We forgot the camera, so here is an internet picture with the sotol leaves I spent much of Saturday with.
I had trained for this race for months, and I had it on my schedule for so long, that it was a big deal to me. I hadn’t necessarily done a ton of really long runs, but everything I’ve done since July was done with finishing this race in the back of my mind. I did a lot of 20 mile greenbelt runs, and peaked my training with double decker and then a 7 hour day on the greenbelt. I felt as ready as my busy life would permit. I really rested the whole week, so I felt tapered. There wasn’t much more I could do to prepare. I was nervous and in major OCD stress mode all week. Work had been extremely stressful, and I left for Bandera around 200 on Friday feeling completely frazzled. 100K of running was the last thing on my mind. Luckily, I had packed my drop bags ahead of time, so I kinda got to operate on autopilot. I had spent a lot of time making mini bags of trail mix (thank you Teresa!), planning my nighttime clothes, packing extra batteries for my light, making a mini blister kit, ordering last minute gaiters (yes, all my road friends can make fun of me, but they have a print with little skulls wearing pink bows, so who can resist that?), in other words, I put a lot of time into prep.
I was very thankful Mike was coming with me. It made logistics much easier, and helped calm my nerves. We had a beautiful drive and stopped at a little brew pub in Boerne. I was upset I couldn’t enjoy a cold beer, but that could come after 62 miles! I was also happy for Mike to meet some of my running friends at the dinner and packet pickup. My only big disappointment for the trip was our cabin. it was pretty expensive, and pretty minimal , and not too comfortable. I spent a very restless night.
Moogy roomed with us, and in the morning, I could tell we were both very nervous. I probably made 6 bathrooms stops, but I guess that kept me occupied until race start! The weather looked good for me: 70 was the high with a low of 50. I could deal with that better than cold and wet. I started out way in the back to ease into things. I wore a running skirt, a short sleeve, a thin long sleeve, and my hardrock shoes. I planned to drop the long sleeve at Chapas aid station (10 miles in), but within a mile I was sweating. It was going to warmer than 70 degrees today. Because I started in the back, I had plenty of folks to chat with the first 10 miles or so. It was great fun, and pretty uneventful. Fog had settled in, and we would miss all the nice views, but I guess I would see them on loop 2. By the time I got to crossroads in (mile 15), it was pretty hot, and I was thinking of how good starting loop 2 would feel. I was starting to freak out because my feet were killing me. I was only a quarter into this thing and my feet felt bruised. I had packed my road shoes to wear the last few miles, but I decided to go ahead and put them on now. I was worried about the lack of tread and getting bruised toes, but I my feet were definitely an issue. I sat down at crossroads out, changed shoes, reapplied sunscreen, and headed out to last chance aid station and spend the next 5 miles trying to convince myself the shoe change would work. I also felt a hint of an headache coming on. Meredith caught me as she finished the 50K and it was fun to have company for the first time in awhile. I tried to really focus on keeping positive and not letting any issues seem too great until I was at least halfway into this thing.
I hit the lodge and meredith helped me get out quick. My goal was to hit it in 6:30-7:00 and I hit right at 6:55, so I wasn’t doing too bad. that gave me 2 hours to lose on loop 2 and still make 16 hours. I officially had a migraine-y headache at this point that had settled in the left side of my face and jaw. I went out in good spirits and looked forward to seeing Mike for the first time that day at the next aid station. The headache grew intense over the next 5 miles, and I admit I had a mental low. I wasn’t overwhelmed by the mileage, but it was hard to believe I had 25+ more miles of running to look forward to. The panoramic views that the fog obscured in the morning were visible and I focused on them to try and keep positive. The headache was causing some nausea to gnaw at me, and by the time I hit the next aid station and saw Mike I was putting on a good front to hide a touch of misery. I was very happy to see him and my friend Bill and they probably don’t know how much their kind words pumped me up. the next section went quick, even though the headache was horrible now. At least it made me forget my feet.
I got to Chapas aid station, and kinda laughed at the fact I was over half way into this thing and had yet to touch a single special snack I had packed. I filtered all the M and Ms out of the trail mix and that was it. Int he future I will not go to so much trouble. I had even baked homemade cookies and not touched a single one. I felt a little more energized, and got my light. The sun was so intense, it was hard to believe it would get dark before I made it to the next aid station. Chapas to crossroads is the worst stretch, and I think most runners agree with me. It is very flat, so you really don’t get walk breaks, and it is just cedar groves and fields for 6 boring miles, that I spent completely alone. As the sun was setting my headache was getting better. I felt nauseated from it though. It was like running with a hangover.
I had practiced power walking on my training. In the Vermont 100 I remember stephanie telling me I thought I was power walking, but I really was a pretty slow walker. I had calculated a 15 minute mile walk pace was pretty brisk. Well, I was doing better than that. I was hitting 13-14 minute walk miles. I had running 11-13 minute miles, so I figured if I could keep that pace, walking was just as good, and it felt much more comfortable.
I got to crossroads and was THRILLED to see Mike and Meredith. Mike had a hamburger waiting for me, of which I manged 2 bites. I drank some broth, but the headache had taken it’s toll. I felt sick, and plain water made my stomach spasm like it might come back up. I also realized I was very swollen. I couldn’t get my gloves on, the garmin watch which is normally flopping on my wrist was too tight. I think I was retaining too much water and that was why I was feeling sick. I kept telling myself to stay positive and told Meredith all about my walking hypothesis and why she should let me walk the last 15 miles. she agreed the pace was good and we were off. I think I kept pace the next whole section. We had both been very busy the last couple weeks and agreed it would be fun to “save” all our catching up for the run. Even though I definitely had issues, I would say we had fun. I sincerely tried not to complain, but I know some of my miseries were now being verbalized. Mike was nice enough to stick around for my to back to crossroads out, and I was happy to say “next time I see you is at the finish!” I had some broth and an emergency bathroom trip and realized my stomach was feeling better.
The next 5 miles weren’t too bad. We slowed some, but mostly due to the very tough terrain on this section. One of my favorite parts of the run was getting to the top of Lucky’s Peak (teresa knows how hard it is!) and turning off our lights and being in true darkness. It was a totally clear, moonless night, and the beauty of the night sky was beyond words. there are moments in your life you know will always treasure, and this was one of mine. I had pushed my body and mind hard, and was being treated to an incredible sight. It made all the aches and pains go away for awhile.
We hit last chance and were off on the home stretch. My feet really were feeling bad, and I told Meredith 100 times, I would never run 100 miles out here! I was so thankful I had Meredith with me. it was so utterly dark and scary out there, I cannot imagine being alone. The last couple miles I thought this run was tough, I had some rough times, but overall, it was not the worst thing ever. I am glad I did it.
finishing up and having Mike waiting for me was wonderful. he endured a very long boring day, and I am forever grateful. I got my belt buckle and made it in 15:31. Not my ultimate goal, but I will take it!!
We quickly left for our cabin, and I assessed the true damage of my body. It was a lot worse than I thought. My feet are in terrible shape. they blistered worse than I thought. I got scabs and my chest and back from sports bra rubbing and the sotol cactus left little cuts everywhere. This morning I felt bad, but not as bad as I thought, so overall, things are good.
What an adventure. I always am thankful for my good friends who help me achieve my goals, and for the good volunteers who tough out a long day to help folks run these silly things. special thanks to stephanie for taking care of pancake. She has the right idea how I will be spending the next couple days: