Tuesday, July 24, 2012

2012 El Schorcho 50K Race Report with a New PR!

Hello Dear Readers!

Well another year has gone by and another El Scorcho in the books.  The race this year was a lot cooler than last year.  I had a Personal Record (PR) for this distance and course! Beat last years time by 17 minutes!  But I get ahead of myself.  Let's start at the beginning

El Scorcho Overview

For those who are not familiar with this race, it is a 50 KM (31 Mile) run that occurs at Trinity Park in Fort Worth, Texas.  You can read more about it here.  Since it occurs in the middle of July, it normally is SUPER hot, hence the Scorcho moniker.  And due to the usual extreme heat, the race doesn't start till 12 AM!

 The course is pretty much pancake flat and is a 5 KM (3.1 mile) loop you do 10 times.  This is more challenging that you might think, because it does get monotonous at times.


Training this year for the race went pretty well.  I had no calf or knee issues and my speed has really been improving.  If you go to my Garmin Connect page, yes you may have to register to see it, you can look at my training times.  Had some great runs in there.  I had bought a pair of Pure Flow neutral shoes and have been using them for my shorter speed work runs.  I think that has helped a lot.

Day of Race

Since the race starts at midnight, I drove from Houston to Forth Worth that morning.  I wore compression socks to keep the blood from pooling in my legs.  I really think that helped.  The drive took me about 5 hours.  Hydrated the whole way and stopped here and there to stretch my legs and stay loose.  I checked into my hotel early and since it is conveniently located basically a mile from the race course, it is super convenient.  After I checked in I drove myself to IHOP to have my pre-race meal early.  For those of you who read this blog, you know I always take a picture of my pre-race calorie fest.  Well this time, the service I got was so poor and the food quality so bad, I didn't do it.  But all well.  I had 2 eggs, french toast, coffee, orange juice, wheat toast and hash browns.

After I ate, I went back to the hotel and tried to nap a bit.  No dice really.  But I did prop my legs up and again I think this helped me stay rested.  Around 6 PM I got up and walked to the nearby shopping center and got a subway and picked up some additional supplies for the race and headed back to the hotel for dinner and getting all my race stuff laid out.

Items shown here are:

  • Race Shoes
  • Race Belt
  • Hat
  • Body Glide
  • Chamois Cream
  • Big Towel
  • Socks
  • Water Bottle with Hydration Belt
  • Enduralytes
  • Bananas
  • Granola Bars
  • Nutri Grain Bars
  • Bug Spray
  • Head Lamp
  • Massage Stick
  • Race Shorts
  • Race Shirt
  • GPS Watch with Heart Strap
  • Hand Towel
  • Timing Chip
I also had a rolling cooler filled with tons of Gatorade and water.

I did my best to keep relaxing till about 10 PM and then I got dressed and fought with the stupid timing chip.  This is a technology that has changed a lot over my racing career.  In triathlon you normally have a big old piece of plastic that is held in place by a neoprene strap around your ankle.  But for ultra races they now give you what looks like a piece of paper with a circuit board printed on it.  This piece of paper gets folder into your laces and is kept in place by an adhesive.  This is what it looks like:

Arrival at Race Site

At around 11 PM, I piled all my stuff into the car and waved goodbye to the puzzled hotel staff (not just because I was some weird dude waving goodbye, but because I had a headlamp and a racing belt on and it was the middle of the night).  Took me all of 5 minutes to get to the race site parking lot and another 10 or so to walk from my car to the start area.

This is what the start and finish line looks like:

I set up my water cooler about a hundred feet past the start line since I will be coming through here after each of the 10 laps.  I found my buddy Ryan V, one of the Race Director's, and chatted him up for a while.  The temperature was actually really pleasant compared to last year and I hassled Ryan that he needs to change the race's name to El Moderato!  HAHA!!

I headed over to the big El Scorcho sign and had my picture taken as a momento as well:

Race Start

At about 11:50 PM I got in line with the 50 KM racers and I got handed a glow in the dark necklace. I noticed about half the guys took their shirts off so I did too!  Then a guy sang a great rendition of the National Anthem and at 12:00 AM the gun went off and it was on!

Here is a shot of me right as we were getting started.  That's me on the far left.


I started out going pretty at a pretty good clip with a perceived exertion of a easy to moderate pace. As you can see with all my laps below, I kept up this pace for the first 10 miles or so.  But as the race went on I got slower and slower.  I had a really hard time keeping my hydration and calories going for some reason.  Those of you who have followed my races in the past know that this is a constant battle for me.  Once I start getting dehydrated I lose all thirst and hunger mechanisms and start a downward spiral.  I saw that I was on pace to beat my time last year and for the last 5 KM I really turned it on and ran hard, especially the last mile.  Got my heart rate really up there at the end.

