Exactly one week before race day at Brazos Bend, the temps were in the 70’s and it was beautiful!!!
MFH (My Favorite Husband) and I drove from Mississippi to Texas on the Thursday before race day in overcast skies but it was still in the 70’s. To be honest, I was a little worried that it might be too warm for the race on Saturday.
Friday we headed over to packet pickup to grab my bib and see friends. It was still in the 70’s and humid. There was a strong breeze picking up and someone said we had rain on the way.
I remember seeing the weather forecast. It had said we were supposed to get very heavy rain overnight but that it would stop by gun time Saturday morning. It had mentioned it would be breezy and I kind of groaned about that. Wind is like resistance training…you’re working so hard to fight for any progress. The thought of 50 miles against a wind was not appealing.
After packet pickup, MFH and I stopped at Target to pick up a few last minute things we needed for the race. That’s when I saw it. “IT” was a water resistant/wind resistant jacket! I’d never owned one. Yes, I’d brought a jacket with me but it was neither wind OR water resistant! I wore it on cold, wet and/or windy runs because it was what I had. It was part of my race packet from the 2nd time I ran the Berlin Marathon so it held fond memories.
I have to admit to being stingy when it comes to cold weather running gear. For the most part I don’t need that stuff! Mississippi is chilly enough for the cold/wet weather gear only about 6-8 weeks out of the year and I’m flat out too cheap to spend the money on a $200.00 fancy jacket. Not to say I haven’t drooled over one of those jackets but if it came down to a new pair of running shoes or the jacket, I’d take the shoes every time.
The jacket at Target was $25.00 the only problem being, it was a size large. In most stuff, I’m an X~Sm. MFH assured me it looked fine (there weren’t any mirrors around) and so I bought it. That jacket, although I had TONS of wiggle room, ended up being a life saver on race day!
The other thing I had finally done about a month before race day was purchase a pair of tights. I must be getting soft if I’m buying tights and jackets! Those two clothing items probably saved Saturday’s race!
We got back to our hotel room and it was already pouring. Holy Cow~Soooo much rain!!! We decided to order a pizza and enjoy pizza and a little TV time then hit the sack.
I took my “Flat Melinda” pic before going to sleep. MFH and I took the time to organize my drop bag, mix up my Tailwind Nutrition, put my extra XOSKIN #xotoes into my extra pair of Altra running shoes…that was just in case I decided on a sock and/or shoe change during the race. Basically, we just got all our ducks in a row.
After a fitful night’s sleep, we were up around 3:00am for a quick breakfast at Waffle House before heading to the trails. I had friends running the 100 mile distance and I wanted to cheer them off. Their race started an hour before mine so MFH and I needed to scoot to get there in time. *Everybody wears their headlamp into a Waffle House, right?*
Soon, it was 7:00am and time for those of us running the 50 mile distance to line up. I never did hear the gun~probably because I was too busy talking to people? Doesn’t really matter. All I know is that within 30′ of the starting line, there was a LOT of water and mud on the trails.
People were dodging the water/mud like crazy…running off into the grass in a vain attempt to keep their feet dry for as long as possible. I did the same for maybe a half mile tops. After that short distance I realized the entire course would be like this and resigned myself to wet feet and soggy trails for the next 50 miles.
Most people at this point of the race were still in the O. M. G. shock in their brains. It WAS a surprise to be sure! Some runners were decidedly grumpy at the hand Mother Nature had dealt us for racing conditions.
If you’re going to run Ultra’s and you’re going to run longer Ultra’s, you simply cannot be grumpy about things like wet feet and soggy trails. You’re never guaranteed great weather on race day.
I immediately changed my mindset, changed my racing plans and goals to, This is going to be amazing!!! I embraced my inner child and decided I was going to have FUN splashing through the puddles and be a like a little kid again.
How you perceive tough challenges can make you or break you. I was NOT going to let a “few” puddles break me.
I mean, it was “only” 50 miles, right? Besides, not all the trail was like this. There were a few spots that were pretty nice! Well, except for the 20mph wind we were blessed with on Saturday.
This is the place in our story we need to look back to this past January.
This past January I attempted the 50 mile distance at Bear Bait in Milton, Florida. Mother Nature played the same trick in Florida that she did this past weekend in Texax. Cold, cold and more cold and LOTS of wind. At mile 47.5 out of 50, I was forced to DNF. I had taken a fall on that lap, losing my glasses/protective eye-ware and within a mile, lost my vision. That was not going to happen to me here in Texas!
I dressed warmer. I had extra pairs of glasses. I had eye drops. I had a pacer. Between MFH and myself, we had tried to think of absolutely everything we could for success this weekend.
Before the race, I had started the eye drops. My glasses were on my face all. the. time. I turned my head away from the cold wind. *I personally feel the cold wind is a contributing factor to this vision issue.*
Things in the vision department were going pretty well….until about mile 20. Around that time I could tell my right eye was getting a little fuzzy. This made me sad because that was the eye we’d done all that work on this past year. Sad Panda!!!
I kept telling myself all I had to do was finish that loop (total of almost 33 miles) and I could pick up my pacer. I could do that. I WOULD do that!
The eye kept deteriorating but I kept running. My pace was slowing and I was concerned I wouldn’t make it back to the S/F while the sun was still up. I started asking people if they had their phones (I had elected not to carry mine those first two loops. I did take it with me that last loop~#LessonLearned). Lucky that MFH was able to get me my headlamp, with the help of a fellow Renegade Endurance teammate and that put my mind at ease. This kid would have been in major panic mode the rest of that loop! Isn’t it funny how we fixate on things like that?
After a while, I bumped into a friend I’d met the year before at this race! How much fun was that!?! We teamed up and started doing a 30/30 interval and kept that up the rest of the loop. Aren’t running buddies the absolute best!?!
We took this pic at the end of the second of our three loops. This is where I picked up my pacer.
My pacer was an old running buddy from home. We’ve run a lot of dark o’clock long runs together during the summers. This summer we hadn’t been able to do a single run together! The last time we’d run together was at his 50 miler this past April. I paced him there so now it was his turn. Bless him, I was a stubborn runner and he was soooo patient! He’d say, time to run and I’d say, “No.” I was completely toast.
Finally, after what seemed like hours of freezing out there in the dark, cold, wet and wind, we saw the lights of the finish. YAY!!!
There’s nothing like crossing the finish after a brutal race. Make no joke about it, this was a tough one BUT, I had sooooo much fun!!!
This was my 3rd time running here at Brazos Bend and my second time running the 50 mile distance. Both 50 mile attempts were successful and I came home with bling to send to Aiden!!!
The thing that made this the most special race ever was this was the first time MFH has been able to see me cross the finish at a 50 miler. THAT was some pretty cool beans stuff!!!
MFH was the PERFECT crew! He had everything exactly how I needed, when I needed it and even WHAT I needed without being told….along with a smooch before I headed out on my last loop. I was sooooo excited to be able to finish this race for him!
What an amazing race and great weekend!!!