On April 6th, I ran the 50k at Brazos Bend 50. The event was a Trail Racing Over Texas race located at Brazos Bend State Park outside of Needville, TX. This is my Brazos Bend 50k recap.
Prior to the race, the race director sent out communication regarding issues at the park. Due to some erosion, there were parts of the park that were inaccessible by vehicle. Rob, the RD, had to do some work to find off-site parking and more shuttles to get the runners to the park. From my perspective, this change was executed flawlessly.
I was up bright and early!
I was on the road at 4:15 for the 90 minute drive out to Needville. The pre-race emails stressed getting to the park betwen 90 minutes - 2 hours before race time. I arrived in plenty of time and caught the shuttle to where the race would begin. I was there in plenty of time to use the restroom, and chat it up with some friends.
Brazos Bend 50k Recap
The pre-race briefing was held 10 minutes prior to gun time. We we advised on the layout of the course due some changes. Also, alligator safety talk was given and we were told they were out in force!
At 10 seconds to 7am, the countdown begun and we were off running right on time. Dawn had just broken, and it was sprinkling just a little bit. The temp was 73 and humidity was quite high.
The race loops around most of Brazos Bend State park. The trails are a mix of crushed rock and dirt. There are a lot of huge trees providing canopy-like cover. There are views of a couple lakes which are home to birds, ducks and alligators.
It was slow going the first half mile. It was very congested and I was mostly walking. I'd get to run a little, then would be forced to walk. As soon as the trail opened up, I found my pace. Running felt easy and I was feeling really good.
Before I knew it, I was heading towards the back end of the trail. This section is a tough one, mostly mentally. It's a 3 mile out and back and seems to never end. This year, one of my goals was to embrace this section of the course and not dread it. Making eye contact with as many runners going the opposite way and smiling and speaking to them helped pass the time and gave me a little boost each time I saw someone I knew.
I finished the first loop at 3:07. At that point, I stopped and grabbed a few chips from the aide station. Saw some friends and stopped for a sweaty hug and I was on my way.
The Second Half... A Different Race
About half a mile in the nausea hit. I felt better when I was walking, but then my calves would tighten up and I would run as much as I could. Continued with running until nausea hit, and walking until my calves would scream at me. I met several people who were also on the struggle bus, through the rest of the time we encouraged each other to make it through the rough patches. I lingered at aide stations, taking time to fill my bottles and grab some ginger ale.
On the way out to 40 Acre Lake, I got to see an alligator, fairly close up... we were separated by a bridge.
I was so happy to reach that next to the last aide station on the far end of the out and back. Knowing that I had roughly 4.5 miles to go helped me power through to finish. I was on track to PR even with all the walking!
At the finish I was happy to see my friend Deborah handing out medals. I was even more thrilled to see that I had a significant PR from last year!
Goals for Brazos Bend 50k
As with most races, I made a few goals... let's see how I did against them.
- Start out slow and steady - goal met... I was in a great comfortable pace for the first half
- Finish under 7 hours - did not meet this goal... I ended with a time of 7:23, a PR of over 30 minutes!
- Embrace the long out and back between Windmill and Sawmill - goal met, I decided to make it an opportunity to gain energy from the runner going the other way instead of seeing the dread of the never ending road.
- High five as many TROT ambassadors as I can - goal met!
- Last and the most important of them all… HAVE FUN and SMILE! I had a blast (even through my stomach issues) and I smiled the entire time.
Brazos Bend 50 is a great race! There are several distances to choose from: 5k, 10k, 25k, 50k, 50 mile, 100k. The trails at Brazos are flat and easy... they are perfect for someone just beginning to get into trail running. This race (like all the Trail Racing Over Texas events) is a very well organized event. I have a feeling that I'll be back to get that sub-7:00!