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Bandera 50K Race Report….it’s a long one!

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Bandera Start

Bandera Start

The strange thing about Bandera, unlike any other race is I never got nervous about it.  I think I knew going in it was going to be a long day no matter what and I wasn’t racing it, so I just never got nervous about it.  I never questioned whether I was going to finish (like I’m freaking out about the 50 miler as I write this!)  It was pretty much just another race.  Because life is so hectic for me right now the one thing I didn’t do, but wish I had done, was look up the drop bag rules, etc.  I haven’t had to have a drop bag in a LOOOONG time.   In my rush to pack and get out of town (like always) I never even considered this again.  I mean it was only 6 more miles than a marathon and I’ve done plenty of marathons…right?!  Ha!

I had checked the weather several times that week to see that it had, in fact, rained in Bandera that week but not as much as here in Fort Worth.  I had heard this course was really rocky, so the rain didn’t really concern me at that point.  There was a small chance of rain that morning, but again I figured it would be welcomed because it was so hot and I don’t do hot races well.

I did treat this race like I was racing it carb load wise since I’d never run that distance before.  I wanted to be sure I had plenty of energy!  This means bagels and juice for breakfast; pretzels, fruit and clif bars for snacks; veggie subs with baked chips for lunch; and pasta for dinner.  All the food worked out perfectly so that wasn’t a concern either.

One thing about trail races ,which is different than most road races, is they always seem to be on Saturdays!  And taking the back roads from Fort Worth to Bandera made for a really long car ride and a late night too!  Arrived at B&B at 8:30ish and didn’t get everything situated and set up and ready for the race until at least 11:00.  Oh, this included looking at where the race actually was and what time is actually started. J

After a terrible (I mean terrible…maybe 2-3 hours) night of sleep, it’s 4:30 am and time to eat breakfast!  The race site was about 20 minutes away and from the races I’d been to before, parking and getting there was never an issue because trail races only take a small field of runners.  So, no rushing from my end.  But, this is where things started going wrong.

I don’t think the race director and volunteers were quite ready for all the mud and rain.  Oh, and me not worrying about the rain was pretty much just stupid on my part.  “Rocky” only means rocky in some parts.  Everything else was MUD.  Needless to say, I was 30 minutes late starting the race because of the traffic and logistics of getting packet, etc.  At first this worried me tremendously.  With it being my first ultra, I wanted so badly to start with the hype.  I NEEDED runners around me.  But, I started at 7:58….BY MYSELF.  And to make matters worse, my watch was dead so I had to use my iPhone to tell me when to drink and eat.  Super annoying.

Luckily, the way the 25k course was set up, I met up with them after about 5 or 6 miles.  Any long distance runner knows 5 miles is nothing.  5 miles is only enough time to 1) realize how muddy it is and it’s going to be that way the whole time, 2) get my hydration pack situated.  3) situate my phone in a way that I could easily access the time, 4) think over and over again how terrible this race would be if I had to run the whole thing alone, and 5) get warmed up.  After that time quickly went by, there were runners in front of me.  Lots and lots of runners.  I must have passed 50 of them.  I even found a 10-year-old kid that was having a blast so I ran with him for a while until he got tired.  Every time we would run down a hill he would make noises like he was an Indian from a cartoon.  It was hilarious!  And, he brought my inner child out for me to enjoy the rest of the run and forget about how it had started.

About mile 12, I caught up to 2 guys from Beaumont, Chris and Jon.  We stayed together the rest of the run.  I could easily write 5 pages about those fun times!  They taught me a lot about trail running and they had drop bags!  I learned the importance of them and what to put in them.  They were a blast.  We even came up with a team name, which I’m too embarrassed to admit.  J  We came across other runners that we ended up passing.  We always thought we’d pick them up and they’d join our “team” but they never did.  I don’t remember exactly which mile it was, but someone came up on us and passed us!  I got a little competitive for a moment because up to that point no one has passed me.  And I wanted to keep it that way!  But, I didn’t want to leave my new friends and I didn’t have it in me to run faster for that much longer.

Chris and Jon

Chris and Jon

Towards the end of the race, I started eating fun things like pringels, pretzels, pickles. and coke.  These pick-me-up foods saved me!  With trail running, you’re going so slow (whatever slow is for you) that you can eat more solid foods and you don’t get GI upset.  With 3 miles left to go, the rest of the race was down hill.  We had made it through 28 miles with out shoes caked with mud and at least 5 pounds a piece!  And, then there was Michael!  The guy that had passed us!  He did end up finishing with us, but at least I can still say no one passed me. J  Overall, it was a good day and I can only hope for better weather on the 50 mile!

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