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Rocky Report 2014

Posted February 6th, 2014 at 02:53 PM by Black Spurs

Rocky Report 2014

We got to Texas for the Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile Endurance Run with high hopes that my brother would be able to finish the race this year. He dropped with Achilles issues at mile 75 or 76 last year. He was doing well enough to finish under 30 hours last year, but it was going to be tight. He wasted a lot of time at aid stations in 2013. This year, we worked out a more structured plan for aid stations. I volunteered at the start/finish aid station again this year, and I would take up pacing duties at mile 60. This course is a series of 20 mile loops. Five loops are 100 miles. The course is relatively flat. The roots, sand, and distance are what cause the major problems for most.

Loop 1: He came in around 4:17. I had told him I would like to see him try to keep things close to 4:30 on the first loop. He was 13 minutes better and feeling good. I think a 12:51 pace is just fine for the first loop. A faster pace is only better if you can hold it.

Loop 2: He came in a little under 5 hours. He was out of the aid station by 3:15 PM with 40 miles in a little over 9 hours. I was very pleased. He was still looking great, feeling strong.

Loop 3: I told him I would like to see him back at the start/finish aid station no later than 9:30. But I was hoping for 9. He showed up at 8:42. Hmmmm. Nice. He mentioned he had some blistering issues but was otherwise okay. He had run the 60 miles in 14:42, which I was pleased with. And he only had some blistering issues.

Loop 4: I asked him if he needed to get the blisters looked at. He said he had a good thing going and didn’t want to stop. I should have insisted. We started walking down the trail, and I asked him if he wanted to run. No. I asked a little later. No, not yet. I finally insisted, and we ran a little ways down the trail, slowly. I told him that we had time to power walk the last 40 miles if he could keep a decent pace. So, we started walking hard. We got into the Dam Nation A/S, and I made sure he had what he needed. I was visiting briefly with a friend of mine and realized Nathan was headed down the trail. I ran to catch up, and we continued onward. By the time we reached the turnaround at what I call the low end of the dam nation loop, I could tell he was slowing, but I wasn’t even close to being ready to throw in the towel. We had tons of time to do a 50K (31.1 miles). As we moved back toward dam nation, people started passing us at a regular rate. I have been passed, and I have done lots of passing. Even though I don’t consider myself a competitive racer, I like passing; I do not like getting passed. Getting passed is demoralizing; Passing is encouraging. Finally, I suggested that we make it back to dam nation and see if someone could work on his feet. I should have done this myself right there on the trail, but I didn’t have the supplies to do it. I asked folks at the aid station if anyone could help out. They worked on his feet, and I had high hopes that things were about to turn around.

After about 10 or 15 minutes of foot work and me pouring the fluids and calories into him, he was all taped up, fueled up, and ready to go. We began the long trek to what I think is the worst part of the race, the jeep road. This thing is only about 3 miles or so, but it seems longer than the 10K loop after dam nation. We hadn’t gone far before he started doing what I call the Thorazine Shuffle, looking like a geriatric patient headed to play bingo at the nursing home. The blisters were no better, and now he had some chaffing issues despite wearing 2n1 shorts.

He decided to drop after lying on the side of the trail for 20 minutes. During this time of rest, he decided that running might not be the hobby he should have. He was mad that he "can’t seem to get this 100 mile thing finished." I told him that many people run several attempts before completing one. I told him that even if he gave up on running 100 miles, there is no reason to stop running. You don’t have to run 100 miles to be a runner. You don’t have to run a race of any distance to be a runner. You don’t have to enter a race, just run. But most importantly, you don't have to think about that now. If he wanted to stay there until the end of the race, I would have stayed with him, but I encouraged him to get up and go somewhere, anywhere but here.

Instead of continuing on to the Park Road aid station, we hung a left and headed back to the Nature Center A/S. We came across another runner who had the same idea. She was from Colorado, and I don’t know her name. I told her she needed to head on up the trail to the Nature Center because we were going to be awhile. And this is where the story gets interesting:

I found a “shortcut” to the aid station that actually led to a campground that I didn’t know existed. When I crested the hill, Nathan had collapsed at the bottom of the hill. He just laid there, groaning. I made sure he was okay, and I went up to what I thought was the aid station, which was actually a set of string lights just like the ones they had at Nature Center A/S. Suddenly, and I do mean suddenly, the wind shifted and the temperature plummeted, followed by rain. The plan was for me to run from the Nature Center to the jeep and come back to pick him up. I had no idea where this place was, though. So, I told him that our best bet was to get back on the trail and go to the Nature Center. He said he could not move; his legs had basically seized up. So, plan B was to put him in the campground bathroom, and I would just run back up to Nature Center on the trail; run back to the jeep and come back and get him. I wasn’t going to leave him in the cold rain after having run all day, for obvious reasons.

But then, I saw a vehicle. And I heard a lady screaming, “Frank!!! Frank!!!” Naturally, I jogged over. She looked towards me and yelled, “Frank!?!”

“No. What is going on?” I said, introducing myself.

She said, “I have two runners I am looking for who dropped and came out an alternate trail into a camping area. I am looking for them.”

I explained my situation and asked if she could point me to the main road. She said that she had no idea where it was. They were lost, too. Hmmm. “Lost, too? I am not lost”, I thought, laughing at myself inside. I just don’t know where I am… Okay, maybe I was lost. But I didn’t “feel” lost. I was just confused. I am very serious about being a good land navigator, and I wasn’t worried about not finding my way. I just didn't want to have to "find my way". And, I really didn’t want to be the source of additional rules for a race… “We had some idiots who…” Anyway, about that time, we both saw two headlamps headed our way. “Frank!?!” Yes, this was Frank.

They offered us a ride back to the start/finish. I grabbed up Nathan, and told him he had to walk to the car, which he did, very slowly. I was stuffed in the back of the Ford Explorer, amongst what looked like enough gear to summit Mt. Everest, which is exactly what our vehicle looked like. Nathan, the lady yelling for Frank, and another lady got in the back seat while Frank rode shotgun and his pacer drove. I am sometimes bad with names, but the lady who was yelling for Frank started asking questions like: “Well, is this the fun part of the 100 mile race?” “Has everyone enjoyed themselves?” She had quite a time, and I was laughing pretty hard back there with the gear. It was all in good fun, and it was one of the funniest events I can remember in a long time. These were some great people, and I am glad they were there to pick us up.

Nathan is doing well. He is already signed up for a 50 mile race on March 22nd in the Homochitto NF. I don’t run races during turkey season. I have a 50K in 2 weeks and the Pinhoti 100 in November. Thanks for reading.
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