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Troy Mouton Running Bear Eric Lee
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50k Race Report: Carl Touchstone Memorial 50 Trail Run

I usually keep my posts short, but this one will be long because I have a lot to say.

Before I post this race summary, I owe a note of thanks to the organizers, volunteers, and sponsors responsible for the Mississippi 50 Trail Run in Laurel, MS. They all should know how much runners appreciate their efforts.

In January, I ran the Louisiana Marathon, the premier marathon in Louisiana. If you have not registered for the 2016 event, do so now at www.thelouisianamarathon.com. In my post-marathon euphoria, I registered for the 50k trail race at the Mississippi 50. I have run this race before, and remembering the mud fest in which I participated, I began to experience buyer’s remorse this week and almost did not run this year. In the end, I decided to go and planned to sleep in my car overnight at the staging area on Friday night. Lori, the brains behind our operation here, suggested as only she can that I reconsider and stay in a hotel. My running buddy Sam Amoroso agreed with Lori, and considering both of them are much smarter than I, I used some Hilton points to book a room and drove up to Laurel on Friday evening. They were right! The low temperature in Laurel was 25 degrees this morning, and I am sure I would have regretted stretching my legs (no short jokes, please) across the back seat of my subcompact rental.

At 3:09am this morning, my body woke me for today’s event. Apparently I have done this enough times, and my body now knows how much time it needs to “prepare” for the day’s events. That done, I made my way to the start and began running promptly at 6am. My course included two 12.5 mile loops through the DeSoto National Forest, and one 6-mile loop to complete the 50k course. I ran alongside a few guys from New Orleans for a while, and an internist named Ed from Natchez, MS, ran with us for the first few miles. After around 5 miles, I made an executive decision to apply long stride and leap across one of many creeks on the course. I avoided tromping through the creek and landed on the other side with dry feet. Upon landing, my foot went left, and my leg went right. I knew immediately I made a bad choice and turned to my new pal the internist for medical advice. He asked if I felt okay, and I said “kind of,” and he said I could keep running. So I followed the advice of a medical professional and ran a few more miles. It finally got numb, and all was right with the world.

After a couple of more miles, I found myself alone and really enjoyed the solitude of the trails. I found myself thinking about how lucky I was to be able to run. I thought specifically about our military service members injured in combat who are not able to run because of their commitment to our country and relished the experience. As I ran, I also found comfort in the placards of encouragement stationed along the course by the organizers. Some of my favorites included the sign that read “There’s no app for this. Just keep running!” I also enjoyed the motivator that sagely counseled “It will stop hurting once you feel better.” Now those are words of wisdom! I made it through the first loop feeling fine and stopped to grab Gu and fluids before going out for the second big loop. Before the race, I had placed a second set of clothes and shoes out near the course (remember the mud reference) in case I needed to change and look nice for the second loop. I opted out of changing in part because the shoes I wore (Brooks Launch) drained water quickly and dried well, avoiding blisters that I had experienced before.

The second big loop looked mysteriously like the first one, but it felt a bit different. After around mile 20, it dawned on me that I still had 11 miles to go, and the weather in my head got a bit cloudy. Did you know that after running 20 miles on trails you can literally spit on your own cheek? Trust me; I did it several times. I also learned that it is quite possible to relieve yourself while running. I do not recommend this if you have open wounds from running through briars, as the salt stings a little. Fast forward 4 miles.
I entered the start/finish area feeling fatigued and stopped to refuel again, failing to take salt tablets or bring enough fluids with me. The last 6 miles offered more climbs than the earlier loops, and as such, there were more valleys. Ergo, there was more water. I sloshed around quite a bit on the back 6, and by the time I got to mile 27, my calves were cramping badly. I ran to mile 28, and from that point forward began walking hills, and even some flat areas, to buy my calves some time. From here forward, it seemed that every pine cone on the course wanted to be my friend and forced itself under my shoes or bounced around between my ankles. I am convinced that pine cones belong on wreaths, not on trail race courses.

