Sunday, February 14, 2010

Before the Rocky Raccoon 100/50 Mile Trail Race

I guess it’s finally time for me to put my thoughts about this race into words. This will be a 3 part blog… before the race, during the race and after the race.

The weekend before the race, Raymond and I went shopping. I needed a few new pair of Smart Wool socks and had been looking everywhere for a stuffed raccoon. I finally found the stuffed raccoon at Bass Pro Shops, and the Smart Wool socks at Sun and Ski Sports. The raccoon is a really cute fluffy stuffed toy, and in order to psyche myself up for the race, I fashioned a real hangmen’s noose and proceeded to kill the raccoon.

I headed out Friday to pick up my new friend Hilde at the airport. We had been corresponding online and via Facebook for quite some time and I was really excited to meet her! I was waiting for her at baggage claim. We gathered her things and went to have coffee and a little something to eat at Starbucks. After the coffee, we went back to the cell phone lot at the airport to wait for Steven. The funniest thing was that he and one of the people who had volunteered to pace me, Kate, knew each other from online ultrarunning groups; it was a strange coincidence. Speaking of Kate, she and I met up at Huntsville 2 weeks before race date to walk the 20 mile loop together. Kate is a really strong runner, so I was wondering how suited we would be for each other… but we hit it off and she said she really wanted to spend some time out on the trails after dark.

With Steven’s gear in the rocket ship, which I washed and hand dried for the occasion, we headed north to Huntsville on I-45. There is a sign along a stretch of I-45 to let drivers beware… there are more fatal accidents on this highway than any other in the area. As a matter of fact, when driving home from the Sunmart race in Huntsville, December of 2008, I saw what looked like two fatality accidents between Huntsville and Conroe, a distance of only about 30 miles.

We made it safely to Huntsville, I dropped Steven off at his hotel and Hilde and I headed to ours. She wanted to make sure we were comfortable while in the hotel so she made reservations at the Comfort Suites, and we were not disappointed! Very nice accommodations, with a full breakfast buffet, not just continental style. We began to organize our gear and get ready to go to the race briefing and pasta dinner at the Walker County Storm Shelter. It was really a shock to see 700+ participants in the 100 and 50 mile races this year, when there were a total of 439 last year between both races. I think everyone was really worried about congestion on the trails. We listened to the pre-race briefing, had the trail markings and timing system explained to us, and then lined up for the dinner. The new caterer for the event did not disappoint! The pasta was nicely seasoned and there was a meat sauce as well as a vegetarian sauce, salad, garlic bread, and either German chocolate cake or fruit cobbler for dessert. Everything was very tasty!

I was able to meet up with Richard, who had offered to pace me from 80 to 100, provided I made it that far. The second strange coincidence was that Richard is originally from the same area near Akron Ohio as I am. I met several other folks, including Debora and Debbie from the DFW area. I also introduced myself to Joe, the race director. He and Joyce, his wife, along with all the volunteers and running groups who volunteer their time and running expertise to put this race on… they are all awesome in my book! They say they do it for us… but we keep racing because of them!

We headed back to the hotel to make sure our gear was all ready for the race in the morning; including mixing all my Perpetuem so I didn’t have to mix it during the race, and filling my flasks with Hammer gel.

I went downstairs to get some ice for my little drop bag cooler, and met another Rocky Runner, Joni from California. We talked for a few minutes, and planned to meet in the hotel lobby in the morning. We went to bed really early. We both had our reasons for getting up really early - 2:30 or 3:00 am. My Hammer nutrition plan dictates that I eat breakfast 3 hours before the start of my race.

to be continued...


  1. Poor little raccoon. :-(

  2. Ollie... that raccoon deserved what he got!!!