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Texas Switchback - Run

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Johnson City, Texas
United States
Trail Roots
60F / 16C
Total Time = 5h 43m 46s
Overall Rank = 30/39
Age Group = F
Age Group Rank = 9/13
  • 5h 43m 46s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 13m 07s  min/mile

Looong Texas Switchback race report...I was supposed to be running my first 50k trail race yesterday at the Wildflower Trail Run, but it was canceled earlier in the week due to potential flooding at Bastrop State Park. I had really been looking forward to this weekend—camping with Bill in the park in a teardrop trailer we rented and running the race I was prepared for. Since the cancelation, I wasn’t sleeping well and was struggling to try to figure out what to do instead that still involved a big run in the next few weeks. Thursday evening I settled on doing the Texas Switchback Marathon yesterday which was on a ranch in the Hill Country. Not the 50k distance I wanted, but still a challenging run and a new trail distance for me.

With a 6am race start, I decided to “camp” in my van at the ranch Friday night. I thought there would be more people out there doing the same. But it was VERY quiet. There was supposed to be a 5pm race meeting at the ranch packet pickup, but that didn’t happen. There was someone else who had come out just for the race meeting and was surprised there wasn’t one. The race communication was a little on the sparse side. After an early dinner outside sitting next to my van and some journal writing, I was asleep by 8pm. Sleeping went ok, though I woke up a few times as people were driving into the ranch during the night.

I woke up at 4am and did my usually pre-race routine—food, tea, bathroom, contacts, lubrication on all the vital parts, dressed head to toe. I did have 20 minutes of panic when I couldn’t find my Garmin watch. I had put it in a really secure place the night before and could NOT find it in the morning. 30 minutes before race start I was about to give up and found the secret hiding location. Whew. I was relying on the watch for drinking reminders and heart rate monitoring.

It was a misty morning with temps around 60°—kind of nice weather for running. Having nailed down my gear and nutrition/hydration during long training runs, I wasn’t nervous at the start. But I wasn’t really excited either. I just wanted to get started. The race got a bit of a late start for no other reason than the director seemed to be running behind. He rushed through the pre-race talk with minimal details. The gist was that there were lots of trail markers on the course (follow the markers) and there might be thunderstorms rolling in during the race (if that happens they’ll figure something out). 39 people started the marathon, only 13 women. Only 1 DNF too.

I decided not to wear my Ay-Up headlamp at the start but instead use my older lightweight headlamp since I would be using it less than an hour. I quickly realized it was not sufficient and had to walk a lot of the beginning technical parts because I could not see well enough until the sun came up. Soon I was alone in the dark not having fun, thinking I’ve made the wrong choice doing this race. I thought I was last but later found out there was one other person behind me that I never saw. I’m used to running by myself in trail races, usually somewhere in the middle of the pack. With the timing of the half marathon, 10k, and 5k races that morning, I knew I was probably not going to run into any of them. I was in for hours of quite running.

The 2-loop course was a mix of rocky sections, runnable single track, grassy fields, some good hills, twisty mountain bike trails, and a few creek crossings. With the wet morning, some of the rocks were slippery and there were plenty of muddy sections. But I was able to navigate them well and managed to stay upright the entire morning.

I did catch up to someone halfway through the first loop and then passed 4 more people in the first loop. It was reassuring to catch up to people since that made me feel more confident that I was on course. There were a lot of trail markers, but some of them weren’t for the race and sometimes were arrows pointing in the opposite direction I was supposed to go. Knowing that I can be navigational challenged, I’m surprised I was aware enough to stay on course and could tell if something looked familiar or not. It did make things a little more stressful not knowing 100% of the time that I was going the right way.

My favorite part of the course was the out and back section 7.5 miles into the loop. It was nice to see who was ahead of me. And on the first loop, there was a beautiful brown cow who was watching the people run back and forth. There was a lot of mooing during the race, but this was the only cow I saw.

One loop done I was still feeling good. I skipped the food at the aid station since everything I was carrying was working well for me. I just filled up my flask with more water, a quick port-a-potty stop, and I was on my way for the second loop. I got past the 5k split just early enough that I didn’t have the 5k people have to pass me. At this point, I knew I wasn’t going to run into any other people on the course unless they were doing the marathon. I only passed two more people on the second loop.

