Monday, February 4, 2008

2/2/08 Rocky Raccoon Race Report

This was my first 50 miler. It was fantastic! I wish road marathons were this well organized.
At 0700 on the dot, we were off. I really didn't know what to expect from myself or the course but I "knew" it was going to be a long day.
It was to be 3 loops of 16.67 miles each on the trails of Huntsville State Park. My drop bag was left at the lodge where we would pass at the end of each loop. I knew that the aid stations were close enough that I would only need to carry one hand-bottle and I carried about 20 S-caps and 6 or so GU gels in my small trail pack. I planned on taking one gel every 30 minutes or so.
Aubrey and I just hung out at the back of the pack from the start so we wouldn't go out too fast. It worked. I actually think, in retrospect, that it might have been too slow for me personally. However, it was nice to kind of settle in and just put one foot in front of the other. Our plan was to run 20 minutes and walk 5 minutes. I stuck to it pretty well for the first loop and then kind of ad-libbed after that. As for the course itself, it was beautiful. The trails were mostly covered with pine needles so it was pretty soft footing. We were forewarned that there was a lot of tree roots on the course. If you've ever had to run tires in high school PE then you can understand how parts of this course were. Very challenging. There were also several fairly sloggy areas but they were easily traversed without getting muddy or wet and some had wooden bridges over them. Some of the bridges were incredibly long and felt quite springy underfoot which made them a really nice change of pace. There was also a good mix of inclines and declines so the course was pretty diverse. At one point of each loop you come out of the woods and climb a small hill to overlook the lake and it was gorgeous in the morning, like black glass. Definitely a highlight! The first loop felt incredibly easy to me and I ended up leaving Aubrey about 30 minutes behind. He had intended to keep a slower pace than me from the beginning so I kind of expected this. Once back at the lodge and my drop bag I reloaded my pack with GU, took some Advil, and ate a couple of brownie bites. Damn, they were good! The aid stations were amazing, and the volunteers were even more impressive. As I ran into the aid stations, the volunteers basically "attacked!" They filled your bottles, directed you to the calories, and patted you on the back. They also encouraged you to pat someone else on the back out on the course. The race was made by these people. THANK YOU SO MUCH ALL OF YOU!! I truly felt like an elite athlete because of them.
So I took off from the lodge for the second loop. I still felt good, no fatigue or aches as of yet. I never really ate much at the aid stations other than a few peanut M&M's and some peanuts. I also caught a hankering for Coke late in the second loop which seemed to help the ol' energy level big time. The second loop for me was fairly uneventful. At the end of the second loop I changed to my size 43.5 Slingshots from my 43's. I didn't change my socks simply because I didn't want to see how my toes looked. ha It was also warming up pretty nice so I lost my Spandex undershirt and just kept my North Face pullover. It made it much more comfortable for the last loop.
I really didn't know what to expect for the last loop. Before the race started I figured that I would end up walking most of the last loop and I was wrong. I felt really good and was able to run most of the time. As I headed out again I ran into Aubrey and saw that he was still doing well. He said that he had fallen about 4 times but didn't look too worse for wear. ha Somewhere about 4 miles into the last loop I kicked the shit out of tree root with my left big toe. It didn't give me any problems at all during the race but it's definitely jacked now. Anyway I got to the aid station at the end of the out and back portion and saw that I was only 10.1 miles to the finish and that boosted my confidence big time. I mentioned that to a fellow runner and he sourly told me that he was a 100 miler and he had 50 more to go. Oops, my bad! I drank a couple more cups of Coke here and took off again with a little more spring in my step. Anyway I kept a decent pace from there on out and was able to finish in style with a half-ass sprint down to the finish line in 10:25. I came in 55th out of 138. Not bad for my first experiment with this distance.
I honestly cannot express enough thanks to Joe and Joyce and all the volunteers who made this race so amazingly enjoyable. I sincerely hope to see you all again next year when I take on the 100 miler. Thank You!!

Oh, and Aubrey finished the race in 11:51. It had fallen into darkness and I was really getting worried about him since he didn't have a headlamp or flashlight on him. However, he made it in with the help of one of the 100 mile runners who happened to have an extra flashlight. Thank you, Sir, whoever you are!

1 comment:

AnthonyP said...

Hey man...way to go. What a great time for a first 50. Just awesome.

I've put your blog on my list to read. Best of luck with your training and on your next 50.