25 April 2015
I didn’t run as much as I expected to this winter, but when I did run, I added in hills as often as possible. That still definitely wasn’t enough to be even reasonably prepared for the Sybil Ludington 50k. Holy HILLS, Batman! Here is the elevation chart:
I’m still baffled and amused by this description of the course I overheard: “It has three significant climbs.” To me, it had about 15 significant climbs. lol
The race started out pretty well, but I was already struggling by the time I hit the hill at mile six. I told myself to relax and just hike up as quickly as I could, which became my mantra the rest of the race. I got slower and slower as the hours passed, though…finishing in 7:33 with screaming quads and hamstrings and quite a bit of hip soreness.
The course starts at the Sybil statue in Carmel and follows the route she took on the night of April 26, 1777 to alert her father’s militia that the British were coming. I personally think the race should be named after Sybil’s horse, Star. Poor Star worked really hard on that journey!
I wasn’t overly fond of the course, to be honest—not because of the climbs, but because about 90% of it was on the shoulder of roads that weren’t closed to traffic. And the shoulder in most cases was about a foot wide. There were some stretches of empty road, to be sure, but there were also long stretches of two-lane highway with blind curves and fast-moving vehicles. This race has been going strong for 37 years and I don’t think anyone has ever been injured, but I could tell there were some drivers who were very surprised to see me. There were a lot of moments that I felt quite vulnerable.
The course markings were decent, but twice I couldn’t figure out where to go. At mile 21, I was wandering around looking for an arrow when another runner ran past and told me to follow him. I would have gone the other way. And then a little past mile 30, after crossing the reservoir bridge, the arrow had blown over onto the ground and there were no other markings. At that point I took my phone out to look for the map on the race website, but another runner came up behind me and pointed me in the right direction. (Thanks Jay!) I don’t think I lost any significant amount of time, but it was frustrating.
For all that, there was a lot of beautiful countryside to look at: water, little beaches, quaint farmhouses, charming neighborhoods, and a lot of blooming wildflowers. I even saw some deer! The aid station volunteers were FAN-TRIPLE-TASTIC! I was carrying Tailwind and snacks, but I stopped for plain water at every aid station and talked a little bit to the volunteers. Big thanks to the woman at mile 8-ish who gave me a band-aid. It kept a hot spot from turning into a blister. Everyone I talked to was really friendly all day. I got finished too late to eat anything at the finish line, but I got to hang out with some fellow runners on the way back to the city on the train. I’m never very hungry after a long run anyway.