Category Archives: Race

Lone Star 100 Mile Race Report

Dustin and I were driving home. We’re cruising along @ 84 miles per hour for several hours. It starts raining, and then its an intense downpour. I slow down to 60. It suddenly feels like we’re crawling. I ask Dustin how fast he thinks we’re going. He thinks 30 or 40.

 

When you’re used to going a certain speed for so long, a change can seem way more dramatic than it really is.

I was really looking forward to seeing my splits for the portion where I finally caught up to Gerardo. However, I was greatly disappointed. Instead of the sub 8’s I thought I was doing – even if for only a mile or two – turns out my fastest mile for that section was only 9:48 (with a grade adjusted pace of 10:44 since it was downhill.) I could swear I saw a pace faster than that. Regardless, that just shows how unreliable our perception of time and pace can be. After averaging 17 or 18 minute miles for the last 30 hours, 10 minute miles seem like you’re flying.

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Before the race, I tried to plan and be as prepared as I could for the race so that I could go into the race feeling confident. I wanted to take out any the usual stresses of preparing for the race so that I could focus on just running. I made my list and shared it with Julie, Dustin and Jake.

Driving up, I ate half a Subway footlong for breakfast, a Whataburger meal for lunch , and some Mexican food for dinner. I definitely think all those calories helped fuel me.

(Of course I shat a dozen times during the race, but that’s part of the deal.)

Loop 1

When our race began, all I could think about was how incredibly crazy windy it was during the start of the 50K in September.

I ran with Dustin for the first loop. I met him at Cactus Rose two years ago. He was doing the 100 miler… on 15 miles a week. I don’t know how he managed that. Apparently, he was doing Lone Star on even fewer miles. He said he has an unusually low resting heart rate, so maybe that has something to do with it. We’ve run several races together, but we weren’t sure if this was going to be a full bromance.

 

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Dustin at the peak. Photo credit: Myke Hermsmeyer

The afternoon was beautiful, but it got a bit too warm for comfort. Dustin has had heat related issues before, so we ran super easy. The course is extremely exposed, so whenever we came across some shade we took a short break. We looked for shade that included slabs of rock because the shaded rocks themselves were cool to the touch. We called these “premium” shade. We saw several runners with only a single water bottle, which seemed like a bad idea.

I was feeling pretty good. Ice bandana was going its job. Dustin had gotten quiet and was slowing down. We talked and I was going to take off on my own for loop 2.

Loop 2

I changed both pairs of socks, my shirts and my shorts. Trying to change into compression shorts with your shoes still on inside of a porta potty is not easy.

I spent a good chunk of time at the aid station. When I left, I saw that I was right at 10 hours.

I always start out in front of Julie, but she always catches up and passes me. I caught up to her and was feeling good, so I pressed on, trying to put some distance between us. I stopped at an aid station and not a minute after I got there, Julie shows up. I kept trying to outrun her, but she somehow kept making up the distance. We leapfrogged a few times. Joe updated us that Julie and I were fourth and fifth. Since Julie always beats me, I was content with fifth place.

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Julie and Joe near the peak. Photo credit: Myke Hermsmeyer

But I kept pressing. I was still ahead of Julie. She admitted that climbing was not one of her strengths. Joe gave us more updates about more people dropping. The third place guy was not doing well and was borderline DNF. I found myself in third. I tested out my new iPod entertainment: full audio of Simpsons episodes! There were some funny ones, but it didn’t motivate me to run fast. One of the lead guys dropped, I was in second.

Loop 3

Starting the third Loop, Rob confirmed that I was in second. He said that Gerardo was  40 minutes ahead, but wasn’t moving well / or was hurt / something to that effect. I told Rob, “I want to catch that guy.” 30 miles to make up a 40 minute lead seemed doable.

There was a section of huge rocks right before the peak that made progress glacial, which made staying awake difficult. So I laid down on the trail and took a “nap.” It was probably just two or three minutes, but it allowed my brain to reset and my heart rate to come down a bit. During the night, I took probably about a dozen of these naps.

Climbing the peak takes long enough as it is. And all I could think of was his lead was growing every second. Finally, I meet the guy as he’s coming down the peak.

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Gerardo. This guy has finished more hundreds than I’ve finished races. Super cool dude. Photo credit: Myke Hermsmeyer

It was the guy who’d given me a low five in passing. Struck me as odd the first time. Most runners just say “good job” or whatever, but this guy was making an actual physical connection and low fiving.

He asked me if I was doing my second or third loop. When I said third loop, we both knew. I said, “You’re the guy I’ve been chasing!” I’m not sure if he cared, but he took off downhill, he looked to be moving pretty well. I figured maybe he had gotten a second wind with the dawn. I saw Joe and he told me the guy was at Mundy’s at 6:55. When I left, it was like 7:30 (or so). I knew how much time I had to make up and began the hardest run I’ve ever done this late in a race.

For some dumb reason, I kept expecting him to be just around the corner, and of course he wasn’t. Several times I mistook other runners for him. I kept looking for signs of movement, hoping for just a glimpse of him in the distance. Nothing.

At the start of the loop, I was certain I would catch him. At the aid stations, I asked the volunteers how far ahead he was, and they told me about 30 minutes. And that he was walking. That gave me more hope. (But then I realized of course you walk from the aid station, he was probably still eating something.) I asked a 100Ker running toward me, how far ahead the other guy was, he was way ahead and made it seem like it would be impossible to catch him. Then I saw a couple and they told me he was moving really well. That further diminished my hopes. I vacillated between thoughts of “I can do this” to “second place is still pretty good.”

Julie had lent me a book, How bad do you want it? and that’s what I asked myself. I knew this was going to be a hard race just to finish, and here I was with an opportunity to actually win it?? Did I want to win – or settle for second? I decided to push till I either caught the guy or blew up. I was running at a pace that I thought was unsustainable. I knew there was no way that he was running as fast as I was because that would just be dumb. I put on my music and felt exhilarated as I was flying down the trail.

