Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Bandera 100k

Bandera 100k 2019

Due to a lot more water in southern Texas than usual the course was moved in 2019 to Camp Eagle instead of Hill Park. I had studied Hill Park well and looked at previous runners Strava results, comparing their marathon times to mine to find out about would I could expect. I memorized miles between Aid Stations and packed my bags accordingly. Then when we found out it had moved to this other park I couldn't find the time to do the same for Camp Eagle. I just went with what I had already planned, just moving my 1 drop bag to the CrossRoads Aid Station that we visited the most often. I stuck with just my handheld water as the course had many opportunities to refill.

Kiera and I headed out of Nebraska around 2:30 on Thursday afternoon with a 14.5 hour drive ahead of us to the AirBnB in Bandera TX. We would only make about 4.5 hours of that drive Thursday because of an ice storm that was south near OKC. The other Bandera car in front of us has alerted us to how bad it was and I do not like driving in that junk so we got a room in Wichita. After finding our hotel I got to introduce Kiera to Braums. If you've spent anytime in the south, you know how wonderful this ice cream and food is at Braums. We went back to the hotel and watched Bruce Almighty, crashed early and got up around 7 to head back out on our trip.

Friday was going pretty well as we made our way through OKC and we were just about into TX when we decided to stop and get some food. McDonald's was one of the only choices so we stopped in. We got to chatting with an Army guy from Virginia who lived in that town. He informed us that their was no school for the snow storm that had came in. We were in shorts, unaware that their was a snow storm, I mean their was maybe an inch but it wasn't even sticking to the roads and was slushy and not icy. So we chatted away with him about the race for about 15 minutes or so and then went out and started to head towards the interstate. Soon as we got going the car was pulling to the right and we had to pull over, tire was completely flat. OK no big deal we can do this and I got to teach Kiera how to change a flat. Also taught her about staying positive and having fun regardless of what life throws at you.
We got the spare on and looked up where the closest tire place was; it was literally like .25 miles behind us; we could of just drove it there! Oh well, They fixed us up fast and we were back on the road to TX. We determined the deeper you get into Texas the more you feel Texas. We were on 2 lane highways driving through one little Texas town after another in the mountainous and hill part of the state. So much of Texas is so real to me, its not sugar-coated or politically correct. Its posted what they are feeling, experiencing and living; everywhere. It captured a piece of my heart. After some gravel roads and lots of laughs and fun we made the AirBnB Friday evening to see Matt, Rachel, Stacey, Shawn, and Lauren.

The evening was pretty chill and we went to bed early to be up at 3:30AM. We woke, got ready and made the 100 mile slow going windy drive to the park. We arrived and had about 45 minutes until race start. Jimmy found Matt and I and we got to chat about our plan for the day. Soon enough I was on the start line thinking OK here we go again; have some fun out there. I wasn't a bit nervous;  I was just excited. It was about 30 at the start but a  t-shirt w/gloves was enough.

I liked the pace at the beginning of the race as we tried to get a feel for the trail. It was soon apparent that the entire run would be rocky and rugged. I came into the first aid station, Crossroads at mile 5ish and was starting to feel a bit more warmed up. I didn't really need anything here and kept going. From here I pushed the pace to try and catch back up to Matt. I had some miles under 8 minutes here. I finally caught up to him on this one big climb by a fence. I was really happy to see him looking like he was doing well. He always crushes me on the big climbs (I need to get out to Colorado more this year). We chatted a bit then I started feeling good on one of the straightaways and we separated again. Before I knew it I was back at Crossroads aid station at 13.1 and I saw Kiera for the first time. This was so nice! She totally made my day out there. She would go back and forth between Crossroads and the start/finish and I got to see her smiling face so many times. I also saw Rachel here and got to yell hi from across the station. I left here feeling good and got in my zone to Windmill Aid Station and then to Wall (Mile 21.72). Shortly after wall I was chatting with a guy who turned out to be from Nebraska. We shared many miles together chatting away. This would bring me back to Crossroads at mile 25. I had to take a little time here to stretch out my hip flexer that was really acting up. I got it to loosen up but lost my running companion. The next session I didn't really crush, but I stayed moving OK, just trying to get myself to the Start/finish to pickup Jimmy (my pacer) and do a good check there of what I needed for the 2nd loop.

I came into mile 31 at 5:20ish.which may have been a bit faster than I should of but on this rocky terrain I knew the dark would slow me down quite a bit and wanted to get as many miles in during the day as I could. I saw Kiera and Lauren here and they helped me so much! I got gels and food and water. I was downing 1 handheld of water at every aid station and then filling it back up before leaving.

Jimmy and I headed out of there around 1:30 PM and would be back later that night. We got to chatting right away and had many good miles just chatting about the course and such. It was such a beautiful day, highs were upper 60s. I would get warm here and there but never too hot to manage. We would continue seeing Kiera, Lauren and now Rachel (she did the 50k and was done) at stops. My legs were really starting to get tired out now. I can always count on my legs barking for about 20 miles of an ultra; I just never know where in the ultra it'll be. Here it was about mile 20-40. After 40 they felt fine. We talked NBA, trail running, life, and many other random things as we made our way thorough the beautiful course. The sun went down on the the creek section, the most challenging part of the course to navigate for me. Jimmy guided me through it quickly and swiftly. It would of took me twice as long in there solo. I saw the whole gang (except Shawn; he was still out running) at the final Aid Station and they were all cheering so much. It made my day!! Jimmy and I headed out from here to the finish with some new energy. We came rolling in around 9:30 PM. I was delighted to be done but I also had so much fun. It felt ultra, it feel real and rugged and tough.I ended up 65th out of 300 who started.

Things I like that I did on this race.

No phone or music; sometimes for me this stuff helps me find my "zone" and get in a mental state that I crave, that I do this for. This time I was able to find that zone without the help of music which was great.

My mantra was great: "With love, for it all." Even in the dark times I would tell myself this and I would look at where I was and what and I was doing and I would just smile and appreciate it all.

Paid attention to my body signals and if I started to feel motion sickness coming on I would take time to stop moving. This prevented me from getting sick for the first time in an ultra in quite a while.

I ended up with no blisters and not even really sore feet. Nike Trail Kiger 4's for the win!

Many balanced, "in the zone" miles. Felt "In the moment" all day long.

Didn't work out so well in this race
I did my lap time thing that I had good luck with at the Hawk gain. Using this I focus on each mile and hitting a time for it. I wasn't into it on this one and it just went away shortly into the run. I was not worried about it. Maybe because of the terrain.

Course knowledge, I felt like I could of read and understood it better before hand.

Final thoughts:
All in all I loved this race, this course and the atmosphere of another Tejas Trail event. I want to come back for Bandera 2020 if it's on the original course to compare the two. If not, maybe to see if I can break 12 hours out here next year. Absolutely loved it! The volunteers, my crew and my friends; you are all the absolute best and the reasons I can't get enough of this damn sport. Love you all so much.

Happy Trails!