Small World! It was cool hanging with someone prior to a race of this magnitude.
Speaking of which, compared to other RR races in New York, this almost seemed like a rogue operation! In comparison, other races have close to 5,000 racers, this had 185!
Mike and Ed popped over to say hi before the start. Ed would be riding his bike around the track and Mike would be running.
After a quick speech by the race coordinator we were off.
I was running without my music on as it was a beautiful morning. Not sure how my pace was but I was in the top ten runners and we were chatting and being silly about the whole 9 laps thing. Its rare in a race that you get this kind of humanity, all of the competitive edge being gone. You’re really testing yourself, not others.
Laps 1 and 2 went by pretty quick and I was right on target with my 1- 1:10 hours per 2 laps time frame. My only morning fuel was a Clif Bar and two bananas, but I wasn’t hungry. Weird. .
At the end of Lap 2 I was pacing a guy I had caught up to. His name was Sebastian and we became friends. We chatted about our runs etc. He was faster than me for sure, but we stayed together until Lap 4 when I had to take a bathroom break.
It was after this that I turned on my headphones and started to get into my zone if you will.
People often ask what I listen to when I run? I listen to Drum n Bass mixes, this one happened to be a very aggressive DJ Hype mix.
Something to take note of…
We were running against the flow of normal running traffic, so we would pass the same people numerous times and they started routing for us! It was so helpful and fun! I saw Ed, Mike, Jim and Patrick (of the “dad Posse”) numerous times, giving me high fives as we passed. Sebastian at one point asked who I was and how I knew so many people, hilarious.
At Lap 5 I removed my white zip-up top and just had my red dry fit on with my track pants. It was getting warmer and I needed to lose some weight. I had made more friends with all the volunteers around the course because you pass them so many times. They were teasing me about changing my outfit calling me the stripper runner!
Lap 6 is when I started to get hungry. I pulled over to where Elizabeth was stationed with my gear and grabbed a burrito. Some of my volunteer pals were astonished at the fact that I was actually eating a rice and bean burrito. “Dude, are you seriously eating a burrito?!” I offered them one on the return loop but they werent hungry. This kind of banter back and forth only solidifying what an insane race this was. As I returned the next lap the gals asked if I was having a margarita (my powerade mix) to wash down my burrito.
Im not going to lie and try and act all macho about this run, at this point my legs were basically on fire. Trying to ignore the sensation, specifically in my quads, was very hard to do. I was using every water station as a chance to have a 15 second walk and drink break which helped and also gave me something to look forward too.
My next lap around I took off my track pants and red top, revealing my staple beater-running shorts combo. This felt great and I could really fly without the pants.
It was at this point I noticed all my friends gathered at the finish! Role call: Todd, Ila, Jeff, Ali, Jon Boy, Danny, Anna, Phyllis, John, Robin, Ahern, Becky, Cottom, Benny!
I yelled as I went by that this was my last lap, Lap 8! Boy was I mistaken.
I cruised around the 3.9 Mile loop ecstatic that this would be my final lap and telling all my volunteer buddies the same, I felt pretty good. It was 55 degrees and sunny in an amazingly colored Autumn Central Park. It was spectacular and I kept telling myself ‘what a day to be alive.’
200 Yards to the finish I saw my brother and his GF Ali yelling to me that I still had a lap to go! What? As I cruised up the race guy said I did indeed have one more. He showed me the race log and it said I had completed 8 laps? No, he said, its a 9 Lap course! WOW. Buzzkill.
I smiled at him and said “Okay, one more lap it is.” and I took off!
It felt like I might have ran that 9th Lap the fastest. What was really weird is that, even though my quads were burning, I was still feeling great, I even had a smile on my face. This is a trait I have picked up from another hero of mine, Natascha Badmann. She is a 7 time Ironman champion and always runs with a smile on her face. When asked why she does it, she simply states that running and racing is what makes her happy. I like that. Me too.
As I made my final turn towards the finish I did get a little choked up thinking about what I was going to complete. I told myself to save those emotions for later, when it would really set in. For now, bathe in the glory of the finish.
As I came down the home stretch I rocked a pretty good sprint into the finish as seen here (thanx benny)
I hit my target goal of 5 hours and actually came in 12th Place overall, earning a plaque! Cool man!
I have never felt more relieved to stop running, then after a 37.2 Mile fiasco. Oh, and I now know every inch of Central Park… every turn, tree, shadow, curb, trash can, sign… Im not running in it for like a month.
After the race a bunch of us went to Brother Jimmy’s which seems to be my staple race ending meal. We had some beers and loaded up on food. I had blackened catfish, mac and cheese and collared greens. At 3 we all left as I was in dire need of a shower and a nap.
I am now an Ultramarathoner!
Special thanks to all my friends who made it out to support me, it means a lot! Also special thanks to the volunteers and all the runners who saw me and cheered me on!
SIDESTORY: Sunday I was watching football at our local bar, Black Sheep, with my brother Jeff. This gal in a booth is staring at me and as I caught her glace she holds up her arms like “Well?” I was like “Um, hi?” Then she says, “Yea hi, Burrito Man! How did the race finish for you?” Wow what a small world, she was one of the spectators that joked about the margaritas!