The motivation to actually win a race and set a course record was so energizing. I envisioned my name on Ultrasignup as a “top performer”, getting a 100% rating for once. I have no doubt someone will set a much faster record next year, but this year would belong to me! I kept pushing, occasionally taking walk breaks.

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This is what I was chasing.

I was waiting to bonk because I was having a hard time taking in calories. My source of calories were watered down coke, Gatorade, and a pitiful amount of M&M’s. Hardly the material to fuel 12 more miles of this intensity. I didn’t know how long I could keep this up, and even if I did catch him, would I be able to stay in the lead?

And then it happened, I see someone up ahead, it’s him. I blast my music to catch up to him, he sees me and he stops and waits for me. Not quite the showdown I imagined. I stop and we chat just a bit. I don’t remember what we said to each other, but he doesn’t seem to mind that I caught him. I am super amped on adrenaline, I shake his hand and take off in full sprint. I want to put as much distance between us as possible, because there is still a huge chunk of mileage to go and I could still manage to bonk.

I’m constantly looking over my shoulder, but there is no one. I drop my pace. No one is going to catch me, I just have to finish. The wind picks up and for the last 10 miles, LITERALLY DOES NOT STOP BLOWING FOR THE REST OF THE RACE. FOR REALS: NON STOP WIND.

One section was scary because I was heading for the pavilion, heading up this huge climb. I didn’t recall this way before, I thought I had taken wrong turn. My heart sank thinking I would lose the race because I didn’t pay enough attention to the signs. I was so far along, I couldn’t turn around, so I kept on going. Luckily, it was the right way.

As I got close to the top and this girl comes down. She asks me which way I came from, I said, “I don’t know, whichever the hell way I’m supposed to.” “Everyone else has been coming from the left and you came from the right…” “I’m not doing the 100K.” And then I continued up the hill.

The last 1.4 miles.

I got to the top of the pavilion (last year’s finish) and got some cheers from the volunteers. I still have some juice in me, so I put on some music and I sprint up the hill. I make it about half way before I realize I peter out and realize that I need to be careful. The wind is literally blowing me to the right.

During the 50K in September, we had to face the wind at the start of the race while we were fresh. And it eventually died off. But this is even worse. The wind is stronger, I just ran 100 miles, and there is absolutely no break in the wind. I am so close to the finish, and I practically have to crawl there. Oh and did I mention all the cactus I’m trying to avoid stepping in or being blown into?

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Last few steps! Photo credit: Myke Hermsmeyer

Hill after hill, this 1.4 mile section feels like 14. But then finally I can see the finish. A lump forms in my throat. I always get emotional after long races, this one has felt especially long. I run to the finish, never in my life have I been so happy to hear a cowbell.

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Overwhelmed! 31:25:07 Photo credit: Myke Hermsmeyer

 

 

North Fork 50M

“Hey, I’m going to do a race in colorado with Don in June, you want to go?”
“Um..” looking at the website, I see the price is going up tomorrow. I think about how Julie signs up for races on a whim, and reply, “Sure. I’m in.”

Fast forward a month or so. After a few hours in Colorado, I’m instantly smitten. It seems like there are trails and people on bikes everywhere. In terms of buildings and businesses, much of it seems new and well planned. The landscaping is not an after thought. The weather is picture perfect, although it would get an “uncomfortable” 82 degrees. It’s pretty damn amazing.

When they relocated to Ken Caryl from San Antonio, Don chose wisely as there is a trailhead about a mile from his place. Julie and I hiked and ran a bit Thursday. On Friday, Don joined us and gave a guided tour of his “backyard.” It was completely different than anything back home in San Antonio. It’s how I imagine trail running is supposed to be.

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Julie looking down on the horse stables.

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The night before the race, I’m in a mild panic mode getting ready. I haven’t made any drop bags and not sure if I should bother or not. I debate bringing a rain jacket and a headlamp, but pack them “just in case.” (I’ll need neither.) If I don’t have drop bags, I can carry only a few of the food items I brought.

Perhaps giving me the greatest concern is that I’m bring a GoPro attached to a handheld gimbal, which I used while running only once, the day before. During a race is probably not the best time to practice using a new piece of nonessential equipment, but the overwhelming desire to record the scenery trumped rational decision making. Whats worse, I bring my phone too. While I aspire to a minimalist lifestyle in general, when I run, I pack like a boy scout.

A knee issue and then an Achilles issue had me running fewer miles leading up to the race. I knew I’d be able to complete the race, but was unsure of how difficult it would be. Lack of training, lots of climbing, and a bit of altitude seemed like a challenging combination.

 

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Don and me before the race. 

Fast forward to 6:55 am. It’s another perfect morning. The RD is giving the race briefing over a megaphone but I can’t hear her over the chatter of the racers. NBD, I figure, just follow the markers. The course is pretty easy to follow. The trail is well worn and well marked at intersections. The course was nice, but I was hoping for a little more scenery.

 

The trail followed a creek for a while and there were several creek crossings. It wasn’t absolutely necessary for me to stop and put my feet in the water, but at the same time it was absolutely necessary. Only a handful of times have I ever had the privilege of soaking my feet in ice cold mountain water. How could I pass that up?

I suggested to Julie that we stop and soak our feet. My method was to remove my shoes, my socks and my liner toe socks. She, however, jumped in shoes and all. I prayed her feet would dry fast enough to avoid blisters. (Later, she told me her feet dried really quick, guess my prayers worked!)

The last 15 miles were a slog. Other than Julie, with whom I ran several miles, I didn’t really talk to anyone during the race. That isolation made things worse towards the end when I was bonking and mentally weak. My nutrition was absent, nothing sounded good, so I wasn’t eating enough.

