Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Bandera 100K race report

All week long I was checking weather.com for the Weekend forecast at Bandera. Hard freeze was what was called for and boy, were they right! Chris’ truck thermometer read 12 degrees as we arrive for the race start. There were reports that it was as low as 8 in the creek valleys. As Brian, Domingo, Chris and I sat in the truck with the heater full blast, I decided I would go with two pair of shorts, the long socks and 4 layers. A singlet, a sleeveless shirt, a short sleeve shirt , my arm warmers and the last being a tech vest.
We exited the truck with 10 minutes to spare. The race was off on schedule at 7:30 AM. The sun was rising offering an orange glow from the west. I also wore a compression head cover and a bandana tied around my neck that I pulled over my mouth. The cold air made my eyes water and this quickly turned to ice on my eyelashes! Breathing cold air always makes my nose run and I used the bandana to wipe my nose. Soon, my bandana was stiff as the mucus also froze!
I was feeling well, not too cold overall and running at a good pace. Jockeying for position on the trail with Brian and Chris to the first aid station at Nachos. We were all out quickly with Brian moving at a good clip. Soon Brian was out of sight. Chris and I stayed together a bit and talked as we went along. Chris was making friends and once asked me what my name was as I spoke to him from behind, “It’s me Chris” I said. Oh, Tony! Chris responded. “Yeah, it’s me”, I said
After Chapas aid station Tanya caught up with us and we saw each other again at the next two aid station breaks at crossroads. Leaving crossroads we pretty much parted ways. I was not feeling too well at this point. I had shed 1 layer, my tech vest. This would turn out to be a big mistake. Earlier I had unzipped it but quickly zipped back up. It was still cold. I expected the temps to rise. They never reached what I had expected. Reaching last chance aid station, mile 26, my two hand held water bottles were almost full. I did not drink much the last 5 miles, over 1 hour and 15 minutes. I felt bloated. Was I hydrating too much previously? I think so. I was so concerned about not drinking enough due to the cold temps that I think I was drinking too much, (another of many errors). I reached the turn around at the lodge (31 miles) in 6 hours 53 minutes. Not bad. Tanya was heading out as I was going in. She looked good and in great spirits. I sat awhile and put on another layer, a long sleeve shirt.
I headed out and was feeling just OK. My body started to feel cold. As I said earlier, I shed a layer too soon. I now think I should not have shedded at all. Although I put on a long sleeve shirt at the lodge, I was not warming up. I now think my body was working to try and keep me warm and muscle fatigue set in. My back started to ache, as well as my neck and head, Just a bad period, it will pass, I thought. I had gone through a bad period at about mile 20. Too early I thought. I reached Nachos aid station (mile 36) 1 hour and 40 minutes after leaving the lodge. Previously I was covering the distance between aid stations in about 1 hour to 1 hour 20 minutes, I had slowed dramatically. As I left nachos I knew I was in trouble. Run a little, I thought. Shake it off. I tried but could not. My lower back started to hurt more. It Hurt To run and then walk. I pressed on hoping it would pass, but still my body felt cold. The first thoughts of ending my run entered my mind. I saw Edgar walking up the trail. I told him what I was going through. He offered suggestions and support. I did all I could to reach Chapas aid station (mile 42). I could not wait to get there and lie down. Finally made it at 6:00 PM. Almost 2 hours after leaving Nachos. I sat. The volunteers were great. I was offered food. I did not feel like eating. I drank two cups of hot chocolate. My drop bag was brought to me. I put on another shirt and a vest, which I struggled to zip up. I was offered help but I wanted to do it myself to prove to myself I was OK. I could not get warm. I sat there for over 30 minutes until I finally decided to end my race. I got emotional. Not for me but because of the patience and the support I received from the aid station volunteers. They did not judge me and tried to do all they could to help me.
I was given a ride to collect my other drop bag at crossroads aid station and taken to the lodge aid station. I put on two more layers and pants inside the heated tent. Volunteers fed me chicken soup and rice and beans, covered me with two blankets and still, it took about two hours before I felt warm. I sat there and waited for my friends to come in, Brian finished in a fantastic time, 13:30. Chris 14:30, and the best finish to witness was Tanya’s. 15:17 on her first 100K. And at Hilly, Rocky Bandera no less! She was literally jumping for joy and yelling with so much excitement, A great sight to see.
I learned that I could no longer fight the cold as I did in my youth. I shed when I shouldn't have. I am not a spring chicken anymore. As I checked out the results on the race website the number noted for my age, 51, shocked me for the first time in my life. This is not an excuse. And I am not afraid of getting old. It’s inevitable and I embrace it but I must adjust my strategy.
As a good friend reminded me when I relayed my story to him,
There is a saying in Spanish we like to recite for the reason we hurt or can not perform as we once did. “Es la bola” we say jokingly. “La bola de anos”
It’s the ball, or the mound. The mound of years that have piled up on us.
I need to learn how to manage that mound and roll that ball.
Oh well I still feel and like to behave like I’m 16,
And, There will be another day.
After all that happened at the Bandera race,
I have come to terms with the experience and reveled in seeing my friends reach their goals with joy and smiles.
Also finishing were,
Domingo 25K in Huaraches. Tom, Larry, Darren, Joe, Jason, and Arne 50K.

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