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Sunmart Texas Trail Endurance Run - 50K - Run

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Huntsville, Texas
United States
Roger Soler's Sports
45F / 7C
Total Time = 5h 04m 34s
Overall Rank = 81/577
Age Group = F25-29
Age Group Rank = 3/19
Pre-race routine:

I rode down to Houston with a couple of Sunmart veterans from Longview, Pat and Jeff (the bike studs of the Longview Bicycle Club). This would be Pat's 6th time to run this race and Jeff's second (and I never really figured out for sure, but I think Jeff DNF'd last year. I couldn't find his name in last year's results, but he wouldn't admit to it). The whole ride down there I got to hear about how this is one of the best events ever, but one of the most painful too. Jeff would say things like, "I discovered religion out there last year." Then Pat had to pull the "somebody died on the course last year" (evidentally this was actually true, great!). So, they seemed to be so contradicting, they'd get me all excited, and just as I thought, okay maybe this won't be so bad, they would say something to freak me out again. I think they got great pleasure out of this.

Anyways, so we get to the host hotel at the Sheraton Hotel at the Houston Airport. Yes, you have to pick up your packet and the banquet is in Houston, but the race is in Huntsville. The reason for this is because it is one of the top trail runs in the US and people from all over the US as well as other countries fly in to do this race. They have bus shuttles that can take runners to and from the race (about an hour away), but for people like us who are coming from the north. We decided to pick up our stuff and then drive to Huntsville that night and stay in a hotel there. So, back to packet pickup. Good Gravy! Talk about lots of stuff! They hand you your duffle bag and then you just walk down the line throwing stuff in. So, after collecting goodies, nubmers, and chips we put our stuff in the car and then got ready to 4:45. Are you kidding me? What are we 75? We just ate lunch at like 12:45. Food was provided until 6:30 so we didn't have to eat that early, but Pat has to eat like every 30 min. (yeah, he's a stick boy too! Freakin' skinny people who eat all the time as much as they want! Curses on you!!). The banquet of course had all kinds of stuff too, salad, pastas, different types of potatoes, rolls, veggies and then for dessert they had cookies, brownies, and cobblers. If I shoved in one more bite in I was going to explode. How was I ever going to run the next day?? We sat at a table with 6 people from Houston. It was interesting talking with them, some had done this before, some hadn't. Oh, and the lady sitting next to me is doing IMAZ too, so we exchanged contact information. They were making fun of one of the women at the table, apparently she falls down a lot when trail running. Awesome! I won't be the only one who busts tomorrow!

We decided to skip the speakers and head to Huntsville so that we could get to bed at a decent time. We got to the hotel and drank a beer and hung out for awhile. Pat gave me the scoop on the course, and he knew that thing like the back of his hand. Everything he told me, is what I saw on the course, so it was nice knowing some of the things to expect like the single track out and back in the beginning, the uphill out to one of the aid stations, and the long distance between a couple of the aid stations, oh and where some of the more sandy areas were too. We also got a good laugh at some of the world class athletes we were running with, pretty amazing. Oh, and FYI, the lady I told you about in my blog (the one who did a 30k while 7.5 months pregnant in 2:11) won the women's overall in the 50k. She's a real hoss! Anyways, finally told the guys good night and took a shower and watched some TV before trying to go to sleep, which did NOT happen. It was weird, but for some reason I really wasn't that nervous about the race. I just couldn't sleep.
Event warmup:

