Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Rocky Raccoon 100M (Race Recap)

Huntsville, TX
Saturday, February 2 - Sunday, February 3
Ultra Marathon #33
100 Mile (attempt) - #8
Weather - HUMID, overcast, mild

Honestly, I had no intention of running this. Then in late December Ben and I were talking about upcoming races and I looked at airfare to Houston. I still had no intention of running. I told him maybe I would go down and pace him, or possibly run the 100K. Somehow, he ended up convincing me to go and we could run the 100M together. Oh, ok. I registered for Rocky Raccoon on December 28, just five weeks before race day. After taking things pretty easy after Javelina, I knew I wasn't going to be able to get in any big miles. My longest runs were 13 miles, 16 miles (4 weeks out) and 12 miles (2 weeks out).

Friday

Not learning my lesson, we had the first flight out of Denver at 6:25 in the morning. Wake up should have been about 3:30. Thanks to my insomnia, I woke up at 2:30. OF COURSE I DID. We got out the door on time, parked and had just enough time to get coffee before boarding. Flight was uneventful. Super thrilled to find that it was foggy and raining when we landed. Nothing I like more than humidity!

Picked up the rental car and decided we should find food and/or brewery before heading to Huntsville. I had already done enough research to know there wasn't going to be much there, and we weren't going to be able to check in to the hotel until 3. So basically, hours.

Traffic getting out of Houston was a bit chaotic. Ben was researching places to go and sadly, most of the breweries didn't open until 4?? People in Houston don't day drink?? We finally found one that opened at noon, so we didn't have much time to kill.
SpindleTap was a cute brewery that conveniently had a pizza food truck. Around 2 we left to drive up to Huntsville. (Did you know Houston is basically the biggest (most sprawling) city ever? I swear we were driving through forever. Found the hotel with no issues, checked in, and decided to nap for a an hour before going to the park to pick up our bibs and attend the pre-race briefing.
We arrived around 5 and managed to run into Jeff and Becki Lynn right away. It's always nice to magically find people you know at a race a thousand miles from home. We adorably managed to get consecutive bib numbers.

I had a hard time focusing during the race briefing, spending most of my time thinking about alligators. Spent a few minutes chatting with people after (including Courtney!) before deciding that we should head out to get food and last minute supplies so we could get to bed at a reasonable hour.

Went to Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner - I had a delicious Philly Steak and fries. Yum, salt. Picked up bottled water and snacks at the gas station next to the hotel. Attempted to go to sleep at 9. Around 10:30 I finally took some melatonin and think MAYBE I finally got to sleep around 11.

Race Day

I thought we had decided to get up around 4. Turns out, it was 3. Ugh!!! I do think I got a little more sleep than the night before Javelina, but honestly, nothing I could do about it at this point. While I was getting ready Ben went to get coffee. Packed everything up and we were headed out, as planned, right after 5. Stopped at the gas station to get super glue for Ben's gaiters and then headed into the park. I had my cash ready for the per-person entry fee into the park, but it still took nearly 20 minutes!! By the time we got near the start line it was already 5:30 and we couldn't find parking. We probably had to park close to a half mile away. Ugh. Not the low-key way I like to start a big race! Packed up everything we needed, arriving near the start at 5:49. Ohmygod.

I needed to use the bathroom, so Ben texted Jeff to see what we were going to do with our bags. I finally decided to just leave mine at the start and managed to find a girl nearby who had extra tape and a marker. Finished labeling our stuff mere minutes before the start, walking to the line as they were counting down.

As planned, we started together. It was crazy congested at the start and we ended up walking quite a bit in the beginning while people found their paces. With a 6 am start, we were using headlamps and trying not to trip over all the roots I had heard so much about. There was some running on flats and downhills, but I walked the hills. We also noticed that although most of the trails were in relatively decent conditions, there were already sections that were muddy.

