Brazos Bend 50 Mile Trail Race Report



I ran the Brazos Bend 50 Mile Trail Race yesterday! Last year, I ran my first 50 mile race on the same course. 

Course Notes: Soon after starting the race, I was stopped in my tracks by a herd of 10 or so wild hogs who ran across the trail. At the same time, coming the other direction was Caroline Boller who ran the fastest national 50 mile time yesterday in 5:48:01.

Running with Mark and Jessica made the first loop go by quickly. Later, I actually backtracked on the course to see two alligators (am I crazy, or what?), but I'm glad that two runners, Charlie and Ashley, pointed them out to me. There was a girl with them on a bike that kept me company and encouraged me by telling me I was keeping a good pace.

The 50 mile race was three loops that went through the start/finish line twice during the race so I was able to stop at my drop bag twice. There were a few rocks and some tacky mud that you could mostly avoid by running on the grass beside the dirt trail. We ran by lakes and marshes and through the woods. There were a couple of very short hills, but the the course was mostly flat.

Would I Ever Cross the Finish Line? In order to get a 50 mile PR and a course PR, I needed to beat 12:12. My pace goal was 12 minute miles, but I ran a little faster than that at first (about 11 minute miles) because it felt incredibly easy in the cool weather. Towards the end, I had to walk a bit, but my husband was watching the real-time results online and I was surprised to later learn that I was actually doing better relative to the other runners towards the end than I did at the beginning. 

Just before hitting mile 49, I fell in the gravel, but I only had minor scrapes. In my last race, the Pass Mountain 50K on November 12, I fell at about mile 1 so this was sort of an improvement. Many runners stopped to make sure that I was okay. I don't remember for sure, but maybe I tripped while getting a drink.

Maybe half a block before the finish line, I felt like I didn't even have the energy to cross it, but just as I did, I felt someone holding me up because I was falling. That's never happened before. I'm so grateful to that stranger for being there at just the right time.

They sat me down. The race director and a doctor asked me about the last time I had eaten. They were okay about my fueling because I had been eating and drinking until the end. The doctor told me to get into dry clothes and to eat. He walked me to my car and by then, I was fine.

Getting There: The race took place at Brazos Bend State Park, Texas, which is near Houston and only about an hour from my home. With a 7am race start, I left home at 5am.


How could I forget to take photos at the race?! Taken when I drove home.

Packet Pick-up and Parking: On the morning of the race, there was easy-peasy parking close to the start and a restroom. There was no line for packet pick-up.

Swag Bag: Instead of a Christmas themed race shirt that I could only wear seasonally, I chose a buff and a water bottle. 

Weather/Clothes: It was mostly cloudy and cool at about 35-55 degrees during the race so I wore a jacket, gloves and capris beneath my skirt just before the race to keep me warm. During the race, I wore the skirt and a short sleeved shirt and also a long sleeved shirt for part of the race. 

Fuel Pre-race: Waffles and coffee 3 hours before start and 1 GU gel just before the start.

Fuel During the Race: The pre-race plan was to take GU gels about every 45 minutes. I ate two GU gels from home, but when I saw the aid stations, I decided their food looked best. At mile 20, I ate pecan pie and at mile 30, I ate a brownie. Other favorites: peanut M&M's (made it to mile 44 because of my 3 piece M&M reward for running a half mile without stopping when my mind was screaming, "Stop!"), huckleberry and espresso Hammer gels. In the second half, my bottle was full of Hammer Heed and I picked up Coke cups and ate Ritz crackers and potato chips. I had a salt tab at mile 25 and 40 maybe, but I don't know if that helped. 

Gear: 

Facts:

  • Time: 9:55:03
  • 11:54 average min/mile pace
  • 4th in the 50+ year old women
  • 17th out of 69 women
  • 40th out of 141 participants


My Favorite Things about the Race: The other runners were so encouraging with their smiles and kind words. The aid station volunteers were great with pep talks and next aid station distances. After the race, they warmed me up with a quesadilla, ramen, coffee and even wrapped me in a blanket. I don't know how many times the race director, Rob Goyen, high fived me during the race!  

I ran my first and only other 50 mile race in April of 2015 on the same course. I ran that warm 50 mile race in 12:12. My big goal for this race was to get a course PR and I got it by completing the race in 9:55! I'm a little sore, but I'm, oh, so happy about completing my second 50 mile race, my PR of 2 hours 17 minutes and my sub 10 hour time! 

Comments

  1. Anonymous12/11/2016

    Hey, Tina. I got a good chuckle reading your second paragraph. I am the Charlie of the Ashley and Charlie Alligator Spotting Team. You were killing it. I lost sight of you around 35 miles and ended up finishing about 5 minutes behind you.

    Great job!

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    1. Charlie, glad to hear from you! Please tell the bicycling cheerleader thank you for keeping me company! I hope you had the best birthday ever!

