The last time I ran Bandera was before we moved to Albany for three years, and I was excited to get back on the course, running in the desert for the first time in a while. I don't often repeat the same race year after year, preferring to try different things and especially with all of our roaming around the country. The timing and location and challenge of Bandera make it something easy to return to, at least when we're based out of Texas.
This year I originally signed up for this one (along with Hellgate) as an early season test of fitness, with an eye toward the world rogaine championship next summer.
Then this happened...
...and all of sudden I got a "condolences" letter and now I have 3 months (make that 2.5, gak!) to prepare for the most difficult, crazy, impossible, I'm not sure what else to call it, event.
So we'll be heading for the mountains just as soon as we can get back out of Texas. In the meantime, Bandera turned into "hill repeats" for me, a 62-mile training run with short but steep climbs. I decided to push the uphills for as long as I could, recover on the flats/downhills, and see what happened. This is completely reverse my normal mode of ultra running.
As a result, the first couple sections went really well. I stayed with some fast folks and didn't have to work hard to pass anyone on the downhills. Climbing was fast and fun. However, it didn't take long for everything to become work. It was way too early in the race for that. Within a couple hours I knew that it was going to be a long day.
It was a long, slow, downhill slide from there. I made it around the finish of the first loop (out of 2) and sat in the shade while John helped fill my bottle and grab my iPod from the truck. He had run the 25K and said he had fun for parts of it. It was also great to see many people we haven't seen in several years, so he enjoyed being able to hang out during the day and talk with them. I talked with Dave for a couple minutes and he had an excellent 50K run.
OK, time to get going. No more pushing up anything, just working to get through it. It was rather warm in the middle of the day, but at least the humidity was low and there was some wind here and there. I half expected any one of my nagging little issues to blow up and become a problem, but nothing did. No excuses, nothing's easy, just keep moving.
I finished an audio book about Ben Franklin and started one by Bill Bryson (always so entertaining!) and that kept me preoccupied and moving. I relaxed and started smiling more at the volunteers at the aid stations. Eventually the sun went down, it got cool again, and I finally felt pretty good actually. Not like "running fast" good, just "happy to be there" good. It was a beautiful night and I was working through a long training run.
I saw many other runners, mostly getting passed here and there, and everyone seemed to be doing well. A couple women were first-time 100K finishers, nicely done ladies! My legs stayed tired but they begrudgingly kept on truckin'. To the finish line!
And that's it! For once my day was long but my report was (relatively) short.
Now for some bushwhacking up and down the sides of the Greenbelt...