This weekend, I headed out to Huntsville to support my friend Jeanette in her first 100-miler at Rocky Raccoon. It was an absolutely wonderful experience.
I think it was a good thing that I had Bandera to mourn before I ever got to Rocky Raccoon; that way, all the bad, sad feelings had gotten out of my system over the first missed goal. I’d come to terms with the loss, recognized that Rocky as a 50-miler was out, and I’d focused on what I could get out of the journey. When Jeanette needed pacing after dark, it opened up a positive possibility for me. I am so thankful to her for giving me this gift!
Rocky Raccoon Pacing Report
I left Austin late morning so I could get to the park leisurely. It was such a gorgeous day! Blue skies and cool, just perfect running weather. My luck was good — I pulled up at the park, snagged an excellent parking sport right near the real bathrooms and close to the start/finish (important as I planned to bunk in my car for the night), walked over, and immediately ran into Jeanette’s husband, Jim.
We chatted and he got me up to date on her progress. It turns out she and Charlene had hooked up and were running together; their first loop had been a bit on the speedy side, and Jim was expecting them any minute for the end of the second (5 x 20 mile loops for the 100). They came in about 20 minutes or so later, and Jim and I helped/watched as they stopped at their drop bags…interestingly, they were numbers 327 and 326).
All agreed that I would do the 4th loop and Jim would get to help with the 5th. Calculations showed that I’d be starting in the range of as early as 7 p.m. and as late as 9 p.m., depending on how miles 40 through 60 went.
I’d planned for this and had a dinner waiting back in the car, along with my “nest.” My Mazda Tribute is big enough for me to comfortably lay down in; I’d created a pallet of sleeping bag pads and two sleeping bags for my bed. All my supplies were in bags in the seat next to me and the other back half of the SUV. It’s really quite cozy. So I watched a few other friends run in and out and then hit the car from about 4:30–6:30 to eat, put my feet up, and relax. At 6:30 p.m., I changed into running gear, hit the bathroom, and then walked over to the start/finish to assume my wait. I like to be there at the earliest possible time so that there’s no danger of missing my runner (can you imagine the horror?!? Having a great race and coming in to find no pacer waiting? I’ve seen it happen…). I bundled up and sat in my chair, watching. I find the excitement and drama of the night-time loops endlessly fascinating.
The Train Kept A’Rollin
Jeanette came in closer to 9 p.m.; once it had gotten dark, they’d made the decision to go more at a walk than a run. Huntsville has lots and lots of roots, and when you get tired, it’s hard to pick up those feet. Add the dark in, and it’s just a recipe for a fall. They changed into warmer stuff and the three of us headed out.
Originally, I’d been worried about two things: I’d never run in the park before and they had been running faster-than-expected loops. The course was so well marked that my leading was no problem whatsoever. We did have a couple of spots where there were giant mud pits and because they’d been through them several times already, they knew better than I how to pick their way around the muck. My second fear vanished in that they really did not want to move faster than a brisk, purposeful walk. So my job was more to make sure we kept it brisk and steady, not allowing them to fall into more of a stroll or easy effort, and to keep things moving along at the aid stations. We called ourselves “the train” and the train just kept on rollin’.
It was truly a lot of fun. There was some singing, quite a bit of laughing, and a general sense of wonder and good will. I was so impressed by their determination. We came back into the start/finish at about 3:10 a.m. Short refueling, and I was sad to see them leave without me…but happy because I knew they would absolutely finish.
Post-Pacing Family Time
I got some sleep in the car from about 4–8 a.m. My intention had been to get up and go back to start/finish to see them come in, which I predicted to be about 9:30 a.m.
However, I realized that if I waited, I’d miss my window of opportunity to get to Conroe where my son had a soccer tourney. The opportunity for a hot shower and warm breakfast before the mid-day game proved irresistible.
I left, met up with the family, got breakfast AND a shower AND a short nap before sitting outside and watching an exciting and well-played (if not victorious)soccer match. My son kept me company on the long ride home. I was toast by the time we hit the house; my hubby had beaten us home and gotten dinner ready! I sat in the chair and “watched” the Super Bowl (translation: napped) until an early bedtime.
My friends finished in 27:21, each successfully completing her first 100-mile race. My hat’s off to you ladies!!