by Bill “Trailgeeze” Rumbaugh
Northshore Trail, Grapevine Lake, TX
November 11, 2006
This year was the exact opposite of the race held last year. Besides reasonable temperatures and humidity, I was prepared mentally to go the distance, after my Palo Duro debacle a few weeks prior, in which I took my first DNF.
The fall weather was in full bloom the morning of the race. Temperatures were in the 40’s and the sky was clear and bright. It did not take too long for the temperature to warm up to the 60’s, but the wind was easy to handle and the threat of rain long gone. The bright red leaves of the sumac bushes contrasted with the yellow leaves of various types of trees all along the trail. A few leaves were still green while others had given in to autumn and forsaken their trees for the trail. Where they concealed various obstacles. Trail conditions were optimum.
This is a fairly demanding course, and though I train on it just like many NTTR members, familiarity does not make it any easier, just … more familiar. I had a tough run last year, what with the high humidity and warm temperatures that time. Cooler temps and mental preparedness had me primed to do significantly better than my 7:11 last year. Unfortunately 7:01 was the best that I could manage. With my PR of 6:20 from last year’s Sunmart 50k, my only explanation can be that it’s just a tough course, here on the North Shore.
Organization of the race was first rate, as always. Good going, Tom Crull. We veterans appreciate the special recognition we got during the pre-race briefing. One more tidbit about Tom. I had gotten wind that this year’s shirts were to be orange and emailed him to please say it ain’t so. If it was so, then I’d be willing to take a leftover shirt from last year if one were still available. As a dyed in the wool Aggie, I am allergic to orange, even if it was more of a pumpkin orange than a burnt orange. I would have taken the shirt, but given it to a friend. I just don’t wear anything orange. Anyway, at packet pickup, when I told the young lady my name, she said, “Oh, YOU’RE Bill Rumbaugh” and she handed me a blue shirt from last year. I gratefully traded her with the one Celeste Walz had tossed me a moment before. Maroon, Tom. It’s Maroon next year, buddy. Right?
Efforts of the volunteers were appreciated, as always, them coming out so we can play in the dirt. I especially appreciated the way Fred Thompson filled my bottle all 4 times during the day and the way that he took special care my last time through to ask about my electrolytes and fuel for the last few miles. I probably looked mostly spent at that point, but little did he know I was just getting my second wind! Letha did a big job procuring, organizing and distributing the supplies for the aid stations. What a trooper.
Have to mention Marshall King. He and I started out of the S/F area together after the first out and back section. We descended down the “stairs” after exiting Jackson Pavilion, I thought about going back to the drop bag area for my rappelling gear, but forgot to bring it this time. Heading out into the moonscape of a dried up lakebed where the trail was laid out this year, I tried to hang on to his pace. He left me in the dust. So never let it be said that racewalking is only for flat level pavement. This was anything but. I took comfort in the fact that Marshall is one of less than 200 centurions in the US (racewalkers who have covered over 100 miles in 24 hours). He eventually finished about 20 minutes ahead of me, walking the whole distance while I ran where I could and tried to walk fast where I couldn’t. Fast is a relative term, remember.
All in all, it was quite a pleasant run on a familiar trail, in perfect weather. Getting to see and run with friends I don’t get to see often enough made it special. Thanks to all who had a hand in putting this together, superb job, y’all.
UP NEXT: Sunmart 50 miler on December 9th. Will he be ready after irregular training over the last part of November? Stay tuned for the next exciting episode!