Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Bandera 100K: USATF National Championships 2013

Event: Bandera 100K: USATF National Championships
Race Results: 3rd Place, auto-bid to Western States
Weather: Perfect! (misty, humid, 66 degrees at the start) Never cold, never uncomfortable.
Race summary: There comes a time in every girl's life when she is hungrier for more cereal than the capacity of her stomach will feasibly allow. Today is my day for that. Mountain racing is exhausting.

 There is a metal bird on my mantlepiece--the perfect signifier of ultramarathoning? and...metal craft. 

On Tuesday, I told David there was a race in Bandera--not to ask if I could run it--more just to have something to say. David told me the timing was good for a race--before the semester got busy--so I emailed Joe Prusaitis (the RD). On Saturday morning, I was on a starting line. I don't actually know how to race a 100K.

It's a Port-a-Party.

I was standing in the port-a-potty line six minutes before the start, juggling apprehension, ebullience, and fatigue, and counting down the seconds until the gun. Olga King and several other familiar faces from different races passed by and greeted me, so I started to feel at ease. Two spots up in line was one of my student’s parents. We had a brief parent-teacher conference. I was wearing hot pink spandex, so I adjusted my posture to look academic. Unsuccessful.

I found a spot on the starting line alongside Meghan, Stephanie, Sandi, and Michele. Meghan is an ultra-hero of mine. I asked her, "Is this where we stand?" And she said, "Yes." So I can cross meeting her off of my to-do list because that was a successful exchange. The gun went off, and we trotted. It started in a muddy clearing that collapsed into a narrow trail system, which had us running single-file. 

I wasn't sure how I should pace myself over the distance or on rocky, mixed terrain. I did know that I was going a bit too slow in that single-file section and asked the man in front of me if I could pass him.

Sandi and I passed the man together. I was thrilled to finally meet her. We ran together for a bit, then had some back and forth with Stephanie. Liza was flying--spirited and chipper like usual. I was happy to see her and to catch up.

After the first quarter (15-16 miles), I felt warmed up and started to move more aggressively. David says my second quarter was 20 minutes faster than my first. Maybe the second section was easier. I never felt like I hit a solid rhythm all day, but I stayed engaged and enjoyed the experience tremendously. I love 100Ks, and I love love love the mountains.

cows, horses, turkey vultures

cacti, flowers, lichen, sotol

Sotol marks

Trail friends told me to "beware the sotol," but I forgot to google what it was before the race. Sotol sounds like something akin to lentil, and I fear no beans. Sotol are actually aggressive plants with high turgor pressure and serrated edges that approximate sporks at Wendy's. But sotol absorb so much water that they were also the least muddy parts of the course, and I missed them when they were gone. 

The first 50K loop was over. From carrying mud, my feet felt weak, and I stumbled a few times over the rocks because of Charley horses. The views were beautiful. The course had enough variation and visual interest to keep the experience lively all day. Race director, Joe Prusaitis, was well organized and kind, and aid station workers were attentive and helpful. I loved running Bandera. 

From the last major aid station, David ran alongside me as my pacer. We watched the sunset as we finished and made it in just as the darkness came.

I got third place! And I received a spot at Western States. Thanks so much for all of the encouragement. Thanks, RD Joe, Olga, DAVID, aid station workers, and friends. Thanks, DryMax! Your socks kept my feet dry all day even in the mud. Thanks, UltrAspire. It was a great adventure. I'll never forget it.