2016 Pumpkin Holler Hunnerd – Another 50K in the books.

Trail and Ultra races are my favorite! I love pushing myself to complete longer distances in the outdoors away from the urban landscape! After three years of being sidelined from running thanks to a torn ITB compounded by a genetic disorder that affects connective tissue. I took this year to rip the band-aid off so to speak by taking on a 50K. This was not a race for speed, this was a test to see if I could complete a 50k and my ITB not act up.

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My friend Will and I made a plan to take it easy and enjoy the day. About 4 miles in we started to see Dr Seuss signs on the trees!  Our first stop was Mad Dog aid station manned by Ultra Gator and the faithful K9 Pumpkin. I look forward to the Mad Dog station annually (and the ginger dog biscuits). This year Kevin and Ashley made french toast too! After a quick toast with fireball and pie hole Will and I were off.

 

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We rounded the corner to Them Idiots (complete with overalls and ‘merica sun glasses) manned by the Post Oak trail guys. Frank was cooking up venison sausage and offering a cold brew to runners. Shortly after we left Them Idiots we spotted a terrapin crossing the road. I stopped to snap a photo before moving him on to the ditch.

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Photo from Carol Williams Hughes

Photo from Carol Williams Hughes

It wasn’t long before we arrived at Savanna Corner manned by Jennifer, John, and Justin – maybe they should have called it the triple J aid station. Justin refilled my 2 liter hydration pack and Jennifer hooked me up with pickles and some happy pit bulls to pet!

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After that we were off to the waffle stop where two guys were busy clowning around. Mitch and Roman are rockstar aid station workers – this year they created the gatorade waffle. Sounds bad but was surprisingly good. They really know how to take care of runners; topped off my gatorade flasks, filled me full of salt and sent me on my way with electrolyte tabs.

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The stretch to East of Eden took longer than we expected but some horseback riders came galloping by and took our mind off our feet. We reached East of Eden to find Kate and Tay-Tay and a local reporter who was blown away to learn how the world of Ultra Running works. That Ultra’s are like a family reunion, a party, and a test of wills all in one. Kate quickly passed out brew’s to all in attendance, hooked me up with some vasoline for where I was chaffing, then sent us one for the road as we began the climb for the Great Gourd Challenge. The challenge is not part of the race and is about a football field long – straight up. (Devised by a truly evil mind) At the top there is always a reward for going the literal extra mile. This years was a custom Great Goud Challenge Sweaty Band from Mile Junkie! Then back to East of Eden for another libation and brew to go! As we were getting ready to head out Chrissy came in for her second visit (she was getting the 103 miler) hugs were passed all around and then Chrissy was stung by a bee! Rockstar Eddie fixed her up and sent her back out!

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Hard Up Ahead seemed to take forever to reach. The sun was out and cloud cover was gone. The heat was oppressive. When the aid station came into view I have never known of a Porta John to look so wonderful. Turns out I had drained all my water and gatorade. That’s 3 liters of hydration consumed since my last fill up.dsc04786

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Ed and Christy were driving the course and checking on aid stations, they told us to hurry up, that the folks at Bath Tub Rocks were dying to see us! As we pulled into Bath Tub Rocks Sarah, Pip, and Wes ran out to greet us! Wes came prepared with Sausage and Bacon, Sarah grabbed me up a fresh cold beer (opened it too as my fingers were not working so well) Wes convinced me to eat a little brisket & pulled pork. Then I went to the TATURs and Salt, and a pickle for the road. Bryan passed us on his second loop.

 

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The sun was setting as we crossed the rocks and thankfully I did not sip or slide as I crossed. The hill that came after was AWFUL. Just horrid. Both Will and I needed a fireball shot to get that started. It was time to switch on the head lamps. I switched to the red light to keep bugs from flying up my nose. (Every time I switched to bright white I had a bug fly up my nose).

 

We made it to last gasp where Travis provided me more vaseline, beer, pickles and Shorty poured me a shot full of Bee’s (yes real BEE’s) in the dark we could not see them until I tried to take a drink! I spit them out and she poured me a fresh one sans Bee! (no photos from when we were there – I didn’t want to blind any one with the flash!)

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This is when I retreated into my head. The heat and humidity were really getting to me. My feet hurt. I just wanted to take my shoes off and I had about 6 miles to go. Will was pretty much towing me at this point. Every once in awhile he would pause to look back and see if I was there and responsive. We had both wanted to linger at Meego’s cantina but when we arrived I got my hugs from Mike and Michelle. Mike convinced me to have a watermelon frozen drink and I took that to go! My feet were really hurting and I just wanted my shoes off! I left Will behind and continued the Zombie shuffle onward (Will had to run to catch me).

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Photo by Jamey Zuniga

As we shuffled along the highway after dark Will tried to convince me to run the last bit. I told him nope, shuffling it all in. I just want to get it done. I crossed the finish line.  Jody gave me my medal. I turned immediately to head to my vehicle for a change of shoes and shower supplies.

 

Until you have tested yourself on a distance race you will never know just how good a shower can feel. After my shower, I was straight to bed. With it being so hot the mobile sleeping unit was oppressively hot and my sleep was fitful. I took my hydration pack to bed with me so I could continue to rehydrate throughout the night. This Sunday morning I was able to witness several of my rockstar friends completing 100k, 100 mile and 135 mile finishes.  

 

The best part of the Trail and Ultrarunning community is just that, the community. I know with great certainty that were a runner in trouble on the course that each volunteer and most runners would have dropped everything to care for them. I might have lingered a bit long at each aid station but when each aid station contains some of your family you cannot help it! Special Shout Out to RD’s TZ, Stormy & Susan for once again putting on a class A event! Dana for all the behind the scenes work she puts in to make it all run smoothly! The Volunteers for making this race everything that it has become! 

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A huge thank you goes to Will for keeping me well entertained, moving, and in good spirits for my first 50k since injury! I am not sure I could have pulled this one off with out the liquid courage and jokes!

 

Amanda at PRC did a fantastic job taping me up and I am pleased to report as of right now my feet hurt and my ITB does not (granted this could change in a day or 2).
I am home now and thinking about maybe eating dinner. Air Conditioning never felt so good!

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