Success Postponed – Rocky Raccoon 100
Well guess I’ll start at with this. Despite being as ready as I have ever been for a race of this magnitude…RR100 2016 was sadly a DNF at Mile 72.5…AGAIN!!!! OK Now I’ll start from the beginning.
A little history. I attempted Rocky Raccoon 100 a few years ago back in 2013. I had a pretty rough training cycle, lots of injuries, stress due to husband’s job loss and in general everything felt very forced and my focus was lacking. At Rocky 2013 I DNF’d at Mile 72.5 due to two reasons: One I foolishly took a caffeine pill to stay awake and that totally messed up my heart rate causing it to race crazy high to where I could not run without gasping for breath, so I had to slow down to a shuffle. Two I was totally unprepared for cold that hit my body and since I could not move fast enough to keep warm I went into early stages of hypothermia. I was shivering uncontrollably, was stumbling everywhere and in general a total mess. Essentially since I could never get warmed up…it was deemed unsafe for me to continue at the Damn….DamNation aid station!!!
Fast forward to Spring 2015. I was finally starting to get that itch to take on something big again! After few years of good and bad races…I decided to take look at different training approach and talk to someone who would help me get there ready! A couple of messages with the one and only Swaggerific David Murphy and a phone call later, it was pretty clear to me that he was right person to guide me and mentor me on this journey! Training officially started with David on June 2015. I gave myself plenty of time to get used to the HR training method and not crash course the training like I did the last time around. David was very clear about the fact that I’d be running lots of miles and miles on tired legs to get me to race day prepared! There were few small hiccups with injuries, but we worked through them and for once I felt like I was training smart! The last month of training was a heavy month. 30, 35, 40, 50 mile training runs and more miles on a treadmill that I ever thought I could bear to do!! But I got them done and recovery in between runs were going great so confidence heading into Race week was high!!
Thursday morning we left for Huntsville, Texas. Multiple potty stops, inappropriate jokes, laughs and 12hrs later we arrived at the hotel. Dinner done and we all crashed. Since sleep is going to be hard to come by the next few days, we all slept in. Nothing like a solid 9hrs of sleep to feel refreshed and ready!
Friday was really when I started feeling the race butterflies. We headed over the park and was able to get the crew spot set up early which meant prime spot for the KC Chiefs tent ☺ that got some serious photo time because of where it was. Yep my tent got a picture with Ian Sharman ☺ Finished up getting my drop bag and crew prep done, last minute items at Walmart and lunch at the Farmhouse Café…and yes I had Pie…AND I may or may not have pre-ordered a pie to take back with me….and then headed to Packet pickup and trail brief! It was about to get very REAL!!!!
Met David and chatted as he checked up on me to make sure things were good. I introduced him to the hubs and crew. Also met Derek Glos and his crew which was nice! It was truly dawning on me what I was about to undertake! We all found out course change now mean DamNation was a mile longer and that there was a rock filled section as you headed into and out of it…that was a little curveball… but at this point it was what it was! I was worried that I would have flashback of the race 3 years ago…but oddly enough it never entered my mind! We headed out after things wrapped up and went back to the hotel, got the car packed up for the next day leaving only last minute stuff for the morning, then headed to Pita Pit for dinner and off bed.
I slept soundly which is always nice the night before the race. Woke up to my 3am alarm and thunderstorms. This was good as RD mentioned a little rain would help take the dust out of the course. We headed into the park around 4.30am so got a good spot. I rested and gathered my thoughts, ate breakfast of banana, bagel with almond butter and 30mins prior to start downed my Vanilla UCAN and then hit the customary pre-race potty to make sure I was ready to go!
We all gathered around the start line…temps were pretty perfect and was what I like to run in. A hug from my pacers and a long hug and kiss from the hubby and went to the start. I stood at the start line just staying within myself! I felt calm and collected and oddly not nervous at all! Deep in my heart and in my head I knew this was MINE! I felt the good vibes of all the folks that had wished me luck and I carried that as we hit the timing mat and started! I had no music as I don’t use it anymore for longer runs and simply listened to the runners hooting and hollering around me and random conversations. Slowly and steadily we moved forward in the conga line for little while. I watched my footing as I knew the first few miles were pretty rooty. I absolutely Love early morning runs in the woods. There is such peace out there and I had this overwhelming sense of “Ahhhhness” that I am able to do this out here! There was no need to go out fast and get caught up in the adrenalin of the group. I had a plan outlined and I knew that would get to me to where I needed to be!
