Liza Howard. Ultrarunning Mom.

Ultrarunning Mom

Bandera 100k 2012: Hot and Bothered

Well, not bothered really.  But definitely hot.

Pre-race story Number 1

I woke up in my tent race morning and grabbed my phone to see what time it was.  The phone was dead, so I reached into my drop bag for an extra watch I’d brought along.  5:30 am.  Perfect.  I had two hours to eat and then slowly get myself together for the race start.  I breakfasted wrapped in my sleeping bag and then headed over the porta potty row.  I was impressed with how quiet everyone was.  The stars were brilliant in the dark sky.  Okay, let’s just skip to the bit where I think it’s 7:14 and can’t understand why more people aren’t checking in at the race start — and why it’s still so dark.  Yes, my watch was set for some random time zone from some random trip.  Happily there were enough insomniacs around to share caffeinated pre-race cheer with.

Pre-race story Number 2:  In which I think I’ve lost my water bottle in a porta potty

I realized suddenly that I didn’t have my handheld water bottle with me.  It was filled with drink mix for the race and the sleeve was packed with GUs, Tylenol, and imodium, and I thought I’d taken it with me when I left the campsite.  I walked quickly back to the car.  No water bottle.  Where did I last remember having it?  The porta potty.  I power walked to the porta potty line.  Which porta potty in the row of 15 did I go in earlier?  One of the ones on the left… Picture me waiting for five people to exit the five different porta potties and then shining my flashlight inside each stall to see if my water bottle was there.  It was not.  I walked back to the car to deal.  And I found my water bottle on the front seat.  Of course.

Pre-race story Number 3:  Surprise! It’s that time of the month.  Really?!?

The Racing Part

I almost didn’t run Bandera this year.  I’d been feeling flat physically and my foot pain had flared up.   I certainly wasn’t feeling in love with running the week before the race, or up for any “life lessons from suffering.”  I thought maybe I should volunteer and save myself for Rocky.  But Bandera is in my backyard and I do love everything about running there.  Rocks, sotol, the whole catastrophe.  And all my running buddies were running.  And ultimately, I figured my chances for being run over by a truck would go up exponentially between now and Rocky if I thumbed my nose at my blessings and stayed away.  (It’s a harsh cosmology, but it gets the job done.)

It wasn’t all that hot objectively this year.  Only 69 or 70 degrees, but I struggled to run in it anyway.  I stopped to walk a number of times because I felt like I was overheating.  I even picked up an Endurolyte capsule off the ground at one point and ate it.  In my defense, I had plenty of access to S-Caps and Endurolytes.  But I was about 20 minutes out from an aid station resupply when I saw an Endurolyte capsule on the ground.  I didn’t pick it up (because who does that?).  Then I passed a second one a few feet farther down the trail.  I figured the third capsule was a sign and I ate it.  (I’ll be reading tea leaves, gazing into crystal balls, and making astrology charts for runners before Rocky if you’re interested.)

Cassie was very nice when she passed me just before the halfway point.  She told me to run along with her.  I told to stay to the left going up Lucky’s and waved goodbye instead.  (It’s nicer to the left if you’re not a tall person.)  Being passed wasn’t as disheartening as I’d thought it’d be. Keeping going was my battle yesterday, not keeping up.  My legs ached and my feet hurt and I was tired of running.  I tried to fantasize about stopping, but it wasn’t a good fantasy because it involved answering 97 “Why?” questions from Asa and then taking care of him for the rest of the day.  Make no mistake, parents of small children do have an advantage in ultramarathons.  So I shut the door on any thought of dropping and started repeating the Kurt Hahn/Leadville mantra: “You’re stronger than you think you are.  You can do  more than you think you can.”  I repeated it to myself for two miles.  Then I thought about how Brian and Chris (at 6’5 and 6’8) were suffering more than I was in the heat and I tried a little tough love.  “Your suffering does stink any worse than anyone else’s suffering out here today.  Get moving!”  Eliot and Asa and all the sweet people cheering at the aid stations kept me plugging along.  Finally my friend David yelled, “Remember what it is you love about this!” when I was leaving Crossroads for the Three Sisters Loop.  That did the trick — along with some sotol excoriation and a breeze.  I concentrated on losing myself in the running and the loveliness of the hill country wilds.  I bombed some downhills and started smiling again.  When I came into Last Chance, Eliot and Asa and my friends Tony and John were there and everybody at the aid station was so nice, I started crying.  And then I couldn’t breathe.  And then they told me Pam was only three minutes behind me.  Ahhhh!!!  Pam and I played the same game last year and the only thing that saved me was Bandera’s rocky downhills.  But three minutes!  Shoot.  I wiped away the tears and threw myself down every hill I came to.  I fully expected Pam to pass me in the last flat half mile.  That sprint has me walking around like a robot this morning.  I talked to a young friend after the race who told me how Pam helped him run the last 10 miles well.  She’s awesome — and so fast.  I’d be glad the distance between Oregon and here kept her from training on the course, but I’d much rather have her as a running buddy and get properly trounced by her at Bandera.

(Wish I felt as well as my clothes match in this picture.)


This was the best post-race ever for me.  I am usually lying in a corner throwing up — or being carted off to the hospital.  I finally got to share a beer with my friend Steven Moore and sit around telling war stories with old and new friends.  What a fine ultrarunning family we get to be a part of, eh?  Eliot and Asa turned in after they made me a S’more and I decompressed late into the night.