About 1.5 miles into the second loop, something funky happened to my left leg. Not sure what it was. The best way I can describe it is that the leg suddenly felt unstable with pain on the outside of the knee and my larger muscles were tugging away from my knee. I thought several times of turning around since I was still relatively close to the start. But decided to keep going forward favoring my right leg and being conservative on the more technical sections. The pain never went away fully but subsided periodically depending on the section I was running or walking.

About 3 miles from the finish it started to rain. The trail was getting treacherous quickly. By 2 miles from the finish, the thunder and lightning were getting concerning and it started to pour. I was running with someone near me at this point. We had just crossed the road about to start the upper course when someone from the race pulled up in a truck asking if we wanted a ride to the finish due to the storm coming through. We asked if we were able to finish since we had less than 1.75 miles left. He said go ahead and we both went.

By this point, the trails were mostly a mix of running “creeks” or standing muddy pools. I couldn’t tell what I was about to step on. I’ve never been better at picking up my feet for so long. I was also surprised by how hard I could run at this point. Even the long hill climb in the last mile I ran right up. I was beyond soaked. Saturated indeed.

About a mile before the finish the course monitor ahead of me called out my name. It was Mike, a much-needed friendly face. He was even able to snap a few pics of me as I ran past him. (Thanks Mike!) The finish line was not far now. My left leg gave out for a moment. I told it to hold on just a little longer and it did. I felt a little emotional as I crossed the finish, but held it together and squashed the feelings down. Got my medal, considered the food at the aid station but didn’t feel like any of it, so just grabbed a beer and headed to the van.

At the van, I put on dry clothes (felt so good) and ate the sesame noodles and salmon I had made the day before, and sipped on my beer. I didn’t have my usual post-race happy feelings. Something was off. It actually was a really good race that went well for me. I felt strong; nutrition/hydration was on point; zero blisters or chafing; and my pace was on the fast range of what I was anticipating for the 50k if I had had a good day. I didn’t get lost; I didn’t fall; and I managed the challenges of the storm. So why wasn’t I smiling?

A few miles after I started to drive home I got weepy. I saw a text come in from a friend asking how I felt. I told her I felt sad. And then the weepy turned into crying which turned into full-on sobbing. I should have pulled over. But I kept driving and ugly crying. All of the squashed down feelings from the last 4 days came pouring out. I was finally acknowledging how disappointed I was about not having the weekend I had been planning and not being able to run the 50k race.

By the time I got home, I finished crying and actually felt a little better. A day later, I’m already thinking and planning about my next adventures and ready to move on. Completing my first 70.3 race had multiple attempts and was a challenge too. This weekend is just the beginning of my 50k journey. There will be a 50k in my future. I loved training for this distance and look forward to doing all over again. This has been a good reminder not to be too attached to any one particular race. Things happen out of our control. I need to work on letting go when this happens.

A new pair of triathlon running shoes showed up Friday before I left for the race. Now I’ll switch gears and get in some biking and pool time and do a couple of short sprint triathlons this summer, followed up with cyclocross in the fall with my son. Lots of fun stuff around the corner!
What would you do differently?:

Run harder for the first half. Do my lateral strength training.
Post race
Event comments:

A minimal race.But not crowded.
Note that the results are messed up. Seems like they tacked on 6 extra minutes to my time. Weird. Wonder if it's related to starting 3 minutes late and having to make adjustments for that? Also some racers are mis-catagorized. A 50 yo female was listed as master and should have been a grand master. I should have been listed as 3rd grand master then.

Last updated: 2019-05-12 12:00 AM
05:43:46 | 26.2 miles | 13m 07s  min/mile
Age Group: 9/13
Overall: 30/39
Performance: Good
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5]
Physical exertion [1-5]
Good race?
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? No
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Below average
Race evaluation [1-5] 3

2019-05-12 9:33 PM

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Austin, Texas
Subject: Texas Switchback
General Discussion-> Race Reports!
General Discussion Race Reports! » Texas Switchback Rss Feed  

Keep Texas Wild Triathlon

Started by dboy25
Views: 200 Posts: 1

2018-05-15 9:11 PM dboy25