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Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile - RunUltra Marathon

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Huntsville, Texas
United States
Rocky Raccoon Trail Run
75F / 24C
Total Time = 20h 54m 24s
Overall Rank = DNF/340
Age Group =
Age Group Rank = 0/
Pre-race routine:

Wifey and I drove out early Friday to Huntsville from SA. We got there around 4 pm and set up camp (You gotta camp for this race!). Huntsville State Park is really nice and an easy place to camp at. Our new 8 person tent was pretty awesome too. You could stand up in this thing!
Anyway, we picked up my race packet and left my drop bag for DamNation. Went back to camp and started grilling and had a few cold ones, and met Haley (Comet) and her hubby. We also talked to Brandon, who I met off the Tejas Trails website and who was going to pace me on the last lap.
Went to bed early after dinner, around 8 pm or so and then was in and out of sleep until 5 or so. Then got up, had some coffee and oatmeal and a banana, and walked to the start line. This was the point where I was supposed to check my blood glucose before the race, but I plain forgot in the excitement. Mistake #1 for the day.
Event warmup:

Ummm, does the first 20 mile lap count as a warm up?
  • 20h 54m 24s
  • 80 miles
  • 15m 41s  min/mile

Lap 1: 3:39:48 (10:59/mi avg) (6:00 am - 9:39 am)

The beginning was pretty crowded as anticipated. Since it was still dark out I had the headlamp on, and it worked pretty well for being a $20 headlamp. I tried to take it as easy as possible, but it is evident that I went out much too fast for my ultra fitness. I went thru the first aid station and got to DamNation1 at mile 6 and the sun came up around that time so I put my headlamp in my drop bag and took off my jacket. I just had one handheld, and with the aid stations only 3-4 miles apart except one that was 6, it worked pretty well. I was drinking about one bottle of water an hour, and got heed, endurolytes and solid food at each aid station. I had some gel with me in my handheld but I didnt really touch it. Even though there were a few rollers, I didn't walk any of the hills on this lap. That was probably a mistake. Overall I felt great and got back to Dogwood to see wifey.

Lap 2: 4:27:56 (13:24/mi avg) (9:45 am - 2:13 pm)

Stopped at Dogwood and hit the portajohn and took off my shirt as it really began to warm up and I knew it was going to hit the upper 70s by the time the loop was over. I also was trying to avoid the friction on the nips. I was supposed to check my BG at Dogwood but forgot again, and about a mile into Lap 2 I remembered. I had another meter at DamNation, so I would check it there at mile 26 and my BG was 143. This lap I obviously slowed down a bit, and I started walking some of the larger hills (if you can call them that). I was still drinking and eating pretty well and feeling ok. I was grabbing pb&j sandwiches and lots of endurolytes the whole time. My feet really were hurting though. I started out with my Peregrines because of all the trouble I had with my Hokas in the mud at Bandera. But the pain was so much that I felt like I needed some extra cushioning, so I texted wifey to bring my Hokas to Dogwood so I could switch out for Lap 3.

Lap 3: 5:14:44 (15:44/mi avg) (2:17 pm - 7:31 pm)

I put my shirt back on for this lap because I knew by the time I got back it would probably be dark and the temp would go down again, and put on the Hokas. My feet felt immediate relief. I am a believer again! I was to check my BGs again at Dogwood only to forget. I really should have a checklist at each dropbag so I remember what to do! I also picked up my headlamp at DamNation. It was this lap where the miles really started to take their toll on me. The backside of the loop between the two times you hit DamNation, and then the last 4.4 miles from the Park Road aid station back to Dogwood were a struggle. I tried to eat the best I could, picking up ramen noodles and broth, potatoes, cheese quesadillas and the like. I was thinking about pulling the plug here at the end of 3 laps (60 miles) because I couldn't even imagine going 40 more miles. Even though my feet felt better, everything else hurt like hell. My ankles, knees, hips, and back were all killing me. But part of me thought if I could just get back to Dogwood, wifey would pace me through Lap 4 and then I would have Brandon for the last lap and I could make it. I was going back and forth quite a bit, and it was taking a toll on me mentally and emotionally.