The first aid station was Nature Center. Neither of us stopped, but I did put my gloves and arm sleeves in my pack. It was already feeling swampy. Run to the Gate aid station, the least technical section of the entire course. There were some wide, muddy spots, but otherwise, very runnable. In and out of the aid station pretty quickly, although somehow managed to lose Ben. He caught up within a few minutes and said he was feeling really good and that he was "going for a run." If this wasn't a course that had multiple out and back sections with loops, I wouldn't have seen him again the rest of the race!

I put in my headphones and did my own thing. Next aid station was Damnation, where I knew all my friends were volunteering. The only one I recognized upon arrival was Suann. She asked how I was feeling, and I said ok, but only 10 miles in and I had a LOT of time in front of me. The out and back section to/from FarSide would prove to be my least favorite part of the course (and thanks to math, I would figure out that 1/3 of the miles were in this part).



I saw Ben and he said the turn around "wasn't that far" - turns out it was at least another mile. Blech. And the "worst" aid station of all, only fluids! I checked in and headed right back out. Hit Damnation one more time and then it was heading back to Nature Center and Dogwood (start/finish).

First loop was completed in 5:43:16

I did not bother going to my drop bag and headed right back out. I don't know how people write super detailed race reports on loop courses. I literally have no recollection of what may or may not have happened.

I ran some, I walked some. Feeling pretty good. Not having any issues with eating or drinking. The humidity is soul-sucking. It is making me nauseous and cranky. I am, however, still listening to music and not super hating life. Already noticing that I am chafing in all the wrong places.

Course getting more muddy.

When I got to Damnation (probably around 50K in?) I decided that I would leave my pack and just carry one of the bottles so that I could 1). give my back a break from wearing the pack and 2). hopefully give my shirt a chance to dry out? Best decision I made the entire race. It really made a difference, although it is kind of a pain to carry a loose bottle for a few hours.

I later realized this cute cone was the "one mile until FarSide marker" (probably unofficially, but it helped me gauge where I was)
Sometime after I went back through Damnation, it started to lightly rain. I pulled out my UD jacket and put it on. At some point I realize I have lost my sunglasses (which I never needed during this race so I probably should have just left them in my drop bag or the car). Glad that the rain held off when I didn't have my pack

Saw Ben, he was still super duper happy. I was less happy. It was just getting dark enough when I saw him that I had already pulled out my headlamp. I'm guessing he had a 4 mile lead on me at this point.

Second loop - 6:25:32

I texted A a picture of me crossing with a (slightly joking) comment that I hoped I had enough time to do the back half. HAHAHAHAHA.
Halfway done! (Only halfway done)
Again, did not bother going to my drop bag. It was barely after 6 pm, but I still had a long sleeve shirt in my pack, and hoped I wasn't making a bad choice by not grabbing my Patagonia in case it got super cold at night.

The road to Gate now has little signs on the side of the trail that correspond with Queen lyrics. I liked the signs.
EVERYTHING SUPER ENHANCED THIS LOOP. It was dark and I was not running the same pace as anyone else. There are weird sounds coming from the lake. The mud is AWFUL. It's tough to see where it's wet, where it's muddy, and where I might actually be able to run. Eating and drinking is still going fine. Getting tired, but not as bad as things have been in the past. I think I make it most of the loop without napping, although I can't remember now.
I almost stepped on this adorable guy!
About a mile out from FarSide, a guy passed me (so he was 25 miles ahead of me), tripped over a root and went flying. He went down HARD. I stopped and asked if he was ok. He was bleeding and said that he had hit his head. I helped him up and spent a few minutes helping him with his headlamp. The retained him for a few minutes at the aid station to get him cleaned up. He did catch back up to me later and we walked together a bit. He said he hadn't walked at all the first 3 loops and had expected to be done by now, but he was afraid to run.

When I came back through Damnation, Lesley was there and let me nap for 5 minutes. She said when I came back through on my last loop that she would pace me the last 15 miles. I never use a pacer, but my mind was struggling and figured I could use the help.

