Interstellar Adventures

February 13, 2005

Tyler 25K Race Report

Filed under: Uncategorized — by InterstellarLass @ 10:52 pm

Whew! Well, I made it through another 25K. I didn’t do as well as I would have liked, but a finish is a finish!

My DH/PC decided he would make the trek with me after all. We have both been on antibiotics this week, but he feeling worse than I. So, we packed up the Jetta with our gear, and made the jaunt across I-20 to Tyler, Texas. We had to check in to the hotel and then pick up our race packets by 8 pm. We made it to the Days Inn just after 6, checked in, and just as we were leaving to pick up our race packets at Tyler State Park, we spotted a fellow racer, LK, from the AT group I train with. (I use the term “train” loosely here. Some people train really hard, every day. I don’t, and my race shows it.) So, we said a quick hello before we headed off.

We got to the park just as it was really getting dark. It was a bit spooky, as once we entered the park, we didn’t see any other cars. The trees were all around, and even with my bright lights on, we couldn’t see very far. DH/PC turned up the Tom Waits CD we had in, and it completed the creepy effect. Weird music. We found the race spot and were greeted by a cute little dachshund, the race director, Paul Stone, and his wife, and another gentlemen of unknown relation. We got our goodie-bags, filled with our race numbers, energy gel sample, race shirt, and flyers for other races. We chatted with the race director for a few minutes and got a little bit of info about the race. We found out that Paul and his wife run the Chapas aid-station at Bandera. I didn’t get to visit them this year because that aid-station is only on the 50K route. Hmmm, don’t know if I’ll ever get to visit them!

We left the spooky-dark park and stopped at the convenience store to ask for directions to go someplace to eat. We were given options that were pretty standard fare, and it sounded like there was a big “loop” that had options aplenty. So, we headed towards Tyler proper. My racer friend LK called me from the hotel just thereafter, and we agreed to meet at the Olive Garden for dinner. So, I started on the Tyler Loop. And we drove and drove and drove around. I was starting to get concerned that we were more and more lost, as we kept passing intersection after intersection with nothing to be seen. Finally, we came to Broadway and found what we were looking for. Olive Garden on a Friday night (Valentine’s Weekend to boot) must have been the place to be. It was packed! Once we got seated, it was difficult to choose which carb-laden meal I would enjoy first. I finally settled on a tomato-based sauce, thinking anything creamy would be too heavy. I also enjoyed some salad. This might have been a bad choice.

We finished our dinner and headed back to the Days Inn. DH/PC and I stopped for some playing cards. Once we got back, we sorted out our gear for the morning, and played a few hands of gin, then a little five card draw. 4 out of 5 hands of gin, and 5 out of 7 hands of poker. I don’t usually win cards against DH/PC, so this was fun. Lights out just after 11 pm. Alarm set for 5 am. Didn’t sleep particularly well as the room was stuffy.

5 am came a bit too early. Threw on some clothes and headed out across the highway to the nearest c-store for some coffee and juice. Finished getting ready for the race, checked out of the hotel, and we headed back to TSP, still in the dark. We stopped back at the c-store across from the park entrance for a last pit stop. We spotted the rest of the gang from AT — LK, AToms, Beckbee, Mark and Di, (DonutMan was already at the race) in the parking lot of the c-store too. Good morning everyone! We were all in a great mood and looking forward to the race!

We arrived at the race location and it was full of cars! No one had been there the night before, so I wasn’t expecting so many people. We parked, decided what we would take/leave. Was it going to rain like the forecast called for? We gambled that it wouldn’t and left the rain gear in the car. DH/PC decided against carrying the energy gels and water bottle. We knew that aid-stations would be fairly evenly spaced, so he was fine with that. I prefer to carry a water bottle, and I had my camel-pack too, since I’m “training” for an AR where I’ll need to carry quite a bit of gear.

Before the Race    DH  Pre-Race Girls

The morning was a bit chilly, so we gathered near the fire pit, and waited for the last-minute announcement regarding the race. Then, we all lined up (me in the back) and waited for the start. Just after sunrise and 7 am, 38 50K-ers and 64 25K-ers stared off. Almost immediately the 50K group split off. They would do 3 full loops of about 10.3 miles. The 25K group ran down the road out of the picnic area, and down a long hill on the park road before we joined onto the trails for a short 5.3 mile loop. We would then run back through the start area and complete a full 10.3 mile loop to finish the race.

