The last few months I have been training on the roads. I had run almost no trail miles. With no long runs longer than 22 miles. My concentration was on long tempos 5-6 miles, track workouts to a lesser extent and some faster log runs with 20 miles at 7:30 average pace. I felt going into this race I was in top shape but my doubt was on distance and I was taking my Ultra skills for granted. I drove down on Friday afternoon and met some friends for pasta in Bandera. I camped out the night before the race.
On race morning we had perfect weather. Mid 40s and the wind had died down. I had a drop bag at the start and the Equestrian aid station. I would stop at miles 15/25/35 for supplies.
Mile 1-5 (50 min) I ran easy with Jorge and Shaheen was just behind us. I stopped at Equestrian at mile 5 to drop off a shirt. I was over dressed. Mile 2 has a big climb but the rest of the first 5 miles was very runnable. I had a headlamp and handheld flashlight. This really helped me the trail. I also had one handheld for hydration.
Mile 6-10 (1:46) This was the most runnable section of the race. I still didn't need to stop for water at this aid station. My nutrition plan was to eat a gel every 30 min. I have no idea why I didn't realize till the end of the race that this was 100 cal per hour short. I wore compression socks to protect my legs from the sotol. It was not a good call because my left calf was tight and hurt the entire race.
Mile 11-15 (2:42) This section was tougher than I was told it would be. Lots of sotol cactus so I had my first run thru that. We also started climbing up and down hills and rocks. When we got back to Equestrian I dropped off my lights and long sleeve shirt. Then picked up 4 gels I think. But maybe I missed a couple because I ran the last hour back to the start without nutrition. I refilled my handheld and took off feeling great.
Mile 16-20 (3:53) These last 10 miles of the loop is supposed to be hiller and rocky section. I felt pretty strong running up the hills. I was able to hold around a 12 min pace thru these miles.
Mile 21-25 (4:52) I felt strong in this section but I was starting to get the feeling that my nutrition was really messed up. I was stretching the gels I had to 3 and 4 miles which was 35-50 min. That means I was getting less than 200 calories per hour. This was going to cost me later in the race. I reloaded my gels at the turn around and ate a waffle. I also got my music to listen to on the second loop.
Mile 26-30 (5:55) I got out of the aid station about 20 seconds behind Shaheen so I figured I wouldn't see her again. I started running hard and before I knew what happened I tripped and went down hard. I was lucky there were no rocks and because I was going so fast I rolled over. I was a little shaken up by the fall so I took it easy for a min to get my breath back. I started working hard again pushing up the hills and after a couple of miles I caught back up to Shaheen.
Mile 31-35 (7:15) I left this aid station feeling good but I was starting to go thru my handheld a lot faster as the temperature started to climb. I drank as much as I could before I left the aid station and hoped it would last. I would add a second handheld at Equestrian at mile 35. At mile 32 I really started to go thru a low point energy wise so I told Shaheen she had a shot at 10 hours and she needed to go ahead of me. It was like all of a sudden I went from 12 min pace to 13-14 min pace. It was like I was standing still. I knew I need to hammer the calories, catch-up and then get off the pity bus fast and see what I could do the last 15 miles.
Mile 36-40 (8:20) Equestrian had out food so I grabbed a couple of PB&Js I drank a whole can of Mountain Dew, got 2 handhelds. As I left I was determined to not just throw in the towel and prove that I could run tough and smart. I was a couple of min behind a couple of other runners and I was determined to run them down. I started to click off a better pace and I was really starting to sweat. I kept drinking and pouring water on my head.
Mile 41-45 (9:20) Here is the section that gets runnable so I was going as fast as I could on the flat parts. I caught one of the guys on this section. I figured sub 11 hours was now in the bag and I was going to hit my goal.
Mile 46-50 (10:17) I met Olga at Equestrian for the first time. She didn't seem so mean but I wasn't trying to rest or whine. After another mile I caught up to the other runner Mike. I run into him at so many trail runs. We were holding together great until the big climb with 2 miles to go. He was able to go down it much faster than I could. It flattened back out with 1 mile to go and I decided I would give all I had and see what I could do. I was working on the math and I figured I could break :25 but once I hit the ½ mile mark with the out and back I thought I have a shot at sub 10:20 so I broke into my finishing kick. I could see Mike ahead and I figured I could catch him. We ended up finishing with the same time.
I really enjoyed the trails out in Bandera. They have a great mix of rocks that I have been getting better on and hills. I made a bunch of mistakes and still had a great race. The camping was great and the town had some good restaurants to eat at. After the race Jorge and I hung out and then later we grabbed Elysa and went in town for pizza. The 2 downsides to that was the stairs and they didn't sell beer. FYI BYOB next time.