Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Bandera 100k

Well, Bandera 100k has come and gone and I am glad to have finished and earned a belt buckle. Bandera is about 45 miles NW of San Antonio. The race takes place at Hill Country Natural State Area, literally, that is what it is called. It's like a big park with lots and lots of rocks, sotol and cacti. Texas has no mountains and so this course could be very run-able if it weren't so rocky. The climbs were short and rocky and sometimes in succession. The rocky downhills were at times tough to maneuver so it wasn't like I could just blast out a fun downhill. I notice I keep saying "rocky" but really, that is what it was!
I got up the morning of the race at 4:15 and got ready to leave by 5:15 to get to the race by 6:30. My parents had made the trip down to visit with my brother and his family who live in San Antonio and to support me in the 100k. We figured, as did my brother, that it would take 60 minutes to get to the start line, 75 minutes at the most. I had not picked up my race packet yet so I was comfortable getting there at 6:30 to get things ready by the 7:30 start time. As we were driving to the start, the car thermometer said 10*! OMG. 10*F! Now, I knew it would be cold, but I thought it would be at least over 20*.
My dad had ample directions, 2 sets. However, we still got lost by following the map quest directions and eventually found our way with the back up set. My dad was driving really fast as it seemed like getting there on time was in jeopardy. Well, we got to the race with few minutes to spare and the car thermometer still read 10*. I jumped out of the car and ran to the tent to pick up my race packet. There were 3 different races going on, 25k, 50k and 100k. So, it was a bit crazy and I was also pretty stressed because we had arrived just minutes before the start and I had a few things to do still. I got my number, put it on, checked in, (different then just picking up race packet at 7:27, 3 minutes before the start). I had to get my drop bags in the right place, I put my parents to that task while I put on my camel back and frantically found an official to tell me where the start was. He pointed me in a certain direction and said "go up that hill and you will see all the people up there ready to start". Apparently, I was not clear as to which race I was talking about because by the time I got up there, someone noticed the color of my number and told me that the 100k start was "over there", pointed back down the hill and then mentioned that it had already started. OMG. So, I ran down the hill dodging people as I went and ran to the start line and then past the start line to begin the race. I think I was about 10 minutes behind. I was so flustered that I didn't really mind the weather. In the first 3 minutes I fell. It was at this point that I had to reevaluate my race strategy and take some deep breaths and try to enjoy myself. It took me about 1 hour to pass a bunch of people so that by the time I got to the first aid station I thought maybe I had made my way to the middle of the pack, but I had no idea. I simply had no idea how many people actually started the race or where I was in the midst of the runners. I was happy to get to the first aid station because my camelback tube was frozen and I was not able to to get any water. I drank some at the AS and checked to see if I had left any real estate on the trail when I fell. I had, and I had some bloody legs from all the sotol I came into contact with....not as bad as cacti, but prickly enough to make me bleed. I'd take that, though, over the poison oak at Miwok. By the time I got to the second aid station, about mile 10, I was able to drink from my camelback. I had put the tube in my under arm to thaw it out. It works!
My parents were at the first 3 aid stations and then headed back to my brothers place in San Antonio. I kept running and it was warming up, I could take my gloves and hat off and my camelback was working just fine. I ran a bit with 3 guys from Texas for about 20 minutes and then we separated. After that, I did not see anyone but the people at the aid station for about 7 hours. Also after that, my asthma starting kicking in and I had to slow down to catch my breath periodically.
At the half way point, after the first of 2 loops, I was feeling ok. I had come in at the 50k mark just under 5:40 and thought I could break 12 hours even if I ran the second half in 6 hours. As I started the second loop, my asthma went off the charts. I had to walk and walk and walk. I would run a bit, walk more, run a bit, walk more, use inhaler, repeat...repeat....
Again, I realized I had to reevaluate my goals. I did not want a DNF like White River or wind up in the Med Tent like Seattle Marathon because I didn't use common sense with regards to the asthma. So, I ran when I could, walked when I had to until I finished.
With 10 miles to go, I saw my brother with my parents and he was suited up to run. He and I ran together the last 10 miles and he did great. He is a road runner and so running some of the very rocky trails at Bandera in the dark I thought might be dangerous, I did not want him to hurt himself. I told him this but he really wanted to run and so we were off. We ran to the next aid station as the sun set and then ran the last 5 miles in the dark dark. He was great and I was so glad to have him there. I was a rough day so his company was appreciated.
I was so happy to see the finish line, I mean, really happy. I finally finished in 12 :15. I can't really complain about that considering the day I had. It was more of a mental victory than a physical one.
I have to remember to be grateful for the ability to run and follow my passion for running. However, suffice it to say that although I am glad to have another 100k under my belt, I would not do this race again. Nothing against the race director or the volunteers or the other runners, they were all fantastic. Joe seemed like such a nice guy and he clearly can put on a well organised race. The AS volunteers were so helpful and kind and the runners that I did come into contact with were all very open. It's the terrain that I didn't enjoy and all the outside factors that came into play that whole day did not sweeten the deal. But if you like that kind of terrain, I bet you'd enjoy it!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

It's so weird to write 2010

It is just too weird to write a whole different year on my checks, at work, or just SEE IT and realize, DAMN! It's a whole other decade, again!
Last year was quite a year for me. Lots of really great things happened. It's too much to sum up in a blog and probably too boring for anyone to read....so I'll just skip most of the
details and focus on running, which is what this blog is really about anyway; running with 4 Muddy Paws!
Last year in running for me was very busy and very satisfying. I started counting the races I did last year and came up with 13 races. I am counting the unfortunate DNF at White River. As the year progressed I was pleasantly surprised at how much I was able to run and pleasantly surprised that I did not burn out. There were some bumps in the road mostly due to undiagnosed and untreated asthma which lead to by DNF at White River and my very unpleasant trip to the med tent at the Seattle Marathon at the finish. I was determined to finish that marathon and ultimately realized maybe I should have reconsidered that goal due to the consequences of running with asthma. Nevertheless, the highlights of 2009 are running my first 100 miler and pacing at another 100 miler and getting some PR's. But when all was said and done with all the ups and downs, what I am most looking forward to in 2010 is not just doing some races but doing some epic runs such as the Wonderland Trail, the Grand Canyon and Mt. St. Helens. I have realized that being in shape to run a long ways does not always equate to which race I could do but instead appreciating my fitness and running for the pleasure of running through the mountains, around the mountains and with good friends.
I'm starting off the year running Bandera 100k in Bandera, Tx. I'm looking forward to it and my brother might even run the last 5 miles with me. He is worried he won't be able to keep up. I assured him that after 55+ miles, he can surely keep up. I'm excited to start the year, the DECADE, running in an entirely new place. Who knows how many ultras I have in me, gotta make these count on all levels.