The second from last aid station I was desperate, I asked if they had beer. I love beer, but usually save it for after the race. But I was in dire need of calories. The volunteer cracked open a Coors and filled a small cup. I started to say that I didn’t need the cup, but then realized I should just let him do his thing. The beer was very cold… and delicious! I ended up drinking maybe half the can of beer and felt a little better. I thanked the volunteer and headed out.

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The last two miles I started to run again, inspired by the desire to finish and be done. (And to consume more beer.) Two girls passed me early in the race, and then I passed them n the middle of the race, passed me again in the last mile. It was somewhat amusing to me as their bibs were attached to the back of their shirts, #69 and #71. I was #70. 

When I finished, Don and Julie, and Helena and Hudson were waiting. They looked like they had all been well rested and fed. I didn’t finish with a fast time, around 11:30, but I had fun. Mediocre races do have an inspiring effect on me in that it makes me want to train harder so that I don’t struggle so much.

While I ran with Julie, I filled her in on one of my ideas. I always come up with these crazy ideas while I’m running -because why not? And one day maybe one of my crazy ideas will work out and make me rich.

Anyway, my idea was to start selling WWJ*D bracelets. What Would Julie Do?
Julie would:
Study the course info.
Have mental strategies to cope with the terrain
Pack lightly.
Finish 4th female.

Basically, Julie would kick ass. So BE MORE LIKE JULIE is my new plan.

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Julie making duckface and me squinty

 

Zion 100M

Waiting forever for a flight? Write a race report!

 

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All smiles before the race. 

Went with Elizabeth, my buddy Ed, and his gf Katherine.

 

Start was a hill. Slowish going, not bad, good warmup. Run behind Ed. Lots of dust. One spot had a rope to use or you could go around. Never seen that before. Chose to go around. First aid station top of hill. Do I need aid this early?

Starts getting light. You can see the scenery. Take shots with GoPro. Stash camera in pack. Stop to poop. Commence running again. More awesome scenery, grab camera and… I’ve been filming for 20 min. Definitely was filming during my poop break. Wonder how that’ll turn out. And I’ve managed to get separated from Ed. Don’t see him again till Mile 50 or so.
Running behind two guys. See kid up ahead, holding out his cupped hands.  He offers the first runner,  “Ca- SHOOS?” No thanks. And the second runner, “Ca-SHOOS?” No thanks. And them me, “I LOVE cashews!”  kid dumps some into my hand. I chastise the runner in front of me for not humoring the kid and taking some cashews. Dry and flavorless, I eat a few and chuck the rest.
Taking a selfie at a lookout. Put phone down, set timer. Hear what sounds like a horde of buzzing bees. Look around, it’s a freaking drone! I give it the peace sign, it hovers for awhile. I try and take my pictures, it’s still there. I give up and start running downhill. It follows me for a bit. I think, Okay. I’ll try and haul ass down a rocky descent, give it something worth filming.” But eventually it flies away, following a runner going uphill. Just as well. I sure hope there aren’t any drones when I have to, uh, you know.

 

Garmin 920xt failure. Feel smart for finally remembering to use Ultra Trac mode. Watch should last a long time. Miles are clicking by. Before I know it, I’ve done 20 miles. And then a few minutes later, 21 miles… Wait, that can’t be right- 21 miles in 3.5 hours? Ask a girl nearby what’s her mileage? 14. F*********ck! GPS is off by SEVEN miles? Rest of the race, hear the mile beeps but can’t look cause I know they are wrong. Makes the whole race a little more difficult not knowing what mile I’m at. (You could say,  “The aid stations are at known mileage points, just go by that,” but that doesn’t help.) Same thing happened to a guy I ran with, except he was smart enough to start his watch over at an aid station and use just regular GPS. I decided against that because …. I’m an idiot.

Adding insult to injury was when watch beeped low battery, after only about 20 hours. The Whole point of Ultra Trac is extended battery life. Now I don’t even get that? Next time, will try and use a charger during the run. Or bring along my old Garmin. (But that’s annoying to have two separate files for the race. Or is that just me?)

The big climb. Talked to a guy named Danny leading up to the climb. Said he’d run the race 5 times. Two other races he’d also done every year. As we began to climb the hill, he cursed at the hill, “Come on mother effer!” Very amusing. The hill was steep and longish, but didn’t seem that bad. Poles were a tremendous help. Made it about 2/3 up before I realized to turn around and look at the beautiful scenery behind me.

 

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Mile 35 doesn’t look like much a hill from the photo. 

 

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Got to the top, the volunteer recording our race numbers was a young girl about 12. She greets me with, “Alright! You made it to the top of that stupid hill!” I was like… Accurate!

This was probably the best section scenery wise. We ran along the edge of the mesa which provided some spectacular views, although these pictures don’t fully convey that.

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Paul, whose first 100 in the US got him one ticket, with which he got into Western States.

 

The rain finally shows up. I’m running down this dirt road that is quickly turning into the worst kind of thick mud. Super slippery, thick, and gloms onto your shoes, weighing you down. I come to a T section, there is a car stuck in the mud, and 3 cars waiting on it to get unstuck. For a split second, I feel like I should stop and help. See several other cars coming up the hill, tires spinning out because of the slick mud. Can only think that these people are morons. Film one girl driving a tiny ass car spinning out.

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Couldn’t figure how to edit video, so here ya go. 

Running out the red loop. Somehow miss the first turn. Run about a mile before I realize I’ve not seen ANY confidence markers. Think that’s okay, maybe they assume you know this must be the way. Did see one guy running opposite direction, so…. It must be… Turn around and run back. See a pair runners a bit aways, yell at them if they are doing the red loop. They are. I was def off course. Get back on, see where I made my mistake. I think I was readjusting my pack. Pretty upsetting but I don’t dwell on it that much. It’s about this time that I stop running and can only hike. My right shin has started to hurt.

