I don't know what it was, but I was feeling very anxious in the days leading
into this race. Was it because so many in our group would be there? Or because I
was feeling pretty good physically? Or wanting to redeem myself for last years
DNF? Maybe I just wanted to spend time out on the trails all day. Saturday
morning as I prepared to leave for the race, I pulled a muscle in my neck/upper
back as I stretched. It hurt when I turned my head to the left. Just as I was
feeling the best I ever have going into a race I do a stupid thing and stretch
before warming up. I wouldn't let it bother me and put it out of my mind.
Meeting with many in the group at the Tigermart and driving up to the Exxon in
Bandera for a bathroom break was a good idea, It helps set me at ease.
At the start I told Diana H. I thought about her all through my training and
wondering at what point in the race she would pass me. It happens all the time.
I have vivid memories of her passing me in the late stages of many races. We
laughed and the race began. Less than a mile into the race Bridgett gently
bumped me and said hello. We talked awhile as she began to glide slowly ahead. I
was feeling good but tried not to push too hard, constantly reminding myself to
run easy. I was surprised how well I was moving. Arriving at Crossroads John
helped me with my bag and I was out of there quickly and on to climb the
sisters. Approaching the first climb I spotted Tom ahead as Chris was coming up
behind me. Tom looked tired and said he'd be OK. Descending the last sister
Chris and I see Brian who said he had no energy. It was not easy seeing my
friends struggle. I reached crossroads with Chris on my heels. Cindy was also
there and offered encouragement here and throughout the day at many of the aid
stations. John helped me in and out. Chris and I climbed lucky Peak together as
Amanda was hot on our heels on her way to the 50K finish. Somewhere between this
point and the lodge, Tanya caught up with me and we talked a little. It seems
Tanya doesn't suffer on these trails or hides it very well. She's always
smiling! I started to develop pain on the sole of my left foot. Every time I
placed it on a rock it hurt really bad. Arriving at the lodge (31 miles, half way point) I changed my socks in hopes that it would help ease the pain. Chris, Tanya, and I left the lodge to begin the second loop at the same time. I stopped half a mile ahead to readjust my shoelaces and get my iPod out (I later would put it away, too much trouble).
The climbs now were a bit more difficult. Climbing up to sky island I remember
saying to myself “ I don't remember this climb earlier”. Was I getting delirious
already? This climb always reminds me of the South Kaibab trail at the Grand
Canyon, with the logs laid across the trail to prevent premature erosion and
help in climbing this steep ascent. I was still feeling good but knew I had to
slow the pace so I'd be able to finish the race. Next big climb, Ice cream hill.
Here John K. from Austin came up behind me. We exchanged greetings and he
powered up ahead of me. On the other side a runner came up behind and we talked
as he asked if the next aid station was close because he needed water. He
carried only one bottle with Gatorade and he was tired of it. I offered water
from my bottle. I had two, one with pomegranate juice and the other with water
(¾ full). He took it and drank almost the whole thing. Nachos aid station was
about a mile up ahead where I filled up again. At this point I was struggling to
run and settled into power hiking. Going up trail 8 Brian came up behind me. He
found energy and was moving well. I started to feel light headed and knew this
wasn't good. I fell behind on my electrolyte intake. My legs felt heavy and
weak. “Relentless forward motion” I kept repeating to myself. About a mile
before Chapas aid station Diana came along side of me and smiled. She did it
again. We spoke and she surged ahead. Arriving at Chapas, John was there and
ready to pace me the rest of the way. Cindy asked how I was feeling. “My legs
are dead” I said. John fed me grilled cheese sandwiches and chicken noodle soup.
This helped tremendously! No more chicken salad and whole grain fruit bars after
this. We were on our way donning our headlamps, the sun was setting. The
lightheaded feeling was gone, but I still could not run. I told John “It's
walking the rest of the way.” The pain on the sole of my left foot was getting
worse. John tried to get me to take advantage of this flat section of trail
leading to crossroads by running. I couldn't run. Jason came up behind us and
was moving well even though he said his IT band was hurting. He surged ahead.
Tom and a few drops of rain came up behind us arriving at Crossroads. It was
dark by now. I changed my shoes and stuffed some thick inserts in them. This was
a last minute addition to my drop bag. Thank God! They felt good! As did eating
the quesadillas and potato soup. I was re-energized and my feet felt good!
Leaving crossroads aid station I began shuffling and then running. We were passing people! We climbed the sisters (a set of three steep climbs), gazing at the orange glow on the horizon. Although we saw some stars in the sky, the clouds were thickening. We were back to crossroads quickly, I thought. Again, more potato soup and out of the aid station for the last 10 miles. I was still passing people! We came up behind Diana a mile up the trail. I complained to her (tongue in cheek) about John
making me work as we passed her. I was feeling it again. Although John was in
front of me, he felt when I was running and would move faster. I locked into the
movement of his stride and chugged along. We were Picking them off. Runner after
runner. I was even running up slight inclines. How long can this last? Then
Lucky peak was in front of us. I climbed it slowly but well. Over the other side
and down to where there is a huge rut on the trail, I fell. I sat there for a
minute. Then I recalled something Liza said to me during a race while I paced
her, “Let's get this thing over with.” This was my mantra for the rest of the
race. It began raining lightly and I hoped it wouldn't rain much harder. At Last
chance aid station I had more Potato soup. This stuff was a race saver for me.
One other runner I was leap frogging with during the race introduced himself and
said we've met at Eisenhower park. Allen and I spoke as the rain began pouring down
hard. John and I left for the last 4.9 miles and the rain let up. The rocks now
were very slippery. And over Cairns climb they are the most treacherous wet or
dry in my opinion. Gently making my way through I was soon over Boyles bump. The
last climb was over! All down hill now! Again I was running well and passing
other runners with ease. Never before had I felt so well in the late stages of a
race. Crossing the finish line felt so good! Redemption! As I write this I am
not sure of my official time, but it was about 15:18. A PR. At the finish tent
Cindy asked how my legs were. “They came back to life!” I said with a big smile.