Sunday, April 16, 2017

Bonnie Scholz: Running With The Gators at Brazos Bend 50K

The coach's plan?  "Keep it easy and enjoy!"

A year ago, my sister, Michele Fregia, talked me into trying a trail run or was it, "Did I talk her into it?"

Either way, it was the best decision we both made.

The trail races produced by Trail Racing Over Texas (TROT) are very different from some of the races I've participated in over the years.

They're usually very small and low stress with packet pick up and parking less than an hour before it's time to start.

The major difference, though, is in the community of people this type of race attracts.

I've met some of the friendliest runners along the way that helped talk me through the tough parts and I've tried my best to pay it forward.

This past weekend, Saturday, April 8, I tried the Brazos Bend 50K for the second straight year.

As usual, we had a low stress morning getting to the starting line even though my sister woke up five minutes before we needed to leave.

During the first mile, several of us had grouped up and started chatting about when we might see the fake gator race director Rob Goyen puts on the trail to scare us.

Further along the way, I met a couple of first time trail runners -- one was 19 years old and the other had not run since high school and was my age.

I saw each of them several times along the way and tried to keep it positive even when they started to feel the monkey on their back half way.

One had to quit at mile 21, but the 19-year-old made it all the way to the finish.

I kept telling him if he could just cross the finish line he would probably be first in his age group.

I recognized a few familiar faces from the other trail runs and some from Volte, namely Juan Flores and the Murillo brothers.

I learned they aren't so quiet after all.  The bonus came during the first few miles in having someone to chat with and to watch so I would keep a decent pace.

Although I had to drop back a few times from people that were going too fast for me.

At the halfway point - mile 16, I still felt solid and started to pass more people.

Every time I passed someone, I tried to offer a positive word of encouragement to tell them they were going a great job and the last five miles I think everyone repaid the favor.

I started to feel the monkey around mile 21 and started to make the goals a little smaller, such as "If I can just keep going until the next food tent, I can put ice in my hat!"

I was thirsty and eyeing people that had carried water bottles.

One guy had four bottles on his belt and I ran faster just to catch up to see if they were full:  they were!

Luckily I made it to the tent for a quick refreshing ice bath and Gatoritas and didn't end up begging for a bottle.

With about five miles to go, at least 15 runners encouraged me with a comment or thumbs up.

One lady told me I was doing great and looking strong.

At first I didn't believe it but each time someone said something I felt stronger and more confident.

I think that's the main reason I love running trail runs.

It feels energizing and the community continues to give their energy to each other.

Combine that with the beautiful scenery in the woods and you leave feeling you received more than you gave during the race.

At the finish line, I was handed a cup where I learned I was the second place overall female.  My time was four hours, 35 minutes and 49 seconds -- almost an hour faster than last year.

I can't wait for the next adventure on the trails!

(Editor's note:  The TROT Cup Standings presented by Altra Running were updated and released on Sunday, April 16.  Not quite sure how the points are calculated, but Bonnie is 11th overall and third in the 40-49 division. ~ JW)

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