Friday, January 24, 2020

Thursday, January 23, 2020


This year I ran my fifth Bandera100k. I can't say how much I love this race. You come out of the holidays feeling somewhat out of shape but ready to kick off the New Year with resolutions and visions of PR's. And then you get out on the course and remember how tough and rocky and unforgivable to terrain is and your goals get crushed!

This year I went into the race not only out of shape but also with an achy leg. A little before Thanksgiving my leg got to where I could barely run, and stayed that way most of the holidays. I decided to run the race with friends in crewing from California, and used a thigh sleeve for some extra support in hopes that it could get me from start to finish.

On the drive down to the Hill Country from DFW it was misty and rainy, and then that evening the skys opened up and it poured down rain. If you've run Bandera before you know this isn't anything out of ordinary. It's rained, sleeted, and been really hot - sometimes all in the same race! While the forecast looked favorable for the Saturday race, I knew everything was going to be muddy.

We drove out to Bandera and made it to the start about an hour ahead of time, grabbed a perfect parking spot, and got the cooler and chairs set up. If you haven't done Bandera - definitely get there early so you aren't parking in the back 40. After getting things set up and grabbing race number and chip, we hopped back in the car and kept the heather going as it was really cold.

Sun up and the race started and I shuffled down the trail. My goal was to take it super, super conservatively the first loop to make sure the leg was going to hold up, and then to assess after the first loop and put a strategy in place for the 2nd loop. After a flattish section we had some climbing and rocks. In fact, the first 5 - 6 miles were pretty rock with a lot of up and down; typical Bandera. Because of the mud, a lot of the rocks were mud-covered which made the footing really sketchy. Even though it was a little tedious, I kept methodically working my way through each section and checking my watch to make sure I was keeping a decent pace.

Typically on this course I'm a 13 - 13.5 hour runner, but with my leg wrapped and being super careful I was barely managing 15 min/miles. No problem since my goal of sub-17 (Western States qualifier) was around a 17 min/mile. After a few runnable miles, the course hit more rocks, more climbs, more footing that kept my legs wobbly and made me continue to protect my bad wheel. After pushing through some very runnable sections, I finally made it to about mile 30 when we hit a super steep climb followed by a super steep and rocky descent. Toughest part of the course! I could hear the state/finish nearby and made it through the first loop in 7:35 with the watch indicating close to 32 miles.

During the second loop I picked up my pacer who was in town from California and had just finished Snowdrop55 hour run in Houston a week prior. We started off, the course FAR less crowded that the first loop, and we kept moving slowly but deliberately. It was in the mid-60's but in the sun with no wind the first 10 miles or so were really hot. A few times I had to take my hat off to prevent getting overheated. I kept wanting to push and run to get through as much of the rocky section as I could before the sun went down, but the legs just wouldn't cooperate. I took some Tylenol and kept pushing and made it to the half way point of the loop in about 12 hours.

I kept checking my watch on every mile and noticed that my pace kept getting slower and slower and slower. I was still ahead of sub-17 hour pace, but I was cutting it a little closer than I wanted to. Because the course is front loaded with a lot of steep, rocky sections, I knew I could make better time on the second half if I just ate and kept hydrated. Sure enough, the terrain became more runnable and I had plenty of energy and was able to get back ahead of the splits I needed, and the last few hours just took the foot off of the accelerator and took it easy.

I ended up finishing in 16:48 which is over 3 hours slower than my usual pace, but these types of races where you have to fight and persevere are sometimes the most rewarding. Since I wasn't physically in the best shape, I knew in order to achieve my goals I'd have to run a smart race. For me, a smart race usually means walking as fast as I can if I need a break from running, staying on track of my calories and hydration, and minimizing time at aid stations. There are races where you can relax and enjoy, and there are races where you have to have an "all business" approach. This race was all business, and had I not been focused and raced a really smart race I wouldn't have my name in the hat for the Western States 100 lottery in December!

Thursday, March 14, 2019

There are always experts...

