Guys, I did it! I completed the Brazos Bend 50k!
Let’s back up a bit. A few months ago Rachel sent me a link to this race. Yes, this is what we do, send each other races we find. I signed up immediately for the 50k. I thought it would be great timing for a 50k with training for the 50 miler. So I thought.
The week leading up to the race I didn’t feel so confident. I wondered what I was thinking signing up in the first place. But I was going to go and give it my best. I knew I would have plenty of time to finish it. My goals were to finish the race running, walking, crawling, any way I could and stay injure free.
So, Saturday morning, I woke up early (well couldn’t sleep is more like it), got ready, and headed down to Brazos Bend State Park. I made sure I had all my gear: shirt, pants, shoes, socks, hat, sunglasses, hydration vest, nutrition, race bib, and Garmin watch.
Diving up to the park, lots of negative thoughts went through my head. What was I doing there? I can’t run 31 miles. People who train for a marathon run at least one 20 miler, this race is longer than a marathon, and I hadn’t run 20 miles! What am I thinking?
I drove into the park, parked my car, put on my hydration vest, and headed to the start line. The day provided just about every emotion one can experience and every weather.
The race stated at 7am. We were off.
Out of the first 4 miles, I only remember the first 10 minutes. And it’s not for a good reason that I remember these minutes. You know how they say don’t use or wear anything on race day you haven’t trained with. Well…I’m not a very good listener. I purchased a hydration vest and this was the first time wearing it. I filled it with water and put it on the night before. Eric helped me mess with the straps and we thought it was on properly. We thought wrong. The pack was way too loose. It bounced all around during my first 9 minute run. During my 1 minute walk I fixed it and it didn’t bounce or bother me the remainder of the race.
I do remember thinking during this time to try to think about something. All I could think about it: what will I write in my blog? What will I tell them about the race, the course? Trees, there are a lot of trees. That’s all I came up with. Ha.
I passed through the first aid station that was in an open area by a parking lot. The course led through some grass and back on the trail. This part of the trial was covered by trees all around. The same time I entered this part, the sky got dark and the opened up. Panic set in. The trail was completely dark, it was raining hard, no one was around me.
I told myself to slow down, get my breathing in check, and just follow the trail in front of me. Soon the trees opened up after a small uphill and curve. It was raining harder and the wind was vicious. Why was water hurting me when it hit my skin?!
I stopped for a few minutes with a small group but decided I didn’t have time to sit there all day; there were so many more miles to cover.
Let me back up a moment. The night before I told Eric not to come to the race. He has law school finals coming up and needed to study. He would have been out there far too long and lose valuable study time. Believe me, it took some convincing to get him to stay. I told him to text me along the way. So when I put my phone in my bag, I turned the volume up loud so I could hear when a text comes and know it’s some encouragement.
About this time in the run I got a text, but I figured it was Rachel telling me she was leaving. I knew she couldn’t stay long and with this storm, I would have gotten out of there if it were me!
At 6 miles we were close to the finish line again. Instead of taking a left with the 10k’ers, we took a right. I so wish I signed up for the 10k at this point. Over a bridge, across the street, and through more trees we go.
We cross one more street to get on a different trail. While crossing, we hear a scream coming from someone who already crossed. I was scared of what I was going into. There was a blow up alligator!
A couple more miles and we hit the next aid station where we found Waldo. Down two more miles and the next aid station. I ate an orange and turned around. Headed for the finish line, for the first time.
One of the things that sucks about trail races (at least for longer distances), is you have to cross the finish line twice (or more)! But I understand. It’s just a mental game.
I got to the finish line right at 3 hours, which I predicted and hoped would happen. At this point I was still running my 9 minutes on, 1 minute off and drinking my Tailwind Nutrition every time I walked. I felt great!
I stopped at the aid station at the finish line and refilled my nutrition. At this point I realized I didn’t have enough to last me the whole race. I would ration this one and eat solid foods at the aid stations.
During most of the race, I was running alone. People behind me, people ahead of me. I am generally always too fast, or too slow. I tried to pace with a few people. And by pace I mean I ran behind them, to keep my pace in check.
