San Felipe Shoot Out
I train with a HR monitor. It keeps me comfortable and away from danger. I plan to complete a 100 mile race, so it is essential I learn to run in an aerobic mode. But during the San Felipe Shoot Out (SFSO), no HR monitor needed. Time to race, race fast and race at maximum effort. Leave comfort at home.
The SFSO was held March 28, 2015 at Stephen F. Austin State Park near San Felipe, TX (Sealy, TX). Race day consisted of a 5K, 10K and Half-Marathon each run with staggered start times. This enabled runners to run each race. My son joined me for his first ever trail race, the 5K. I chose to run all three and in doing so ran, The Shoot Out. I chose to run in my Salomon Mantra 2 shoes to be light.
We woke up early and drove the 30+ minutes to the State Park. There were golfers just starting at the neighboring golf course and I thought to myself that I need to come out here to golf sometime. After parking, my son and I made our way to the start. With 15 minutes before the 5K start we said hello to fellow HATRs and talked trash with Mark K., The Sailboat, my rabbit for the day. Over the previous days we had been exchanging a bit of social media trash talk… Mark Vs Mark.
At the gun we headed out, first mile pace at 9 min mile and my son was running strong. The curves and undulating ground threw him a bit. He later told me that he liked not being able to see where we were going and also didn’t like it because he wasn’t sure how hard to run. That is trail running. Gotta study the course map! Besides the short, initial road section, the trail was awesome. It was wide single track. Curvy and lined with trees. The ground was soft and even the wetter sections had that sticky, good-grip feel.
At 1.5 mile we passed the aid station without stopping. We each were carrying a handheld bottle full with SkratchLab. My son had orange while I preferred raspberry. I shouted out to Larry (working the station) that “HATRs gonna Hate!” You see earlier he had placed his allegiance on Facebook with Mark K. Our pace had slowed a bit by this time, and I decided to let Mark go. I wanted to push the pace and stay with him, but decided to stay with my son, enjoy his race and take care of Mark during the next event. My son was working hard. He had a steely face on and I loved it. He can sure get competitive! With a quarter mile to go, we pushed hard up the final approach, up the STAIRS and across the line at 31 minutes. My son won his age group (<20). I stood 66 seconds behind Mark K, even getting some razzing from a couple HATRs, but I was not concerned. I too can get competitive!
My son rocked his finisher’s medal the rest of the event. I put mine in the car as we grabbed our chairs. I sat down, cleaned out my shoes (having run a 5K with a rock at the tip of my big toe), and prepared for the 10K. Mark K was ahead and told me he was worried he went out too fast.
The 10K started about 30 minutes after we finished the 5K. My legs still felt fresh so I went with it. I was determined to make up the 90 seconds and then some. It was then that I decided to throw caution to the wind and run hard. RACE. This is not typical for me. I usually race in terms of performing to my expectations. Now I was going to go all out and see what I can do. I would not look at my HR. I would not back down the pace to a comfortable rate. I would race. Mark K and I traded positions a few times. I would push the pace, he would drop back, but then make a push to pass. This went on throughout the first of two loops. With a quarter mile to completion of the first loop, Mark and five others passed me. I sat back, but with 100 meters to go, I made my move passing all six of them on the single track, beating them into the aid station. This was race psychology. Good for me to have my son see me in before Mark. Bad for Mark to have his family see me come in before him. I quickly refilled the handheld with Hammer Heed, grabbed a banana and I was out. My legs still felt great. I was breathing heavy, but I knew I could keep it up. I never saw Mark K again. I was churning out the miles, but scared for the “Sailboat’s” charge. I knew I was running fast for me and it was fun. I don’t do much speed training typically because I’m a bit scared of injury which happened once. I finished the 10K in 58 minutes (39 of 192), a respectable trail finish. I was now 3+ minutes ahead of Mark K, but my calves were on fire.
The final race of the trifecta was in about one hour. This allowed me time to stretch, roll out my calves, and replenish my calorie stores. I changed shocks and reapplied Tail Toes. I typically race with a Nathan hydration backpack or with my Ultimate Direction race vest loaded with gels and whatnot, but this race I wanted to try to run light. With aide stations about 2 miles apart, I knew I would be okay to stay with the handheld only.
The half-marathon began and my legs felt like stumps. Worse, we headed down the stairs to start and I simply couldn’t feel my feet. Mark and I complained together about our physical condition, but about a mile in we both had worked out the muscles and were back racing. A little further down the trail we found the laminated picture of the Sailboat posted on the side of the trail. Rob Goyan, RD, Trail Racing Over Texas, had positioned several pictures along the course including one of me on the 5K-10K loop asking, “Who is the Real Deal?” We joked about the pictures, but by now I was beginning to separate from Mark. I wanted to keep up the push.
I completed my first loop and headed back out. Gave Mark a high five on the out-and-back section and knew I had him beat. Now, my focus was on keeping my pace and racing hard. I enjoyed following the best line through the trail. I would drift from side to side of the trail cutting each corner. With runners behind me, I wondered if I was upsetting them with my Nascar tactics, but it was fun. I passed a couple runners as now I could tell the day’s running had begun to take its effects on most runners. Soon, a flash went by me. It was Cal, leading the race. He had lapped me! He is an amazing runner. Someday he too will be 40 years old…
At the beginning of lap 3, the final loop, I felt tired. I knew I had a significant lead on Mark and my mind began to drift towards slowing down. I looked down at my right wrist. I was wearing a Brazos Bend 100 buff to remind me of my DNF just 3 months ago. I want to wear it to keep myself mentally focused and motivated. It worked. I made it half way through the loop to an open gravel road section. I could see ahead and several runners were now walking. The temptation was too strong. I began to walk, but gathered myself, looked at my wrist again and began running. At this moment, I began doing something I had not done since my first marathon training 12+ years ago. I went back to the basics. I started to count 1-2-3-4. It gave me a rhythm and kept my legs moving. I was tired now, but still moving… even passed some of those walkers. I believe I was low on energy and wished I was carrying a gel in my handheld. The Heed was supplying hydration and some calories, but the day had certainly caught up to me. The last 2.5 miles I found my pace fell dramatically, but with a final push I finished with a time of 2:00:13. I was given the Shoot Out medal, grabbed some water and PB&J and fell into the chair. Mark came in 6 minutes later and I congratulated him on a great race day.
My son and I hung out for a while longer and took in the scene of racers finishing, celebrating accomplishments, and enjoying each other’s company. The race was indeed fast, the temperature was pleasant and course was beautiful. To top it off, it was only a 30 minute drive home! The ShootOut was an interesting, challenging and fun event. Thanks to Trail Racing Over Texas for putting on a successful event and thanks to the park staff at Stephen F. Austin State Park for providing such a great venue.
My son told me he was able to read and take notes (homework) for 3 hours while I ran, even with all the distraction, runners, clapping, music and whatnot. I was impressed with that. I was happy that he enjoyed his first trail race day and we found out TROT is preparing for a kids race day in the fall.
Next official race on my calendar…. Kettle Moraine 100 Miler. Time to grind.