Sunday, July 29, 2012

The conditions could have been worse.

It was my 25th Marathon finish. One of those was an "ultra". For those of you who do not know, an untra is a running race that is greater than 26.2 miles. In the late '90s I ran a 50K, 31 miles. Yesterday I ran participated in a 6 hour race.

Yes a 6 hour race. Run as many loops of a 1.2762 mile circuit as you can in 6 hours.  Some ran over 45 miles, some ran 15..  I ran about 27 miles (I will post an update when I get the results, All I know now is that I completed over 21 circuits.)  Update:  I  ran 27.44 miles.

The course was wonderful. for the Pajama Romp was wonderful. The fact that the major hill (?) was just after the aid station was fine. I enjoyed the walk up the hill after having a slice of watermelon, or some sports drink

This race also brought out some of the greatest athletes in the world. I ran with Phil McCarthy who holds the world record for the amount of distance covered in 48 hours.  After the race we had pizza together and I mentioned to him that we missed watching a night of Olympic on TV and that nobody in those games will do what we just did.  We agreed that nobody would watch an ultra on TV.  Neither of us would.

Course Map (approximate):

Thanks Alex Reisner
The course was also easy on the eyes. I got to run under the Hell Gate Bridge 42 times.

It was really nice to spend 6 hours in Astoria Park.  No tourists, just people who are lucking enough to live nearby.  Sitting on benches.  A game of catch. I even got to watch someone wax their van.  Some teenagers smoking a joint and making out.  Park Stuff.
Thanks Unseen NYC

I also got to watch the sunset behind the Triboro RFK Bridge.

Yes, sunset.  This race, unlike any other race I ever ran did this not start in the morning.  It started at 5PM, and ended at exactly 11PM.  Those 6 hours.  It was a little hard to adjust to an evening race.  I actually worked in the morning.  I worked at a 5K, and some of the runners there knew I was going to be in the 6 hour race that evening.  They said that I should be granted an extra mile for spending so much time on my feet before the race.

It was not raining 5minutes before or 10 minutes later.
Thanks for the FB photo  Elaine Acosta
The big problem with 5PM really started at 4:55.  That is when it raining.  Poring.  Flash flood, sewer geyser rain. It lasted 15 minutes.That was long enough drench everyone down to their socks.  Luckily (well not luck, I had a plan) I brought and extra para of socks.... and shoes and a dry shirt.  I changed into dry shoes and a dry shirt after an hour of running.  Unfortunately I had 5 more hours of running in wet shorts.  They never really dried and I found myself having to pee every half hour or so.

But that all worked itself out.  After three hours of running if felt woozy.  I then remembered that I brought some salt tablets. Since my bag was actually on the course it was easy stop.

At 10:30PM, after 5 and a half hours of running I actually felt energized.  Then the most wonderful thing happened.  My family showed up and they shortened the course so we all were near the finish line at 11PM. I got to run the last half a mile with my kids.  They never got to see me finish a marathon before and not they got to run the last bit with me.  The bit that turned a marathon into an ultra-marathon.  With my kids.

Below is the email I got from the Race Director.  I think it is wonderful and would like to quote it in its entirety.  Every word was true and important.  I forgot to bring a waterproof plastic bag, but I know I would be able to leave my stuff in Steve's van.

Dear Pajama Romp,

Firstly, thank you very much for your entry and supporting this event.  We are expecting about 70-75 participants.

The name of this event has been changed.  The “official” name is now the BUS 6-HOUR PAJAMA ROMP  or Pajama Romp or PJ Rmp for you text messagers.  We learned that some organization owned the legal rights to Pajama Run and wanted us to sign on to a licensing agreement.  Instead of going corporate, I thought we just get a new identity.

The “Pajama Romp” will take place at Astoria Park, starting at 5:00 PM adjacent to the track area.  The following is various race information.  Please take note.