The minute the watch beeped at Mile 1…I had 99 bottles of beer on the wall pop into my head. When I saw David at the first aid station I told him that…and yes that is now on video forever ☺ I chatted with some folks off and on and then we turned into the Oh so Lovely jeep road that was now packed with stones to head up to DamNation. Water refilled, S!Caps and then grab and go…I was moving well. I knew this was the section that would be the grinder. While Rocky is touted as a ‘Flat’ course, it does gain some elevation through this section and as the days goes by these inclines just start growing…AS do the roots! I chatted with a lady from Hawaii and she was amazed at the fact that so many folks were in shorts that morning. We exchanged some stories about weather and she went on her way. I wanted to make sure I was running my race and not getting caught up in someone else’s race. I crossed the timing mat around the mid part of the loop and then was happy to be heading back to the aid station. Sun was up and things were going well. Got back the aid station quick refill of water, another food grab and off we go! More rocks as we head towards the next aid station…yep…these got old later on for sure! But for now they were manageable! Park road aid station, a quick potty stop and then made my way back to the start/finish at Dogwood. I had forgotten about the switchback section headed back in so while you know it’s so close the Dogwood aid station takes longer that you think it does. A few road crossing and then boom…20 miles done! Plan was finish in 5…rolled through is a little under 4:45 for first 20. Right on target…so far so good!
Tony and Lynette were there as got me situated. I changed my shirt as I knew I would get warm. Grabbed my cap, more water, a couple of turkey sandwiches, checked in with David real quick and went on my way. With so many aid stations keeping them short as possible is critical. I slowed down and walked at the start to get some of the sandwich in and make sure I was hydrated and got in more S!Caps. While the temps only topped out at only around 60F, I warm up pretty quickly and I knew this would be the case on the back end of this loop. I was done eating PB&J anything by this time, so I would just simply grab whatever else looked good each time I hit an aid station. I typically don’t know what I want until something looks good and this had worked well so far so I kept doing that. I stopped to potty at Nature Center and realized pee was not the right color so started drinking a little more to catch up on my hydration. Yep…much better!!
And then we’re back those damn stones again! I did have several people comment on my power walk up this section which made me feel pretty good. I didn’t really practice on hills much this time around but I was glad I could still haul my butt up these sections. More water refills, more snacks and back into the 7mi loop! By this time the small muddy section were softening up and I was very happy with my shoe choice in the Altra Lone Peak 2.5. I felt no slipping at all which was great!! I just kept chugging along this loop. Around 4 miles in the Garmin just stalled on the distance. The time was still running but distance was stuck. I wasn’t too worried since the time was going. I did catch up to Bobby from Austin after the timing mat. We pretty much finished up the second loop together and it was really great to have company for a while. Turns out he knew folks from KC as his band would come to town to play! The world is such a small place when it comes down to it! We just chatted about all sorts of things…funny how 10miles out on a trail can make you the bestest of new friends ☺
Somewhere in last few miles my right foot landed on one the stubby roots that stick out from the ground. That hurt like crazy and I was really hoping I hadn’t done anything crazy! It was tender for a bit but I think I forgot about it until I mentioned it David and the hubs once I got back in to Dogwood. Loop two was done in 5:15. 40 miles done around 10hrs! I just went back and looked at my 40 mi training run which was indoors…on treadmill. That was done is 9hr 42mins…see treadmill training does translate pretty well onto the trail even ☺ Still on track as I wanted to finish up 60 miles around 15-16hrs. Changed into a long sleeve shirt as it would get cooler, grabbed headlamp and flashlight and downed some UCAN and went on my way!
My goal was at least get to DamNation before it got dark. I was pretty happy when that happened. I grabbed my jacket from the drop bag as it was getting colder by the minute. Refilled my water, grabbed some quesadillas and headed out. Around the time I was getting close to the timing mat I needed the jacket and light. And just like that it was went from little light on the trail to no light at all and were all just specs of light! My power walk was still pretty good and I was able to move well. I could tell my foot was a little tender. Somewhere in here I managed to get my foot caught on a long skinny root that about took a nice tumble. Although I didn’t fall all of the sudden my right foot felt weird. I shook it off and kept moving. Came back into DamNation, grabbed water and food and kept moving. The foot was feeling off and all of a sudden I was kicking every rock and rolling it on every other step. There was so much cussing here! Freaking rocks!!! Might as well be boulders as this point! But over 50 miles down I was still moving and I was good with that, but the foot was definitely hurting by now. Some broth and water at Park road and I headed back towards Dogwood. Those bridges suddenly seem taller on my way back…weird!! I rolled into Dogwood, checked through the mat and headed towards crew. That loop took 5:50ish and total time was a little over 16hrs so it was still close to where I wanted to be after 3 loops.
