Rocky Raccoon 100 the 2016 version was not supposed to happen and what did happen was not supposed to happen. Thoroughly confused? Good, I will clear it up along the way from the start of the weekend through the final step across the finish line.

For those of you that may not know I registered for Coldwater Rumble 100 in Goodyear, Arizona without reading all of the words on their site. I wound up overlooking the fact that the race is not a Western States 100 qualifier and my long-term goal is to race the Western States 100. To do that I have to either win a qualifying 100 mile race OR keep racing qualifiers to gather lottery tickets along the way. After realizing that Coldwater was not a qualifier I had 3 choices:

  1. Race Bandera 100k two weeks prior to Coldwater and finish in under 16 hours. Bandera is one of only a few 100k races that are a Western States qualifier. Why?  Because it is freaking hard. Last year (2015 Race Report) I raced it and finished in under 13 hours so under 16 was feasible
  2. Pace Jeff at Rocky Raccoon 100 and give up this year's chance at a ticket and be the safety runner for Jeff if his lottery ticket were to be picked.
  3. Race Rocky Raccoon 100 two weeks after Coldwater and just finish.

When Bandera registration neared its close I realized I was in no mental shape to race that course or book a room, or drive to Bandera or anything to do with Bandera. Down to two choices and I presented them to Jeff allowing him to pick and hoping that he would choose option 2. Of course he chose option 3 without any hesitation and here I was pressing the register button on Rocky Raccoon 100 2016.

When I finished Coldwater my feel were blown up and I was so scared that I would DNF at Rocky Raccoon because the turn around time was so short and there would not be anytime to recover.

Pre Rocky Raccoon 100 2016

Here is the race report:

Loop 1 - Are We Going Too Fast?

Jeff, Greg and I lined up about 20 rows behind the starting line. I was very nervous about how my legs would hold up and beyond that how my mind would be able to sustain the concentration and positive mindset for another 100 miles. 100 mile races make me nervous despite this being my 4th attempt because there is so much uncertainty to them. Weather changes, body adjustments, blisters and everything else that can happen over the course of this long day.

We started out slow as the course is packed and is difficult to maneuver and in my mind I was thrilled with what was happening. When we hit the first aid station my confidence started to pick up but it really exploded when the next aid station was now only 2 miles away rather than 4-5 miles the way it previously was. Covering 5 miles and hitting two aid stations allowed me to break this race down into easier bits. The next aid station after was 7 miles and is typically the toughest 7 miles on the course but this year my mindset changed because I knew the aid stations were 3.5, 2, 7, 3.1 and 4.4 miles apart. Huge opportunity to break the race down.

In addition to that unfolding I realized that with the changes in the course it was much more runnable than it was the year prior. I found us doing a lot of running and would feel a twinge in my left ITB which had me worried about how it would hold up the entire race. At some points I could feel Jeff and Greg pulling away but a well timed hill forced them to walk and for me to catch up.

When we left the Park Road aid station I realized that we were only 4 miles away from completing loop 1 and this gave me a confidence boost plus knowing that there were at least 4 hills we had to walk and I could allow my barking ITB to quiet down. As we rounded the corner and headed down the path to the start/finish area I could see we were finishing in 3:34 and felt that was fast for what I had anticpated finishing that first loop and my mind turned to worry.

Finishing Loop 1 At Rocky Raccoon 100 2016

Loop 2 - Finishing On My Own

At the bag drop Karen helped me refill my hydration pack and asked me how I was doing. I told her my ITB was flaring up and was bothering me. I finished speaking to her, grabbed my FlapJacked Waffles and started walking. I told Greg and Jeff to catch me because I knew they were running strong and would have no problem getting up to me. Once they reached me we started running.

This time getting to the first aid station was more work as my left leg was acting up and tiring. I asked a volunteer for ibuprofen and when he poured out 4 then started to put two back in the bottle I stopped him and grabbed all 4. I took 2 and put the other 2 into my vest. Some hydration and we were off.

The running started to bother Greg's knees and we were walking a bit more than I expected. I shifted to a higher cadence as that seemed to help me get past the ITB issues. The next two miles went by fast and my spirits picked up (or was it the ibuprofen?) and I was feeling the ability to run again. The 7 mile stretch was tough but not impossible and before I knew it we were heading down a straight jeep road to the Park Road aid station.

