Saturday, May 16, 2009

Dima Takes on a BEAR

Never one to sit still, Dima Feinhaus last weekend took to the trails and ran the Bear Mountain 50 Miler in New York State. RESULTS posted here Here's his report:

It was a great day for a race and location was so beautiful. It would be even nicer if not for fog which was covering mountain tops earlier in the day.

When we arrived to the start at 4 am it was dark and raining. A few busy runners were wondering around taking care of their drop down bags and other necessities. Another pleasant surprise: no lines at port-o-johns, besides it was easy to get lost on your way to them.

We met Nikki Kimball before the race and chatted some. She lives in Montana now and hunts all the meat she eats. We were looking for Ben Nephew and couldn't find him, the guy who ended up being Ben was described by Nikki: "For Ben he's too undressed and bottles are too big".

10 min before start some non-runner looking guy was saying some incomprehensible non-sense, but who cares. Ready set go and we're running. It was dark at first, but the path was leading up and runners spread pretty quickly. The most unfamiliar element of the race was running water covered steep rocky uphills and downhills. they were pretty challenging particularly in the dark and closer to the end of the race when legs are tired don't quite do what you'd expect. there were a couple of those in that pitch dark first 40 minutes.

My position after first mile was 20-25. But by the end of the first hour it was more like 30-35. two groups of runners passed me. One of those groups was 5 latin americans (probably brazilians) working together. the group was headed by slim black-haired woman dressed in all black. As i founded out later she was pretty dilligently fighting with Nikki and was pretty close to her for most of the race, but slowed down on the last 10 miles.

From mile 10 to mile 28 i ran with a bunch 20+ guys. One of them was Kevin the Marine. He was talking of his tour of duty in Iraq and how it was pretty boring there and how after coming back they invented challenges for each other. His challenge was 50 miler. Kevin was bragging how he was on duty for 60+ hours without sleep and used to pushing his body beyond the reason. Even though he dropped back pretty suddenly at mile 20 and DNFed. Another guy was Navy sailor. He didn't mince words and run way ahead after 5-7 miles. The longest partner was Kurtis the music theory and cognitive science major from Rochester. I lost the view of him only at the aid station where Karen started pacing me and his brother started pacing him. Kusrtis actually tried to run away at some point but got disoriented on the top of the ridge and I caught up with him. He finished 40 minutes after me and thanked me profusely for support, it was very sweet.

First miles with Karen were pretty tough. However after awhile I picked up speed and soon started passing back people who just passed me. From mile 33 to 40 we were cruising high speed and a bunch of people tried to keep up with us. It was the first extended runnable, relatively flat stretch and it certainly helped. My unfair advantage was going through the mad. It has to be my Russian upbringing. After each mud hole, our entourage had to catch up. Particularly troubled was a young texan. He ran with earphones and would swear very loudly on each stumble. His driving force was to beat his twin brother who's a better runner but ran a 100 miler shortly before the race.

First 30 minutes after mile 40 aid station were tough. At first it was a half mile of asphalt and a gentle uphill afterwards. I had trouble making myself run. A lone 50k girl was struggling along. She told me a story of a gentlemanly tall dark and handsome 50-miler who helped her across the river. Maybe it was her night with a shiny water bottle, who knows.

Miles 42 to 46 were dark and cragy. The were steepest uphills and steepest downhills. there were nobody around but occasional 50k struggler. Karen waited for me at mile 47, we passed together the last aid station at mile 47.2 and the BIG question presented itself: should I try to finish under 11:30. It was whole 2.8 miles to go mostly downhill and only 33 minutes to spare. It was a tough decision. But challenge is challenge and i went all out.

Bottom line, 11:29:49, 38th out of 72 finishers and 131 people at the start line.

Positives: beautiful scenery, much younger friendly running crowd, different terrain, reasonable finish time at a race where almost half runners dropped, nursing pulled heap muscle from mile 10 which never turned into a problem, a single lost nail, no blisters or chaffing, no a single fall, scratch, or stumble

Negatives: too freaking far, orgainizers run it more as a business, rather than a labor of love, mediocre finish line party, some unsafe downhills.

We didn't see Leigh Schmidt at the start, but he had to be there, because he won the race. First three guys were from Massachusetts -- which i think is pretty amazing.

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