[BEGIN BACKDATED RACE REPORT:
Ultra #2 / Overall #9
Hell’s Hills (Tejas Trails) 50 mi
Rocky Hills Ranch
Refer to my race report on the Hell’s Hills 50k from 4/6/13 for details on the course. On this race report, I’ll simply share our experiences as both Alex and I struggled to complete the 50 miler of Hell’s Hills.
“I have to finish… I already put the “50 miles” sticker on my car”…
The pressure is real!!
And compared to last year’s.. these bib numbers had nothing on them, both me and Alex were like.. what the heck??!! Apparently last year’s bib was made extra fancy by one of the sponsors La Sportiva, but this is the “Tejas trails” standards (nothing but a number…).
Once again, the 50 miler course consisted of 3 loops of 16.7 miles, with an extra 1.2 mile segment on top of each 25k loop. The cutoff is 15 hours (minimum of 18 minutes/mile pace).
Start of race morning… this year, both Alex and I started at 5am, with the 50 miler folks, with our headlamps more fully charged than last year… lol.
Sunrise before our eyes… and this year I noticed that there were particularly more bluebonnets than the year before (either that or I wasn’t paying attention last year).
The struggle continues… I remembered this being bad the previous year, and here we go again. After going through the Grind for the first time, it kicked our butts already…
After the first loop, Alex decided to keep on going and left me behind. Lol.
The second loop felt equally as bad. My left hip was really starting to bother me with every step, and I was seriously hurting in both of my quads and thought about quitting after the 50k.
But then… what do I walk home with? Another 50k? That’s what I did last year. I came here with the intention of completing a 50 miler, so dang it… I will keep on moving. No, I didn’t really put that sticker on my car, but I was wearing the shirt and everyone was complimenting about it…
“ha ha…. you already put the 50 sticker on your car…”
Ha ha… that kept me going for a while. The sun was coming out intermittently and it was hot. Because I was afraid of not making the cutoff, I even skipped that extra 1.2 mile loop (thinking to myself, I’ll just do an extra 1.2 miles later at the end).
When I got to the Grind the second time after passing through the tunnel of pines, I encountered Alex again. He had slowed down by a good amount, and I was just trying to catch up. I suggested that we should stick together for the rest of the race, and make it through the last lap.
And we did. Here we are back at the start/finish aid station, after completing our second lap.
Having someone there with you to run changes the mentality almost instantaneously… Not to mention, Alex (in his crazy mindset) told me that at one time he ate a flower on the trail and it tasted pretty good. So I was like, yeah why not. So we both took a bite into a flower and then my mouth started to feel numb!!
The first thought that came to mind is… oh no, is that flower I ate going to cause me nerve paralysis and kill me on the trail? But then… I realized that it tasted kinda like a chloroseptic spray, and that was all there was to it. And Alex experienced the same thing, which was reassuring haha…
In the field of bluebonnets, Alex decided it was a good idea to take a nap in the flowers. Lol. While I was waiting, I realized that we had enough time to make it through the cutoff. So I ended up using this time to make up for that extra 1.2 mile that I skipped earlier… running back and forth on this trail until my Garmin reached an additional 1.2 miles lol.
At the final aid station (tunnel of pines), Alex and I encountered two other guys who simply ate and left the aid station. They asked me if I wanted to powerhike with them. They stated that they had been powerhiking every hill and running the downhills, and had been consistently keeping up with an average of 17 minute miles. They also told me how they powerhiked all the other 50 miler races including Rocky, Cactus Rose, and Nueces. I thought that was smart, tried to powerhike with them, but their stride was just a little longer than I was used to… so I just ran ahead, and it was so painful. Alex took off again but at this point I was like whatever…
I finished #86 of 88 total finishers and Alex a few minutes before me. My finish time was well over 14 hours and the sun was going down…
And we had to get a picture with Joe Prusaitis the race director… It was my first ever 50 miler and Alex’s second. It was exhausting and by no means easy, but by God’s grace, we survived.
And I proudly put that 50 miles sticker on my car… 😀
3 weeks until Oklahoma City…
END OF BACKDATED REPORT – 5/21/17]