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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
<span style="font-family:Helvetica, Verdana, Arial;">RR: Rocky Raccoon 100 miler<br>
Feb 2-3, 2008<br>
Huntsville, TX<br><br>
Leading up:<br>
December was my down month, spent mostly recovering from some hard races in October and November.<br>
Didn't start running much until the end of December. This would give about 5 weeks of training until race<br>
start. My training never peaks until mid-March due to December down times. Hopefully it won't be a big<br>
deal this time. Well, it's only a 100 miler, not a marathon or something like that. I had heard Rocky Raccoon<br>
was a flat course, so training focused on as much flat running as possible. The temperatures had<br>
been in the 20s and 30s pretty consistently leading up. I did spend the week before the race in Galveston<br>
and Houston on business, which gave me a couple of runs in temps of about 50 or so. Hopefully it won't<br>
get too much warmer than that on race day. But the bigger concern is rain. The park is basically a wetland<br>
and the trails can have a tendency to become all mud after a good recent rain storm or two. Thursday<br>
morning in Clear Lake, where I was, (on the coast, about 80 miles south or so) the rains were torrential, but I'm not sure<br>
the nasty weather reached that far north.<br><br>
Goals and such:<br>
Well, my last 100 at Umstead was in just under 19 hours and this course is supposed to be a bit "easier"<br>
so I thought 18 hours would be a good goal. Forget the fact that I'm definitely not in as good shape as I was<br>
in before Umstead. Nonetheless, I would play it by ear and take whatever the day would bring.<br><br>
Race day:<br>
I couldn't sleep past about 2:45 on race morning, so I just got up and took my time getting ready. 4 hours<br>
sleep was more than the two hours I had before Umstead, so I'm thankful for that. I had one large drop bag<br>
to leave at main camp, where each of the 5 20 mile repeated excursions begins. I would carry one water<br>
bottle today, filling it at the aid stations with whatever sport drink was available, while drinking mostly Coke,<br>
when available, at the aid stations. The temp was cool, but really not cold enough for anything but my<br>
short sleeve twinkie bike shirt. The back pockets would store my body glide and, during light periods,<br>
my head lamp. We started in darkness at 6 am and headed out on the trails. One thing I noticed right<br>
away was that the course was definitely not flat. It certainly didn't have nearly the hills of any ultra I've<br>
run, but only about 10% of the course was actually flat in my estimation. Most of the course was covered<br>
with roots which did not show up too well with the headlamp in the dark. While there was not a tremendous<br>
amount of mud, there were some good patches and in many cases, the patches were undetectable in the dark.<br>
Probably about 6 miles in, I stepped in a nice one, my foot sunk down about 4 inches and I face planted into the ground<br>
pretty quickly. It threw off my rhythm, but it was just a minor perturbation. I finished the first loop in 3:14,<br>
feeling quite comfortable, but noticing that the temperature was already getting warm. I do remember thinking<br>
about mile 30 that the race was so far uneventful, and I would just as soon keep it that way, even if it wouldn't<br>
make for a great story. Early on, I would live on PB&J, fritos, potato chips, and Cokes at the aid stations. I knew<br>
well that it was key to keep eating and never miss an opportunity. I finished the second loop at 6:40 into the<br>
race as the temperature climbed above 70 about half way through, starting to wear at me and slow me down.<br>
Not but a minute into loop 3, I received a visit from the 100 mile demons. My quads! All of a sudden, they<br>
were trashed. Not sure where that came from. No tremendous hills here. Seems to be a train wreck between<br>
my insufficient 5 weeks of training, my focus on only flat course running, and probably overly cautious<br>
running down the hills with the roots. Alas, there is no escape from trashed quads - I've been to this<br>
neighborhood before and I didn't escape alive. Shortly after, my calves were shot. Never had that before.<br>
One thing I knew now was that this was going to get ugly. I decided at this point that I would mix in as much<br>
walking as possible, much earlier than I would have even considered it. Perhaps the walking would help<br>
me loosen up. I passed 50 miles at just under 8:50, about an hour slower than at Umstead. Forget my original goal,<br>
that's for sure! Loop 3 comes to a close at about 11:15. My pace is slowing steadily while my ability to move<br>
my legs diminishes substantially. At this point I'm probably walking twice as far as running. I'm not able to<br>
keep up much of a pace walking or running. Ironically, everything feels fine other than the quads and<br>
calves. The temperature starts to cool very lightly, to really a perfect zone. Unfortunately, that doesn't solve<br>
my real problem here. Nothing would bring my quads and calves back to life. My muscles are actually<br>
spasming, quite frequently. Now it's dark. This is actually a very nice course in the darkness. There are<br>
so many creatures chirping, gurgling, and scurrying about. I couldn't see any of them, no matter how hard<br>
I searched with the head lamp. I certainly kept my eyes out for the gators in the marsh, when crossing<br>
the "gator bridges." Were they there? No clue, but there certainly were a lot of noisy frogs. I heard a<br>
larger animal in the back woods moving around nearby and I was able to at least catch a glimpse of<br>
his eyes. Still no idea what it was. Oh well. Compared to hellgate, it was actually quite nice to be alone<br>
in the woods here. But the quads were the real issue. I would hit a rooty area and I no longer can lift up<br>
my legs enough to get over the roots. I just kept falling, over and over. Nonetheless, I would keep going,<br>
slowly but surely. Shortly, however, I would hit a turning point. I hit a root while "running" and both legs<br>
slammed into the ground. My spasming calves both tightened up like rocks. I just rolled around yelling<br>
in pain and it was about 2 minutes before I could relax my calf muscles. At this point, I saw nothing<br>
beyond walking in my future for this race, and very slowly at that, at least for the next 10 minutes or so.<br>
I finally made it to the end of this endless loop after a long 5:33. So now I'm 80 miles in at about 16:48 into the<br>
race. I'm quite sure I can't run anymore. Can I walk the last 20 miles in less than 7 hours? If not, can I<br>
even stand to stay out another 13 hours? Number 1, I'm not sure, number 2, the answer is no. Nonetheless,<br>
I felt that I just needed to get out onto the last loop and there would be no turning back. At this point, I'm about<br>
to hit turning point number 2. Knowing that I'm in a time crunch, I don't want to waste time at the main camp<br>
aid station. Given that my plan is to just walk the last loop, surely, it doesn't matter if I eat anything else,<br>
especially if I'm not interested. So, I grab a quick swig of Coke and move right along. I'm trying to push<br>
the walk pace as much as possible, and squeeze in a putter periodically. When I come upon the mild<br>
root sections present in the early part of the course, I'm stumbling quite a bit. The later ones will really<br>
be a problem. The 4.1 miles to the first aid station seems to last forever. My mind starts fading over the<br>
last 1/4 mile and I really start bumbling about. I make it to the aid station and now my mind is gone. It's<br>
about 17:50 or so into the race. I have<br>
really faded. I know what the problem is, but can I escape it? I knew I needed food, so I just started<br>
to eat. I ate a few slices of beef brisket, little hot dog pieces, potato chips, fritos, and everything else<br>
I can get my hands on. I really needed to sit down, but I knew that sitting down would be my demise<br>
because of my quads. After about 10 minutes of standing there, I was not getting any better, so I knew<br>
I had no choice but to sit. In another 15 minutes, I started to regain my wits, but at the same time, I started<br>
getting very bad chills. My whole body was shaking, almost like I was having a seizure. I asked if they<br>
had a blanket, but all they had was a large towel. I moved the chair against a heat lamp and started to get<br>
a bit more comfortable. After waiting there about another 1/2 hour, I tried to get up. Between the chills<br>
and my rock-tight legs, I could barely hobble. The great volunteers at the aid station make me a number<br>
of offers, but I know that my condition at this point would require at least 10 hours to finish the thing<br>
especially with the constant falls I would experience on the really rooty sections. This<br>
was the time to call a bad day a bad day and accept my fate for the evening. Time to gather the lessons<br>
for this race and try to correct them for next one.<br></span>

