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2008 Knickerbocker 60K Race Report

By hagrin - Posted on 16 November 2008

I signed up for the 2008 Knickerbocker 60K on a somewhat thoughtful impulse. I had already run the 2008 Grindstone 100 and was about to run the 2008 Mountain Masochist 50+ Miler, but decided I should really try and run the ultras closer to home as opposed to driving to Virginia. I also let the existence of this race slip to my two gym running buddies who just finished their first marathon and were eager for more so I was pretty much forced to run. However, my expectations for my performance were pretty low since my toes are still numb from Grindstone and I've put quite a few race miles on my legs these last 6 weeks. I've also been battling a left groin strain that starts to hurt 30 minutes into all my runs, but doesn't really prevent me from running hard. My goals for the race were 1) to stay uninjured, 2) to run a sub-6 hour and 3) to hopefully beat my gym buddies (my competitive streak).

The Knickerbocker 60k is run in Central Park. There is a 1.46 mile "out and back" to start the race followed by 9 3.98 mile loops. There is a timing mat at the start/finish and 2 aid stations - one at the start of the loop and one on the other side of the park halfway through the loop. The race starts at the 90th street East side gate and the loops are run down to 72nd street, across the park, up to 102nd street, across the park and back to the start/finish.

As the race started, I was a little confused as to what pace I should run - should I try and run with my friends or just go off on my own. I decided about halfway through the out and back that I was going to just run my race and see what happens, but I probably lost a minute running the wrong pace to start. I settled in pretty well though and ripped off 3 pretty quick loops and finished the half marathon in ~1:44 which is much slower than I had been running in training, but pretty good considering the distance.

However, on the 4th full loop things started going horribly wrong. I never, ever have to go to the bathroom during runs of this distance and I found myself dangerously close to a Grete Weitz moment. I picked up the pace to the aid station and proceeded to lose about 6 minutes taking care of business. While the lost time is bad enough, the time spent crouching in the cold Port-a-Potty caused my legs to stiffen up very badly and I didn't find my stride again until the last loop of the race. The 5th loop was decent although I really fought my body through leg stiffness which I think caused some pretty bad stomach issues for full loops 6 through 8 in effect causing some pretty poor lap times. I was taking water, some Gatorade and S-Caps, but nothing was helping my stomach.

As I crossed the mat finishing Loop 8, I heard a volunteer ask if I wanted some soda. I knew right away that was the "missing piece" and took down two cups and decided to try and run a decent last lap. My last lap ended up being my 5th fastest lap so I definitely had plenty left in my legs and I wish I would have sorted out my stomach issues out sooner. After finishing in 5:44:55, I was pretty disappointed with my run mainly because both my buddies beat me, but also because I felt as if I left a lot in the tank and ran a pretty poor strategic race. To my surprise, I went to get my finisher award and was awarded with a 12th Overall Male trophy and I finished 17th overall with 110 runners signed up. Below are my split times by lap (remember, first lap is the short out and back) -

Lap # Lap Time Total Time
1: 11:45 11:45
2: 30:41 42:25
3: 31:15 1:13:40
4: 32:35 1:46:15
5: 40:30 2:26:45
6: 35:31 3:02:16
7: 38:37 3:40:52
8: 44:31 4:25:22
9: 42:13 5:07:35
10: 37:20 5:44:55

I will definitely run this race again next year and as long as my training is going well, I am going to shoot for a 5:15 finish. Excellent race - highly recommend running it if you are in the area.