When we got there I saw my wife, Karen, and my mile 80-100 pacer, Greg, and it was awesome. Jeff and Greg were stopping and I told them I was going to go on ahead and they would catch me. As it turns out I was able to run quite a bit here but not as much as I had thought I would be able to. I was being conservative with my leg and also knew that I was going to be finishing in under 4 hours. Having two loops done in under 4 hours coming off Coldwater two weeks earlier was a tremendous boost for me.

End Of Loop 2 - Rocky Raccoon 100

Loop 3- I Can Run

While I was finishing Loop 2 I realized that I had run out of liquid and was not smart enough to have filled up my pack at the last aid station. This meant that the transition time between loop 2 and 3 was going to be longer than normal as I wanted to put my two hydration bottles in my pack and then would need to top off with Tailwind from the aid station.

Once I was done getting all my liquids squared away along with eating Oreos and Pringles, I was headed back out for Loop 3 and I saw Jeff and Greg coming in.  I was shocked to see them this soon as I had expected them to catch me but when they did not expected to have a bigger lead on them. As we passed I said I would see them on the course. Having just run 60 miles by myself in Arizona I was mentally ready to tackle 20 on my own and off I went.

My legs started to feel much better and I found myself running all of the flats, descending aggressively and power walking up the hills. I took the other two ibuprofen just after I left the DamNation aid station the first time (you hit it twice per loop.) From there you are able to run a majority of the 3 miles before the timing mat. I was in shock how much I was able to run and not feel the tightness in my ITB. I did a mental body check and nothing was bothering me at this point.

It was just past the timing mat that I saw Jeff and Greg on the descending portion and expected to see them running next to me in a few minutes but that never materialized. I felt like a man on a mission and was running aggressively. Hit the DamNation aid station the second time around and picked up it on the way to Park Road. After Park Road I knew I had just 4 miles to get there and all of the sudden the 4 walking hills became three as I became possessed with finishing this loop and picking up Greg (Ninja) for my safety runner on Miles 60-80.

It's Ninja Time At Rocky Raccoon 100 2016

Loop 4- Let's Go Ninja

I asked Ninja to pace me AGAIN for miles 60-80 (he paced me last year) because I think that a 100 mile race on a 5 loop course is broken down as follows:

  • Loop 1 - Run hard but not so hard that you damage the rest of your race. Bank as much time as possible to provide ample time on loop 5.
  • Loop 2 - Stay aggressive but smart. Be cognizant of hydration and nutrition.
  • Loop 3 - Make Or Break against other racers. Others will kill themselves but by being passively aggressive you will pass them on Loop 4/5.
  • Loop 4 - Make Or Break for 24 Hours. If you have run the first three loop wisely, this loop can be another feather in your cap to sub-24.
  • Loop 5 - Relax. The end is near and sub-24 is on the horizon BUT be smart to not lose focus on finishing pace

When Ninja and I started he asked me what my goal was and I told him sub-24. I thought that having two sub-24 hour races two weeks apart was the accomplishment of a lifetime. He asked if there was a secret agenda and there was not. Let's just run and see what unfolds. Ninja is a great pacer because he knows the trails of Huntsville very well, is a Texas State Champion Trail Runner and knows how to direct. When we need to run he tells me, when we need to walk he tells me. He will run ahead of me and grab the liquids and foods I need.

As we neared the DamNation aid station the first time I told him to get me ibuprofen as a preventative measure. As he took off it lit a fire in my a$$ and I started running to. He got to the aid station and I was on his tail to the point that he had to wait to get the ibuprofen while I was eating. He opened the pack and there were 8 pills. I took 4 of them and he held the other 4. It was time to run but at this poitn the temperatures were dropping.

When you near the timing mat you are right on the lake and it is a very cold section. Greg happened to have a jacket wrapped around his waist that I put on and when my core temp heated up we were off and running. We ran so hard and so fast that we negative split Miles 70-80 in comparison to Miles 60-70. It was liberating to be running this hard and finishing the loop as strong as we did. The finish time of this loop was 4:14 while Loop 3 was 4:04. Yes, we were running.

