Bandera is special. My favorite race, and the only race I’ve run every year that I have been an ultra runner. This was my 1st ultra in 2007- the 100k.
This year, for my 6th ultra runner birthday, I earned my 500k jacket, 🙂 OH YAY!!! Haven’t taken it off much the last 48 hrs. 😉
When I ran my 1st ultra out there back in 2007, it rained. During the race and before. The mud was awful…but I didn’t know. It was only my 3rd trail race. I trained on a treadmill, rarely ran more then 90mins, and showed up in a brand new pair of DS Trainers. I was clueless. And it served me well! If I’d known how special and hard this muddy race is, I might not have had the fortitude to run my a$$ off like I tried to. But I thought, “trails aren’t treadmills. It’s harder.” And plunged on. I ate little (one shot block an hour) and didn’t know what electrolytes were. By the time I hit 50k, I was shot. My legs were cramping. I kept falling over (due to no more muscle strength) and felt bad. But there was no way I was going to quit. People had told me, based on my training, that I couldn’t do it. But I signed up to do something that looked and seemed undo-able to me. I believed I could be bigger. I told myself that I WAS finishing. Even if I crawled across the line in 24 hrs.
As it turned out, I won. Not a super time by any means. But given my naivety, lack of training and zero experience, I was beyond thrilled. All I wanted to do was finish. Wining never crossed my mind. THAT would have been foolishness.
Fast-forward 6 years and 450 Bandera-K’s. Turns out I’m not so bad at this ultra running thing. I train well (minus the past 5 months) and love the challenge of racing. But I also do not like racing. Partly, I hate the idea of being disappointed with a race. Not meeting expectations sucks. Running is my release, my recharge. Running is my favorite recreational activity. The idea of my running becoming something I could be disappointed in does not sit well with me. So I have a love-hate relationship with racing.
Being Bandera has now become a big name race, drawing top notch ultra runners and offering prize money to top finishers, is also something I had a love-hate feeling about. I mean, WOW. Money to run at my favorite race. Getting to toe the line with accomplished athletes. Amazing!! Having people size me up as a runner and try to guess how I stand against other athletes, Not something I like. Getting focused on winning and letting that drive me, Not Ever Going To Happen. I didn’t start running ultras to win. Now…well, maybe that plays into it. But wrapping my brain around it is hard. My running is mine. And I needed to learn how to claim that. I WANT to race. I WANT to run my best. But I NEED to run for fun.
So that’s what I did. 🙂 My goal at this race was to have fun! I was under trained but 100% prepared. I knew why I was running. I felt sure I had a great shot at a top 3 finish. But I also knew I had to do my own thing. NOT race the other folks. But just run and have fun. And! I did. 🙂
It was cool and super humid at the start. Blah. The course was muddy. The rocks were slippery. But the day is what it is. And I’ve always enjoyed playing in the mud anyhow. 🙂 I wore my head phones for most of the race. I had a 2.7hr play list, consisting of Enya, Three Doors down, Blink- 182, JJ Heller, Pachelbel, The Dixie Chicks and much more. It was quit grand for me, being I rarely run with head phones and love music.
I had my best friend there to crew me too. 🙂 Actually, 2 of my best friends!! Scott followed me from aid to aid and swapped my empty bottle for a full one, pushed calories, gave me fresh socks when needed, Aleve and energy drinks. I couldn’t have run like I did with out his support, no doubt! Claudette was at Last Chance and the start and finish line to keep me motivated and ready to go. There is something special about a good girl friend. Before the race, I told her how bad my knee and ham were hurting. She said, “Don’t think about it. Just don’t think about it. You are fine.” That stuck. All 100k long. So did her, “Try harder!!”, said in a cheerleader voice while pumping her arms. It just felt so good to have people on my team. Only because they are my friends. 🙂 They wanted me to do well because they knew I could. That felt amazing.
All told, I ran a good race. I ran my race. Sure, I see room to grow. But I covered personal milestones on Saturday. And I am thrilled. 🙂
Side note: I got lost!! Dang. In the field again! I covered an extra half mile. BUT!! I didn’t let that throw out my game. 😉 YES!!