Lap 4: 7:31:43 (22:35/mi avg) (7:39 pm - 3:10 am)

I made it back to Dogwood and told wifey that I wasn't sure if I should go back out because I didn't think I could make it the whole way, and I didn't want to make her go through this lap if I wasn't going to finish. As always she was the voice of reason, and said "Let's just get to the first aid station and see how you do."
So I had some ramen noodles and broth, and we went. We were doing something that was just a bit faster than walking but slower than jogging, or "wogging" at this point After about a mile and a half in and I said to wifey "I gotta stop at the aid station, I can't go on." She said ok, let's just get there. So we finally make it and I tell the aid station volunteer that I have to turn in my chip, and they said "WHY?!? You look great! You've got plenty of time! YOU CAN DO THIS!" "Be patient. Take your time and walk when you need to walk and run when you can run. And when that sun rises, it will be the best feeling in the world and you will be extra motivated to finish!" And as lousy as I felt, that pumped me up a bit and I said, OK Let's make it to DamNation. So we went! But another few miles and I was in some serious pain again. I was bumbling and stumbling along, weaving across the trail trying to follow wifey but I kept zoning out. Finally we made it to DamNation1, and I threw in the towel yet again. But the aid station crew would have none of it. Fred, a veteran ultra runner, took me in the tent and warmed me up as I was shivering at this point. He asked what was wrong, and I simply said "I don't think I can take another step." He looked me over, asked me about my hydration and fueling throughout the day, and he checked the skin on my arm (I assume to check how much salt I was losing?). He had me check my BG and it was 139, so all good there. He said that I should sit there for the next 10 minutes and get as many calories in me as possible, and then he was going to send me back out. I didn't really have a say in the matter! That's ok, he gave me some confidence that I could keep going. So I ate 2 cups of ramen, 3 cups of mashed potatos (oh those were so good!), some quesadilla... whatever they were handing me I ate like a starving pygmie. Fred talked to me some more, explained that he had been where I was right now and that every first timer goes through this period. He said running at night is the hardest because your body is telling you that you should be in bed sleeping, and that I shouldn't worry about the pains I was feeling because Hell, I just ran 66 miles and I should be hurting like crazy! I had 2/3 of the run behind me, now I just had to go finish it up. Time wasn't a factor, I could have walked the whole rest of the way and made the 30 hr cutoff. The last thing he said was "The pain you are feeling now is nothing compared to the pain of regret you will feel in the morning if you don't finish. You can do this."
With all that said, how could I not go back out there?? After 10 minutes of massive calorie intake and pep talk, I was back out on the trail.
I actually felt quite a bit better at this point, but it was going to be a long 6.2 miles around the lake and back to DamNation. Wifey and I just took it one step at a time. We actually began to pick things up for a bit, and that 6 miles went by fairly quick even though it was took 2 hours. Back at DamNation it was midnight and I knew we had 8 miles left. 3.5 to the next aid station. I was pretty high in spirits and thought that we could get back and I'd be able to finish the final lap with Brandon. I texted him where I was and my pace so he'd know when to meet me at DogWood. I got some more fuel and off we went. This part of the trail had quite a few more roots, and my legs weren't picking up very high and I was starting to get a little delerious. Same thing was happening to wifey I think, as we were stumbling and tripping over the roots quite a bit more. But we made it to the Park Road Aid station and just had 4.5 miles to get back to Dogwood. I couldn't believe we were really making it!
That's when the wheels really fell off. Those last 4.5 miles were the longest, most painful miles I've ever experienced. I began to get tunnel vision from my headlamp, and I was going in and out of consciousness. I was weaving across the trail, lucky not to fall right off any of the footbridges! Wifey had hurt her leg too from a bad stumble on the roots, and we just did our best to focus on making it back to Dogwood. It was at this point where I think I threw in the towel for good. It took us over 3 hours to get back to Dogwood, and at this rate I figured the last loop would take me 7-8 hours at least, and I didn't have it in me to keep pushing through the pain for that long. We made it back, and that's when I texted Brandon and told him I couldn't go back out. I turned my timing chip into Joyce, and told her I was finished. Just like all the other great people who tried to encourage me to keep going, she asked "Are you sure? You're doing great and have plenty of time." I said I was done, and she said "OK, but if you change your mind come back and I'll get you right back on the course."
This time, I didn't change my mind.

