MMTC Logo MMTC Banner
140.6 Sponsors

Princeton Sports



The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults

70 Point 3 Sponsors

24 Hours of Booty

Nutra Sport

Center for Integrated Manual Therapies

RipIt Events

Olympic Sponsors

Cara Zaller, Nutritionist

Melissa Decker, Keller Williams Realty


CB MultiSport Coaching

Spin 90+

Sprint Sponsors

Racine Multisport



Base Performance

Roka Sports

Race Result

Racer: Jesse Leitner
Race: JFK 50
Date: Saturday, November 17, 2007
Location: Hagerstown, MD
Race Type: Run - Ultramarathon (Other)
Age Group: Male 35 - 39
Time: 7:46:52
Overall Place: 60 / 1070
Age Group Place: 31 / 195
Comment: never thought I'd get here!

Race Report:

Given the great race I had at Mountain Masochist 2 weeks ago, I really
felt that I had nothing to lose today. It just didn't matter. Henceforth,
why not kick things up a notch and see where that would take me?
Other than my first running of it, I've never hit the wall or even hit a very
low point in this race, so I felt I should skirt the boundaries.
My primary goal for today was to beat my first 50 mile split from the
Umstead 100. Should be "easy", right? After all the first 50 in a hundred
should be much slower than an all-out 50. Perhaps Umstead is an
easier course than JFK, but other than the 15 miles of road climbs and
some rattiness on the Appalachian Trail, JFK is a flatter course. This
would mean I'd need to beat 7:53. A tall order since my last year's time
was 8:14, which I already had thought was the top of my peak and
over 2 hours faster than my first time 2 years earlier. Nonetheless,
I would still be happy with a new course PR, and thrilled with sub-8. Dream
time would be 7:30, but I think my minimal abilities on the rocky trails
would rule that one out. Since the Masochist race, my immune system
has been down and I had caught a cold on my plane ride back from
Houston last week. My resting heart rate was over 60 - it's usually
38. However, I felt fine. The race started sharp at 7 as always in Boonsboro
with lots of long climbs on the roads. The last couple times I ran this
race, I ran every step other than through the aid stations. I would plan
the same this time and try to take less time at aid stations while avoiding
going into food deficit. I only carried two items - my car key and my mini
body glide stick, just in case. I never set a time target for the Appalachian
Trail portion because there are too many extraneous factors and a fear
element - one bad step and the race and running for a few weeks can
be over. I had a good run on it, reasonably comfortable with the rocky
sections, no falls, and no ankle turns. I came off at 2:30 into the race and
after the aid station, started on the C&O Canal towpath at 2:32 in, after
having a cup of gatorade, a Coke, some potato chips, and a PB&J sandwich.
After a bit of running, I had been using a heart rate of 167 as a peak, a good
several beats higher than I usually use for 50 miles. Would I hit the wall
because of it? We'll have to see. It's nice not having the pressure to have
a good race. I think I've checked that box enough times this year. When I
start the towpath, I set my first internal race goal - I'd like to run the towpath
(26 miles) in less than 4 hours, which would put me at mile 41.5 at 6:30
hours in. This would be my target. The towpath is just aid station to aid
station, about 2.5-3.5 miles between. Mentally, it eats away at you, with
the same thing over and over again. It's a very subtle climb the entire
way. The AT portion raised my heart rate a bit from the climbs and heavy
concentration. I settled into a pace of about 8:20/mile and average heart
rate of 167. How far can I keep this up? We'll see. I continued the process
of chips, PB&J, and Cokes at the aid stations, sometimes gatorade. For
the most part, Coke was my hydration method of the day. Kept my stomach
feeling good. I really must have done a good job of navigating the aid
stations quickly, because there was little time wasted. Somewhere in the
early 20s, a young guy started to slowly pass me. I chatted with him for
a moment, and just started running together when it became evident
that we both had a sub-8 target and I had plans to stay on that. His name
is Will and he's a student at the Naval Academy. What a great guy, a
pleasure to talk with during the stressing miles of the race.
In chatting, I became more and more
amazed as he told me that his longest training run was 12 miles and this
was his first race of marathon or greater distance. He's holding the
8:20 per miles with me past 30 miles without really looking like he's doing
anything. After about 30, he was giving some minor indications of either
being dehydrated or low on electrolytes, while his stomach was irritated.
All common events in a first (or even 2nd, 3rd, or 4th) ultra. I gave him
some suggestions and he continued on. At mile 38, when stopping,
he said his knee was hurting, pretty badly. At this point he suggested I
move on and it was a major dilemma for me. The overall time was not
critical for me, but I knew that I would be pushing it while running. I also
knew that he was the type who would stick with the pace no matter what
and I just was not comfortable with that because I knew that he really
needed to cut back and tend to his knee. So I moved on, hoping to see
him shortly. Next target, mile 41.5 and the end of the godforsaken towpath.
The rolling country roads that begin at this point, including a substantial
climb to start, are a godsend because by this point, I've had enough of
the basically flat towpath and I know the end is near. I always pass people
up the first climb who are generally walking, and this time was no different.
A couple of miles into the roads, I hit a very trafficky area, with many cars
speeding by, unwilling to slow down, clearly annoyed to have runners around.
Then I came upon a family of three with signs up that they were showing me
that said, "go home JFK runners, you jerks". Now that was quite a pleasure!
I moved on. At this point I just counted down the miles. I caught up to
about 5 of the people who had passed me in the last section of the towpath,
one by one. With about 1.5 miles to go, I heard at least one of them on my
tail. I had gone through the entire road section without losing ground to
anyone, so I was going to do my best to hold him off. I really had to dig deep
inside to keep up the pace at around 7:30-7:45/mile. I broke free of him and,
looking at the times, it appears he gave up in trying to catch me. I was thrilled
to meet pretty much all of my goals. Shortly thereafter, Will came in in the
8:20s, so while short of his goal, he clearly wasn't thrown off too much by his
knee situation. I was happy to see that.