Thursday, July 3, 2014

Capt'n Karl's 60K

Fast Facts:
Race: Capt’n Karl’s 60K
Location: Pedernales Falls, Texas
Start Time: 7 p.m.
Result: 1st place
Race Summary: The best part about obscure racing distances? You always set a PR.

The Backdrop

A week and a half before Capt’n Karl’s, David and I boarded a plane and flew to upstate New York to visit my dad. He lives in Seneca Falls—the birthplace of Memorial Day—the picturesque town on Cayuga Lake where Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and Susan B. Anthony held the first Women’s Rights Convention back in 1848. Visits feel like a sojourn to another century. Seneca Falls was the town upon which Bedford Falls of “It’s a Wonderful Life” was based. It is quaint. I love to visit and run the old streets.

On Sunday, we left for a nearby political science conference, where David sat on a Tocqueville panel, and on Wednesday morning, we were off again for the Society for Classical Learning Conference in Austin, where I would deliver a talk on Saturday morning (8 hours before the race start). In upstate, we biked a little, ran a bit, and hiked a lot, picking our way past farms and through gorges. My dad’s love language is the “family hike,” so we had daily adventures together. When we arrived back in Austin, the Texas humidity struck me anew—its unique combination of horrifying and wonderful.

At the risk of becoming a disembodied head after back-to-back academic conferences, a race seemed like the perfect ontological complement to a week of learning, and as I trotted along, it definitely felt that way.

The Race

The race started at 7 p.m. It consisted of two sweeping 18.6-mile loops around Pedernales Falls, so I needed to take my headlamp from the start and had to plan for only one exchange with my crew. I have been reading a professional 800-meter runner’s blog recently, so I knew how to race two laps well (just multiplying the racing distance by 74). Kick it off hard. Settle into a conservative pace. Come through the first lap, and pick it up. Run the curves; stride the straights. In the final stretch, kick it in with all you have left. Bingo. Easy as pie.

After some initial meandering, I settled into the familiar rhythm of chasing pink ribbons, one at a time, navigating the course through the sinking dusk. After a sharp ascent, I was spectator to a beautiful sunset over rugged Texas hill country. The sky darkened and grew resplendent with stars. I was mostly alone, except for an armadillo encounter, two tarantulas, and periodic back-and-forth with some of the men’s top 10.

I wasn’t in a particularly antagonistic mood, so more often than not, I refused to engage the competitive advances of the men’s race. There were no other girls in sight, so I just enjoyed the unharried quiet of the evening—alone on the trail, with a headlamp and the sounds of my own breathing.

The miles ticked by. Usually, when I am running in the darkness (with the exception of Grindstone, which starts at 6 p.m.), I have already been out there for much of the day and sort of passively take the experience in. On Saturday, I was very awake. I recited “Beware the Jabberwock” while I crossed the river, and I picked out constellations. All in all, this was the most calming race of my life. I trotted home in 1st place, met by my magnanimous husband and awesome father-in-law. It was my fourth race and fourth win of the season, all in the 50K-50-mile range. Thank you for the support, TeamRWB, and thank you for protecting my feet once again through wet conditions, DryMax Socks.

I think I need a big goal. I’d like to try something different, like a fast marathon. That event scares me a little, so all the more so. How fun would it be to do track repeats again full throttle? So fun. I also want to see what I can do in the 100 and would love the opportunity to increase the AR in the 24-hour while I’m strong and still able to do that. We'll see. I just know I need a goal.

Also, if you are free mid-November for a great weekend of trail running, you should check out Team Red, White & Blue trail running camp. It is a super inspiring weekend of running, training clinics, and fun, led by the likes of Liza Howard, with Jason Schlarb, Max King, Katie DeSplinter, Dom Grossman, Matt Hart, Pam Smith, Meghan Arbogast, Zach Bitter, the Bryants, and etcetera, as trail mentors. It is awesome, and its aim is to help veterans reintegrate and reconnect with civilian life through athletics.


  1. Congrats on winning the race! Thanks for sharing the tips you learned in preparation for the race and how it went for you. The sunset and the stars must have made for a nice view, but I'd be happy to never see a tarantula during a race!

  2. I always love reading your reports! Come run Houston with a group of us in January. It'll be fun to figure out how to balance that with Bandera.