On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, I ran my first ultra marathon. The Big Dog Trail Run is a small local race at Lincoln Parish Park in Ruston, LA. Lincoln Parish Park is known for their awesome mountain bike trails, and that is where this race takes place. The race has a 5 mile, 10 mile, 20 mile or 50k option - all take place on the 10 mile mountain bike course which is a mix of rooty trails and packed dirt/grassy jeep roads. I've
But first, we headed down to Alexandria for Thanksgiving. My father-in-law's church hosts a Turkey Trot every year, and my goal was to run the 5k as fast as comfortably possible, then run a second loop of the course to get in a few more miles. I ended up taking 1st place in my age group for the 5k! I was pleased with the results as this is generally a pretty competitive race.
On Friday we headed back home and I started to prep for the race. My mom and I drove over to Ruston together to pick up my packet, and then we went to Newk's for dinner. My go to night before a race meal is a margherita pizza, a small salad and a piece of strawberry cake from Newk's.
Saturday morning I was up at 3:45am, left Monroe at 5:15am and arrived at Lincoln Parish Park at 6:15am. The race start was located exactly where I normally start my runs at LPP, so I parked in my usual parking space, used the restroom I always use...it felt like any other Saturday! This helped calm my nerves.
At 7am the race director yelled "go" and about 40 or so of us headed out for the 50k. There were 5, 10 and 20 mile races also being held that morning, at staggered start times. The 50k course consisted of a short out and back section to get things started, and then 3 loops of the 10 mile trail.
On Loop 1 I felt great and went out way too fast. I ate grapes at each aid station, which tasted amazing. Before I knew it, I was finishing loop 1 and coming back to the starting area where my drop bag was. I took a few sips of Red Bull, refilled my handheld water bottle, ate some Pringles and got ready to go. I took out 2 gels to stuff into my inov8 pack, but I realized a few miles into my second loop that I never actually put them into my pack. Whoops.
On Loop 2 the field really spread out and I didn't see hardly any people. I decided to pop in my ear buds and then promptly had my first fall of the day. LPP is extremely rooty and as my legs got more and more fatigued it was harder to pick my feet up enough to get clearance. I ended up falling two more times! It was wild and nothing I was expecting.
I finished Loop 2 on somewhat of a high, knowing that my mom, dad and Chad were waiting for me at the starting area!
So then I headed back out on the trail for the third and final loop. I was pretty tired at this point, but I knew I could do it. Thankfully I didn't have any falls on this loop! I did walk more than I would have liked, but my mantra was just keep moving forward, keep moving forward. And pretty soon, I was making my way to the finish line!
After the race, I cleaned out my race pack and drop bags, changed clothes and we headed to Chick Fil A for lunch. I was starving! My cousin Emily and her husband Jason live in Ruston with their kids Hannah and Harrison, and it worked out that they were having their birthday party Saturday afternoon.
After Chick Fil A we headed over to Emily's house to be with family and celebrate Hannah and Harrison!
After the party we headed back home to Monroe. Once home, I took a good look at the damage I had done on my falls. I had some scrapes and bruises, but thankfully nothing too terrible!
Overall the Big Dog 50k is a fantastic local race and I would love to do it (or the 10 or 20 mile race) for many years to come. Chad has even mentioned wanting to do the 5 mile race next year!