I crossed the finish line at the 5:28 mark and crushed my previous time from last year by 17 minutes!

Post Race

Once I was done, I felt pretty tired but not too bad.  I tried to hydrate and eat, but my body said no dice.  In hindsight, I should have gone to the medical tent and had an IV, but I always feel like it would be putting people out and just decided to just grab my stuff and head back to the hotel.  Of course I did get my finishers medal!

Once back at the hotel I took a shower and that's when things started going down hill.  I tried to hydrate again but my body was still being stubborn.  So I tried to nap a while to see if I started feeling better.  I got a late checkout for 1 PM so I had some time to try to recover but I was feeling like pounded doo doo.  Like the little soldier I am, I decided to put on my big boy pants and do the 5 hour drive home.  It was miserable.  Not only was I totally out of it by being dehydrated, I somehow pulled my trapezius muscle and it was really hurting the whole time, especially while taking a deep breath.  I've done 14 hour races and felt better than this.  But I still had to go home so I just pressed on.

Once I got home I was listless and almost delirious.  My wonderful wife was really concerned and kept asking if she should take me to the emergency room to get hydrated.  But I said no.  I forced myself to drink and by the evening I was feeling better.  Went to bed at 9 PM which is VERY unusual for me and felt much better by the morning.  By Wednesday I was able to start training again. 


So I learned some great things at this race:

1. Just because it is cooler, you can still get badly dehydrated.
2. Always go to the medical tent and get IV if you get dehydrated.
3. Slow down so that the race photographer can get a good picture of you on the race course! I only got two pictures from this race because I was moving too fast going past the race photographer for them to make the picture available.

Well, that's all for now.  Next race is the Redman Ironman Distance triathlon in September.

Tri Your Best!


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Another Year. Another Rocky Raccoon 100 Miler. Another DNF!!!!!

Hello Dear Readers!

I took my time to write this race report.  Yeah the race was a few months ago.  I always go through a down period after a big race and it seems like it takes me some time to put things in perspective before I feel like posting again.  But man what a race!  The long and short of it was that I did not finish again (DNF), but I went one loop farther than last year.  For those of you who may recall, I was sick last year during the race and pulled out after 40 miles.  This year, wasn't sick, but pulled out after 60 miles.  I'm doing a new thing for this blog.  I borrowed a friends video recorder (Thanks Ryan!) so you are going to see some embedded videos in here.  So let's begin at the beginning:

Pre-Race Day

The day before the race was actually pretty decent.  It was cloudy but not raining.  The forecast showed that it was going to be a really wet day during the race so I did my best to prepare for it by packing everything I could think of to take care of all contingencies.  I never train in the rain nor do I EVER run on muddy trails (let alone try to run 100 miles on them in rain), so my experience was limited and this led to my undoing!

My drive up to Huntsville was great and my buddy Ryan was doing the 50 mile race so my plan was to check into the hotel and meet up with him to get our race packets and he was going to help me get the shelter tent up to keep us dry since it was going to rain during the race.  It took some doing to haul the dang thing from the parking lot a patch of grass near the start but we got it up!  We kept it low to the ground till race morning in the hopes that the storms won't knock it down overnight.

We got our race packets and headed back north a bit to have dinner.  All systems were go and I knew I was ready for this race physically and couldn't wait!  We decided to go to IHOP for the pre-race dinner so before that I did my best to get my gear together and sorted and organized in my hotel room.  Since a lot of people ask me what I bring with me to these races I made my first video to show and explain:

Yeah I am quit the Shakespearean actor! Anyway, the next video is me and Ryan at IHOP having dinner. Note I did not over eat this time, but I did eat a decent amount of food!

It was a great meal! After dinner I hopped over to the local grocery store and bought some last minute stuff. Back at the hotel I did everything I could to try to get to sleep at a decent hour. I think I finally drifted off around 11 PM with my alarm going off at 4 AM!!!!

Race Morning

At around 3:30 AM I was awoken by the sound of crazy thunder! I laid there saying to myself, "What's a little water?  You would get soaked with sweat anyway, so no problem!" I pulled up my phone and took a look at the radar:

I was about to get NAILED HARD by some big rain!  I got up and ate a nutri grain bar and a ensure and got my butt out of there as best I could so that I could get to the site before it really hit.  I arrived at the race site just as it REALLY was coming down.  I mean it wasn't just a hard rain it was a deluge.  The parking lot had over a foot of rushing water going down it on the sides where the curb was really high.  It was like a whitewater rapid.  Of course I had to slog through it twice to get all my stuff to my tent.  The whole time I'm just saying to myself, "It's ok, It's ok!!!!"

