Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile Trail Run - RunUltra Marathon

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Huntsville, Texas
United States
Tejas Trails
78F / 26C
Total Time = 23h 11m
Overall Rank = 10/54
Age Group = 18-29F
Age Group Rank = 1/3
Pre-race routine:

As usual, this ultra race has thrown my body out of whack and so while I should be sound asleep, I'm wide awake! So, how 'bout a little race report. Haven't done one of those in awhile...the poor Triple Iron is still 'tabled'. Anyway, so here it goes:

The race was in Huntsville, TX so that was only 3 hours away for us. We decided to take all of Friday off from work to get things packed up, etc. I guess I was more nervous than I wanted to let myself believe because I had a total meltdown and went off on poor Clint. Luckily, we got that worked out and I was feeling a itty bit better. It has been over a year since doing an ultra...well, any real race really and my right ankle had decided to wig out on me a couple weeks prior and I couldn't help but obsessively worry over the stupid thing. When would it give out on me in the race??

Anyway, we made it to Huntsville and checked in to our hotel before heading out to the park for packet pick-up and drop bag drop-off. We get to the park and I grabbed my race packet. We then found where the start/finish area was and found a great place to set up our tent. This tent was brand new so took us a bit to figure out how to put it together. I had no idea how big it was, it was awesome! Clint finished it up while I headed to the pre-race meeting. Of course, it was all over stuff that I had already read a thousand times on the race website. I also turned in my drop bag and that's another time that I got a little panicky. We were allowed up to two drop bags. Well, I just couldn't think of what really to put in mine other than batteries for my lights, a long sleeved top, and some ibuprophen, tylenol and tums. I go to the drop off and people have HUGE bags packed TIGHT. Some people had those big clear plastic tubs that were stuffed to the brim. Crap! Am I not thinking things through?? Clint reassured me that I was fine and that these people were going overboard. I mean, so many of the things these people had in their bags were provided at the aid stations and it was mentioned on the website. Whatever, I'm not going to stress over it anymore.

We then left the park in search of an Italian restaurant. We had intended on going back to our hotel to look up a place or ask the front desk. However, Clint accidentally made a wrong turn and we decided to roll with it. Before I even realized it, he was turning into Giovanni's! Great find! So, ate my pasta and then we headed back to the hotel. I took a shower to shave my legs and fell clean for the last time for a long time. I also took the alone time to calm myself down and give myself a little pep talk because I was still so nervous and I couldn't stop worrying about my ankle. I then fixed up my shoes for the gaitors and watched a little TV before crashing probably around 8:30. I can't believe how tired I was and that I was able to sleep so well. So then of course I was worrying because I slept so I had all week. Am I not focused enough for this race?? Seriously, I can find ANYTHING to obses and worry about!
Event warmup:

The alarm went off at 3:45 am. I had accidentally hit the hour button when reaching to turn it off so it said 4:45 am at first and I started to panic before checking my watch and realizing what I did. Whew! We brought stuff for breakfast so I ate some oatmeal with PB and a banana. We then got dressed, loaded up, and headed to the park.

Once at the park we carried our stuff to the tent and I laid out all of my shoes...all five pairs: I was currently wearing my Brooks Cascadias which I am in LOVE with, I then had some addidas trail shoes, north face trail shoes, my Asics road shoes, and then I had a pair of Asics road shoes that were one size big in case my feet swelled. I then laid out spare clothes, first aid, lights, nutrition, etc. and showed Clint everything. We had gone over the day before how to go through each lap change and he had written it all down in a notebook. We were as ready as could be.

I then went to check in and then it was only a few minutes before start time. It was interesting to see all the different people there. Ultrarunners are an interesting bunch. I saw Jamie Donaldson and she is my hero. I wanted so bad to say 'hi' but I chickened out. Plus, I was scared of interrupting her pre-race zen or whatever. She's so freakin' amazing, yet she looked like the rest of us mere mortals standing around waiting for the race. We took a few pictures as the minutes ticked away. Even still, I wasn't getting the insane butterflies in my stomach like I usually do pre-race and that had me worried...again, why am I so calm? Or am I? Lol. This race was seriously playing mind games on me.

