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15,296 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Race Report<br>
Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile Trail Run<br>
February 2-3, 2008<br><br>
Rocky Raccoon, which is held in Hunstville, Texas, was my third 100 mile<br>
race. I had conquered the distance twice already, but it had been 5 months since<br>
my last 100 miler and I had a couple of mediocre races in the fall which did not<br>
help my self confidence going into the race. I felt like my training was solid,<br>
I have been working with my coach for over a year and a half, but with a crappy<br>
winter, most of my training had been done on a treadmill, with only a handful of<br>
good, quality long runs outside. Part of me felt confident about the race, part<br>
of me did not. I decided that it was just going to be another adventure. My<br>
biggest goal going into the race was to not let myself fall into the trap of<br>
walking through the night. It is very easy to do, and a large number of runners<br>
find themselves mostly walking when it is dark out. My second goal was a PR,<br>
which i thought was doable, but i did not want to set a specific time goal,<br>
because there are so many factors that can go wrong<br>
over the course of 100 miles.<br>
The weather forecast for the race weekend was changing daily in the 10<br>
days leading up to the race. The preliminary forecasts were calling for rain,<br>
which i was not looking forward to because the race course is historically very<br>
muddy in wet weather. However, as the days went by, the forecast improved with<br>
rain the Thursday before the race, clear on Friday, mid to upper 70's on<br>
Saturday and a chance of rain showers Saturday night into Sunday. That is<br>
acceptable for me.<br>
Friday afternoon, my husband, Eddie, and my running group friend Keith,<br>
Anthony and Ira, headed over to the Lodge to pick up our packets and attend the<br>
race briefing. While there, we met up with Coach Lisa and her husband Jay,<br>
Jackie, George, and others that we knew from many of the ultras we had been to.<br>
The race briefing was not too long and i was surprised to find out that we were<br>
going to be chip timed. That was a first for me in an ultra! Also, we were told<br>
that there were alligators living at the park, which was backed up by signs around<br>
the park as well. After the race briefing, Eddie, Keith, Ira, Anthony and<br>
myself headed over to Chilis for some dinner before calling it an early night.<br>
I slept fairly well for a prerace night and felt good when we woke up at<br>
4:30am. Around 5:15 we met up with Keith and headed over to the start of the<br>
race. Once there, we dropped off our drop bags, checked in, stretched and<br>
waited for the start. Usually, I do not even try to think about 100 miles and<br>
how i plan on running the race. The distance is too daunting to really wrap my<br>
head around sometimes. So, i had loosely had a plan that i was going to follow<br>
Coach Lisa's guidance of starting slow to finish strong. She also told me to run<br>
my own race and don't worry about people passing you in the beginning, because<br>
most likely, you will pass them later on. (she is so smart!)<br>
The race started promptly at 6am, and we were off down the trail. I had<br>
my handheld light and did my best to navigate the crowded and rooty trail. It took several miles before the<br>
runners thinned out. After a couple miles i ran into Kira and Mike. I ran with<br>
them for a short while, but knowing that they are faster runners than me, i made<br>
the wise choice to let them continue on as i maintained my pace. I hit the first<br>
aid station in about 45 minutes, very even 12 minute miles, i was happy. After<br>
the second aid station at 7 miles, Dam Road Aid Station, the trail does a 6<br>
mile out and back, which was nice, because it was easy to see other runners on<br>
the trail, which is always fun. I hit the aid station there (10 miles) in 2<br>
hours, still maintaining a good pace. On my way back down the trail i saw Eddie,<br>
who was running his first 50 miler, he looked strong and happy.<br>
From the Dam Road aid station to the next was about 4.5 miles. This<br>
section was rooty and felt very looooong. At one point you run over a dam and<br>
you can see the Lodge (Start/Finish) across the lake. It is a big tease because<br>
it is not that far away, you can hear all the people there, but you are a good 7 miles from it! From<br>
this section to the end of the first loop (13-20 miles) i just did not feel<br>
good. I felt sluggish and worried that if this was how i felt this early in, the<br>
prognosis was not going to be good for the rest of the race. I also had my new<br>
trail shoes which i was not in love with and started imagining foot issues early<br>
in. With only a few miles into the race i could swear i had blisters. It was<br>
definitely all in my head!<br>
Once hitting the end of the first loop, i felt good knowing what to<br>
