Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Wildflower Trail Marathon (Race Recap)

Bastrop, TX
Sunday, May 9
Weather - Overcast but INSANELY HUMID

With a fairly "big" summer of races coming up, I had been checking on and off for various races/travel expenses that would fit into our budget and training. With Heather & Lisa both still in the Austin area, the Wildflower trail runs are always of interest. However, flights were way too expensive, so I shelved the idea of another whirlwind weekend. Then, Frontier sent out an email advertising the sale, and when I found out all three of us could fly for about $200, I convinced Ben it would be "fun" to run another race. Initially I had wanted to run the 25K again, but apparently the races this year would take place over the whole weekend and our Sunday option was only the marathon or half marathon. Well it obviously didn't make sense to "just" run the half, so marathon it is!

Race Day

I had actually slept pretty well, although with a 4:45 am wake up call, we got only about 5 hours of sleep. We had plans to get ready and head to the gas station next door for coffee and breakfast by 5:45. It's been years in the making, but I can actually get Ben to move that quickly now, and we were out of there in time. We grabbed coffee, but neither of us could really decide what we wanted to eat. I ended up grabbing a Kind bar and some jerky, and we were on our way to Mayfest park with an ETA of 6:00 am, as planned.

I hadn't remembered that we shouldn't have been putting just the park name in the gps, as that took us to an open field. Upon putting in the actual address, we found the lot with minimal difficulty. We grabbed our gear and got on the shuttle bus to Bastrop State Park. It was pretty dark, and Ben was wondering if we would need headlamps. I had no idea when the sun was supposed to come up, but I was assuming we were fine.

It was already INSANELY humid. We picked up our bibs, realizing that we would now need to carry our swag with us on the run. Ben had opted for a shirt, and I got sunglasses & a collapsible cup - both of which fit fine in my back. Cycled through the bathroom line a few times & before we knew it, we were listening to Rob at the pre-race meeting. I actually remembered a decent amount of the course from when I'd been here before, but the refresher was good. We used some bug spray from the aid station, as the mosquitos were on the hunt.
Pre-race smiles before we know we are going to DIE
I used the bathroom one more time before lining up. Ugh.. I know this was my idea and all, but I was NOT feeling ready. My stomach felt off and I was already sweating. I started in the back, like usual. I didn't remember running down the road, but this was a different out/back for distance than we had the last time I ran. We ran up a hill and I think I made it about 4 minutes before I started walking. I had 8 hours to complete this race, and while I didn't want to take longer than 6ish hours, I certainly didn't need to blow up right in the beginning.

I saw Ben barreling down the hill, seemingly in 4th place. He looked fast! I would not see him the rest of the day. We had to head up to this little cabin at the top, touch it, then run back down towards the finish. THEN, we would start our first loop (of four) for the marathon distance.

I didn't stop at the aid station before heading up the first climb. I definitely remembered this part. It was, however, MUCH sandier than I remembered. I was glad that I had worn my gaiters.

I was using my same race strategy as always, which is basically "run when I feel like it." And I was NOT feeling like it. I kept note of distances at the varying trail crossings so I'd be more mentally prepared on later loops. I was pretty impressed that the road crossing at the top of the first big climb was right around 2 miles, which I had remembered.
The open area here seemed easyish to run the first loop. But the more I was out, the more upset my stomach felt. I could NOT believe that I was pondering DNFing after less than an hour of being out. My pace was horrendous and I really wasn't having fun. The course was just as pretty as I remembered, so I was trying to make the best of it.
Really the only major intersection on the course & I think this is marked pretty amazing
From the above intersection I mapped that it was only a mile-ish to the aid station that was off the road. I don't recall this part being bad on the first loop. I was just upset that there hadn't been a port-o-potty at this aid station & was hoping that I would actually make it to the start/finish to use the ones there.

It's hard to tell, but there is a smiley face on the water tower. And it seemed to be mocking me.
I recognized the last .6 of the downhill that we had done from the beginning out/back. I was slower coming in than I had hoped, and I already knew that 6 hours likely wasn't going to happen. I used the bathrooms and then headed out for loop 2.

SO HOT. Have I ever been this sweaty in my life? Thankfully, my stomach was feeling a tiny bit better. I forced myself to eat a couple of club crackers, and continued on. The sun was staying hidden, which was really a blessing in disguise. At times on this loop, it actually seemed a bit cooler than the first time around. That didn't last long.