I was glad we were running down the hill on the park road. Running up it would have been a hard way to start the race. I ran the first bit with Beckbee, and watched DH/PC dash on ahead with the majority of the pack. Looked like he was just out for a regular ‘ol run Beckbee thought, since he was one of the few not carrying anything. We had to go a little uphill to get onto the trail, so we took the chance to walk and go ahead and take off our jackets. Beckbee got this accomplished before I did, so she took off ahead of me. I would chase her for awhile, but soon she was out of sight. I never would catch her. 😦

Along the Road Fallen Tree Burned Forest

I got to the first aid station pretty quickly, just after 2 miles. The morning was shaping up nice, and even though my ankles were hurting from the big initial downhill, I was feeling OK. This was the best I felt the whole race. Sadly, the feeling quickly faded. The trail was very well marked and defined. The up-hills weren’t too steep, and the down-hills were fairly easy. A few tree roots caught me off guard, and I nearly bit the dust twice on this stretch. I finally made it back to the start and second aid-station. I thought to myself “Hey! I’m a third of the way done. I think I’m pretty close to my goal pace. I should feel better soon and get my pep back.” So, I grabbed a few munchies, refilled my water bottle, consumed an energy gel, and dashed off to complete the 10.3 mile loop.

Burned Forest 2 Eroded Bank Burned Forest 3

I tried to re-energize, sing a peppy song, think positive thoughts, but I just wasn’t feeling right. I hadn’t run in two weeks since I cut the bottom of my foot (I won’t tell you how, it’s just too embarrassing), and I hadn’t felt great all week, and was thusly on antibiotics. I could also try to use the excuse that a front was moving in, and the changing barometric pressure negatively affected my body. Or, since the moon was in the third phase of Venus and Jupiter and Saturn were in their millenial paradox…I don’t know. I just had a hard time! The other thing was that the trail was full of switchbacks. I would run all along the side of the hill, then do a short climb and run back across the side of the same hill. I could see the park road sometimes, and I could see aid-station tents from around the bend. I think this played with my psychologically. I would expect to arrive any minute, and I would never get there. I need to figure out how to prepare for this stuff! That, and I need an MP3 player to listen to. (Anyone that wants to help with this…drop me a line!) Put stuff like “Eye of the Tiger” and the Rocky theme song on it so I can keep my mind off of the trail in front of me. This race had a ban on music though since the trails were open to other runners and bikers too. I always saw them well ahead of time though, and we were running against traffic, so I don’t think it would have been an issue. I was also having quite a bit of pain in my hips that I usually only feel when I run on the road, and my left big toe and front of my left foot were hurting for some reason that I didn’t understand. I hadn’t taken any Aleve before I started, and had none on my person, so I had to fight through it.

Aid-station three was 3 miles into the final loop. They had some Rolling Stones blaring and a big sign advertising a “best legs” contest. I decided against entering even though mooning would have earned me extra points. Again filling up the water bottle, consuming an energy gel, and grabbing half a peanut butter sandwich (alas, no jelly), I toddled off. Just 3 more miles to the next aid station. There was a bit of a hill here. The steepest I had seen on the trail yet. When I got to the top of it, I realized that another hill, even steeper, was immediately ahead. Egads. It was tough both up and down. This is where it got really bad for me. The pain in my hips was getting worse. It was weird, because if I wiggled while I walked (aka “shake my booty”) it felt a little better, but that took too much energy. So, every little bit I would stop and try to stretch my hips a little. It didn’t work. I was watching my time, and I knew I was way off a 15 minute pace. Sigh. Maybe next time. It was at this point that I think I began to imagine things too. I kept thinking I saw little black spiders flitting across the trail, and at one point I brushed up against a low hanging branch that I didn’t see and almost jumped out of my skin. I even thought I saw a bear. A lot of this area had been “control burned” recently, and from the angle that I was at, out of the corner of my eye, a broken, burned log looked like a black bear staring back at me. I even thought I saw a couple of snakes. All my imagination. Silly me. I also bit it a few more times on this stretch. Please let me stay up on my feet.

Snake Tree Flamingo Aid-Station Up the Hill

Arriving at the fourth and final aid station (which happened to be aid-station number one also) I could barely stand. My hips were on fire, and my right knee and ankle were throbbing. Oh, and my fingers again had turned into little Vienna sausages. I still had 4.3 miles to go. I had been passed by many 50K runners, all trotting along like it was nothing. “What the heck am I doing out here!” I kept thinking. I don’t know the answer to that still. Regardless, the only way I was getting off that trail was to finish the race. I could have turned in my race number and been trucked in from the last aid station, but heck!, if Bandera couldn’t beat me, there’s no way Tyler could! “Take it easy the rest of the way in” the lady at the aid-station said. Hmmm, “easy” is not the way the last 4.3 miles of any race should be described.

