First thing you need to understand about me: I’m direction challenged. Seriously! If you’re giving me directions to a new place, please don’t tell me to turn north and then south west. I like directions that say, turn right at the Walmart then left at the Burger King. That’s the kind of stuff that will get me where I need to be.
If someone says to me, “I promise, you cannot get lost.” When I hear those words, I know I’m doomed.
With that in mind, let’s visit my race this past Saturday, the Rez Loop Challenge. First off, it’s tons of fun!!! This was it’s inaugural year and was held from the RunStrong headquarters.
RunStrong is a relatively new organization in the Jackson, Mississippi area and they are doing things right! I’m super excited about the things happening here.
When I heard about this challenge, I knew I had to run it. It was about time for my long runs to start ramping up so I thought it was a great opportunity to grab a few miles with some friends and enjoy a lovely Saturday.
The loops were around the Rez in Flowood, Mississippi. I had heard so many great things about running this loop so I was super excited to be running it.
We had packet pickup and the pre~run meeting starting 5:00 am race day morning.
This was super low key so there were no bib’s. There were great race shirts and if you were able to complete one full loop, a finishers medal made by one of the runners. *Thanks, Tim, for making those! Aiden is going to love his!!!
The instructions were simple. This was not a closed course so run against traffic and follow the blue arrows. The arrows would be there at major turns.
And we went.
It wasn’t an amazingly hot morning. Maybe mid to upper 70’s? The humidity was right up there but this is Mississippi and it wouldn’t be right if there wasn’t any humidity!
The first loop was going great! I was exactly on pace for 4 loops and was a happy runner. Most of that first loop I had kept 3 guys in sight and had been using them as rabbits to keep my pace steady. It was working great!
We were around mile 10.5 when I lost sight of them at a turn. No big deal. I knew we were close to the S/F seeing as the loops were 11 miles each. I kept my eyes open for the blue arrows knowing I had a turn coming soon. There it was~the blue arrow! I made the turn.
Mile 11.5 Hmmm…I must be getting close?
Mile 11.75 Where is it!?!
Mile 12 I think I’m lost *Pulls out cell phone and plugs in address of the S/F
Mile 12.25 This GPS isn’t making any sense!
Mile 12.25 *also – LOOK! There’s a lady wanting to turn. Let’s stop her and ask directions!
Mile 12.25 *walking in front of woman’s car so she can’t drive off and the woman looking moderately annoyed.
Mile 12.25 *explaining predicament and woman says, “Oh honey!” and then tells you you’re a mile off course BUT gives you great directions #silverlining.
Mile 12.75 Arrive at McD’s and turn right.
Mile 13 I see it!!!
Mile 13.20 Wrap up 1st loop. Whew!
I was a little dehydrated at this point and definitely overheating. I had run out of Tailwind around mile 11.5 and was a very sad panda. I decided to spend a little time bringing my core body temp down in the AC and drink a bunch before heading out. That S/F stop was about 20 minutes total. It was also at this time #1 Son (who took the pic above) joined me for the second loop. He’s training for his first 50k and was wanting some training miles.
I made up fresh Tailwind and we headed out.
During this loop I met up with 3 alligators, LOTS of turtles, a fancy snail and an incredibly grumpy crawfish! The wild life I meet while running totally makes my day. Whether it be during training runs or races, nothing beats seeing the variety of animals that are out there.
Towards the end of this second loop, the temps had increased a lot and both #1 Son and I were struggling with the heat/humidity. The decision was again made to spend time in the AC at the S/F to bring the body temps down and re-hydrate.
By this time I had run around 25 miles and #1 Son 11.20 miles.
I tried to re-hydrate, made fresh Tailwind, used a cool, damp cloth to help control body temp and rested. This stop lasted 30 minutes.
I’ll be honest. I have never spent so much time at a S/F during my loops in my life! Normally I allow myself 5 minutes tops but I was determined to keep myself healthy this race. No more heat illness issues like the last hot weather ultra I ran. I have a lot of training miles ahead this summer and need to be tip top for them. Still, taking this amount of time bugged me. Isn’t it funny how we let little things like that bother us? I had to remind myself that this was a super laid back event and time really wasn’t an issue. It was a challenge against myself. Nobody else. Just me.
Heading into this race, my coach and I had chatted. Based on my current training, 22 miles, two loops would be my sweet spot to complete. Me, being me, he also knew that I wouldn’t be content without an ultra distance finish, so, if I was feeling okay, I could add on that 3rd loop for the 50k. IF there was enough time on the clock AND I was feeling okay, I could try for a 4th loop but it wasn’t ideal at my current training level.
Of course, my head interpreted that as 4 loops! Let’s do it!!!
That 3rd loop was tough. A niggle I’d been dealing with decided to raise it’s ugly little head and I was forced to walk a lot more than I wanted. Still, forward progress is progress, right? #1 Son and I pushed on.
Finally, we got to the place where on that very first loop, I got lost. We made the turn. The correct turn this time, and headed towards the finish.
Why did I get lost by following the directions? We were told to follow the blue arrows and I did exactly that. What I didn’t know was the utility company was planning some work and had marked their work with…you got it, Blue Arrows!!! I had followed the wrong blue arrows. *sigh* We got it all figured out and lived to tell the tale.
#1 Son’s TomTom battery life was almost gone. I told him to charge ahead and finish before his watch died. He zoomed ahead!
I wasn’t too far behind and cruised under the tent and into that sweet, sweet AC! What a relief!
#1 Son set a distance PR that day. He ran over 22 miles. I think his longest distance up to then had been 15 miles? Congratulations #1 Son!!!
When I stopped my Garmin, it read 36.51 miles. Not too shabby for a day’s running around the Rez in Flowood!
This race is a blast!!! #RunStrong did a great job putting it together. I hope they do it again next year!