As the Cruisers are approaching our W&OD Trail 45-Mile Ultramarathon Training Run on Sunday, I thought that today would be an excellent day to do a race recap for my one, and only, JFK 50-Mile Run.  You’ll be able to tell by the running attire that this race was many years ago.  Why, oh why, did our pants come up to our waists?  So let’s find an ugly fashion trend and accentuate it by tucking our shirts in…

Before I even had a chance to run my first marathon, Miles was brainwashing trying to convince me to run in the JFK 50-Miler with him and his friends; and in a weak moment I committed, and I’m really glad I did.  This was probably the early formation of the MilesRun Group.  Running a 50-miler certainly gives you some bragging rights just for the running it… as long as you finish in under the twelve-hour cut off.  I planned to run it again, but it just never happened.  Miles has run it ten times…  Yes, TEN times!


Miles’ race strategy was for us to walk up all hills, and to start out running for 12 minutes and walking for three minute (although I thought we only walked one minute early on). As the race progressed, we would eventually run about nine minutes and walk for three minutes.  Little did I know how much I would look forward to those walk breaks!

My in-laws came over to watch the boys since I had to leave before Bill got home from work.  I wonder what they thought when five guys came to pick me up for an overnight trip to Maryland?  🙂  We drove to Boonsboro, Maryland and spent the night.  We had a long table of runners gathered for dinner, with only four girls.  I will never forget that one of the girls ordered cheesecake for dessert, and we all gasped!

We got up early the next morning and started the race in the dark, just before sunrise.  It had rained the night before so there were mud puddles here and there, and the leaves on the Appalachian Trail were very slippery.  I spent my entire time on the AT looking at the feet of the runner in front of me so I would know exactly where my next step was going.  Here I am coming off of the AT after several steep switchbacks at about the 17 mile point.  Woot woo!  Only 33 miles to go!


Coming off the Appalachian Trail

I’m blissfully ignorant in this photo because I didn’t yet realize how much I had aggravated my IT band on those switchbacks coming off of the Appalachian Trail.  I was aware of my right IT band on the decent, but nothing more.  After a quick change of clothes, I was ready to hit the C&O Canal for 26 miles.


Todd, Deb, Miles, and three people from our support crew

The two guys in red jackets, Kevin and Robert, were part of our crew.  For the most part Kevin and Robert stayed with us and carried our extra necessities on their bikes.  There was also a car with other members of our crew that met us at certain points along the course.


Kevin, Miles, Deb, Robert, Jenny, and Todd

Miles and I are in auto-pilot in this photo.  Just cruising along for 26.3 miles on the nice and flat C&O Canal, admiring the beauty of the Potomac River on our left…


Miles and Deb

Looks like Miles is trying to get the fans involved and to cheer for us.  Oh wait, what fans?


Jenny, Miles, and Deb

In the following picture we are standing to the right of one of the many amazing fuel stations.  I can’t believe that I didn’t get a picture of any of them.  Of course this was 1997, long before digital cameras, Facebook, and blogging; so why would I take a picture of something like that?  Back to the food…  Different schools and clubs competed to see who could have the best spread.  Ultras aren’t just any race, so you have to have more than water and Gatorade at the stops.  Most stops had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, stew or chili, crackers, cookies, M&M’s, gummy bears, water, Gatorade, and soda.  Problem was, I didn’t have much of an appetite…

Farther down the canal it started getting cool and you can see that I’ve changed back into my long pants.  Robert and Kevin, if you read this, thank you again for carrying my stuff!


Jenny, Deb, Robert, Miles, and Kevin

Long before we met Paul Mr. Incredible, we had Ron as our music man.  Bet you can’t guess what he’s got playing in this photo!  You got it, YMCA!  BTW, does this circa-1980’s fanny pack make my butt look big?


Ron, Miles (in the distance), Deb

It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A…….  It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A…….


Deb and Ron (on bike)

The farther down the C&O Canal I went, the more my IT band hurt.  Transitioning from running to walking and vice-versa became extremely painful.  I remember selling my soul to the devil around mile 34.  “Just let me finish this race and I’ll……..” By the time we got off of the C&O Canal and were given the stylish orange reflective vests to wear it was almost dark and we had only 8.4 miles to go on the country roads leading to the finish line.  I was doing okay as long as I kept my pace at a slog (slow jog).  I passed a fuel table and just sort of shoved my hand in the M&M bowl as I ran by because it was too painful to stop and start again.  Little did I know at the time, but the entire ball of my left foot was covered in a blood blister.  Again, no picture, but this time you’re probably happy!

Kevin rode with me for much of the way while also riding ahead to check on his wife Jenny and Miles.  Thank you again, Kevin, for constantly checking on me during that last hour and for your encouragement.  We finished the race in front of the Williamsport High School in the dark. Miles and Jenny pulled ahead of me in those last eight miles and I was the last one from our group to finish.  I haven’t talked about Ed and some of the other runners because they were way ahead of us.  Ed qualified for the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run that day!


Todd, Jenny, Deb, Miles, and Kevin

My goal was to finish the race in ten and a half hours, but that was not taking an injury into consideration.  Even with a terribly inflamed IT band and huge blood blister, I somehow managed to finish in 10:50:30.  The race was on November 22, and I wasn’t able to run again until early January.  Once my IT band healed, it has never bothered me since!


434th place of 795 starters
(women – 60th)

On our way home we stopped at a Holiday Inn for dinner.  There was a wedding reception going on in an adjacent banquet hall.  When I stopped in the restroom, the bride and her bridesmaids were in there touching up their make-up, etc.  I walked in looking like “50 miles of bad road,” without a shower, salt all over my face, limping like crazy, and I’m surprised that I didn’t clear the place out.  One of my most embarrassing moments EVER followed, but you’ll have to go on a long run with me so I can tell you.  And remember, what’s discussed on the trail, stays on the trail…

  • Questions:
  • Have you ever eaten cheesecake the day before a long run?
  • Do you know any of the words to YMCA, other than YMCA?
  • What’s your most embarrassing moment?