Also, you know it's going to be a warm day when I (the always cold one) was wearing a tank top and shorts at a 6 am start and I wasn't cold. The northerners were going to be in for a long day!

Time finally expired and the race director said go.
  • 23h 11m
  • 100 miles
  • 13m 55s  min/mile

Before I get started, my overall rank is among results posted yet to know how I really did overall...will update later.

This race had 255 people and we were starting immediately on the trail so took a little bit before I was able to start 'running.' We also started at 6 am so it was dark. I had on a headlamp and carried a flashlight. Luckily, I was familiar with the start of the race because it was the trail you came in on from the Sunmart race. I felt like I seeded myself well because I was moving at a pace that felt comfortable to me and I wasn't ever really having to try to get around anyone and no one was really biting to get around me. I am always so thankful once the race finally gets started. That's when I finally feel like I can relax and just do my thing. People were talking and hoopin' and hollerin' and I was finally able to smile a bit. Well, that's when I got careless...I started just looking at the person in front of me rather than my feet and so I tripped on a root and down I went! HARD!! My left knee hit directly square on a root and it sent a sharp pain shooting through my leg. Felt like it busted my knee cap in two. I wanted to cry because I was so scared that my race was going to be over already, and it would all be because I was so stupid! However, I felt like I bounced up so quickly, the momentum of everyone around me demanded it! A girl in front of me grabbed my flashlight for me and handed it back and everyone around me was so nice and asked if I was okay. I just started running...well, limping really. I told myself to just keep running and get the blood circulation going. I just needed to keep going and not stop and let it lock up! I still managed to laugh as I thought to myself, 'well, I'm not thinking about my right ankle anymore.' Oh, and I'll go ahead and spoil the surprise now, but my right ankle didn't bother me AT ALL the entire race!

The first aid station was at the 3 mile mark and I trucked right on through it without stopping. Stupid, stupid Gina! You can't skip out on calories!! So, I flogged myself for it and there would be no skipping aid stations the rest of the day! It wasn't long after this aid station that there was enough daylight to turn off the lights. Whew! Now I could really see the roots.

I kept things comfortable and tried to not people passing me freak me out into thinking I was going too slow. I was enjoying the day so far. I love this park. I made it to the Dam Road aid station and this is where our drop bags were set out. From Dam Road you had to do the longest 6 mile loop of your life before coming back to Dam Road. So, you could hit up your drop bags twice per lap. I threw my lights into my bag and then headed for the food. Talk about sensory overload! I felt like I wasted so much time in the aid stations hem-hawing over what to eat! Geez! I usually opted for the trail mix and always drank a bit of coke. I was running with a hand held bottle carrying perpetuem. I would refill my perpetuem on my second run through Dam Road and then again at the start/finish.

Anyway, so I take off on the 6 mile loop. While it became a very long loop at night, during the day it was one of my favorite sections because it had some really steep sections so it justified my walking up hills. :) A guy starts running beside me and apparently we had kind of been leap-frogging up to this point. He introduces himself to me and we make small talk for a bit. He finds out that this is my first 100 and he says I am running fast...too fast. What?? He was like, "I'm not trying to scare you and perhaps you are one of those people that just does well at this stuff, but be careful." He then pointed to a guy a little ways down the trail from us. "See that guy up there? He's got a very aggressive plan to hit 20 hours." Crap! Maybe this guy is right! What the heck am I doing?! But I felt comfortable and I was walking the big uphills. However, it did make me more cautious. We then had a debate on whether triathlons or ultrarunning is more difficult. Obviously, a 100 mile run is more difficult than Ironman, but when compared to the triple iron...well, it's getting pretty close at that point and I'm still not really sure. Although, the 100 mile run did manage to beat me up just as much in half the time :) He then said that many people get sucked into the Rocky Raccoon 100 because it is an 'easier course'. However, he said that, that usually catches people in trouble because it is so runnable that people end up running too much in the beginning and cratering later on. He said that races like Bandera, while they take a lot longer, are easier on the body becaue you are forced to walk much more over the terrain. Makes sense to me. He introduced me to another guy, Brett who was from Sulphur another east texan. From then on out he called me longview. I also met another girl, Veronica who was from Little Rock. It was her first 100 miler too. She came from an adventure racing background. Anyway, talking to this group really passed the time, but once making it back to the Dam Road aid station we got separated as we all did our own thing. I grabbed out a flask of premeasured perpetuem from my drop bag to refill my handheld. Filled it up with water, ate a little, and was on my way. Between this aid station and the next one we ran on the jeep road for a large section. I hated the fact that it was almost all uphill, it was unrelenting! However, you didn't have to worry about roots so it was a place to at least relax the mind and for that I was grateful!

