Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Life of Bryan

Bliss : John Sharp and myself celebrate completing the 60k by jumping in the Lake

A 3:30am alarm call this morning started my day at the Trail Twister 60k in Bryan, Texas. My mate Jeff and I drove up together and got to the park just after 6am. Having set up our dropbags, I wandered around saying hello to friends. An especially big shout out to my longtime friend (and secret Welshrunner blog reader) Celeste who finished the 30k this morning in a great time. So sorry Nancy couldn't join you.

Chris got us going at 7am and I settled into my favorite little niche just behind the lead pack. Because the 30k and 60k folks were all running the same course (the 60kers ran it twice) I had no idea who I was running against. Of course I ended up chasing a lot of 30kers and probably went out too fast - big shock there.

It wasn't too horribly hot for the first loop, but it was very humid - my shorts were soaked within the first few miles. I had made a promise to myself to do better on my nutrition for this race and in this I failed miserably - I made do with half a packet of sports beans and whatever they had at the aid stations. This is getting to be a real problem I need to fix and I think one solution may be to just carry Spiz in my handheld.

I completed the first 30k in just over 3 hours, but was not looking forward to going back out. The temperature had risen into the upper 80s and a lot of folks decided to drop after one loop. But I had signed on for a 60k and I was determined that was exactly what I was going to do - after all, I have a zero DNF record to defend, this is all good time on feet training, and I haven't run very much trail of late.

I have to say the wheels came off a bit on the second loop and I walked a lot of it. No excuses for that other than my feet felt bruised, I picked up a few blisters, motivation sagged and I was just lazy. One thing I found out was that audiobooks on the ipod do not work for me - they just lull me into the story. What did work was music - in particular the Rolling Stones "Paint it Black" and (somewhat bizarrely) Les Miserables really got me in the groove. I'm sure the sight of me running through the woods while belting out "Do you hear the people sing? Singing a song of angry men" brought a few quizzical looks from passing mountain bikers.

A small aside - Nancy and I have been to see Les Miserables three or four times, and every time she's cried. I always tease her about this, but it's really cute and part of why I love her. I rarely get emotional during a run, but today one of the songs left me with an overwhelming urge to be at home and to give Gavin a big hug and kiss. I'm not too big to admit that I sniffled a little (though only a little mind you). Needless to say, the first thing I did when I got home was to pick up the little Batman and smother him with kisses until he giggled.

Back to reality, about 5 miles from the finish line I had to leap suddenly to avoid (what I think was) a Speckled Kingsnake that was meandering across the trail. From then on, every root or branch was suddenly a slithering demon :-)

As I approached the finish area I spotted Jeff standing by the dropbags. I asked him how he'd gotten back so fast and unfortunately he'd dropped after the first loop. I crossed the finish line in 7:22:35 - a horrible time, but enough for 17th place (41 started the 60k and 28 finished). It's amazing how time is so relative in trail running.

I hung around and socialized at the finish line, clapping runners in as they finished. It wasn't too long before John Sharp came in. He's a super nice guy I first met at Rocky Raccoon and we have a habit of finishing races really close to each other. He's had a tough race schedule this summer, including two 100 milers in the mountains. He had the great idea of celebrating the completion of the 60k by jumping in the lake, so we did. Wow, it felt great.

So Jeff and I headed back to Austin, stopping at McDonalds on the way. I had told him of my tendency to crave Big Macs after ultras, and that planted the idea in his head. Yummy.

Things I learnt from this run - nutrition is something I need to formulate a better plan for - and stick to it. For my best ultras, I've been well prepared beforehand and had some calorie shakes to down between loops, but I've gotten too laid back and lazy. I think the reason I'm so nonchalant is that deep down I know I can complete the 50k to 50 mile distance without too much fuss. While I may get away with this attitude at Sunmart and Bandera, I really need to pay attention to it at Rocky Raccoon. My other experiment with the Drymax "Maximum Protection" socks worked great - my feet stayed dry throughout the race. I didn't have a very good run, but it is what it is - a nice long "time on feet" training run. In that respect it was a good day.


Celeste said...

Great race yourself Mr. Welshrunner! I followed a guy named Chuck around the course--he looked like a good runner, so I just stuck with him and, God love him, he towed me to a PR. And I loved my packet of Sport Beans. Thanks for putting me on to those.

steve said...

Well done Mark. Nice to see you kept your DNF streak going...

You don't see many of those Speckled Kingsnakes in Wales do you?