Sunday, July 25, 2010

Midnight at the Oasis (El Scorcho 50k)

Last night I ran the El Scorcho 50k, a unique ultramarathon event that takes place on the trails of Trinity Park in Fort Worth. Yes, you heard right - an ultramarathon set in the middle of Texas summertime. Crazy, right? Billing itself as a "ridiculously foolish endurance run" the race starts at midnight (the unique and fun feature), and if you've never run a night race before, this one is a real gem.

The course is a 5k route that loops back to the start/finish. The 25k runners run 5 loops, and the 50k runners complete 10.

Now in it's fourth year, a lot of planning and an eye for detail has obviously gone into what is a very polished and fun event. This is very much a race put on by runners for runners. With a friendly welcome, "down home" sense of humor, wonderful support, enthusiastic volunteers, party atmosphere and great swag (love the technical singlet and the fun finisher's awards) it's one to mark on your calendar for next year.

Make sure to sign up early though. It's sold out in each of its four years to date - no shortage of crazies in central Texas!!!

To be honest, I was a little nervous going into this one. My longest run since March has been 14 miles, but this race has a kinda symbolic meaning for me. When I last ran it two years ago, it marked the kickoff of my training season for my first 100 miler, and being a lover of symmetry I figured it would be good mojo if I could kick off my new training season in the same way - recapture the vibe of that wonderful running year.

So the plan was to hit the first half fairly hard, then go easy and see what I had left for the last loop. And that's pretty much how it worked out. I ran the first few loops doing consistent 8 to 8:30 miles and enjoying myself. I started out with two water bottles and a headlamp, but jettisoned one of the water bottles after the first loop, and dumped the headlamp after the second. The full moon gave some illumination, and it was kinda fun to rely on my instincts and run by feel on the darker sections of the course.

I amused myself at one point by loping along and pretending to be a werewolf - yes, it really is that strange inside my head sometimes!!!

I did run into a slight low point around loop 5 and 6. I think I'd been drinking too much water and was feeling nauseous, but a few e-caps and more of an emphasis on heed fixed me right up.

We lucked out with the weather - it seemed to be somewhat cooler than of late, and the humidity didn't seem as high (though I could be mistaken as I was still sweating like a politician on a lie detector). There was even a slight breeze from time to time, and I loved running under that wonderful moon.

There was a small aid station half way round the course where they handed out paper towels soaked in iced water - that was a great touch that I took advantage of each loop.

I had driven down with a group of friends who all ran the 25k, and by the second half I had my own cheering station and crew waiting for me at the end of each loop. Angel even held an ice pack to the back of my neck to cool me down while I refilled from my drop bag - bliss.

On the last loop I fell in with a guy called Brian who was training for his first 100 miler at Cactus Rose. As I'd run that race last year we got to talking about it, and then shifted onto other stuff and basically chatted our way through the rest of the loop. It's so much easier to keep running when you have someone to talk to (and I have developed a tendency to be lazy in these trail races), and we pushed each other and finished strong in 5:19.

Which I've just realized is a new 50k PR for me - nice bonus.

After the race we went for breakfast, ate like stray dogs and had a good laugh. I had eggs benedict with hash browns (and coffee for the drive home) and they were wonderful. A stop in West on the way home for yummy kolaches (and to give me a break from driving) put the finishing touch on the trip.

An excellent guys weekend. Think I'll sleep well tonight though.


Ryan V. said...

Thanks for coming out, dude!

bcIII said...

Sounds like you had a great time, this was a 50K pr for me too (my first one), also my first experience at El Scorcho- the event was flawless in my estimation. Thanks Ryan!

And, thank you, Mark, I'll see you someday at one of these 100 milers.