Ninja Is Ready, But Am I?

Loop 5 - Do We Take It Easy?

As we entered the aid station Greg ran into the tent to grab me grilled cheese and quesadillas while I went to have Karen fill up my hydration pack and put the jacket on and have the hydration pack on the outside. I did some quick math and realized that I could finish in 22 hours with a decent Loop 5. My goal during Loop 4 switched from under 24 to beating CWR and now it was to be at 22.

Greg Brink, my Mile 80 - 100 safety runner, was ready to go and off we power walked the first hill and started running. I told him that I wanted to be smart and convservative here because I knew that sub-24 was in the bag even with a horrible Loop 5. We were chatting and laughing and having a good time. At the Nature Center aid station I asked him to remind me to take the other 4 ibuprofen pills that Ninja stuck in the pocket of his jacket at DamNation. We grabbed some TailWind and some Oreos/Pringles and took off. Running when we could and walking when we had to.

We hit the DamNation aid station and I went into the 'Med Tent' to switch out batteries in my headlamp and saw what could have been an episode of The Walking Dead. The temps had dropped to the mid-low 30s and people were freezing plus the fact that it was a 100 mile race. I had to get out of the tent as quickly as possible so as not to get caught up in the pain. I saw Greg and off we went for the last 7 mile stretch. After about 1 mile he reminded me about the ibuprofen and I told him that would happen at the aid station the next time and it was time to keep running.

We passed one of Greg's friends and then we passed another friend of mine and my confidence started soaring. I was having a damn great race and I told Greg we were going to just keep running and at certain points we were holding sub-10 minute paces. We were working and getting this race done. When we hit the DamNation aid station for the last time I took the last 4 ibuprofen and washed them down with a 1/4 cup of coffee because when you leave these tents the temperature feels like it drops 30 degrees.

After the coffee we were off and running. We were passing athletes left and right. I have never yelled on your left more in a race than I did in the last half of this race. I was pushing the pace and without a watch to rely on was just running on guts and feel and it felt GREAT.

The last aid station was an awesome sight. I grabbed some Tailwind and 1/2 a grilled cheese and we were gone. Again, the 4 hills that I walked on loops 1 and 2 and 3 became 3 as we were flying around the course. When we hit the bridge section I knew we only had one mile to go and that the last hill would be walked and then we were gone. I told Greg to text Karen that we were .75 mi out and by the time he finished sending that text we were 0.25 miles out and I started hauling ass. We make the left turn toward the finish line and Greg says to me: I have never finished a 5k this hard let alone running with a guy on Mile 199 of 200 in two week.

That finish line was glorious and I jumped over it and into the arms of my wife. I hugged her so hard that I nearly squeezed all the air out of her. I looked over to the finish time and saw 20:23. HOLY SH*T. I not only finished a second 100 mile race but did it in 3 hours less PLUS was only off my 2015 Rocky Raccoon time by 1 hour.

Greg Brink And I At The Finish Of Rocky Raccoon 100

It has taken about a week for this to set in and I still have a hard time understanding how I managed to pull this off. Of course, the blisters on my feet are reminding me but of all the athletic accomplishments I have achieved this ranks up there as one of the best. My ticket to the Western States 100 Lottery has been earned.

UNTIL NEXT YEAR ROCKY RACCOON 100 (UNLESS I GET INTO WS100)

Rocky Raccoon 100 - DONE

Published in Race Reports
Monday, 03 March 2014 07:44

A-OK 50K Ultra Trail Run Race Report

A-OK was not on my radar, not even the periphery, prior to about two weeks ago.  I was introduced to this race by friends of Karen who are on a Facebook page called Dallas Dirt Runners.  The first time I saw A-OK I thought that it would be a great 50k supported training run for me as I build toward Lake Martin 100.  What I didn't expect was to have the time of my life out there.  A-OK is such a classic old-school race that it only allows 75 athletes to enter and you have to mail (Yes, the USPS) in your registration with a CHECK.  This part of the process freaked me out to the point that I emailed the race director to ask if I could either register on race day or PayPal her the money.  Why?  I have not the foggiest of clues as to where the post office is in my town and writing a check seems so foreign.  Mary Ann (RD) replied to my request with a 'do not have paypal' and fortunately Karen was kind enough to mail the check and reg form from her office. A-OK was going to happen.