The White and Blue loops were tough: I couldn’t run, I felt like the sections weren’t well marked, it was dark, I was alone, I’d heard all my music by this point, I wasn’t eating well because my stomach wasn’t happy. (At the aid station, I actually threw up for the first time during a race. It was just a little bit, nothing major, but still.) And it rained on and off, which had me taking off my pack to put on my jacket and then 10 minutes later taking off my pack so I could take off my jacket. And the miles seemed S U P E R  L O N G. BUT I never got to a really low point, my mental game was pretty good considering. I managed to slog through the night, and my spirits rose when it started to get light.

After I finished the blue loop, I was supposed to do the final trail section to the finish, but because of the rain, the course had been modified to have us run the dirt road back. This route was 2 miles shorter, but would still make for an exact 100 miles.

Walking out to start the very last section to the finish, I see a guy I thought I had left in the dust. Take off my coat and pack, try to stash my poles in my pack. He takes off running. Puts up a good distance while I’m fumbling with my pack. I start running, want to catch up. (He doesn’t know it, but he’s racing me.) Haul ass done a dirt road, stop to sh*t. Hope the guys I just passed are far enough back…  I pass a lot of people in this home stretch. Everyone is walking. Eventually catch up to him. I run 90% of the last leg. Final mile I see the 55kers heading out. Film that. Keep seeing roller after roller, more flags, wondering where the f#ck is the finish???

 

Finally see the inflated finish gate. Haul ass, pass 4 more guys. Run it in strong. Want to cry. Go to the finisher tent, lady basically tells me which one to pick. I’m done. I got my damn buckle.

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Ed and Katherine are at the finish. Ed dropped after I saw him last at the aid station. Katherine’s race got rerouted to a lame out and back on a dirt road, so she was able to defer till next year. We waited several hours for Elizabeth to finish. She also got rerouted but finished with only about 82 miles.

 

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Food wise: Pickles were good! And Bacon and Avacado. Quesadillas are okay, but tend to de dry and flavorless, which is a bad combo because it seems hard to generate saliva towards the middle and end of race. Need juicier things, things with higher water content. Also don’t eat or drink the same thing at every station. Especially soda, it makes my  stomach acidic. (At least in the quantities I ingest.)  Have to alternate or pace the soda intake. Alternate liquid nutrition with solid foods.

Dissolvable seltzer tabs helped. Ibuprofen always helps.

Bladder and a bottle. Best combination. Cannot overstate convenience of a drink tube.

Change of socks. Dry clothes. Bring even more pairs when expecting rain or tough environment. Vaseline and Double sock treatment kept me blister free. Do not care for La Sportiva Bushidos for more than 20 miles. Ran 50 in them and was glad to get them off. Good traction, but not entirely comfortable. Calf sleeves, still not sure about, but my calves weren’t terribly sore after the race, but then neither were my quads, so… Batteries. Extra headlamp. Gaiters. Need to order gaiters.

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My dopey new hat

New hat worked out beautifully, although it is kind of heavy and bulky. New rain jacket worked beautifully. Kept me dry and warm, did not overheat. Watertight bags worked fine. Not sure if they got rained on, but my stuff was dry. (They were also inside ziplocks, so they had better be.)
Changed contacts mid race. No issues with blurry vision. This was a huge win, as having an issue with my vision would have made the night that much more difficult. But it was hard to put them on. Need to practice without a mirror. Always have something clean to catch them on.

Naps. Took two (three?) 5 min naps. Points I felt woozy, like I was drunk. Glad I had my poles at the end. More sleep prior to race, especially if travel is involved.

One carry on bag only. Elizabeth had two(?!) suitcases and that was problematic. Always have a proper post race drop bag. Dry clothes, a blanket or hoodie, cash and ID. And beer and food if possible.

Walking was sore the next day, but not nearly as bad as in the past.

Rocky Raccoon 100M Report

My painting motto is “They don’t all have to be masterpieces.” Going to take that approach to writing. Waste time polishing and nothing gets finished. Quantity over quality.

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Training for Rocky was lackluster. Things and life left me feeling kind of blah about running. But the race went pretty well and now I have a little more belly fire to start training again.

Leaving the motel I was worried. I heard some ominous thunder. Then saw the flashes of lightning. I got in my car and then it started… hailing?? Yep, that’s hail. It rained a good deal as we drove to the park. Fortunately the rain stopped, there was very little mud, and we had perfect weather the entire race.

During the early going, I started chatting with this guy Steve from Chicago and another guy from Beaumont (Texas). I think Steve was running his second 100 and Beaumont his first. I was worried for Beaumont; it was 40 degrees and huge beads of sweat were already crowding his brow less than 5 miles into the race.

Steve kept mathing out loud about what pace we should be running in order to finish in a certain time. All of his answers had us running at a much slower pace than we were actually running, and yet we didn’t slow down.

Eventually, Beaumont dropped off. I never learned his name, so I don’t know if he finished. I ran with Steve for awhile and we talked. We ran side by side for awhile as we talked and eventually settled into some quiet periods but we were still running side by side. This made for somewhat awkward trail navigation. It wasn’t until later that this started to bug me.

We caught up to my friend Julie. Steve ran up to her side and chatted. Then they fell silent, but he was still there by her side. When he ran behind her, he was hot on her heels. Julie, ever too polite to verbalize her dislike, said nothing. I however, have no such qualms and yelled at Steve, “Grow your bubble!” I told him: “Run in front or behind, but not beside. Running side by side is cutting the already narrow trail in half.” (I know that probably doesn’t sound warranted, but just trust me, it was.)

