Bandera 50KM – 2014

Bandera 50KM Race Report:  01/11/2014

The 12th annual Bandera 50km Trail Race was held at the Hill Country State Natural Area which is about 10 miles outside of Bandera.  This was a B race for me with the intent of using it as more of a training run for preparation towards the Rocky 50 miler in February.  I already had completed one 50km trail run a month prior to this and ended up winning in 3:51.  I wanted to get some experience on this course since this is the race site for the USATF 100K Trail Championships.   Not sure what the future holds but if things go well for me this year I may come back next January for the 100K Trail Championship race.  Training leading up to race day was inconsistent as I had to recover from my last race, then get the distance up in a short period of time, and then deal with a couple illnesses which put me out for two weeks prior to the race as I ended up catching strep throat followed by a sinus infection.  I was disappointed getting sick but it was probably good for my body to rest for that time period and experience a little bit of a taper.  I did manage to get up to 100 miles in a week so I had a pretty good base leading up to the race.  That 100 mile week left me with some really tight glutes, quads, and some tightness in my IT bands.  I had two massages within two weeks of the race and was loose and much fresher by race week.

I arrived to the race site for packet pick up a little after 5 p.m. Friday evening.  I had a little time before it got dark to jog a couple sections of the course and review one of the more complicated parts of the race which is the Cross Roads aid station.   It’s a double aid station which you come into and go out of in such a way that there are four separate in and outs.  I found a local Italian restaurant in Bandera where I loaded on some carbs and had a long dinner.  Somehow the cook overlooked my ticket so it took over an hour to get my meal.  I stayed in Bourne which was about a 45 minute drive to the race site.  It wasn’t bad the morning of the race but there was a little traffic entering the park and it took another 15 minutes from the entrance of the park to where we had to park.  Next year I will probably take a meal to the race site and camp there the night before.   Looked like a lot of people camped at the park.

I woke up at 4:50 a.m. and made it to the race site around 6 a.m.  I mainly hung out in my car and kept calm and warm.  It was 40 degrees at the start and was expected to warm up 5 degrees each hour.  I had a decent warm up and did some stretching, before removing my tights and putting on my compression socks and race shoes.  The starting line was .75 miles from the parking area so I jogged to the starting line about 10 minutes before the 7:30 a.m. race start.  As soon as I arrived I looked down and quickly realized I forgot to put back on my race chip strap around my ankle when I changed.  I immediately took off running back to the car while the race director is urging everyone to get to the starting line with 7 minutes until the start.  I could not believe I was in this situation and felt like a complete idiot for doing this.  Everything was going so well before this.  I was in a panic at my car and could not find it anywhere.  After a couple minutes of unsuccessfully locating my chip I sprinted to the main tent where packet pickup was and managed to get a new bib and race chip.  Another few minutes were gone and I had a couple minutes to get to the starting line which was probably .5 miles from here.   As I was making my way to the start I had to accept the fact that I was going to miss it and that my race strategy of beginning easy and running my race was out the window.  By the time I got to the starting line the back of the pack was through and there was not a starting line mat so basically my time started with everyone else.  After already running 1.5 miles at a faster effort than race pace I had to get around 175+ people before the course went from a single car lane to a single person trail.  I was a little over a minute behind the last runners and had to make a decision to either pick up the pace and pass as many people as possible or get stuck behind and not have a shot at the front.