Published in Race Reports
Saturday, 26 February 2011 14:22

Rocky Raccoon Race Report by David Carder

[caption id="attachment_979" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Did you know that EMZ has a belt buckle too?"][/caption] If you are an avid (or just show up every now and again) reader of this site you know that I have been looking for race reports to post.  The reason I am looking for race reports is that the title of this blog is Cook Train Eat RACE and I tend to race 12 times per year so that would mean it would be Cook Train Eat race.  So with that being said I had the opportunity to meet David Carder at a Starbuck's to discuss ultra-marathons, trail racing and blogging.  We discussed eating and how to fuel your body for an ultra and his belief on food.  David considers himself a flexetarian in that he will eat meat on occasion but it is not just any meat.  He chooses grass-fed meat that is organic.  He has a true passion for healthy living and giving back to the earth as well as the running community. Don't know about the Rocky Raccoon 100 well it is a 100 mile run that takes place in Huntsville, Texas.  There is also a 50 mile choice and the events must be completed in a time of 30 hours (100mi) or 29 hours (50mi.) This year's Rocky Racoon 100 featured a new course record set by Ian Sharman.  His finishing time was 12:44:33 or a pace of 7:38/mile.  The race also featured big names such as Anton Krupicka, Karl Metzler and Scott Jurek. Enjoy reading David's recount of the 2011 version of the Rocky Racoon. ---------------------------------------- WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2011 Rocky Raccoon Race Report: A Tale of Records and Revelations   What an incredible weekend in the world of Ultramarathons and I got be right in the middle of the whole thing as it unfolds.  The adventure starts with a very challenging drive from Dallas, 200 miles down I-45 to Huntsville.  Icy roads were now covered with 4-6 inches of snow.  I was carpooling with Deborah Sexton, a fellow NTTR runner, and she had me drive her 4x4.  We fare better than most while making steady progress down the ice and snow covered road.  Once again, all the overconfident impatient idiots in pick-up trucks dominated the vehicles crashed into guardrails and stuck in ditches.  The trip only takes us an extra 1-1.5 hours and we hit town in good shape. On the way down my “allergies” seem to be kicking up.  Deborah points out that most allergens are not active when it is 20 degrees out.  At our pit stop at Buccee’s in Madisonville I pick-up some cold medicine just to be safe.  After checking into the hotel I take a great two-hour nap.  When I wake up I am in a little bit of a fog and have a pressing sinus headache.  I drink another 1.5 liters of water and take 1,000mg of vitamin C. From there we are off to drop supplies at the Damnation aid station run by NTTR.  What can I say about the volunteers who give up an entire weekend to help others pursue their endeavors?  Lynn Ballard heads up an all-star crew again this year.  Volunteering at these races is a gift given to all the runners on the course.  It is definitely way past due for my time to return this gift.  I will be volunteering at a race near you soon!   Next on the agenda is packet pick-up and I have still have to register.  There is a limit of 750 runners between the 100-mile and 50-mile races.  Early in the week there were still 80 spots and looming bad weather gives me confidence this would not be an issue.  As it turns out almost 200 people will fail to start.  With runners from 35 states and 8 countries many have difficulties with flights and other travel arrangements. Now it is on to dinner with my pacers and dear friends, Craig and Carla Vining.  I love these guys!  It means a great deal to me that they brave the elements just to get here as well as run with me through a very cold and dark Saturday night.  Pacing for a runner is another very special gift similar to what the volunteers offer the runner on the trail.  It comes in the form of very vocal and direct physical support during the race and even more of an impact is made by just knowing they are there for you supporting your heart and soul as you put it all on the line that day.  I have been on both sides of this equation and it is a beautiful thing and it is not dissimilar to surviving a combat situation with someone.  Many strong bonds and lasting friendships have been built between strangers over these weekends. After dinner it is off to bed and early to rise at 4am in advance of the 6am start.  One more proactive dose of cold medicine and I quickly drift off to sleep.  Upon awaking I take a hot shower to get everything warmed-up and try to clear my congested head as much as possible.  