Thursday, November 10, 2011

Rocky Raccoon 25k Race Report and some other junk…

Huntsville State Park, oh how I love this place! I think I would spend some time there every weekend if it were not a 100-mile drive from my home.

I woke up at 3am on November 5, 2011, made the coffee and put my race gear in the car. Thankfully, I had leftover scrambled eggs and deer sausage left over from dinner the night before, so I did not have to worry with that. I just warmed it up and headed the Honda in a northeasterly direction at about 4am!

I ate my breakfast promptly at 5am, as my race started at 7am. I planned to run as much as was humanly possible for me in order to finish the race in a respectable time (for me). Typically, I am not a runner, but a walker/racewalker. Everyone knows that racewalking is not possible on the heavily root covered trails at Huntsville, so I usually run a little when I race there. This day was going to be different because I have been waging an internal battle with myself: Do I want to be a competitive master’s racewalker, or am I really just doing the racing because it is fun?

Packet and chip pick up was very efficient and organized! East Texas Ultra Runners Paul Stone and his crew always put on a great event. Bib #181 seemed like a good one… I watched the start of the 50k at 6am, and then walked back to my car to get my race gear assembled.

It was still a little dark outside when the race started and a friend had forgotten to bring a light. I jogged slowly from the start so the friend could benefit from my flashlight. When the sun came up enough for all of us to see the trail without the light, I bid my friend farewell and began to tear up the trail. I say that with tongue in cheek, because an average 13:00 per mile pace is not necessarily tearing up the trail. However, for me, maintaining that pace for 25k would be a huge pr (personal record) for this distance on trails. I was feeling fine, the temperature was in the 40’s for the start and it was a beautiful day! I finally figured out what caused my electrolyte problem in the past (too many Endurolytes and not enough water) so I made that adjustment. My race fuel was Hammer espresso gel/chocolate gel mixed with 2T Now Egg White Protein powder and a little coconut oil. I had a handheld water bottle filled with Heed that I refilled at the aid stations. Sadly, I left my little flashlight at the first aid station. That flashlight served me well through Tejas Trails Kapt’n Karls 3 race series, so I guess I will have to go buy another one. It is very bright and easy to carry because it came with a wrist strap. I cannot imagine what made me walk off and leave it. 

Back to the trail… I was having fun and really pushing myself, passing back and forth with a couple of runners who were about my speed. There were a couple of moments where I began plodding along, not really feeling in to the race. I had to tell myself to pick up the pace because a friend, Erin Taylor-Talcott, has recently enlightened me. She got something from our conversations that I had not noticed. It is a mental thing that happens to me about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way into my races no matter the distance. I start to feel fatigued and disgusted with myself, and I always slow down only to pick up the pace after a mile or so of feeling bad. If it were a nutritional problem, it would be time based or even based on a specific distance. I think it is my mind telling my body I suck, and I will never get any better at this thing called racing. Every time I started to plod, I would tell myself “Run, Dammit! You can do better than this.” I would run until I HAD to walk again, uphill or downhill, it did not matter.

Finally, I arrived at the H-T Rex aid station, 2.8 miles from the finish. I had been drinking more water this race, so had to use the porta-can. I looked at my watch and saw I was only 2:52 into the race, so I mugged for a photo (thanks Mariela) and ran up the hill to cover the last section of the trail. A little history about my Rocky Raccoon 25k finishes: the first time I did this race in 2008 I walked the whole thing in 3:36; the second time I did it in 2010 I ran/walked it in 3:43 (the running slowed my overall finish time); this time I ran/walked it in 3:22. I am soooo proud of this! It is only a 14 minute pr for the distance on trails, but if you consider my run/walk improvement of 21 minutes, that is a substantial improvement!

Race photos can be found here for a while... Your Sporting Image and enter bib #181.

Now for the other junk:

I would not be where I am right now had I not changed my lifestyle from Standard American Diet to Paleo Diet. NO QUESTION. I effortlessly lost 35 pounds; I eat as much as my body wants to be fed, as long as there are no grains, legumes or processed foods, very little fruit, occasional full fat Greek yogurt, and plenty of coconut oil, good quality meats and lots of veggies. I maintain this weight loss without food logging which is a definite plus. I do not have to kill myself exercising, and still get pr’s. I can lift heavier things without worrying about straining my back. My total body composition is changing. I am no longer an apple shaped woman. My waistline continues to get smaller even though I am not losing any more weight.

The question I have to answer now is this: Do I want to put the additional stress in my life that trying to be a competitive master’s racewalker will cause? I started doing marathons because I really enjoy them, and gave me a good reason to try to maintain my fitness level so that I will continue to enjoy them when I participate. Then I found ultra marathons and trail races. Those are my favorite, because even the elite athletes are welcoming to the whole crowd, even if it takes you twice as long to finish the race as it does them.

I am going to go back in time a little. My husband and I used to have a weekend drag racing car. He worked on it, and I raced it. That was so much fun, from the burnout, to staging the car at the Christmas tree! The adrenaline rush of taking off and speeding down the strip does not compare to anything I have ever done, or will ever do again. The problem with drag racing is you can be as fast as you can afford to be. I was really good with my reaction time. If .500 was perfect, I was usually in the range of .501 to .510. The other drivers all tried their best to goad me into going in for the dial-in and competing against them. Everyone pitches in some money, and you predict your finish time, the one closest to the “dial-in” wins the pot. It was not long after that, we sold the car and stopped going to the drag strip. When I thought about competing, the fun was all lost.

I would appreciate a little feedback… I have not written anything for the blog in a long time, mainly because I have been going over this compete vs. participate dilemma for a long time.  I may come back and add a photo and a couple of links later, but really needed to get this off my mind.