I’m starting to think about MdS as a restful vacation with a bit running thrown in. I’m not underestimating the desert...
Bandera 100k 2012: Hot and BotheredLiza
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.