Later when it was just Julie and me, I mentioned that Steve had been the dictionary definition of a Klingon. Someone so tight up your ass you just cant shake them.

Trail Etiquette: Give people some space! Especially people you’ve just met.

When I hit mile 50, I was amazed at how fast the time had gone by. Not having any hills or rocks to deal with almost made it…. fun? Is that how this ultra business is supposed to go? I don’t think I ever hit any really low points in the race. My lowest point was around mile 99. But first lemme back up.

At Bandera 100K a month ago, I’d experienced some weird issues with my vision after the race. I was seeing halos around any and every source of light. It made it hard to see, but luckily was completely gone the next day.

Somewheres around mile 70, the vision in my right eye started to get blurry. It looked like I had morning sleepy stuff in my eye. I rubbed and rubbed my eye, but that did nothing. I swapped out my contact, thinking maybe it was damaged. That didn’t do anything either. Gradually it got worse and worse until the vision in my right eye was completely fogged. By mile 80, I was a pirate.

It wasn’t too big of a deal. Even with two good eyes, depth perception is a challenge when a headlamp is your sole light source. (That may also be what is causing this issue.) The hard part was when there was two way traffic, the oncoming headlamp essentially blinded me. I had to slow down or stop and look down at the ground. Again not a big deal.

But then there was this girl.

I don’t know how or why it started. I passed her and her pacer on the trail and I think she was a little put off. Maybe she was thinking something like, “That guy just passed me?” I thought nothing of it and put some distance between us. I was walking a section just past the Damnation aid station, and who would you know pulls up beside me? I looked over and thought to myself, “Oh, it’s you.” I put on a fast song to give me some motivation, and I took off. That may have been the official / unofficial start of this little showdown.

I hauled ass and tried to put as much distance between us as I could. But this girl would just not quit. All I could think of was that metal guy from The Terminator movie. I was running as hard as I could and it was like a nightmare. Everything was the same shade of brown and gray. There were a lot of twists and turns, I had a real hard time telling where the trail went. Several times I went off into the bushes. What really sucked was when runners came from the opposite direction. (Some sections of the trail had two way traffic.) It was neck and neck for the last five miles. She was on me like… Steve! Total Klingon in the best way.

I could hear her breathing heavily, it sounded like she was having sex. I felt like I had the legs to outlast her. I thought no way can she keep this up if she’s breathing that hard. But she kept up, and as we neared the finish, I hit my lowest point of the race – the girl caught up and passed me at about mile 99. Her pacer and I exchanged a few words as they passed. I mentioned she should get an award for best socks.

I tried to keep up with her, “Just keep her in sight,” I thought. I kept skipping songs on my iPod to get a fast song, but it wasn’t happening. And I pretty much gave up the fight right there. I stopped running and walked. My quads were toast. I was tired of not being able to see where I was going. I got beat by that girl!

I was a little disappointed that neither the girl nor her pacer hung around for a handshake at the finish. I didn’t finish that far behind them. Usually after friendly challenges like that, it’s a nice gesture, win or lose. But whatever. I was happy to be done.

20:03:51 That girl

20:05:27  Yours Truly

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OH YEAH I FORGOT TO MENTION THAT GORDY AINSLEIGH, THE FATHER OF ULTRARUNNING, WAS AT THE RACE!!! That kind of seems like a big deal, right?

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Nueces 50M Race Report

Apologies as I have no photos for this post. Tragic, I know.

Crawling along in tortoise speed traffic, I was trying to get on the exit ramp to I-10 as a big semi truck was trying to get into my lane. The whole front of the truck was covered in ice. Gee whiz, I thought, did this guy just drive here from Canada or something? Two hours later, the front of my car would be similarly covered.

After the two hour drive, I arrived at Camp Eagle in Rocksprings. The weather was cold, wet, and miserable. And soon enough, I’d be running 50 miles in it. That evening there was a nice pasta dinner. I was hungry and the food was surprisingly tasty so I had two huge plates. The brownies were especially awesome, I had three of those!

I stayed in a dorm with 5 other runners. Before lights out, my friend Julie joked she was in trouble if anyone snored because she had only one earplug.  And wouldn’t you know it, one of our runners did snore. LOUDLY. It seemed to get louder with each breath until he gasped or moved and the snoring finally stopped…. until a few minutes later when the cycle restarted.

I have a hard time falling asleep as it is, so this was just torture. The worst part was the fact that he knew he snored but didn’t warn us. He offered a limp apology the next morning. As such, he is now on my list of non-approved bunk mates.

Considering the night’s sonic landscape, 4 am came way too early. But once I accepted that it was “Go-Time,” it was business as usual. Waiting under the pavilion at the race start, we found out another member of our group had just gotten off a plane, drove here two hours, and signed up for the race. Oh, and he was working off 2 or 3 hours of sleep. All I could think was, “You’re nuts! But in a good way. Sort of.”

And so the countdown, the race starts, and the running begins…

It was cold and misty, but at least it wasn’t raining. However there was ice everywhere. The ice made for very slippery footing. The loose rocks were like oiled marbles. Going up hills was really frustrating;  much of the first lap was an exercise in patience and curse words. Later, I put that practice cursing to use.

bridge-may-ice-in-cold-weather

I was running along, and came up to a wooden bridge I had to cross. I stepped on the landing, slipped, and dead chickened, landing flat on my right side. I lay there for a second, blinking. I was literally and figuratively stunned. I had just totally wiped out.

My wrist sort of hurt, but otherwise, I seemed to be okay. I got up slowly and gingerly made my way across the bridge, which was coated in ice a quarter inch thick. I could have skated across. Safe on the other side, I found a new respect for those highway signs that say BRIDGE MAY ICE IN COLD WEATHER.

During the second loop, I came into the aid station that we hit twice per loop. Chris (from my running group) says, “Cara was bummed she didn’t catch up to you. She wanted to run with you for a bit.” Half joking and half serious I said, “Cara’s not going to catch up to me!” Cara’s a strong runner, but I know I’m faster than her.

During the third and final loop, I see a girl behind me  that sure looks like Cara. I yell out “CARA!” No response – must not be her. Few minutes later, the same girl and a guy I know come bounding up behind me. Wouldn’t you know it, it IS Cara. (Earbuds!)

I’m feeling low energy, so she takes over the lead. We run together and chat for a few miles. I tell her what I’d said to Chris, (lest she hear it from him first.) When we get to the aid station, I say ,”Hey Chris, look who caught up to me!” It was pretty amusing, we all had a good laugh. Leaving the aid station, my energy levels had  picked up. I took over the lead and eventually dropped Cara. She would finish only 4 minutes behind me, placing First Female in the 50M.

Speaking of awesome female runners, I remember seeing Melanie pass me on a hill. Her bangs were little icicles. I wondered how on Earth could she dress like it was the middle of summer and not freeze to death? She would go to place Overall Second in the 50K. (Overall First was a female as well!)

And the last strong runner was a dude named Dana. This guy and I had been leapfrogging for the second and third lap. He would slowly but consistently jog up the hills and pass me as I hiked. Then later on the flats, I would bomb past him. We traded back and forth like this at least 8 times.

Every time I passed him, I hoped he would stay passed. But when I’d stop at an aid station, it would be just a few seconds later and he’d come trotting into view. I kept thinking of that scene in the Terminator movie where the bad metal cop guy turns his arm into spikes and he stabs the trunk of the car and they can’t shake him. Yeah, that was the guy following me.

While we didn’t exactly chat, we did speak to each other. We were both running our own race, neither of us were concerned about “winning” the duel. Sure, I would have liked to have finished one place better, but it wasn’t that big of a deal. The whole back and forth was rather comical.

Coming into the final few miles, I was ahead of Dana, but running out of gas. I knew there was a small hill coming, so I stopped and waited for him. I told him I knew he was going to pass me, so go ahead. He finished 3 minutes before me, placing Overall Fifth in the 50M.

I crossed the finish in 9:21:02, placing Overall Sixth. Dana came up to me and  shook my hand and gave me a bro hug. Since he’s a local, I’m sure I’ll see him at another race.

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What did I learn?

**DO NOT ROOM WITH PEOPLE WHO SNORE. You might say use earplugs, but then how do you hear your alarm?

**GIRLS ARE FAST. Also, I am not as fast as I think I am.

**BE ALERT, ICE CAN BE DANGEROUS. We don’t encounter ice very often on our trails in Texas, so when the conditions are right for ice, pay attention. This is even more important while driving.

**I LOVE SNICKERS. Bite size rule! Sweet AND salty! Actually, I already knew I loved Snickers…

**SOMETIMES IT’S MORE ABOUT THE PEOPLE RUNNING THE RACE THAN THE RACE ITSELF. 

 

 

 

Kirby Flats 50K Report: First DNF (with an Asterisk?)

Kirby Flats was an inaugural race, and actually the first time the director had ever put on a race.  There was a 50K,  25K,  and 10K. All three were free provided we gave our honest feedback about the race.

It was a small turnout, maybe 50 people for all three races combined. In the 50K, there were only eight runners, and three of us were Rockhoppers. The race started at 6 am. It was a cold, misty, and dark. At the start we joked how everyone was guaranteed a top ten finish. And whoever came in first would set a course record.

Kyle the race director sent us on our way at 6 sharp. We started with a long steep incline. The other two Rockhoppers Brian and Ed chatted away, I just listened. There was another guy right behind us who became part of our group due to proximity. After a mile, (!) we never saw the other four guys again, which was weird because we were not running fast at all.

The second mile was unrunnable. There was no clear trail on the ground, so we had to keep hunting for the next flag. And unfortunately, the flags were not reflective. But what really slowed us down was the terrain: tons of slippery exposed rock and steep uphills/ downhills covered with scree and leaves. It took us 29 minutes to cover mile 2.  This set the tone for the rest of the race.

Eventually, we did reach some sections that we could run. After hiking so much, it felt weird to actually run.  Unfortunately, we soon entered a super flat and super boring section that ran along the fence line of pasture. It felt like when you were in high school and they made you run laps around the field as punishment.

I felt dumb having complained about how tough the earlier sections were and now how boring these flat sections were. And we were still having to figure out where the flags were leading us.

It may have been as early as mile 2 when the topic of dropping the race came up. At an average of only three miles per hour, it would have taken about 10 hours… to finish a 50K! We had expected 6 or 7, maybe 8 hours, but 10? Was it worth it? (I joked that we weren’t even getting a t-shirt for our efforts.)

I had never not finished a race, and I knew this would happen eventually. I felt conflicted as to whether I should continue or not.  I wasn’t injured. But did I really want to spend another 6 hours out here in the cold rain on this poorly marked course essentially by myself? (The new guy said he wanted to finish. But this was his first trail run and he didn’t even bring water with him. I certainly didn’t want to have to rely on him.)

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Trail version of Groundhog Day: Stephanie, Jazzy, and Adnil ran the same loop 3 times.

After almost 4 hours, we made it back to the start having completed one 20K loop. (The 50K was (2) 20K loops + (1) 10K loop.) There were lots of 25K runners at the tent. The race director was there, listening to the runners’ woes. Apparently, everyone had had navigational issues. One group of ladies had somehow managed to run a small loop three times. Basically, it turned into a big drop party. At the time, I didn’t feel bad dropping since everyone else was.

DNF's all around but still smiling!
Three 50K DNFs and three 25K DNFs! Still smiling though!

