Thursday, January 16, 2020

Bandera 100K (Race Recap)

Bandera, TX
Saturday, January 11
Ultra Marathon #27
Weather - Actually pretty great

About a month after finishing Tahoe 200 Ben and I were trying to plan out our year. For Ben, the most important things are finding a Western States and/or Hardrock qualifier. Even though the Western lottery wasn't happening for a months, we decided to go ahead and find an early season race in case the lottery didn't work out (spoiler, it didn't). We booked a long weekend in Texas - with Ariel getting to tag along since my sister-in-law was agreeable to hosting us and driving us around.

Race Day

The 100K started at 7:30 am, but I was still unclear about if/when the road to the start/finish line would close so I wanted to get there as early as possible. The alarm was set for 4:50 and I got up first, took a quick shower before waking Ben up. The plan was to be out the door by 5:45, but as history would dictate, that didn't happen. Lisa and Ariel overslept because Ariel didn't hear the alarm, and by the time we all got food and coffee ready it was closer to 6.

Thankfully, the weather had cleared up and there was no traffic driving into the Hill Country. We arrived with plenty of time to spare. Went through the bathroom line, labeled and handed off my drop bag.

Ben planned on starting towards the front of the pack and I of course planned on starting in the back. I didn't hear a gun or announcement, all of a sudden we were just surging forward. I didn't really have much a of a time goal, but hoped to be around 18 hours, probably beat my one 100k time of 17:41, and maybe, just MAYBE get the WSER time of 17 hours.

I love this pic! Ariel never gets to come to my "long" races
Right off the bat, the course was more difficult than I expected. After the first half mile or so, the climbing started. In my head, I thought the whole course was only about 5500' in gain, so I was surprised in the early miles how many hills there were. I was glad I had worn a YMX long sleeve under my tee, as it was pretty chilly.
As I was watching the miles slowly tick by, I knew it was certainly going to be tricky to get the time I wanted. I spent a few miles running in front a few guys who had run the race previously (in 21 & 20 hours, respectively). At the time, that seemed like SUCH A LONG TIME to be out for "just" 62 miles. I was on the lookout for sotol that very often was growing into the trail. Until you get close, you don't realize that every blade/leaf has hundred of "sharp stabby things" that leave you with lots of cuts on any exposed skin. My hands and thighs got the brunt of it, even though I was trying to be careful.




I fell early on, again, catching my toe on a rock and landing on my left shoulder (again). Luckily I seemed mostly fine. The first half was definitely harder than I expected, and once the clouds cleared we had gorgeous blue skies and it got a little warm. The best part of the course was between the 4th and 5th aid stations - a nice section of flat double track that I could actually run.




I was running with a group of four older men. Not really joining in their conversations, but they were fun to listen to. I knew that there was going to be a big hill at the end, and I remember looking up and thinking "shit." I have to go up THAT? Ugh. The descent wasn't a ton of fun either - fairly steep and lots of loose rocks.

Since I hadn't memorized the aid station info, I didn't realize until completing the first loop that the course was definitely going to be long, by close to two miles. There was also an additional 1000' of gain. So with basically the slowest 50k I've ever done, I had to go back out for another loop.

At the start I grabbed my Kogalla and warm clothes (temps were predicted to be in the low 30's overnight) and headed out with the group of older guys I'd been with towards the end of the first loop. They all dropped me pretty quickly on the first climb, and I was wondering how on earth I was going to get through this one.




I put on my Patagonia R1 after hitting the first aid station and settled in for the night. The blister I'd started to feel earlier in the race was getting angry and I was O.V.E.R. this course. Somewhere along here was when Alla joined me. A very sweet woman from Houston (originally from Saint Petersburg, Russia) who latched onto me because she liked the brightness of the Kogalla. We mutually agreed that we weren't going to be running (especially this section because it was the scary rocky section). The course dragged on. At the third aid station Alla was puking and I was given a glorious beer. From there we still had somewhere around 10 miles to go.
The nice flat double track we had run earlier was still flat, but it was now FREEZING. The ground was covered in frost, we could see our breath and there was a breeze. We were on a mission to move quickly so we didn't die of frostbite. I was able to get a message out to Ariel and found out that Ben had finished in 16 hours and had run a WSER qualifying time. As for me, it was getting to the point I just wanted to finish before the sun came up.

The last hill of the loop that had been so awful the first time around was not nearly as bad this time - in fact, I didn't even realize we were ON the hill until we were already part way up.

We actually did run the last 100 yards or so into the finish, taking over 21 hours. Oof. Gave Alla a big hug, thanked her for her company and met up with Ben and Ariel, who had seen me finish.
Me and Alla at the finish line
Overall, fairly disappointed with how this went, but any day you get to go home with a buckle is a good day.

Official Time - 21:13:37
Overall Place - 309/328
Gender Place - 66/72
Division Place - 28/31
Garmin Time - 21:12:51
Garmin Distance - 63.79 miles
Garmin Pace - 19:57 (eyeroll)
Elevation Gain - 7,359'
Miles 1-5 - 17:21, 15:05, 17:43, 14:20, 16:35
Miles 6-10 - 18:01, 17:19, 15:24, 15:40, 14:50
Miles 11-15 - 14:55, 17:00, 17:01, 19:01, 17:46
Miles 16-20 - 16:08, 22:13, 15:33, 17:11, 17:43
Miles 21-25 - 15:13, 17:24, 15:44, 15:02, 16:41
Miles 26-30 - 14:42, 14:14, 18:15, 17:16, 17:15
Miles 31-35 - 22:06, 23:21, 20:03, 20:15, 21:50
Miles 36-40 - 19:01, 26:44, 21:55, 24:07, 19:52
Miles 41-45 - 21:15, 25:45, 19:27, 22:31, 22:19
Miles 46-50 - 25:14, 24:09, 21:27, 35:51, 19:49
Miles 51-55 - 21:22, 23:21, 20:41, 30:23, 20:01
Miles 56-60 - 20:17, 21:47, 19:53, 19:23, 33:42
Miles 61-64 - 21:27, 21:47, 28:04, 19:09
Thoughts:
  • I hated the course. Hated it. It was pretty out there, but with all the rocks and sotol I could never look up long enough to enjoy it. 
  • I don't like the shirt. While I got a woman's top, the fit is so awkward and unflattering. the sleeves are very tight and it is definitely too tight. (Men's cut is looser, which is nice). Shirt also doesn't designate that it was a 100k, which I also dislike. I run that far, I want a shirt that says that!
  • Buckle is nice, but not worth having to do the course to get it.
  • Basically the worst & most sparse aid stations EVER. Every aid station had bananas, oranges, Pringles, trail mix, gummies, animal crackers, pickles, soda and THAT'S IT. WTF. That's barely enough for a 50k, seriously not enough of food options for longer. All snack food? No. Even on the second loop, most aid stations were out of warm food. I will say the last two had the most - at least a sparse amount of instant potatoes, broth (not even ramen) and quesadillas. I had brought my own Honey Stinger chews, but wow, soooo little food! So many runners, and a $170 entry fee seems to suggest more food options could be available. If you were allergic to nuts, you were pretty screwed.
  • Also an annoyance was the $10 per person fee that they charged all non-runners. While we ran in what might be a "park" of some kind, the money was just collected by the race. And what did that go to? Just left an icky taste in my mouth.
  • Would I run this again? ABSOLUTELY NOT. NO. (This was my second Tejas race, first being Rocky Raccoon. It's not the organization, per se, I just REALLY hated the course. A lot).

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