I feel like I put in an honest day’s work out at Bandera.  And that’s just right.

Congratulations to everyone out there.  Thank you to the volunteers.  Thank you to Joe and Joyce.  Thank you to Drymax socks for keeping my feet in such good shape throughout the day and to Bob MacGillivray for his cheering.  Thank you to New Balance for the rock protection and support!  And to GU Rocktane for keeping me so well fueled throughout the 9 hour and 56 minute day.

Next stop: Rocky Raccoon and something under 14:57!  (Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.)

P.S.  All the women in the USATF Championship race had to wear these on their backs.

“Female Open” or an unfriendly message to people coming up behind them.  ;)


27 thoughts on “Bandera 100k 2012: Hot and Bothered

  1. Chris says:

    Great report my friend! I loved the part about answering 97 “why” questions and babysitting rest of day. But favorite part was remembering why we run and losing yourself in the hill country wild. Its amazing how much easier it is to run when you forget about time goals and lose yourself in the surroundings. 

  2. Olgav100 says:

    I agree with Chris, I’d be running if I had a choice between having my legs fall off or babysitting! Your tearing up was extremely sweet and led me believe that Pam just might catch you – and boy, did you put an distance on those 2 (by the time she came to LC) minutes! Way to battle it, Miss Competitor! Knowing how competitive Pam is, it was a good honest win (well, at least over 2nd place:)). And I always say, you can only answer yourself if you raced today honestly, and what place you came depends on who else showed up and how their day was. We. Texans, are proud of you! And my Oregon part is proud of Pam:) Now, that WS spot is yours to make the best of it! And the best would be to fix your foot!
    p.s. please tell Asa I don’t really bite, and when I do, it’s almost painless. You’ve got a sweet husband, if he needs a climbing partner per your resolution, please email me and I’ll send my sweet husband along as my resolution item.

    • Liza says:

      Thanks Olga.  That means a lot coming from you.  :)  
      I will let Eliot know about the potential climbing opportunity.  And Asa loved it when you grabbed him.  He’s just shy around pretty blond women.  Really.  He’s quite at ease around plain brunettes.  

  3. Sarah J says:

    Awesome report!  It’s always great to read about people sticking it out when it’s a rough day.  Having it be “that” time of the month sucks.  That’s one of my worst ultra nightmares.  I always feel like my legs are made out of lead during my time, and all my past injuries rear their ugly heads again for a couple days too.  The joys of being a woman I suppose.

    • Liza says:

      I am on an unlucky streak as far as That goes Sarah.  Every single race since 2010.  Joe Prusaitis has a tapering theory about it.  We had a mildly awkward conversation about it.  
      And thanks so much about the report.  It was hard to write.    

  4. Paige says:

    Well done, Liza!   We ‘watched’ the race from Twitter all day long and were cheering for you the whole time!  I channeled my inner Bandera Liza as we tore wildly down some gnarly rocky terrain during our run that day.  Though it was considerably cooler in southern Wisconsin where we were running…and there was a gunman on the loose somewhere in the forest, so that made running fast pretty easy…but that’s another story :)

    Rest up, you’ve got some flying to do in less than a month, yay!!

    • Liza says:

      Thanks so much Paige.  I heard those cheers at mile 58!  :)  Gunman on the loose.  Good grief.   Heading over to your blog this morning.  

  5. Brett says:

    Love the ‘booger off’ tag on your backs!

  6. Tim Smith says:

    Do you have that group pic in a larger size? Had a blast chatting with everyone there.

    I didn’t have the heart to tell Travis he was on my chair, given how worn out he was…so I donated it to Joe :)

  7. Gene Taylor says:

    Great job Liza!  I, like Paige, spent the day following the race.  I was in the “irunfar” live cast and they had GREAT coverage including the lead Women throughout the day.  Finally someone who recognizes that the Women have a race too.
    Also, they have some very good pictures of you.  
    Recover well,

    • Liza says:

      Thanks Gene!  I’ll try to make the race less interesting to follow at Rocky.  ;)  
      Asa won’t let me take your Christmas card down.  He loves seeing you in those big chairs.

    • Liza says:

      Bryon did do a really nice job with the women’s coverage.  I tried to get him to interview Asa after his race, but he thought I was joking.

  8. Caweber2001 says:

    It’s great to hear about your internal world and what the heck goes on inside during your race! I have to say, it doesn’t appear through the photos, all I see are smiles! Thanks for sharing! It’s even more inspiring to hear what you had to endure!

    • Liza says:

      Thank you for that.  It’s hard to know what to write sometimes.
      I’m getting better at looking less like death when I pass the race photographer.  It’s a skill like downhill running.  I’m still working on trying not to carry my left arm like Mr. Burns on the Simpsons.  (Those photos will not be posted.)       

  9. […] “But I was about 20 minutes out from an aid station resupply when I saw an Endurolyte capsule on the ground.  I didn’t pick it up (because who does that?).  Then I passed a second one a few feet farther down the trail.  I figured the third capsule was a sign and I ate it.” by Liza Howard […]

  10. Pommers says:

    Great Job as usual Liza – and a great write up, very entertaining :-) Glad to see that Asa had a blast as well. Sounds like David knows you well to get that motivational yell in at the last moment, and it obviously worked ;-) Well done.

    • Liza says:

      Thanks Richard!  You know, I think David is just one of those people who is keenly insightful.  I have to go check your blog to see what you’re up to now.  

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