Saturday, November 12, 2011

2011 Rocky Raccoon 50KM Race Report

Hello Dear Readers!

Wow what a fun race! The last running race of the year went fairly well for me. I trained hard and my times kept improving so I went into this race really feeling pretty darn good about it!  You can check out my Garmin Page at the website to see how my training has been going.  Unfortunately you will have to create a free Garmin Connect account to see my workouts.  But once your account is there just go to "Explore" and show the advanced search filter and search for "wchoppa".  It will then show all my activities.  I may change this soon so that I can more easily share my data.  Anyway, let's go through the pre-race stuff and then on to the actual race activities!

Day Before Race

I had been having a great taper week before the race.  Times have been great.  Wasn't sick.  Body in pretty good condition as far as the muscles and joints go.  I had order some new shoes for the race that did not come in until I was actually on my way to Huntsville!  I was not very happy with that but it was my fault for waiting till the last minute to get my shoes.  My trail shoes from Rocky Raccoon 100 miler were still in pretty good condition so I brought those.  Hadn't run a huge amount in those recently but they are still pretty serviceable. 

It took about 2 Hours to get up to Huntsville area and I was gabbing with friends on the phone the whole way trying to take it easy and stay hydrated.  I planned on going to the race site on my way to the hotel to pick up my race packet.  I typically go to the race site early on race day to pick up my packet but since I was getting up that way earlier than normal I decided to turn in from the south.  Of course, being the dumb ass I am, I turned in one exit too soon and went 10 miles before I realized I was not where I needed to be!  Of course the running buddy I was talking to kept laughing at my stupidity but I got my self turned around and headed back to the freeway to continue north and take the CORRECT exit to the State Park and the race site.

It was a really nice day and I love the entrance to the park.  Miles of trees and forest and you feel so isolated, which I love!  Not a lot of people were milling about so I got in to get my race packet very fast and headed on up to the hotel. Oh, one thing of note, the race number they gave me was, get ready for it.........


I saw that and my friend on the phone was like.  "Oh oh".  I'm surprised they gave that number out.

Got to the hotel that I always stay at.  Shout out to my friends at the Comfort Suites in Huntsville, Texas!  Great updated hotel that has reasonable rates.

Pre Race Dinner

And now we come to some people's favorite part of my race posts.  My pre-race dinner!  What will Bill eat this time? Will he eat too much?  Will he eat it all?  Well, let me tell you folks, that I was starving and decided to go to the IHOP in Huntsville to get me a big old meal!

Nice little waiter guy sat me down and I immediately started to roll off what I wanted.  Here is the breakdown:

Orange Juice
Clam Chowder for Appetizer (see picture below)

Blueberry Pancakes
Over Medium Eggs
Wheat Toast
Texas Toast Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato sandwich!

Here are some before and after pictures of the main meal:

Let's just say that I almost needed help getting through the door once I was able to move out from the booth.

After dinner I went to the grocery store and bought some Gatorade and ensure for the morning nutrition.  I then headed back to my hotel to get all my race gear organized for the morning.

Hotel Race Preparation

Got to my room and laid out all my race gear for the morning. This is always a good idea so that you if you did forget something, you might have time to run to a store and get it.  It is also good to bring a lot of things in preparation for all possibilities.  Bad weather, too hot, too cold, you get the idea.

Note my lucky number 13!  I planned on not wearing warm pants because while the race was going to start in the 40's it was definitely going to warm up.  So my fleece jacket would keep me warm at least through the first loop of the race. Which by the way starts at 6 AM!!!!!!!  Once I was satisfied that I had it all together, I grabbed my iPad and facebooked for a while and then attempted to drift off to sleep.  Of course, sleep did not come till after 1 AM.  And my 4 alarms were set for 4 AM.  All well, at least I am consistent with how I sleep regularly!

Race Morning

All my alarms jingled at 4 AM and I roused myself out of bed, drank a few ensure bottles and started hydrating again.  Took care of all my morning "business" and got dressed in my gear and headed out the door by 5:15 AM.  the race site is just 10 minutes down the road so I had plenty of time to get there and pick up my timing chip and get my Nathan Hydration Pack full of my Gatorade and other nutritional items.

The race site was set up very well. It was pretty cold for me (about 45 degrees) and there were no clouds or moon in the sky so the stars were awesome!  I placed my cooler of goodies by a tree at the turnaround point (about 15.5 miles) and got in line at the start.  I brought my music player with me and planned on listening to tunes during the entire run.  I wasn't running with anyone I knew. Although some fellow BAM! members and friends of my wife's were racing the 25K, they did not start till 7 AM.  The race gun went off promptly at 6 AM and we were off!!!!


I love the Huntsville course.  It is so darn beautiful!  I started off at a pretty slow pace since it was dark and I was sleepy and was waiting for the caffeine pills to kick in!  I listened to Pink Floyd and just lived in the moment while trying to avoid tripping over roots and rocks that are all over.  This became apparent to me early in the race since there was a guy who fell twice within the first 2 miles of the race.  I felt bad for him since you aren't really supposed to start falling till towards the END of the race when you are really tired.  Not sure if he continued to fall or if he finished at all, but I hope he did!

The sun rose through the trees around 7 AM or so.  The forest was beautiful.  I still was feeling really good and was on pace to break 5 hours like my training was dictating.  Then somewhere near mile 10 I was running along one of the single path stretches (a single path is where the trail is so narrow you have to run in single file) when the guy behind me tripped over a root and fell into me.  We both really didn't go down since my body caught his fall and I naturally did the whole leaping, jumping and scrambling to not hit the dirt.  With the speed of the running and our combined weights, my hamstrings and glutes got nice and strained.  I don't think I tore anything (or at least nothing major), but I was definitely not 100% after that little incident.

My time started to suffer a little after that.  I got my first loop done in 2 hours and 36 minutes.  I knew I was a little behind the 8 ball here but I figured I could make up 6 minutes during the 2nd 15.5 mile loop.  At the turnaround I refilled my hydration pack and stripped off my gloves, hat and fleece jacket. The morning was warm at this point so I didn't need them anymore.  I was very proud that my hydration plan was working well since I actually peed three times during the entire race which is a record for me!

The 2nd loop was pretty hard.  I had a few good miles here and there, but my hamstrings started to really tighten up and the resulting slowdown made 5 hours impossible.  So I laid up and decided to just run and have fun and stop worrying about my time.  Sometimes that makes races fun, but my competitive nature always makes me want to do these things as fast as possible!

On the final stretch I saw the race photographer taking shots so I unclasped my hydration pack so that I could fly my BAM! colors:

My final time was 5 Hours 51 minutes and 18.1 seconds.  Not my best, but not the worst either! Below is a embed of my Garmin data.  If you would like to look at my splits:

Post Race

After the race I was pretty wiped, but I've been worse. I grabbed my cooler and jumped in the car and drove right home all stinky and all.  Legs started cramping up during the 2 hour drive and that was not pleasant.  I drank Gatorade and water all the way home so by the time I got there I was tired but not in as much pain.  I was given a post race finishers plaque that I thought was really nice.

My wife took a look at my shoes and gave me a look that said, "You are not stepping foot in the house till you take those off!"  Do you think she was right:

Well, another race under my belt and even though it was not exactly what I wanted, I still got the experience with my legs.  As I always say, any race good or bad is still a good training session for your next one!  That's all for now.

Tri your best!


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