On Friday, Jeff and I headed to Perry, KS to Lake Perry State Park for the Rock Creek Trail 50K. It rained off and on all the way there and then stopped raining once we got to the campground. We were the only people camping. Jeff started a fire, we cooked our dinners, and sat around the fire until about 9 pm. We got in the camper and went to sleep. It was a little cold at first, but when I woke up in the night I was nice and warm. Alarm went off at 6 pm and we ate breakfast inside the camper since it was dark and cold outside. We then drove about half mile to the start.
Temperature was 35 F (warmed up to 60s before I was done). We stood in line to pick up our packets, use the porta-potty and then I got dressed for the race. I had about 10 min to spare and headed to the lot where everyone was waiting. I missed any instructions, but knew to just follow the pink flags. We walked about 0.1 mi down a hill and started from there. This allowed everyone to spread out before heading into the woods on the single track trail. I had hoped to average a 9:15 pace. In order to decide a pace for this run, I felt that I should have been able to beat Deanna's time from last year by maybe 10 minutes.
Everyone from the 5K, 25K, and 50K started the race together. I lined up near the front so I wouldn’t be behind too many people, but wasn’t sure what to do since there were 3 distances. I ran the down hills and flats faster and uphills took easier. I had no problems finding the pink flags. I didn’t feel like I was running too hard and GPS didn’t seem to be getting a great signal. It said I was going slower than I felt so it was difficult to pace with it. I almost think I shouldn’t have worn it for this race.
The 5Kers veered off on another trail early in the race. I removed my cotton shirt at the first aid station and had some water. I ran alone most of the time, but I passed several people doing the half later in my first loop. It was difficult to get around people at times and I would try to wait until there was more room for them to move over before announcing I wanted to pass. I drank water at all the aid stations and had some pretzels and a piece of banana at one. I really wish I could eat more of the food they offer but it doesn’t look good to me while I am running. I took 3 Accel Gels each loop.
At the end of the first loop, I stop at my drop bag, remove my long sleeve wicking, grab my water bottle which I was planning to carry only the second loop, change my spi-belt. I had a new one ready with 3 more Accel Gels. I decide to use the bathroom since I am really needing to go and figure it will save me time in the end.
I start the second loop feeling okay. At about mile 18 I start feeling really good so pick up the pace. I pass a couple 50Kers. One that I passed was walking since his ankle was hurting otherwise, he would have easily beat me. He ended up dropping out at 20 miles. I pass a couple more guys. This makes me feel a bit more motivated than I had been feeling. A guy at one of the aid stations tells me I am looking strong and if I keep a steady pace, I will likely catch some of the 5 guys ahead of me. I had no idea there were that many ahead of me but it does give me a goal.
At the 24 mile aid station I am told that I am looking pale and they think I should take some electrolytes so I drank some of the nasty tasting Heed. They fill up my bottle with water and I am on my way and I do feel better. I hit this aid station again (it crossed 2 trails) and drank 2 more Heeds. I ended up passing another 50K guy that was walking. I press on to the end but am just not motivated to press too hard. I do walk a little on the hills, but mostly ran.
I didn’t fall once during the first loop, but fell 2 times in the second and almost a 3rd time. Each time got mud on my hands but was not hurt at all. The course was quite rocky and the leaves covered the rocks so difficult to see.
The finish seemed to come quickly. I had no idea how I was doing on time since I had locked the bezel on the Garmin and was just looking at splits which were not accurate on this trail. I see the clock says 4:59 something and I kick to the end. Time was 4:59:07 (9:38 pace). I was happy to be under 5 hrs, but felt like I could have run this race harder.
Since I never felt really good mentally (brain was in a fog much of the time) I think I was low on electrolytes and need to make sure I am more careful in the future. I felt I had a lot left in me at the end which I don’t think I should after running 31 miles. The second loop was much slower for me than the first, but I did manage to pass 4 people. I was not passed at all during this race. It did warm up to the 60s during my second loop, but the temperature was comfortable. Mentally, I just wasn’t in this race as much as I should have been most of the time.
I was 5th overall out of 39 (46 starters) and they gave me first place in Masters which I didn't quite understand since I am 6 days short of 40. For their race, I was close enough to be turning 40 this month. The course record for Masters was 4:55 which I think I should have been able to run at least a 4:50 on this course. It was more difficult than Hocking Hills 60K last year, but easier than the Syllamo courses. This may be a race I will have to try again next year. I really do think I could run this course better and I think having run it this year will be a help.
Today, the day after the race, I ran 9.6 miles at Rock Bridge with Dan. I think this proves that I really didn’t race too hard yesterday. Overall though it was a fun race with nice people and I placed about where I would have expected.