Third loop - 8:10:34

I came into the aid station and saw Jeff immediately. He asked me what I needed and I said a nap. He found a chair for me and timed me while I napped for 3 minutes. He grabbed me some potatoes and said that Becki had literally just left. I was on the fence about continuing. The mud is miserable and my feet are killing me. I can tell I have major blisters, but there is no point in pulling my spare shoes out of my bag because they will just get trashed too. I head out, not super happy. I think I had to take one cat nap before hitting Nature Center. I managed to catch Becki right before then, but she was SUPER unhappy. She said her back was seizing up and she was going to drop :( Once I confirmed she wasn't going to be talked into continuing on, I headed out.

21 miles to go. BLAH BLAH BLAH.

The road to the Gate was exponentially worse by now. SO MUDDY. After leaving Gate I remember I was getting really tired. I sat down on a log only to look down and see a giant spider between my legs. I was so mad that there was a spider ruining my nap chances.

I took at least 3 naps before I got to Damnation. I told Lesley I definitely needed a nap before we could head out. 5 minute nap, and off we went. I told her my feet were a wreck and there would be very little running.

We hadn't seen each other in a long time, so it was nice to catch up. We saw Ben right before dawn, and he asked me if I had extra batteries, although he really didn't need them at this point.

Lesley kept trying to tell me the course wasn't that muddy. Then we got to sections like this and she was like, "oh, this is much worse than I thought."
Once we got to FarSide there would be no more repetition of course. Thinking about that instead of the number of miles I had left helped a bunch.

I sat down on a tree trunk and pulled off my shoe as I had a stabbing pain on the bottom of my right foot - I assumed I must have a dagger in my foot. Lots of sand and mud, but nothing I could actually see. That meant my blisters were really getting out of control. Lesley and I decided it wasn't worth the time to fix them as I was still going to be walking anyway. I wasn't "super" close to cutoffs, but I also wasn't going to be finishing with a ton of time to spare.

Grabbed the most delicious grilled cheese from Damnation. 7ish miles to go. I was still in fairly decent spirits. Got to Nature Center - LAST AID STATION!!

And then with about 2 miles left, my brain broke. I knew the course was going to measure long on my watch. I knew that when I thought we were close to the finish that we weren't actually close. I bet I had at least 5-6 people pass me in this stretch. I desperately wanted to be done, but my feet hurt too bad to run.

My watch hit 100 miles and I knew we were still a mile out. MAD.
Selfie Lesley took when I didn't know what she was doing... that's how I really felt
Selfie when I was like, oh ok, I'll pretend I'm happy
Lesley says - "WE'RE THERE, I CAN SEE IT!" I said something ridiculous like "that's another tall people lie." 10 seconds later I can see the tents. I told her I had to decide if I was going to be "real" and walk it in or if I could suffer the daggers stabbing my feet to run through the finish.

That was the longest chute of my life. I managed to "run" a super slow slog. I could see Ben at the finish, yay!! SO.HAPPY.TO.BE.DONE.
Lesley getting off course so I can cross alone

Ben said, "crap, I was zoomed in too close" haha
OH MY GOD I'M FINALLY DONE
Final loop - 9:01:38

Official finish time - 29:21:00 (10 minute PW)
Overall place - 186/208
Gender place - 40/51
Division place - 13/18

Garmin time - 29:20:23
Garmin distance - 101.15
Garmin pace - 17:24
Elevation gain - 6,864'
Miles 1-10 - 14:32, 14:37, 14:10, 13:45, 13:28, 14:02, 12:47, 12:10, 13:30, 13:07
Miles 11-20 - 14:00, 12:53, 12:43, 13:25, 13:47, 13:09, 14:12, 13:33, 15:19, 14:47
Miles 21-30 - 14:57, 14:30, 14:36, 13:47, 15:)6, 13:16, 15:27, 14:47, 16:34, 14:16
Miles 31-40 - 13:45, 15:38, 13:37, 14:56, 16:48, 15:15, 16:46, 15:18, 15:32, 14:28
Miles 41-50 - 14:36, 15:12, 16:54, 17:32, 16:58, 18:07, 16:55, 16:45, 16:01, 17:34
Miles 51-60 - 16:37, 15:47, 15:14, 18:40, 16:55, 17:59, 17:17, 16:35, 20:09, 18:10
Miles 61-70 - 16:57, 17:29, 17:51, 16:44, 19:02, 17:46, 12:27, 11:03, 19:05, 32:38
Miles 71-80 - 24:47, 21:52, 24:57, 19:06, 18:50, 27:27, 18:44, 23:40, 25:04, 18:53
Miles 81-90 - 19:07, 19:28, 21:41, 21:33, 24:58, 27:53, 19:57, 20:29, 20:21, 20:44
Miles 91-100 - 19:25, 17:53, 19:59, 21:17, 22:16, 16:12, 19:19, 22:26, 20:21, 21:51
Miles 101-101.2 - 23:12, 15:29

