I decided to run this race since I am attending a meeting at LSU in Baton Rouge this week. The race was actually in Mandeville, LA. So I flew to Baton Rouge, rented a car, and drove the 75 miles to packet pickup on Saturday. I got arrived at 5 pm and they said we were eating at 6 pm and a meeting at 7 pm. I decided to go check into my hotel about 10 minutes away and then return.
The pickup was at Franco's Athletic club. The packet had a sample of Q50 coffee and we got a nice tech shirt and a sample Hammer Gel, one of the race sponsors. Q50 is a brand of coffee and they have races in Nicaragua, Italy, and more. The one in the US was to contribute money to help fight childhood obesity in LA. There was a duathlon event on Sat. as well.
The food was setup outside by the pool but it was a bit cool so some people moved inside. I sat with a woman, Mary Anne, from Texas that was race walking the 50K and she had her son with her for support. She said she had signed up for the Rocky Racoon 100 in February that I am considering if I am able. After eating, we went inside since it was getting cold outside.
The pre-race meeting started about 7:30 and they warned us repeatedly about snakes which kind of freaked me out and also that there was some deep mud on the course. That had me wondering what might be at the bottom. The meeting was a bit long and would have preferred to be in my room but it was mandatory. After, I went to the store to find some food since I really wouldn't have time to eat breakfast when the hotel served at 6. I ran into several people at the store from the meeting.
I came back to the hotel and ate the half pound of fudge I had bought to calm my nerves. I got my stuff ready to go for the morning. I was seriously wondering if I could do this race since my right hamstring was super tight and still having a bit of what I think is sciatica. Calf was also tight. I have been barely able to bend over to put on my socks and shoes recently and had not run since Tuesday.
I woke up around 4:45 am and decided to go ahead and get up. The alarm I had thought I set was not for the right time so it was good that I woke up. I ate a shake with coffee, ate some bananas. Then I took a shower. I noticed there was no mat to place in the tub and the surface was slippery. I was thinking I need to be really careful and next thing I know I am flipped out of the tub and on my back. I think my leg was still hanging on the tub. I felt okay so got up and checked my head since it had hit the floor. I had just very slight bit of bleeding and a sore bump on the side near the back, but it wasn't bad enough to be too concerned and only hurt if I pressed on it. There was no way I was getting back in the shower so cleaned up standing on a towel beside the shower. I will never get in a tub like that again without a mat. Then I did some stretches to try to loose up the hamstrings and all the leg muscles so I could attempt to run.
I left the hotel about 6 am and there was no one around to complain about the tub. There was a note they would return shortly so I just left for the race which started at 7. It was about a 15 min drive, but took a little longer since I missed the turn the first time. I got there and rushed to the bathroom for one last time. Then talked to a few people and they thought the threat of snakes was not great. There is one that is poisonous, but since it was around 48F, it wasn't likely they would be out for awhile. I was less worried but still would be careful. I had decided last night I would just run this race to finish and wasn't going to go all out. With the tight hamstring, it didn't seem like a good idea since I could pull something.
Before we started, we were warned again about the snakes. They had seen one setting up the course, but most people didn't seem worried. We started around 7:15 am. There was also a 2 leg 50K relay and 10Kers starting at the same time. The beginning was on grass and it felt good to run but immediately my quad felt tight, but not as bad as Tuesday since I had stretched. I caught up to a group of guys that said they were doing their first 50K. They normally did adventure races together. I went ahead and caught up to a couple women doing the 10K. They were commenting about the the tree roots and to watch out but it really wasn't that bad.
I ran ahead and then eventually had another 50K guy running right behind me until about mile 9 when we hit the paved trail portion of the course and he fell behind. At this section I was really having the urge to pee and we were no longer in the woods so I was looking for options. I was getting close to peeing in my shorts since I had to go so badly. When I turned onto the paved path by the lake, I guess with all the water I could no longer stand it. There weren't a lot of trees but I was looking for a big one to quickly and discreetly use. This was along a street and there were people playing with dogs along the lake. I finally found the right spot and no cars. I felt kind of bad to publicly urinate, but this was just one of those times where I was out of options and I didn't want to wet myself.
Shortly after, I am at mile 11 and a guy at the aid station says this is my turnaround. I didn't even realize there was a turn around. I decide to fill my bottle a little even though I had some Accelerade left. There were aid stations about every 4 miles but I didn't take anything since I had plenty of Acclerade and also Accel Gels. Also, they were serving Heed, which isn't my favorite drink. After turning around I saw several people running at me and they asked me, “is there a turn around?” One guy nearly stopped and asked if I was quitting. I guess they didn't realize there was a turn around and didn't notice anyone ahead of me to ask. I ran back on the paved trail and then made another turn toward the start to complete the first “loop”.
Someone had told me at some point I was in 4th but I am not sure if they counted relay people or not and figured I was actually further behind since I wasn't pushing it. The different racers were wearing different colors but I didn't know who might be ahead of me from the beginning. I didn't think I was doing that well considering this was a flat course. There were no hills, but there was some mud and big puddles to go through and a few places that turned a lot slowed me down. I picked up my second bottle of Accelerade and left for the second loop immediately. I think my time was around 2:07 so figured I had a good chance at breaking 4.5 hours. My PR for a 50K is 4:59 on hillier, more trail-like courses.
