Last week I ran the Bandera 25K trail run. There were also 50K and 100K runs.
I drove out to Bandera the day before. I got there just as dinner started. There was a large mess tent that fit a couple of hundred and we had pasta for dinner. I ate with some folks from my recent trail running training programs. Then I pitched the tent near the finish and turned in early. It rained throughout the night, but it did not get too cold and I stayed dry.
25K RaceThe next morning each of the 3 races started at 7:30am, but went out in different directions. The rain had made the trail muddy. Except for a few spots at the beginning, it was not so muddy that we were sliding around a lot, but just slick enough we had to be careful, and just dry enough large clumps of mud would cling to the shoes and felt like I was running with ankle weights. This was the first real trail run I had done in 6 months, and right away I could tell my ankles were not used to the terrain. This was supposed to be an easy run weekend according to my Austin Marathon training program since we just did the 20 mile race the week before and would have our 22-mile longest run the following week. So I took it very easy on this run because I wanted to save myself for the next long run and did not want to risk injury.
Joe P. put together this course which was one and a quarter loops around some trails I knew well from prior training runs. He compensated for the short distance by making us go through Lucky twice. Lucky is the steepest, largest, and rockiest climb in the park. In the 3rd mile I twisted my right ankle stepping over some Rocks above Karin's climb and I had to stop and walk a few people passed me right away, and then I saw no-one for 5 minutes so I started thinking I might be last. But then the pain sub-sided and a couple more caught up as I started running again. Since my mindset was to take it easy, I enjoyed a nice leisurely pace. I could not believe it had been 6 months since I had been out in nature in a place like this. As I ran up and around Boyles Bump, I picked up the pace and passed may of the people who passed me after my ankle incident. The waterstops were laid out for the convenience of the longer runs which used the same trail, but started at different points from the 25K. So the first water stop for us was not until about mile 6. Good thing I had a water bottle. A few others were not prepared for that.
I took a bunch of walk breaks beginning with sky island. In this part of the trail, the soil composition was just rocky enough that mud was no longer building up on the shoe. But since I entered the race with the mindset of an easy run, I was not motivated to run as much as I could have. Eventually we passed through the Crossroads aid station where a bunch of training buddies from current and former marathon programs were helping out. Then we got into a flatter section where the soil was muddier and was building up in big clumps on the shoes for most of the last few miles. As I passed the start line of the 25K the first 100K runner passed me, which meant he had run nearly 50 K by this point. I then passed through Lucky peak for the second time, and then once I hit the dirt road I was able to start running again for most of the last mile. Here the mud was really building up, and I kept tripping over the mud clumps that had fallen off the shoes of the runners before me. The mud on the bottom of my shoe was more than 1/2 inch thick, and awkward to run with. With 1/2 mile to go, I stopped at the Last Chance aid station for a shot of beer before finishing in 4:30, which makes this the 2nd week in a row for personal worst time, but for this race I was not too concerned nor unhappy.
Crossroads Aid StationAfter the run I ate lunch at the mess tent, and then moved my tent out to the crossroads aid station where I put in a 12-hour shift. There Dan K (who put to together this video) had organized an aid station that really counted as two to the runners. 50K and 100K runners went in and out one side. Then 5 miles later came back through the other size. That meant 50K'er came by twice, but 100K'ers came 4 times since doing 2 loops. I got there in time to see some of the 50K'ers come through, and then the first 100K'ers on their 2nd loop. As saw each runner approaching in the distance, volunteers cheered and then we helped re-fill water bottles and help them with items if they choose to change clothes from their drop-bag. Each runners bib and time was recorded through each stop. We also had a stove going to serve hot drinks and soup, and a crock pot toheat up mac’n chese and rice and bean dishes that were sent out from the main mess tent. The cold weather and wind came in the afternoon, and we started getting on-and-off showers.
At one point, one of the equestrian volunteers stopped by to see if any of the runners turned in his saddle bags that he had dropped out on the course. We tired to explain that none of the runners would expend energy to carry those in for a couple of miles, much less steal them, and that the bags were probably left where ever they were dropped. But then later one runner came in and mentioned he tried to bring them in, but they were too heavy so he had to leave them after a little while [EDIT: A week later I heard these bags made it into the finish line lost and found, but I don't know the whole story].
I was impressed with everyone who came through. Especially the ones who would sprint into the aid station after 50 miles. 100K runners still had 10 miles to go after they left us for the last time. The last runner came through at 1:30am and we were shut down by 2:30 after some radio checks to figure out if there were any runners who left the previous aid station and had not come through. I crawled into the tent. Dan woke me up what seemed like 5 minutes later, but it was really 5 hours. We broke down the aid station and packed up some of the gear. Then I went to the start line for breakfast in the mess tent with a bunch of the other runners. Then I returned to Austin before the ice storm blew in.
Brian from my Austin Marathon training program also volunteered and put in an exceptional effort. He has his report HERE.
22-mile Training runOne week after Bandera, I ran the Runtex2Runtex 22 mile training run with Rogue. Taking it easy in Bandera really paid off here. It was the best run of this distance ever.
If you read my report from the ARA-20 mile run, you may recall that in mile 17 a muscle in the backside of my neck seized up. A cop driving by saw me sieze up in his rearview mirror, pulled up to me in reverse, and rolled down his window to check if I was OK. I was all like "Yes officer, I am Ok to finish the run" even though I couldn't turn my head straight forward until the muscle relaxed.
Today during the 22-mile run, the same thing happened again at almost the same distance. I stopped at the bottom of a hill to stretch it out. This time a lady driving by stopped in the middle of the road and rolled down her window. I thought she was going to ask if I needed help, but instead she yelled out to me, "get your candy ASS up that hill." It was Crabby Cathy from the Pikes Peak training group. Thanks Cathy for stopping to check.