Race Day: I set my alarm for 4:30 to get my scheduled nutrition in 3 hours before race time. Then went back to bed...and just layed there. Got up again at around 5:45 and got ready and checked out. As I was loading up the car, I felt something, yep, it was misting. Great! Hopefully, it wouldn't turn into rain. Pat was so excited and wound up and Jeff and I were just kind of in a shocked mode, like, what the hell was I thinking! We left the hotel at 6:30 and got to the race site. We grabbed our things for our little transition area and walked about a half mile to the starting area. Evidentally they had made some rennovations to the area because the road was slightly different and Pat was concerned that we might not be coming in and out on the same path. As he was discussing this with me, a guy turned around and asked what our question was. Pat was like, Oh, he would know. So the guy shows us how we will run in and out for our laps. As we walk away Pat tells me that the guy was Mr. Roger Soler himself, so that was cool that he was out there in the mix of things and willing to help people with their questions. We located a spot to put our stuff. Pat had the bright idea of using the raincoat that they gave us to stick our stuff in since it was all misty out. After getting set up we watched the 50 mielrs take off and then it was just the agonizing 30 min. wait until it was our turn. Did the usual bathroom thing a million times and we located the other folks from Longview and chit-chatted with them. As time got close we stipped off our warm-ups and headed for the start line. I decided on tank top, shorts, and long sleeve shirt on top with my bright pink gloves. Didn't feel like I needed the headband. The temp was around 40 degrees at the start.
  • 5h 04m 34s
  • 31.07 miles
  • 09m 48s  min/mile

And here we go...
The previous day Jeff had asked if he could run with me since he cratered so bad at Big Dog and of course I said that would be fine. So we took off together, so I thought. I would weave through people and kind of sprint up around people etc. I knew the single track was coming so I wanted to be seeded with people at my pace because I knew passing would be hard. Just before turning on to the trail I saw Aaron go by, so wished him luck as he went by. We turned on to the trail and then the excitement really began. I LOVE trail running! It was surprisingly quiet compared to Big Dog, but we were all going a lot further too. You just heard the soft breathing from everyone. I was right behind one of the guys from Longview which for some reason was comforting to me. I've discovered I hate running directly behind someone. I hate not being able to see the upcoming roots, etc. I would look down at my HR monitor and I was right in my zone, upper 140's. Yet, having someone in front of you just drives you crazy. So every once in awhile I would zip around someone and then someone else, and then again, and... WAIT! Calm down! Long way to go, HR is where it's supposed to be, it's okay to have people in front of you. So, I pretty much had this inner battle going on the entire way out on the first out and back. It was neat to see the leaders coming back at you, they were cruising. I eventually saw Pat, Aaron, and Sarah go by. Before I knew it I was at the aid station and turn aroundn point. I took a gel, slapped some water down and was on my way. Running back was awesome because I realized, hey, I'm pretty far up here considerin'. I also realized that Jeff was NOT with me. So, I watched for him as I was running back. Kept looking, kept looking, then finally saw him, he was easily already a half mile behind me. Man, Big Dog really did scare the crap out of him. As you run back to the start/finish it is kind of in the center of a circle so you run in/out on the same path as well for each loop. As I was running in I once again saw the leaders, Pat, etc. go by. As I get closer there are a lot more people all cheering, etc. I'm running and I here this guy yell, "Gina!
I look back, but I have no idea who it is. I see the start/finish and didn't realize I was already so close, I totally passed our little hangout, so ran back, ditched the long sleeve shirt and gloves and grabbed more gel for the road (conveniently tucked away in the sports bra). As I went through the start/finish aid station I took another gel and headed back out. First 6.1 miles or so was in around 55 min. As I'm running back out I see this guy who is once again yelling my name. Who the heck is this guy?! I'm sorry dude, but I don't know you. I'm running, he's yelling my name, I keep running and as I'm just about to pass him, it finally clicks. WELSHY!! Omg! I had no idea he was going to be there. Then I saw Haley. I was so excited! I gave them both a nice sweaty hug :) Tom asked how I felt...I felt great, but it was only 6 miles so far, just scraping the surface of this run.