The second loop started my emotional rollercoaster. I lost all track of miles. I couldn’t even remember the course even though I had already ran it before. Several times I stopped. I walked for a long time. How could I complete this race?! I almost started crying. I wasn’t going to finish this race.
The rain earlier caused a part of the trail (about a mile) to become thick mud. I had to walk this part because I wasn’t going to 1. Injure myself or 2. Fall in mud with 10 plus miles to go.
About this time, I saw the strangest thing I ever have seen on a race. I was coming up on a guy and suddenly there was smoke. Flavored smoke. When I got closer, I saw he was smoking an e-cigarette. YES, you read that right! He was smoking while running a 50k!
It took me about an hour and a half to finish the first 6 miles of the second loop. I didn’t know if I would make it any further.
And then I saw Rachel! An old coworker was also there supporting her family. I thought she had left earlier! It was so nice and refreshing to see familiar faces. This is just what I needed! I stopped and talked with them for a minute. Rachel asked all the essential questions: how do your legs feel; how’s your head; you want my shirt; how’s your nutrition.
I had 10 more miles to go. Rachel said she would see me in 2 hours, I told her it would be longer. Karly told me to finish it anyway I could.
Energized again I was off to finish this race. The sun was out and it was hot! The heat was rising from the trail. This was going to take a long time to finish. I hate running in the heat!
This time I made mental notes of landmarks. Blue house. Cross the street. Blown up alligator.
At this point I was running about 6 minutes, walking 4. Sometimes, if I felt like it I would run 7 minutes. Sometimes I would walk for 10 minutes or so. I did what I needed to do to keep moving forward. I could walk the rest of the way, if I wanted to.
I hit the first aid station pretty quickly. Another orange slice and pretzels.
The girl who was in first place of the 50 miler was also at this aid station…asking how far to the finish. Yes, she was finishing her last 3 miles of the 50 miles! I kept going to the next aid station.
At this aid station, I filled up my water, ate an orange, and pb&j. Let me tell you, this was the best pb&j ever!
Two miles back to the aid station. This was my last stop before the finish. I poured some water on my head to cool down and headed to the finish. Before I knew it I was passing the blown up alligator, crossing the street, and at the blue house.
Rachel was in the same spot I saw her in earlier. I gave her a hug. I did it. I was finishing my 50k!
I did it!
I did it!
It’s hard to believe.
It was difficult for me to put all these words on this page. I was feeling so negative, so down, so weak before. But I finished. So surreal. I am strong. I can do anything.
Another reason it was difficult to realize what I had accomplished because I didn’t feel it. Physically. Boy do I love trails. My legs felt great! I have felt worse after short run. Very little soreness. How could I have ran that many miles and not feel it? Sounds silly, but that’s how I have been feeling.
It was a really good race! I enjoyed the trails, the people, the race overall. I’m glad I made it out there. I’m glad and proud to call myself an ultrarunner!
Total time: 6:44
Age group [20-29]: 3/5
Thank you to Eric who showed up after I finished. Even though I convinced him to stay home, he wanted to see me finish. He did underestimate my timing though and I was already finished when he got there. But that’s okay. He was there and that is all that matters.
Thank you to Rachel who stayed out there all day! She didn’t have to at all. It was a long day and she ended up sunburned. Your support means a lot to me and was a great motivation during the race! You helped me get to the end.
Thank you to the race director for putting on a great race and shaking my hand calling me a badass at the finish!
Thank you to the volunteers. They do so much hard work before and during the race. All those amazing pb&js they had to make! Thanks specifically to the guy who helped me fill up and close my water pack.
Thank you to the guy who told me to watch out for snakes in the puddles. It terrified me and ever puddle I imagined getting bit by a snake and having to call E and tell him.
Thank you to the lady who wished for a downpour. Even though it sucked while it was happening, it did keep the weather cool for half the race.
Thank you to those of you reading this, commenting on pictures, and encouraging me.
It’s Thursday and I’m sorry you guys don’t get foodie blog.
I feel really good still, although I haven’t ran since Saturday. But I’m ready to get back out there, train, and race!