Sunday, December 6, 2009

Full Race Report: 50K Texas Trail Run and Recovery

The official results are in and the Garmin data has been uploaded. To see the Garmin results click here.

Official Time: 06:18:33
Overall Rank: 71/184
Age Rank(30-34M): 5/10

Garmin Time: 6:10:12
Total Calories: 3,645
Distance: 31.53 Miles
Avg Heart Rate: 148 bpm
Best Mile Pace: 9:13/mi (mile 5)
Worst Mile Pace: 16:46/mi (mile 27)

I woke up at 4:15 am. I had a solid 6 or so hours of sleep and felt great and ready to go. I had a whole wheat bagel with peanut butter and a big mug of coffee. I had about an hour drive so I took some water for the road. I walked outside to the car and the first thing I noticed was that it was freaking freezing. The second thing I noticed was that my car was covered in frost. So, I started the car and went back in the house for 10 minutes and had another cup of joe.

After an uneventful drive I pulled into the parking lot and went looking for the packet pick-up area. It was inside a lodge and I was thankful because it was even colder as the park is right next to a big lake. The race director told us it was 24 degrees! I got the packet and went back to my car to relax and get the gear ready. I decided to ditch my fanny pack since the aid stations were loaded up with Gels, HEED, and Gatorade. I also decided to ditch my wind pants and just run in the Under Armor compression pants (aka .. man tights!). Both of these ended up being good calls. It was about 10 minutes to race time and I found the drop bag area and headed down to the start.

First Loop: 6.5 Miles:
The gun sounded and we were off. The first mile was on the main road leading into the park and I found a nice mid-9 pace and a bunch of people doing about the same pace. I meet a lady who lived in Kingwood and she was an experienced trail runner. She had done this race before and gave me the lowdown on the terrain. We ran together for maybe the first 5 miles. Through out the day I meet a ton of extremely nice and helpful people... just a great overall experience. I ran past the first aid station since I had my nathan's hydration belt with Gatorade. I finished the first loop and was sweating like crazy despite the fact that it was still freezing! So I hit my drop bag and tossed my knit hat and gloves into one of the compartments and immediately began to shiver!

Second Loop: 12.3 Miles:
The course had us run back the same way we just came fr about a 1/2 mile and then we crossed the road and got into the heart of the trails. This loop offered a wide variety of terrain: Step uphills, steep downhills, narrow trails, jeep trails, rocky trails, sandy trails, wooden bridges over wetlands .... It was such a great place to run! At one point you went up a steep incline and when you got to the top you were looking right at the lake. Then you continued for a few miles around the lake. BTW, this lake has gators in it! I was told they have over 75 gators!

It was on this loop I meet a guy, Steve, from Dallas at maybe a mile in. Real nice guy, he had done this race before and also 50 miler so it was cool to talked to another Trail Runner. We ended up running together until the 2nd loop - I hit the can and he kept running. At this point having someone to talk with really helped. So about mile 19 we hit the starting area again and I was feeling good. I stopped for some salt and a banana, which I slammed down as I ran to my drop bag. I grabbed 2 more GU Chomps at my bag and was on my way!

Third Loop 12.3 Miles:
This loop was the exact same one I just did so at least I knew what to expect! As I talked about in yesterday's post this is where I got a little banged up. I was right around miles 21-22 and I slipped on a root and my right heel slammed into the hard ground. My IT Band basically got plucked like a bass guitar string and it immediately began to hurt like crazy. I stumbled up to the next aid station and a volunteer help me with some leg stretches on the IT band. It seemed to help and I went on my way. Well about a mile or so after that it started to hurt very bad again. I tried to walk it off and stretch a little more but it wasn't going to help. I could not get it loose. The weird thing was when I walked it hurt, when I ran it was tolerable. But if I tried to up my pace it hurt even more. If you look at my splits you can see where it all began to fall apart.

From miles 22 to 25 I managed to move okay. Not ideal but it was about a 12:30 to 13:00 minute pace and the IT band was still aching but I was getting used to it. About halfway into mile 25 the real fun began. Now for over 3 miles I had basically been dragging my right leg with my left leg. My right leg looked like Kevin Spacey's character in "The Usually Suspects". Well, my left quad and knee decided they had enough and just tightened up on my like you cannot believe. They did not go into full cramp mode but it felt like it would happen at any moment.