So after leaving them, I'm excited to finally be hitting the main loop. As I'm running, the girl behind me was like, "Was that your family?" Ha ha, so funny. My family doesn't even know how to work a running shoe, let alone come watch people that do. Anyways, we started talking. I learned all kinds of stuff about her. It was nice to have someone to run with. It was funny because she was mentioning about how she's getting married in February and that they want to have kids. She told her boyfriend after the first 6 miles that she thought of a girl's name that she liked. Wanna know what it was? Drum roll please...HALEY! I thought it was quite ironic. So we jibjabbed all the way to the next rest stop. I took a gel and some water and then we headed UP the jeep road. This was her 3rd year to do this race and she has done 16 races of at least marathon distance. She said that she does this race in just under 5 hours. I was thinking, wow, that's awesome (goal at this time above finishing was aroundn 5:30 hours). At first I thought about just trying to pace with her rather than looking at heart rate, but I'm glad I didn't. At the top of the out and back on the jeep road she ducked into a porta potty and I grabbed some water and kept going. Back at the rest stop at the bottom of the out and back I decided to go to the bathroom as well. Oh, and I conveniently forgot to mention that my hands were NUMB! My arms were fine, but I was cursing myself for taking my gloves off, I knew better. So, trying to pull the shorts back up was interesting, but I survived. As I came out I noticed that the girl I was running with (her name is Stacey by the way) was just a little ways behind me. So continued on the jeep road. The jeep road is sandy and kind of gooey in places from the mist. I was ready for my single track again. Just past the previous rest stop is where the 50 milers and 50k split off (50 milers get to run the inside loop, we take the outside, both same distance of 12.5 miles. They get more fun single track though). I came to the rest stop at the end of the jeep road and took another gel and made sure to get lots of water in and took some E-caps. It is 3.2 miles to the next aid station. Now, back to the single track! Woohoo! It was so pretty back there and I was just loving it! Most of the time I could see someone up ahead of me or behind me, but you had your space, which I loved. While talking to Stacey was nice, I really do just enjoy running by myself and doing my thing and just taking in the scenery. It was nice rolling hills back here, nothing bad. You came to some wooden bridges (this is where 50 milers and 50kers come back together) that went over the swampy end of the lake, which were neat. Back on the single track it was only about a mile to the next aid station which just popped up out of nowhere to me. You know the routine, had the usual hammergel and water and kept on going. I walked through all of the aid stations to make sure I got enough water down since I refused to carry any on me. The next section was a little mroe exciting, a little more like the mountain bike trails I know, yet still, this trail is total cake compared to Tyler and especially Ruston. Hardly any roots at all, no steep hills that you have to worry about falling down, etc., it was awesome. Before I knew it I was heading back in to the s/f. I didn't see Pat go by this time, he was much further ahead, but I did see Aaron and Sarah again. I grabbed more gels from our spot, looped through the aid station and was ready for round two. Beforehand, Pat had said that the toughest part of the race is leaving transition again for that last loop because at that point, you've done 18.5 miles, but still have 12.5 to go. But for some reason, I was excited to see the trail again. Weird. As I was running back out I saw my new friend, Stacey, she was now several minutes behind me, glad I didn't hang back. My HR had been great the whole time, right where it needed to be. Ran through the single track and then ready to tackle the jeep roads again. Running up the out and back I saw Aaron coming back down, he wasn't smiling anymore. I could tell his tone had changed, but he still looked good. I made it to the top and headed back down. Stacey was even further behind me and I didn't see Jeff at all on the way down before I headed out on the loop (I had seen him running in to S/F as I was headed out, probably about 2 miles behind me. He actually was smiling that time, the first time I saw him smile, so I was happy. I wanted him to have a good run). I survived the jeep road and made it to the most important rest stop again, the one before the 3 mile stretch of nothing. I thought to myself, wow, I've gone 25 miles and all I've got left is about a 10k. My legs felt a little tired, but not like I expected and I never saw the cardiac creep in my HR, it stayed right where it needed and I felt great, super, fantastic. What is going on?! So, I contained my excitement and ran to the next aid station and grabbed an oreo this time (I wanted a lemon creme, but they didn't have any). Home stretch now! I picked it up slighty and then as I was about a mile away from the finish I really started to pick it up. It was really quite humorous because people who were heading out for another lap of the 50 miler or those who were just heading out for their second lap of the 50k were just like, "Wow, great pace." I felt like I was running a 5k, not a 50k. I was cruising and I was running around people and through people, it was nuts. I then spied a girl a ways up ahead of me and I could tell she was heading for the finish too, but she was going slower than me. So, I continue running in and I'm thinking that perhaps I could sneak by her into the finish, but I made my attack too soon and she saw me and took off. For those that don't know, I am the world's WORST sprinter. In high school, if it ever came down to a sprint, go ahead and count me out. I have like zero fast-twitch fibers. I wasn't upset though like I normally would be. She was one of those people who was like 2 miles ahead of me, so I closed the gap significantly. So, came across the line and grabbed my blanket and found Pat and some of the Longview crew on the other side.
What would you do differently?:

