Thursday, February 18, 2016

Rocky 50k, Huntsville State Park

With the Snowdrop 55-hour race behind me, and my 100-mile finish still fresh on my mind, it was time for the Rocky 50, in Huntsville.  I have run this course several times, including the old Sunmart 50 mile event, and another 50 mile race, plus two other 100 mile races there at the State Park.  It's a great area, and Tejas Trails always puts on great races.

The 5:45 a.m. start came early, and I took off rather slowly as I navigated across a tough section of roots.  My headlamp was needed early on, and as the trails slowly opened up, we reached the jeep road, which was packed with large rocks.  The Park workers had delivered these rocks earlier for a project, and I have to admit, they were really tough to run across.  The course stretched on and the first loop contained a good amount of hills, although it is called "flat," but the hills really seem to break things up a bit.  The trail also contains some deep sand, which wasn't too difficult to trek through in my Altra Lone Peak trail shoes.  However, as we started out on the second loop, my feet were starting to hurt as we made our way twice more over those rocks.  Actually, on the second loop, everything seemed harder.  The hills seemed higher, the sand felt deeper, the rocks felt harder, and the weather got hotter. 

I took my time through the last section of the course. With only 4 miles left, I slowed down, trying to make sure I did not fall.  Even so, that last section seemed really long.  But as I crossed the finish line, the race director (Chris McWatters) was waiting there and shook my hand.  I felt tired, but I also felt great. 

I obviously highly recommend this race as I do all the Tejas Trail events.  They are first class all the way, and thanks to all the volunteers at the aid stations, who go out of their way to keep runners on their feet and moving forward.  Thanks to everybody for another great running event.  My time was slow at 8 hours and 35 minutes, but my goal was just to enjoy another day on the trails, and that's what I did.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Snowdrop 55-Hour Ultra Race

The Snowdrop 55-hour ultra race is held in Sugar Land, Texas, and is a benefit for Texas Children's Hospital and for children with cancer.  I first heard about this race while running the Rocky Raccoon 100 mile race last February, and it sounded like the perfect challenge.  It was so ironic, that when I was in Oklahoma at the 24-hour race, I met Kevin Kline and his wife and friends who all were representing the Snowdrop race.  I was anxious to run the race, and actually spent the last 24 weeks training for this race, along with my friend Gary Garson. 


I began training for this event in June, a full 24-weeks of running a maximum of 70 miles per week.  I was training as if this was a 100-mile race.  We (Gary and I) completed back to back long runs, as well, every weekend.  The maximum was a Saturday 24 mile run, followed by a Sunday 20 mile run.  Some speed work was completed in the form of fartleks and tempo runs. 


Keeping the calories up was a major problem, as I would burn many more calories than I took in.  I tried to "up" my protein intake, while using carbs as a form of energy, along with Tailwind products to hydrate and supply electrolytes on my long runs.  Tailwind is the best product out there for long distance running.  Thankfully, more and more ultra races are going to this product instead of things like Gatorade.  I also used VF Fuel gel to supplement calories during long runs.


I went through several pairs of shoes just training for this event, but eventually went to Altra's Zero Drop shoes, along with Hokas, which I rotated as I was training each day, and rotated them during the race, as well.

The Course

The Snowdrop course was a 3/4 mile dirt/gravel track.  we needed to run 134 laps in order to hit 100 miles for the run.  We actually set up our tents alongside the trail, in what is lovingly termed tent city.  We had sleeping bags, chairs, lanterns, case we needed to stop and hang out at our tent and rest.  I did very little of that, but it was there in case I did.

The Race

This was an amazing event, with one huge aid stations equipped with almost anything you would need to run a hundred plus miles.  I was fascinated with all the donuts, as Dunkin Donuts was one of the sponsors.  They had anything and everything a runner needed to keep going.  There were several elites running.  Joe Fejes was there and won with 250 miles. 

I ran the first 50 miles in just over 14 hours, but by mile 60, I was hurting.  I got cramps in my thighs, and in my feet and had to sit out in my tent for an hour before the throbbing was gone.  Then, at mile 90, I got blisters.  I went into the med tent and the medical team fixed me up so I could keep going. 

I crossed the finish line with exactly 100 miles, in 39 hours, and 38 minutes.  I finished with almost 16 hours to spare.  I thought about continuing on and running more mileage, but with a 50k race coming up, I did not want to make the blisters worse. 

This is a race that all ultra runners should experience.  The race director was first class, and Kevin Kline was always encouraging and motivating.  They even furnished three meals a day during the race, along with free beer and Champagne as the race was held during the New Year's holiday. 


This was one of the most beautiful races I have ever participated in.  The race was an "experience" that I will never forget.  As Pam Reed was known to say once, "I find peace in extreme events." I can related to her quote, as I found much solace in seeing and talking to friends, watching elite runners pass me by on a regular basis, or watching everybody reach for their goals.  If you are looking for an "experience," not just another race, this is where you belong