Friday we start out to Bandera at about 12:30 p.m. It was me, Jess and Elizabeth. We were stocked an ready to go. We had food, beer camping equipment and of course the T3 mobile unit.... the pop up. We were prepared for the cold in store this weekend. We packed extra clothes and blankets plus I scored a generator from RunFar for the weekend. Add the portable space heater I acquired from the men's room at the PTC and we had the makings of a rocking camping weekend.
Shortly after take off we were sidetracked by a Travis County Sheriff's deputy who thought it would be a good idea to remind me to get my pop up registered. He reminded me by giving me a ticket. Most people would have let it get to them but we were on a mission and getting Bandera was all we wanted. Back on the road we made it to Bandera in record time. I talked the ears off of Jess and Elizabeth since I had had a Coke and I told them stories of why you can't kill a vulture in the state of TX, the noises of the Xterra and who in the hell is Kurt Egli?. It was one of those times you wish you had a video camera..... or maybe one of those times you were glad no one did.
Once in Bandera we went right to work by setting up the pop up (pic attached) and getting the heat up and running for the cold night ahead. Once the pop up was secure we jumped back in the X and headed to town. Just to give you an idea of Bandera. It's an old cowboy town with real cowboys and a real small town feel. The race was about 12 miles from town and it was in the middle of nowhere. Dirt roads, creek crossings and "sleeping" deer on the side of the road that seemed to sleep the entire weekend we were there. Oh and let's not forget the llama and the gun range location right next to the cemetery. Back to our town trip. Once in town we hit packet pick up and the pre race dinner. It was the usual pre race dinner with pasta and salad. Nothing fancy but then again, trail running isn't fancy and that's fine by me. I meet up with Linda Rust from my old RunFar days and she was handing out packets. Always a pleasure to see Linda. She's a very sweet lady. After dinner we went to the gas station for water (because I forgot to fill my water jug) and gas for the generator. While at the gas station Jess says to me, "Dude, you see that chicken on that car?" I look across the street and there a early 80's Cady with a giant chicken head on the roof and giant chicken feathers on the trunk. Now I know we are in Bandera, TX.
Back to the pop up and with the heat full bore we make our way to bed for some needed sleep that would help us through the day on Sat.
I wake up around 6:30 ish and I start the stove. A great way to warm up any place is get your Coleman stove and just fire it up. We weren't cooking a damn thing but the heat it put off warmed up the pop up so we didn't freeze to death. Jess is the first one to step outside and about 5 minutes later she comes back in and says, "Dude, that lady just said it's 10 degrees." Ouch!!! I immediately alter my race plan to include tights and another shirt that Elizabeth so graciously lent to me. It was too cold to do a proper warm up so I sat in the pop up until 7:23. I couldn't have timed it better. I got to the starting line with about 1 minute to go. I wished good luck to Alisa who was doing the 25k, dropped my jacket and off I went. That lasted about 10 seconds when I realized I had my wool cap still on over my skull cap. I ran back to where I dropped my jacket and put my wool cap with it. It's my J&A's wool cap and I didn't want to loose it. I knew J & E were headed to the start so I was sure they would see it.
The start of the race is unique. All 3 races start at the same time but in different locations. The 50k and 25k start near the finish line in the woods and the 100k just starts in the middle of the woods. There is no horn, gun or whistle. Just someone saying, "Hey man, time to go".
So there we are, 180 50k'ers running in 10 degree weather through the woods of Bandera, TX. What the hell is wrong with us? The first 10 miles is very challenging. It's mostly hills on single track. The tracks we are running on are equestrian trails for horses. No mt bikes allowed. So you had to watch every step you took because the horse shoe prints made the ground very unstable to land your foot on. It's very easy to get caught up in the first 10 miles because you run a lot of the trail with the 25k'ers and most of them are going at a quicker pace that you are but you don't want to loose ground to someone. If you try and look back at their bib to see if the are 25k then you are taking your life into your own hands. It was soooooo easy to trip and fall on this course. Loose rock and those horse shoe prints were everywhere. By mile 2 I had a blister on my right heel because my shoes weren't tight enough towards the ankle. The was a cause for concern since I had 29 more miles to go. I stopped at about 1 hour into the race but it was too late to stop the blister. I just had to suck it up and keep going. The good part of this is that not shortly after this my feet hurt everywhere and the blister was just part of the pain package.
The hardest portion of the race for me was between 10 and 15 miles. The loose rock was just kicking my ass. The the first 10 miles I totally went too hard on. By the mile 15 aid station I just wanted to sit down for an hour and eat waffles. Yes, the mile 15 aid station had waffles, pancakes, grilled cheeze and grilled PB&J. If you have never done a trail run before let me clue you in on something. If you don't care about your time and you don't care about what you eat then you are in for a feast. Everything you shouldn't eat is on the table. Doughnuts, M&M's, Oreo's, Pringles and all sorts of other things. I say one lady eating noodles covered with potato chips. Wait a sec..... that was Vegas. Nice job girl!