I readjust some of my strategies for layers and clothing and we head towards the course.  The check-in and and starting line are abuzz with energy despite the frigid temperature of 20 degrees.  There is definitely extra energy in the air this year with a world-class field in the men’s race.  Anton Krupicka, Scott Jurek, Zach Gingerich, Hal Koerner, Karl Metzler, and some dude named Ian. My plan for the day is simple.  Run 4-hour loops in a very steady fashion all day long and into the night.  That is a 12:00/mile pace.  This is very conservative on this flat course, but will allow me to pursue a strong 20-hour finish.  The first few miles tick by easily and the body welcomes the latent heat now being generated.  I am careful to moderate my effort to stay on pace and not to sweat too much in the early morning freezing temps.  I hit my marks on the button all the way around the course during the first loop and come into the start/finish at 3:58. My fuel and hydration strategy for the day is quite simple.  With my improved metabolic efficiency I am going to consume around 150 calories an hour and hydrate heavily with Nuun from my hydration pack.  The first loop I fall behind a bit on hydration due the tube to the mouth piece freezing solid.  Food for the day is organic, vegan Bonk Buster bar.  I also supplement with Endurolytes to make sure my electrolytes stay topped off.  I will not fall victim to GI distress today. I start the second loop just as I did the first.  Steady and even.  All systems are go through the first aid station.  On the way to Dam Road I notice my sweat rate is picking up quite a bit.  I feel flashes of warmth not in a good way in the still cool morning.  Now that the hydration tube has thawed I redouble efforts to stay on top of my fluid intake.  I am hoping I can flush whatever is ailing me with liquids and a healthy sweat.  The leaders on the course are smoking it.  At one point I come around a corner and there is an apparition otherwise known as Anton floating effortlessly over the trail towards me.  Hal is right behind him with a big smile and a friendly hello. A few minutes later and here comes Scott Jurek.  I pinch myself to see if I am dreaming.  Maybe a dream within a dream?  I just watched Inception for the first time so I reach for my talisman to insure myself this is real.  On the way back to Dam road I actually get to run WITH Scott Jurek for a few minutes.  He has a minor injury that was bothering him so he had already decided to stop after his 3rd loop.  He is chatting with everyone.  It is very cool to be treading through the single track on a beautiful morning in the forest right behind Scott.  When he gets back to Damnation he stays for over 10 minutes and visits with everyone, takes pictures, etc.  He is the real deal and a total class act.  I leave the aid station to move on and it is not long before he co bmesy me again.  He is really moving this time.  He offers a friendly “looking good” and continues gliding forward. How can it be that I am in trail running heaven and dealing with this stupid cold?  The second half of this loop I find myself falling off this very easy pace I have been running even after the inspiration of all the great runners I am getting to share the trail with this morning.  With almost 4,000 miles of training last year, the fatigue I am starting to feel is not due to lack of preparation.  By the time I reach the start/finish I have given an hour back to the course and finish the second loop in 5 hours. Craig and Carla are there again to help me transition to the next loop.  I talk about some of my struggles and my strategy.  Even though this is their first time to crew, they seemed to instinctively know to keep pressing me forward and talk about nothing other than working the plan.    At this point I am nine hours into the effort.  My body feels like it is 19.  Body aches in my upper torso and places that usually do not ache from a 40-mile effort.  At this point my legs and my heart tell me to just keep moving forward and to not think about the time.  Despite the motivation of my spirit, my head starts doing calculations on pace and time.  I am 9 hours in with 3 loops to go.  It will probably take me 5.5 hours to do loop 3 unless I am able to rally significantly.  Loops 4 and 5 will be in total darkness and in falling temperatures below freezing.  6 hours each for these loops.  That makes 9 hours plus another 17.5 hours to go at these paces.  26.5 hours to complete the 100 miles.  This sounds doable under fairly “normal” ultra conditions.  Not a great time, but any finish is a victory in itself regardless of the time. On many courses on any given day this is what it can boil down to.  Do you have the mental toughness and determination to endure..... .....read the rest of David's Race Report [HERE]  
Published in Race Reports