Could I have gone back out and stumbled my way to a 30 hour finish? Looking back I think so. But at the time, I just plain didn't want it bad enough. And once you lose the want, the drive, the need to complete your goal, all is lost. It was the toughest physical and mental challenge I've ever faced, and in the end it was the mental challenge that took me down.

What would you do differently?:

My favorite quote from the race was "Good judgement comes from experience, which often comes from bad judgement."

I made a lot of bad judgements in this race, from going out too fast, not getting enough calories in throughout the day, wearing the wrong shoes for the first 40 miles, and not getting enough physical and mental training in before the race. I was simply not completely prepared for this challenge.

I now have a much greater respect for the distance, and I have more knowledge of what it takes to finish a 100 miler. I think when I come back for my revenge (which I am sure I will!), I will be successful.
Post race
Warm down:

hahahaha. That's a good one. I think I stumbled to the tent and immediately fell asleep.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Not fully prepared physically or mentally. Really only put in 3 good months of pure run training. I had some injuries I was working through in late Dec/early Jan, and then I ran Bandera 100K on Jan 12 and pretty much just recovered from that for the rest of the month. It was probably a bad idea but my thought was that if I could get through Bandera, I could get through Rocky. Bandera did give me confidence (maybe too much confidence for my fitness!), but I think ultimately it was the wrong choice 3 weeks before Rocky.
This year 229 people finished out of 340 starts for a 67% finish rate.

The next time I attempt this race, I think I need at least 6-9 months of more of pure running. No tri training or races. Some cross training yes, but most of the hours and time should go to running.

Event comments:

All of Tejas Trails events are 5 star, absolutely the best. Joe is the best RD around, hands down. They are all logistically planned and run very well, and I always have a great time. This race in particular is the highlight of the year. There is a reason it sells out very quickly. If you haven't tried it, you really should! I can't recommend it enough.

Profile Album

Last updated: 2012-08-06 12:00 AM
20:54:24 | 80 miles | 15m 41s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/340
Performance: Below average
Course: 5 loops of 20 miles each. Fairly flat with a few rollers. Piney woods around Lake Raven, lots of single track and some jeep roads.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Not enough
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Below average
Mental exertion [1-5] 2
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? No
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

2013-02-06 1:13 PM

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San Antone, Texas
Subject: Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile

2013-02-06 3:20 PM
in reply to: #4611462

Subject: RE: Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile
You have my full admiration. What you attempted and accomplished was nothing short of amazing. I really enjoyed the write up also. Good luck in the next one. No doubt in my mind, you will finish it!
2013-02-06 3:21 PM
in reply to: #4611462

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Subject: RE: Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile

solid work.  been there. sucks in a lot of ways.  but you are right, sometimes the way you learn is by making those poor choices.

I wonder if looking for revenge is the right mindset.  I have been thinking about my approach to these races and I am beginning to think that it does not make sense to say there is something to overcome or something to conquer.  I think the better way might be to look at it as something to experience.  To think that there is a "you" and a "race" or a "race course" so that there is something to race against, I don't know.  I read somewhere, there is a saying, you can never dip your toe into the same river twice, it is always moving, and that applies to races too, you can never race the same race twice, you can never have revenge.  It's like there is You and The Race, but when you are doing it, for those 100 miles......I mean you bring to the race and the race brings to you but for those 100 miles it is really "you and the race", and that thing is One and is not a thing to beat or even exists after it is done.  You will never have revenge on the race because you will never run that race again, you won't wear the wrong shoes, or forget to test your blood etc...

Anyways, that is a bit much perhaps. It is, of course, always an amazing accomplishment.

2013-02-06 5:16 PM
in reply to: #4611462

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Extreme Veteran
Ft. Myers, Florida
Subject: RE: Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile

Great effort out there and great race report.  This is my favorite part of your race report:

"My favorite quote from the race was "Good judgement comes from experience, which often comes from bad judgement."

