December 9, 2013
Texas Endurance Trail 50K
Keith and I had a wonderful weekend in Texas. I wasn't too public about my goals going into this race, but really I just had one- to beat my last year's time. I'm happy to report that I beat it by 19 minutes! My coach mentioned me winning a few times, and I know he would've liked that, but it wasn't too important to me. I've come to learn with racing, that you can never count on who will (or won't) show up for a race, and the best competition comes from within yourself.
Prior to the race, I became very nervous about the weather. It was going to be below 30- bbbrrrr, and I was really confused about what to wear. I reached out to ultra goddess, Shannon, for advice. I took her key point about layering and ended up wearing:
*Brooks ID tank with Brooks arm warmers
*Long sleeve ID Equilibrium top
*Short sleeve ID Distance tee
*Brooks ID Infiniti shorts
*Brooks 3-in-1 gloves & ear warmer headband
*Brooks compression socks
*Brooks Pure Grits 2
I chose to NOT wear the Garmin for this race. I wanted to try to listen to my body. I wanted to start slow with no worries and let how I felt guide the pace. I remembered coach telling me about how he won the same 50K once and his first loop being the slowest of the 3. I stayed in Adrienne's car for as long as possible before the race started. I headed to start line with roughly 10-15 min to go. I met one of her friends, Jeff, a former Brooks IDer. I ran with Jeff and his friend for the entire first loop. It felt fairly slow, and I was having a hard time warming up, even though I had on THREE shirts. I struggled at first because I was having a hard time getting my footing. I felt choppy and clumsy. Granted, I am always clumsy, but had gone into the race feeling a bit more confident than usual. My recent two trail runs of 18 miles had been completed with zero falls. Jeff, his friend (drawing a blank on his name), and I talked about the usual stuff- what we did for a living, races, Brooks, etc. As we finished the 10K loop (and passed the start line), they stopped to fill/change bottles/ do something I'm not sure what, and I went into the porta potty. I didn't see them when I came out; so I just ran ahead. I also dropped the Distance Tee here, and sadly never got it after the race. :(
10K 9:07 pace
I started the first 20K loop and met a guy named Ryan. Ryan and I ran almost the whole loop together. Ryan had done a LOT of 50 milers and was training for his first 100 miler. We talked a lot about that. I was really shocked to learn that his mileage was lower than mine. I picked his brain about training/racing the 50 mile distance, and the more I listened, the more confident I felt about being able to complete the distance. This loop went by REALLY fast. *Sidenote about fueling here. Before the race, Coach and I had decided that I would take in two servings of UCAN before the race, and then at the 30K, I would grab my bottle of Hammer Perpetuum. Oh see, I never heard him mention anything about water, LOL; so I didn't drink a single drop for 30K. WINNING! And yes, folks, I have the done marathon+ distance 35 times, but I still need someone to tell me to take the freaking Dixie cup of water and drink it. Ha! At the end of the loop, I went BACK into the porta potty, and Ryan went to do what ultra runners do. (I still haven't figured out what these runners do when they go over to their things/bags/etc.) Must figure this out before the 50 miler. I thought about ditching the LS top, but decided against it.
20K loop 8:37 pace
I didn't see Ryan when I came out. The last loop is a lot more vivid to me, mostly because I ran alone and had plenty of time to think. The start of the loop is fairly tough. There are a few climbs, and my head went into a yuck place for about 15 minutes. It felt harder than it should, and I was a little disappointed. I had felt relaxed and strong until this point, but was I falling apart? My stomach was definitely bad. I decided to walk for just a few moments, secretly hoping someone would catch me to share the burden, but no one did. It's funny how things pop into your mind while racing/training long distances.
"Little Warrior"- something I call my XC kids, popped into my head. For some reason I thought about them, how I would tell them to be strong at this point, to trust their training, to muddle through it, be tough. So... I picked it up again.
Then I had a moment of panic- Am I lost???? Did I somehow turn off course? It seemed I should've hit an aid station by now. I felt clumsy again, like a baby giraffe. FINALLY, I head two guys behind me. This was kind of weird. For the next maybe 10 minutes, they would speed up and pass me, walk, then speed past me again. They never really talked to me, even though I tried to talk to them. Very awkward.
We got to the wide path called the "jeep road." The terrain gets much easier, even thought it's a steady out climb. I passed the aid station and simply put my bottle down. I could NOT drink it. My stomach was about to volcano. I picked up the pace going up the jeep road, since my baby giraffe legs could handle it without risk of falling. Then I puked, yep, and it was bright orange. I'm still baffled by that, since my UCAN was white and the Perpetuum was mocha flavored. Weird. I instantly felt better, and before I knew it, I had met the turn around and was back at the aid station. I knew I needed to take in SOME form of nutrition; so I stopped at the aid station and forced myself whole cup of water and a Hammer gel. I saw Roger Soler, and he asked if I was on my last loop. Then he mentioned me being "almost there", only 6-7 miles to go. I hadn't really done the math that way, and this made me excited! My head got into a better place, and I trotted off. As soon as I got into the windy woods, I barfed again.
Somewhere along the way, I had left the 2 awkward guys behind, and I really wasn't too disappointed. I tried to focus on relaxing and watching my footing. I know that when my legs get tired, I am at a HUGE risk for falling. I had made it this far... The next portion of the trail gets pretty dicey, lots of roots, etc. Nothing is too steep, but lots of hidden stuff. I reached the first set of wooden bridges, up a short steep part, and to the dam. It was REALLY windy up there, but I knew I was maybe 4-5 miles to the finish. I was calculating my projected time, and knew I was on track to beat my time from last year, but I still didn't know how much.
I wanted to try to pick up the pace here, and I did for a little bit. It was JUST like the XTERRA race, though, and as soon as I started running fast, my foot found a hidden root. BAM! UGH! Crap! I got pretty frustrated here because I KNEW I was capable of going faster, definitely had energy left in the tank, but my feet and legs would not coordinate around the roots. After the fall, I dusted off, tried to relax and just resumed but with a little slower pace. And then the finish! It came on faster than expected.
20K loop 8:56 pace
Final 50K 4:34, 8:50 pace, 2nd female
19 minute improvement from last year.
I had never been close to 1st place, nor had 3rd place been close to me. We held 1st-3rd the entire race, all uncontested.
This race was a big boost for my confidence. I feel like I ran solid, and I could tell my fitness is good. I am proud of my slow start and steady finish. Last year I crashed and burned in this race, 10:15 pace on my last loop. I'm pleased with how I managed my attitude and mental state out there. When it got lonely and rough, I was able to get it together. It really seems as though the things Adrienne and my coach have been telling me are sinking in!
I need to stop throwing up in races. Seriously. Coach thinks it was lack of water, and he's probably right. That was a major newbie and stupid move on my part. I KNOW better than that. It is imperative that I do better than that. I still need more practice on the trails. My footing does still not match my fitness. I'm clumsy and awkward, like a baby giraffe! The only way to improve on this is to run more trails. I will work on this in the upcoming weeks.
A few neat things happened this week. I found out that my Brooks ID sponsorship was renewed for 2014. I'm really fortunate, thankful, and blessed. They cut out a few divisions of the program this year, but thankfully kept many coaches. Adrienne raced the 20K on Saturday, and did awesome! It's been very inspiring watching her make a SWEET comeback after facing adversities for quite awhile. She hit the podium in her first double digit race in two years! It was great to share and celebrate that with her this weekend. And of course, I got to spend time with some of my wonderful Woodlands friends. Always a treat!
Run Happy, friends!