· Premium Member
15,296 Posts
Hey Jesse, i am glad you posted a report. First, it was nice to see you again and chat briefly with you before and after the race.<br>
As far as the quads, do you think you went out too fast? A lot of people seemed to crash and burn at this race, and the DNF rate was surprisingly high for an "easy" race. It seemed like a very easy race to start too fast with the relatively minimal changes in elevation. It was not a flat course, but definitely flatter than Umstead, and definitely 100% runnable for top runners. The roots were surprisingly annoying, and i cannot even imagine how hard it must have been for you with the dead legs. ugh.<br><br>
As the sun went down, the wild life was crazy loud, it was really nutty.<br><br>
I think you made the right decision and you seemed in good spirits when i saw you when i came in at the end.

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yeah, I was even in good spirits when I quit, even if my quads and calves<br>
weren't. That's cuz I simply don't<br>
mind quitting when it's a bad day! I didn't go out too fast (much, much<br>
slower than I went out at Umstead), but I was just not in shape for a good<br>
100. I was at my prime at Umstead (I even had quite a bit left at the finish then!)<br>
Probably in shape enough to finish, but I'm never really interested<br>
in just finishing, especially if a lot of suffering is involved.<br>
I'm not sure I'll do rocky again, only because it's in the<br>
beginning of the year and I will always expect December to be a down<br>
month. But we'll see - maybe I can make some schedule adjustments<br>
one of these years! I did like the course.