I made a lot of bad judgements in this race, from going out too fast, not getting enough calories in throughout the day, wearing the wrong shoes for the first 40 miles, and not getting enough physical and mental training in before the race. I was simply not completely prepared for this challenge."

This tells me that you are capable of conquering this beast.  Recognize and learn from your mistakes. IMO the most important thing you can do to improve the odds of finishing a 100 miler is to hang your ego at the starting line.  Leave it there.  When you cross the finish line to retrieve it, it will have grown exponentially.  But you earned that and you can wear it with pride.  If you try to take the ego with you out on the course you will run all of those hills on the first lap, you will go too fast, you will allow that crowd to get under your skin in the first several miles.  It is a very long day  chill and enjoy it.  On the first lap when you were running all of the hills, did you really think you were going to run 100 miles without walking?  Of course not.  So then when did you plan on starting to walk?  When your body broke down and you were forced to?  I have completed the 100 mile distance 3 out of 4 attempts so I've done it but that surely doesn't put me in the veteran category.  However, when I see mortals like you and I not walking at all early in the race, I'm pretty sure they are going to have some unhappy moments before the day is over.

Using an extra 20 minutes in each of the first couple of laps could easily have saved you hours on your total time and possibly made the difference in finishing or not finishing.  Plus it feels so awesome to be strong and passing people at and beyond mile 50 Smile

I LOVE my Hoka's.  The pair that I wore for this race had 820 miles on them when I started the day.  I am looking forward to running the 1000th mile in them. I noticed what a high percentage of people were wearing them out there.  I also heard several people who were not wearing them complaining about how much their feet hurt.


I hope you are recovering well.  I love your attitude and look forward to seeing you complete the distance soon.


Good Luck,




2013-02-06 6:50 PM
in reply to: #4611462

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Queen BTich
Subject: RE: Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile
Tough day out there, Dan. I'm sorry it ended that way, but dang, you gave it a heck of a shot! 

When you said he 'checked your skin', did he lightly pinch/pull on your skin or just rub his fingers on it? If he pinched/pulled it, he was checking for dehydration.

Now, I'm no veteran (ha! I barely made it), but the veterans told me "walk early, walk often. No shame in walking." I kept repeating that over and over. I walked all the hills, even the first lap. It felt ridiculous, but honestly, so was EVERYONE else around me. Except when Mike Morton ran past Seriously, I walked when the people in front of me walked. Now, I only did the 50, but by the last lap I was able to slow jog up some of them! Saving the legs does help, I do it in marathons too. 

Anyway, NO SHAME, you did what you could. This is another animal! It takes time and many attempts. Not like easy tri's.

See you at Hells Hills! 
2013-02-06 9:00 PM
in reply to: #4611462

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Waller County, TX
Subject: RE: Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile

Yes, every race is a learning experience.

Keys to success: 1) Correct pace early. 2) Plenty of calories early, once you go into a deficit, you rarely recover. These actually take a fair amount of discipline; easy to say, harder to do on race day.

Unless a person has been past 60 and 80 miles they have no clue of how hard it gets. I told someone in a post just the other day that the last 40 are way harder than the first 60.

Good job.

2013-02-07 8:53 AM
in reply to: #4611462

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San Antone, Texas
Subject: RE: Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile
Thanks for all the kind words everyone!
2013-02-07 1:01 PM
in reply to: #4611462


Subject: RE: Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile
proud of you!!! I'm gonna give it a try someday...
2013-02-09 10:13 PM
in reply to: #4611462

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Subject: RE: Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile

Dave great determination in getting through this race.  Did you fall.  Looks like some mud on your chin?

Great RR.  Will I see you at Blue Northerener, I waited too late again for Enchanted Rock.

2013-02-11 3:47 PM
in reply to: #4611462

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Subject: RE: Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile

wow. that is just straight up nuts. I know that you set out to cover 100mi, but to think that you covered 80mi is outside of my conception.

I just wrapped my last 22mi training run for a marathon coming up in a couple of weeks.

Or, what your people might call "lap 1".

Well done sir. That old adage about aiming for the stars, coming up short and hitting the moon comes to mind.

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