Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Crushing Disappointment of One Second

One second per mile that is.

Over the course of a marathon.  26 sad little seconds in total.

Had I just run 1 second per mile faster.  One less water stop.  One less leg cramp.  One less something to get back that precious second.
Despite a jacked-up stomach and a crampy right quad I was generally happy with my 3:45:25 finish in the MCM last fall.  I figured that would be the end of that experience and I’d be on to bigger, better, longer things.  I already had the thought of ultramarathons dancing around in my head.  One race in particular intrigued me, the JFK 50-miler.  The military connection, 50th anniversary of the race, close enough to my in-laws that we wouldn’t have to stay in a hotel.  Nice combo of trail and flat path.  It just seemed like the perfect first 50-miler.

As the months went by and it looked like I would survive the training, and most likely the race, for my first 50k, I decided that the JFK50 was the race for me.  Registration is done entirely by mail in three waves of applicants, and the qualifying times for the waves are based on a finish time in a marathon, 50k, or 50-mile race.  This is a very popular ultra, even more so this year with the 50th anniversary angle.  Based on some internet research (which is never wrong …) I knew it would fill up in the first wave.  When the time for the first wave (A-Standard) came out, I knew I was in trouble.  Men’s marathon … 3:45:00.  Those double-zeros stared out at me with their beady little eyes, saying “close buddy … but not good enough”.

I sent a note to the race director, hoping it would be like the old Boston qualifying standards where seconds didn’t count, but no such luck.  I was knocked to the B-Standard wave, and would have to wait 10 days after registration opened before I could send in my form.  I kinda knew the race was lost for me at that point, but I planned to send in my registration anyhow and hope for the best.

Unfortunately, on Saturday morning the JFK50 website was updated with a message saying the general field, and the 250-person waiting list, are completely full, and registration has ended.  Since this was just 2 days after I was allowed to mail in my forms, my JFK50 plans are over.  One second per mile, 26 seconds over the course of a marathon, and my simple plan becomes much less simple.

To say I’m disappointed would be a huge understatement.  I had accepted this as a high probability as soon as I saw the qualifying times, so I’m not hugely surprised by this, but I had tried to remain optimistic that it would work out.  Now it’s back to the drawing board to figure out what my running will look like for the rest of the year.  I’d still like to see if I’m up for the challenge of 50 miles, but my options are somewhat limited within a reasonable driving distance.  We have a lot going on this Fall, so it’s going to be a hard sell to add the expense of a trip and hotel for a destination ultra.  I could possibly train heavily for a Fall marathon and take my revenge on those 26 seconds and go after a PR.  Maybe train for a shorter triathlon since I’ve got the bike and access to a pool, but I’d like to wait on triathlons as a possibility until 2013.

Regardless, I gave myself about a day to feel sorry for myself, and now I’m starting to formulate a plan.  Also got out for my first post-50k run on Saturday, and other than some tightness in my right knee everything felt pretty good.  I may have escaped the doctor after all.

What to do??? ... What to do?


  1. Too bad! Sorry you didn't get in....local entries are still open, any chance your in-laws are local enough for that...a little shady but maybe you could use their address? There's also Stone Mill 50 which they hold the same day though it's pretty much all trail. My sister wanted to do this one but I wanted to do JFK just to say I've done it (she has and didn't even try to get in this year).

  2. tough break....

    i prefer smaller ultras myself.

  3. Condolences, but there are so many ultras to choose from! Check out the calendar at

  4. Well crap. That just stinks. I would tell you everything happens for a reason, but then you'd punch me in my gut.

    Hang in there...and find another ultra to sign up for. At least it will take your mind off of this one.

  5. Man vs horse.

    No hotel fee.
    Be my guest. Be my guest. [our guests, whatever]


  6. Well that stinks! Hope you're able to find another ultra!

  7. Missing something by a few seconds is so maddening. Sorry it didn't work out. Hope you can find another race!

  8. That's the worst. I'm sorry. Hope you find another and even better ultra!

  9. Awww crap! Sucks. I heard JFK50 is an amazing race...I guess now you just gotta shave off those 25 seconds so you can get in next year, huh? :)

    I ran a 1:44:11 half in Atlanta one year...11 seconds from qualifying for NYC Marathon. One second per mile.....
    (I'd never get in now that NYC upped their qualifying times :( ).

  10. I'm with Jill - you'll get those 25 seconds off - I'm sure of it. I really believe in allowing yourself to wallow for a day or so and then picking your next race.

    Oh and I just saw Emz's post. I think you're sorted ;)

  11. That would be a tought pill to swallow. That just doesn't seem fair at all :(