by Lynn Ballard
Inks Lake State Park
November 5, 2005
I jumped into this race with the wild notion that it would be cool to do an ultra in the month of November, having completed one in Sept and Oct, with one planned in December. I didn’t know much about this event, except that it was a relatively small race (limit 40 for the 50 miler, 40 for the marathon).
Rocky Trails is an appropriate name, as there were plenty of both! Held at Inks Lake State park in the Texas Hill country, the backdrop of the beautiful lake, deer, cactus, rocks, great people and did I mention rocks??? combined to provide for a fun-filled weekend. I picked up my 21 year old son on the way down from North Texas (student at Baylor) and he and I made it to the pre-race dinner in time to meet some colorful members of the ultra scene (NTTR’s own Lorilie Lundell, Mark Henderson – winner Heartland 100M in Sept/winner Rocky Raccoon 50K in Oct, and winner, Rocky Trails 50M in Nov, Sam Voltaggio – RD and more). We had a lovely lasagna dinner on the lakeshore under the stars, with deer grazing nearby. Quickly to our campsite, young son and I pitched the tent and looked at each other as if to say “what’s next”. It seemed late, so we hit the sack at about 7:45 pm!
I slipped out of the tent at 4:30, made ready and walked the 150 yards to the start/finish to see what I could do to help with setting up for the day’s activities. The race volunteers had things well under control, so I just tried to jump in and unload whatever needed unloading from the various vehicles that periodically backed into the limited parking area with ice chests, pop-up tents, fire rings for cooking the fajitas, eggs, black beans and rice…you know, the usual runner’s fare. Someone tapped me on the shoulder and said…only for you! It was Lorelei who had gotten up early enough to see us start an hour before her marathon race!
After a few quick instructions, Sam the RD walked us out to the start line and said GO! Twenty-one of us went into the morning darkness, flashlights a-bobbing. Darkness reigned for almost half of the first loop, making the already challenging footing quite difficult. We were fortunate to have glow-sticks to follow until the daylight took over and allowed us to spot the flagging that marked the trail. I was able to catch up with a few of my running friends throughout the first few loops (total of 6 loops), feeling pretty good and running well. I made it through 34 miles relatively unscathed, but thinking my 50K race of two weeks ago was taking a toll on my legs. And the temp was well on it’s way to 90!
After 4 loops, my stomach went south and I never recovered, making the last 16 miles sort of a death march. Remembering the ultra-runners mantra of “relentless forward motion”, I pushed on, thinking I would find the right combination of food/fluids to get through the rough spot, but it was not to be. I began to fall off the pace I had held for 34 miles, knowing I could walk the rest of the way and still make cut-off. Well, I probably did power walk half of the 16 remaining miles, ran about 6 of them and stumbled the remaining few to lock a 12:24:33 finish, 14th overall out of 21 starters.
It was a fantastic day, except for the wanting to puke part, and once again I am reminded of what a wonderful community of runners come out for ultras. Many of the volunteers that doted over us were accomplished runners, veterans of the ultra grand slam (5 100 miler races in 6 months), Badwater (135 miles in Death Valley in July), etc. Joe and Joyce P were running the timing and were always incredibly attentive to the runners as they came through, looking for signs of distress, but being ever-encouraging…what a lift! Sam Voltaggio of the Hill Country Trail Runners (and RD), Joe and Joyce P and all the other volunteers were absolutely fantastic and made me feel particularly welcome to their event. They have set a very high standard for putting on a trail race…one I’ll keep in mind this weekend volunteering at RLRX!
Thanks for letting me blather on….
PR’s set: 4 1/2 hours of wanting to puke, but can’t; 5 pit stops that needed “paperwork”; 16 miles-most miles covered with one of my offspring (young son was kind enough to do last two loops with me…experienced the death march); probably the best overall event I have ever run…fantastic volunteers, great course, good time!