It was a great weekend in Bandera, Texas this past weekend! So many friends to share the trails with.
It was also a great time for our "family" to have an adventure together, and an adventure we had. Paul and I decided that we would camp at Bandera before the race. Now, I will admit that I am a hardy girl but pre-race camping I wasn't sure about. I told Paul that I would sleep in the back of the truck, and that I would bring my laptop so that we could watch a movie.
The wonderful thing about everyone being on the same page is that after socializing and catching up, everyone was to their tents/rvs/cars by around 7:30. Paul and I got cozy in the car with Flyer and watched Miracle...one of my favorites. It was actually really cozy and fun. After the movie my super tough husband went out to sleep on his cot. Yes, we have a tent, and, yes, there was room for him in the car but he wanted to sleep outside. Flyer and I slept, and I will use that word loosely, in the car. Flyer wanted to sleep on top of anywhere I moved, which made for a restless night.
We woke up and got ready for the race. The wind was strong to say the least, but fortunately it wasn't freezing and windy. I was just fine with my tank, thin long-sleeve, skirt, and gloves. After hitting the woods one final time, we headed out to the start. Side note, 6 porta-potties for 500+ people...not quite enough.
We got to the starting line and all of a sudden Mike and I are standing at the front. We were kind of hoping people who get in ahead of us. Ken also joined us, as well as Kyle (my friend, Meredith's husband). Before too long, off we went. My legs were definitely cold and I could tell it was going to take a while for them to warm-up. Mike, Ken, Kyle, and I kind of took off in a little pack together. I knew that Ken was planning to take it easy, so I was not surprised when he backed off to his comfortable pace. This was a fun run, of sorts, for us all (and their first trail 50K) and I knew none of us wanted to come out of it sore. Mike and Kyle got a bit in front of me, but I was just settling into my pace. Behind me, now, were a lady and man from New Mexico. Our little group stayed together definitely through the first aid station.
Somewhere heading to the next aid station Kyle fell back a little and Mike stayed ahead. I was now running with Kurt and Jean. They were super people to run with. I knew who Jean was because she has won the 50K at Bandera before and is super strong. I could tell she was holding back, and then she told me that she was running the whole race with Kurt. I knew that the only way I would end up in front of her was if Kurt slowed. On the way to Chapas aid station, the 3rd aid station, Mike had pulled away out of sight and Jean and Kurt were doing the same. I was feeling good, or at least my legs were, but the wind was taking it's toll on my head. I wanted to curse the wind but as I went by the 100k runners all I could think about was that they would have to do this all again.
One of the wonderful pieces of this race is that we all start on different sections of the course. So, as a 50K runner you get to catch some of the 100k runners, and get passed by a few of the 25K runners. We were only passed by like 5 25K runners. The first was our friend, James, who caught and passed us in the first 4 miles, ridiculous. Then we got passed by my husband, which was fun :) Starting after the 2nd aid station, I caught many of the 100K runners. It was so fun to cheer them on, and to chat with friends on the course. I would slow for a moment to say hi, and then move on my way.
While many dread the almost 10 mile stretch from Nachos to Chapas and then Chapas to Crossroads, I typically love it. I love being able to pick up some speed and move through those sections. Even though the wind was definitely slowing me down, I would take that any day over when the course is wet. When it is raining or wet, that entire section is stick-to-your-shoes mud.
By the time I hit Crossroads, I was ready to be out of the wind. Fortunately, Mike had to change his shoes and he was there. There was some confusion over the in and out way to go, and so it took a minute for me to head out the correct way. It is very obvious when the tents are open a little, but the tents were closed all around so it was hard to tell. Next time, I will just skip the tent if I can. As we head out, I don't have a chance to talk to Mike but have to stop for a second to get my salt out. I think, well actually I know, Mike took this as I wanted to be on my own and he ran on ahead. I didn't have the where-with-all to yell at him to wait up, and before I knew it he was up ahead moving right along. This section, the 3 sisters, for whatever reason is always my worst. So I continue on just waiting for it to end. I had looked at my watch at Crossroads and saw that if I covered the last 10 miles in 2 hours I would have the 5:30 I had been planning on.
Let me back up for a moment. Prior to the race I had taken a look at my time from last year, 5:47, and figured that I could fairly easily go 5:30. That's about what Mike was thinking for himself, too.
Anyway, I finally finish the Crossroads section and tell myself that this wind can't beat me and that I have to run everything but Lucky Peak. There was no good reason for this, but it worked. Before I knew it I was climbing Lucky Peak and running toward the last bit. There was a guy on the trail who said that I had about a mile and a half to go. I looked down at my watch again. This time I was very pleasantly surprised at the thought that if I wanted 5:30 I could get there by walking backwards. So I ran, and picked it up a little. About a mile out Paul and Flyer were waiting for me. I kept running, and finished in 5:14:40.
I was pretty excited for my time, and easy effort. BUT, I was more excited to find out that Mike had broken 5hrs. Just incredible on that course and not racing. Even more...Melissa's fiancee, Mike, ran his first 50K in 5:27, Moogy had a great run after just getting back overseas, and Ken had an awesome run after having to get a ride out to redo the Crossroads loop. (I can TOTALLY see how it happened!!!)
While the 100K beast of a run did some in, others conquered the day and course with flying colors. John R. had an incredible day, even though he was moving so fast I never saw him on the course. And, Mel, so awesome. I was crewing for her when she came around from the 50K and she just looked and said that she wasn't having the best day. I quickly walked her out of the aid station, and then Paul and I went to see her at the Chapas aid station. Again, she was ok, but just not her usual bubbly I am having a party self. Well there was a reason for that...she was moving so quickly!! She ended up coming in under 12 hours. WOW!!
I don't know that I will ever run the 100K at Bandera, and I don't know if this will ever be a run I try to race, but Joe sure does create a fantastic weekend and enviroment for whatever you are looking for. I am so fortunate that Paul and I got to enjoy it together, that I could use it as a long training weekend, and that I got to share the fun with my friends.
Thanks for the great start to the New Year...off and running!