But two days later, I feel crappy about dropping.  Sure it would have taken a long time, but it’s not like I’ve never run for 10 hours before. Sure the course was confusing, but we (think we) ran it. And the poor new guy – I could have helped him finish his first trail race.  But what bothers me the most is this was a challenge and I pussed out. I could have finished, I just didn’t want to, which seems like the worst excuse possible.

There’s nothing I can do about it now, the DNF is in the books. It’s certainly a bummer, but not the end of the world. I don’t know if the RD is going to post any “official” results – as there may not be any results to post. I am curious if any of the other four 50K guys finished. I will feel a little less crummy if no one finished.

KF 50K DNF

 

 

 

 

 

 

Houston Marathon

This past weekend I ran the Houston Marathon. It was not the race I had hoped for, but it was the race I expected.

At the end of October, I ran my first 100 Mile race, Cactus Rose. That jacked up my knee sufficiently that it took a week to walk normal and without pain. And then I went to Thailand for 7 weeks. At first I felt like I was still recovering, then it was just laziness combined with lack of motivation. And beer. I ran maybe 6 times in those 7 weeks. Got home two days before Christmas leaving me about three weeks to “train.” Yeah, that’s not going to work out so well.

I booked my hotel and then found out a friend wanted to carpool, but was going on different days. I couldn’t change the dates of my stay, so I changed hotels. My new hotel was much cheaper but much … what’s the word? Skeezier?

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Barricading the door.

Actually, it was more of a motel – the door opened directly to the parking lot. And since I was in a somewhat sketchy area, I felt thankful the motel was kind enough to provide something to barricade the door, locks or not. And check out the festive carpeting! I can only imagine how they chose that carpeting and I’m pretty sure LSD would have to be involved. And I was now a bit further from the start of the race, almost two miles. I figured at least I’ll be warmed up by the time I got to the start.

Oh, and did I mention I was sick? I didn’t volunteer at a race the week before because I feared the weather would get me sick… and then I got sick anyway. Fortunately, the day of the race I was at 98% good. I debated whether or not to carry my phone with me. I was afraid of dropping my phone and/ or getting it wet. I really wanted to try to take pictures during the race, but it’s difficult to get anything worth a darn. And I would be able to find my friend easier after the race. I figured out how to wrap my phone in my Buff to carry it easily and safely, so I decided to take it.

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I thought making A Corral was a big deal. Nope!

The start of the race was a bit chilly. I was wearing a two tech tees, and that was good enough. It was the perfect temp for running and would only get warmer. In the A corral, I positioned myself around the 3:30 group. I started off at a comfortable and conservative pace, and held that. I didn’t want to burn myself out like I did at the last marathon. I felt like I was running well. Then I remembered I was going to need calories…

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Beautiful tree lined street.
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Neat shot with buildings.

I forgot that there isn’t real food at road races. (Bananas don’t count.) I had 4 gels and a pack of chews with me, but would definitely need more calories. What I meant to do was to pick up gels people accidentally dropped. You seem them all the time at the start of a race. That didn’t work out so well since by the time I saw them, I’d already run past them. So I ate the bananas. I had about 3 of them during the race. Normally, I like bananas, but they don’t really do it for me during a race. By my third gel, I wanted to  puke, it was like eating sugar. Luckily, there were a few spectators with bowls of snacks like pretzels and gummi bears. There was an aid station handing out gels late in the race, mile 21 or 22? I took one, and was counting on the calories, but I just couldn’t bring myself to force down another packet of sugary goo. And for that, I would pay the last few miles. It was painful to see so many people looking strong and running past me. It was Chicago all over again.

I had hoped for maybe a 3:30, but came in much later at 3:50. I felt lightheaded after I finished and desperately wanted to eat something… I would even have eaten another banana at that point. It seemed like another mile before I was finally able to get some food, sit down, and eat.

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Tired and light headed, it’s hard to see the screen in bright light. That’s why the medal is backwards.
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Eggs, sausage, biscuit and gravy, crackers, and most importantly, chocolate milk.

So what did I learn from this Marathon? (This is me talking to myself.)

Dude, you gotta train right for this! Make your training specific to the race. In order to run fast, you have to run fast!

Give the Marathon its proper respect. Yes, you can do the distance, but this is about doing it fast and without, which is waaaaay harder!

You gotta figure out how to take in calories at a road race.

Running a 26.2 road race can be just as challenging as a trail 50M. They are both hard but in different ways. All the effort you put towards running a fast marathon will also pay off at your next trail race. So who’s up for some intervals?

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Treviso Marathon – Crisis Averted

I was so close to not running the race. Mentally, I had thrown in the towel and  my poor brain started rehearsing an explanation of why I didn’t run the marathon. But I did run the race. It wasn’t a great race, but it was a great learning experience.

*    *    *    *

Initially, I planned to set up my trip itinerary with all the necessary details. However after some emailing with my sister, it seemed like she had the whole trip squared away for me.  She’s a more than capable individual, so I relaxed and left it in her hands. I now know that I should never leave things to chance (or someone else – capable or not.) I should have done my research anyway.

Just getting to the Expo was a major hassle.

We planned to check out a city market that was on the way to the Expo. We were running a bit late and, and were hustling to get to the market before it closed. The “directions” to the Expo were in Italian, so I had no idea what I was actually reading. There didn’t appear to be a specific physical address, just general instructions depending on which way you were coming from. But we figured we could plug in the street names listed on the form into the GPS and that should be good enough. We had all afternoon to find it.

It was cold and rainy out, which made for miserable driving conditions. To make matters worse, the windshield wipers made this loud honking sound with every pass. So rather than endure the honking, my sister kept switching the wipers on and off manually. Every. Three. Seconds. I found this to be extremely annoying.

We passed the market and it started raining harder. Neither of us wanted to deal with the rain, so we bailed on the market. Turning our attention to locating the Expo, we found that none of the street names from the race form were getting us any results from the GPS. We sat at a gas station pondering what to do.

