My sister and I drove home today from southern Louisiana. We were close to New Orleans (NOLA) and had considered a visit to that famous city but our tails were dragging today and we decided just to turn the car north and head for home.
We had a great weekend in Louisiana and I’m going to tell you all about it!
The Hotter Than Hell 10 Hour Ultra was my first “timed” ultra~and open ended ultra where they start the clock and say, “Run!” You don’t have any set mileage, you just run until you’re done or tired of running and just want to stop. This was something new to me BUT it was perfect for a few things I was needing before running Barkley Fall Classic (BFC) in September.
Most of you remember the troubles I’ve been having with my eyes. I’m pretty sure you know all the little tweaks we’ve made on my eyes so I can successfully complete my races without losing my vision. Trying to run trails while unable to see is a tricky thing. I learned quickly that I don’t like losing my vision out on those trails. #NotAFan
My Eye Doc and I have been working together the better part of a year trying to resolve this problem before this next season of races arrives. This past weekend’s Hotter Than Hell was my big chance to check and see if the work we’ve done has worked.
The race started at dusk, 8:02 pm this past Saturday. We had from then until dawn, 5:59:59 am Sunday. You had that window, 10 hours, in which to run as many 4 mile loops as you could/wanted.
Before the race, my Mississippi running friend arrived and we had time for a super quick chat. He was getting there just about gun time and was in a hurry.
One of my Renegade Endurance teammates came to cheer, too! It was great to meet him for the first time IRL! Thanks for coming, Alex!!!
When the race started you could see without your headlamp but just a few miles into the race it. was. dark. I mean, It. Was. DARK! Those woods were thick! I thought it was kind of cozy in there. Dense woods. Soft trails. Small hills. A few wooden bridges. Lots of wildlife. It was great!
LOTS of tree roots.
All of a sudden I felt I was back on the trails at Rocky Raccoon except the trees were much more dense and the trails more narrow.
I fell probably around mile 2. It wasn’t one of those slow motion falls. You know those falls? The ones where you’re frantically grabbing at the air…trying in vain to hold onto anything to stop or slow down your fall? Nope, this was one of those falls where you’re body slammed into the ground before you even knew you were falling.
Lucky for me, I bounced back up quickly and slowed my pace. I wasn’t there to grind out big miles. I was there to really test out my eyes and if I hurt myself, I wouldn’t be able to do that.
At that time I fell into pace with a guy a few years older than me and we walked the rest of that first loop together and most of the second loop. He could walk pretty fast and I had to struggle to keep up with him. My short legs don’t walk very fast. I need to work on that.
We had a great time chatting. His son is running Leadville this year and he’ll be crewing. What an exciting time for them!
One of the things I was very please with was my Petzl NAO+ headlamp. I’ve worn it many times on training runs but this was my first time wearing it in some serious darkness. Sure, it’s dark when I do my dark o’clock training runs but somehow things always feel darker when you’re racing in the woods.
I could see great!!!! This thing is bright!
This little video is from the race. The frogs and bugs were soooo loud it blew me away! I wanted to share the great music nature makes so I took some footage. Also, I thought I was showing you the woods? They didn’t show up because it was simply too dark. Isn’t that great!?! Too dark to see if my light wasn’t shining on it. That was sooo awesome!
There were lots of very impressive bugs out on the trails. I’m used to seeing big bugs seeing as I live in Mississippi but these were BIG bugs! They have these spiders called Banana Spiders in the woods. These aren’t the poisonous Banana Spiders you find in other parts of the world, they’re just big! They build their webs in the trees and across the trails about chest to head height…on the average height person. I’m not the average height person! I think this was one of the few times in my life I was super thankful to be vertically challenged because I didn’t have any problems at all with these guys.
Impressive, aren’t they? *pic courtesy of Google
I was running along side a guy who was probably around 6′ and he kept bending way over. I finally asked him what in the world he was doing! He pointed up, so I looked up and saw the Banana Spiders. I said, “Oh!” and we kept running. Too funny!!!
I did hear the grunts of what I assume were wild hogs. Now, those things will give me pause! Back in 2016, the first time I ran Brazos Bend, I had some run across the trail right in front of me. They creep me out! Give me giant spiders any day!
I know there were snakes because I could smell them. We were told there were alligators but I never saw any. Maybe they were sleeping? It was the dead of the night after all!
I did see a cute little frog at the end of one of my loops. Why is it that when frogs are little they’re cute but when they’re big they’re not?
Back to my eyes.
I ran my first loop without my glasses and started my second loop without them.
The first loop went great and I didn’t have any problems at all!
Just a few miles into the second loop I could tell my eyes were started to do whatever it is they do. I grabbed my eye drops out of the pocket of my hydration vest and put in a few drops. I kept running and my vision cleared for a little while.
The vision started to fuzz again so I put in more drops. I kept on repeating the process until I finished that second loop.
At the end of the second loop I had probably about 50% vision. I grabbed the glasses, put them on and kept running.
After putting on the glasses, I didn’t use any more drops and the glasses kept my vision the same for the remainder of the race. This was great news!!!
I think we’ve figured out I need to wear the glasses the entire time. I’m good with that! The primary reason for running this race was to completely test out my vision issues and this was a solid test. I ended up running in the pitch black, except for what I could see with my headlamp, for 8 hours and 40 minutes successfully!!!
The second reason for running this race was to use it as a training run for BFC. I was there to get time on my feet. I did that!
I did have a window of time where the race director asked me to sit out for a bit. My hands and legs were swelling something awful and he wanted me to rest so the swelling could go down a little bit. I was a sad panda to lose the time on the clock but I sat for a while then got back on the trails.
By the time I could get back running, I only had time on the clock for one more lap. I’m still grumpy with myself for losing that time sitting out because I could have gotten two more laps instead of just one. Then again, I am very thankful for the time I was able to be out there so I can’t dwell on having to park my rumpatootis for a while.
My sister deserves the hugest shout out I can give her! She was such a big help! She was cheering and was at the S/F every single time I came through. She’d lecture me when I needed it. She made sure I had everything before I headed out on each loop. She mother henned me when I had that trouble with the swelling AND she tried her best to get a finish line pic when I came through the last time!
It was so dark and her phone camera shutter speed wasn’t up to dealing with me running, the headlamp and the darkness but doggone it, she tried!!!
Hotter Than Hell really WAS Hotter Than Hell and it was a blast!!!