People were already passing me. How? I was at least passing a handful of people that were walking the shorter distances. SOOO HOT. Definitely running a little less this loop, but that's to be expected. Recall basically nothing else.

Came in just a few minutes slower than the last loop. How on earth am I going to do this two more times?

Head out for loop three. HOT AF. Dying. Force myself to eat a couple Honey Stinger chews. The lizards are out! I actually got a picture of one before he scurried off. Probably saw close to 100 on the trails. My stomach is feeling ok but I'm draining my bottles because I'm just so thirsty.
My only real goal at this point is to not get looped by Ben. I'm imagining he is finishing at this point. Lots of butterflies are out, and also some cool red birds, but they are too fast and I wasn't able to get a picture.
I come in after loop 3 and I'm actually surprised I don't see Ben. I stay at the aid station only long enough to have a "Gatortini" (basically a Gatorade slushie). I normally don't even drink Gatorade but I'm so thirsty and have a major depletion of everything I need to keep moving so I just take it and go. I am now walking up the hill with a styrofoam cup, but it has ice in it and I don't care. When I finish it, I shove it in my pack. I can tell I'm getting sunburned, but at this point it is the least of my concerns. I am struggling to force myself to run at all, but I finally see a gal in front of me and I wonder if I can keep up with her.

The road is way up there on the other side of that pavilion
After I cross the road I decide to set up my phone for short intervals for a while, since I know that there are really no major climbs and if I run even for 30 seconds, that is 30 seconds sooner I can be in the air conditioning and NOT on this course.

For a few miles I am able to do this, but all my running intervals feel incredibly labored. I can't believe how hard this feels. I feel like I have been in a steam room for hours. At the last aid station I switch it up and ask for orange soda. The volunteer asks me if I want ice in that. YES I WOULD LOVE ICE, I DIDN'T KNOW ICE WAS STILL A THING!!! The orange wasn't a great call, I should have stuck with coke. But the ice was amazing. I finished the orange soda and dumped the rest of the ice in my bottle. From here I knew I had a bit over 2 miles to the finish. I am done. I am toast. BUT... I caught up to the lady, so I decided to push as much as I could. I passed her, and then a short while later, I passed another guy with about a mile to go. Neither of them caught bac up to me before I crossed the line. I saw Ben at the aid station, and he got this very foggy picture of me running into the finish
SO.HAPPY.TO.BE.DONE. I was definitely much slower on this course than the last time I was out here, but obviously I'm not in anywhere the shape I was three years ago. Plus, I was in pure survival mode. We took a couple of pictures at the finish line.

We used some wipes at the aid station to get as much dirt and grime off of us as we could before getting back on the shuttle to get back to the car. OUR RENTAL CAR SAID IT WAS 91 DEGREES WHEN WE FINISHED. I believe it.

Garmin Distance - 26.67 miles
Garmin Time - 6:32:29
Official Time - 6:32:32
Overall Place - 21/35
Gender Place - 7/14
Miles 1-5 - 13:30, 14:04, 15:53, 13:03, 13:12
Miles 6-10 - 13:34, 13:25, 15:55, 15:38, 14:01
Miles 11-15 - 13:42, 14:06, 13:29, 14:01, 14:56
Miles 16-20 - 16:32, 14:10, 16:19, 14:07, 14:20
Miles 21-finish - 17:48, 16:58, 14:53, 14:21, 16:49, 14:29, 13:43

  • The course is really pretty. I just don't know that it was pretty by the 3rd-4th time around. (Kidding, it was always pretty).
  • It was SO FREAKING HOT. Like in the 10 days leading up to race day and the 10 day forecast after, we were easily 10 degrees hotter than any other day. If the sun would have come out earlier I would have died. #notdramatic
  • The swag was good, and I like that I can select what I want, rather than getting stuck with another race shirt I won't wear. 
  • Aid stations were ok, I was just so hot and out of it that I didn't want ANYTHING.
  • Course was exceptionally well marked. Really no way to get lost here.
  • As an aside, I usually get chafing under my arms when I wear a tank for long distances with a pack. I was definitely being risky wearing one, but I didn't experience any chafing at ALL - thank you Ultraspire for a pack that fits so well!
  • I know I say I won't run this again, but... maybe just not the MARATHON again.

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