Race Report and Adventures
A Trail Run of Rugged and Brutal Beauty
As usual, my races are way more than the race itself. It's all about the journey, not the outcome.
I made reservations to fly down for a quick weekend, leaving on Friday morning, race Saturday and back to VT early Monday morning. The wild card would be the weather, for flying. Winter traveling in the Northeast is always a challenge. As I finally prepared and packed for the trip, the weather was looking fine, possibility of light snow to fly out with but nothing out of the ordinary for an area that normally receives snow in the winter. I was up early on Friday for the 5:30 AM flight and there was about ½” of snow on the ground and it wasn’t all that cold, maybe 20 degrees. I arrived at the airport with plenty of time and soon we all boarded, right on time. There really shouldn’t have been delays as I think we were the first plane out that morning. But then we sat, and sat and sat in the plane. After sitting for 30 minutes, then it was time to de-ice the plane which took another 15 minutes. So right from the start, we were running 45 minutes late on the first leg of the trip to Dulles Airport. I knew there wasn’t a lot of time between flights but thought if all went well, the connecting flight to San Antonio would still be possible. We landed and I figured I had about 15 minutes to catch the next flight, if we got out of the plane after we landed. Well another snafu. We sat in the plane forever and they wouldn’t let us out, losing time fast. Finally we got out and then had to wait for our carry-on bags. I knew they were already boarding my next flight. As soon as I could, I grabbed my 40 lb roller bag, threw on my 25 lb backpack and started running. To make it worse, we landed at terminal A and I needed to get to D which could require either a shuttle or a train ride. I went to the shuttle area but it wasn’t arriving until my flight was already gone, so off and running to catch the train. The train was for gates C & D. First stop it said Gate C. I poked my head out the door, a bit lost but looked again and the train said Gate C, it made no mention of Gate D so I stayed on. When the door closed, I noticed I was the only one on it. The train electronic banner now said out of service and traveled a short way up the track and stopped in the middle of nowhere. I was stranded on this train, doors locked and nowhere to go. Then it started moving up another rail and it said Gate A, what the heck! So back to A, then to C where I got off this time and then ran from the far end of C all the way to the far end of D only to see the flight was closed. Not a happy camper. A bit overheated I arrive at customer service only to wait in line. At the counter they were having issues but found a flight going back up to Chicago and then to San Antonio. I started to complain but the woman at the counter said they were already boarding and I better get going or I wouldn’t be out until the evening. They were having problems printing a boarding pass and said they would call ahead. So off I was running again, this time from the far end of D to the far end of C. When I arrived they greeted me and said, “Didn’t she tell you, we couldn’t get you on”. At that point I was ready to go home. I think she saw the look on my face and said wait here and somehow found a spot for me as the plane was waiting. I finally boarded and then off to Chicago and then to San Antonio.
In all, I lost about 4 hour’s time, the time I wanted to check out the trails and attend the pre-race briefing. Not a huge deal. I got off the plane and it was HOT. The sun was shining and I thought I might melt. I took the shuttle over to get my rental car which would also be my camper for the weekend. When I made reservations I upgraded to the next size up so I would have room to sleep in it. I got the keys and found the car. It was this lime green thing, not much bigger than a smart car. There was no way I could fit in any direction in this car. I went back to the counter. The woman said that was the larger car and if I wanted to pay $15 per day more I could get a bigger car. Back out I went to see if there was any way I could fit. Right next door was a larger car, the one that I thought I was getting and was listed on the reservation so back to the counter. The woman was busy so I talked to some guy. He was very accommodating and said sure; you can have one of those. With a quick phone call and some new paperwork I was finally out of there. More lost time. I drove straight out to Bandera as I wanted to at least get in a little run in daylight to see what the trails were all about.
I was feeling better as I had finally made it which was questionable for some time. After a little trail run I headed back to the town of Bandera to find some dinner. I was supposed to be meeting up with David Ploskonka from Baltimore, Maryland. I met David last year at Bull Run Run and thanks to David’s efforts we were part of the wining men’s open team. As it turned out David’s flights were also messed up and he hadn’t yet arrived. In Bandera I found a great little pasta restaurant, John’s Pasta House. I had a table outside and David would meet me there a bit later. Sitting alone, I was invited to join some local Texan’s who were adjacent to me and also running Bandera. We had a great dinner and David finally arrived to enjoy the local pasta house. After dinner it was back to the start/finish area which was also the camping area. I set up my Hotel Nissan, folding the front seats all the way down and retired for the evening.
The race start was at 7:30 AM, right around sunrise, much better than a 4:00 AM start in the dark. It was cool out but you knew it would heat up and the forecast called for near 70 degrees and sunshine. Not really what I was hoping for but it is what it is. At the start I met up with David and saw some other familiar faces. Yassine Diboun was there and Liza Howard. I saw team Pearl Izumi all ready to go. There was an excellent field of runners for this National Championship and also part of the Montrail Ultracup with 2 spots available for Western States. I knew they would be fast out of the start. My plan was to go out at a reasonable fast pace until the pack thinned and then settle in and do my own thing, just run at a comfortable pace and enjoy it.
At some point on this first lap, I spacing out, tripped on a rock and went down hard. Nothing unusual for me. Landing on rock is no fun. But the other alternative is landing on cacti, equally as bad. The usual tuck and roll technique doesn't work either as you hit hard on rock and then roll on cacti. Something you want to avoid altogether. I got myself up, scrapped and bruised and continued on. About mile 16, I came into the Crossroads aid station and stopped to find my drop bad and pick up a fresh bottle of Gu Brew and some more GU gels. I saw the familiar face of Meredith Terranova who helped me get through which was great. Another 5 mile loop and I was back to Crossroads again. At this point I could feel the heat increasing and made certain to increase my fluid intake as well as electrolyte pills. Continuing going back and forth with Liza and Steve, we all arrived at the halfway point somewhere around 4:28 which I thought was right on, trying to be a bit conservative. After refueling at the Lodge and grabbing a replenished supply of electrolytes I was on to lap 2. Right from the get go, I could feel twinges in my lower extremities, signs of cramping. The heat to me when not acclimated is like kryptonite to Superman and can take me down. I increased my electrolytes again and backed off a notch on pace hoping these adjustments would help. The climb up Ice Cream Hill was in full sun and just after I passed a distressed runner, a big calf cramp kicked in and stopped me in my tracks. I stomped on my foot to get it to bend, took another electrolyte pill and kept on moving. This seemed to be the pattern for a while.
|Jack coated with salt wearing Headsweats Super Duty Race Hat
|David relaxing the morning after the race
Slow but steady I continued on, had another hard fall somewhere and reopened a wound on my hand from earlier in the day. I ran through some more sotol plants and felt the thorns rip my legs but it really didn't matter at this point.
|Sotol Plant with sharp spikes
|Sotol damage to skin
|Steve Moore & Dylan Bowman
Thanks to RD Joe and Joyce Prusaitis for putting on this fabulous event and to all the volunteers who made this race possible. Put this one on your list of to do’s! These guys put on a whole series of races which can be found through Tejas Trails. And thanks to Headsweats for supplying the Super Duty Race Cap which worked wonders on this hot and sunny day.
|Liza and family at awards with RD Joe Prusaitis
Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.