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Box of Rox Trail Marathon – Race Report

May 6, 2012

Neat little addition: Turns out MAJOR media coverage isn’t always  limited to the frontrunners.  The kind folks at did a nice write up of the event, which included a rather verbose quote from me.  

Pictures and words help tell a story but stats sometimes work even better.  For the inaugural Pandora’s Box of Rox Trail Marathon at Reveille Peak Ranch in Burnet, Texas, 109 dedicated, generally experienced runners toed the start line.  15 didn’t make it beyond the halfway point.  A dozen more didn’t make it to the end.  Only two runners finished in under 4 hours; 5 hours after the start only 15 had made it to the finish line.  Well over half who did finish took over 6 hours.

It was a beautiful but excruciatingly difficult race.  Normally, any one of the contributing factors would have made for a tough outing:

  • full sun with very little of the course unexposed
  • temperatures in the 90s much of the race, reaching over 100 degrees at the finish for many runners 
  • humidity peaking at 90% (for reals)
  • technical, rocky trail with few straight or flat sections 
  • frequent sections of running over massive granite outcroppings
  • cumulative elevation gain of about 2200′, with the same amount of descent

So, I suffered like everyone else.  Despite 6 SaltStick capsules and 16 gels (each containing electrolytes) and ample water, I cramped like a mofo the last 3-4 miles.  Full on seizing of the legs, much like the final couple miles of the warm St. George Marathon.  Swirly brain functioning, no peeing, an overwhelming eagerness to stop running.  But, I kept going and finished in a relatively respectable fashion in a time of 4:40:55, good for 11th overall.  For those interested in some totally unflattering, emaciated race photos, check them out and see if you can come up with any clever descriptions for my pencil legs.

Hours earlier, before entering the pain cave, I was content with the morning.  My motivation wasn’t through the roof or anything but I was well rested, well fed, and generally in the right mood for a long effort.  My pre-race thoughts of a sub-4 hour run faded away quickly after starting, as I found holding the requisite pace impractical, if not impossible.  [The last few weeks have been something of a cluster-fuck for me physically – nearly a month of a fever and sore throat morphing into head congestion and runny everything morphing into chest congestion and a cough.  That, plus a left knee with a roaming pain that will soon qualify as “chronic,” has made me feel a little less bionic than I’ve imagined myself to be over the last few months.]  While sub-4 hopes became something of a fairly tail, I was still confident that I’d be able to finish in about 4:15, maybe 4:30 if things fell apart.

The first loop felt a bit harder than it should have but not unbearable and I made it to the 13.1 mile turn-around in 2:05.  In 8th place at the time, I was pretty confident that if I could just hold the pace, I’d move up a few spots, perhaps even making it into the top 5 (and maybe get the first tangible race award in my running career?!).  The next 2 hours and 35 minutes became a war of attrition.  And I was losing the war.  Each successive mile became more of a chore as the heat soared and I just couldn’t get in enough electrolytes or calories or water or combination of them all to ward off the pain.  Luckily, I was able to keep moving forward in something like a running motion, only hiking when absolutely necessary on some of the rockier climbs (the same climbs that were comfortably runnable the first loop through).

I know that some of my my massive readership isn’t super into running but here is an unrelated recent photo that has something for everyone…

Ultimately, 3 runners passed me on the 2nd loop, the last at about 22 miles, each serving a proper blow to my ego.  But, avoiding a more complete collapse was something of a minor victory.  Once the leg cramping started I thought that a full on wave of runners might fly on by me but none did.  After crossing the finish and getting myself into the cool little stone pool just steps away, my focus was squarely on stopping the pain in my legs.  Seeing how few others came through the finish in that next hour, I was better able to keep my underwhelming performance in perspective.  Clearly, as much as I was hurting, others were having a rougher day.

All in all, a good day.  I didn’t get off course at all and, for the first time in my three races at the venue, the course was well marked and there was plenty of cold water, and I didn’t have any big falls (just one little one about 8 miles in but no damage).  I felt good within about 30 minutes of the finish and am no more sore today (24 hours later) than most days.  Amazingly, my knee feels better today than it has for most of the last 3+ weeks.  So, I’m considering yesterday the restart to my 100-miler build-up and am looking forward to lots of long, easy running in the coming months, with just enough faster work so I don’t forget why I don’t like running fast.

A big congrats to Ted Larison, who soldiered on for a hard-fought finish in the full marathon, and to Olga King, who breezed through the half as a training run, taking 3rd female without even really trying.

  1. So, you post a cute photo, and then a nasty one, so we don’t focus too much on cuteness…rude, Mister!
    It was kinda hot and humid, agreed. Since my cramps never developed fully, the rest of the day I felt like my calves were about to seize, as I was just doing house chores. Felt so weird.
    BTW, I don’t “friend”, I keep my thing quiet, for communication with my older son. Nothing personal:) If and when I am ready to re-enter the world of FB, I’ll let you know (I still have old account with some bazillion friends and another 100 expecting me to accept it, but I stopped using it over 3 years ago).
    Solid run for you!

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