Interstellar Adventures

January 9, 2006

La maldición de Bandera

Filed under: Uncategorized — by InterstellarLass @ 12:13 am

I’ve come full circle on this blog. Back to the event that started this whole thing. Bandera got me again. But not as bad as last year.

My friends and I drove down on Friday. From Plano to Bandera is approximately 332 miles. Now, I’m going to go ahead and brag a bit. I know that some of you can drive 332 miles and practically be halfway across the country, but not in Texas. Although we can’t claim to be the biggest (darned Californians – no offense) we are the best! We’ve got all of the climatic land zones: coasts, plains, deserts, plateaus, mountains and swamps. We have 268,601 square miles of land to roam. Texas has been a state widely desired by many…the Spaniards, the French, Mexico, a Republic in her own right, part of the Confederacy, and finally a State of the United States of America. We’re even the birthplace of two great presidents: Ike & LBJ. But enough about how great we are…

Let’s see…where was I…Oh yes, Friday night. After some brief traffic in Austin and north of San Antonio, we got into Bandera and headed straight for the Hill Country State Natural Area. What is a State Natural Area? Well, it’s kinda like a state park, but composition toilets, no potable water, yeah. Unimproved. I wonder how you can improve on the perfection that nature gave us already!

We picked up race packets, ate a quick dinner, and then headed for the Diamond H Ranch. Very nice B&B where we stayed last year and already have booked for next year! We all unloaded, chatted for a bit, then set about preparing for our races. Most of us were doing the 25K (15.5 miles), and a couple the 50K (31 miles). We actually had four people in our group doing the 100K (62 miles)! They were preparing drop bags and working from a meticulously organized spreadsheet. I was impressed and in awe at what they were going to do!

Up, bright and early in the morning, we each set about our own pre-race routines. It was very chilly, so while I only donned my running shorts, I put on a short-sleeved shirt, a long sleeved shirt and a jacket, plus my gloves, ear-warmers and gaiters. Off to the races!

We arrived back at the race site, with the sun rising slowly over the hills. They don’t call this God’s Country for nothin’. We did our final check-in, exchanged hellos with people that we knew from last year or from other races, and waited around for the start. Trail runners are very friendly people. Some of the friendliest I’ve met.

They started us off at 7:30 am. It was still chilly, so I took off in my full gear. We rose slightly out of the valley and hit a hot pocket quickly. I knew I would be shedding my gear quickly. The first loop was a little uphill, a little downhill, and then flat into the first aid station. Crossroads In was less than 2 miles from the start. I’d shed my gear there. The aid station workers loved my Colorado Relay shirt. “Get Your Ass Over the Pass”. ha ha

More Ascent & Sotol

The second section was one I remembered running last year. The Three Sisters. I’d call them something else, but, you know, I’m tryin’ to keep this clean. Up, down, up, up, up, down, up up up, down. You get the picture. Lots and lots of climing! I was getting tired, but near the end, I had a nice long downhill and came running back into Crossroads Out. The gave me some water, gatorade, and a peanut butter and jelly sammich, and I was off again.

Another long section that started off relatively flat, but then I got quite a shock. Some of the hardest climbing I’d done out there! I mean, when I was running along the flats, I was hitting my average 11:30 pace. I even was doing a 9:53 on one downhill. But on the climbs, my Garmin would stop. It couldn’t calculate the pace I was moving so slow. Finally, just as I neared the final aid station, splat! Down I went. I was just running along, minding my own business, along a flat section, and there I went, skidding across the dirt and finally landing on my stomach. Knocked the wind out of me and took a small piece of my knee too. This is the curse. Last year Bandera got miles out of me. This year I wasn’t giving up the miles, so she took blood instead. I hobbled into the aid station less than 100 yards away. They patched me up, gave me a shot of Cuervo 1800, some water and gatorade, a handful of cheese-its, and I was off. The final five miles of the race.

It was an ass-kicker. Just when you thought you were done climbing, nope, there was more elevation. Up, up and more up, Oh, and then some more up. For what seemed like an eternity, I was climbing some of the steepest terrain Bandera had to offer. Then, I passed two older guys and then turned the corner to see the finish. Most of my friends were done already, and the cheered me across the finish. 5:11 something was my final time. Faster than last year, to be certain, and 15.8 miles total, according to my Garmin. Hey, you pay for it, you might as well get bonus miles.

We waited for the rest of the runners, sipping on beers, telling stories and getting toasted by the warm Texas winter sun. I have a bit of a tan/burn on my legs. My finishers medal was the same as last year, so I’m going to have to get them engraved or marked or something. One of the guys in our group won the first-place masters trophy for the 50K. He finished the 50K in the same time it took me to finish the 25K. But I don’t feel so bad. I know I did better than I did last year. I’m slow, but that’s no surprise. A 5:11 finish is still a finish. I need to do lots of hill work so I’m not so slow on the ascents. And, I’m too trepidacious on the descents. But hell! Did you see the size of those rocks!

Our group doing the 100K came in after their first 50K loop. They looked a bit tired, but they were still going strong. We helped them transition, fed them, hydrated them and got them back out before heading back to the lodge and showering.

We had done a group pot-luck dinner which was fantastic. Lasagna never tasted so good! And green bean casserole, followed by peanut butter pie! Yum! I was early to be, around 9:30 pm. What an old fogey I am, huh?

Our 100Kers were done at 50 miles. They were tired, cold, hungry, and the last group on the course, so they called it quits at around 3:00 am. The next morning, we ate a big group breakfast again before heading out. I drove one of the 100Kers back in his car, taking a wrong turn, but still completing the drive back in 6 hours, including rest stops and lunch stops. We saw lots of gorgeous Texas countryside by taking the backroads and state highways. But, I will never go on another road trip without a map!

Until next year, Bandera!

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