Saturday, August 9, 2014

Farewell to trail running - Big Butts 50k

Wearing the giant underwear that I got in my race packet!

I guess I should get this post up.  I'll make it short though because there's not much to say about running around in circles for 8 hours.  Two weeks ago I did my second ultra marathon - the Big Butts 50k here in Jackson, MS.  I actually was signed up for the 100k, but due to it being hotter than hell that day, I decided pretty early on that I was going to drop to the 50k.  Actually, I knew before even signing up for this race that I would not be able to finish a 100k in July in Mississippi within the 14 hour cutoff.  The course was a 10.4 mile loop with probably about half of each loop in the direct sun.  Give me heat and humidity any day, but put me in the direct sun and I'm done!  The month of July was actually pretty mild for Mississippi, with 3 different cold fronts coming through throughout the month.  Guess which day was not during these cold fronts?  Yup, you guessed it - the day of the race.  "Feels like" temps approached 120 degrees F!!!!!!!

A nice reminder of how effin' hot it was after each loop.

We arrived at the race start/finish and set up all of our crap.  One of the many things about trail running that I will not miss is all the crap you have to haul around with you!  I had some glimmer of hope that the 100k would work out for me so I had everything that I needed labeled and ready to grab after each 10.4 mile loop.  I wanted minimal thinking.  The race starts at 8 AM which I think should be illegal in Mississippi in July.  The RD wants it to be hot and hard!  

All ready for 8 hours of hell.

We (JB, TW, MS, and me) started the first loop.  JB and I planned to keep a 9:1 interval for the first 2 loops with maybe 5 minutes at the aid station after each loop.  First loop was actually not too bad.  For the first mile or two we ran through freshly mowed grass.  The sun was still a bit low, so we had some shade.  We entered the trail (where we spent pretty much every Saturday).  We did a couple sections of the trail that I had never done before.  And I hated these parts.  One area was all covered in grass and you couldn't see what you were stepping on!  It was awful!  I imagined all sorts of creepy crawlies or dead bodies waiting for me under the grass!  We approached the only aid station on the course (besides the start/finish) around mile 4.5 and grabbed some ice.  We were making decent time, but soon after that we began running on the blacktop portion of the loop.  This is pretty much maybe 2 miles (maybe a little less) on pavement in the direct sun.  It sucked but we pushed through and made it back to the trail.  I finished the first loop exactly on target, but pretty much resolved at that point that I was only going to do the 50k.  JB decided to also drop to the 50k and to wait for her aunt and finish the last two laps with her, so I was on my own for my final two laps.  I'm not a big fan of running trails by myself.

She's a lady!

I swear that each lap got longer and longer (or is it that I got slower and slower??), especially the portion from the 4.5 mile aid station back to the start/finish.  Physically and mentally I felt absolutely fine.  It was just too damn hot.  So I walked much of the last two laps.  In the beginning miles of my last loop I came upon a very large snake that was spanning the entire trail.  He/she saw me and slithered back into the woods, but I was not interested in running by him/her by myself so I waited for the next runner to come by me and followed him.  I probably stood there and waited at least 5 minutes.  Runners were pretty spread out.  So the entire last lap I was anxious and on alert for snakes and other creepy crawlies!  I could not wait to be out of that hell and be done with trail running.  It is definitely not for me!  To make a long story short, I emerged from my hell just after 8 hours.  I collected my finisher's cap and drink receptacle and sat my ass down and drank the most deliciously ice cold Pepsi ever.

Well that's the story of my second ultra and my farewell to trail running.  I miss the road!  My next marathons are in three weeks with a "sort of" WY/CO double.  I say "sort of" since there is a day between the two races - Jackson Hole Marathon on Saturday then the American Discovery Trail Marathon on Monday.  Don't worry - this race isn't a gnarly, rooty, stumpy trail.  It's just a crushed gravel/dirt bike pathThis type of "trail" is acceptable to me. 


  1. An ultra sounds painful enough without doing it in heat and humidity and direct sun. Good job finishing 50k! I also prefer the crushed gravel, dirt path trails which Umstead is great for and Umstead also has technical single track. I do enjoy trail running, nice to mix it up, but I don't race it much. I ran one brutal 10k trail race in 2011 and it took me 55 min, it was that hard! My friend won it in 42 and he's sub 29 on road and ran in Olympic trials

    1. Single track is awful! And after all that slow slow slow running I did all summer, I'm now slow slow slow on the road! I struggled on my 9 mile run this morning to keep a 10:45 pace! Ugh!

  2. Haha!!! I ran this race the same day you did. Holy Cow~that was a hot, hot day!!! I am fortunate that I did not see that snake. That is all I have to say about that. I, too, did well on the first lap. The second lap consisted of about half running/half walking. When I came back to the start finish and that God awful thermometer said 112*, I said to myself, "Screw that! I'm walking!" and I walked almost the entire last loop. Came in 2nd in AG. I was happy about that, but then again, I am an old lady and there weren't many old women dumb enough to attempt this race! Congratulations on finishing! It was brutal!