So, when I decided I would do this race as a training walk, I was sure I could walk the 50k within the 8 hour time limit because I had done so at Sunmart last fall. What I did not take into consideration was the fact that I had already walked 30 miles this week. So, my total mileage this week was 61, and I try to target 100 a month.
Now I will give a recap of race day. I woke up at 3am and got dressed except for my trail shoes and got in the pre-packed car and went to Jack in the Box to get a breakfast jack sandwich. I asked them to make it with sausage instead of ham and ordered a carton of orange juice to go with it. I drove to Huntsville (118 miles to the park from my house), picked up my race packet and went back to the car to body glide my feet, put on my trail shoes and gaiters, pin on the number, ready the headlamp, fill the fuel belt bottles and carry my cooler, drop bag and folding chair to the start area. That was a lot to remember in a few minutes. Of course the race clock was not set up in time and the race started a few minutes late. Oh well, I am not one to bemoan the little details.
I quickly settled into last place, as I was the only walker there. Everyone else was either running or run/walking. It was extremely warm and muggy from the start. I was having a good walk until about the 5th mile, and then my left hip started hurting. I walked up to the second aid station and asked a strange question of the volunteers. "Could one of you do me a huge favor and pull my leg when I lie down on the tailgate of that truck over there?" They kind of looked at me funny and I explained that I have loose ligaments in my left hip and it pops out of place all the time. It was starting to hurt and I was only 8 miles in... They volunteered a nice young (teenager) fellow and he said he didn't want to hurt me. I told him it wasn't possible to make it any worse, only better. So, he walked out from behind the table, said a little prayer, "Please God, don't let me hurt her." and proceeds to pull my leg. It only took one try, and the hip popped right back in. Later on when I passed the aid station a second time, I thanked him for making sure I was able to continue on in the race... without his help, I would have had to quit early.
Back to the race, it was so hot, that as I entered each aid station, I poured a cup of water over my head to try and stay cool. I guess the new motto for hot day races or training will be water in, water on. I made sure to drink plenty of water and electrolyte supplement and partake of the usual aid station fare in trail races: cookies, chips, crackers, peanut butter sandwiches, orange slices, bananas, chocolate and coca cola or mountain dew. I also had a Clif bar in my pocket along with the Clif shot blocks, margarita extra salt variety, a couple of GU with caffeine and a couple of Hammer gels. I used most of the stuff I had in my pockets, and when I got to the halfway point at the start finish area, I drank some espresso with skim milk that was stashed in my cooler. It was a difficult thing, walking away from that clock showing 3:57:?? into the race, at that time, I knew I would probably not make the 8 hour time limit for 50k. I asked at my second trip through the first aid station if they had cutoff times for their specific aid station. They told me that anyone who chooses to walk, run, or whatever, 31 miles in this heat and humidity was going to get a finishers award, so just keep going. They like quitters less than late finishers.
When I arrived at the last aid station, 2.9 miles to the finish, I was talking to the volunteers there about how many miles I had walked this week. One of the guys asked me if I had ever heard of tapering. I kind of laughed and told him I was sorry but this was not a goal race for me and that I was 4 weeks out from my first attempt at 100 miles. I could see the start/finish area from this aid station and you all know how hard it was to turn back into the woods at that point. I really wanted to quit, knowing I was keeping everyone past the cutoff time. Something gave me a final wind to get that last little bit done, and probably faster than I had walked all day. Of course when I crossed the finish, I apologized to everyone for keeping them, and they were awesome about it. The clock said 8:04:?? or 8:05:??, and I never dreamed I would finish in less than about 8:20:??.
The finisher’s award is an awesome piece of granite with the race logo and the date on it. I went to sit for a minute, eat the yogurt I had stashed in the cooler and take off my shoes. All that water I had poured on my head and the sweat that was dripping off my shorts ended up in my shoes. My feet were soaked as if I had done several water crossings. I only had 1 small blister which was a surprise as I had not taped any of my toes the night before like I usually do. All I did was grease up my feet really well with Body Glide before I put my socks on.
This is a really nice park for a race. There are free public showers and nice indoor restrooms near the finish, so I was able to take a shower and put on dry clothes for the drive home. I mixed up another iced latte, and some watered down electrolyte, and found the rest of the uneaten Clif bar from the race for the trip. I left the park just in time to drive into a Texas downpour. It seemed as if there was a huge bucket pouring out as much water as I had ever seen. I was driving about 45mph and idiots were passing me.
Ok, I am that person you read about in the ultra quote lists that does a 50k race and has to drive home in a stick shift. The last time I drove 120 miles after a 50k race, I stopped 3 times to get out of the car on the way home. I must be getting numb to the aches and pains because I drove +/- 100 miles to my mom’s house before I ever got out of the car. We had a nice dinner together and I filled her in on the details of the race. Of course, I had to get back in the car and drive the rest of the way home, unpack the car, wash the race gear, unpack the cooler put everything else away. I finally went to bed at about 10.
It was a great day, and a great race. Thanks to Paul Stone for putting on a fantastic race and thanks to all the volunteers, especially the folks from the Seven Hills running club, one of them pulled my leg.