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Hammer down

Guess it's time for a bit more retro...so bear with me.

The photo at right is yours truly making pretty fine time at the 2004 JFK 50 mile in Boonesboro, Maryland. As you might note, I'm a bit "thick" and was racing in my pre-Florida body. But nonetheless, it was a good day. I hit my personal record for 50 miles, an 8:53.

JFK starts with a two mile uphill on a country road off the start, then takes a hard right onto the Appalachian Trail. It's a leaf-covered and rocky single-track and with 1300 runners the trail can bottleneck.

I always loved that section; it's all silence until someone trips and falls and you hear a bloody scream coming off the trail.

Invigorating.

After 15 miles, the trail goes into heavy switchback mode as one traverses a steep descent. I was moving well at the time this photo was taken and actually stormed past a gaggle of young marines.

There was never a prouder moment for master competitor. I yelled "runner on your left!" and went around. Wow.

So, I came off the trail portion at 8 hour pace, made the railroad track crossing (if the train comes you wait 11 minutes) and jogged onto the towpath along the Potomac River.

My pace dropped as I became tired, but the finish was strong.

I'll never be a fast runner. Eric Clifton, who holds the course record at JFK with a 5:45, came back a few years later and ran about tenth, with a 6:10. Eric told me his heart just wasn't in the race.

Hey, if he ever wants to give that 6:10 to someone else, I'll take it.

But being part of this spectacle is a wonderful place to be in life. JFK remains the largest 50-mile in the country. Totally cool.

Journey on, fellow runners.

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