Brad and I at the finish
2008 ROCKY RACCOON 100 PACER REPORT
I arrived in Huntsville at around 2:00 pm Friday afternoon and my phone rang practically the minute I landed, it was Brad. "How was your trip?" he asked. "Relatively uneventful; where should I meet you guys?" I responded. "We're just outside of baggage claim in a Hummer," to which I replied, "Of course you are!" Brad's got a thing for renting unique cars so I wasn't suprised by his choice. I exited the concourse and sure enough there he was sitting in a black Hummer H3. A few moments later Suzy came up and introduced herself; she had been inside looking for me but wasn't having much luck; we'd never met in person and she mostly knows me by my signature SLUG jersey and hat from the blog. We jumped into the H3 and were on our way to Huntsville chatting about life and the upcoming race.
Huntsville, Texas... Not only is it home to the Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile Trail Run but it also has the world's tallest statue of an American hero (Sam Houston) and the Texas State Penitentiary. First, we headed out to Huntsville State Park to get Brad's packet before checking into our hotel. At the lodge I ran into "Bad Ben" Holmes and chatted with him a bit before seeing Gabe, Tiff, John and Stacey; John said he was a bit nervous as he would be toeing the line for his first 100 miler. "Don't worry, John, you'll do fine," I assured him (and he did). I introduced Suzy and Brad to everyone and then we headed off to the Super 8.
Brad and Suzy settled in to relax while I headed out for a 9 mile run; whenever I go to a new city I never miss an opportunity to explore it with a run. I headed out and had no idea where I was going, ran through some sketchy areas, then stumbled upon Sam Houston University and as I continued past the campus the area got very desolate and run down. There were no people or houses around just old, crumbling buildings except for a structure with massive brick walls up ahead on my right. As I got nearer I saw the guard towers on each corner and realized I had found the infamous Huntsville Texas State Penitentiary. I continued to run around the enormous structure and saw that one of the guards in the tower had noticed me; I kept waiting to hear "You are in an unauthorized area, please vacate the premises immediately," but I guess I looked harmless so they let me continue my lap. I ran back through campus and around the football stadium before heading down Montgomery Street to the Super 8; another city to check off the list. Brad and Suzy were both hungry so we went to Chili's for takeout and made a last minute Wal-Mart trip; being from Canada, Suzy was blown away by the Wal-Mart Super Center because apparently they don't make them that big up North. Back at the hotel we ate our dinner, chatted and went to bed.
Suzy took Brad to the race in the morning while I slept in since I would be pacing all night long. She came back to the motel around 11:00 am to get some shut-eye and I headed to the race to provide Brad with some moral support throughout the day. I sat with Stacey Amos and Matt Holmes for most of the time as the runners passed through, the weather was around 70 and humid; a bit hot to run in but perfect to sit and watch. Brad came through mid-afternoon and headed out on his third lap; he was looking and feeling good and was pumped up because he knew I'd be joining him after this lap. An hour or two passed and I headed back into town to get Suzy, grab a sandwich from Subway and some Starbuck's before my pacing duties commenced. At around 6:45 pm Brad finished his third lap and we were off into the night to begin the last 40 miles and get him to the finish. Brad was in great spirits as we headed out and brought me up to speed on how everything was going; he had been taking S-Caps regularly, staying hydrated and keeping his energy up by eating at each aid station. We ran most of the time before hitting a rough patch between miles 67 and 73 where he began bonking very badly; of course he didn't want to eat anything but I told him he had to figure out something that would work since we still had quite a ways to go. From then on he would grab Coke or Sprite, down a Hammer gel and gummy bears or sugary candy at each station which ended up getting him to the finish. The miles melted away and we were on our last loop making great time on the way to a sub-24 hour finish. At around mile 93 Brad realized he was going to finish this thing and really dug deep running the entire last 7 miles; we didn't walk once! He pushed himself to the limit finishing in 23 hours and 26 minutes; not only did he finish but he posted an amazing time for a first 100!
Unfortunately Suzy had already headed to the airport to catch her 8:15 am flight to Vancouver but she was there in spirit. We took some pictures, grabbed our gear and excitedly jumped in the car to take showers and get some sleep at the motel. We woke up around 10:30 am; Brad was on cloud nine as we headed back to the race to grab his drop bag and then to the airport. As we went our separate ways I congratulated him again and told him what a great job he had done to push himself to finish under 24 hours. Very humbly he told me he couldn't have done it without me. I don't know about that, he was the one who ran 100 miles I was just along for the ride on the last 40. Again great job Brad and all of the other finishers last weekend at Rocky! For a list of the results click HERE.
My flight didn't leave Houston until 3:30 pm so my Uncle Kevin, Aunt Teresa and Cousin Alex picked me up at the airport and we headed to Starbucks. I hadn't seen them in 10 years and now Alex is 16; obviously she looks a bit different than I remembered her. We had a great time visiting and talking about life; I was so happy to see that Alex had grown up to be a beautiful, intelligent and mature young lady and you could tell that her parents are very proud. I promised all of them that it wouldn't be another 10 years before we saw each other again and Alex told me she'd hold me to it; I hope she does. I arrived home to St. Louis around 1:45 am after a 5 hour delay in Chicago; it could have been much worse and I was glad to be sleeping in my bed and not in O'Hare. To view all of the pictures from the weekend please click HERE.
SYLAMORE 50K NEXT WEEKEND
This Friday I'm heading down to Mountain View, Arkansas for the Sylamore 50K Trail Run with Jeremy Bolt, Sara Kniffen and Gena Bonini. This is a great race and is run on the same trail system as 3 Days of Syllamo. Last year I finished in 5:47 with very little trail running experience on an icy course and a cold day so I should be able to better that time quite dramatically this year. I've been battling a tweaked left ankle along with some IT Band irritation so it will really depend on how my body performs for me Saturday; it sure would be nice to go 5:15 or less. To check out my 2007 Sylamore Trail 50K race report click HERE.
I wanted to let all of you know that I've decided not to run the McNaughton Park 150 Miler and instead have dropped down to the 100 mile distance. I just don't feel like I'm mentally prepared for the challenge of 150 miles at this time in my life and would prefer to push myself to a 24 hour 100 mile finish on a very difficult course. Personally I need to focus on getting my career back on track which is stressful enough without the added pressure of trying to prepare myself mentally and physically for a 150 mile race. I hope all of you understand and support me in this decision.
Stay tuned for a full race report next week and I hope all of you are doing well.