PRE-RACE:  The supply vehicle will be arriving to the Park at 3:00 – 3:15 PM.  You might want to arrive soon after.  Pre-race will be more “involved” than past BUS events.  This will be the first BUS event that will be scored by the chip.
1.       Registration: Check in and get your race packet from 3:30 to 4:55 PM.  Your packet will include a white bib number, *pajama shorts*, safety pins, a baggage tag with your name and bib number and some miscellaneous information.
2.       After you receive your packet, proceed to the table to pay for your chip scoring status.  Each entrant will be required to pay an additional $10 either by cash or check payable to BUS.  There are about dozen of you that have already “overpaid” their entry fee.  Hence, those people will not be charged the additional ten dollars.  There will be a list.
3.       You will be given a receipt or ticket or something and you will present that to the chip operator to receive a “colored” bib number that will be affixed with a chip.  Make sure this colored number matches your white bib number.
4.       BIB NUMBERS PROCEDURE:  This is important and must be complied.  You will be requested to affix the colored bib number with the chip on your front torso.  This number CANNOT be folded, cut or altered in any way.  It should be affixed on the CENTER of your body and firmly with 4 safety pins.  You want to make sure to give the chip every opportunity to operate effectively or it could affect your completed loop total.  You also will be requested to place the white bib number on your back.  Failure to comply will be subject to disqualification.  I apologize, but this is not negotiable.  Please, I don’t want to be a traffic cop out there, but will do so for the sake of the event.
5.       Please also place your baggage tag on your bag that you will be using during the race just in case we need to know where is that bag.  You can store another bag in the supply vehicle, but it cannot be accessed until after the event.  If needed, please get a another baggage tag from the registration desk, complete it and we will check that baggage for you.
6.       Your baggage for the race should be tagged and placed AFTER the Start/Finish Area.  Someone there may assist with the placement of baggage.  I suggest to bring a couple of trash liners to protect your bag from the elements “in case”.
7.       There is a Fieldhouse with comfort stations that will be about 50 yards from the staging area.  I suggest to come dressed to run, but can dress there if necessary.  Each comfort station has about 4 stalls for your convenience.
8.       *Footnote*:  Please be advised that your entry was received between July 24 and July 26 way after the deadline to be guaranteed pajama shorts and in your desired size.  We may not have enough, but we will do our best to get you something.  We have to see.  Thank you for your cooperation.

CLOSE-OUTS:  We are trying to liquidate our BUS inventory and would greatly appreciate your assistance.  Many items from past BUS races will be for sale at the give-away prices at $3 per item, two for $5 or five for $10.  There will be some premium items that may be higher like $5.  I admit that most of these items are cotton, and I realize “tech” is in vogue.  But these items can be used as gifts not only to family and friends but to everybody who has done you a “solid” in your everyday lives.  Besides helping BUS obtain some extra revenue, we really need to get rid of these items.  They are now in storage at a cost, and my objective is to decrease our current storage space.  Please bring extra dinero with you.  You can pay for these items with cash or by check.

1.       The weather at this time does not look encouraging.  Warm and humid with chance of thunderstorms, maybe severe.  Please bring whatever you think you “may” need: extra gear, rain gear, extra shoes, a proxy, etc.  With the possible warm conditions, I suggest to start your hydration earlier in the day.  We will have liquid refreshments available during the pre-race period. 
2.       We will have ice on hand, but remember it will difficult to suffice the ice needs of 75 people for the whole 6 hours.  Ice somehow has this tendency to melt, and needs to be replenished.  If you are driving to the event, please bring a small cooler of ice for your personal needs.  Meanwhile, we will try to make as many ice runs as possible as needed.   We also will have a bucket with ice water and sponges.  Please use these services to keep your body temperature down.  One suggestion is to bring a bandana with you and soak it in the ice water and wear it around your neck.  You will feel cooler, if not you can audition for a western.
3.       I realize excess heat can cause more harm.  But from an organizer aspect, my principle concern is usually rain especially lightning.  Usually summer thunderstorms (as forecasted) occur somewhere around 5 to 7PM or prime time of this event.  We will run in the rain and through flooding.  But we will NOT run if there is lightning in the immediate area.  If lightning does occur and is threatening, you will be removed from the course.  Unfortunately, the clock will continue.  And you will not be allowed back on the course until deemed safe.  I’m trying to make arrangements with Parks Dept. that you can take shelter in the Fieldhouse until the storm will blow over.  But please be advised such a removal will be at the Start/Finish Line and after you completed a loop.  That means all of you will not be removed at the same time; more like a NASCAR race after there is crash when there is a caution flag.  Whatever differences between each other will not be equated.  But I will make a concession in distance regarding the award standard.
4.       Note:    I realize if it does rain, you may don a jacket or some kind of outerwear.  Please note that your bib number especially the front one MUST BE VISIBLE when you come through the staging area.  Please make a mental note to open your jacket or remove it when going through the “check points” .  Your distance total could be jeopardized if not done.