expect from there on. I saw the course, sort of knew the course, and felt a<br>
little more confident. My first loop took about 4:10, with about an additional<br>
5-8 minutes at the turn around to refuel and take a potty break, which was<br>
pretty good. Not too fast, not too slow. I had let a TON of people pass me early<br>
on in the race, which is hard on the ego, but necessary. It is too easy to get<br>
sucked up into racing others when that is not my goal. A few miles into the second loop, i started running with a friendly man, Jeff, who<br>
had run Hardrock in 2007. It was really interesting to hear his take on the race<br>
and the difficulty of it. It also helped pass the time for a few miles.<br>
Once i hit the Dam Road aid station on the second loop, the out and back<br>
was full of 50 & 100 mile runners in both directions. I saw Keith early on, then<br>
i saw Anthony and Ira running strong. On my way back i saw Coach Lisa who yelled<br>
at me that i was running too fast, which is her job to keep us on a good pace.<br>
I had actually miscalculated my time and did not realize that i had started off<br>
a wee bit fast. I also saw Eddie still looking good, running a really good pace<br>
and looking like he was enjoying himself. He looked a bit overdressed, but he<br>
swore he was fine. It was getting hot, as it was just past noon time, but he<br>
said he was comfortable. The rest of the loop was uneventful and i finished in<br>
around 4:30. I did feel better on the second loop than i did during the first. I spent about 5-7 minutes at the turn around refueling and hitting the porta<br>
potties again.<br>
Back out on the trail i felt really good. It was hot, but not too hot.<br>
It was a bit humid, but not overwhelmingly so. I had slowed a slight bit, but<br>
nothing that was not expected in a long race. My feet and shoes felt fine and<br>
overall i was feeling good. I was eating, drinking, peeing, and my tummy was<br>
behaving. When i hit the 50 mile point (11 hours on the dot!) I felt awesome.<br>
Something about hitting that mark just really energized me and i took off.<br>
Before I finished the 3rd loop the sun had started to set and it was time to<br>
break out the lights. I was using the combination of a handheld with a head<br>
lamp. At the Grand Teton 100 miler in September, i had only used a headlamp and<br>
had issues with the dust and seeing the trail at night. Wise people suggested<br>
adding a handheld, which makes a HUGE difference in visibility of the trail at<br>
night. As the sun set, the wild life started to come alive. Even with my iPod<br>
(that i picked up at 60 miles) i could hear the frogs, insects, birds<br>
and other wild life partying out in the forrest.<br>
As the sun went down, the temperatures cooled slightly which also put a<br>
spring in my step. I continued to eat and drink and feel pretty good. I did,<br>
however, start to slow. My mind was telling my legs to run, but they did not<br>
want to run as fast as i wanted them to. I just kept hammering forward, not<br>
letting myself walk when i could run. The course itself was very runnable,<br>
almost no significant elevation changes or climbs. I was carrying a bag of<br>
granola and when i walked up the small hills, i would munch on it, so at least i<br>
felt productive about my walk breaks. At one point i tripped and fell, but i<br>
fell into a really soft pile of pine needles. It was actually quite soft. I got<br>
lucky. I did trip a lot otherwise on the trail with all the roots and rocks, and<br>
my toenails are pretty angry at me.<br>
I hit Dam Road and gobbled up some oranges, they were delicious and felt<br>
like super human fuel. I felt really energized from them. On the out and back, on the way back, I saw<br>
Keith. He was on his fifth loop and not that far behind me on the course. I<br>
expected him to lap me soon after, but he did not catch me until almost 14 or 15<br>
miles into that loop. It was nice though, we ran together for at least a mile or<br>
two. He was already dreaming about what he was going to do when he finished in a<br>
few miles, where i still had over 20 miles to go! With a few miles left, he<br>
picked it up and we parted ways. I turned back on my iPod and got into a groove<br>
heading back into the start finish line.<br>
Once back at the start/finish line, i saw Eddie, who had rocked out his<br>
first 50 miler in 13:32, looking surprisingly fresh and happy. I also saw Lisa<br>
as well. Anthony had planned on pacing me for my last loop, but he rechecked his<br>
flight information and my pace and was unable to pace me. I was fine with that<br>
and knew ahead of time that there was a good chance that for one reason or<br>
another he would be unable to pace me. I picked up my other iPod, filled my pockets with some food, and told Eddie and<br>
Lisa that i was going to do my 5th loop in 6 hours or less. My 4th loop was<br>
long, over 6 hours, even with all my running. I knew i could do better than that<br>
on my last loop. Or at least i hoped my legs could.<br>
