by Lorrie Gray
July 18, 2009
Saturday night/Sunday morning at midnight I ran the El Scorcho Tres 50k. It was run on a 5k loop in Trinity Park in Fort Worth, which would be run 10 times. My husband Ken and I met up with a big group of NTTR members, and, thanks to Deborah, we put together our own aid station. My running buddy Rachel also joined us. She’s a future NTTR member (I’m still working on her).
Deborah, Rachel, and I started out with the other 50k runners just after midnight (the 25k runners started a few minutes later). We knew that it might be a challenge for us to finish in the 7-hour official cutoff, especially since we figured we’d want to spend a bit more time at the aid station between laps later on. So, while we were feeling good at the start, we decided to try and bank some time. We’d need to run each loop in 42 minutes to finish in 7 hours.
We ran the first lap in just over 36 minutes. It was uneventful, and we kept going without stopping at the aid station. On the second lap, Rachel was feeling good, and went ahead a bit. Things were going well for Deborah and I too, until about two miles into the loop, when I tripped and fell at a transition between the gravel path and one of the concrete drainage pads. I got up, and, other than being pretty dirty, there didn’t seem to be any harm done. Even so, I stopped for a few minutes at the aid station to clean up. Deborah went ahead, taking a walk break, and I caught up to her a bit into the third loop. Then she had to stop and get some debris out of her shoe, and I went ahead, now running alone. I stopped at our aid station again after this loop, and Ken (Chris’ Ken, not mine) helped me fill bottles, a task he kept up for the next several loops. This helped a lot in getting back on the course quickly. Thanks, Ken!
There was nothing special about loop 4, except for seeing a raccoon cross the path right in front of me, and I was still keeping up a good pace. On the fifth loop, Ken lapped me (my Ken this time), and just after that, Rachel caught up to me. I had passed her at some point while she took a quick break, and I didn’t know it. Deborah caught up to us as well, and the gang was back together again. This was short-lived, though. I needed to take a port-a potty break after loop 5, and told Rachel and Deborah to go on without me. I’d beat my 25k time from last year by about 30 minutes (If you think I’m slow now, you should have seen me a year ago)! Deborah ended up having to drop at this point, but I didn’t know it until I’d completed a couple more laps.
The wheels started coming off during the sixth lap. I was having GI issues, and wasn’t sure if I was going to make it to the next port-a-potty a little over halfway around the loop. I did, but came out not really feeling any better. I felt very bloated and couldn’t stand the thought of eating or drinking anything. I managed to finish the loop, and came into our aid station not really knowing what to do. I told Laurie and Kyle what was going on, and Laurie suggested having a ginger candy to maybe settle my stomach. She offered to give me one of hers, but I had some. I popped the candy in my mouth, and headed out. The race aid station had brought out Coke, and that sounded pretty good, so I grabbed one and drank it as I walked for a minute. By the end of this lap, I was able to tolerate food and drink again, although I still had to make a couple more pit stops.
Loop eight went well, but my Fuel Belt was starting to really bug me. So, I dropped it off after the lap, and just grabbed one of the bottles filled with Gatorade to carry with me. Big mistake. I hate carrying a bottle in my hand, and I know that. But for some reason, it seemed like the thing to do at this point. Almost immediately, I started to regret that decision, and I spent the entire lap hating every minute of it. By the time I got back around, I was in a really foul mood. I had to get every little extra thing off of me, including that bottle I was carrying, my headlamp (the sun was coming up now), the Cool Tie thingy I had around my neck,…everything. Several members had finished their runs now and were hanging out, including Ken, Mike Potter, and Chelle (who’d lapped me toward the end of lap nine) and they were encouraging me, telling me it was only one more lap and that I could do it. I said I knew I could finish, but that any chance of finishing in under 7 hours was gone. I knew I only had about 37 minutes left, and there was no way I had 12 minute miles left in me. Chelle spoke up at this point and said she would pace me in. I took her up on the offer, and we were off, with Chelle leading the way. I was amazed that she could maintain the pace she was on, after just finishing her race a few minutes prior. I tried to keep up, being pulled along by the imaginary string she had tied to her back. ☺
About 3/4 of a mile in, we caught up to Rachel. I tried to get her to come along with us, but she wasn’t having any of it. So, we continued, with Chelle setting the pace, and me following behind. After a little over a mile of this, that imaginary string somehow turned into a rubber band, because it was starting to really stretch as I fell behind the pace. She kept encouraging me the entire time, enticing me with upcoming walk breaks as soon as we got to “such and such” point. If I could have kept the pace up, I have no doubt that I would have made it in under 7 hours. As it was, I was trying to give her every little bit that I had left, but it was quickly falling short as I watched the minutes tick by on my watch, and saw 7 hours come and go. We got to the final home stretch, with Chelle telling me to pick up the pace and sprint to the finish. I’m sure that I didn’t look like I was doing anything close to a sprint, but I gave it what I had, and came in just over 7:03. My watch, which should be close to chip time, said 7:02:47. Rachel came in a few minutes after I did, in just under 7:10. I want to give a huge THANK YOU to Chelle for bringing me in that final loop! I’m convinced it would have taken me at least another 8-10 minutes to finish if she hadn’t done that, and I really appreciate it.
I want to close by saying that I think we have the best running club out there. It was so cool to have that many people to give me encouragement along the way, help me out between laps, and even pace me to the finish. Thanks guys!