12 February 2012
Rocky Raccoon 100 race report
I flew into Dallas Friday morning and was picked up at the airport by Suanne Lundsberg. I had met and run with Suann on two other occasions and we'd become buddies. Suann was running her first 50 miler and so she offered to pick me up in Dallas and carpool down together. We drove down checked in and picked up our race packets at the friday night pre-race check in. I got to meet a lot of people in person whom I'd only known online, that was awesome! Joe Prusaitis and team gave an excellent pre race briefing. After that we went to Chilis for dinner. It looked like everyone racing had the same idea. There aren't a lot of dining options in Huntsville, TX. I ate dinner with Suann, Chris, and Lesley who were great company.
As we were getting ready for bed. we checked the forecast and saw we were due for a nasty storm. I had brought a lot of shoes in anticipation of this. If you see my name on the registrants list of a race you might want to reconsider entering as there will be some severely unpleasant condition that will make your race much more difficult: blazing heat, stifling humidity, knee deep mud, waste deep ice cold water, torrential downpours. This race was no different. My Race equipment was: 2xu compression shorts, brooks equilibrium tops, injinji socks, UD handheld, assorted hats, buffs and Altra shoes - Lone peak and Instinct.
I slept very soundly and woke at 0345 to a torrential downpour and 65F. I showered, got dressed, attached my bib and chip, lubed very heavily( as I usually do if its raining hard). Suann and I connected with Leslie and we went down to the lobby for coffee. We met Jeremy in the lobby ate and then we all drove to the park. I had 2 bagels, a banana, and a handful of animal crackers. There was plenty of parking at the start line. I tried my luck at the bathroom and struck out. No problem, I had two individually wrapped wet ones for later. I had deliberated for a while about starting in a raincoat but decided against it. I have yet to find a running raincoat that doesn't make me sweat so profusely it defeats its purpose. Maybe someone should invent a running umbrella..
I spent some time in the tent chatting with people I had met at previous races and making some new friends as well. The rain made the footing very slippery, combined with the roots this made for very tricky footing. We started in a downpour and I had chosen to skip starting with a headlamp. This was a really bad idea. I wiped out 2x in the first 5K. I won't be doing that again!
I ran for quite a while with David Clark who is a great guy with an amazing story of recovery from obesity and addiction. His website is http://supermanproject.org/ We spent a good deal of the first 40 miles running together and leapfrogging each other. Another person I ran with and leapfrogged for quite a while was Chris Whelchel. He was one of the other 2 runners I met out there wearing Altra Lone Peaks. I crossed paths several times with Suann, Lesley, Jeremy and many others.
At some point I stopped at damnation to check my feet. I knew for certain I had a few minor blisters on my toes from all the sand and mud making its way into my shoes. but I also felt like something was going on with my right forefoot. I pulled off my shoe and then my sock and as soon as I did a large flake about 3"x5" fell right off the bottom of my foot. I was thoroughly freaked out as was a volunteer who was standing nearby and asked, "what the hell was that"? I took a few deep breaths and then checked my foot.
It was such a relief to find that my foot was intact and the flake was just a big chunk of mud/sand mix. I cleaned off my feet and lubed them up with vaseline and then into fresh socks.
At around mile 45 I hit a real low and struggled for quite awhile. I was really suprised because I had thought I was running conservatively. I was watching my exertion level carefully and I was fueling really well. Around that time(I think) I connected with David Murphy and ran with him for the rest of the race - I think from about 50 miles on. David is an awesome guy, funny as hell, and a blast to run with. I learned a lot from David: what a skunk run is, and that when anyone stops to go to the bathroom everyone else is supposed to take off at tempo pace. We picked up his pacer Charlie Hogue at mile 60. Charlie helped us keep running and definitely made a difference in our finish time. I switched into my Altra Instincts at this point and also noticed that somewhere on the trail I had lost my garmin.
Sometime during the last loop I finally had to go to the bathroom. Sadly I had given out my 2 wipes to strangers in need. I ended up sacrificing my buff. Hopefully someone finds it after the downpour washed it clean and ready to use :).
The last 10 miles of the run I was feeling really great. I think the boost of having David and Charlie to joke around with made the difference. I finished in 20:43 and right after David awarded me an Idiots running club shirt and bestowed upon me honey badger status. I'm not sure if I'm happier about the buckle or the shirt. After the race when I took off my shoes my left foot immediately became very swollen. It was simply the result of tying my laces too tight and bruising my foot a little.
The aid stations and volunteers for this race were awesome and the participants all seemed to be having a great time in spite of the adverse conditions. I can't wait to come back and run this one again!