My Ironman training has officially started with my “Week One” schedule from my coach. We met Friday, I got excited, and it’s just going to be GREAT! (Clearly, I took the appropriate amount of time off.)
Trail Running at Bandera 25K
This weekend, I went out to Bandera for a fun run and sort-of goodbye to trail races for the time being. I did the mini (the 25K) with the intention of having fun and running fast for a change.
I drove down with a friend on Friday; we set up the tent in the field near the start/finish, caught the course talk, ate some dinner, and basically chatted it up with everybody throughout the evening. Another friend joined us later that night, and we giggled and prepped in the tent and were sleeping (well, trying to) by 10 or so.
Morning activity started early, so we were up with the first Port-a-Potty door slams and ATV engines around 6AM. It turned out to be a warmer than anticipated morning; I chose my running skirt and a very light-weight long-sleeved shirt. The port-a-potty line was so incredibly long that I gave it up after about 20 minutes to utilize the edge of the dry creekbed behind our tent (as did others). In the rush, I forgot to BodyGlide, Carmex, and almost left my water bottle! We checked in and walked over to the start of the 25K (the 50K started there as well, and I briefly felt sad to be on the other side. 100Kers started elsewhere…I was even more briefly sad to not be with them.)
Because my primary goal was to have fun, I didn’t push forward and almost immediately regretted by back-of-the-pack seeding. I told myself to be patient but I reached the limit when I got up Lucky and then could not get around people to run–there were people who had clearly never been on a trail tiptoeing down at a snail’s pace. I whipped around and took off flying.
I hit the first aid station at Last Chance in 26:25 and frowned at the pace, but I was happy to skip around yet more folks who had stopped at the aid station. I had my big bottle full of EmergenC and knew that would carry me to the next stop, which was at Boyle’s. I didn’t need any food at that point and had planned to eat the real stuff (potatoes, PB&J) that I would find there. Onward!
Cairn’s Climb is one of my favorite places to run out at Bandera; I powerwalked up and then worked at pushing the downhill. I felt pretty good though it was warming up quite a bit. It was also turning into a sunny day, which can be my demise. I kept telling myself what an advantage I had that I knew the terrain–and it really showed with my strategy of doing the mountain troll shuffle up and flying down as I passed quite a few people.
I began to feel that my strategy of relying on the aid station for food was probably not wise because I could’ve used something to eat; no problem, I thought, I’ll just push on. At 1:26, I came into Boyles a little woozy and ready for something to eat (and some more drink, as I had used all that was in my bottle). Boyles is 6.59 miles into the course–imagine my horror to see nothing but water at a virtually unmanned station. This was NOT expected. I got water in my handheld and asked if they had any gels; nope. A woman offered me one of her Cliff Shots but I passed:
- I knew she was new to trail running and had no idea if she would need it or not;
- I hate to take from someone else because of my own stupidity;
- Cliff Shots have been known to make me cramp.
Suck it up, Leah! I set off with the idea that I’d just get to Crossroads as soon as possible.
I was glad to have done the fun run out there a few weeks earlier as we’d done this next section up to Sky Island, one that I don’t normally do out here. Even though I’d been out there recently, it felt incredibly long. I knew I was running on empty as my legs just got heavier and heavier. I tried to stave off negative thoughts and did a pretty good job, largely thanks to other runners, who were giving me huge snaps everytime I passed somebody going downhill. I tell you, trail runners are some of the nicest people you will ever find. And it was getting hot; I kept debating on whether to take my shirt off but I decided that sunburn was worse and I’d just throw some water on me, that the sweat & wicking action of te light technical fabric were actually keeping me cooler.
I came into Crossroads at 2:27–those approximately 4.25 miles had taken an hour; considering I’ve been out there and done the Lodge Loop in 2:15 (approximately 11 miles), I knew that the lack of food, heat, and humidity were taking their toll. I grabbed some Coke, Cheezits, got my bottle filled with Heed and water, and took a PB&J quarter to go. I had to walk for about 15 minutes while I ate and I felt my body get a little jolt from the food/sugar. Total time at the aid station was 3:22 (and I completely forgot to pour any water on myself).
As I came around near the Shade Tree area, I had the good fortune to hear my friends finish–it made me really happy to know they had both had good days and had run fast. But it also made me realize that I was heading out and away from the finish…and there wasn’t going to be any way I’d hit the 3:15 I’d predicted for myself. Still, I was enjoying the beautiful day and the trail so I just kept plugging on. I used my “Palo Duro flat” mantra on the flat sections, but it was hard to pick my legs up to run like I knew I should–I even wished for a hill or two, how sick is that!?!
I got a hill with the second climb up Lucky, but THIS TIME I got to run down the backside and that was just pure joy! Until, that is, I made a leap over a culvert and my right calf cramped up! Shit, I never cramp! I whacked at it with my water bottle, hobbled a bit, and said, “Suck it up! Get this thing done before you cramp again!” I had seen some friends from Team Asha who were walking up the trail and they said, “You’ve got less than 2 miles!” so I poured it on…maybe I’d get in by 3:30!
As I came around the corner to Last Chance again, I saw a woman who’d passed me earlier (she’d been complaining that these weren’t “real trails” because “real trails don’t have all these rocks”) and it gave me a little boost to be really running past her as she stood on the trail. I could hear the finish and just wanted to get on in. I crossed the line at 3:36 by my watch for the total 15.5 miles; the last 4.75 had taken me 1:06.
I am happy with the race; it was a good effort considering the conditions. And I relearned a lesson; never, ever count on an aid station. I never thought I’d say that about one of Joe P’s races–I’ve done about 15 of his, and they are (usually) impeccably run and stocked–but this was horrifically undersupported as far as the 25K was concerned (the longer races hit the aid stations in a different order). I believe in feedback, so I’ll let Joe know my thinking in the hopes that problems for 25kers can be avoided in the future.
After the race, it was great fun hanging out and supporting friends, helping at Crossroads a bit, and drinking beer and watching people finish. There’s so much human drama with trail races–I loved seeing the 100Kers and being a peripheral part of their adventures.
One of these days….
So, I doubt I’ll get in another trail race between now and IM Coeur d’Alene. Not even the Trail Series. Sigh. But I am looking forward to new bike adventures in particular!