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  2. Good job Tina!! My daughter was on the bike! We were cheering for you all day! So impressive. I'm glad to hear you were ok after the finish. I saw you cross and was worried! What a warrior you are! Congrats on your successful day!!

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    1. Demi, I should have asked if your daughter could ride with me on the last loop - that was a tough one! Did you hear that the 100 mile winner, Maggie, needed a chair at the end, too? I guess that makes me like a 100 mile winner! Thank you to your whole crew for helping me along the way!

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  3. Congrats on a great result!! Nice work. Glad you were ok after the fall.

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    1. Thanks, Robin! After my dive onto the gravel, I only had a small bruise on one hand and tiny scratches on my hands and knees. The best part - that I could still run! I can't imagine what it would have been like to have to quit at mile 49!

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  4. And I am so SO happy for you!!! What an AWESOME race you ran!! And a plus 2 hour PR- WOW!!!! Just reading your recap is motivating me to get out there and train for a trail ultra next year! That buff is so fun looking! I hope your feeling well today. I'm sure your appetite is huge the next couple days, so enjoy the Christmas treats!CONGRATS TINA!!! :)

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    1. Thanks, Kate! So hungry yesterday - I finally broke out the chocolate peppermint cookies my family in CA gave me on Thanksgiving that I saved for after this race! I hope we can run trails together someday... There's the local Rocky 50K trail race in February!

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  5. WOW!! You crushed your time goal, that is awesome. You really used up everything you had, that is avery long race...i am glad there was help and support when you needed it and you are are feeling okay. You should be a little sore :) lol you should be a lot sore, you are really amazing!!

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    1. There was always someone there to lift me up, literally and mentally, like the two runners near the end of the race (I think that one was a pacer friend). When I saw how they were able to run after walk breaks, it encouraged me to do the same without feeling like my goals were shot. As long as I was moving forward, I was getting closer to the finish!

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  6. Sore + Happy = Awesome


    Cheers

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  7. Wow! Impressive! Congratulations! Man seeing the feral hogs must of been a rush!

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    1. Oh, yeah, my Garmin Connect graph shows my heart rate during the race and I'm pretty sure that I could show you on the chart just where I saw the hogs!

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  8. Congratulations on an awesome PR! And wow about the hogs & alligators ....crazy! Happy recovery!

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    1. Thanks, seeing my PR time on the finish line clock made me so happy even if I was a shivering, sore and exhausted mess!

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  9. Woah! That is a huge PR! Congratulations!!!

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    1. Thanks! I pushed myself as hard as I could in those final miles for that PR. So worth it!

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  10. holy heavens you are amazing. I cannot believe you ran for about 10 hours, and to keep such a good pace for so long. This is just a whole different level of awesome.

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    1. Thanks, Abby! Would you believe I'm already thinking about my next race?! Fun stuff!

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  11. You amaze and inspire me!!!!!!!
    Wow, I can tell you put a ton of effort in, especially since you could barely stay up near the finish. Loved reading about your race.
    A 50 mile race is one thing, you add the trail to it and you are one tough lady! Great job on your finish, and placement that is awesome!!!!
    Love that your husband supports you so much!

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    1. Thank you! The fact that you've already started planning for your hike at the Grand Canyon R2R next year inspires me! Someday I'd like to do R2R or even R2R2R!

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  12. Wow, great job Tina! That is such an awesome PR. You are such a strong runner. Congratulations on a great race!

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    1. Thanks, Meagan! I think that training with some of the food that might be at aid stations helped like Fig Newtons and PB sandwiches, but you know about ultras - lots of food you don't usually eat during road races.

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  13. Wow! Awesome time! Congrats on your finish. I like how you had the m&ms as a reward for not stopping that half mile. Hey whatever works right? Glad to hear everyone was friendly and helpful. I felt like that at the 50K I did last yr. Ultras are less competitive I feel like.

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    1. There's only one problem with M&M's - the dye gets on everything. Maybe they'll be less messy when they change to natural dyes. Since I don't normally buy them, they're a treat - like the Oreos I ate from the aid station after the race. My mother-in-law said it sounds like we run ultras for the food - maybe so!

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  14. Holy cow, what an amazing PR! I'm glad you got to see some animals along the way and had some occasional company. Sounds like a really solid race. Great job!

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    1. Thank you! Even though I only saw a couple of gators, keeping an eye out for them was fun. The wild pigs gave me a pretty good scare - I'm glad there were lots of people around when I saw them plow across the trail right in front of me!

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  15. That's a major PR!!!!! When I did my 12-hour Ultra (back in July), the only fuel I used was the "real" food on the course....it was a 1-mile loop that we repeated over & over, so the aid station was there as we repeated the loops. My favorite was pretzels and Coke LOL, but we also had pizza, potatoes, tortillas...it was awesome! Congrats ;-)

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    1. Thanks! Knowing you're never far from an aid station and never being alone on the course must have been great, but I'd have to dig deeply to finish that challenge on such a short course for 12 hours. Congrats to you!

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