Rough Creek Trail Run 2016
Where to start? This is a tough one. What an incredible day. What a very very hard day. A slow day. A sore day. Rough Creek Trail Run 2016 will for sure go down as one of the hardest. Ironman Texas 2011 was hard. Super hard. But Rough Creek Trail Run was really something else. So, lets get into it then.
To see what the last week looked like dealing with an injury, doubting whether i should even attend the race or not read my previous blog INJURED AGAIN, 6 DAYS TO GO!. It talks about everything i did just to get to the start line.
So wake up is 3:30 am so that i can make sure I leave by 4am. Rough Creek Lodge is 2 hours drive away or 117 miles. I make some coffee, stick it in the Yeti. Do my morning pre race #2. Grab all my gear ( which i diligently packed the night before ) and head out the door.
Dammit, there is not enough gas in the car 🙁 guess I’m hitting the gas station.
Once I was on the road it was pretty smooth. There really isn’t very much traffic at 4am. I managed to stop at a small town on the way and hit up Dunkin Donuts for a bacon, egg & cheese bagel for breakfast. In fact I grabbed 2 of them :)
So after i had my belly nice and full it was back on the road for me the last 50 odd miles to the race.
One of the best things about trail running is the fact that its a small community. Race day is never very rushed. Packet pickup is easy, chilled and normally there aren’t any lines.
I attempted to get my timing of arriving at the venue ( Rough Creek Lodge ) as close as possible to the race start time of 7am and arrived at about 6:15 which i think was perfect. It allowed me a little time to warm up and be there in time for the pre race briefing. Its easy to spot the regulars when there are only about 200 people living up to race. Mark Olateju is one of those who are hard to miss in his bright shorts he always runs in.
2: At The Start.
So as you know from reading my previous blog I came into this race carrying an injury & must thank Shane Hernandez of Edge Physical Therapy and Trevin Fugere & his team from Fusion Chiropractic for getting me ready and to the start line. Without them I would not have made it.
My goal was simple. Finish the race without further injury. My plan was to walk where I could and if possible get in a bit of easy running. I also wanted to work on my nutrition plan and see how it worked for a 7 hour or potentially longer race. The beginning of the race was interesting. 80% of the field was running off into the distance with a few stragglers like myself walking so had some company along the way. It was cool, the moon was still up & the sun was rising behind me.
The views were quite awesome and I spent the first few miles just getting the muscles warm and ready for the long day. Making sure to keep drinking lots of fluids and sticking to the Gu plan of 1 Gu every 3-4 miles.
It was about mile 6 a small group of us got lost. Once we got back on course and were talking to fellow runners & getting lost at Rough Creek is literally just Par for the course.. If you don’t get lost at Rough Creek, you haven’t really run Rough Creek. its all part of the fun..Take a look at my first loop map compared with the second loop down below.
The blue line being the loop I took on the first lap and then below same thing but for the second lap.
The first 7 miles were actually quite good BUT at mile 8 we hit The Beast! A short hill with a 42% incline which slowed me down quite severly. I managed under 15 minute pace up to that point, even touching a 10 min pace at one stage but The Beast ( part of the rusty crown ) gave me my first 20 minute mile of the day.
It was about at this point I realized this course was no joke & that my initial dreams of running this course under 5 hours was just craziness. I was at this point also pretty confident that I would be able to meet my goal time of 7 hours or under.
One of the best things about this race was the friendly faces of fellow racers and super friendly and helpful people at the aid stations. ( special thanks to Libby of The Active Joe & all volunteers )
People like Pradeep Pise ( a fellow cricketer ) Mark Olateju, Joy Rapp-Hayner, Augustin Negrete & of course who can forget Roxy Toomey the Pomeranian..who has her own FaceBook page and puts most ultra runners to shame.