The first mile had 315 feet of elevation gain and I ran the majority of it off the trail which had quite a few rocks.  I plowed through that and got ahead of 90% of the field in 9 minutes.  My heart rate was above lactate threshold (LT) and peaked around 178 bpm.  It should have been mid 160’s.  Mile two was 7:48 and mile three was 8:14 with another 272 feet elevation gain.  I was now behind a group of five runners which were holding a good pace and I was hoping I could stay with them and get into a controlled pace to relax and allow my heart rate to come down.  The problem was that the first 6 miles of the course involved a lot climbing and I couldn’t get my heart rate to come down at all.  It stayed in the mid 170’s and at every mile I was occasionally seeing 182+ bpm.  The first aid station was at mile 5 and I didn’t hang around too long as I wanted to stay with the group.  I took a gel, grabbed some water and kept going.  I should have asked the volunteers if anyone was ahead of the group so I could have known what place I was, but the though came to me after I was too far away.  Around mile 6 or 7 our group split and two of the stronger climbers separated themselves from us.  They seemed to be gaining distance on the uphills but coming back to us on the down hills so I wasn’t too overly concerned.  Eventually they got far enough ahead that we lost sight of them for a while.   I don’t know what I was thinking but decided to make a move around mile 8 on a technical uphill section where the two other guys I was with hesitated on which path of the trail to take.   Unknowing at the time I moved into third overall and had managed to catch the two ahead of me.  I was hoping I could find a relaxed rhythm and start controlling my heart rate as I was still above LT.  That move was another big mistake as I pretty much burned my last match and was now really feeling the lactic acid in my legs set in.  One of the two guys made his way past me and there was nothing I could do to keep up (this guy ends up winning the race).  At the second aid station (mile 10) I refueled my race belt bottles (8 oz. each) with water, took a gel, and moved on.  I’m not sure where it was on the course but I fell a couple times and had a few close calls.  One of the falls busted up my palm pretty bad, but the close calls actually hurt worse as it took everything I had to keep from going down and was like a big shock to my body.  It’s hard to explain the feeling but it was a major pounding to my core.  The falls happened on flat sections of the course where I stopped paying attention.  During the next couple miles the disappointment of me misplacing my chip began to really set in and was probably one of the lowest points of the race for me.  I guess with one of the falls God finally knocked some sense into my head and I remembered that this was not an A race and was supposed to be a training run.   I slowed my pace from 8 minutes per mile to 9 minutes per mile and I finally felt like I was running my own race.  At the third aid station (mile 15) I took my time and got in as much Gatorade as I could and refueled my bottles with water.  If I wanted to finish this race I was going to have to slow down and run a steady pace.  Fortunately miles 15-20 were relatively flat and I was able to run sub 9 min pace while keeping my HR at mid-160.  Fifth place passed me during this section but I was content with my race strategy.   I was approaching the Cross Roads Aid Station (mile 20) and now feeling better about my situation and knowing that the race was 11 miles from being over.  I filled up one bottle with Gatorade another with water, ate a few orange slices and half a banana, as well as managed to get down a gel and few cups of water and Gatorade.  My main focus was to get as much nutrition as I could and stay hydrated.  Both bottles were completely empty by the time I made it to the aid stations.

Temperatures were probably in the upper 50’s and it felt warmer.  Miles 21 and 22 were actually comfortable and I was starting to do some math in my head of possible finishing times.  Little did I know I was about to run a section of the course called The Three Sisters.  I was in a world a hurt and could not even jog these climbs.  I had to walk all three of these hills and my legs were on fire.  It was so physically and mentally challenging that I could only think of putting one foot in front of the other and hoping the top was near.  Average pace was mid 11 min per mile but the uphill sections I was walking were around 15 min per mile.  It seemed like forever before I made it to the Cross Roads aid station (mile 25) again.  This point I had been out of water for a while because it took me a lot longer to cover 5 miles.  I did the same refueling as mile 20 and took more time to stretch some of the tightness in my quads and hip flexors from those hills.  I didn’t realize at the time but sixth place moved ahead of me at this aid station.   I don’t think there was anything I could have done as I was now running a 10 min pace.  My legs were cooked and I was focused on finishing and preparing myself for one more climb which was called Lucky or something.   I read that it was a pretty nasty climb and very steep.  It seemed like it was straight up and impossible to even run.  There were quite a few loose rocks mixed in with large rocks that you had to step up more than a foot or two.  It was so steep that I had to stop and stretch a couple times on the way up so I wouldn’t cramp up.  My legs were completely wasted at the top.  Going down the other side was just as steep and more dangerous due to the risk of falling if not careful each step.  Average pace for that mile was mid 13 minutes and 26 minutes per mile on the climb up.  I eventually made it to the final aid station (mile 30ish) and the volunteers said there was .5 mile to go.  I thought they were joking as my watch was around 30 miles, but I took off and ran as fast as I could go so I could get it over with.   Ran that last .5 mile at a 6:40 pace and finished strong!

Official Race Time: 4:46:32

Place: 7th Overall.  1st Age Group

Attire: Hoka Stinson Trail shoes, Ankle high compression socks, Compression calf sleeves. TXU compression shorts, Under Armor short sleeve shirt, Nike arm warmer sleeves (too warm), Hand Band, Race Belt with two 8oz. bottles, sunglasses (useless).

What to do different at the next race?

  • Make a check list of essentials before the race and make it the last thing I review before going to the starting line.  Most important would be is your race chip on.
  • Experiment with different hydration bottles or packs to find one that fits well and is comfortable.  My bottles probably came unclipped at least eight times during the race.  The belt was also bouncing quite a bit when the bottles were full and would ride up my above my waste which wasn’t very comfortable.
  • My feet swelled up from the abuse of the rocks and I ended up with some bruised toe nails which will most likely fall off now.  I may need to put some Vaseline on my toes to keep that from happening again.

Could I have done anything different to prepare for this race?

Yes, simply by incorporating hills into my runs.  Not very many places in The Woodlands to do this other than Flintridge so in addition to hills I will need to build up leg strength with box jumps, lunges, squats, etc.

