Sunday, October 29, 2006

Rocky Raccoon 50K

At the end of it all, the realization that the 50 miler is possible was greater than the realization that today we were officially ultra-runners.

The day started out with some latino music being played to some fat men dancing with pretty girls on the hotel room TV. Santhosh with his late registration had some issues with gathering collectibles, and the race organizers asked him to finish early if he wanted his t-shirt (which he proceeded to do)! We had Joe's race plan -- go easy the first two aid stations (7.5 miles) and pick up speed for the next four (8miles to start + 7.5 miles again) and go with your body and legs for the final 8miles. Our version of going easy meant 12minute miles and picking up speed was supposed to be 10minute miles.

We did the easy bit according to plan, and then Santhosh took off. On a trail, with no mile markers, and continuously changing terrain, its very hard to hold a pace, let alone judge what pace you are holding. By the time we covered 5 miles to the next aid station, turned out we were holding 8.5 minute miles. Suicidal! -- with a better part of 19 more miles to go. After the first loop we had a rather long break, and I took a while to warm up from there and let the fast boys, Santhosh and Gaurav, go. Ganesh the smart guy, had already let the sub-9min-mile runners go earlier itself.

The second loop was fairly introspective. More on that, and interesting happenings during the race, and some pictures later on. I kept 12minute pace for three aid stations, and came back to a 10minute mile pace for the last three miles. As I picked up my pace to a sprint to finish in a little over 6 hours (6hr:04min), there was only one thought, I knew the 50miler come december, will be done.

Huntsville State Park is rather green and wooded and quite pretty. It has its moments when the lake sneaks up on you with its fall colored trees. As many had told us before, the terrain does have a lot of roots, so if you dont watch you step (which you can't for most of the race), or lift your foot high enough between steps (which may be hard towards the end in Sunmart), you are bound to trip and take a spin. But the 50K was not so debilitating and roots and logs were jumped over even as we were finishing. Easy to get emotional when you go these distances, but that not withstanding, immense affection and gratitude flows for the team for all the support and camaraderie.

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