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Rocky Raccoon Weekend…..what fun!!

Wow, what a fun weekend. Meredith and I went to Huntsville Friday afternoon. She was there to pace one of the potential women’s race winners, and I was going to run the 50 miler, then hang out and watch some 100 milers come in, while Meredith was out pacing. I used other races to get my big training miles in….a hard White Rock marathon, and Bandera 50K. I also got some good runs on the greenbelt, before all the trees went down, and chased my faster road friends around.
Friday evening was fun seeing all my friends and meeting some new folks. In the spirit of fun, I ate my dessert first, and then Meredith and I picked up some take out, and headed to our room for dinner and a movie. I felt good and ready to roll in the am.
Now earlier in the week I had a weird dream that I was in a race, but it went through people’s houses in between stretches of woods. I had to run up and down stairs and through all the rooms in the houses, I thought it was strange, but figured, what the heck. I also had forgotten everything I normally run with….Gatorade, gels, warm clothes. In the dream, I said, “oh well” and just went with the flow of this weird race. I woke up and thought, maybe there is something my subconscious is trying to tell me….just relax.
Meredith and I hit the park early and saw the 100 milers off. I chilled out until my start, and headed out in a very chilly 27 degrees. Thank you Meredith for extra gloves and for keeping my ears warm! The beginning is always a little crowded and my feet were numb, so I had that brief moment of “What in the hell am I doing?” that I always do. I started having fun, talking to other runners, seeing the hundred milers on the out and back. All the loops and out and backs on this course and good and bad. They are good when you see how everyone else is doing, and when you’ve spent too long alone. They are bad, when you starting thinking “Another out and back….uggggg”. The course is the same as Sunmart’s but with a longer out and back, so only 3 loops, and 3 is better than 4, right?
My dream goal for this race was to break 9 hours. A very nice goal that would make me happy would be to better my Sunmart time of 9:25. I knew I had to run slightly under 3 hour loops. I came through loop 1 in around 2:50, and Meredith jumped right on me, and worked as the best crew. It was awesome to have my camelbak filled and be out of the aid station so quick. I also have to say I felt so much support from all the club members. Larry, Shawn, Moogy, and Meredith were INCREDIBLE at the Lodge. Ava, Mike and Jim were superb at the Far Side aid station. It was such a lift to have so many folks taking good care of me.
I was off on loop 2, but spent a lot of it alone. A couple things happened on loop 2. First off, I discovered I LOVE The Shins, and I mean love them. I had them going on the ipod, and never have I been so focused on music during a run. It made the miles fly, and I felt fantastic. The other cool thing that happened was coming off the Dam road and up by the lake, I had one of those rare zen moments when everything in life seems to fall into place. I saw the lodge, and felt full of energy. Maybe that’s what “runner’s high” is, I don’t know. But for a few footsteps, the universe was calm and all was well. I hit the start finish and Larry and Shawn were aid station Gods, getting me out in a hurry.
I knew loop 3 would start to hurt some, but I was keeping it together. I kicked roots with the same big toe, about 4 times in a 5 minute time span, and on the last kick, and hollered in pain, and knew my toenail was a goner. I popped and Advil, and thought “Girl, get your s*** together……” I really thought I could do a sub 9 hour run, and worked hard to keep it together on loop 3. I saw the 100 mile leaders and tried to get some inspiration from them. I hit aid station 174 (2.8 miles from the end) and knew there was no way I could break 9 even if I was running 6 minute miles. I just pushed it as much as I could. With about ½ a mile to go, Meredith appeared. I can’t tell you how thankful I was that she pushed me in. Ultras really bring out friendship! I crossed the finish in 9:07, and I can live with that! Plus, all the cheers from my club friends made it memorable. Whew, done with the short race. Now I get to watch the 100 milers.
Meredith informed me her runner, Jenn Shelton, was going so fast (sub 15 hour pace), she would be leaving pretty soon. I got to see her and Pete off with their runners. It was so much fun watching all the 100 milers. Some looked good, some didn’t, and it was great giving encouragement when you could tell it was really needed. Before I knew it, Pete was running in the men’s winner, who turned out to be a really sweet young man. In what other sport does the winner hang out, wrapped in a blanket, with us regular folks?
Then, here comes Meredith with her runner. The girls had a blast, and Meredith’s runner smashed the course record. Awesome job ladies!!!
I had so much fun this weekend. I cannot say enough about how LUCKY we are to have such great races in Texas. Joe and crew are the best. Word has gotten out, that Texas hospitality is second to none. Special thanks again to Meredith, Shawn, Jessi, Larry, and Moogy. Y’all are the best.

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