Monday, November 28, 2016

Race Recap: Blood Rock 50k

As you can already see from the picture above, they will be including a 100 miler in 2017! Wowzers!

Blood Rock was my first official 50k. If you remember, I ran R2R2R in the Grand Canyon, which was 50 miles, however, that was a self supported run versus an actual race, so technically, this was my first race over the marathon distance.

Our morning began at 5 am on race day as the start time was 6:30 am. We stayed in a cabin within the park w/ 2 bedrooms, adjoining bathroom, & living room / kitchen area. We had a beautiful view out the back that I took Sunday morning (see below our cabin & view).

We were about a 5 minute drive from the start line which was nice. Many of our friends stayed at hotels nearby, mainly the Fairfield Inn, in case you prefer a hotel if you're considering this race. We got to the race, pinned on our bibs, took a few pictures, and waited for the gun to go off.
Earlier in the week, the race director had sent an email that said the first 11 miles could take you FOUR hours. After reading that, I was a little defeated during the week & we all discussed it on our Thursday morning run and the feeling seemed mutual with others, but we were still determined to run the race! We also received an email that stated from miles 1.5 - 6.5 and 9 - 10.5 were unmaintained, backcountry trails with trees to crawl over, sections that were almost all rock, and climbs that were very steep with traverses across areas that were not "leveled." Needless to say, we were questioning how long this would actually take us? I guessed 10 hours for myself.

I had no idea what to expect when the race started. I had done road training for Chicago & one trail run in Chattanooga end of October, but other than that, was not really prepared for climbs / hills the way I was for Grand Canyon. At this point, there was no turning back while waiting for the start. The gun went off, & my friends Jen & Roy & I took off together.

The first 1.5 miles were on the road (slight rollers). Our first mile was clocked at 9:16 and after 1.5 we hit the trail & ended up with a 10:20 second mile. Then began the climbs up some steep terrain as you can see my mile times (below) got slower as we climbed. One portion of the climb even had ropes between the trees to help you get up as the footing was not easy. The climbing leveled out around mile 6 where there was a period of runable flats that I was able to pick up the pace for a portion of mile 6.
(View once we got to the ridge)

Mile 6-7 was another steep climb, with some more leveling out at Mile 8, but more climbing from 8.5 - 10. I was very determined that the first 11 miles would NOT take me 4 hours after receiving that e-mail, but also kind of scared it might, so I kept powering through & I rolled up to the first aid station in 2 hours and 40 minutes, which I was pleased with. I grabbed some coca cola, PB&J, and refilled my water. I also met some very nice runners from Mississippi & Alabama along the way.

Second portion was miles 11-21 & I thought, "Okay, 10 more miles until the next stop, I can do this" & kept moving. As I was running the second portion, my pack split open on the bottom of one of my waters on my chest and out it fell along with my phone, which cracked on the top. Could this be foreshadowing of me getting lost? We had a few easier / normal miles from 11-16. One I hit 16, there was another very huge, steep climb that I thought I was going to die. I had to take a break & eat some chews. Miles 17-21 were pretty average, few climbs, but also runable at times. I ran into my friend Shannon around 18 and walked w/ her a bit. I hit the second aid station at 4:40, also pleased with this time & was hoping for a 7:30 at this point for my finish time. After the second aid station, you had to walk back up a steep road hill and get back on the trail.
Shortly after being on the trail, I came to a spot that I wasn't sure where to go as I saw flags both ways. I waited for the girl behind me and asked her & we took one way, which ended up being the WRONG way. We ended up going about 1.5 miles down the 50 mile course, not 50k. We doubled back, but we could not find where we went wrong or the green trial we were supposed to be on, so we waited & waited for someone who knew the woods to come along. At last, someone came & told us where to go getting us back on green. As soon as we were there, I saw my friend Jen at the top of the mountain. I started screaming her name & knew we were back on the path, but at this point it had taken about an extra hour and I knew my time was gone. (You can see the lost portion around miles 25-27).  After that, I stayed with my friend Jen for a little bit before realizing I jsut wanted to finish the race & be done. I was pissed, sad, & annoyed this happened during my first 50k, but I have known others in my community it has happened to & that it is always a possibility in unfamiliar woods w/ trails. The next few miles, I walked more than I would have had I not gotten lost and was texting my friend Corrie at the finish line a play by play of where I was to make sure I was still going the right way (I didn't have a map). I told her to get a beer ready for me at the finish! I was OVER it. I stopped along a few parts & took the pictures below because they were stunning.

I finally finished & was happy it was done!! I thought about things I was happy with during this race & I came up with the following: I finished, I did not get injured, I ran better than I thought I could, I did not quit even though I wanted to give up / cry after getting lost, & I got to run in a beautiful, new area and visit a new state. I am looking forward to another one in the future!

(My friend Jen & I at the finish)

The course was challening, but so beautiful. The leaves were stunning & changing over and we had perfect weather with an average of about 50. The aid stations were full of plenty of good food: quesadillas, M&Ms, fried eggs, PB&J's, gatorade, coke, water, & lots more that I cannot remember. The volunteers were amazing & so kind. I am so thankful they were out there for us & even longer to help the 50 milers! I do wish the aid stations were a tad closer since the first one wasn't for about 3 hours in, but it broke it up into 3 sections in my mind for me while running. I had a lot of fun with my Nashville Fleet Feet Ultra Dirtbags. Many dirtbags finished their first 50k and the tears / relief / happiness they felt watching them finish was truly amazing. I am so proud of all of us for conquering this difficult course!!

Mile 1: 9:16
Mile 2: 10:20
Mile 3: 17:43
Mile 4: 16:30
Mile 5: 19:14
Mile 6: 12:11
Mile 7: 21:02
Mile 8: 11:17
Mile 9: 16:37
Mile 10: 13:56
Mile 11: 14:31
Mile 12: 10:00
Mile 13: 10:21
Mile 14: 12:39
Mile 15: 12:33
Mile 16: 11:08
Mile 17: 18:47
Mile 18: 11:55
Mile 19: 16:43
Mile 20: 15:49
Mile 21: 14:38
Mile 22: 14:04
Mile 23: 16:59
Mile 24: 12:33
Mile 25: 26:52
Mile 26: 20:26
Mile 27: 19:11
Mile 18: 15:24
Mile 29: 15:28
Mile 30: 18:26
Mile 31: 18:57
Mile 32: 15:42
Mile 33: 14:27
Mile .54: 6:43
Total: 8:32 (Avg Pace: 15:17)

Race Details:
Cadence: 148 spm
HR: Avg: 163, Max: 198
Calories Burned: 4,171
  • Tailwind (berry flavor) in one of my water pouches
  • Honey Stinger Waffle - taken at 1.5 hours in
  • Coke & PB&J at mile 11 (first aid station)
  • 1/2 bag skratch chews Mile 17
  • Coke & lots more PB&J at Mile 21 (second aid station)
  • 1/2 bag skratch chews at Mile 27