Rocky Raccoon 50 Mile Endurance Run
Feb. 2, 2012
Huntsville State Park, Huntsville, Texas
10:39 - 86th overall, 20th female, 3rd age group
You know you are crazy when you are standing around an amazing group of athletes and feel like a slacker when you say, "I'm just running the 50."
You know you have totally lost it when you wake up to thunder, lightening and torrential downpours and think, "At least it's a warm rain."
Welcome to Rocky Raccoon 50/100 Mile Endurance Race. This race draws a huge crowd. All the big names in ultra running come out and throw down some of the fastest times. It's a relatively flat and fast course, if you watch the roots. Oh yeah, and if it's not raining for half of your race.
A huge group of my friends were rockin' Rocky this weekend.
Leslie and I before our first 50 mile race.
Asian Ultra Runners Unite! I was amazed by all the Asian ultra runners on the course!
I don't know where my head was at race morning. I wore a white tank (mind you it's been raining now for hours with no signs of it letting up). I gave Kai my headlamp for his drop bag (it's pitch black). I left my jacket at the hotel. And my garmin strap broke. Leslie was a doll and loaned me her headlamp which I needed for about 20 minutes into the race.
7 a.m. and we're off!
I saddled up next to Chris and ran a few miles with him since he had a Garmin. I wanted to make sure that I wasn't going any faster than a 10:30 pace. Chris pulled ahead and I had a pretty good cadance going.
It wasn't long before I saw my buddy Kai who was running the 100. He was up with the big boys and looking strong!
For reference, Kai ran Beast of Burden 100 two weeks before Rocky with a sub 20. He finished Rocky in 20:43. Bad ass.
It was still raining pretty good and the mud was slowing me down. Several times I nearly lost my shoe.
I've been experiencing numbness in my left big toe over the past few weeks and it started again right off the bat. But then, the numbness turned into a pain. Each step, I felt like pins and needles were shooting up my foot. I became really concerned about what was going on.
As I was heading on the last 7 miles of my first loop, I run into Ninja who is running the 100. He's looking great, we ran about a mile together and I pulled off.
I finished my first loop at 2:55, exactly where I wanted to be, but I'm really concerned about this toe. I saw Mama C and told her my toe was really bothering me. She told me to change my socks. I looked at the feet and they looked ok other than pruned up. I decided to keep the same shoes on and head out back into the mud.
Loop 2 - 16.67 miles of misery
I looked at the clock and saw that I spent about 6 minutes messing with my socks. Flustered, I just kept going.
I see Dat walking it in and asked him how he was doing, "Not good." I hate to hear that.
All those ups I ran up so effortlessly and honestly didn't even know they were there, became MOUNTAINS on loop two. My legs are heavy. I feel like I am running in a lake.
Here's a picture I snagged from someone on Facebook. Imagine this and worse for 50 miles.
I see Kai a few times on this loop and he says, "You're looking strong." I don't feel strong now.
I see Jeremy. He asks me how I am. I tell him about my toe and he tells me that I'm doing fine and push through. Jeremy has an uncanny way of saying the right thing just when I'm about to break.
I have no idea what my pace is, what time it is, nothing. I just know I feel slow. I ran into a guy named Tim and noticed he had a Garmin. I asked him what time it was and what our pace was. We ended up running the back half of that 2nd loop together. It was his first 50 mile race and it was nice to have some company. He would walk for a bit while I kept running, but he always caught back up to me.
David from Endurance Buzz is at the Park Road aid station along with my buddy Martin. Martin says, "Honeybee!" I say hi and I think bitched about how I was feeling. David asked me how I was and I told him I'm having a hard time and it's not my day. He said, "I believe in you." Oh hell. I can't let these people down. Push on, Honeybee.
I came into the aid station and it's now 6:35 into the race. A friggin 35 minutes off my goal. I'm pissed. I'm tired of being dirty and wet. I hate my shoes. My toe feels like it's seriously messed up.
I run into the drop bag area and a very nice volunteer runs over to me and says, "what do you need." I said, just a chair, I need to change out my shoes.
Just then, Mama C sees me and I'm just pissy girl. She asked how I felt. I think I said, "Like ass." And adeded, "I just want a DNF. My toe hurts, it's sucks out there. I'm tired of being wet."
She became my angel. I swear I looked over and a halo was around her head. She said, "I don't want to hear those letters. You only have 16 miles left. Shut up and run."
Here's another way you know if you are crazy...when you think, shit, only 16 miles. I got this.
I threw off my shirt, put on a dry tank, changed out socks and shoes and felt better. Just being dry helped my attitude.
I took about 15 minutes here fiddling with my socks and shoes and moving my chip. I refused to put that damn thing on my ankle and tied it to my shoe, which meant I had to unlace and relace to put my chip on.
Loop 3 - The Come Back Kid
The rain had stopped and the trail was draining pretty well. I purposely walked around as much of the muddy areas on the way out because I really was enjoying my dry socks and shoes. My feet felt so much lighter and my toe pain is gone.
I knew my goal of a sub 10 was out of reach. So I told myself, you can still get a sub 11 and that gets you into the Western States lottery. Just keep swimming.
I allowed myself to walk the ups, but told myself, there is no walking flats or downs. Nothing is wrong with you. Your toe is fine, your legs are just tired, but they are supposed to be.
I'm running pretty much solo out here now. There are lots of runners, but we're just not running the same pace. I come into Damn Nation, I grabbed a coke for some caffine. I asked them how many miles into the finish and what time it was. Then Tim saddles up next to me. And someone says 7 miles and it's 9:30. I looked at Tim and said, your job is get me in sub 11. He told me not to put that pressure on him.
I don't know if it was the Coke or the thought of only 7 miles left, but I got this burst of energy. Another way you know you're crazy, when you get giddy that you only have 7 miles left.
I took off like a bat out of hell. I'm sailing. I don't know my pace. I don't care. All I know is I have 7 miles and a sub 11 is going to happen. I'm flying down the downs. I'm passing people left and right. As I'm heading in, other runners coming toward me are cheering me on.
I come to the nature center aid station and see David who cheers me on to the finish. I know it's close. I hear cheers coming from not far away. Then I see Byron! I said, "Please tell me I'm going to sub 11." He says, "I don't know." Instantly I streak of panic comes across me as I watch Byron trying to look down the trail at the clock. Then some 100 mile runners heading out for their next loop overheard this exchange and said, "Yeah by about 20 minutes, you will!" My reaction was "Fu$k Yeah" as I threw my arms in the air. I sprinted to that finish line and there it was 10:39.
As with every race, I spent a lot of time analyzing. What did I do wrong? Why was I off my goal? I couldn't have run this race any better than I had. I didn't go out too fast. I fueled perfectly (thank you Jonah!). This was the first race that I have not had stomach issues!
You can control your pace. You can control your fuel. You can't control the weather. This weather wreaked havoc on the best runners. It made what is supposed to be a less difficult course, very challenging.
The hardest part of this sport for me adjusting my goals during a race. You simply can not run the race you want when things happen beyond your control. Having come to grips with that sooner would have made loop 2 a little more enjoyable.
A big thank you to all the volunteers, the race director, and all my friends who have supported me on this crazy journey: Ninja, Jeremy, Josh, Jonah, Mama C, Kai Borg, Lisa, Zu, Chris. You all believed in me and kept me up when I was down and pulled me along.
Most importantly, this race made me feel ready to tackle that 100. Zion 100 May 11, here I come. Oh yeah, and you bastard raccoon, I'll be back next year to show you who is boss. Sub 10 will be mine.