It was a warm, steamy morning when a couple hundred runners piled into the start area for the Brazos Bend 50 mile trail race. The sun was just rising, and pockets of musky smelling mist stuck to the ground. Mentally, I prepared for this race by saying, “Suck it up Princess and run” out loud as I walked to the stating line. I fully expected today to suck. My legs were trashed from more then my normal amount of yoga and weight lifting coupled with having had a big weekend last weekend. Then I spent a lot of time sitting and had no chance to do a shack out run on Friday. Starting this 50 might be dumb, I knew, but I figured if I felt like I was on the brink of injury (not just hurting) I would drop. So a no fun day either way. Suck it up and run or drop.
At 7am we were off. I took off on the faster end of my 50mile pace options, hoping my legs might loosen up so I could run a PR. I didn’t run fast enough to bonk, but I started fast. The fast didn’t last. Before hitting even one hour into this race, I was slowing down. My hamstrings were hurting, my glut muscles burning and my hip flexors felt way too tight. At first, this really mad me mad. Nothing in me wanted to drop, but I felt like trash. On I ran, eating and drinking as necessary, feeling worse and worse over the next few miles. Sometime around mile 14 I ate my last gel. I didn’t realize there wouldn’t be another chance to eat until mile 25. (Note: ALL MY LACK OF PLANING!! The race documents clearly say water only for the last 12 or so miles.) Also around here, the trails sucked. I think these trails were created by folks riding horses through the mud. Talk about a challenge! Twisty, leaf covered single track with horse hoof prints covering the path and lots of mud. So, here I am, giving up on a PR due to a little bit harder course then expected and tired legs from the start. The weather sucked (I had looked at the weather before I started, and kept telling myself the humidity would fall as the temps went up. I like warm better then humid) and I had a sugar low for sure. My state upon reaching the start/finish area on loop one? Super-d-dupper-d-bad.
Luckily for me, my family was waiting to crew me at the end of loop one. Seeing my 3 treasure and my niece, hearing my dad cheer for me and having my mom there waiting to give me food and water, with my Scratch already mixed and Advil ready made keeping on running the only option I wanted to take. So I ate (later, my youngest told me I ate just over 300 calories at that stop. Good crew!!), drank and told my crew I’d see them at the next aidstation. I told them I was feeling really bad, but hoped the Advil and food might help.
I’m not sure what it was that helped, but something (everything?) did! Around the 4hr mark, there was a shift in my brain, and my legs felt looser. I went from running low nine minute miles to 8:30’s. Somehow, I ran the last 15miles of the 2nd loop faster then I had run those same miles during the first loop. I finished in 7:12:15 (according to the race site. So I’ll go with it), first female and third finisher. I wouldn’t say my time out there was anything great, but I feel like I ran well on bad legs. It is encouraging for me to know that I can run 50miles with yucko legs. First time I’ve started an ultra feeling so warn, and I wonder what a fast 100 mile course might be like. But that isn’t in the plans for me for now. Up next, Bandera 100k. I’m hoping for a good day. Running either way. 😉