What is your overall experience of the race?

The race site at the Hill Country State Natural Area is beautiful area and made for some very scenic running with beautiful landscapes.  To me the race course was very challenging as I underestimated the hills and used most of my body’s resources in the first 13 miles.  I prefer multiple loops over a single loop course, but the way my day was going it was probably best that it was one loop otherwise I may not have continued.  The technical portions which had a lot of loose rocks didn’t bother me as much and neither did the sotol cactus that I read a lot of about before the race.   It was a pleasure meeting the Race Director, Joe Prusaitis, and his team put on a stellar race.   I wish I had more time to hang around and talk to him and the other runners as I could learn so much more about running ultras.  The runners were very cooperative on the course and would move off the trail if they knew you were approaching.  One girl had head phones and couldn’t hear me say on your left a couple times but she was the only one.   The volunteers were spectacular in assisting you with your needs and getting you going.  I’m sure most of them had ultra-running experience as they seemed to understand what you were going through.  The person overseeing the race numbers and issuing chips did a great job in getting me a new number and chip under the circumstances I had caused.  I was embarrassed at the time and trying not to make a bigger fool out of myself, but he understood the urgency and got me on my way.

Effects of this race:  I was exhausted after the race and having to drive a little over five hours to get home.  I was starving and also dehydrated as I weighed about 146 when I got home and probably 150 before the start of the race.  I had a couple blisters on my feet and a couple bruised toe nails. The soreness lasted for three and was mainly in my quads.   I did some active recovery on Thursday but still felt tired so mainly focused on stretching.  Saturday was a 3 mile recovery run and legs weren’t sore but still felt somewhat heavy.  Sunday I did some cross training in the pool.  Not sure if I will be in peak shape for 50 miles but I shouldn’t have any problem running it if I run my own race and avoid the same mistakes.

Ironman Texas – 2012

Texas Ironman Race Report:  05/19/2012

I woke up Saturday morning (4:20) feeling fresh and ate a bonk breaker bar, and bagel with cream cheese to get a good amount of nutrition in before the race.   I arrived to the transition area at 5 a.m. and got my bike set up with my nutrition for the day and checked out my bike to make sure that everything was working properly.  Left transition and went to the swim start at 6 a.m.  Got body marked, dropped off my special needs bags, and then got into my tri suit.  My plan with attire was to wear compression tri shorts underneath my FSR shorts, and then a one piece tri suit over my FSR shorts and tri top.   I wanted to wear the compression shorts for the run because they are white and I figured they would be cooler in the sun.  I also felt like having on two pairs of shorts during the bike would give my thighs and quads extra support.  The tri suit was more of a mental thing and I figured having a one piece suit would create less drag in the water.  I ate ¾ of a power bar at 6:15 a.m.  and took a Gu Roctane about 6:40 along with a bottle of water.

The swim start was at 7 a.m. and I got into the water at 6:45.  It was a little sooner than I wanted to enter the water, but I found a kayak in the middle that I was able to hold on until 5 minutes before the start.   Last year I started towards the right and about 8 rows back.  This year I wanted to be up towards the front just behind the first row so I could hopefully get out to a good start and draft on the leaders.  When the race started the guy in front of me immediately goes into a back stroke.  I don’t know if he panicked or if that was his plan but I had to go around him and on top of him to get by.   By that time I was stuck and had to deal with the chaos.  I had my goggles hit and knocked off or sucked tight to my face at least five times which I had to adjust.  I swallowed a little bit of the water during the race which I believe came back to haunt me on the bike.   At the first turnaround of the swim it opened up enough for me to get into a good rhythm.   My goal was 1:12 and I completed it in 1:12:38 which was 71 in my age group but faster than last year by almost two minutes.  I quickly ran into the transition tent, immediately got out of my tri suit, and took off with my shoes and helmet.   I figured I could run faster, barefoot, to my bike which was almost at the bike exit.   T1 was 2:54 which is over a minute faster than last year.

