Since I usually have a difficult time running any distance longer than 20 miles here locally, I was going to run the Lighthouse 50k as my weekly long run. Sometimes, it is an expensive thing to do my long run during a race. I know. I know. I can run it bandit, but I prefer not to.
My goal was to run it conservatively and just finish. Besides, it’d been raining all week, so I didn’t want to risk any sort of fall/injury. The fact that it rained the entire drive to Johnson City only reinforced my thinking. I actually thought “Do I wanna run in mud for 31 miles?”
The night before and the morning was actually really nice and cool. It was odd, because the day before, it’d been in the high 90s, and here I was less than 24 hours later wishing I’d pack a sweater.
I was pleasantly surprised that the morning of the race, the course was not very muddy. The temperature was cool, and no rain in sight.
Lately, I’ve been very fatigued, so I was worried with the few “easy” climbs during the 1st couple of miles because I felt sluggish. I guess after I warmed up (and coincidentally the climbs were over with), I began feeling stronger.
The course was fairly flat. As I was running, I could see huge hills I was headed towards. The course ended up going around them instead of over them. I was glad, but a little disappointed. These races in the hill country are my only opportunities to get some hill work done.
The rest of the course was very runnable. It passed through several pastures/brush areas – typical hill country minus the rocks and hills. There were quite a bit of longhorns and cattle along the course. Several times, I had to give some of them the right of way – more like I had to stop dead in my tracks while they crossed or even skedaddled down the same trail I was running.
I managed to run the 1st loop in 1:36. I felt really strong and confident. I skipped each aid station since it was nice and cool, and I had my own handheld. I felt I was in pretty good shape downing a couple s caps and a couple stinger waffles. Besides, the aid stations were not manned yet, and truth be told, I sometimes prefer the volunteers to the goodies.
Having restocked on haterade and finding out how many of my frunners were doing (some did the 10/20/50k), I began my 2nd loop. Again, I began feeling sluggish the 1st several inclines/miles. “How could this be?” I asked myself. “I felt great 5 minutes ago!” My only guess was that maybe I took too long at the start (10 minutes) that my body got out of it’s “zone.”
By mile 3, I felt much better and continued running well. I continued taking my s caps and nutrition at the top of the hour every hour.
The 2nd loop was completed in 1:45.
So far, I was pretty content with my splits. If only I could be consistent during the last loop, I told myself.
By the start of loop 3, the sun had come out and it was beginning to get warm out there. Again, yes, again, I struggled the 1st 3 miles. The heat didn’t make it any easier on me. This time, it took me about 4 or 5 miles to regain my mojo.
At mile 5, when I was finally able to go fast (since it was a pretty steep downhill), a longhorn appeared out of nowhere and started taking its time on the trail. I came to an immediate halt. I started having an inner debate with myself:
What’s the proper thing to do when you’re running and a longhorn gets on the trail in front of you?
1. Do you go around it? If so, will it chase me? (I decided not to chance it)
2. Are longhorns like bulls? (Probably not, but not gonna chance it)
3. Do they chase people? (I just don’t know)
4. I’m tired. Can I outrun a longhorn? (Probably not)
5. Should I “shoooo!” it? (I tried. It didn’t work)
6. Should I throw a rock at it? (I just couldn’t do that. I threw the rock near it)
I ended up doing what any rational runner would do…I walked behind it for a couple of minutes until it went off trail. It served as a rest period, I convinced myself.
This time around, I was stopping at each aid station and pouring water over my head. The heat was becoming very uncomfortable. Nevertheless, I able to finish this loop in 2:04.
Overall, it was a nice race. Not too tough. Not too easy. I slowed the last loop but managed to place 1st in my age group AND set a 50k PR by 17 minutes (5:26).
Photo courtesy of Run In Texas