I made it to the last aid station before the turn around and had to go to the bathroom, so ducked into a port-a-potty. I took that as a good sign. I was really worried about taking in enough fluids during the heat of the day. Took off from the aid station and now it was only 4.4 miles to the turn around. This next section has some more steep climbing before heading back on an out and back section that flattened out more by the side of the lake.

I made it back to the start/finish area feeling good. Clint was waiting for me and refilled my perpetuem and put more lube on my legs. Clint immediately honed in on my knee. I told him I was fine, but the truth was, it had been hurting and would hurt the rest of the race. But it was manageable and nothing could be done about it at the moment. I had felt blood running down it, but I had been too scared to look down at it. It really wasn't too bad though. The first lap took me around 3:45 and I told Clint that I was going to slow things down a bit because some guy told me I was going too fast, lol.

So off for round two! I'm trying to think of something significant on this lap, but there wasn't much going on but the heat! The temps creeped up to close to 80 degrees...that's just not right for February! It was windy too, but in the trees it could be hard to feel any breeze. When I made it over to Dam Road, they had ice so from then on out, I was putting ice in my hand held. I ran into Veronica again on the 6 mile loop towards the end where we run across the dam. We were both rationing our fluids trying to get back to the aid station. I had not topped off my bottle on the way out...I wouldn't make that mistake again! Back at Dam road for my usual routine of filling up my perpetuem. This is when I started seeing people dropping like flies. People were looking sick, dizzy, sitting all over the place. Yikes! I kept going. However, shortly past this aid station, I started getting side stitches. These were the ones that I usually seem to get when I'm not getting in enough electrolytes. I had been taking endurolytes as well, but I decided I needed to up my intake and take a little more time at the aid stations to get in some salty food. The last section of this lap I was really melting. I was actually READY for it to get dark again so that I could cool off! I was hitting a low point as I came back to the turnaround, but I saw Pat and Clint and that instantly lifted my spirits. They took care of me, perpetuem, lube, and then I tried to say no to the sunblock, but Pat wasn't hearing it so got some of that too. This lap took me around 3:55 so a little slower than the first lap.

Lap 3. I really can't remember much of note on this lap other than I hit an extreme low on the 6 mile loop. For some reason that loop is so lonely. The 50 mile course cuts off this section so it's just us 100 milers out there and there is no out and back. I somehow managed to be running all by myself for the entire loop. For some reason that really drove me into the gutter. I don't want to do this anymore. I have so much further to go. Ugh! The guys would be so disappointed if I quit, but this sucks. This is the longest 6 miles ever!! They had a guy sitting at a table at the far end of this loop to record numbers to make sure people didn't cut the course. I swear he was moving his table further and further away! I managed to pull myself out of the hole though. The weather had cooled since some clouds rolled in so I focused on how much cooler I felt and told myself that after this lap I would have company the entire way so just hang on. And that I did!