While @ the mile 15 aid station I put on my doctor cap and decide to address the blister issue. I took off my shoe and it wasn't as bad as I had thought but the skin was starting to tear and I knew that was bad. So I did the best I could with water I had. Charlie the volunteer gave my some Neosporin, a band aid and some duct tape. Let me tell you that if you have something that you can't fix with duct tape it's not worth fixin'. I taped up my heal, through my shoe back on, grabbed a 1/4 of a waffle and off I went.
I finally saw J&E @ mile 20ish. They were at the aid station cheering me on. I walked right up to them and told them I wanted Ginger Ale and that they need to go back to town and get me some. They said they would. Awesome! I asked Jess if she remembered me talking about an article in Tri Mag this month about what happens if your pee is brown after a race. She tells me she remembers and I reply that it's not the end of the race yet and my pee is already brown. Dehydration is not a good friend to have. She reminds me to drink.
Miles 20 to 27ish were pure hell. I was running about an 11 minute mile and I could barely pick my feet up. I was already in shuffle mode and that's not good for trail running. The hills on this section were freaking mountains to me. I walked every single one of them because if I ran I would have either died from exhaustion or by falling because my feet weren't getting 2 inches off the ground. By about mile 23 I had 2 people running with me and that totally helped. We didn't talk but they kept right on my heels and that kept me motivated. We got to the mi 26 aid station and I have just drained about 24 ounces of water in 6 miles. Hydration is looking up! As we leave the aid station the guy introduces himself and asks my name. I tell him and he asks if I know Kurt Egli in OK? I'm like hell yeahs I do!!!! Turns out he trains with Kurt up in OK and he has actually met me before @ IMCDA last year. Small freaking world. So Al and I start running and yapping about how funny Kurt is and he tells me that his wife is just in front of us. Al needs to stop because of cramping and I keep chugging along and catch his wife Malane. The first thing I say to her is, "I hear you know Kurt Egli." She replies, "Unfortunately I do." We both laugh our asses off as we try not to fall up hill. Good times.
The final 4 miles seemed like an eternity. It was all these crazy steep hills that were no good on my legs. Each one we stopped at, the top or bottom and would look at it like it was the biggest hill in the world and we would all sigh and then do our best to navigate it. The final aid station is 800 meters from the finish line. Some people would question the location of this aid station. I think it was perfect. Al, Malane and I all grabbed some Coke and the sugar/caffeine automatically jolted us back into the good times of running and you could tell that there was an extra spring in our step.
I as I approached the finish line I could here the girls cheering and Hardberger and Val had made the trip to cheer on their T3 teammates. That was nice to see. I cross the finish line so tired I couldn't even pick up my arms to celebrate. I was truly spent. Once across my favorite volunteer Tammy came out of nowhere to take my chip and give some quesidilla as I hadn't eaten anything for the last hour and fifteen minutes. The calories were appreciated.
My final time was 6 hours 29 minutes and 42 seconds. What a way to spend a cold Saturday morning in Bandera, TX.
Once finished J&E helped me get back to the pop up where we fired up the Coleman and I tried to explain the best I could just what in the hell happened. I sat down and tried to rehydrate with some water and Endurox. I actually waited 90 minutes before I had a beer. Wow!!!! I got cleaned up and put on some much warmer clothes. We headed out back to the finish line to cheer on all the other folks still finishing. It was good to see that the entire T3 crew that raced finish the race and almost everyone had a smile on their face.
After the crew was finished we all headed over to the pop up for some beers and war stories. (pics attached) Everyone seemed to have a great time and were glad that they raced.
I am getting very tired right now so Sunday will be short.
We woke up and it was still freaking cold but the heater was working like magic and the generator had gas in it. Thanks for getting us through the night W. The most unforgettable thing happen when I woke up on Sunday. It was 7:15 a.m. and I could hear cheering. I opened the door and could see the finish line. There was a woman making her way to it. What's amazing about this is that she ran the 100k (62 miles) and she had been going for 23 hours and 45 minutes. She made the cut off by 15 minutes by running all night on the hardest trail in TX and it was 15 degrees throughout the night. Wow...... now that's determination. I was proud to see her finish.
This was the hardest thing I have ever done. Yes..... even tougher than Ironman. The conditions were brutal and the course was by far the toughest in TX. When you finish this race you know that you earned that medal. The course support was second to none and the organization of this race was superb. I really hope we can get a team to go out there next year and let you all experience the craziness of this sport. 25 or 50k. Believe it or not..... I may just be doing this again next year, the challenge was that awesome.