Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Rocky Raccoon 100 - Finishing With A Smile

After DNF'ing Rocky Raccoon 100 miler last year, I was pretty determined to finish it this time. It was gonna happen...1 way or the other. Plus, I had a pretty sweet granite slab shaped like the state of Texas waiting for me (for finishing the Tejas 300 - Cactus Rose 100, Bandera 100k & Rocky Raccoon 100).

The course consisted of 5 x 20 mile loops of pretty flat-ish & rooty trails. Actually, there were quite a few rolling hills, but after having run my 1st 100 miler in Bandera & a 100k within the last 3 months, this was a welcomed course.

I awoke at 4am...well, actually, I didn't sleep. I just got up at 4am. I was starving, so I convinced my friends that we should make a quick good food stop (a.k.a. - fast food restaurant). We stopped at Jack in The Box, and I had some sort of egg hamburger thing.

As we were waiting to start, Ben P. showed me the sweet granite slab that was waiting for me at the end of the 100 miles. Just to sweeten the motivation, he told me that nobody that was up for the granite slab at Rocky Raccoon had ever not made it. I don't know if he was being serious, but it gave me goose bumps thinking about it.

I'm always a fuzzy math person, so after doing the math, I decided I'd leave my headlamp at Damnation (aid station). I figured I'd be passing by around 5pm later in afternoon or about 11 hours and 46ish miles later. I didn't think that I'd be starting at 6pm, and it'd still be dark. Hellooooo??? Luckily, my buddy David gifted me his spare flashlight.

The 1st 2 loops were kinda terrible for me. I felt sluggish and even asked myself a couple times if I could (or wanted to) do this for 60 more miles feeling this way.

Then, suddenly, at the beginning of the 3rd loop, I got my second wind. I suddenly felt fresh, strong and good to go. For the most part, I felt this way for the rest of the loops. I had some stomach issues for about a 10 mile stretch but nothing too bad.

At around mile 70 or 10pm(ish), my (lack of) sleep caught up to me. I was having a really really difficult time keeping my eyes open. Several times, I dozed off while running. I just could not stay awake. I even began hallucinating. Once I even saw a butterfly land on my glasses. I stopped...tried to pick it up with my fingers and then...poof - it vanished. I started to get worried that I may be in trouble. My lack of sleep the night before may have started catching up to me. I started asking runners that were passing me if they had any coffee candy/beans. I finally made contact with my friends at mile 72, and 1 of them had some chocolate covered coffee candy drops. I took several and put the rest in my pocket. Unfortunately, they did nothing for me. Right around this time, I began asking for coffee at the aid stations. I was eating quesadillas and about 1/2 a cup of coffee. The only reason I didn't drink more was because it was a quick affair. The 1/2 cup of coffee would keep me awake until the next aid station, so I repeated this for the rest of the night.

I'm going to fast forward to the last 8 miles because these were the most fun. I ran into a lot of friends, and being so close to the finish, you could tell their excitement. I even sat down for a full cup of coffee and a pancake at the Damnation aid station. I knew I had plenty of time to finish so decided to just enjoy the moment (and coffee/pancakes).

Upon arriving at the last aid station before the finish, I felt even better. I decided to run it in, and I did.

Crossing that finish line/mat was surreal. 28 hours and 09 minutes later, I'd finished.

During this time, I met so many new friends as well as old friends. As a friend of mine told me yesterday, "Trail runners have a down to earth vibe." I agree. They do. We do.

Just prior to the finish line, there was a sign that read "Finish With A Smile." I did.