Heading back out for my last loop was a good feeling. Five 20 mile loops<br>
is hard for a race, but it was good to know i was going through the course for<br>
the last time. For the rest of the race, there were small rain showers that<br>
would come in and out. They were so minor, that sometimes, i only knew it was<br>
raining because i could see the raindrops in my headlamp's light.<br>
At this point it was well into the middle of the night, and for some<br>
obscure reason, i thought i could get through the race without any caffeine. I<br>
felt super energized until about 2am when i started to fall asleep while<br>
running. I had only heard stories about that happening to people, though i had<br>
never experienced it. It was very scary, because i felt like i had little control over my body. I just kept trying to revive myself to<br>
keep moving, knowing that i could get something to drink at the aid station.<br>
At Dam Road, i had a half cup of black coffee and i think they slipped<br>
some rocket fuel in there. I took off down the trail and felt stellar. On this<br>
stretch, I heard some commotion in the woods and shined my light to find an<br>
armadillo-- i had never see one in real life before! I really was in Texas. I<br>
would rather see an armadillo than an alligator any day. Back at the Dam Road<br>
aid station, i felt soooo good. I came flying in yelling out "Number 92, at 93<br>
miles, wheeeeeeeee." It was late and there were runners passed out in chairs all<br>
over the place. The volunteers thought i was a trip and told me that i looked<br>
like i was running a 50K. I thanked them and told them that even though i looked<br>
like it, my legs would beg to differ.<br>
From this point on (mile 87-100) i started passing a lot of runners. I<br>
felt really good with all the running i did through the night and felt super pleased every time i picked off a runner in front of<br>
me. I am not sure how many people I passed in those last 13 miles, but i would<br>
say at least 2 dozen!!! In that whole time only one runner passed me. He flew by<br>
me around mile 96.5. (I later found out he had taken a short nap a little while<br>
before) I caught him at the aid station and passed him. He caught back up to me<br>
and told me he wanted to break 25 hours, but it was 24:45 on the race clock and<br>
there was no way he could run 5 minutes miles. I told him that i wanted to<br>
finish in 25:30, but that my legs were not going as fast as i would like. For<br>
some arbitrary reason i thought 25:30 sounded like a good finsh time. He told me<br>
i could do it and we took off. The first mile or so, we pounded the trail, I<br>
tried to keep up with him, but I felt like my legs were going to give out from<br>
r me, so i slowed it down a bit. As I lost him in my sight, I could still hear<br>
him yelling to me, encouraging me, through the woods.<br>
The neatest part about the last three miles was that the sun came up. With about 1 mile to<br>
go, i could turn off my headlamp. The last 1/5 mile of the race, we cross a road<br>
and it is a nice gradual down hill to the pavement leading to the start/finish<br>
line. I kicked it into high gear and pounded as hard as i could. I ran so hard<br>
and the closer i got to the finish, the harder i ran. I felt that there was a<br>
good chance that i was either going to collapse or puke from the effort, but<br>
there was only one way to find out how hard we can push ourselves. I cruised<br>
through the finish line in a super PR of 25:22!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That was<br>
an almost 2 hour PR off my previous best 100 mile time of 27:13. Eddie was<br>
there, as well as Anthony and Ira. They stopped by to watch me finish on their<br>
way to the airport, which really meant a lot.<br>
I felt great!!!!! I had really given this race all i could and ran hard<br>
from start to finish. I never got lazy during the night and i passed a ton of<br>
runners who had all passed me early on the first day of the race. The other weird thing about this race is that with each<br>
loop, i felt better- emotionally and physically. As the race progressed i just<br>
felt stronger and happier and more motivated to do well. I had never ran so hard<br>
for so long in my whole life. It really boosted my confidence in my 100 mile<br>
After i received my medal and finished the round of congratulations, I<br>
checked my time on the computer and also saw that i was first in my age group--<br>
whoohooooo. Eddie finished his first 50 miler in 13:32, Keith had a "bad" day<br>
according to him, finishing in 19:14, Anthony and Ira were hoping for a sub 10<br>
hour 50 mile finish, but just missed it, finishing in 10:02. It was a great race<br>
for everyone and just a great race altogether. I would definitely go back and i<br>
would definitely recommend the race to others, especially first time 100 or 50<br>
mile runners. The aid stations were great, all the volunteers were outstanding<br>
and the organization was top notch.

