Monday, October 29, 2012

Cactus Rose 100 ~ Through My Eyes

...about 12 of us drove up for the Bandera party this past weekend.

Driving up on Friday, I was really nervous: it was cold and pouring in San Antonio. I could already envision running cold, wet and miserable. I'm a pretty wimpy runner when it comes to running conditions, I'll admit. Surprisingly, it was not like that once we got to Bandera. It was cold, but no rain.

We drove around to the aid stations and dropped off our drop bags with goodies. I had tried to remember every single thing I've ever craved during one of our trail adventures. Plus, my bins had been ready for several days in my living room, and I'd fought the urge to get into them the days leading to the race (Note to self:  having bins full of junk food in my living room is not a good idea).

The course would consist of four 25 mile loops - finish a loop and start the next one in the same direction you just finished. My biggest concern (from looking at the course map/elevation): the 1st /3rd loops would end with a really hilly and rough 8 miles section, and the next loop would start with this same stretch. So basically, it'd be a tough 16 mile stretch. Doubt had been creeping in all week: did I train enough? Did I train hard enough? Did I taper too much? Did I eat right?

Loop 1:     I started a little faster than I would have liked, but I blame it on the excitement, adrenaline & seeing so many awesome runners that I hadn't run into in a while. I spent the latter part of this loop taking pictures and taking in the sights. I teamed up with Frank Sizemore most of this loop, and i was able to run the flats and walk the uphills with him as we discussed who was the biggest running nerd. Surprisingly, I finished this loop in 6:15. I was really happy w/ that because I was expecting to finish it between 8-9 hours. "It's just extra time I have to play with" I kept telling myself.

I got into the lodge and had a pretty nice breakfast. I may have overdone it, actually, but I was so hungry.

...and off I went for another round.

Loop 2:     Frank and me had agreed to meet to start the 2nd loop together, but it was kinda hectic and we lost each other. It makes it easier to run with somebody else sometimes, but oh well...gotta keep keeping on. I was also pretty excited that at the end of this loop my pacer, Judy, would be waiting to run with me. I purposely became more conservative this loop. I kept reminding myself that there was still alot of mileage to cover. But I felt really well. I ran/jogged/walked the last 5 miles with David Jacobson. He was also pretty excited that his pacer would be waiting for him. He said he was saving a bit for that ~ good idea.

I got into the lodge and decided to take about a 15 minute break and just relax for a bit.

Loop 3:  The 1st part of the loop seemed to be very runnable, so I wasn't surprised that my pacer took off pretty quickly, but we were all feeling pretty strong, so we kept up. Initially, I did not know what to expect from the CR course, so I wanted Judy to pace me (since I know she is a fast runner) in case I was in danger of missing the 7am loop 4 cut off. (FYI - We were 3 hours ahead of schedule). We ran the next 15 miles pretty well - thanks to her. When we got to the dreaded 8 mile stretch, we took it easy, though. I have to admit that I was worried about ending with those and then starting with those again. We made it back to the lodge at around 3:30am. I had told my pacer that I was going to take my time and wanted to be outta there by 4am.

At this point, my calves were really tight. It made it uncomfortable to climb. Not the time to be feeling that considering what was coming up.

Loop 4:     I told my pacer, Laura, that I thought I'd have to do quite a bit of walking this loop. She said you call it (and THAT's why she's the best). As a result, we spent most of those tough 8 miles at the start joking around and snapping pictures. We ran what we could but fatigue and the need for a nap were creeping in. Around 5am, I started dozing off for split seconds at a time while running. How could I fall asleep for a second while running? I can vouch for it being a possibility.

We made it to Nachos (aid station) where I ate a little and made my 1st mistake: I took off my socks to get some dirt out. What did I see? The gnarliest blister I've ever seen on my toe. It was like my toe had a baby or like my foot had a double toe on the same digit. That was good for some laughs. My pacer thought this was hilarious and began taking pictures of it (which I will spare you from). A couple women at the aid station (whom I assume were waiting for their runner friends saw us off by saying "10 more miles!!!" 10 more and i'll be done!!! Little did I know that these would be the toughest 10 miles I've ever run.

