YABRR: Running the Rose 2019 Edition
I must sound like a broken record, thanking everyone who helped me during the race, but there is no way I could run these without the support of DDR (y'all know who you are) and non-DDR folks that I meet on the trail. And, as always: Shellene
What a difference a year makes. https://www.slothontherun.com/blog/yabrr-running-the-rose-2018-edition
Back to Tyler for the second edition of TROT's Running the Rose, a race in one of my favorite parks, it's actually my favorite place to run within "easy" driving distance. Over the past 4 months we had made 6 trips out the park for training runs (thank you Texas State Parks Pass), so I had a very good idea of where each root, rock and swampy section was.
Drove in Friday afternoon, and while I went to packet pickup with Gollum (who did quite well with all the noise and people), Shellene went for a run. After making a quick trip out to Bodacious BBQ, I hung out with Robin until Shellene got back.
Saturday morning, got a ride down to the start with Robin, since Shellene was already working packet pickup. Race day weather called for a cool start, with no real chance of rain. Since this run was scheduled to be a gear-check for UTMB (2020, but I like to be prepared), my running vest had almost a complete UTMB required gear load.
Prior to the race start, Augustine and I were joking about racing the first hill (winner gets a taco), and when Rob said "Go", we went. A little bit of "old age and treachery" and I was waiting for him at the top. This put us both about mid-pack when we hit the UpYoursRob hill, a short but steep and rooty bypass of the first switchback. Normally the trail doesn't go that way (it used to), but Rob had it flagged as the course. Having run the race last year, I knew he would do that, so I called out "watch the flags" and went up it with a few runners following, this moved us towards the front again. At this point I settled into a pace that was too fast, but I was having fun. On this course, when you finish the "A" loop you enter the "EZ" loop, a .75 mile section that another runner referred to as "free miles", since it only has a little climbing and a few roots. The problem is, when you hit that point, you see the wrong way sign ahead, the aid station off to the left, and flags to the right. We went right, and shortly after passing the aid station we caught up to two runners who had been behind us. Since I was a bit gassed, I slowed down to point out that they might have missed part of the course. After talking with them, they saw the wrong-way sign and went right. They were a bit concerned, but I told them that all they'd have to do is run the EZ Loop twice on the next lap. (When they told Rob about it, that's exactly what he told them as well). Even slowing down towards the end of the lab I set a PR for a single loop by about 5 minutes. This was not good, and I paid for it later.
During the second loop, I got to the Blackjack aid station and sat down, rethinking my race - and life in general. Michael was there, and made sure I was at least alive, and out I went. The best thing about the Blackjack aid station is leaving it, since shortly thereafter is a nice, runable downhill. I got to the top, and went into "fat boy on a downhill" mode. As I scanned the trail I could see a whole bunch of runners (short distance races) heading up it; at that point I let out a couple of war-whoops and bombed the hill. I was having fun (considering that 5 minutes earlier I was hating life, I'll take it) and away I went. I spent part of loop 2 talking with Julie, who had just run Moab 240 and would be supporting Franklin 200; I think I got some good insight/confirmation on what I had planned. As I was getting close to the start/finish the sky opened up with rain. I made it to the DDR setup, fished my rain jacket out of my vest, and headed out on loop 3.
Loop 3 was more of the same, sometimes hating life, sometimes having fun, often switching between the two. At one point I was running with Houston runner, who watched me bomb down that hill again (not as many war-whoops were needed though), and then caught me as I climbed. She asked for pointers on how to descend. I told her my big secret to descending that fast: "Know the trail like the back of your hand". There is no way I would have run down a hill that fast if I didn't know it that well - I'm too old to fall. End of loop 3, DDR had some bacon/egg tacos ready to go, and off I went.
The next three laps were tough, as the fun kept getting away from me. Rob told me I was running well, but I responded that the clock was lying. Yes, I was doing good on time, so he was right, but the joy wasn't there. I was concerned about my groin injury (it got tight, but nowhere near as bad as Bandera), and about Franklin 200 (it's bad when you're thinking about your next race, while racing). I saw that both Augustin and Nancy had DNFd, which made me sad as well. The good thing was, I know that loop 4 is mentally the hardest, and I survived it. Robin caught and dropped me on loop 5, she was running strong. During loop 6 I caught up to Jessie, and stayed with her and Rolando to the finish. Making a few suggestions about her final lap as we walked it in.
I crossed the line in 16:06, over two hours slower than 2018, all in all, a so-so race. The fact that I had outstanding support from not only DDR, the aid station volunteers and the RD himself (reminding me that I can't get a Black Rose Buckle until I have both the Yellow and Red ones) is the only way I finished.