2012 Rocky Raccoon 50 mile Race Report

The parking guy flagged us down.

“There’s no parking up there, you’ll have to park here.  It’s a mile away from the start.” Well that sucks but there’s nothing we can really do about it, at least I can sort of warm up.  So, just like that, the 2012 Rocky Raccoon 50 miler turned into a 51 miler.  And maybe a 52 miler if my buddy’s wife wasn’t going to come up.

It starts with the rain

The rain system came through at 3 or 4 in the morning.  The trails were in excellent shape before then.  This rain is the kind that comes down sideways, like in a tropical storm.  Thankfully it didn’t last that long, but long enough to turn excellent trails into a muddy mess.  Well, we runners are the ones who turned it into a mess.

The start of the 100 mile race amidst the sheets of rain... photo c/o Drymax Facebook page

Driving into the park on Park Road 40, the little lightening was actually pretty spectacular to see against the tree lines that lined the pre-dawn sky of the park.  Eventually I hiked up through the rain to the start and stood with the other runners under the aid station tent, packed  like I was in a crowded bar, no room to maneuver but nobody wanted to wait outside in the rain.  After we started the 50 mile race at 7 am, the rain didn’t last for long, but the damage had been done.  The first section was not bad at all, very little mud sections that presented problems.  The next section was different.  Eventually you jump onto a nice trail that had probably the muddiest sections.  This section also was a part of an out-n-back so it had twice the traffic and with almost 750 runners, it would just get muddier and muddier as the day went on.  This is the kind of shoe-sucking-mud that takes ahold of your shoe and doesn’t want to let go.  I never gave mine up though, tried as it did.

lots of mud where you put your foot down, and it disappears! c/o someone from the TejasTrails FB group

The first lap flew on by and I didn’t think it was that bad.  I had time goals, but wasn’t sure how seriously to take them given some injuries had hampered me (and I wasn’t even sure how long I would even last on raceday) and of course the conditions were less than ideal.  The second lap went on and I tagged along with a couple from Boston that were running the 100.  I ran and chatted with them for a bit before I finally was able to pick up some steam from about mile 17-25.  I was feeling good—probably too good.  My bib number was 787, so I was flying like jetplane.  In hindsight, I probably should have slowed down.  But by this time, the rain was gone and it was actually a very pleasant day.  I especially remember enjoying the section along the levee where you are on top of the lake and have a nice view.  Came back to the Damnation Aid Station and returned back on my way, still feeling good.  I think at this point another brief rain shower came by, which was COLD!  Thankfully it was gone quickly.

My foot/toe, which flared up the two weeks before and caused me to question if I should even run, wasn’t really bothering me, which I was happy about.  And I was still making an overall decent pace but fading maybe just a little bit.  At the Park Road AS at mile ~28 I don’t remember if I was short of breath or just eating, but could only ask questions by pointing at items, like a helpless toddler.  Thankfully the volunteers understand.

“You don’t seem to be walking very well…”

Anyway, I proceeded onto the start/finish but could feel my energy level slowly starting to drop and my legs got heavier.  Couldn’t make it up with coffee beans, coke, food…… my legs just felt tired.  I could run a little at the beginning of lap 3, but not before very long, my legs just were real sore after about mile 35 or so.  No cramping, nausea, or other issues this race, my legs just had simply had enough.  I suspect it was the mud, or maybe my over tapering or maybe my training wasn’t adequate enough..… who knows.  But the last 10 miles simply took forever;  whereas before I was flying like a jetplane, now I was crashing and burning…needed to be grounded for maintenance!  While the first two 16.67 mile laps took ~7 hrs combined, the last lap took over 5 hours.  Aren’t you supposed to improve with experience?  I sure don’t mind walking here and there, but it would be nice to finish these things a bit stronger.  My first 50 at the race before was a great experience and since then… it’s been a much tougher nut to crack.

Somewhere on lap 3 I ran into Hal Koerner who was leading the 100 mile race, and ended up winning the 100 mile race (my understanding is his rental car also got towed).  We were going in opposite directions and had to share a footbridge that doesn’t leave much extra room for comfort for two runners.  “Sorry buddy!” Well you don’t need to apologize to me; I don’t want to hold you back! He is a big dude, compared to the average runner, and it’s always real neat to see the elite athletes out there (he basically ran twice as far and as fast as me…yeah).

“If it was supposed to be easy, Oprah would be doing it” Joe P.

I sat down at the Park Road Aid station and ate some food, and took a bit of a mental break for the last stretch and got my flashlight out since the sun was just about to go down.  It seemed like everyone passed me the last 4.4 miles… but I just wanted to get to the finish.  I couldn’t move very fast, but it was just fast enough to keep my body temperature high enough from the now crashing air temperature.  Finally turned the last corner and saw the big red lights of the timing clock… finally here.  It is customary to run to the finish, the last 50 yards or so, but at this point, I have no shame saying my legs had no plans of doing that! And my time wasn’t *that* bad, but I surely expected to do better, but it was nice to finish since many can’t do that… and the average person wouldn’t even try.

Shoes

Used one pair that held up OK… although they smelled rather nasty as I washed them down this evening.  Don’t think the pictures convey the muddiness but here goes.

Shoes after the race... looking "clean"...

shoes after I hosed them down... but they have lost house priveleges for a while.