On our way to Equestrian, we crossed a road and ran into Judy (who had paced me from 50-75) along with a couple other friends of ours who said they'd be waiting at the finish line. This was a morale booster. I'm almost there.

We ran/jogged to Equestrian, and I had told Laura that I just wanted to fill up my handheld with water and take off immediately. By this point, I just wanted to finish. I knew that I'd just have 1 more climb, lucky peak, to do before it was over. I had a really difficult time doing this. My calves were killing me at this point, but I was sooooo close.

With a few miles to go, Nancy Marks, passed me and gave me a hug and a pair of shoelaces with some metal buttons that said "ULTRA" and "100M." She said she'd meet me at the finish line (and she did). Her positive and cheery personality is contagious. As she passed me she said "Make sure you take the wannabe out of your blog title!!!"

With less than a mile to go, I told my pacer to go on up ahead. I'd get there in a second. It was almost as if I needed a little bit of time to comprehend what was happening. I was on the verge of running 100 miles!!! Getting to the finish line and seeing all my friends there, the race director handing me my finisher's belt buckle, was surreal. So many emotions: I wanted to laugh, cry, I'm not sure, really (I remember 1 of my friends asking what I wanted to drink, and I said "a glass of milk." Milk? Really? I musta been delirious.

I wouldn't have been able to complete this race without each of my friends that was there. They all played an important role in this adventure.

What's next for me??? For now, rest. Just rest.

Oh yeah, the only complaint I have is that the sotol tore the awesome running sweater that came in our goodie bag...damn, you sotol!!!


  1. I LOVE THIS POST! You just made running 100 miles at Bandera sound easy! I can not wait to take on the beast next year. I'm going for the Tejas 300 and I am already nervous. What was your final time? I fell asleep on my feet at RR100 in Feb. I know exactly what you are talking about. Congratulations! I am so excited and happy for you.

    1. Thanks, Fawn. It means alot coming from YOU. It was soooo tough. The last loop kicked my butt, but I finally (practically) crawled across the finish line in 33:30 hours. That was my 1 of 3 Tejas 300 races. Bandera 100k is next ~ luckily, Joe has a little mercy and scheduled it a couple months away. See you soon!!!

    2. I'll be there for the 100K. My only DNF came last year during the 100K. I had a throbbing foot and decided with RR100 just one month away I shouldn't try my luck. I WILL finish this time.

    3. I remember looking for you at Bandera last year. I ran into Tony C. and asked him about you. He said you were somewhere up ahead. WE def will finish this time.

  2. Awesome job Ben and you've got the best looking crew around...hands down. I hope to see you on the other side of 100 in February - Scott

    1. Thanks, Scott. This weekend I needed them around more than I ever have. They're the best and (again) they proved it. I've got the best friends around...all of them!!!

  3. Super proud of you Ben!! There are no words other than I'm glad to have become part of your running family. I don't know if I will ever be able to run 100 miles in this lifetime, but I'm sure going to try. Runners like you, David, Carlos, Laura, Judy, Donna, and the list goes on and on are truly an inspiration to beginner runners like me. May God be with you on your next 2 runs, but you got this!! Best of luck to you always!!

    1. Thanks, Raquel. I really enjoy running with all of you guys. To me, it's all about running with friends.

  4. Best post ever! You make me want to get out there and train for a 100 miler. It sounds extremely fun + I totally understand the falling asleep while you are running. I've nearly passed out while running that I have to call my friends to pick me up because I can't finish my runs. It's all about that food! WE NEED TO LEARN TO EAT, BEN! And We are both so lucky to have amazing friends that support us.

    I can totally picture Laura cracking up with your alien toe. Gross. POST IT! Just kidding.

    But anyway, this post makes me excited to train myself. You never know, maybe I'll run your next 100 miler with you.

    1. Thanks, Andy. Well, there's a little 100k race coming up in January '13. Just a thought.
      And, yes, we have amazing friends.