· Registered
3,862 Posts
Did you run with Catra Corbett? I noticed she finished close to you.<br><br>
What struck me from this report is your building confidence at the distance. Isn't it amazing how your performance improves when you're confident and relaxed? You have been in this arena before and it shows by how you stuck to your plan. Being the passer, and not the passee, in the late stages is the best energizer, eh?<br><br>
Congrats, Meri! What an improvement. This result is a sign of good things to come on the journey towards WS100!

· Premium Member
15,296 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Catra was consistantly about 2-3 miles ahead of me for most of the race (i saw her on the out and backs). On the last out and back, it was very late at night and she was moving very slow, i thought i was going to catch her, but i never did. I think she finished a bit more ahead of me, but did not cross the mat or something. I think she finished 10-20 mins ahead of me.<br><br>
Yeah, i had a lot of confidence building moments at this race <img alt="smile.gif" src="">

· Premium Member
4,894 Posts
WOW Meri, just wow. You are awesome.<br><br>
You slept well the night before, which if I recall correctly, is unusual for you isn't it? It seems like your head was completely in the right place for this one, which must have helped. Good job sticking to your coach's plan, it worked!<br><br><img alt="biggrin.gif" src=""> WAY TO GO!

· Premium Member
15,296 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
i did not sleep the two nights prior to the race, so that helped <img alt="biggrin.gif" src=""> Thanks so much Jen.

· Registered
1,339 Posts
Merigayle - You inspire me. What a great report. I can hardly wait for my 100M in June. Congrats on your new PR. It seems you learn something new from each race. Recover well. Take care of those "toe nails<img alt="sad.gif" src="">". Treat yourself to a massage<img alt="smile.gif" src=""><br>

· Premium Member
3,651 Posts
WTG! A PR by a HUGE amount and an AG win!! You are such a superstar and I love reading about your races. And now that DH is doing them with you, how neat is that!!<br><br><img alt="notworthy.gif" src=""><img alt="notworthy.gif" src=""><br><br>

· Registered
2,331 Posts
Excellent. I felt like I was running with you... except, I could never run more than a marathon... but you make me want to try!<br><br>
Thanks for this great report.<br>
Congratulations on a well run race.<br>
YOU smashed your personal best and have a fabulous new one!

· Premium Member
8,037 Posts
WOW! Big Congratulations on a HUGE PR!<br><br>
With each 100, you improve and improve. Can't wait to see the difference between last year's and this year's Umstead. <img alt="smile.gif" src="">

· Registered
946 Posts
My Hunnee Kicks Ass!<img alt="banana.gif" src=""><img alt="banana.gif" src=""><img alt="banana.gif" src=""><img alt="banana.gif" src=""><img alt="banana.gif" src="">

· Registered
3,695 Posts
It is such a reality check to read the phrase "first day of the race". <img alt="smile.gif" src=""><br><br>
Congratulations on your superhuman accomplishment!

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1,776 Posts
Great Job Meri!!!!
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