Back at the turn around just before 6 pm so this lap took me close to 4:20. Clint could tell I was a little beat down at this point. Went through our routine and then added lights. Pat would pace me for the next 20 miles so we were off. Ahh, conversation! It was great! It got dark a little before the next aid station so we kicked our lights on. Pat was great about asking me what I wanted at each aid station and stayed on me to keep drinking and to take my endurolytes. We had a good time talking about all kinds of stuff. Pat kept telling me about what place I was in and how far ahead the girls in front of me were and how far the ones behind me were. I wish I could have been tough and worked hard to pass girls and then not get passed, but sadly I was in a comfort zone and all I wanted to do was what felt comfortable. I just couldn't push myself. I told Pat that I didn't care what place I finished in. I just wanted to finish my first 100. Secretly, I wanted to go sub 24 hours (and earn the SILVER belt buckle) and I was thinking that I could easily do that until we hit the dreaded 6 mile loop. Ugh! The roots seemed to come alive back there and I walked so much through them so that I wouldn't fall. My fall in the beginning really scared the daylights out of me and I worried that if I fell that hard again, there would be no getting back up. So, rather than running flats and downhills and walking uphills, I ran where I could, even if it meant uphill and walked the roots. Well, with all the roots, I was doing lots of walking, especially on this back section. We finally made it back to Dam Road where we switched out batteries, etc. I thought I had just kissed subbed 24 hour goodbye and I was so upset. Pat told me I was fine and to just keep moving forward.

I felt like I then had an 'up' on the next section. This was where we got to spend some time on the jeep road and I really made an effort to run most of it, even though it was uphill. So, I felt like I was gaining back some time. This is also where my body decided when it needed to go to the bathroom and that meant NOW! It was all I could do to flip off my lights and yank my shorts down before going all over myself. Gah! Poor Pat. I was so disgusting! He told me not to worry about it, but seriously, I was belching like crazy (kept my stomach happy), gassy every now and then, sweaty, slimy, covered in dirt, wearing the same clothes all day. Bleh! We made it back to the last aid station and I was anxious to get back and be able to run with Clint next. Pat is a great guy, but not my husband. I missed Clint.

We made it back to the turnaround at that lap took me 5:10. Yep, talk about cratering! However, that meant I had 6:50 to do the last lap to get in 24 hours. I felt like I could do that. We changed out batteries and then Clint and I headed out. Clint told me later that I wasn't looking so good at this point. He could tell I was physically tired. Oddly enough, I never felt sleepy in the race. So, we take off on the last lap. I told Clint how Pat and I had been working the trails. Pat would stay behind me on the single track so that I could choose my best path and then he would run beside me on the wider sections. Seemed to work out well.

The wheels were really falling off at this point. It was getting harder and harder to run. I wanted to run so bad for Clint, but all I could squeak out was a little shuffle. Clint was very positive and would encourage me to run and I did when he said so. I was still slightly faster than a walk so I told myself that I was gaining time anytime I could manage to 'run'. Pat was going to duck back in at close to the halfway mark on the lap and then run the rest with me. Poor Clint wanted to be there so bad for me and wanted to run in to the finish with me. So, we decided that Pat would jump back in at mile 9 and then Clint would meet us at the last aid station and finish up with me. You are only allowed one pacer at a time. Anyway, that's what we did, but it was totally ridiculous because both of them ended up running so much to help me out.

So, Clint and I make it to the Dam Road aid station and I decided I would do something different this time, replace my batteries BEFORE the 6 mile loop so that I would have maximum brightness. My lights had been getting pretty dim on the last lap so it was making me super nervous on the roots. The bright lights seemed to help, if nothing else improve my spirit. For some reason, getting to the outbound on this loop seemed to go much faster than the previous loop, although I'm sure I was slower. Probably because I wasn't ready for Clint to go. We made it to the outbound and Pat was waiting for us at the recording table. The guys switched out and Pat and I continued on. Pat was impressed that I was running so much more on this section than before. I was on a short high though and it was about to run out. We made it back to Dam Road and we decided that I would eat and refill and then go ahead and take off while PAt grabbed batteries and replaced lights. This way, we could reduce time in the aid station, which was good for me, because stopping made it SO hard to get moving again and everytime I would stop I would get a little dizzy/lightheaded...moving was better.

Only 7.8 miles to go. I was so happy once we made it back to the jeep road, but the uphill was taking it's toll on me and I walked more. We passed another girl in the 100 and Pat was excited. He kept me running until we reached the top and made the turn to try to demoralize her. Ugh! I know he wanted me to do so well, but I was the one cracking. We made the turn and I walked, shuffled, and then walked to the next aid station.