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1,339 Posts
Jesse - Thanks for the report. Your DNF reminds me of each of my DNFs at the 100M distance. You were valiant in your effort. I will say one thing though. When it comes time to quit, pack it in, your body/mind together will let you know. Another plus is the positive attitude that you take from this. There will be others my friend. Recover well.<br>

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15,296 Posts
Jesse- that is true, you had a pretty big schedule this past fall. An early in the year 100 was probably not the best timed. I'd still be recovering from your races if i did all of them in the fall <img alt="biggrin.gif" src="">

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That sounded like an extraordinary, tough effort to make 80 miles. I'm sorry you weren't able to finish. I'm sure you'll bounce back and make any necessary adjustment.<br>
Good Luck on wherever<br>
your feet take you.<br>

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68 Posts
Wow, tough day. But you'll be back in a big way, I'm sure.<br>
The legs giving out so suddenly like that just doesn't sound right to me. Were they really sore for a couple days afterwards? If not, it might indicate that your electrolytes were out of balance, not that your legs were undertrained. You talk about eating a lot of salty foods, but there's no mention of popping s-caps regularly. Maybe you were short on potassium.<br>
Also, did you try any drugs? I've found that even if my legs are completely shot, some tylenol and caffeine will usually get me going again.

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10,402 Posts
Jesse, thanks for sharing this experience. Sorry about the DNF. We live in different planets. I don't have a 100 on sight yet, but I will certainly be in the "just to finish" category. I learn a lot from your RRs. It is an interesting perspective to call it a bad day in good spirits. Look forward to reading about your next one.

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
My legs were definitely undertrained. I've experienced blown out quads<br>
twice before (on similarly mild courses compared to others that I've had<br>
no problems on) and it was following similar missing training elements.<br>
I had no cramps, which would be indicative of electrolyte problems (which<br>
I've certainly experienced before). Just as it takes trial and error to<br>
understand what you need in terms of s-caps, endurolytes, or other<br>
similar supplements, one can learn how take in the proper balance of<br>
fluid and electrolytes without such supplements, at least in relatively<br>
mild conditions with some trial and error. I ran Umstead in much hotter weather in less than 19 hours without a single s-cap or other<br>
supplements. I won't take any drugs to get through a race. I have no<br>
problem with others doing so, but it's just not something that I have any<br>
interest in doing. I think ultras are a much different experience for me<br>
than for most, or at least many, others. It's not that it's all or nothing<br>
for me, but I'd like to really see what's inside me and if I'm having a<br>
bad day early on, I'll just take it as far as reasonable, but I really won't<br>
take things through a long drawn-out process just to drag myself through<br>
the finish line. Once again, I have no problems with others doing that, but<br>
I'm happy with keeping it enjoyable, and when it's not, it's time to go back<br>
and fix things for next time.

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Oh, I should add - while I did imply that my quads blew out very<br>
suddenly, I'm sure I just noticed it suddenly because I just happened<br>
to stop and do my squat stretch after the second loop, at which point<br>
things became apparent. I was still able to run a bit at that point and<br>
I still pulled though 50 in 8:50 which is somewhat slow for me on that<br>
course, but a reasonable pace nonetheless.<br><br>
In either case, I appreciate the feedback and condolences from all,<br>
but really I consider every race, even the worst of them, a positive<br>
experience in some way! My improvements after my last couple of<br>
DNFs really surprised me, so I never look too badly upon such an<br>
Congrats to all of the other finishers (and un-finishers) out there,<br>
especially to Meredith, who I watched smoke her way smoothly<br>
into the finish with such a thrill - it was a great experience!

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For what it's worth, I've learned from experience to never try and stretch during a race or even right after; if my legs were worked like it sounds yours were it would send them spasming like crazy. I do strongly recommend the S-caps; since I started using them about a year ago, I've never had a cramp during a race.<br><br>
Nice race report, hell of a gutty performance out there.<br><br>

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112 Posts
Hi Jesse,<br>
I didn't even realize you did not finish! I know what you mean about the chills. That's a bad part of for me in winter weather running.<br>
Good performance out there though! It was nice seeing you on the course!!

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Well every time I saw you, you looked as fresh as if you had just<br>
started! No doubt, I probably should have pushed it out, but I just<br>
couldn't convince myself to do it for a disappointing time, not knowing<br>
if would take me 6, 8, or 12 hours for the last stretch.
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