YABRR: Bandera 2018 Edition
Updated: Dec 14, 2018
I want to start my race report by thanking all the folks who helped me at the race. First and foremost the DDR cabin crew: Ginny, for organizing; All the cooks, for cooking (duh); Brent for not only putting up with me, but for hauling my drop bags back after the race (I will be eternally grateful); Casey for letting me leave my car at the start, and Dale for being the Texas Yeti.
Next I want to thank all my gear sponsors, for the gear that I use. Oh wait, never mind.
For those who don't like long posts, the important stuff is over.
What a beautiful day for a race, the temperature at the start was actually above freezing this year, and never felt too hot during the day. On the climb up to Sky Island I got to see the leaders flying down it, at a pace I wouldn't be able to hold on a clear downhill, those folks ain't human. Early on I was running with a few different runners, including one lady who had never run a race on a course that was actively trying to kill her. "Welcome to Bandera, Welcome to Hell!" A little bit later I ended up running with a group of three Austin runners, who were running just a little faster than I planned, but within my range and were very smooth. They helped me keep my pace under control for most of the lap before running away from me. Shortly thereafter I was able to execute a perfect shoulder roll on the only spot on the course not covered in cacti or rocks. I picked myself up, dusted myself off (think Pigpen from Peanuts) and then Greg "Ninja" caught me. He continued to hold me to a reasonable pace for the rest of the lap. Between him, and the folks from Austin I did the first loop in just over 6 hours, which was faster than last year, and I was in much better physical shape (legs and nutrition were very good, electrolytes were ok). After putting on the wonderful Salomon vest that Shellene got me for Christmas I was out in under 4 minutes.
I started lap 2 solo, picked up a runner for a bit and gave him some (hopefully useful) encouragement. I spotted Greg ahead of me, and since I had seen Brent heading into the aid station I figured I could push for a bit and update him, I then ended up catching up with the trio from Austin (plus their pacer) at Equestrian and ran with them to Nachos. At this point I was still feeling good, and knew I could hold tempo enough to maybe loose 1.5 hours or less, figuring a finish of 13 to 13.5 hours. Of course, there's a reason we actually race these, instead of just playing numbers games on paper. Shortly after the Nachos aid station, my leg gave me all indications that I had just pulled a groin muscle. This was on a nice section of trail, I have no idea how I did that. Looked at the watch, 45 miles down, 18 to go, with enough time in the bank for a Western States qual. Then it became a case of whether I could do it without more damage. As I was hobbling along the two guys from Austin caught me, also walking. One had pulled his calf and was thinking about DNFing. Normally I'm one who will do whatever I can to help a runner stay in the race, but he managed to get into Western States, so I (and his buddy) recommended that he call it a day (which he did at Chapa House). Just as I got to Chapa, Greg caught me, he was also planning on a long walk, so we headed out together. Once we started moving, he kept upping the pace a little to see what I could do, and managed to get it to 15min/mile as we headed to Ya Ya. At Ya Ya, Brent caught up with us, and after a final clothing change, they took off running and I headed it to the Last Chance aid station. As I got closer to Last Chance I could hear the bellow of the Texas Yeti as Dale made sure folks knew they were getting close. I started to return his calls. I wonder what some new runner, who had never been on a trail before would think about all the weird screams.
Finished the race at 14:53:58, so I had almost a 3 hour drop between laps, all in all I'll take that. I completely missed Ginny finishing (and didn't even know she had finished since she never came into the warming tent) and just barely managed to see Agustin put down an impressive sprint to finish before midnight.
(told you all the important stuff was above the line)