Going Big in Texas

Matt and Sam Houston

And you thought Matt had a big head…standing here with Sam Houston’s head

After a nice stay in Hilton Head, SC last week and a great visit with new friends in Birmingham, AL, we are now here in grand Texas; Huntsville State Park to be exact. We are looking to put an end to the Marathon Madness for awhile by completing the Rocky Raccoon 100 miler this weekend.

I feel ready to go. It’s Wednesday afternoon and we’re sitting at a park bench at our campsite. The sun peeks out occasionally and is followed by grayish clouds that look to be filled with water. We were rained on some yesterday and the ground is muddy and wet but overall, it’s been warm and dry now. It is certainly humid but it’s comfortable.

We are almost entirely alone in the park. There are a few camp hosts and the park staff, but we are one of two or three other campers we’ve seen thus far. It’s lovely. It’s been quiet and calm around, except for all the animal noises. We actually don’t know a lot of the animal and bird sounds down here compared with other places we’ve camped so it’s interesting and a bit unnerving. I say this because as we drive into the park, a sign reads “Alligators do exist in the park”. And we’re camped right by the water.

We’ve run the race course (a 20 mile loop we run 5 times) each of the past two days for an hour each and on both runs, we tried to stay on the course. We easily found the start but then quickly missed a turn. We have been able to find all four aid stations and now feel much more comfortable about where we’ll be running come Saturday. We’ll do another section tomorrow and maybe something light on Friday before the race kicks off Saturday morning.

My dad flies in on Friday morning and then it’ll be time to show him the course and get him ready for his crewing duties. He will be sure that we have all that we need to get through the upcoming race with supplies ranging from food and beverages to dry shoes and clothes, to Vaseline and Imodium. This is his first ultra experience and we both think he’ll really enjoy it.

The race kicks off at 6am Saturday and we have until noon on Sunday to finish. We’re hoping to finish well before then but know that we’ll do whatever it takes to make it in the 30 hour time limit. We feel well prepared this time around. I am not sure I ever feel totally ready but I feel confident both physically and mentally and am much more into the race this year as opposed to last.

While we joke around about getting redemption here (we both dropped last year after 60 miles for Julie and 80 miles for me) but in reality, I simply want to do well at this event. I feel like I have the potential to do well for myself and relative to other competitors in the race and hope that I am able to maximize my potential come race day.

It’s so awesome to feel back into the running scene again too. After last year’s slow decline which lead to me taking time away from running for over 6 months, I now have the fire back and simply love being out here and talking running with folks. Our hosts in Alabama made us feel like running celebrities and I am all the more inspired and motivated by their dedication and motivation for my lifelong sport.

So we’re here for the big race in big Texas. Life is good, legs are good, head is good, and everything leading up to the race right now is looking good. Lets hope it keeps going that way and that we have a big ole time in Texas this weekend.

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