Sausage Fingers Normal Fingers

I saw the same mountain biker like 4 or 5 times. He was a machine on that bike. Taking steep down-hills blazing fast, and each time he passed me he would should “Good job, runner!”. At one point I also saw a guy resting against a tree. I couldn’t figure out what he was doing until I rounded the corner and saw his girlfriend picking herself out of the briars. Poor thing. Her bike shoes were brand new. First time out maybe. Another pair I passed had recently had a tumble on their bikes. I heard them before I saw them. As I passed, one of them mused “Maybe I should give this up and start running.” I told him “I’ll gladly take your bike and finish this thing!”. I still had a sense of humor!

Waterfall Almost Finished*

Nearer to the finish I was passed by a chatty guy & gal. “Doing the 50K?” they asked as they passed me. “Oh no!” I managed to gasp. “Well then you’re almost done! And you’re not even last. We just passed 3 or 4 25K-ers at the last aid station.” No Way! I thought. I had been sure that I was going to be the last to finish. I had even been thinking the whole last 7 miles how I was going to gracefully accept last place and explain it on my blog. Man, great story line blown! But I wasn’t last! This made me feel a little better. Still stopping to stretch my hips though. It had also started to sprinkle by this time. I could hear more rain than I could feel, being in the trees. And the smell of the rain in the forest was actually refreshing, smooth and cool. I knew I was approaching the end. After the first short loop, there was a brief .75 mile loop to run around before we got to the start/aid-station/finish. I hoped that I wasn’t going to have to do that again. But I did. As I turned the corner, LK, AToms, DonutMan, and Di were there to cheer me on my last little bit. “Do I have to do that .75 mile loop again?” I asked. “Yes.” was the reply. I’m sure I looked totally dejected at that point. I almost started to cry. “But I’m right here!” I whined to myself in my head. “I don’t want to!” But I did. “Suck it up and finish strong!” I thought to myself. It almost worked.

I jogged in the last little bit on the road, around the cars and to the finish. Just over 5:10. Don’t know what my exact time was. Forgot to stop my watch. Doh! Averaged about a 19:45 mile. Faster than Bandera! HA HA HA! Slower than what I had hoped. Maybe if I really start training for these things I’ll get better! Doh!

My DH/PC was sitting by the fire pit by the finish. Poor thing. I knew he would finish way before me, and I almost gave him the car keys, but as he wasn’t carrying anything to hold it in, I couldn’t. He was shivering and cold, even right on top of the fire! He had finished the race in 3:21! FANTASTIC! I thought. I am so proud of him. His first trail run and he averaged a 12:45 mile. He only started running back in November when I challenged him to do the 8-mi Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day. He did a great job! Yay! That made the whole day worth while. I was so glad for him that my miserable time and aches and pains didn’t matter. DH/PC kicked some butt! I admit, I got a little choked up. I love my husband.

Great Time! Post-Race Bubbles

We got our finishers plaques after the race. They are dark granite squares with “25K” finisher emblazoned on them. “I want a medal…” DH/PC half-whined. “Don’t worry baby. We’ll do another race so you can have a medal too!” I said. I have my Bandera medal and my WAR medal hanging from my rear-view mirror. A little goofy, but hey, I see them every day and remember that I can accomplish anything. I might have to cry a little and whine and crawl through it, but no obstacle is too great! And I was happy that I got to share this one with my DH/PC. I hope I get to share more of these races with him.

Next race: Feb 26 I’m racing with Team Chubby Bastardos and Team Chubby DeLites at the Martin Dies Adventure Race. This is gonna be interesting. It’s a 12-hour race, meaning the winning team finishes in about 12 hours. Today I found out that Team Chubby finished in 17.5 hours last year. The race starts at 7 am. OMG! What the heck have I gotten myself into!

Next race with DH/PC: Grasslands! This one’s supposed to be fairly flat, but all sand. I don’t think running in sand will be very fun. These are horse trails too, so they’ll be pitted. Good news is it’s only a half-marathon distance! Stay tuned!

*This photo courtesy of DonutMan. Thanks Charles!

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