We came in to the aid station and I hear Clint's voice. He's camped out in a camping chair with his feet propped up and a blanket around him. Apparently they were taking good care of him, lol. I was excited to see him. I filled my bottle up with water and decided no more perpetuem. Bleh! Done with that! I wanted to run so bad for Clint but when I tried Clint said if that was all I could do, I should save my energy and walk because I wasn't moving any faster than a walk. So, sadly I walked the remainder 4.4 miles in, which was upsetting. I got passed by two girls in the last 3 miles and I could do nothing but watch them go. I could have easily gone sub 23, but my legs were a no-go. I was getting very wobbly and had to reach out for Clint's arm through the roots. I was a tripping mess and Clint's heart seemed to skip a beat everytime I tripped. I managed to not fall though. We had a guy that was slowly trudging behind us to. He never seemed to want to pass, but I told him to let us know if he ever wanted around us. He said he was fine. He was only on his 4th loop and would be quitting when he got back to the start/finish. I felt bad for him.

As horrible as I felt and for how upset I was over my patheticness, I was so glad I wasn't one of the people still heading back out for another loop. Clint and I were amazed at all the people we saw heading back out. I had little milestones in my head for points on the course. I would make it to each one and then focus on the next one. Once we made it back to near the road I was so happy, we were on the home stretch. Clint asked if I was going to try to at least run it in to the finish, but I couldn't even do that. Once we crossed the final road crossing and could see the finish tent I held his hand and we walked it in. Everyone was cheering and clapping. The race director handed me my silver buckle and I could finally stop. Ahhh, I made it!
What would you do differently?:

You know, I have such an inner turmoil going on right now. On the one hand, while I secretly wanted to go sub 24 hrs, I really didn't think I quite had it in me. I had crunched the numbers and crunched the numbers and I just wasn't coming up with a way to make it work. I also secretly wanted to win my age group, but I had looked up all of the female runners and their resumes were impressive, I threw that thought out of the window immediately. So, I reached two really big goals for myself. However, I totally fell apart that last loop. It was pathetic. I could have come in well under 23 hours, I could have been the 8th overall female. I feel like I let Pat down because he was so caught up in my placing and timing and wanted me to do well. He said he was really proud of me, but I still feel regret. Then, I feel like I let Clint down. People have built me up as some great ultra athlete and here he saw me crawling. Not so impressive. I wanted to be strong for him and I was so weak. Why couldn't I push through the pain just a little bit longer? How do I get mentally tougher? I don't know yet. And did I start the race out too fast? Would going slower have made me faster in the end? Did the heat play a facter? Was nutrition a factor? I drank perpetuem out of my hand held and then drank more water and coke at the aid stations and then ate some food at each aid station and took my endurolytes. I never felt hungry, or low on energy (of course I was fatigues in the end, but it didn't feel like it was do to low calories). I still had to go to the bathroom every loop so I don't think I was dehydrated. Do I even know what the heck I am doing out there?? So, I still have a big question mark on all of this.
Post race
Warm down:

After coming across the line, Pat greeted us with a big smile. I told him I was sorry for letting those girls pass me and for walking it in. He told me to not to feel bad at all. I was starting to feel a little sick so I thought some chicken soup would be good. I plopped into a chair by a heater with some other sad looking souls and Clint got me some soup. And so I sat and sat and sat.

Poor Clint had thought that I would be ready to go after I finished, but I don't know how in the world I could get into a car and drive the 3 hours back at 5-something in the morning on no sleep. Anyway, so Clint had already packed the bedding back up. I wanted to lay down, but Clint said it was too cold outside. I then thought about sleeping in the car, but that wouldn't work. But I couldn't sleep in this hard chair and it was a long time until they brought the drop bags back at 11 am and awards at 11:30 am. Finally, Clint decided to set up the air mattress and that I would just layer clothes to stay warm. Poor Clint, he worked his tail off for me this weekend.

Clint got everything set up for me and then came back for me. My body was now on lock down. Man was I in pain! Clint had grabbed a chair to take back to the tent so that I could sit in it and then slide down from there to the air mattress. I had raced in my same shorts and tank top, shoes and socks for the entire race. Gross doesn't even begin to describe it! I put on a long sleeved top and a fleece. Then Clint helped pull some pajama pants on me to keep my legs warm. Clint didn't exactly think things through and didn't have any warmer clothes and only brought a thin little blanket. So, we layed there wrapped up in disgusting funk trying to keep each other warm. Clint seemed to fall asleep instantly but I was in too much pain. That, and I just kept imagining stumbling through the woods in the dark tripping and fallin, lol.

