Bandera 100K Race Report

Bandera 100K Race Report

This report is almost three weeks late. Nevertheless…

Camped out the night before. Cooked up some food and went straight to bed. I have a hard time falling asleep, so I tried to sleep as early as possible. However, my nutrition plan was shaky and creating anxiety.

I had tried this before in a previous race and it was semi-successful. For each hour of running, I had a bag of gels and other snacks that would provide the proper number of calories. I sort of had it planned out as to where and when I would pick them up from each drop bag. I had quite a few different things to eat to prevent myself from getting bored of eating the same thing. Which seems like a good idea, but I may have taken it too far.

*   *   *   *   *

Before the race start, it was chilly.  I was hoping it would stay that way, but unfortunately, it got “hot.”

This is only Mile 5, so of course I'm still smiling.
This is only Mile 5, so of course I’m still smiling.

The first loop went well. I felt fine, everything was working normally, no pain or aches. I had set my watch to beep every 20 minutes to remind me to consume some calories. That went pretty smoothly for the first hour, and then it seemed like it was beeping every five minutes.  Each time I was like, “More food?”

I stuck with the plan until I realized I had consumed 3 hours worth of food in 2 hours. How that happened, I don’t know. But it did explain why I wasn’t feeling so great. At least then I was able to back off eating for a bit.

Oher than that, the first lap was uneventful. I finished the first lap in about 5 hours 30 minutes. That was great because it was close to my lofty goal of 11 hours.

Then my knee started gimping out. I had to walk. A lot. I was walking pretty fast without any pain,  but when I tried to run, I was quickly reduced to walking again. It was awful. I wasn’t there to walk fast, I was there to run!

The thought of having to walk 31 miles was scary. It made me want to quit.  I mean c’mon, I was injured! Also I didn’t want people to pass me – I hate being passed. Mainly I just didn’t want to have to be on the course for so long. Walking would take waaaay longer than running. And it would soon be dark. And cold.

I told myself, “That’s crybaby talk. You can walk just fine and if you have to walk it in, that’s exactly what you’re going to do. However long it takes. You’re going to finish the fucking race. Period.”

So I kept chugging along.

Look at me - reduced to walking!
Look at me – reduced to walking!

Whenever I felt a twinge in my knee, I told my knee: “Next aid station I’m going to stop and get some ice and ice you.” But somehow, I forgot at three consecutive aid stations.

That’s one thing that I’ve noticed. After several hours and many miles, my brain is so focused on forward progress, that it forgets about what the body needs in order to maintain that progress.  And I don’t take full advantage of the aid stations. My brain keeps thinking that I need to be moving, so I end up zipping through. Finally, it occurred to me to ask for Tylenol. I took 2, and  another 2 at the next aid station. The Tylenol seemed to help. I was still mostly walking, but now I could run for short periods.

Getting closer to sundown, I tried to hustle a bit more. I wanted to reach the aid station before dark so I could get my headlamp. I was high up on a ridge and enjoyed a beautiful sunset. I got to Crossroads and was rummaging through my bag…looking…where is it… Oh for pete’s sake. It’s in my other drop bag. At the finish. I did not plan this well. Surprisingly, I wasn’t that upset. Maybe I was to tired to give a flip, but I didn’t care. I looked at it as an additional fun challenge. No headlamp? No problem!

With the sun gone, it had gotten cooler. The cooler temps, along with the Tylenol, really helped my knee. I was able to run for increasingly longer periods. I still had to walk occasionally, but I was covering more ground.

And as luck would have it, the moon was about 3/4 full, so there was enough light for me to see where I was going even without my headlamp. The only place that was tough was under the trees, so I just walked those spots.

I ran the majority of the last 12 miles. But at one point, an old man passed me. That was sort of depressing.

Starting up one of the final big hills, I saw the old man at the top. I powerhiked that hill like no one’s business! Partly because I wanted to catch up the old man, but mainly I just wanted to finish the damn race!

He had stopped and was trying to find the best way down the rocks using what seemed like a floodlight. He looked back at me, temporarily blinding me, and then back to the trail. He was unsure where to go, so I took this as the perfect time to pass him. I’d run this section at least a dozen times over the year, so I was familiar with how to run it. I barreled down the section with confidence and ran off into the night. I felt like a ninja.

I was trucking along at this point. The cold weather saved my knee. I came upon another runner. Surprisingly, it was Rachel. I’d assumed she had finished long ago. She looked to be struggling a bit, but she is crazy tough. Still, I felt bad for not chatting with her. The desire to finish was overwhelming at this point.

Looking at my watch, I thought I was only a mile or two from the finish. I was giving it a lot of gas. And then I ran up to an aid station. An aid station? Wait, what? I looked at my watch in the light. Obviously I can’t read. I still have five miles to go. Shoot.

The volunteers didn’t immediately notice me since I wasn’t wearing a headlamp. When they did notice me, one of them offered me a headlamp to use. I declined, since I felt I was doing just fine. The girl that offered the headlamp was not happy about my choice – I’m pretty sure she called me a nasty name after I refused.

I wondered if I would regret my choice, but I managed just fine without. I thought of it as learning experience. Things don’t always go according to plan, and when they don’t you have to deal with it. This headlamp issue (thanks to the moonlight) was not a serious issue.

Right after I left the last aid station, my ipod finally played a song I’d been waiting for all day. My emotions are pretty fragile towards the end of a race, and I started blubbering like a simp. It’s almost 20 minutes long (it’s repetetive), so it lasted almost two miles. My spirits were lifted and I finally made it to the finish.

I crossed the timing mat and…. where is everyone? God, this is like a bad dream. You finish your longest run ever, fighting through physical pain and poor planning and there’s no applause? Yeah, it’s cold and dark. No one wants to sit out here. Get used to it.

But there was Joe, the race director. He shook my hand and gave me my first buckle. I didn’t know what to say. The only thing that mattered though – I was done.

My first buckle!

Bandera 100K* – 12:38:33

*I later found out one mile of the course had to be cut, so technically, it was only 96.56K / 60 miles.

2 thoughts on “Bandera 100K Race Report”

  1. Congratulations! Thank you for the race report. I’m sorry you struggled with your knee but a great time in spite of it. I’m considering doing the 100k. The most I’ve done is a 50 mile in Wisconsin this year.

    1. Thanks for reading the report Rich. There will always be some sort of struggle during longer races, but that’s part of why we run them, right? To overcome the struggles? If you’ve done a 50, a 100K isn’t much further. If you’ve been training consistently, do it. (Sorry for the delayed response, I’ve been out of the country for seven weeks.)

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