I ran a couple of more miles and got jiggy with it when I saw the 30 mile marker, knowing I only had one to go. At this point the 12.5 mile loop and 6 mile loop converged, and as I looked over my shoulder, I saw another runner approaching. He may have been crawling, but he looked like he was moving FAST to me. So I ran (or something like it) as fast as I could the last .75 miles, only to realize afterwards that he was a 50-mile runner who was finishing his second big lap and not a competitor of mine.

I “gracefully” crossed the finish line and received from the race director my finisher’s items before hobbling to my car to pack up and head home. He’s the guy in the picture associated with this post. I’m the tall one on the right wearing my trademark Varsity Sports clothing.

On my way to my car, I saw a few folks with Alabama Crimson Tide sweatshirts and congratulated them on their support of LSU athletics. Well at least I thought it was funny.

I finished the 50k in 4 hours, ~26 minutes. My time was about 5 minutes slower than my PR for this race set in 2011, but it was still good enough for a first place finish.

This past week, Elliott has been reminding me that “anything is possible.” I attribute his interest in this message to the fine faculty at Our Lady of Mercy Catholic School here in Baton Rouge, and I thank them for their positive influence on our kids. I remember thinking after the race that Elliott (and our Mercy family) is right, and that my win today is a testament to that truth.

My post ends with attribution. Today was a great day to race, and I promise you that I could feel God’s presence with me the entire morning. That may sound cliché to some, but I was there, and He was with me every step of the way. I also thank Mrs. Incredible a/k/a Lori for helping to make my running possible. She gets me and is my jewel. I also owe a huge shout out to my training group. More than friends, they are my family. There are too many of them to list here, but they know who they are. If YOU want to meet them and benefit from their friendship as much as I have, report to City Park most Friday mornings at 5am or Garden District Coffee most Sunday mornings at 6am. Finally, I extend a note of gratitude to Jenni Peters and the Varsity Sports family for making our community a better place to live. I have never met anyone else as selfless as Jenni. She welcomed me to the flock with open arms, and I am a better person because of her.

Now if you will excuse me, my tennis ball of an ankle just reminded me that there is a growler at Red Zeppelin Pizza filled with a stout IPA to which I must attend.

My best,
Troy Mouton

For the past three years, I’ve planned a trip down to the gulf coast of Mississippi to visit family and run the annual Mississippi50 race in Laurel (inland). Training for the 2015 race was going well, lots of hard trail miles on the abnormally warm and dry January Boulder trails mixed with twice a week weight training sessions, focused on strengthening glutes, hips, core and overall balance, had me feeling good about my prospects for a PR and another shot at a win, until…..

A little over a week out from the race I went to the race’s website to check the schedule and directions only to see the date “March 7th” stamped in red lettering at the top. Wait a second, I thought it was on February 28th, because that’s when I’d scheduled my flight and hotel, %$#@^%. I went into a panic, searching the facebook page, my race confirmation email, everything I could find said March 7th. So I immediately started to look into rescheduling my trip, but the flight change on United (they suck) was going to run an additional $500-600, and my sister couldn’t change her vacation around, so I gave in that I was going out the weekend before to see family, and might just have to skip the race, despite all the training. :(
About half of the snow we received in late February 2015, it was the snowiest February on record in Boulder (>50")

I continued to search every nearby city, finally I found a Frontier flight for $300 direct from Denver to New Orleans (2h drive) that would allow me to work a full day Friday, fly out, get a full nights sleep and run the race; now to procure a few rides and this just might happen. With only 10days until the race I found a friend willing to pick me up at the airport and give me a ride to the race, and my sister would pick me up after the race, then drive me back to the New Orleans airport Sunday, it was going to work out! Back to focusing on training, tapering and just enjoying time with the family.
A little dry trail running in Mississippi the weekend before the race.

As luck would have it, Boulder got completely snowed under in late February, so my pre-race trip to Mississippi actually allowed me to get in some nice long trail runs on dirt (no snow/ice) the week before the race. I also got to spend lots of time with my sister, brother-in-law and nephew; the most important thing. So on 3/1 I caught a late night flight from Gulfport back to Colorado, finally getting home at 2am after numerous delays and a dead car, ready for a whirlwind week of work before flying back down South only five days later.
Taking the little guy out for an ocean side jog on the beach walkway.

