by Lynn Ballard
Huntsville State Park
October 22, 2005
“Yep, it’s broken”
Drove down to the Huntsville State Park on Friday for Rocky Raccoon 50K. It is a great race on soft, shady trails in a beautiful setting (as far as Texas settings go) and the weather was fabulous.
I did have a chance to say hi to Paul Stone and some friends from the Runner’s World forum before the race. Race morning came early as was volunteering to do valet park cars for the first 200 runners that entered the park (actually pointing the way to the parking area with a flashlight). Met up with Terri, another friend from the RW Forum right as the 50K event started, just after it was light enough to see. Terri and I ran toghether visiting for most of the first loop. She pushed me a little faster than I thought I should be going, but I enjoyed getting to visit, as the time was passing quickly. I enjoyed seeing Scotty not far behind the first place runner on the out and back. I also got to say hi to Bill Rumbaugh…at least the out and back is good for seeing how everyone else is doing!
Terri and I separated about two thirds of the way through the first 25K loop. Arriving at the campsite #174 aid station (Mariella from HTREX and crew were doing a fantastic job), I was feeling good and just under 3 miles to the end of the loop. Still, the time is passing quickly and I arrive at the S/F area at 2:41, waaaaaay too fast for me. After a very quick turnaround at the S/F aid station, I am moving well alone on the single track. Something begins to nag, but I put it to the back of my mind, thinking that I will slow considerably on this loop for about a 6 1/2 hour finish.
I continue to move well and realize that I am actually feeling great! I am passing runners regularly and continue to wait for something to go wrong. There is an out and back section that passes quickly and I see Terri again, looking strong. Bill Rumbaugh is looking fresh as well! I quickly move back onto the single track and have another runner in my sight, thinking this has to be the 8th or 9th runner I have passed and cannot remember anyone passing me so far on this loop. As I pull up to about 10 yards behind this runner, WHAM! The rooty trail takes me down really hard and I am nose down in the gritty leaves that cover the trail. Well, there it goes, I think, regaining my feet, but quickly realizing that everything was intact but my pride. I gain full stride and reel in the runner I was chasing, and begin to focus on the next one. I return to Mariella’s aid station and realize that I’m only 5 hours into the run with less than 3 miles to the finish! Couldn’t put off that nagging feeling anymore! I covered the last three miles with a smile on my face, crossing the finish line at 5:26 (my watch), BREAKING my old 50K PR by almost 30 minutes!
Rocky was a great race put on by Paul Stone and a lot of fantastic volunteers. I really had a great time!