I got off to a good start on the bike and took a Gu Roctane chased with water.  My nutrition plan for the bike was water in the aero bottle which I would drink with gels or when needed along with a gel every 30 minutes and two enduralytes every hour.  I also had two bottles on my saddle cage with a mixture of Heed and Perpetuem.   I was averaging about 23 mph for the first 10 miles of the course and just slightly over 70% of CP30.  At the first aid station I went to get a bottle of water and hit a bump in the road.  When I did I heard something hit the road and I thought maybe it was another bottle, not knowing it was my bike computer.  I went through the intersection at 1488 and took the first left turn when I realized it was my computer.  It was such a disappointing moment for me.  I couldn’t decide if it was worth turning around, not knowing if it would be easy getting back across the intersection or even having much luck finding it.  I decided to keep going but felt like my goal for sub 10 was probably not going to happen.   Then at mile 14 I lost my flask which had about 2-1/2 hours worth of nutrition.  I decided to keep going as I had brought a few extra gels and figured I could get more from my special needs bag if needed.  I rode the bike at an effort that was slightly easier than the first 10 miles.  I had a watch with my overall time and I could still calculate my speed every 10 miles and determine how I was doing as far as miles per hour.  As I approached mile 20, the bad luck continued, and couldn’t keep anything down.  I probably threw up every 5 minutes on the bike until about mile 80.  Sometimes it was a little spit up and sometimes it was a good amount.  I think it was a combination of swallowing some of Lake Woodlands and the Heed and Perpetuem which seemed to upset my stomach.  I couldn’t keep much down and I knew I was going to have to constantly drink to not get dehydrated.   What seemed to work was taking small sips of water or Perform.  I was drinking two bottles of water/Perform every 10 miles which is way more than I’m use to but I never felt like I had to pee or bloated so I kept drinking.   I forced the gels down even though I didn’t want to take them but knew I would be in more trouble if I missed them.  Experienced this in 2008 at AZ IM and my race ended early on the run.   At mile 90 I was starting to fade a little and my lower back was getting tired and tight.  I was able to figure that I would be off the bike around 6:36 so I was content with that and decided to ride at a comfortable effort in The Woodlands to give my legs a break for the run.  I made it back at 6:34:36 and my bike time was 5:19 which was faster than last year by a couple minutes so I was extremely pleased and optimistic at this point that my sub 10 hour race was still very possible.  This split was 39 in our age group.  I had about a four minute transition but figured it was important to get comfortable for the run so took a little extra time.

I started the run feeling alright and it took about two miles for me to get into a good rhythm.   I brought a flask with water and 200mg of caffeine and drank that over the course of 20 minutes.  This was part of my plan in case I needed it on the run and since I wasn’t sure how much damage I did on the bike I wanted to have the boost for the run.  It seemed to block out any feeling of fatigue and I felt alert and happy.  I ran between 7 and 7:35 pace for the first eight miles and felt comfortable.  I drank water and Perform at every aid station and took a cup of ice down the shorts to keep the body cool.   At mile eight I started to get a side cramp on my right side (rib cage area).  I was concentrating on breathing to hopefully do away with the cramp and then came up to the aid station and grabbed a cup about half full with coke.  I figured maybe it would help with the cramp and make me feel a little better.   Between aid station 8 and 9 the cramp went away.  It was probably me concentrating on my breathing that did away with it, but I wasn’t sure so I took a full cup of coke at aid station 9.  When I got on Lake Woodlands (about the bridge) something was going on in my head that wasn’t normal.  I turned into North Shore Park and I don’t really know how to describe what happened, other than I lost all control of my body and went straight to the ground.  I didn’t feel any pain but I my hands tucked into my chest and my legs were locking up and I was shaking on the ground.  I couldn’t get any control of my body and thought I was having a seizure or something.  Fortunately I was 50 yards from the medical tent so within seconds I had paramedics and volunteers over me holding me down and drenching me with water and stuffing my shirt with cold sponges.  It was an emotional moment because I thought they were going to put me in the ambulance and my race was over.    About five minutes later I was feeling much better and I asked if I could get up and continue.   They said I was allowed to continue as long as I didn’t get an IV.  They wanted me to sit in the ambulance and I told them I was fine and that I cramped up and felt okay to continue.   I had to come back to the medical tent before getting back on Lake Woodlands and they said I could proceed.  Looking back I was dehydrated because I lost 10 pounds when I weighed myself at home .  The sugar and caffeine in the coke was probably too much for my body to handle in an already dehydrated state.   By the time I got to New Trails I started running again and my first mile was just over 8 minutes.  I started running upper seven minutes again and felt normal and comfortable with the pace.  Every time I arrived to an aid station I slowed down to get in as much as I could.  I took two cups of water, one cup of Perform, cup of water on the head, ice in the hat, ice in the shorts, and two sponges to stay cool to the next aid station.   At this point I was determined I was going to finish with a PR.   I probably lost about three minutes on the run because I stopped in the bathrooms to pee.  My mile splits are faster than the results show but that is because I stopped.   I felt strong for the last couple miles and kicked it in with 7:20 pace.   My run time was 3:31:33 and 10 minutes faster than last year.

Overall time was 10:10 which was 20th in age group and 104th overall.   I wanted my PR to be sub 10 but I’m blessed to have been able to finish with all of the challenges I dealt with.  I’m looking forward to a long recovery.

Photo Shoot 2

North Face Endurance Challenge

Photo Shoot

Tunnel Marathon

Brazos Bend