Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Rocky Raccoon 50 miler 2011: Before the race

With my friends & ultramarathoners: Maryann and Deborah--a mini-reunion from Across the Years.

Deborah, like I was running the 50 miler while our friend Maryann was volunteering at the aid station.

I was lucky enough to see both Deborah and Maryann along the course several times. This time our weather ultimately was a lot better than Across they Years (although I believe both Deborah and Maryann were second day starters so did not have to deal with the EPIC Phoenix weather).

BEFORE the Race

The weekend of Feb 5, 2011 I ran the Rocky Raccoon 50 miler in Huntsville Texas north of Houston Texas. It was my third time running this race and as usual was a great deal of fun! I have developed so many friendships over the past years with the volunteers, runners and do enjoy running the trails in Huntsville State Park.

The last time I interacted with my mom was at this race my first time in 2009. I have a feeling I will be returning to this race for many years because during the race I feel a strong connection with her. My laps tend to be very emotional since I know my mom would be thrilled about how greatly I have improved in running since she saw me. But at the same time it is sad she is not here to share these great moments with me. I know she would be so proud and excited.

Recently it seems like getting to races has been harder than the race itself because of awful weather. At Across the Years, my departure city near Washington DC was the problem but this time the race site: Houston was the issue. My Friday morning flight was cancelled Thursday afternoon. Ugh! But being aware of this issue I was quickly able to get an evening flight. And then I even upgraded to an mid-morning flight so I only arrived 5 hours after my original arrival time.

After picking up my rental car I headed up to Huntsville. Because the roads were icy I took my time and luckily my friend Tammy had agreed to pick up my packet. She even graciously dropped this off at the hotel room (which she would be using Saturday night). Oddly enough while we were chatting we saw our friend Peter from Virginia as well who was planning his first attempt at the Rocky Raccoon 100 miler. At some point our conversation brought up essential equipment and it came up that he had left his gaiters at home. It was his lucky day as I had a spare pair of gaiters. Granted they were pink leopard print, but they were gaiters! Since Tammy had to eat dinner and Peter needed to shop for items (including Velcro for his new pink gaiters), they both headed off. I made use of this by getting ready for bed and going to sleep early.

I got up about 5 a.m., but it felt like 6 a.m. (oh yeah it was for me, yippee Central Time Zone). I put in my contacts, got dressed and ensured my fanny pack was properly supplied. I was bundled up in 7 layers on top, 3 on the bottom with hat, glove and neck gaiter. It was bitterly cold! I grudgingly headed to my rental car and drove to the race start. My race does not start until 7 a.m. but I want to see the start of the 100 mile. I end up with a moderately bad parking spot, which is a bumer. But alas I have time to walk to the start and my legs will be okay after the finish is my personal pep talk.

I see the runners congregating and chat with a few folks. Then I head out on the course so I can see the runners as they cross the first street (about 200 meters into the race). Once the race starts, I cheer for folks. “Wahoo”, “Way to go!” and “Looking Strong” are cheers I use. I consider only 99.99 miles to go but that is just taunting. As the runners go by I see my friend Peter. Sadly he did not make the early start. I also see and wave to several other friends. It is dark so it is kind of hard to spot folks but I feel my civic duty of cheering is complete. After the final runners pass by, I go to the race start to check in. I see a few friends and chat briefly but I need to go to my car to drop off a few layers. And I want to use the real restroom for one last potty break in a real bathroom. Oh, the simple pleasures.

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