I finished my race calendar for the year. And except for Salton Sea which isn't confirmed, it looks like this:

Jan 5th - Bandera 100K
Feb 16th - Jackpot (did 100K)
March 16th - Cape Fear (52M)
April 6th - Screaming Monkey 100M
April 28th - Salton Sea (82M)
May 12 - Death Valley Training
May 25th - WS100 Training Camp
June 29th - WS100 Pacing
July 15th - Badwater135
Aug 3 - Badger 100 Pacing
Aug 17th - Mtn Training in Colorado
Sept 13th - RunRabbitRun 100M

One of the things that you'll learning in UltraRunning which is no different than in other parts of life, is that there are always experts. They're right there to tell you what you're doing wrong, what you should do instead, what works for them, what someone said in an article they JUST read yesterday. You know those types.

As evidence above, I like to run a lot of races (some that are "training runs") leading up to a big race. The stress on the body is intentional, but some would say "that's way too much" and "unnecessary" (re: the "experts"). What I've found is that I can run and train really hard as long as I listen to my body and respond accordingly. I take what it's willing to give. There's a huge mental component to long distance running, and the comfort and benefit of knowing that I'm going into a race more than prepared outweighs the risks.

When you're constructing your race schedule, put together something that works for you something you can handle. If you have a huge race like Badwater, put together races leading up that will best prepare you for that eniron. And.. give yourself some flexibility in your schedule that you can back off or drop something if you need to.

Listen to your body. Listen to yourself. Be your own expert.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

When you run #badwater135 in #deathvalley you've got to train the body to consume a lot of fluids. My "go to" hydration packs are these beauties by #ultraspire. Just got the updated Alpha 3.0 and the new Legacy. Christmas in March! They fit close to the body, don't bounce, and most of all they're easy to get in and out of with large hooks in front. Tons of storage capacity too which is great on the desert trails when water supplies are scarce. What's your favorite pack?

Monday, February 18, 2019

Badwater 2019

Got invited back to Badwater135 again and couldn't be more excited. Will try and do a better job of keeping up with updates, training, etc. The feel of going back to the race as a veteran having finished it once is completely different than as a rookie. I have a much better idea of logistics, coordination, what to do, and what NOT to do. One of the things RD Chris Kostman repeatedly says for potential entrants into the race is to get out and jump on a crew. Learn the race, learn the Badwater culture, understand the team aspect of this event. Having run both Badwater Salton Sea and Badwater135 I really understand why he mentions this over and over and over. You really are at a competitive disadvantage (not just vs other runners, but against the course itself) if you haven't been out there and experienced the heat, the suffering, the triumph, the camaraderie.

I look forward to sharing my experiences of this amazing event so it will help future runners that one day want to run Badwater, or so that other's can experience the race without having to actually toe the line  : -)

Thursday, March 8, 2018

What's Important?

After a few years' break where I've spent a lot of time focused on family and other priorities, it's time to pick back up on logging some running adventures!

Even though last few years have been pretty crazy, I have learned many things which have actually made my running better. First, I had gotten to the point where running was "what I did" rather than "what I loved doing." It feels good to be back to wanting to get out to run, rather than checking it off the "to do" list for the day. Second, I've spent less time cramming in as many races as I can, and more time doing adventure running with friends where you find cool trails, slow down the pace, and enjoy exploring and camaraderie. Third, I've learned to listen to my body more, to train smarter rather than harder, and to mix in other sports to eliminate burn out.

I've also learned I can share quick thoughts rather than long, laborious posts which take too long to write and too long to read. So - that's all for now!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Race Lotteries and Applications

In addition to keeping a race calendar, I'm now keeping a lottery and application calendar. Races are filling so quickly that you either have to be on the internet ready to lock yourself into a race months in advance, or you hope that you hit payday with your 'powerball-esque' odds in getting in via a lottery. Whether you get in or not determines how other races will fall into place.

I probably need a flow chart to keep up with everything. If Western States, then Grand Slam with prep mountain races for training. If Badwater, then Key100 and other heat intense races for acclimation. 

Looking forward to Badwater135 invitations to see how the rest of the year is going to pan out. If no Western States and no Badwater135 - I need to create another portion of the flowchart that answers the question - "then what?"