On 3/6, less than five days after I’d left the South, I was back on another plane, this time bound for New Orleans. All went smoothly on Friday, and Jerry (my savior in New Orleans) and I were sound asleep by 10pm. The alarm blared at the all too early hour of 4:15am, so I went about with my standard pre-race rituals, ate my two poptarts, then Jerry and I hopped in his car to head for the Desoto NF. Temperatures were a brisk 28F at the start, nothing abnormal for Colorado, but definitely chilly for Mississippi. After quickly catching up with the RDs Dennis and Renee, along with fellow Rocky Mountain Runner Jack and his dad Ed, it was almost go time. I really enjoy these small local races, there’s no big hoopla at the start, just a handful of family, friends and volunteers standing around in the cold morning air. As the ‘gun’ went off, three of us (Jack, Arthur, and myself) took off out front running a very comfortable 8min/mile, allowing our legs to settle in for the long haul. We chatted as we swapped leads, splashing through the many creek crossings, stomping in a few mud puddles, coming through the start/finish in 1:39:46 for the first 12mile lap, a little faster than I was planning, but comfortable none the less.

The three of us continued to leap frog back and forth during lap #2, returning back to the start/finish in 1:42:27, I quickly grabbed a few gels and blasted out of the aid area ahead of the other two. Jack caught me part way into lap #3 and we ran together until around mm32, where he pushed ahead. I was feeling a little off so I let him go, deciding to instead focus on holding steady and preparing for a strong finish through the last 13miles of the race. I came out of the third big loop in 1:48:17, having lost a little time, but still moving alright, now a few minutes behind Jack, but securely in 2nd as we’d lost the rest of the pack after lap #2.

As I started into the first of two short 6.5mi loops, my energy dropped, my pace slipped to 9:30-10ish, and I knew I needed a little pick-me-up at the next aid station. I got in to the aid, slammed half a glass of coke, ate two snickers and chugged off down the trail. The temperature was still quite pleasant (high 50s) and this loop only had a half-dozen or so water crossings, so I continued to push onward. Finally around mm42 the caffeine and sugar kicked in, and my legs suddenly had a good bit of pop, back down to 8:30-9min pace and off I went. I hit the start/finish after a 58:17 loop, not bad considering the low I’d had, but found out I still had some work to do, I needed to run a 52min last loop (for <7hours) and to pick up 3min to catch Jack who was in the lead.
Celebrating the win with my sister and nephew, best High-fiver ever. Photo courtesy of Jamie Dubeck.

I flew out of start/finish a man on a mission, both for time and place. A mile down the trail another runner told me I was only 30seconds back! Holy hell, I was catching up fast, that really energized me, so I just put my head down and ran. I caught Jack just before the last aid station, he was looking pretty beat. I tried to give him some words of encouragement, but knew that if I wanted to hit 7hours I had to keep pushing. I put my head back down, embraced the pain and just kept moving my legs as fast as they would go. With 2miles left it became apparent that I wasn’t going to make sub-7hours (needed to run two 7min/miles), so I took it down a small notch, all the while glancing over my shoulder waiting for Jack to sneak back up on me. I finally made the last turn down the straight away with 1/4 mile to go, no one in sight, and knew the race was mine and even though I wouldn’t break 7hours, I’d PR by a massive margin.

I crossed the finish line in 7hours03min38sec (26min PR), having run a 54:49 final lap, very happy, very tired, and a little sore. Hugs from my family, who’d come for lap #3, high-fives from my 1yo nephew, and finally I could stop running. Jack came in at 7hours16min, for a very strong 50mile debut and 2nd overall, giving the Rocky Mountain Runners from Boulder a 1-2 sweep on the men’s side. After three years of flat, muddy, wet running in the Mississippi forest, I’d finally had the race I’d hoped for. An even paced run, with a strong finish, where I felt like I gave the course everything I’d had on that day. The sun was shining and it was in the 60s, so I was happy to hang out with family and a few friends, enjoying the laid back atmosphere and the Southern hospitality. I’ve always been a big proponent of the homegrown low key races, put on by people who give so much of their time and energy simply because they love the sport and all the people in it. While I definitely pushed myself and competed on this day, Jack and I spent most of the miles in friendly conversation, and not until the last 15miles did we actually start racing and challenging one another. Ultrarunning is about pushing your physical and mental boundaries, but doing so in an environment where ALL runners support one another, regardless of pace, experience, or age, this is what makes it a truly special sport.
Jack and I after the run, Rocky Mountain Runners go 1-2 at the Mississippi50.