Now I still had over 5 miles to go and my legs were toast. Miles 26 and 27 were absolutely brutal. I can't say I was running or jogging at this point it was more like a shuffle. At this point I gave myself a stern talking too and said I was going to finish even if I had to crawl across the line. I detailed this fun journey in yesterday's post so I won't do it again. It was just brutal. I made it across the finish line, grabbed my finishers hoodie, and damn near collapsed but my legs couldn't bend so I was unable to even fall! I just slowly walked towards the pizza.

Post Race:
Housed 4 pieces of pizza and a bunch of Gatorade. I wasn't all that hungry but I knew I needed some food and still had to drive home. I ate standing up because I was afraid if I sat down that it would be too painful to stand up. I walked/shuffled out of the lodge towards my car and my left knee and quad were just screaming. They were screaming so loud that they drowned out the barking coming from my IT Band! I could see my car, it was about 200 yards away! It literally took me over 10 minutes to get there. I tossed all my stuff into the back seat and slide myself into the driver's seat and it felt so good to sit. I sat there for maybe another 10 minutes drinking water and letting the heat kick in - was only about 40 or so degrees. Made it home and took a shower and then an ice bath.

Final Thoughts:
It is 11pm the night after the race right now and my legs are still completely trashed. It is still painful to walk and I am seriously considering taking off work tomorrow. I am on a hydrocodone diet right now and they are barely helping. The IT band in my right leg is feeling better but my left leg is going to take some time to heal up. I was planning on starting training for my next Triathlon tomorrow but that is not going to happen. Hopefully, I will be able to go by next Monday.

Now all that being said I will do this race next year! Aside from all the pain at the end the first 4 or so hours were just awesome. I had a great time. I ended up finishing 71st out of 184 racers and that was with a bum leg for 9 miles and 2 bum legs for 5 miles. If I wouldn't have slipped and got hurt I was on pace for a top 20 finish. When I hit the finish line I was in pain but I wasn't at all tired. I still had a lot left in the tank. Now even if I wouldn't have gotten hurt I may still have hit "the wall" somewhere along those last 9 miles. But I really will not know until I give it another shot, right?

Thanks for hanging with me on that rather long winded post!

Tomorrow and the probably the next few days are going to be used to recover. My indoor trainer came on Friday so I will take the down time to get it set up (assuming I can walk tomorrow).

Thanks for Reading,



  1. Great race report!!! Man, I could feel the pain just by the description. Nah, not really. Only you can experience it, but I have a big appreciation for how hard you pushed through. You determination is incredible.

    Endurance sports is your thing! Man, 71 out of 184 is awesome, especially for someone who has never even run a marathon before this. Jeff, you are truly amazing.

    Wow, 24 degrees... man, that is truly wrong. It was like 86 degrees here in Hawaii. I wouldn't mind it a little cooler, but not down to 24!

  2. Great description of the IT Band pluck. I'm not sure if I want to experience that. But I'm amazed and impressed at your durability despite all that pain. Dude, you can plow through it. Placing 71st out of 184 the top half no awesome. Big time salute to you, my friend!

  3. Wow, I was complaining about the cold weather I ran in and this sounded worse especially if you were next to water and everything. I still am amazed at the distance you ran I hope one day to be able to do this type of distance running...I still think marathons are long and they are on a road!!! not on a trail. Good to hear the injuries will not stop you from doing more. Good Luck!!!

  4. Boomer - when my legs started to go I was thinking about you and your description of your knees locking up and going down. I am still wrecked two days later!

    Steve - my IT band has been tender with all the running of late. It is amazing to me how one tiny mis-step caused that much pain. But in looking back I probably should have stopped a few times earlier to stretch out a few of the leg muscles. Especially with it being so cold. Maybe that would have been enough?

    Whitarican - thanks man. I read your report and it looked downright freezing as well. You even had the snow pics! This 50k distance isn't something I'd recommend doing all that often. Right now the negative effects are severly outweighing the positive fitness ones. But if you do ever get a chance to do a trail race do it because it is so cool.

  5. Glad to see you had fun. I didn't get a chance to meet ya but I am sure we saw each other somewhere along that frozen trail. Anyway, good run and my legs were trashed as well, and this has been a long recovery week while still trying to keep the mileage up. Anyway, if you get a chance check me out, once again nice run.