THANK GOD Ben had gone to the car and grabbed my flip flops. He found a chair for me right by the finish line and I started the process of getting my shoes off and trying to get my compression socks off. My feet felt like they were on fire. Within seconds of stripping off my first sock I had a horrified volunteer handing me wipes so I could try to clean off my "trench foot"
Shoes and socks both went in the garbage!!! 
CANKLES!!!
The blisters were worse than I even could have imagined. All my toes looked like they were growing other toes. So gross. By the time I got things reasonably under control nearly everyone had crossed (including an older man who didn't cross the line, but DID throw his timing anklet over the line. We never did figure out what THAT was all about).

Sunday (post-race)

We were hobbling to the rental car that Ben had conveniently moved close by and were loading up the car when... Ben closed the trunk of the car with the keys in it. Oh my lord. What ensued next was 45 minutes of brain fog, trying to figure out who to call in this instance. Thankfully, Lesley was still around and suggested we talk to the race director, as he might know of a contact at the park that maybe could help us. Luckily one of the maintenance guys was able to help us get in and we were on our way. Ben started driving first, but he had to pull over after maybe 20 minutes. I didn't make it much longer, and we ended up napping in an HEB parking lot for an hour.

Finally we got reasonably close IAH and we found a brewery nearby - Ingenious. We stopped in for beer and food (we ended up with street tacos, wings AND pizza). Friends Jolene & Stephen joined us for a bit while we pretended to watch the Super Bowl, but really were just playing "What the Meme" - so fun.
We had a choice of buckles - mine is on the left, Ben picked the shinier one
Beer and a buckle!
They headed out and we went to the airport to drop off the car. Although we both had basic economy tickets, once we boarded I managed to convince the girl who had the seat next to Ben to switch with me so we could sit by each other. Bohemian Rhapsody was playing, but I fell asleep, waking up just before we landed.

At the rental car facility just after midnight, home just before 1. Quick shower before bed, longest/shortest weekend EVER.

Thoughts:
  • 100 mile races certainly never get any easier.
  • This was a pretty big race - nearly 400 100M starters, and also a 100K that started an hour later. Other than the first few miles it never got super congested. 
  • Very low-key event. Only swag was the tiny bib and a long sleeve shirt. (And a buckle if you were in the 56% of people to finish).
  • Course was very well marked and volunteers were amazing. 
  • I don't know that I loved the course, nor did I necessarily think it was "easy." I personally found JJ to be much more runnable. I do acknowledge that I do not do well with humidity, so maybe that (and the crappy muddy trails) is what I'm basing that theory on.
  • Randomly, this was my first 100M race where I never accessed my drop bag, only using what I carried on me. Pretty sure I used everything other than my long sleeve shirt and pants. All things considered, I planned this pretty well. Perfect amount of Nuun and salt and food to supplement the aid stations.
  • Overall, not the worst race ever. And as the bartender at SpindleTap said, "regardless of how things go, it'll still be part of your story." (I may have butchered her actual words, but I like the concept).
  • Will I go back? NO. A THOUSAND TIMES NOW. I finally got a TX buckle, I don't need another one.

1 comment:

  1. Hi there from Seattle! I've been reading your blog for a while, but I don't think I've commented yet. Congratulations on finishing this race! The conditions, between the humidity and mud, sound awful and the fact that you weren't training for this makes your finish simply amazing :).

    ReplyDelete

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