Sunday, August 17, 2008
Cindy and Carmie's El Scorcho report
El Scorcho Dos
July 20, 2008
As I read the last email from the race director of El Scorcho Dos, my eyes focused on one statement in particular, “Anyone who is registered for the 50k race should have completed at least one 20 mile training run prior to the race.” Hmmm, good to go I thought, since we had completed exactly ONE 20 miler…
The journey to our first 50k race began with one of us signing up for it and making the announcement that she had. You know how that goes…the other two of us couldn’t let her go alone, so we also signed up. (Our other running buds conveniently scheduled a cruise, a family reunion and a “cat dip” on the same weekend. Go figure!?) What a great adventure it sounded like in March when we heard about it…31 miles…10 laps around a 3.1-mile loop trail in a park…beginning at midnight…7-hour time limit…in July…in Fort Worth, Texas. I’m not sure if it was the cold of March that had our brains mushy and not functioning properly or if our brains are always mushy and not functioning properly but it did sound like a “fun” thing to do. We had kept a fairly decent running base over the winter and were training for the half marathon in Oklahoma City and needed a goal to keep us motivated, so why not “El Scorcho?”
Training was interesting. Spring flew by and summer was upon us. Between injuries, graduations, funerals and weddings, we found ourselves pumping up our mileage weekly to get to that ONE 20 miler! We talked to everyone we knew about the training, the nutrition and hydration, gleaning words of wisdom and expertise from each one. We ran one night run with a bunch of 100 miler people and that was an eye-opening experience. We found out that we liked running in the dark and in the middle of the night! El Scorcho was going to be all right!
We arrived at the Fort Worth Running Company store to pick up our packets. They have a nice store, complete with indoor running track! Ok, well it is not really a running track but they have painted oval lanes on the carpet and people were trying on shoes and running around on it to get the “feel.” I thought it was a great idea. Anyway, packet pick up was uneventful and the shirt was a singlet tech shirt! So far, so good! They said there would be an additional “surprise” when we finished and got our medals. Yippee!! We love free stuff! (Well, not actually free since we paid a hefty entry fee to do the race!) We headed to our hotel and checked in, ready to go lay down and get some sleep before the big event. We got everything ready for the run, darkened the room and crawled into bed. Do you know how difficult it is to sleep at 4:15 pm in the afternoon? After 45 minutes of trying to lay still and not disturb anyone, we got up and went for a short stroll before retiring back at the room for “rest.” About 10:00pm we got dressed and gathered our gear and headed for the park to collect our timing chips. Chips in place, we are ready to go and it is 10:45pm. It’s about 80 degrees but not too humid so things are still looking good for the run. We get our coolers situated along the path, staking our “claim” and get our picture taken by the start banner. It’s now 11:15pm. Time sure passes slowly in the dark.
Finally, we line up at the start…all 150 of us doing the 50k and at 12:01am, someone yells GO! We take off and settle into our strategy, running for one mile and walking for one minute. The path is varied; we run on chat for a while, switching to sidewalk, then to grass, back to chat. We have our headlamps on to help us see in the shady areas (Yes, there is shade after dark…the street lights can’t penetrate the leaves of the trees.) After twice around the 3.1-mile loop, we begin to get creative and name the different areas of the trail. There was the beach,
the Tallahassee bridge (remember the one that Billy Joe McAllister jumped off of?), the jungle, the urban area and McArthur Park. We took turns coming up with songs that were related to the different areas and that helped pass the time. We finally caught up with Johnny Spriggs in the middle of lap 4 and he encouraged us to eat each time we passed our coolers. He didn’t recommend we only rely on our gels and Gatorade. We took his advice and stopped each time for a pretzel, a bite of protein bar, a piece of watermelon and a swig of electrolyte drink. At the 2nd aid station, we would do our carbohydrate gel and drink water. At the half waypoint, 15.5 miles, one of our group has to retire from the race with cramping. She crews for us the rest of the run and it sure is nice to see her smiling face after each lap. At lap 6, we decide to jump up and slap the banner for the next 5 laps. As we started lap 7, which meant 12.4 miles to go, another runner comes up beside us and he’s making some funny noises. We realize he is whining! He asks how we are doing and complains that he has 9 more miles to go and not sure he can do it. Our sympathy level at that time was rather low seeing that we had 12.4 miles to go but we encouraged him to keep putting one foot in front of the other. We did see him after we finished and he was wearing a medal, a big smile and wasn’t whining any more.
In the middle of lap 8, a BIG rat or a muskrat ran across the path and stopped just inside the edge of the weeds in the 'jungle.' We pulled up short and a guy running behind us stopped too and peered around our shoulders at it. He asked us, "What is that!?" We informed him that we thought it was a rat and he let us go ahead of him to keep it at bay…so much for chivalry! Of course, since we were in the jungle and it was a rat-ish type creature, the song "Muskrat Love" popped into our heads and out our mouths and that guy behind us? He started singing and knew all the words…interesting…! As we started lap 9, we were feeling really good so we decided to try and run more of the last 6 miles, not taking our scheduled walk breaks and that turned out very well. We still had plenty of energy and strength and were very grateful for the wisdom of taking our walk breaks from the beginning.
We finished strong and loud at 6:18 am, slapping the banner for the last time, and experiencing the thrill of finishing our first 50k! Our legs and shoes were filthy; dust was everywhere! We had gnats stuck to our sweaty skin but no bug bites thanks to OFF! The ride back to the hotel was short and sweet and the shower felt wonderful.
We may not do another 50k for some time. This one was just way cool and needs to be savored for now. Plus, we are not ready to eat another carbohydrate gel for a long time…you know, at least a week. 8-) Oh, and that “surprise” we were promised? It was an official El Scorcho Sheriff’s star/badge because finishing that 50k run “made our day” (remember Clint Eastwood?) in Fort Worth.