At this point, we were about 30 minutes from the house. I suggested we head back home and get the other printed race info we had, but my sister didn’t want to drive back; she figured we could find it anyway. Somehow. So we headed off toward Treviso.

The next two hours were unbearable. We didn’t really know where we were going. I don’t know what my sister put into the GPS, but we seemed to be driving forever and getting nowhere. Both of us were getting severely agitated from the drive and with each other. Finally we stopped at a gas station. Amazingly, there was a map taped to the window. Even more amazingly, I found “Piazza Borsa,” one of the locations listed on my form. We input some of the nearby streets into the GPS and headed off again, feeling hopeful.

There was still a lot of circuitous driving, but then merging into traffic, we saw it: a tiny yellow arrow with the word EXPO on it. Hallelujah! As we headed down that street, more arrows appeared, and finally I saw the building where the Expo was held. I was so relieved that we’d finally found the needle in haystack.

The destination
The destination
Inside the Expo
Inside the Expo

The Expo was small and crowded. I got my packet containing my bib and chip, and my goody bag. It had all sorts of goodies: the t-shirt, pasta, walnuts, crackers, jam, even a small bottle of Prosecco! My sister went shopping at a COIN (no idea) store for girl stuff and I stood outside and took pictures of stuff. We had lunch at a small cafe nearby and then headed back.

We got home and I was exhausted. I watched TV and got sucked into the black hole that is Imgur. It wasn’t until late that evening that I started prepping my race clothes. As I went through my goody bag, I realized that the packet containing my bib and timing chip were not in the bag. I looked everywhere in my room, then the living room, the car, the bathroom. I asked my sister if she’d seen it and she hadn’t.

I somehow lost the entire packet?!!

I thought the packet probably fell out there when I was showing off the goodies in the bag at the cafe we ate at. We called the place, and surprisingly, they were still open. The person that answered hadn’t worked during the day, we should call back in the morning at 8. There was still a chance the lady who served us tucked away the packet. So we planned to drive to cafe in the morning.

I got my stuff ready. I slept maybe two or three hours. We got up extra early to make the hour+ drive. We got there and saw an old man setting up chairs on the outside patio. I showed him a note asking about the packet. He ushered us inside and  showed the note to (who I assume was) his wife. She was the one who served us, and she said there was no packet. My stomach sank. I was sure that it was going to be here. Now what?

My sister, who was majorly pissed off at this point, drove to the start so I could ” talk to an official” and straighten this out. I was in a daze at this point. I had accepted the fact that I wasn’t going to run the marathon.

We got the the race and I went to find an official, but registration had shut down hours ago. I went back to the car and told my sister there was nothing I could do. She told me, “Run it anyway. What’s the worst thing that could happen? They kick you out of the race?” This had not occurred to me as a possible solution.

So I ran the race as a bandit. Of sorts.

Waiting for the start.
Waiting for the start.

Even though I had paid for the race, I felt like a fraud at the start. I was paranoid and nervous, thinking someone was going to notice that I wasn’t wearing a bib. But no one noticed. And really, why would they?

The best thing about the race was the people. Hilariously, during the first mile, tons of guys peeled off left and right to urinate. As we entered each town, everyone was really happy and the spectators were all smiles, yelling, “Bravi, bravi!” I high-fived lots of smiling kids which was awesome. (It’s my hope that this would inspire a kid to become a runner.) People on bikes tagged along, several runners pushed people in wheelchairs, one wheelchair guy propelled himself with only one arm. Saw a guy guiding a blind guy. I’d never seen this kind of spirit in US races.

The race was a struggle for me, as I was already physically tired and mentally drained. The course didn’t seem spectacularly scenic, but  I was okay with that. I was just glad that it never rained.

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Somewhere near the finish.

I saw my sister yelling during the last bit, and that lifted my spirits. However, the last mile into the city was torture because there were so many turns and it just seemed to go on forever.  Once I saw the finish, I gave it everything I had, which wasn’t much by then.

I crossed the line around 3:45, unofficially.

Finished, feeling like death.
Finished, feeling like death. I wore a vest to carry my camera, cell phone, and gels.

I was a bit nervous at the finish, as volunteers were removing the timing chips. But I walked through undiscovered. And then I was saddened when I saw the piles of finishers medals. I didn’t try to claim one. Despite not being an “official” runner, I was really glad I ran the race. Because at the end of the day, it’s not about the medal, it’s about the run.

Holiday Marathon!

I’m going to Italy! And I’m going to run a marathon while I’m there!

My sister is in the Air Force, stationed at Aviano AFB. She’s been there for two (three?) years and is nearing retirement, at which point she’ll return to the states. Back in January, we were talking and I said I’d love to visit her before she left Aviano. And coincidentally,  I had enough frequent flyer miles to get to Italy.

Her response: “Book it!”  And so I did.

I looked for races around Italy, and found one in the city of Treviso. It a road marathon, and it’s point to point. I don’t think I’ve ever run a race that didn’t finish where it started. It’s great because maybe I’ll see more sights. And I plan to carry a small point and shoot camera, so I don’t plan on running it fast. Of course I say that now, but once I’m in the thick of the pack, the run may very well turn into a race.

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I’m hopeful that I can run every day, but we’ll see. Apparently the weather is pretty crummy right now -cold and rainy, definitely not a good combination. Pizza and gelato sounds like a much better combination!

Meanwhile,  I’ve been trying to take more photos when I’m out. Here are a few  neat things from my  last few runs.

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Today, saw the Spanish Moss gone wild!
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Termite trails! So cool like a line drawing.
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Veins of a cactus plant.

And the prettiest announcement of Spring…

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Texas Red Bud, I think.

 

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.

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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.