I had a problem finding exactly where we went into the woods at the start of this “loop” since they didn't have any flags in between where we started and the woods off in the distance. I couldn't see the flag that was that far away and no one to follow. Someone had to run over and help me out and so I got a little extra distance due to the back tracking. I felt like an idiot. Otherwise, I didn't have any problems, but did need to keep looking ahead for the orange flags since there plenty of wrong trails to take. There were aid stations about every 4 miles but I didn't take anything since I had plenty of Acclerade and also Accel Gels. Also, they were serving Heed, which isn't my favorite drink.
I follow the same course as the first 25K and see Mary Anne at the point she was less than 2 miles from the finish. Once I reach the lake some girls say how well I am doing and that I can catch the guy ahead of me. I see him on the way to the turn around and figure he is about 0.25 mile ahead. Then at the turn around I ask the guy at the aid station my place and he says I am second and probably had a chance of catching the guy. I was excited to be in second place so I immediately pick up the pace. I see a relay runner coming toward me. A half mile or so later he flies past me and says he is running the relay.
I wasn't sure I could see the guy ahead of me and I find out later he sees the relay runner coming behind him. He said he also saw me before and so he picked up the pace too. I only picked it up for about a mile and then resumed the 8-something pace. The stretch where we run to the last turn before getting back the woods which was grass and mud which slowed me down more than on the first time. I think we were running between power lines right of way here.. This part of the course had some of the worst huge puddles that could not be gone around. I really slowed on this part. Also, it smelled like pigs and someone said later there were wild pigs nearby. I had given up on catching the guy ahead, no one was close behind, and I was thankful to soon be finishing.
I reached the finish at 4:17:50 so ran the second half a bit slower. If I hadn't wasted the time starting the second loop almost getting lost I would have been a bit faster, but not sure if fast enough to beat the guy in first. He finished around 2 minutes ahead of me. Overall, I ran pretty even. My 50K PR improved 31 minutes and GPS had 31.1 miles so the course would have been almost exact if I had not added a little extra. I heard several people made wrong turns and one guy doing the 50K that was in first went the wrong way and ran 7 extra miles. He got back on track but decided to stop at the first loop. Someone said they don't have a lot of trail races here so I got the impression that could have been part of the problem.
They had massages so I went with the first place relay guy, Matt, to go wash off in the lake. He had run with his wife and he was a super fast 2:33 marathoner so no wonder if flew past me. We got to the beach and I told him I didn't think I could remove my shoes. Every time I went to bend my leg, it felt like it might spasm and they were tight. It has been a challenge at any time lately to get on my shoes and socks due to the tightness. They had loosened up just at around mile 22, but were tight the entire race. People that saw me on the course said I looked good running so I guess they were just loose enough to let me run. So he unties and loosens my shoes so I can remove them. I managed to pull my socks off with my feet. Then we get into this shallow lake. It was a huge lake, but seemed to stay shallow for a long time. It went up to my calves and I was able to bend a bit to wash off. Then I went back and washed my shoes off. They smelled like a pig lot.
The massage lady is free when I get back. She worked on my good leg first and then my other leg. She was very good and it was quite painful. Legs were definitely looser when she finished with me. I then went to get some food. We had pork and jambalya. There was an actual entire pig with the head, and it had an apple in its mouth. It was a bit disconcerting to me, but to someone that rarely eats pork it tasted pretty good. I was able to sit down and eat my food and noticed that I didn't have any issues sitting like I have been.
So we all wait around and wonder if there is an awards ceremony. They had given us medals at the finish. I got tired of waiting, so was packing up to leave and the guy who was first says they are going to do awards in 10 min or around 3:30 so we had been waiting awhile. 20 minutes go by and the race director says they typically wait until everyone is finished at these races. The time limit was 8 hours so we would have been waiting a long time and had waited a long time. He went ahead and did the awards. I received a nice curved clear plaque. They awarded the top 3 overall male and female and top 3 relays. They also gave each of us a bottle of Hammergel.
Finally, I can leave and I have a message from Hugh. He had called just minutes before and I missed the call. So I call him and while I am on the phone the last 2 runners come in. One of them is Mary Anne and she is race walking. So I go back to congratulate her and then leave for Baton Rouge. I sat in the car and the drive wasn't too painful. I decided to skip New Orleans since it was getting late. Also, driving was a bit uncomfortable but not bad. It is really strange to me how running the 50K made me feel better but not sure it will continue. I am doing better and but don't know if it will continue. I am still pretty inflexible but moving around seems to help. Unfortunately, I need to sleep so can't keep moving all the time.
I was able to walk this morning and other than soreness, my legs aren't any worse off than before the race. I think the sciatica is a little better but sitting too long and getting up is still an issue. Hopefully, will have a few pictures to post from the race later.