2009 JFK 50 Miler – Race Report

This was my 2nd attempt at 50 miles. My goal was under 12 hours because that would qualify me for the Old Dominion 100 in June. I knew I could run it in under 12, but I wasn’t expecting to finish in under 9:40. Photos, video & course description.

Here’s the race report for my 2009 JFK 50-miler experience. Includes a written report & photos.

Jump to: JFK Photos •  JFK Course

JFK 50 Written Report

This was my first official 50-miler. I attempted an unofficial 50-miler at The North Face Endurance Challenge in 2008 during Tropical Storm Hanna, but quit at 40 miles.

I ran much faster than I had planned. About a year ago, I ran 50 miles in the 12 Hours of Momentum race in Goochland, VA in 11:45. I finished JFK in 9:38, shaving over 2 hours off my previous 50-mile time.

Shout outs: My parents, for driving down from Jersey to be my support crew. They had no idea what they were getting into. My buddy Ryan, who ran JFK last year, helped me with the course, and we ran the first 2 miles together. Then he took off because he’s much faster than I am.

The JFK 50-miler Course

The first 4-5 miles of the JFK course were all on road. We were climbing the mountain to get to the trail head. I walked a good portion of this section to save energy for later in the race.

Then we ran along the Appalachian Trail from ~miles 5-9. Mile 9 was the first big aid station. Some random spectator was giving out free hugs. I gladly accepted.

The Appalachian Trail continued until ~mile 16. This is where the trail (and some of the fun) ended. I love trails, and from this point on, I would see no more.

At mile 16 we got on the C&O Canal Towpath — aka, the longest, straightest, most boring crushed gravel road on the East Coast.

There was a stray dog that ran at least 10 miles with us. No one knew who he belonged to, until finally a runner offered to put him on a leash and take him to the next aid station, where his owner was supposedly waiting for him. This dog would have won the race if no one had stopped him.

At mile 25 I met a guy named Sean. He’s in the Marine Corps. We ran, talked & walked the next 6-7 miles together. It was great timing. We both needed someone to talk to at this point in the race.

My favorite part about the JFK 50-miler

Mile 34. Aid Station. The North Pole. It was classic. High schoolers dressed up as Elves. Candy canes & gumdrops for fuel. And of course, Santa. I didn’t sit on his lap, but I did get a picture with him.

Nearing the end

Mile 46. I saw my parents for the last time before the finish. I had an outside shot at breaking 9:30, and I think I pushed a little too hard, too soon. I ended up walking a good portion of the last 2-3 miles… and it hurt.

But I found it in me to sprint — as I typically do — the last hundred yards or so.

After The Race

I drove to Baltimore later that night, met up with a friend for a Thanksgiving feast, and went rock climbing Sunday morning. On Monday, my forearms were more sore than my legs were.

JFK 50-miler Photos

My Results

9:38:51 – a PR
313/1013 – overall
43/93 – M20-29

JFK 50-miler Video Report

2009 Baltimore Marathon – Race Report

This was my 3rd Baltimore Running Festival, and I stayed with Summer each time. I set a new marathon PR beating my goal by 4 minutes. I ate some amazing food. And met some of the coolest people in Baltimore (shout out to Constellation Energy).

First off, some kudos

First off, big ups to Summer for hosting me for the weekend. This was my 3rd Baltimore Running Festival, and she’s put me up each time. She drove me around the city (thank goodness), cooked (amazing food) and introduced me to some of the coolest people ever. Her friends are awesome.

My experience

This is one of the first races I’ve ever set a specific time goal. I was attempting 3:50 (an 8:46/mi pace). My only other road marathon (in March 2007) I finished in 4:19, and last week’s trail marathon I did in 4:01. A 3:50 should be attainable, so long as my legs aren’t shot from back-to-back weekends of 26.2+ races. I felt good going in, but I just couldn’t be sure.

Beautiful weather

I was blessed with beautiful weather, yet again. Somewhere in the low 70s at the start. Dropped to the 60s halfway through. A few rain drops to cool things off, but they only lasted for a couple miles. The weather was right for a fast time.

The first mile was slow because I was dodging the mass of people at the start. It opened up quickly, and I found my 8:45 pace, so I thought. It turned out I actually found an 8:20 pace, and I maintained it for the first 6 miles or so. I got to mile 7 about two minutes ahead of schedule.

Halfway point

At the halfway point, I was five minutes ahead of schedule. I started to think I might break 3:45. In the back of my mind, though, I knew I was pushing pretty hard, and there were already quite a few hills that I ran right through. I knew more hills were coming, and wondered what my early, fast pace might mean for later.

I ran through mile 20 still ahead of pace, and hit mile 21 right at 3:00, four minutes ahead of pace. But just like the race last weekend, my legs turned into Jello, and I had to walk.

I pushed through it better than I did last weekend. I was able to run through the pain. And I did still have an outside chance at 3:45 as I neared the finish, but I didn’t quite make it. 3:46:03. A new PR, and goal accomplished, with 4 minutes to spare.

The Baltimore Marathon course

I consider Baltimore a pretty tough marathon course. There are many long, gradual hills throughout the race. Beginning, middle and end, although the last few miles probably have the fewest hills. You run through the nice areas of the city, as well as the not-so-nice.

Fan support

The fan support this year was incredible. There were more people cheering than I remember 2 years ago when I ran the half. Even another guy commented to me during the race, and he’s run it 5 years in a row.

  • High school bands & cheerleading squads.
  • Little kids with “free high 5” paper hands.
  • Homemade aid stations with gummy bears, pretzels, chips, bananas, oranges, peanut m&ms, gels and even beer.

Even the “bad” sections of town had parents & their kids out on the front steps, clapping & smiling.

What I learned

  • You will perform better when you have a time goal you’re trying to achieve (it helps you mentally push through)
  • Conserving energy early on makes a big difference
  • I know many people like to ‘run the whole thing’ (myself included), but I do believe you will achieve a better time if you take walking breaks (unless you’re from Kenya)
  • The city of Baltimore has a few hills
  • My legs were built to run no more than 20 miles at a time. I need to train them to do more.
  • The more you acknowledge & appreciate the fans that cheer you on… the louder & more enthusiastically they cheer for everyone else.

Looking forward

Now it’s time for me to take a little break before my 50-miler at JFK in November. No more races until this one. I don’t have a goal yet for JFK, but I’m thinking my goal should not include a time… it should just be to finish within the time limit. Why? Because that’s all I need to qualify for the 100-miler next June.

The result

3:46:03 – a PR
516/3132 – overall
403/2022 – men
74/310 – M25-29