I felt really bad for other runners there that had no tent set up.  I invited a nice couple who was just standing out there to come under my shelter with me.  Here is their interview.  You can hear the rain coming down in the background:

Race Start

The time got close to starting so several hundred people gathered under the main tent and waited for the gun to start.  It was still raining pretty hard but not as bad as it was before.  And finally the gun went off and we went dashing through the rain to start our adventure! Here is a pic of the conditions right at the start:

As you can see the conditions WERE NOT OPTIMAL!!!!

Lap 1 (Miles 0 - 20)

The first lap went really well.  I kept my pace nice and easy.  I averaged between 11 and 14 minute miles.  These were easily sustainable and kept me at a pace to finish in under 24 hours.  A special belt buckle is given to those who finish in that time that is different than a regular finish and I figured I would give it a shot and if I made it in under 24 hours great, but I was going to do everything I could to get done regardless! The rain let up at this point and it was just really cloudy and chilly.

Here is a video I took back at the start under the tent at 20 miles in:

Funny thing was that I forgot I still had my headset on and wore it during the 2nd loop!

Loop 2 (Miles 20-40)

As you might expect with all the rain, the conditions of the course were very degraded.  There were about a dozen spots on the loop where the mud was a foot deep!  We would do our best to get around them but it was so wet there was no place you could go where the mud wasn't deep.  I took this video to show one of the less muddy spots:

This loop was when I started to realize that I might have a problem with my feet.  I bought some great trail shoes (Brooks Adrenaline All Surface Running) that I thought would be perfect.  They were made of waterproof gore-tex and were supposed to keep water out.  But what I didn't realize was that if a shoe doesn't water in, then the reverse is also true.  They won't let water out!  So when my foot went into mud that went over the top of my shoe and even the gators, water and mud got IN the shoe and STAYED IN!  This was not good.  I never have experienced this before and wasn't exactly sure what to do.  I brought tons of extra socks and even another pair of shoes, but it didn't really matter.  Because even when I changed my socks, they would just get wet inside the shoe again within a few miles because you had to run through the deep mud ON EVERY LAP!  My feet started getting a little itchy and I knew I was in for some blisters but just hoped that I could hold out before things got too bad.

Lap 3 (Miles 40-60)

I got back from loop 2 and my feet were really starting to hurt.  I was pretty tired at this point and didn't even feel like doing a video so I just grabbed some food and my headlamp and got moving again.  At this point my pace was slowing and miles 40-50 were going at paces of 14-19 minute miles.  I started doing a lot of walking at this point because my feet were really hurting.  I had blisters in spots I never had before.  Especially in spots that were weight bearing.  It's one thing to blister on your toes and having your nails fall off, but when you can't put weight on your feet without there being huge pain, it is a BIG PROBLEM!  I took this video at dusk at mile 50. You can hear the uncertainty in my voice.  Sorry you can't really see much since it was getting really dark!

The next ten miles were murder.  I could hardly walk let alone run.  I had slowed to a walking pace of 17-19 minutes per mile and I knew that I was going to have to call it a day.  I was really mad because fitness wise I was tired but could keep going.  But my feet were torn up.  I had to change my walking gate to minimize the pain and this was starting to cause other things to hurt like my hips and back.

I got back to the start at mile 60 and did the walk of shame to the race director's tent to let him know I was pulling out.  He took a look at me and didn't argue.  I was so tired and angry and upset at that point I didn't even pack my stuff up but left it under my shelter and went back to the hotel to sleep.

I somehow managed to drive the 10 miles to the hotel and when I got there I took some pictures.  Here are my feet right before I took the shoes off:

Once I got my shoes off, I too a look at my feet and the first thought I had was that I was a zombie!  The pictures don't do the blisters justice because my feet were so pale the blisters blended in.  But believe me there are there!

 Also I lost several toe nails.  Note they were already turning black just minutes after the race.

I took as thorough a shower as I could and fell into bed for a not very restful sleep!

Post Race

Here is a video I took after I got back home.  Still pretty wiped from the race I was pretty weary but had a little perspective on things.

I did end up losing both my big toe nails and a whole bunch of skin on the bottom of my feet and the front of my toes.  Will I try again next year. YOU BET!  I am not going to give up!!!!

That's all for now!

Tri your best!