Monday, February 7, 2011

Rocky Raccoon Race Report


A lot of buzz in the sport of ultrarunning regarding Rocky Raccoon.  Most of it is coming from the fact that the course record got smashed and the fastest trail 100 mile was run on American soil this past weekend.  One of the main reasons I decided to head down to Huntsville, Texas was to be a part of the hype, run a fast 50-miler, and get inspired by these superstars for hopefully a solid season ahead.  The lineup for the 100 was intimidating and there were some dark horses in there too.  More on that in a second...

First...the J.V. race----6:55 a.m. race day I am sitting in my rental car trying to stay warm and putting the finishing touches on my race gear, etc.  I am 100 yards from the start line and I get out of the car.  I hear people yelling and screaming.  I think, "they must have just made some pre-race announcement".  As I jog up leisurely the closer I get I notice there are now no people.  I missed the start!  My watch must have been a little off so I fight my way through the back of the crowd all the way to the front.  By the time I catch up to the leader Todd Braje I am a little worked from the early race fartlek workout.  I run w/ Todd for about half a minute and by looking at his elegant, efficient stride I know that there is no way in hell I'm even attempting to hang with him.  He moves on out of sight.  About 30 minutes later I start having some stomach pains which I rarely get in ultras.  I'm forced to stop off in the woods.  I take care of business and then about 50 yards later I realize that there is a port-o-potty at the end of the long dirt road.  I stop in there too!  Doh!

(soakin' up some Vitamin D and wondering where my buddy Todd disappeared off to! Photo: Lynn B.)

* Despite the stops I ran the first 16.67 mile loop in like 1:55....I thought that if I could stay right around 2 hours (or under) per loop I could get a sub 6 hour 50-miler (which sounded nice).
* Loop 2 I started feeling pretty good.  I let the notion of catching Todd go (he was on fire!) and was focusing on sub 6.  I started feeling pretty strong on this loop and it was fun to see Jurek, Anton, Hal and others out on the course.  I came in just over 2 hours (I think it was like 2:04 something).  Even though I was just over two hours I was still right on track.
* Loop 3 I took off like a banshee and was confident that I could attain my goal.  All of the sudden around mile 40 or so the stomach issues start again. Fleeting sharp pains and feelings of...well... I don't want to really talk about it!  I didn't feel like eating much but forced down some Gu Roctane.  At one point around mile 45 I tripped over a root and my hamstring seized up.  I started falling apart and my goal was slipping away.  The last five miles were pretty pathetic.
(are we there yet?  Photo: Lynn B.)

I finished with a time of 6:17 and 2nd place overall behind Todd Braje, who smashed the course record by winning w/ a time of 5:48!!!  Nice work Todd!!! and to all others that ran either of the races this past weekend.  I know I have a sub 6 hour in me and I may go back some year to do it...It's a good ol' Texas party down there and very well-run event.  My feet were in great shape the whole race thanks to Drymax socks and the Inov-8 F-lite 195's and I must say the course was nice.  Some beautiful spots by the lake and more rolling hills and trails than I expected.  Much flatter than most things I run but I wouldn't call it pancake flat.  The weather turned out to be ideal!
(cool pottery prize from the Copper Canyon and another finisher medal for Farah to play with! Photo: Jenny Uehisa)

Now for the much anticipated 100-miler.  There were some big dogs running and some great runners who flew in under the radar.  I must say that just before coming down, while analyzing and predicting, I told a buddy to watch out for Ian Sharman.  Anyway, there were some amazing performances by established 100-mile runners, but when I saw Ian Sharman come through mile 60 and then 80 I could tell that he was in the flow....the zone.  He had this look in his eye.  I don't think many others saw this but at one point I even saw him rip open a gel, suck it down, and toss it without looking straight into the small garbage box.... DUDE WAS ON ONE!!! and it was so cool to be a witness.  So Ian Sharman set a new American 100-mile trail record of 12:44 which is still pretty hard to wrap my head around!

As for the chase pack....I was semi-crewing for Hal, Anton, and my roommate Mike Wolfe.  It was fun hanging out with Jurek and Jenny (Jenny did an amazing job covering the race at InsideUltras on Twitter), meeting all kinds of people, and then meeting our runners at the different aid stations. Anton started turning it on the last 20 miles but it was kind of late as Ian had built a pretty nice cushion and continued to hammer it home.  Anton and Hal duked it out all the way to the end and those two should be extremely proud of the way they ran.  Another amazing spectacle and inspiring performance....thank you.  Great hanging out :-) On the women's side Liza Howard threw down a mind boggling time and every time I saw her she was smiling...Nice work Liza!  I'm always so amazed by people when I attend these events....Congrats again to everyone :-)

Full results for the 100 are HERE

Thanks to RD Joe Prusaitus and all the volunteers down there.  You guys know how to do it right!  I'll be down for Bandera 100k next January and I hope to see ya there too!

(Hangin' in the start/finish tent post race....one of the coolest things about this sport.  Photo Shannon Farar-Griefer)


(Plant based duo...Scott Jurek and me...photo by Jenny Uehisa)

Next up:  Chuckanut 50k!

9 comments:

Scott Keeps Running said...

Great race even with the tough last few miles. I ran the RR50 with my dad in '08. It's a great event down there for sure. I here Bandera is a blast as well.

Rob said...

Great start to 2011! Sounds like you are fit and fast! Good luck at Chuckanut. Too bad the Hardrock lottery gods weren't on our side this year.

Yassine said...

Thanks guys! Yeah, we'll have to get Hardrock another time Rob :-)

Derrick said...

Congrats on an awesome start to the season!

David Henry said...

Great write up Yassine and too bad on Hardrock. I think your looking good for 2011. Excited to seeing how your year develops.

Clynton Taylor said...

Great job! Sounds like a fun one.

Jenny did to a great job, getting good quotes and photos!

olga said...

It was great to see you out there, and way to represent! Good start for the year, finding the legs under.

sharmanian said...

Great to finally meet you, Yassine. I was sweeping the Rumble course back in April and saw you won it easily. Oregon certainly has some great races and I miss it.

Pleasure chatting to you and I look forward to catching up at Miwok.

Lynn B said...

Nice job in overcoming 1) a late start and 2)stomach issues. I can only imagine what a 6ish 50 looks like/feels like. It was a lot of fun watching the race unfold out at DamNation. I took a few pictures out there, and I think I have some pretty good shots of you...

https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/UsrSTtojbm52T4UFdEGLEw?feat=directlink

Lynn B
DamNation Captain