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Lighthouse 50K: Longhorns, perseverance, & lessons learned

By November 14, 2014 No Comments

I ran a couple of ultras in September & October, as training for MdS, with mixed results. Lighthouse 50K in September was fun in that everything-goes-to-shit but still fun kinda’ way.

Lighthouse 50K – September 20 – Johnson City, TX

Lighthouse-Hill-Ranch-round-logo-300x300

What worked: Support of a great friend!, perseverance, fit/arrangement of desert pack

What didn’t: Nutrition (continuing theme here), shoes (Altra Paradigm), race organization

Results: 2nd place AG (though pretty sure there were only 2 of us!)

My good friends Dawn & Wade said they both had a “hunch” I would need support for this race (though I kept insisting it was “just a 50K” & I’d done them solo many times). So Wade made the 2 hour drive + hiked ½ mile through muddy trails to start/finish aid station – despite a broken foot (!) in an unwieldy medical “boot” – to support me in this race. Friends, I tell ya’.

I had decided ahead of time to run the race as MdS training – careful pacing and carrying my desert pack, loaded up to 16 lbs. with sleeping bag, extra water, & bags of rice as extra weight. Though I had been doing quite a bit of training with the pack, I wanted to simulate an experience closer to race conditions.

lighthouse texas

Race was 3 loops of about 10.5 miles each, mostly rolling single track with some rocky sections & a small water/mud crossing. Beautiful views! & thoroughly Texan as we dodged cactus and very carefully skirted the longhorns grazing. (No, they weren’t fenced. Yes, I was VERY nervous.)

Lighthouse 50K Longhorns

I had 2 -22 oz. water bottles in my pack, so I was able to skip most of the aid stations & made pretty good time through the first loop, despite the additional pack weight. At around 15 miles, temps started to rise along with the humidity – and my shoes went sideways. Literally. The insoles started to skid when they got wet (sweat, mud, water crossing) until they ended up bunched up under my midfoot. After several attempts to fix, I gave up & just kept running (see: perseverance). At the same time, my stomach decided Infinit (which I’ve used for 5 Ironman races & several ultras) was NOT going to work. Not sure if it was extra stress due to the pack weight, humidity, whatever but I would lose whatever I had been able to swallow within 10 minutes (ewww….). Switched to plain water to let things settle and it worked, though I could tell I was getting low on calories. Came through the 2nd loop aid station a little bit miserable, but determined. Wade met me there – carefully balanced on his one (non-broken!) foot — changed out my nutrition (to Shot Blocs + plain water + Coke) and gave me loads of encouragement.

SO grateful for his help and feeling loads better, I headed out for 3rd loop in fairly steady rain. No matter!—I only had 10-ish miles to go, a workable nutrition plan, & renewed determination. Arrived at the first aid station about 3.5 miles in & realized… it was a blank field, the aid station was gone. No worries! I had some Coke left + the water, I’ll be fine until the 7-mile station. Used up the last of my water at about 6.5 miles — perfect. Except that aid station was also gone. Race director had pulled the aid stations due to rain! & left the handful of 50K runners out on the course, unsupported. (Found out later that the timing system failed & there was no manual backup! so RD had no idea how many runners were even still on the course. Crazy.) Found a high spot & texted Wade (help!) — he harassed the RD into driving out on the course & at least supplying water.

Came through the finish in a respectable time, had a quick chat with the RD (dude! you pulled the aid stations??!) & we were out of there.

Lighthouse 50K medal

Lesson learned: Friends are golden.