Last year I feel as though I had logged more fast hard training miles, but this year I trained smarter. Mixing in hard slow mountain miles with some faster paced tempo runs and my twice a week weight training sessions. As with many runners I suffer from Noassatall, it’s a terrible disease where you butt doesn’t do any work, letting your quads and hamstrings overwork, not a very efficient way to run. So a smart race plan, listening to my body during the race and a little weight lifting in training are what I felt made the difference for me this year compared to the last two years. So whatever your goal, train smarter, not just harder. Special thanks to Vfuel for supporting my craziness and powering my race (9 Vfuel and half a dozen snickers were all I ate). Run fast, run healthy, but mostly run happy.

Noassatall is a real disease, affecting real people, my friend Ginna at Boulder AcuSport has a nice write-up on the topic. Friends don’t let friends have a lazy ass.

Eric Lee

We started to not post this report for reasons that will be obvious if you try to read it, and then in comes another report that actually agrees with it! Both came from runners who have run 10 or more MS50's. So we post it here as a warning of what too much of a good thing may do to you.

The agreement comes first because if we put it after the rant no one would ever get to it:

I agree with Rich, I enjoyed the signs but you started wishing they would change them out after each lap or at least mix them up. But the aid station workers are fantastic and I try to tell them thank you every time I go through. Great race, good people

- Harry J. Strohm, II, CPA, GCR, DPJ, BSS, LLD & MSM
CPA - Certified Public Accountant
GCR - Gravitationally Challenged Runner
DPJ - Doctor of Porta Johns
BSS - Bull Sh*t Specialist
LLD - Leg Length Deficiency
MSM - Mississippi's Slowest Marathoner

Report starts here (The Troub is not real good at starting): 

You youngsters will have no idea what the following examples refer to:


Or how about:


Or maybe this one:


Perhaps I oughta s'plain.

(And BTW, "yanks" don't refer to myself invading the South, exactly. No, they refer to whiskers getting yanked by brushes and other stuff being dragged across your face. Me in the South? Well, keep reading.)

In between each and every one of those short little lines, there used to be, oh, about 500 feet. Maybe more. Maybe less. (I was only a kid at the time and didn't---or couldn't---count.) And each and every one of those short little lines comprised a sign. Yes, some kind of small wooden sign, painted up nicely (red & white, as I recall), attached to a stake, and driven into the ground at regular intervals. Where? Along the sides of that good old ribbon of (disappearing) American highway.

The idea was, of course, advertising---but also entertainment. In the days before YouTube, old folks used to get their kicks... on Route 66. Among and along... many other highways besides.

Oh wait. Silly me. Today's amazing Internet Super Highway… has EVERYTHING:


So there you are.

Since I was way too young to shave back then, I don't rightly recall the product itself. But I did have a grandpa, and he used that horrible old "mug and brush" method. And what I think THAT was, was the do-it-yourself technique of putting some kind of soap or cream into a mug and whipping it into a froth with a brush, painting it on your face, and then shaving it off with a straight-razor. (The kind that "Polk Salad Annie" used to tote, in her spiteful rigidness. "Lawd hev murcy.") Here. YouTube has that, too:


Burma-Shave, then, was probably the time-saving answer to unhandy mugs, lousy brushes, and dangerous weapons. I'm thinkin' it came in a tube and was the hapless precursor to Gillette's foam-in-a-can and all these goofy 5, 6, 7-bladed throwaway contraptions advertisers expect us to shave with today.

Not me. I use Norelco.

But I didn't sit down here to yap about razors or shaving, or even about old roads and advertising jingles.

Nope. I sat down here on accounta I promised Running Bare (oops, I mean) Bear that I'd write up a little "experience report" of my recent experience down South.

[It just occurred to me. Thank goodness his nickname is "Running Bear" because, well, if he went by the other spelling, then chances are good he really WOULD need Burma-Shave. And probably lots of it. Ya think?]

