Today was the fifth and final day of the Independence Series. Today’s race was held at the Ulster County Fairgrounds in New Paltz, NY.
I slept reasonable well last night. I felt much better than I did yesterday. That said, I was still tired. Rather than risk another meltdown, I decided to abandon time goals and run at a pace that felt comfortable.
The course was an out-and-back through the fairgrounds that we ran 20 times. The layout was unusual. We wound back and forth a few times, went around some buildings, and wound back and forth some more. Each lap was 1.3 miles, but we were never more than tenth mile away from the start/finish area.
There was even a point in the course where we left the road to do a shorter out-and-back inside a cattle barn. Except for a small patch of sawdust inside the barn, the entire course was paved.
My first few laps were at a pace that would have me finishing somewhere between 4:10 and 4:20. After a few laps, I didn’t bother checking my watch. I was feeling pretty good until I started having some digestive discomfort. After eight laps, I finally made a bathroom stop. I also took off my fanny pack, so I wouldn’t have any pressure on my belly. There was an area in the start/finish area for drop bags. I had a drop bag, so I put my fanny pack in the drop bag.
When I resumed running, my legs were stiff. At first I thought this was going to be the beginning of another gradual deterioration. After about a lap of slow running, however, my legs loosened up.
I reached the halfway mark in 2:16. That was almost as slow as yesterday, but today I felt better. With the race half over, I had the confidence to pick up my pace a little.
The temperature was 50 degrees at the start, but climbed into the upper 70s. As I started getting hot, I slowed down. I only had about six laps left, but I didn’t want to risk blowing up. In my final lap, I finally picked up the pace for a strong finish.
I finished in 4:26:07. I wouldn’t generally be happy with that time, but it was considerably faster than my times on Friday and Saturday. I was also happy that I ran negative splits by six minutes.
Just going easy may seem like a no-brainer, but it was actually a tough decision. Today was my birthday. I chose to do this series, in part, because I liked the idea of finishing something epic on my birthday.
Naturally, when you race on your birthday, you want to have a strong performance. I had to be realistic though. I wasn’t likely to run fast today. By trying, I would just about guarantee another race like the last two. I didn’t want to spend my birthday dragging myself to the finish line.
I don’t fly home until tomorrow, so I didn’t need to be in any hurry to leave after the race. I was able to stick around and watch several other runners finish. I also stayed long enough to join in another round of Fireball cinnamon whiskey shots.
My friend Rick lives in the area and came out to see me finish. Then he took this picture of me wearing my ridiculously long chain of medals from the series. Mainly Marathons also has series’ that are seven days. If I did one of those, the medals would probably drag on the ground.
After the race, Rick and I had lunch at a diner in New Paltz. We found one with milk shakes. When we were in college, we had a tradition of racing at the track and then going out for burgers and malts.