Well, to be honest with myself, I executed everything perfectly, I obeyed my HR, I took in enough nutrtion, and I drank enough, and even remembered to take some E-caps throughout the run. I felt great during the run, too good. It was so much fun. I had a smile on my face almost the whole way, I was giddy. BUT...(come on, y'all know me) First place in my age group was 5:20 ahead of me. In the grand scheme of things, that's not much. And, Aaron was only 2 minutes ahead of me, as was Sarah the other girl from Longview. Oh well, had I gone harder earlier on, I might not have felt so good in the end.
Post race
Warm down:

I grabbed some chicken noodle soup, chatted with Aaron, gave my condolences to Andrew then put some clothes on, it was cold! We waited for Jeff to come in and to watch one of the Longview guys come in and head out for his final lap of the 50 miler. Then, we went to check results and that's when I discovered I came in third, woohoo! So, picked out my horsie and then chowed on some food before slowly walking back to the car and heading home.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Training I guess. I did way better than I expected, but just imagine if I had the proper amount of time to train for this race and if I didn't slack on what little training time I did have. 20th out of 264 females though, not too shabby!

Event comments:

Overall, this race was top-notch, a definite must do! I have never had so much fun in my life, it was a blast from packet pick-up to hobbling to the car. Going with others helped though and it was great meeting people at the banquet and during the run. Everyone was so nice from the top runners, to the BOP walkers, to the volunteers. Race packets, dinner, breakfest (which I did not partake in, but had lots of stuff), post race food, and aid stations were awesome. The 50k race has an 11.5 hr time limit so lots of people came to walk it, even a 31 mile hike is impressive to me. So you saw all shapes and sizes out there which was great to see. Awards were unique...solid bronze Stallions that you got to pick which one you wanted and then they gave you the nameplate to put on it. Finisher's awards you had the choice of a Tyvek jacket or a blanket. Man, I could go on and on and I know I'm forgetting so much, but oh so much fun!!!

Last updated: 2005-12-16 12:00 AM
05:04:34 | 31.07 miles | 09m 48s  min/mile
Age Group: 3/19
Overall: 81/577
Performance: Good
My plan for the race was to stay in my MAF HR zone which is 145-155 for me, and then just pray that I didn't die too bad in the end.
Course: Hard to go into real detail and it would probably make much more sense by looking at a map, but I'll try. You start out on the road for about a half mile. This is to thin people out before hitting the single track. The first 6 miles is an out and back on single track (after leaving the road). You come back to the start/finish area and then head back out to begin your 2-12.5 mile loops. The first part of the 12.5 mile loop is a single track trail that winds around, lots of fun. You then head up an out and back section on a jeep road. On the way out it's mainly uphill. This out and back section is slightly over a mile long (each way) and then you continue down the jeep road until it winds back around to single track again. Awesome section back through here. There were a couple of long bridges that went over some swampy areas too. The single track continues all the way back around to the start/finish area. There were about 6 aid stations on the loop (including start/finish area) that were spaced anywere from 1 mile to over 3 miles apart.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
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

2005-12-16 4:05 PM

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Longview, TX
Subject: Sunmart Texas Trail Endurance Run - 50K

2005-12-16 5:31 PM
in reply to: #307326

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2005-12-16 8:42 PM
in reply to: #307326

San mateo California
Subject: RE: Sunmart Texas Trail Endurance Run - 50K

Wow... that was an epic race report.. enjoyed reading the whole thing..   Great race Gina... I think you are an amazing athlete..   Congrats...



2005-12-17 1:44 AM
in reply to: #307326

Evergreen, Colorado
Subject: RE: Sunmart Texas Trail Endurance Run - 50K

Woohoo!  GREAT JOB, Gina!   You first ultra marathon!  I see big things in the future...big things

Way to stick to the plan and ROCK IT!

2005-12-17 7:44 AM
in reply to: #307326

Queen BTich
Gold member
Subject: RE: Sunmart Texas Trail Endurance Run - 50K

Congrats Gina!! What an awesome race and even better you felt great.

Totally weird about the name thing. Those thinks freak me out.

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