1.       Course:  The main loop will be 1.2762 in distance around the perimeter of Astoria Park.  The course surface is basically smooth macadam.  There are some bumps and even some potholes; some filled and some not.  There are also small sections of smooth cobblestone on the east and west ends of the Park.  They probably will not be a factor.  The course is strictly in the confines within the Park.  You will not be running on the street or anything connecting with the street.  The course features two significant climbs; one in the beginning of the loop and one towards the end.  I realize you usually trying to calculate how much completed or how much more to do; one formula will be 4 laps equals 5 miles and some left over for the bank.  But there will be a mileage chart at the aid station with more exact calculation of loops.
2.       Illumination:  The course is fairly well lit with lighting from street lamps, the surroundings and lighting from the adjacent running track.  There are a couple of dark spots only about 25 yards long on the north end, but still enough lighting from the surroundings.  The race will approximately be 3 hours of light, ½ hour of dusk and 2 hours + of night.  Suggest you become familiarized of your surroundings (directions, potential hazards, etc.) when running during the day to navigate during the evening.  Despite any possible issues, you will enjoy the surroundings of the illuminated NYC Skyline in the horizon, the current of the East River and the RFK and Hell’s Gate Bridges overhead.
3.       Hazards:  Due to a recent storm, there was a collection of debris (leaves, twigs, wood chips, stones) that built up on the path, especially in the north end near the Hell’s Gate Bridge.  I have asked Parks Department to clean it, but they may not do so.  It’s “runnable”; just refer it as the trail section of the loop.  Another hazard of more concern is that there are 3 water fountains adjacent to the track area that are leaking onto the path.  We are trying to get the problem fixed, but please be cautious about slippage.   This area will also be on the short loop, and you guys know how you get out of control with your short loop pace.  Please be cognizant.
4.       SPECIAL NOTE:  This park can be active with woman, man, child, pet and other organisms not yet classified even by the Loch Ness Society. They all are not aware that you are there and what you are doing.  Please note that they all have “the right of way” and it will be your responsibility to safely veer around them.
5.       Short Loop:  At around 5 hours and 39 minutes, you will be transferred from the “main” loop to a shorter .3282-mile loop.  All runners will begin the transfer after the short loop declaration.  Even if you are running a fast pace in the late stages, you still will have to be transferred to the short loop.  This will be different than previous BUS time events.  This loop is on a macadam path that circles the running track.  The short loop begins about 90 yards from the staging area.  Please STAY TO YOUR IMMEDIATE LEFT when always on the short loop, and remember about the leakage from water fountains.  Also, the track area may be busy with people entering and leaving the track.  Please be aware of them when trying to cram in that extra mileage.

AID:  There will be one station providing, water, Gatorade (donated by Dennis Ball), defizzed cola, ice and sponge bucket.  There also will be food refreshments such as bananas, another kind of fruit, mini peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, cookies, potato chips, pretzels, trail mix and some kind of energy item.  There also will be medical supplies.  Please note that a certain food item may not be replenished if that item has been consumed.

1.        Chip Scoring:  We have contracted Steve Lastoe of NYC Runs to electronically scored our event.  This is the first time BUS has entered the technological age.  I guess I may have to retire my feather pen.  Steve has scored many events including the Brooklyn and Yonkers Marathons, but not an ultra.  And not an ultra without a finish line and infinite number of entries.  Steve , Tim Ryan and I have been in constant touch how such an event would be processed.  It’s going to be a learning experience for all of us.  That’s why I am requesting your assistance and patience with this operation.  We all are very hopeful of starting something revolutionary for us.
2.       Manual Scoring:  We are still going to manually score the event as a backup.  But we would appreciate if you approach it like an event without the chip, especially displaying your bib numbers.  You can still request  race information from the manual scoring team, and we will try to accommodate you………….if not on the spot, then on your next completed loop.   Please do not at all request any information from the chip operating team, even a malfunction with your chip.  Please come to me with any problems.

AWARDING:  Both the female and male winners will receive special prizes.  For all others: if you complete a marathon or longer, you will earn a race award.  They are nice and somewhat unusual.  They are in shape of a pyramid, something you can place on your mantle or could be an item as Exhibit H on Court TV.  I have ordered 48 of them.  Something to shoot for.  As mentioned before, if there is a stoppage in the race because of weather, than the award standard will be lowered to something equitable.  We also may give out some kind of race awards for a “prolonged effort” even not totaling a marathon.

POST-RACE:  We will be distributing pizza and soft drinks after the event in an area near the staging area.  Tabulation of results will be processed at the same time.  We are hoping to start the award ceremony at around 11:40 PM, and activities to be concluded around midnight.

Note:  Please let me know if you are traveling by mass transit, and will need a ride back to the “N’ subway train after the race.  I will try to get a ride for you.

I guess that’s about it.  I’m sure I forgot something.  Anyway, thanks again for your support and interest.  Let’s all have a fun event.  Will see you Saturday.  Until then, take care and many cheers.

Richard (Richie) Innamorato
Race Director


  1. Smart about bringing a dry pair of shoes/socks!

  2. Interesting race, the area is beautiful. I thought about the NYRR Knickerbocker in 2013, now I'll consider this Broadway Ultra Society race, too.

  3. Thanks for including the 'course map' CU - it helps me to orientate myself to where you're speaking of or pointing out. Congrats too - well done hey? The kids were a nice finale for you too!


You do not have to be nice!


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