At 7 am, I finally gave up. Might as well take a shower. Now how exactly do I get up? Ahh, should of had a camera on that one. Somehow I managed to pull myself in to the chair and then I reached for all my stuff that I needed. Made it into a standing position and hobbled out of the tent. I found a guy that looked like he was in the know and asked him where the showers were. He said that there were showers down by the lake or some a little down the road. I asked him which ones were closer and he said that the ones by the lake were closer but that to get to the ones down the road it was all flat. I chose flat! So, I inched my way over to the showers. Again, quite the comedy routine to get myself showered. I'm pretty sure I only removed a layer or so of nastiness, but it helped. I was already feeling so much better. Hobbled back to the tent and Clint woke up and was surprised to see me all clean. He decided to take a shower too and then we would go eat at IHOP while waiting for drop bags and awards.

Anyway, we managed to get things loaded up, eat, tear down tent, watch some more people finish, then head to awards to get my first in age group and then ducked out so that we could get on the road.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Lack of Mental Toughness
Abundance of Weight

Event comments:

This race was awesome! I highly recommend it to anyone! Great volunteers. They were vultures, just waiting for you to come into an aid station so that they could help you in some way. The aid stations had SO much food, anything you could imagine and if they didn't have it, well they had cooks that probably could have made it for you!

This race is said to be one of the easier 100's. Now, like I said in my race report, I think that's because you don't have the climbing or harsh terrain that some of the other 100's might have where they almost become more hikes than runs. However, don't let it fool you, it's still 100 miles and in the end, this 'easy' course still go the best of me. They changed the course this year and I had thought nothing of it. However, the word from the veterans was this year was harder. The explanation that the winner made was that it was more single track and less jeep road this year. I had remembered looking at the old course map and it used to do an out and back on jeep road so you were on it twice as much per lap. So that definitely would make a difference, especially since running in the other direction would be almost all downhill. The winner estimated that it added 10-15 min. per lap for him. So I wonder how that translates for us mortals? :) The heat was also a major factor this year. This race usually has around a 70% finish rate. By the time I finished, they were estimating that only about 50% would finish. I am curious to see the results to see how the final numbers ended up. Difficulties aside though, the race was awesome and in a gorgeous park. I've never had so much fun where I hurt so bad! :)

And I want to give special thanks to my husband, Clint! I'm not sure who worked harder, him or me! He did so much walking back and forth to the car, loading, unloading, loading, unloading, setting things up, taking things down, crewing for me, pacing me, putting up with me, not just during the race but during all the training while I had little freak out moments and took it out on him. Somehow, he still wants to stay by my side. I'm totally amazed and don't deserve it! Since the race he's been waiting on me hand and foot. A girl could get used to this! :)

And Pat, a friend from the Longview bike club and an awesome runner, was a great pacer and volunteered his help without my asking. Drove all the way down there, and worked with me through the night. He truly had a great time running out there on those trails at night though. The armadillos running around were quite the entertainment!

And last but not least, thanks to everyone here on BT for all the words of encouragement and for all of the helpful tips to get me through this!

Update: Well the finish rate turned out better than expected 162/239 starters (there were 255 people signed up) for a 68% finish rate. There were only 3 in my age group...well, 4, but the top 5 overall get awards and the 4th female was in my age group. I was 48 out of the 162.

Last updated: 2009-02-10 12:00 AM
23:11:00 | 100 miles | 13m 55s  min/mile
Age Group: 1/3
Overall: 10/54
Performance: Average
Course: This race takes place in Huntsvilled State Park and consists of mainly single track mountain bike trails and dirt jeep roads. Very pretty in piney woods, however, extremely rooted and sandy in ections. This is a flatter course, however, there is still quite a bit of climbing to do. You did 5 20 mile loops that had some sections that were out and back. Aid stations were at mile 3, 6, 12, 15.6, and 20.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 3
Physical exertion [1-5] 3
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5