Last weekend I escaped the snowy, icy trails of Boulder to run through the prickly sotol cactus in Bandera, TX. The idea came to me the week before when I was in Phoenix watching Greg crank out 404 miles at Across the Years. It was so nice to run there without skidding, slipping and freezing! Plus I was super inspired by what Greg accomplished and wanted to prove that I’m a little tough myself.
I ran Bandera back in 2012 as my first 100k and remember being very intimidated by the distance and competition. However, I had some generous, experienced runners helping me and with ice down my bra and brand new Drymax socks on my feet, I won that year. I missed the course record by about 5 minutes, so it’s been on my mind to give this race another try.
I should also mention that running Bandera was a way to get out of having to do another workout with Ryan Smith for a little while. I told him I want to run a sub-3 hour marathon this spring, so he convinced me I needed to practice running fast. My form was bad, my breathing was off and my spirit was crushed. He mercifully let me cut short the attempt to run just 3-4 miles at 6:50 pace. I hope I earned at least a week to recover by winning the National Championship 100k.
I arrived late Friday evening to the warm welcome of Meredith and Paul Terranova and their friend, Troy. Not having planned much, it was very nice to be taken in by these planners. It was already light at the 7:30 start of the race and I was surprised to see Michele Yates at the line. We had exchanged messages earlier in the week and I knew she was toying with the idea of driving down, but I thought I was the only goof who’d jump in so last minute. Luckily, she also brought Karen Kantor, who helped me refill my flasks with Tailwind at every aid station. Double luckily, Michele pushed the pace harder than I would have on my own, aiding in a fast finish time despite a major positive split on my part. The course is a 50k loop that we run twice. My first half split would have earned me the CR in the Bandera 50k if I would have “claim-jumped” (not run the distance I signed up for), as Joe Prusaitis says). I was on the lookout but didn’t see Liza Howard until the race had started. I admire her and didn’t want to miss out on some happy conversation, so the first few miles flew by as we chatted.
I had a mantra I repeated to myself throughout the race: Maintain all-day pace. When I felt myself taking the downhills too hard, it would remind me to save my quads. When I was tired and practically walking I’d say it again to remind myself that I had saved my legs so I could run at that point! Per USATF rules, we weren’t allowed to wear headphones. I could only remember a few lines of any song, so having a mantra definitely helped.
It’s a 45 mile drive through dude ranches to get from San Antonio to Bandera. It really felt like we were out in the boonies. I probably saw 100 deer from the car, the birds were singing up a storm at sunrise, and there were butterflies fluttering around. The coolest thing I saw was a drift of at least eight young piglets being watched over by a sounder of four adult swine. Meredith looked up what to call a “pack” of pigs. 🙂
So eventually the race ended and I thought, “That’s the farthest I ever want to run.” I’ll be passing on the Golden Ticket yet again this year and focusing on Comrades in the spring. It might take my skin that long to recover from the million little slices I got from the sotol.
Strava data here.