Well anyway, part (or most) of my experience down South, slogging along the various trails of his Mississippi 50M/50K/20K race in memory of my terrific old friend Dr. Carl Touchstone, was noticing how, apparently, lots of Mississippi volunteers must also remember those great old Burma-Shave signs because… well… because they cleverly made up a LOT just like them and set 'em out before nearly every aid station. Not to get us to shave, of course, or even necessarily to shower---but to entertain us. Certainly my buddy Harry and I were entertained. And we talked about those forerunner Burma-Shave signs which, of course, the both of us are ancient enough to remember.

Here's the first sign that greeted us---boom---right out of the box:


Whoa. (Did he have that heavy of a beard, so as to remind the sign makers of Burma-Shave?)

Nah. I think this just happened to be the first sign out of the truck to be planted trailside.

Here's another:


And another:




And how about this one:


Hmmm…. and there I was, wearing what a favemost female running friend of mine once called "Little Richie's Snowsuit." (It was damn COLD starting out in those woods this year. We ALL were bundled up! And me luckily in blue!)

A gal coming against me on the out-and-back road section even said how much (hahaha) she was attracted. Upon further reflection (like today) however, what I'm thinkin' she was most attracted to was the sign.

But my all-time favorite aid station had to be the first one: BUBBA'S TRUCK STOP, all decorated in gas station kitsch with advertising to match.

On Bubba's Daily Specials Menu was

MARLBORO REDS AND WATER and other delights, like:


"Y'all come back 'n' see us now, 'hear?"

And we did. 50Kers gassed up at Bubba's twice; 50-milers three times.

Next year, I'd like to see:

(Ha! Ya thot I wuz gonna say "Shave," dintcha?)
No, the straight-razors would be necessary if they really did serve big snakes, especially live ones.

I remember asking specifically for POSSUM ON THE HALF SHELL, and Bubba, I think, said they were temporarily out, but that if I could wait, he thought he could go out and get me one. Possum, sure, but my question was concerning the half shell. Oh wait. This was a gas station. He could just pull down half the Shell sign, couldn't he?

Here's other cool signs seen along the trailside:





All these things are truly delightful. They make you smile, laugh maybe (probably not the third time passed though), and give y'all something to think about. As far as my own personal experience went on this particular Mississlippery Experience, what can I say? This was my 19th trip around the bases. (Two other gentlemen as well. There's currently a 3-way tie for THE MOST STUBBORN, SENSELESSLY REPETITIVE, AND UNIMPROVABLE OLD FOGEYNESS AWARD.) And I got 'er done before dark.

My bride was there (with TWO ambulances) to greet me at the finish line, but not Running Bear. [Hey, if he weren't the "Webmesser," he might not read this, or even know that I was there.] Apparently expecting him to sit in the timing tent for weeks at a time while I'm "out there" is asking too much. Bride, too. She knows better. She takes the rental car to Hattiesburg and has a wonderful time while I trudge.

But I digress.

What I mostly wanted to tell y'all with this writing is about how, back in the day, THE greatest (and most terrifying!) sign of all didn't used to be in the woods; it was out on the highway, right at the point where we turn to get into the DeSoto National Forest.

Yup. It happened to be another advertising sign, doubtless put there by the property owner himself.

It said:


Holy #*!#*!!!!

They raise alligators here?


That one sure used to get my attention, I'll tell ya.

Have a nice year, y'all. Come back an' see us!

Yours troubly,

Rich Limacher
Recent survivor of the following: http://www.ms50.com
(Now celebrating 801 years of experience with mud, danger, and very "close shaves")

Yankee Folly of the Day:

P.S.: If you made it this far you obviously could use some counseling: More?


Bears do it in the woods. Even when it's too cold, or too hot.

Hope everyone had a great pre-race supper and race day. The temp was a little cool at the start but soon turned into a perfect day for a nice run in the woods.

Once again we had a great group of runners, plus Rich Limacher come to our run. We had a good crowd despite a lot of new races competeting with ours this year.

Many, many thanks to everyone who registered, ran, watched, or commented on the race. Trail runners have to be the nicest people on the planet. And MS50 trail runners are the best of all. Hope to see you all again next year.