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Austin 50K Race Report

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Back on My Feet Austin 50K Trail Race: 09/26/2015

1st Overall 4:17:38 *CR

I had planned for this to be a quick trip to Austin to get in a 50k training run and also have a course with some elevation, which has been tough for me to get at home. This race was at Flat Creek Ranch in Johnson City, about 45 miles west of Austin, TX. There is a 10k, 30k, and 50k race with the 30k and 50k starting at 6 a.m. I showed up to the race site at 5:20 a.m. to have time to pick up my race bib and get ready. The temperature was either high 60’s or low 70’s with medium humidity, and forecast to be above 80 by 10 a.m.

The 50k is a four looped course through the central Texas Hill Country. My goal for the first loop was to run it at an easy pace and focus on getting familiar with the course. My challenge was being able to see the course markings which were green ribbons along the trail and also some signs with arrows. They seemed to be spread too far apart so it was a little nerve racking being out there and unsure if I was on the right trail. A couple times I had to stop as there were a few paths to choose from and I didn’t see any arrows or signs with directions to go. Each time the front pack would catch up and we would decide together which way to go. At about 3 miles into it we missed a trail off to the right and we ran along a dried up creek for 3/10 of a mile before we realized we weren’t on the course. We turned back and finally saw a green ribbon and where we should have turned. It was frustrating because I still had a goal time that I wanted to run and we were wasting a lot of time. The main group had got ahead of us at this point and we then got turned around at one of the aid stations. One of the volunteers was there and called to get directions on which way we were supposed to go. There was a lot of uncertainty and I took my chances and went on. I figured I was going to run 50k regardless so if I got lost or way off course then I would still get my mileage. Luckily I stayed on the right trails and eventually made it around for one loop. My watch showed 8.62 miles instead of 8 miles and the time was 1:14. I’m doing the math in my head and realize I’m way off with where I wanted to be. Last year’s winning time was 4:17:53. For me that is doable but not sure I could make up that much time without having to run it at a hard effort.

The second loop I began to pick up the pace as I didn’t need a head lamp and could see the trails. I still had to pay close attention to the course to make sure I didn’t get on the wrong path. I got into a good rhythm at a mid to upper 7 minute pace and figured I could make up a lot of time now that I could see where I was going. The first three miles are pretty much at an elevation loss which made it comfortable to pick up the pace. There were still parts that had quite a few turns and decent size rocks so you had to concentrate on foot placement and avoid turning an ankle or wiping out. I had one close call and decided to back off the tempo and chill out. The middle portion of the loop is where there was a bit more climbing and rocky trails. I felt comfortable running the inclines and practiced power hiking the steep sections. The course was nice and we got to run on a variety of surfaces which kept it interesting. The second loop was definitely the most comfortable and my overall time was around 2:09. I was feeling good with my time and where I wanted to be.

By the third loop I easily knew which parts of the trail to run. I picked up the pace a little more and had a couple miles that were probably too quick. I backed it off as I didn’t want to run into trouble later and regret going too fast. I kept a steady pace for the most part and just focused on running smart and not getting injured. I had to remind myself this is still a training run and it’s not worth damaging my body. It was beginning to warm up quick so I starting getting in more fluids at the aid stations and filled up my handheld bottle with Gatorade at a couple of the stations. About mile 22 I was beginning to feel a little weak. I usually take a gel every four miles so figured I would take half of one to see if it would help give me a little more energy. I made it through the third loop around 3:05.

I did the math on my projected finish time and knew I could pretty much take it easy on the fourth loop. I started getting an upset stomach which was most likely the Gatorade and gels mixing together. It was worse on the downhill sections because it would slosh around and then I would burp up some foam or a little bit of fluid. I wasn’t overly concerned, but just had to deal with a little discomfort and keep taking in fluids. It did get warm and I won’t lie, my legs were getting tired. I began to pretty much power hike all hills even the ones I ran before, picked up the pace on the flat sections, and took it easy on the descents to stay as comfortable as possible. I was averaging around 9-10 minute miles. At the aid stations I chilled out for a minute or two and then went on. I thought I had a pretty good cushion on the overall course record but then realized I stopped my watch earlier in the race when we thought we were lost, and also a few times at aid stations. When I looked at the actual time with a quarter mile to the finish line it was 10:15 a.m. I still had one hill to run up and then a short stretch to the finish line. I could see the clock was 4:17 at as I was approaching the finish line and thought I missed beating last year’s winning time. Luckily for me I was 15 second faster.

This was definitely a good training run for me and had some challenges that I had to overcome. I know what I should focus on the next couple months leading up to The North Face 50 Mile Endurance Challenge. I took care of my body and will be stronger as a result and now ready to put in some more solid training. The race was put on by Luke’s Locker and Back on My Feet Austin. Overall, they did a very good job with the race and I would definitely run it again as it was a nice scenic course and Austin is an awesome city to visit. 100% proceeds directly support Back on My Feet Austin and its mission that uses running to create self-sufficiency in the lives of individuals experiencing homelessness.
Shoes: Hoka One One Stinson ATR Trail
Shorts: Nike
Watch: Garmin Forerunner 220
Handheld Bottle: Ultimate Direction
Nutrition: Power Gels and Gu
Prerace Drink: Beet Elite Neo Shot
Postrace Recovery: Klean Athlete Recovery

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