Thursday, July 25, 2013

El Scorcho 50k 2013 Race Report

About every year or so, I take the family down to visit my parents in Dallas.  Dallas is a fantastic place to play tourist, but due to the whole academic schedule, we're usually there in July or August.  You might think that northerners like us would wilt in the heat, but the truth is we do very well.  Since we don't have air conditioning, we're typically better acclimatized than the locals. 

Well enough acclimatized for El Scorcho?  Keep reading.

El Scorcho is a 25k or a 50k, made up of 5k loops in Trinity Park in Fort Worth, in July, and the race starts at midnight.  It's a bad idea, and even the race directors admit it.

Pre-race Prep:

We got to Dallas a week before the race, and I proceeded to completely wreck both my diet and my taper.  We stayed till closing at the  zoo on the day before my race.  I was also on my feet all day that week for Summer Adventures At Fair Park, which I want to plug here for anyone interested.  

About Summer Adventures at Fair Park?  Have you ever gone to a carnival and said, "This would be awesome if I could ride all the rides and never have to wait in line!" If so, this is a fantasy come true.   They also have the small but lovely aquarium open, so you can take a break.  

This is Love Bugs,  the best ride ever!  Made in 1971 by the Oscar Bruch company.  It's fun, it's beautiful, and when we told the operator that we loved it, he gave us a huge smile.... he knew.

And the eating.....  the eating.... the eating.  We ate well.  One of the highlights of our trip was getting to finally getting to cross eating at a Hare Krishna restaurant off the old bucket list.  Kalachandji's in Dallas has won a bunch of awards, well deserved, IMO.  Hare Rama Yum!  
Best Dal EVER!

And we also got some ethiopian food (and Shiners) at Lalibela, which was delicious.  I know the kid looks grouchy, but she loved the meal.

And my pre-race meal was the best tamales ever from Hot Damn Tamales in Fort Worth.

A fun vacation topped with a 50K?  YOLO?

Getting to the Start:

Here's what I was wearing - Luna Sandals, Adidas shorts, a dog collar for my D-tag, and an Alo bamboo tank from Spreadshirts with a Banksy design.  More on the shirt later.

It was unseasonably cool - in the low 80s, but was also more humid than expected.  There was a super nice breeze, though.  Weather was better than I would have anticipated, but still on the hot side.

I drove to the race, which, if you know me, is a big deal.  I barely drive, but I suck it up if I think it is going to be worth it.  It's about an hour and a half from my parents house to Fort Worth.  In the rental car.  In the dark, on strange roads.  I was practically in tears when I got there.   

I was hoping to run into my cyber-pal Dave, who blogs at (Not so) doomed runner, but I couldn't find him at the start.  He described himself as a short bald guy, but there were quite a few short bald guys and it was dark.  Nobody can EVER find me because I just look like some lady. We managed to meet about four minutes before the start.  Dave said he wanted to start out at an 8:00 pace.  I said I was going to try 10:30, but might slow down.  Then I left him to go line up with the ladies.  

The First 25K:

And we were off!  About 150 people started, but it didn't seem crowded because the paths were fairly wide.  I think Trinity park is pretty - but it was dark, you know.  There were two aid stations along the course in addition to the one at the finish line.  Also, there was a cheering section around mile 1.  The aid stations had lots of enthusiastic volunteers handing out water "WATER! WATER!" in cups, and handing out electrolytes, and loud music and...  and...  

The music, the frequent aid, the aid brought out to me rather than having to go to the table, the cheering, the crowd.... well, it threw me more than I would have guessed.  I've been running so many trail ultras, and this is just not at all what I'm used to!  Yeah, I knew it was going to be like this, and I'm grateful for the enthusiastic support.  I'm genuinely surprised at how anxious it made me.   Maybe I'd just overdone it on the caffeine.

It didn't help that about 2 miles in, some guy kept making comments about my shorts and my rear end.  I know he didn't mean anything by it, but it's  disconcerting to be chased through a park at midnight by a guy making comments about my backside.  This isn't the first time this has happened to me.  Dudes, can you PUH-LEEZE knock it off?  Another guy passed me and said something super snarky about "blowing out my flip flops".  His running buddy shot him a dirty look and then told me, "GREAT JOB!"  

My stomach hurt the whole time.  I was happy that it wasn't worse, though.  Given the way I had eaten, I had expected to need my own porta john.

During the first 25k, it was so hard to run my own race.  Many of the 25k'ers were super fast, and were lapping me. Many of the 25kers were walkers and I lapped them.  Should I take a walk break?  Should I pace off of someone running an 8:30 pace?  (I was hovering between 10:30 and 12:00).  I couldn't get into a groove, nor pick up anyone for support.   I saw Dave around 23K (Loop 5), and was hoping he was stepping back to a slower pace and might run with me.  Nope.  Dave had hurt his ankle and was going to drop, and the look on his face told me that I wouldn't be able to talk him out of it.  Bummer.  Get well soon, Dave!

The Second 25k:

There's a point in a lot of races where you think, "This is a really dumb sport.  It's not fun and I should just stop right now".  Never does that hit harder than at 3AM on a loop course in the middle of the summer in Texas.  So easy to drop.  Every time I passed through the finish line, there were people drinking beer - including a dude sitting on my cooler (he was super nice about it)!  It was tempting to join him - there were beers in the cooler, but instead, I just grabbed some ice to shove down my shirt and kept on running.

The crowd thinned out as the 25kers finished.  I started to relax and began to enjoy my run.  At 20 miles, when I should have been "hitting the wall", I hit my stride.  FINALLY.  The night was beautiful, the moon was up, and I was happy now to see the only slightly less enthusiastic volunteers.  
This is what Trinity Park looks like in the middle of the night.

Despite the thinning crowd, I managed to find people to run with during the last couple of hours.  I ran for a mile with a guy that had "El Scorchnado" written on his chest.  On my last mile of Loop 9, I picked up Dan, and we ran our last victory lap together, chatting about biking, running, and swimming.  It was great to have company!  On our last mile, the sun was starting to come up.  A pair of runners passed us, looking incredibly fresh... and I realized, they weren't part of the race!  They were just out for their morning run.  This happened again two more times during our last mile.    

I crossed the finish line feeling fantastic at 6:21:20.  I thought I had done terribly, but it turns out my standing was better than I would have expected.   I was  44th out of 74 finishers, and 11th out of 25 women.  About 150 started.  I guess I didn't do half bad after all!   

The lunas performed great, although already after only 125 miles, I need duct tape on the ATS laces.  

I also recommend the bamboo tanks for warm weather running.  Jason over at Barefoot Running University has been in a frenzy over the idea that tech fabric is for cold weather running and non-wicking clothes (aka cotton) are better for warm weather running.  I think he's about half right on that one.  These bamboo products are somewhere between cotton and tech fabric on the wicking spectrum, and are way softer (less chafing) than both materials. I definitely feel more comfortable in these in hot weather.  Be careful if buying one from spreadshirts, though.  Any design on it doesn't breathe.

The finishers bling for this race is fantastic.  I've never really been excited for medals, but these I like:

Many props to the El Scorcho team!  It was indeed a well organized, great event!    

The aftermath:

Six hours after finishing El Scorcho, I was airborne and headed back to Massachusetts.  My husband thought this was a dumb idea, and he was right.  I didn't get to sleep on the plane, unfortunately because my name is Mom.  But the trip was nowhere near as bad as I had anticipated.
I used full-fledged drug store compression stockings on the plane for the first time.  Wow, they felt great!  I'll be using these again, possibly even next time I fly, whether I run or not.