Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Brazos Bend 50- April 2017

I had just tied my shoes and was finishing up my breakfast which consisted of a small handful of granola from Katie Graff, when all of a sudden I heard Rob Goyen counting down "5, 4, 3, 2, 1, GO!" and I thought to myself, "Well, I should probably put my drop bag by the aid station and start this race." It's one thing I love about ultra running- there is an overall hurry but a minute or two lost here and there don't really make much of a difference.

The weather was beautiful for a long run, but I knew it wasn't gonna stay that way and was ready for the upcoming heat. I had my Nathan 4L water pack which has two 18 ounce water bottles in front and I put a 2L empty bladder in the back in case I started going through water too quickly.

I took pbj's at the first several aid stations so I could have some real food for fuel before I switched to gels. And this is about all I ate throughout the whole race- I was promised a certain ice cream truck was gonna stop by but I must have missed him.

I ran the race by myself the whole time. Usually I like to find people to talk to and run with for awhile, but I didn't do that this time. I got to spend the morning entertaining myself.

The race has an out-and-back section with a turnaround at 4 miles before the finish. This is my least favorite part as it seems to get longer and longer each next time you run it. On my first of three laps I counted runners ahead of me. I was in 13th place. I didn't know what to expect, but decided to go about this one like every other race: find a nice sustainable pace and maintain it til I finish. I think it's the best way to run ultras. It's not easy as you have to run slow when you have plenty of energy. But the tradeoff is that at the end, you'll still be jogging instead of walking. And walking sucks (at least to me). It takes a lot of patience to know that there are people ahead of you and that you could easily pick up the pace and catch them. But I've done this enough times to know that patience pays off. Eventually. It just took a couple hours til they slowed down and I passed them.

By my third and final lap, there were runners from other distances on the course and I had a hard time knowing exactly which place I was in. So I stopped worrying about it and just kept running. But the goofy me saw two opportunities to have even more fun than just running 50 miles. With about 100 meters to finish my second lap, I saw Bhakti Chavda up ahead. I got close to her and them with about three steps to the finish I jumped between her and her friend and said "I beat ya Bhakti." I still had another lap to complete and didn't dint at the aid station long enough to let her yell at me for scaring her.

The other opportunity for fun presented itself on the dreaded forever-long out-and-back section. I had seen another friend, Lisa Decker, a number of times on the course. This time I got her. I snuck up on her as best as my I've-already-ran-43-miles legs could and I jumped and grabbed her shoulders. We laughed and hugged it out. I might owe her some Fireball now.

Back to the race. I felt awesome the whole time. No down times. And that helped me run the entire time. I never stopped except to pick up my pbj's and refill water bottles. Proper pacing is the key to success.

I used an ice bandana on my neck through the last two laps. I filled up my 2L water bladder with 12 miles left. It was nice not having 4 pounds of water on my back for most of the race.

I saw Luis Murillo coming back from the turn around, just a few minutes ahead of me. I never caught up to him, but was glad that I was almost done. I came into the last aid station and gave Rachel Adamson her last sweaty hug and thanked the volunteers for being there for us. My middle son Drew was waiting for me to race me to the finish with 100 meters left. He beat me. And then I was told that I was 3rd place. I really didn't expect that and had long since lost count of my place. I finished a few minutes behind my TROT teammate Luis Murillo for the second race in a row. I didn't beat my time from my first time out here, but it wasn't a bad time. I finished in 7 hours 15 minutes (8:42 pace). I was able to enjoy the rest of the afternoon talking with friends and hanging out (another great part of trail racing).

Four things I learned about the alligators in the park: don't feed them; don't approach them; don't annoy them; don't molest them. I'd have to agree with the last one.

Shoes: Altra Torin 2.5
Water needs: Nathan 4L Krar vest
Gear bag: Victory Sportdesign Kodiak

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