"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail" -Emerson

Falling Behind: TGNY100


The Great New York 100 (turned 100k)
(June, 2014)





Class of 2014 100k/m group photo
On Saturday June 21st, at 5am, I toed the start to the TGNY 100 mile run, which takes runners on an "urban adventure" throughout the many boroughs of New York City. There are no blocked off roads, no police officers manning the intersections, no "real" course markings other than some chalk painted arrows on the roads and flour on the trails, and really no true "aid". Its an adventure because you, the runner, are forced to find deli's, restaurants, hotels (for bathrooms), etc, to complete your journey.


The idea of this race appealed to me as I've never done a 100 in the city, never off of set trail, and never without someone holding my hand turn by turn. The lure of this race was that it was running through New York City in all its glory.... just with a belt buckle waiting at the finish.



My directions....
I started off with the pack, but quickly fell behind in my slow pace (and by slow, I am talking 12-13 min miles with walking. Funny how that's not the 'norm' in a hundo). I had my trusty 4 page turn-by-turn direction sheet in hand and I thought I was ready to roll. Unfortunately, less than a mile in, I made a wrong turn in central park, adding close to 3 bonus miles before I reached what was suppose to be aid station (AS) #1 at mile 5, but mile 8 to me. I tried to regroup my thoughts and forget about my bonus miles, but early on... I felt like I was already falling behind.


Running through the streets of the Bronx was an interesting experience so early in the morning. There weren't many people out, the houses were quiet, and many places were still closed at 6am for grabbing 'breakfast on the go'. So I putzed on my merry way, taking in the sights, until arriving at AS 2 (mile 10ish), still WAY behind on pace. I was a bit upset because my actual 10 mile was right on for where I would've liked to be during a 100 (somewhere around 2:05). Karen Braswell was hanging out volunteering so it was a delight to see a familiar face. She quickly hugged me and bid me well wishes as we headed down the trail and into Dyckman Fields.


Much of this race, aside from being in neighborhoods throughout the city, was run on bike trails. It was really nice running, but not great for finding fuel. I figured the farther into the race I got, the better I'd be able to find nutrition. I was hungry early in, so I ate a cookie I stashed in my pack and continued. It was going to be a long day... so, just as in a text I got from David Lettieri, I  did what he instructed: I "kept on truckin". And trucked I did. Down streets, on sidewalks, via bike paths, over bridges, through the woods and up the trails... I pressed on.


Mile 20 I met up with Joe del Conte, and was so happy to see that they had PB&J slices out. By this point I was famished, so I took two quarters, refilled my Gatorade, and set off towards Orchard Beach. This section was a mini loop out and back. It was pretty uneventful at first; yet once onto the boardwalk, I was plagued by getting lost, again. I missed an arrow onto trail after descending the stairs, and ended up running about a quarter mile too far before turning back and realizing my mistake. Demoralizing... getting lost.... again.


50k AS
Munchin' on Pretzels
I quickly returned to Joe at mile 25, grabbed some more water and ice, and headed down the trail towards my 50k. I met some bikers along the route who must have already seen some other runners pass through. They were hilarious, offering me water, ice, and ironically, beer. As a hasher, passing up beer on a run is an absolute No-No, so I took my mini cup and continued to the mile 31 AS where I met up with another runner. Linda was struggling to get to the 100k, so I decided I'd stick with her and see how far I could get her. She wanted to quit, but she looked too strong, so I overloaded her with running talk, life talk, and general bullshit talk to keep her mind off of bailing out.


We made it to mile 36, where I was met by Elaine Abercrombie and Anne Pumfery... MY KNIGHTS IN SHINING ARMOUR!! They brought me my first real food for the day, a Pret a Manger sandwich, and some ice. It was so refreshing to have them meet me. Elaine was hoping for 30 miles, and Anne somewhere for a "good run" range of 10-20ish. We ran along until we hit the first aid station, refilled our water, grabbed a few pieces of watermelon and moved along straight into Queens. Linda stuck with me, happily, still maintaining her awesomeness by not dropping.


The miles came and went, and there weren't any other runners in sight. Elaine tried to run ahead, pushing me to keep going, and Anne held the rear, never allowing me to slow down. Anne at one point said "promise me, you will run all the downhill's". I promised, and for the remainder of my race, I never broke my word. Thank you Anne!


Somewhere around mile 48-49, we lost Elaine. She was having some blister issues and I had to leave her behind. I was off on the cutoff and needed to "do work" as David told me to catch up. I felt strong, a little hungry, but still able to run, so I pressed on. Linda dropped off somewhere behind me, and unfortunately I learned later that she ended up dropping. I was happy though in knowing that I think I got her farther than she's ever run before, just sadly short of her race goal.


Worlds Fair: Unisphere
The sun was starting to set in the distance as Anne and I ran to the mile 56 AS, in Kissena Corridor Park. I grabbed a cookie and some fresh water and we pressed on towards the Worlds Fair and Unisphere, where David was there waiting to pace me in to the finish. I was so excited he had been able to make it to the city to save me. All I could think of was how amazing it would be to be able to run in an 100 miler with my partner and crime, and best friend. I was tired, but I knew that together we could do it. He's been my rock for so long, I knew he'd carry me.


I met him just past the Unisphere, and I was more or less, out of gas. I was emotionally tired, but physically still able to run. I hoped that by finding some food and fuel, I'd recover and be able to press on a little faster than the 15-16 min miles I was still maintaining. We trucked it to the 100k aid station, a mere 6 miles, before I realized that my night was over. My almost 6 bonus miles (by this point) had put me an hour behind the 16 hour cutoff. I heard as they were trying to close the further up aid stations, and I knew that that was it for me. I sat down in the chair, received my 100k certificated from Trishul, and ate a few pieces of watermelon.



I was elated that Anne traveled nearly 30 miles with me to get me to David, and then pressed on to the 100k. I was happy she was there to see me finish. I was even happier than David made it out to meet me and finish a part of my race, but I still couldn't help to feel disappointed that I let him, and everyone else, down. I had made it to the 100k point, almost faster than I have in any other 100, and with 6 extra bonus miles. That should've made me feel good, but instead, I felt defeated. I've never been so strong physically in a race, but so mentally exhausted. I've never felt like I could still run, but just couldn't find the energy. I know now that I needed more food early on, and I needed to keep fueling to keep my energy level up to meet that of the power in my legs.


We left the 100k aid station around 10:30pm, took the metro back to times square, and went back to the hotel. A quick shower, and Dave and I headed out for Pizza and beer. It was nice having him there with me. It was nice sharing the moment of a 100k finish, but it was not the 100 miles I set off for. I've decided to go back to that race, first in the coming weeks to finish off those last 38 miles, and then next year, to finish what I started.


I know that I put in a great effort, I know that I am getting stronger and learning more about myself and my running day by day, little by little. I'm hoping that the little bit of defeat I had this past weekend will be enough to fuel my desire for a win next time.


Bonus thought secondary to dropping: I got to sleep in Sunday, head over to Rutherford to sit outside amongst two amazing people, eat Greek food, and drink a whole bottle of Kettle One and Bloody Mary Mix. That there, my friends, was my weekend win.


Thanks for listening,
Melis