Finally, Bandera weekend is here! This photo is courtesy of Hill Country Trail Runners, since I forgot my camera. My race started on thursday. Immediately after eating lunch, I got a stabbing belly ache, and spent the evening throwing up. Packing was a challenge, as I was out of it, and said to hell with a drop bag, too much effort to pack. the belly pain lingered all day Friday, and I worried how I could run 30 miles on no food in 2 days, plus being pretty dehydrated. Teresa and I left Austin Friday after 500pm, to sit in major traffic. I was really worried I wouldn’t end up being able to run. We stopped for dinner, and it helped some. I really felt better after a sonic malt. I went to bed in our beautiful Bandera motel room (with airbrushed deer on the walls) hoping for the best in the am. Well, morning came and I felt pretty good. I decided to go for the 50K as originally planned.
Bandera has now become one of my favorite Texas runs. The Hill Country State Natural has got to be one of the prettiest areas in the state. The run is so well organized, and it’s a little road trip, but not a huge ordeal to get to. I was disappointed to miss the dinner the night before and getting to see all my friends, but race morning I saw a lot of them. It was fun knowing so many people there and wishing everyone luck. conditions turned out less than desirable. The night before saw heavy rains, and the trails were a mud bog. Right at the start I realized most the race would be heavy, shoe sucking mud. I saw Teresa off on the 25K route, and tried to settle in to the mud pit I would spend the next 6 hours in.
The beginning of the race has some great hills and views right away, but the fog wouldn’t allow us to see anything today. The beginning was a little congested, but fairly soon I was all alone. I felt good and was having fun, despite the mud. As always the first few miles go by really slowly. I got my ipod going about 5 miles in. I have really learned to enjoy concentrating on the music on these long runs. Mile 10 was fun, as the San Antonio crew I met last year was running the aid station and it was great to get a round of hugs and encouragement…..and they had a border collie with them! I emptied the rocks out of my shoes here, but quickly learned it was a waste of time, as they filled right back up with mud. I was feeling good, and tried to head out ASAP. I hardly saw any 50K runners, so I had no idea where I was in relation to other runners and I still don’t, as results are not up yet. I started seeing 100K folks. I saw a lot of my friends and it was fun to encourage them. I am always so inspired by the folks I meet at ultras. I saw Robert and he told me to say “Bonjour” as I went past the man up ahead. he is 80 years young and here from France to do the 100K! I hope I am doing 100Ks when I am 80.
I was conservative in my pace, since I had been sick just a day ago…I didn’t want to crash and burn. I felt challenged the whole way but I never felt like I was melting down. I really enjoyed the course. I like that the 50K had some nice flat easy sections, although they were so muddy this time around. I loved the aid stations and I think I have finally figured out the whole “just run aid station to aid station” theory of running ultras. The fog let up some, and I did get treated to some of the views. As I was on my last 1/2 mile, I literally felt a gust of wind and in a split second the temp dropped 20 degrees. here’s the cold front! I was happy to be finishing, as rain started up. teresa was there at the end, and she too felt like it was an enormously challenging day, but we agreed it was really fun. I forgot to look at my watch at the end, but I think I finished in around 6:15. We left ASAP, and we both felt for the 100K runners out there getting this really nasty cold rain.
I just love this race. It is hard, no doubt, but so pretty, and has the best Texas hospitality you’ll find. My friends and coworkers who don’t run trails always ask me my times, and then proceed to calculate how “slow” per mile my pace is. I try to explain the terrain to them and that I throw minutes per mile out the window. Bandera is a race like that. Unless you’ve been out there…..you have no idea. Walking the whole course is a challege, let alone throwing in some running. A huge thank you to Teresa for being such a good friend this weekend and driving, bringing me what I have named “Kick ass trail mix”, and waiting around for me. She deserves a lot of credit for picking this as her first trail race. Another big thank you to the all the folks that put so much time and effort into the race. It makes for an amazing weekend, that I will repeat next year and hope for a little less mud!