3: Lap 2
On lap 2 things began getting really really hard. Temperatures were into the 90’s with zero wind and very little shade. I was drinking about 40oz of fluid ( ice water & Tailwind nutrition ) about an hour. I actually had to ration it to make sure i made it with one sip to spare when i got the the next aid station. I had been through a few aid stations where people were talking about runners dropping out and needing help along the course but till this point hadn’t come across any of them myself. It was about mile 20 when i came across Michael ( #254 ) who luckily for him was in a shady spot but on a very steep hill and just couldn’t go one more step. He looked in bad shape but was talking, sitting down and had wear with him.
Short video of what was going on.
I was genuinely concerned for Michael ( who in the video i was calling Mark, you’ll get it if u watch the video) and told him I would go the the next aid station and get someone to come back for him. Then I realized hey, I had my phone with me and FaceBook Messaged Libby Jones the race director & she quickly jumped in her car and headed over to where we were. I showed her where Michael was and she got him back to the start / finish line. Michael was doing the half marathon and was a heavy set guy…I felt bad for Michael as he probably bit off more than he could chew with this race. Its crazy hard. I keep forgetting how hard trail races are. They’re not like road races, which are easy. Trail running isn’t for everyone. I remember thinking about this time that the race should of started an hour earlier at least. It was super hot at this stage & little did I know the race was having about a 50% DNF rate.
4: The Home Stretch.
After the 2nd time up and down The Rusty Crown I was completely smashed but knew I had about 3 miles left to go. I was texting with the wife and checking up on the kids. There was however no more running. It was pretty much just the shuffle putting one foot in front of the other and getting to the finish. It was also here when I knew for sure due to my off course endeavors that I may be about half a mile short. My plan was to run around the parking lot a few times to make sure I had enough mileage for my Strava to say at least 26.2 miles which I in fact ended up doing.
I made it! I walked the majority of the course but everything went according to plan. My nutrition was spot on and didn’t have any major stomach issues a few pieces of orange couldn’t sort out. ( side note : oranges calm a dodgy stomach, remember that in your next race ). I was super impressed with my time of 7hrs 09 minutes and have the medal to prove it.
As usual there are some discrepancies in times with official timing and my strava time. but thats no biggie.
5: The best part!
So I’m just chilling with my awesome new wooden laser engraved medal and one of the finish line volunteers walks up to me and gives me this cool medallion and says congrats!! Im like WTF is this? Well I turn it over and on the back is engraved Age Group WINNER 30-39… I was like “you’re shitting me right?” He goes, “nope, congrats you won your age group”
So turns out this race was harder than I even imagined. In my age group which had only 8 people start only 3 people managed to finish. Thats about a 60% drop out rate which is high for any race. Kudos to race directors for putting together what i would call possibly the toughest marathon in Texas! As you can see I was also 13th overall. Out of 42 starters for the 26.2 distance there were only 24 people who finished. Amazing, those are some crazy stats. OH & I walked!! LOL. I still can’t get over it..
In closing I would have to say this was an incredible day! I loved every minute of it. If you’re not the type of person who loves pain & suffering then trail running ( racing anyway ) then this isn’t for you. I just love this kind of thing & am already planning the next one. I am however not certain I’m ready for a 50K. I think i need to work a lot on strength work especially my legs & back. I also don’t want to go into this type of thing again carrying any type of injuries. Whilst thats probably what got my my AG win its probably best to go into races actually race fit. What are you thoughts on that? have you ever raced & done well with an injury? Id love to hear your feed back, please comment below!
Oh i almost forgot!! Don’t be like Michael!! After Michael got picked up off the course Michael got back, got out the car, ran down the finishers shoot ( with people cheering for him because they had no idea what was going on ) A volunteer gave him a medal around his neck and even posed for a photo….Thanks to Libby for not kicking his ass and thanks to her as well for removing him from the timing sheets!! #dontbelikemichael #dontbeadouche.
Thanks again for reading all the way through, watch out soon for the full Rough Creek video which will be on YouTube soon..Follow me on Twitter as well @theslowafrican. Cheers!