As I sat down to drink some hot cocoa and change, my foot was definitely letting me know something was up! It was throbbing! We cleaned my feet…no blisters AT ALL! Woohoo…but the top of my right foot was hot and bright red and there was some swelling. Hubby cleaned up my feet, re-lubed and new socks were in. Each movement of the foot hurt like a bitch!! I was also getting really, really cold! The temps were steadily dropping and went down to around 30F overnight. I was whimpering a little and I knew this was a critical point. David and I had talked about this…and I knew I had to change into warm clothes and get out into the dark. I knew this was coming and was mostly ready! I was being a bit of a baby here and Hubby was being gentle and firm. He told me exactly what I needed to hear! He told me that I have this and that I’m ready and to get out there kick some butt! Between the three of them they got me completely changed from head to toe. New headlamp, flashlight, two layers at the bottoms, three on top, gloves, and I was ready to get back out there. Lynette jumped in with me and we slowly got back out there while drinking more chicken broth!
This was where things started to slip away! Lynette was the perfect pacer for this loop. I’ve known her for about 2.5yrs now and we bunked together during our Pikes Peak adventure and we always have so much fun! We can talk about anything under the sun and go back and forth between serious and completely stupid. She kept me moving and walking…albeit slowly since every step hurt! I kept apologizing for being so slow and she just kept letting me know that it was ok and to move! There was at least twice where I got a little nauseous with pain…but we kept moving! We grabbed some more broth and a quesadilla from Nature Center and headed toward DamNation! The rock lined road headed toward DamNation made me want to throw up in pain.
Once I got to DamNation we stopped and had them take a look at my feet. The right foot was definitely swollen more than the left at this point. They loosened my laces and retied them differently to hopefully ease some pressure. The lady at the aid station also put some KT tape on my foot in an effort to help things out. They were convinced it was tight shoe laces…but I know my body and this was not that! We grabbed some Ramen noodles, refilled my water and headed into the loop. It was ridiculously slow going in here as I was reduced to practically a crawl! I had flashbacks of the 2013 race and was feeling that finish line slipping away. I was trying desperately to fight it! It took me 4:22 to go 8.5miles and hit the timing mat around halfway of DamNation. Once we made our way back to DamNation I JUST could not bear it anymore. Given the pain I was in and how slowly I was moving I knew this may be it! I told Lynette that I’d get back to the aid station and see how things were. We got there and after a time check and realizing that I had about a little over 2.5hrs (I think) to go 8miles…I realized with the pain and slowness this was not going to happen. Part of me desperately wanted to at least get to Park Road so I wouldn’t DNF at the same freaking Aid station I did 3yrs ago…but I knew my foot was not going to handle the rock filled road down to the next one!
After a very long deep breathe I made the call! I called the Hubs and talked to him and then also made the call to David and let him know as well. I was so mad, angry and sad and was fighting back tears at this point! Some craziness at the aid station distracted me for a few mins… but at this point we were just waiting for the truck to take us back to the start/finish! I basically just huddled into the blanket they gave me and tried to hold back the tears! Once I got to start line I was checked by the race medic and once released we headed to the local ER to get checked as well. Luckily no break…so that was good!
Post race thoughts….
It took me over a week after the race to write this very, very long report! I had my doc checkup and diagnosis is a Lisfranc ligament strain. Doc said that he was glad I stopped when I did as going further may have led to a rupture of the ligament or joint which would have meant surgery! Right now its 3-5 weeks with no running or until I can do toe raises on that foot without pain and then I can work my way back up! As much as sucked to stop…I am glad I listened to my body and stopped when I did. I actually just got done chatting with my brother who lives in Australia. Right before the race he and my sister in law found out her dad had cancer. Over two weeks the docs are still trying to work up a diagnosis while he steadily deteriorates! My bum foot is a very small thing compared to what he’s dealing with! Life is funny! I was feeling so incredibly defeated, disappointed and sad because I DNF’d and while I’m not discounting any of those feelings, Life gave me a reality check! I’m incredibly lucky to be strong enough to even try something like this…even if I didn’t finish, I was able to train and start it! There are so many folks out there that would give anything to just start a race…not a 100 miler, not a 50…but a 5k…just to run a mile, run a few yards and I need to always remember that when I feel down on myself!
This race and training cycle showed me that I am stronger and tougher than I think I am! Setbacks happen, but adapting and moving forward is what makes me strong! This past week also showed me who my true friends are and who I can really count on! Hard lesson learned, but always good to know! I have no time or need for fake friendships in my life! Life is too short to be wasted on that!
I’m so thankful for the incredible support system I have around me! I’m so Thankful for the army of fabulous Idiots in this group and teammates that I have never even met for so much love, support and encouragement always!!! So incredibly thankful for true friends that stick by me through all my challenges! Extremely thankful for Coach David who challenged me and brought me to the starting line stronger and more ready that I have ever felt for any race! Never would have gotten to the start without his mentoring! For a family who supports me even while thinking I’m totally insane for doing these things…and first, last and everything in between always and forever Thankful for my hubby and my fur baby who love me and are proud of me even if I don’t ever run a single race!
“I am not failed, my Success is just Postponed”