I finally have time to sit down and write a race report about our excursion to Huntsville, TX for the Raccoon. I have had this race on my calendar for quite some time, but have never been able to do it. I have come as close as signing up for Sunmart, but did not go. Sunmart is held in the same park, Huntsville State Park, as Rocky Raccoon. The course is billed as one of the least demanding courses as compared to Western States, Leadville, etc., but 50 or 100 miles is still a long dang ways.After picking up my packet and checking into our diggs at the La Quinta, we headed out for pizza. I am not for sure if this was such a good idea as the binding effect of cheese may wreak havoc during such a long race. I wanted the carbs, but I did not want to get a few miles in and have to start a long chain of squatting maneuvers. We settled on Pizza Hut only to see a Lil Caesars right after we bought the pizza. Oh well.
We headed back to room to do the pre-race ritual of watching the Weather Channel and relaxing. After the long drive I was ready to sack out about 9 pm. I managed to make it to bed by 10, but my wake up call was at 3:45 AM. Ughhh!
After the clogging effects of the pizza, we managed to make it out the door a little after 5 AM and headed to Huntsville State Park. I have never seen such a huge long line of cars waiting to get into an Ultra. I thought for sure we were going to have trouble finding a place to park, but we managed a spot by Lake Raven and the outhouse. Temps were around mid 4o's, so it was time to sit in the Jeep, relax with the heat on and wait. The 100 milers were taking off at 6 AM, so I had and hour and half wait to go. The kids went back to sleep and I just relaxed and stayed warm. Before I knew it, it was time to get out in the cold and head to the start.
Here I am shedding some layers and starting to lining up. I really was not that nervous about this as I knew it would be a long day. I get a lot more nervous about 5K's than I do about an Ultra. Strange, but true.
I am getting my game face on and heading towards the line. Let's get it on!
This is what I was headed for. The start of the 18th annual Rocky Raccoon trail run. A lot of great runners have toed this line and it was time for me to throw my hat in the ring.
Promptly at 7 AM, we were off. Nothing fancy other than a go, I much prefer the shotgun at the start of Leadville. I started out with the sun coming up and you could now see Lake Raven. I kept looking for alligators, but I did not see any. Do alligators hibernate?
My pace starting out was a little higher than I wanted, but I kept thinking to myself, why are all these people in such a hurry, we still have 50 miles to go. I know that some people will start out too fast and I will reel them in later and others start out fast and then speed up. The group I was with was running a decent pace and I just stayed with them. We all stayed together until we hit the first aid station as some stopped and some kept going. I determined to stop at every aid station and take in plenty of fluids. One of my biggest tendencies is to not stay hydrated enough and it costs me later. This day I hit every aid station.
The course is a 16.67 mile loop and we hit the first aid station in 5K, then we hit the Dam Road aid station, do a loop around and hit it again and then head to the final aid station before the finish. From the last aid station it is 4.4 miles to the Start/Finish. I really enjoyed most of the course, but this last 4.4 mile section was a drag. It was all I could do to stay focused. The other sections kept my attention, but this last part was really boring and a long 4.4 miles.
The course had a few mud holes that we had to avoid, but for the most part, it was really runnable. Their was a lot single track mixed in with Jeep roads, and a lot of planks to run on. On a few sections I smacked some elbows with others on the course, but managed to stayed injury free. I almost bit the dust 3 times on the trail, but had a great recovery each time. Really a very runnable course.
I felt really good through the first loop and managed a 2:22. Right where I wanted to be and felt like it was a pace I could maintain. I ran all the hills on the first loop and did no walking. On second loop somewhere around mile 26 or 27, the wheels came off. I took in plenty of fluids and electrolytes, and ate a little, but I tend not to eat enough and it hit me. On the section leaving the Dam road aid station on the Jeep trail is where I started walking. I knew I was in trouble when I start walking flat sections. I thought for sure my race was over. All I could think about was quitting the race after this loop. My legs felt fried as I was going for a sub 8 finish and probably hit it too hard or it just may have been because I did not take in enough calories. I made it to the next aid station and took my time and started towards the finish. A lot of things go through your head at this point. How do you explain this to your kids, I can be home earlier, why did I do this, etc. I ran when I could and did a lot of walking. Finished this loop in I think around 5:15. Still not a bad time.
I spent a lot of time sitting in the chair at this point. I managed to eat a Clif Bar, drank a couple of Gatorades, and headed to go to the Port-a-Potty and I felt like maybe I could finish the race. Some of the workers came over and talked to me and all I could tell them was my legs were fried. I think that a lot of this was I did not take in enough calories initially and was paying for it. After at least 20-25 minutes in the chair, I ventured back out. I was able to start running again, but it was around 10 minute miles. Hey, at least I was moving.
While I was out on the last loop, the wife and kids took off to do some site seeing. Huntsville is where Sam Houston is from and they have quite the memorial to him. If you look close, Wyatt is picking Sam's nose.
This is Wyatt just at the base of the statue. Words do not give it justice.
Sam was obviously larger than life.
On this loop, I just wanted to finish and ran when I could and walked the hills. I definitely felt better after taking some more calories, so I was running a lot more. I spent the whole time wondering if I could break 9 hours. 8 hours was the original goal, but 9 was going to be a great accomplishment in spite of the day. I just kept moving. It had warmed up to the upper 50"s, but it still felt like perfect weather. I managed to run more of this last section home, but it was still a challenge.
Finally, I could see the home stretch. As I crossed the road, I could hear this big, booming, familiar voice crying in the wilderness, "Come on Dorothy!" Brian Hoover was at the finish as well as my family. I crossed the line in 8:43:36. Not bad for an old guy.
What a day! I was glad to be done. Joe P. came up and shook my hand told me I could quit running now. It was official, I was done. When I was finished, Roman and Carolyn were getting ready to head out on their last loop. They invited me out and I politely declined. Kathy was also there and I discovered that she had some issues and had dropped out after 40 miles. Still more miles than most of the world has ever ran. I spent some time standing around talking to Brian and it was time to find the family.
Time to head for the house!
Joe P. and the Tejas Trails group puts on a great race and I was glad to be a part of it. I would recommend this race to anyone for the challenge of going beyond the 50K and being supported by a group who knows what they are doing. It was nice to run the race surrounded by friends and family, but it is great to run the race to experience life. Memories are made of times like these.