Saturday, October 20, 2012

Palo Duro Trail 50K (Race Recap)

Palo Duro, TX
Saturday, October 20
Ultra Marathon #5
Ultra State #2
Weather - COLD at the start - 105 at the finish

Lesley and I started talking about new races to register for MONTHS ago. Palo Duro trail run was one of the ones I thought I could fit into my schedule and wouldn't be too expensive. I might even have booked my airfare (ridiculously cheap $39.80 each way) back in April.

I flew in to Amarillo on Friday morning. It was too expensive to stay in Canyon since I didn't have a roommate so I stayed at a Super 8 near the airport. While I was waiting for it to be time to get my packet, I ran to Target to pick up some drinks and then I came back to the room to take a nap. I'm so old.

I left to go down to Canyon to meet up with Lesley and Libby around 4:45. Took about a half hour to get there. I ended up running into them in the parking lot, which worked out nicely. We grabbed our bibs and then we had our free pasta dinner. I had some pasta with meatballs, a salad, and a piece of some kind of cake. There was a VERY long trail briefing, where I discovered that it would be dark the first hour that we were running. Oh. There was so little information on the website I had not known that and didn't bring my headlamp. On the way back to the hotel I stopped at Wal Mart and bought a $4.88, very poor quality, headlamp. Then I sat around drinking beer out of a can and watched a movie before heading to bed at 10:00.

Race Day

I did NOT sleep well. I somehow pulled something in my neck during the night and woke up barely able to move. I did not allow enough time to stop somewhere on my way down to meet Lesley and Libby at their hotel so we could carpool to Palo Duro. I was there right on time at 5:30 and stole a cinnamon roll out of the lobby while waiting for them. The gates didn't open until 6:00 and there was a line of cars waiting to get in. It was COLD when we parked. REALLY cold. Like I wish I had brought gloves. And maybe pants to wear until the start. We grabbed our stuff and headed to the start area. We set up our drop bags and made a quick trip to the bathroom. And got an awesome pre-race picture: 

Back: Tony and Martin Front: Lesley, Me, Suann, Libby
Before we knew it, it was 10 minutes until go time. We got herded over to the start, and as you can see, it was PRETTY DANG DARK at 7:00 am. Glad I had my poor quality light.

Lesley was running the 50 miler and Libby and I were running the 50K. We lined up more towards the back, and the race started right on time. The first few miles were DARK. Luckily, the pace wasn't too quick and it didn't feel that hard. My hands were really cold, and most of the early miles were spent shaking my hands because they were SO cold. Libby and I ran together for the first couple miles, and then she pulled ahead when I stopped to walk because I couldn't get the valve open on my hydration vest. Stupid cold hands! The sun came out, the headlamp came off.

The first loop was 6 miles, and it was a rough six miles. I just couldn't seem to get a good groove going. I had been hoping to match my performance at Bear Chase, but even running, I was struggling to be under 15 minute miles. What is that???

My stomach started feeling angry, and when I came through the start area, I noticed Libby at the drop bag area and I headed to the bathroom. I was not feeling great when I headed back out for the first of my two 12.5 mile loops. I kept thinking that if I just kept running that I would find my groove and the race would start getting better. It didn't.

My feet hurt, my ankles felt weak, and I overall just felt really fatigued. The temperatures were rising pretty rapidly, and even though I knew I was drinking enough, I felt really dehydrated and my throat was hurting. I arrived at the aid station around mile 9 and saw Lesley heading out toward the start line, she was probably at mile 10.

And then shit got bad. The back... oh, 6-7 miles of the course is all sand/dirt and is completely exposed. The sun and the overall hot was draining the tiny bit of energy I had right out of me. I just couldn't run the way I wanted. I had to keep slowing down and stopping and walking. So demoralizing. At this point I could still sort of enjoy the scenery, it WAS a beautiful course.

This is somewhere around 12 miles in. Already about 65 degrees, although it felt a lot warmer than that.

It was SO hot. And I was just feeling so awful. The exposed part of the course was super tough for me. Then finally once we got to the back side of the course, there was a nice shaded section. Doesn't even look like the same place, does it??

I think it took me 4.5 hours to get back to the start line, maybe 4:45. I saw Libby at the drop bag area (finally caught her!) and she was changing her shoes. I quickly applied some sunscreen and then I headed out. The last lap was a death march. I very briefly considered not even starting the last loop, that's how crappy I felt and how hot it was. I took a few more pictures on the last loop. I did more walking than running. I honestly haven't felt that bad during a race in a long time. Maybe not since the last 10-15 miles of Moab. My legs were just exhausted and the terrain was so packed that every step just ached.

Some steep climbs

About noon, it was already over 90 degrees
It got hotter and hotter. I was drinking a lot of water, but I just felt dehydrated and super tired.

