Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile Race

Well, after almost a year of hard work and training, I attempted the Rocky Raccoon 100 mile race again after 4 years. Two of those last years I was injured with a major peroneal problem in my left calf. I was finally able to train free over the last few months, and it was nice to be able to train hard for once.

The race was spectacular, and at 6:00 in the morning, 450 of us lined up in the dark, and we took off into the trails with headlamps blazing. It was a site to see, and hear, as everyone was yelling and screaming as we hit the first section of rooted trails. I took it pretty easy over this section, not wanting to trip and fall. There were people in front and back of me, and they were all running fast. When the crowd finally thinned a bit, I slowed down and took it easy. The trail wound down around and over some rolling hills past the first aid station and then deeper into the woods as we made our way to the Damnation aid station. Once there, we would venture out onto the back section of the course, which was open and a little wider for a few miles before turning into a rooted, twisting and turning section which is where I first hit a massive root and went down. I hit so hard that my shoulder was flaring in pain. I managed to get to my feet and took off again, but I was pretty shaken up and became very leery of those roots. Naturally, I slowed down and by the time I got back to the end of the first 20 mile loop, I knew my time was not good. I came across the start/finish in 5:40, and spent too much time eating and drinking, leaving the aid station way longer than planned.

I took off on the 40 mile loop feeling tired and my feet were already aching from running over the deep sand, and I had already stubbed my toe several times on roots. I was already way too slow by the time I got back to the Damnation aid station, and finished the second loop very tired, sore, and mentally and physically exhausted. The only thing that kept me going was that I knew I was going to pick up one of my pacers at the end of the 40 mile loop. We actually had walkie talkies that would enable my pacers to know where I was, but I was late coming in, and David and Gary were a bit worried. But, I finally reached them as I was making my way around the last rooted section. I had hit my toe against another root and I could feel the blood trickling down into my socks. Every time I hit a root with my damaged toe, it sent shockwaves of pain through my whole body. Good thing I had toe bumpers on my trail shoes....

As I came around for the 60 mile loop, David met me down the trail and as I came across the start/finish, him and Gary helped me change socks, and put on rain gear, as the forecast called for rain. I started out on the 60 mile loop with David pacing me with a pretty good pace. I started to feel good again, but it did not last long. I was feeling faint and had to sit down for a while before continuing on toward Damnation station. I hit another stump or two with my toe, which was my signal to throw in the towel. We reached the aid station and I knew I was not going to be able to continue and still be healthy. Made it just short of the 50 mile mark. Altogether on my feet for 16 straight hours, and nothing but aid station food, which for once did not settle well for me during the race. Not sure why. RR100 aid stations are the best, but I could not eat enough for some reason.

All in all, though, it wasn't the damaged toe that cost me the race, it was just fatigue. I was not able to keep moving. Probably had to do more with lack of sleep. I was unable to sleep the night before the race, and the night before that was not good, either. Then, up at 4:00 to prepare for a 6:00 start and the kitchen at the hotel had no food other than bananas and some fruit they left out. I ended up eating a microwave breakfast sandwich and an energy bar....not exactly the way I wanted to fuel before a major event.

I was more disappointed that I had dragged a crew and pacers out on a dreary, cold weekend and they did all they could to assist me in this effort, but it was over way too soon.

Well, things happen, and in a 100 mile race, almost anything can bring you down, and I knew that going in. I knew the roots were there, as I have run this course several times.

I did see some amazing runners. Ian Sharman won with a spectacular showing. He looked like a beast flying over those roots with what appeared to be little effort, winning easily over a strong field. And...the female American record was set by Nicole Studer, from Dallas. What an amazing performance from her.

What made this a great run, despite the hardships was the harmony between runners, good friends, and an excellent and well-run event. Always a pleasure to run, no matter what happens!