They claim their name was changed to "Two Crazy Bitches"
The "Dos Locos" were very friendly ladies, and thankfully they put some ice in my bra and down my back. It helped cool me down a lot the last 6 miles of the course.

I just had NO energy to keep going, and I walked most of it, until I hit the last mile or so. I stepped it up the best I could, if for no other reason to just GET OUT OF THE SUN.

I was ECSTATIC to see the finish line. It honestly felt like one of those Twilight Zone episodes and I felt like the course was never going to end. But it did. I was a bit sad to cross the finish line and not get a medal, I instead got a hat. Boo.

Official Time - 8:23:44
Official Loop 1 - 1:25:45 (6 miles)
Official Loop 2 - 3:09:09 (12.5 miles)
Official Loop 3 - 3:48:50 (12.5 miles)
Overall Place - 100/139
Division Place - 6/15
Mile 1 - 13:13
Mile 2 - 14:47
Mile 3 - 14:26
Mile 4 - 13:54
Mile 5 - 14:25
Mile 6 - 13:37
Mile 7 - 15:59 
Mile 8 - 15:52
Mile 9 - 15:00
Mile 10 - 15:32
Mile 11 - 14:38
Mile 12 - 13:02
Mile 13 - 16:54
Mile 14 - 15:00
Mile 15 - 15:38
Mile 16 - 14:42
Mile 17 - 15:37
Mile 18 - 15:23
Mile 19 - 17:42
Mile 20 - 16:17
Mile 21 - 17:25
Mile 22 - 18:28
Mile 23 - 20:28
Mile 23.68 - 15:27
and then the POS Garmin stopped. Seriously. Can only last 6 hours?? WTF.

Thanks for the finisher pic, Monica!
I could not believe it when I saw how long it took me to finish this race. Well over 70 minutes longer than my previous worst time. Lesley got a picture of the temperature about an hour after I had been there. It got a LOT hotter.

We hung out at the finish line, and I grabbed a burger while waiting for Libby to finish. She came in about 8:39. We met up with Suann and Martin and found out that Lesley was not going to make the cutoff for the 50 miles, but we still didn't know how long she was going to be. We stood at the finisher's chute and cheered runners in. Lesley came through looking GREAT. We sat around at chatted for about a half hour. Then we drove back to Lesley and Libby's hotel and I got my car to drive back to Amarillo. On the way, I stopped and got dinner. Yum.

Thoughts on this race/weekend:

  • They REALLY needed to have more information on this race on their website. I went into the race completely blind and even though it probably would not have mattered if would have been more knowledgeable, it would have been nice to know the terrain.
  • Hardest race ever. Seriously. I wanted to quit so many times.
  • BUMMED to not get a medal after all that. :(
  • AWESOME to meet so many of my Texas Twitter friends!
  • Really great aid stations. Every single aid station had plenty of food and great volunteers
  • No beer post-race was sad.
  • THE HOT SUCKS. This was the hottest temperature I have ever run in. SO FREAKING AWFUL.
  • Everyone had a rough day, it is my understanding there were a lot of DNF"s. What a bummer.
  • Wish the shirt was a technical one so that I could wear it to run in.
  • I really didn't enjoy myself the last loop. It was too hot, and I was pretty miserable. If I wouldn't have traveled for this race, I might have dropped out. Yuck.
  • I didn't use my iPod. 8+ hours of "running" with no music? While "running" alone? Huh. Impressive.
  • THE FLIES. They were everywhere. And they bite!! So annoying and gross.
  • I won't run this one again. It didn't feel like a runnable course to me and even though the overall atmosphere was great, it was just not a fun course/experience. Texas weather is too unpredictable. Only plus was no humidity and a slight breeze.


  1. This sounded awful. You are cray cray. Way to get it done, though.

  2. Agree, that sounded awful! I got my garmin to run for 8 hours straight by doing a resetting thing I read about online. After charging it up, turn it on and let it run until completely discharged. Then plug in and charge fully, plus two hours. I may have gone through this precedure twice, can't recall. Congratulations on finishing the 50 states.

  3. The course is breathtaking! I would love to hike it on a vacay. Hey, sorry to hear you were miserable. Good luck on the next ultra!

  4. Oh man, that course looks brutal! And then the heat? You are a rock star for finishing that thing! I've noticed that trail races rarely have enough info on their websites and frequently don't give medals - not sure what's up with that. Great job getting it done!

  5. Sounds pretty awful but you still did amazing. Heat is so soul sucking.

  6. Congrats on finishing such a tough race!!

  7. That course sounds awful! You're pretty amazing for hanging in and finishing!

  8. superwoman! the race looks beautiful but sounds awful. and no medal. no thank you. congrats on pushing through with crappy conditions!


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