Thursday, October 31, 2013

Cactus Rose 2013

Going into CR, I felt really good. I was rested; I was injury-free, and anxious to run. I'd trained harder than last year and felt more focused.  
We got to Bandera around 5pm, quickly caught a bit of the trail briefing and off we went to set up our drop bags.

After a sleepless night, we were ready to begin.
Loop 1:
I started at a pretty good clip. Looking back, it was kinda humid, so I began to worry a bit. I really was expecting the same temps as last year, but it was not to be.

I felt a bit too comfortable because I could tell I was going much faster than I had planned. I figured I was pushing in an attempt to get catch up to my friends, so I decided to slow down quite a bit. My goal was to average 7 hours per loop, and I was on pace for a 6 hour loop. I decided to walk more this loop…even the flats. I still had a long way to go.
It turned out that 1 of my friends, Ace, was actually behind me. He caught up several miles later.
The 1st 15 or so miles of the first loop were pretty tame, but I knew the hard part was about to come the last 10 miles. And it did, but I still felt really well when I finished. I ate a pretty ginormous taco and after 10 minutes, was ready to go at it again.
Loop 2:
In retrospect, I ate a little too much, because I felt sluggish right from the get go. I couldn’t explain it: how could I finish loop 1 feeling so well and then start loop 2 so poorly? I hoped that I’d regain my mojo soon, but it only appeared here and there.
After the initial tough 10 miles, I was pretty exhausted but glad I had about 15 ‘easy’ miles before finishing up the 2nd loop.
I didn’t have a lot of food in my drop bags, but I had a lot of a lot. I’d decided to eat different foods at each station since I tend to get tired of the same ol’ same ol’ and get stomach issues.
With about 10 miles to go to finish up the 2nd loop, I started feeling a little twinge on the outside of my right knee and the top of my right ankle. Plus, the inside/back of my left knee was bothering me quite a bit. Since I always get aches and pains here and there, I figured it’d go away soon…but it didn’t.
Upon finishing loop 2, one of my friends, David, gave me an ice pack to put on my knee. I also decided to wait around ‘til Ace came in. We’d gotten separated sometime during the last 10 miles or so.
I rested, ate some soup and iced my knee for about 45 minutes.
Loop 3:
I could kinda feel like I was in a bit of trouble. My knee pain was pretty unbearable. Other than that, I felt like I was still good. I asked my trusted partner, Sami, if she would pace me this loop instead of the last. “What about the last loop?” she asked. I told her – I’ll worry about the last loop when it gets here. Right now, I’m just worried about this loop. She quickly got ready and we took off.
From the lodge to equestrian was a death crawl. I couldn’t bend my knee or step onto anything. The 1st incline coming out of the lodge was extremely painful. I noticed I was stepping oddly just to avoid or compensate for the pain. We tried running several times, but it was pretty ugly.
It took us almost 2 hours to do the 5 miles to equestrian. I knew I’d never do the next 10 miles OR the more difficult sections on time. Forget the time, I didn’t think I could physically do it with my knee acting like it was.
As we approached equestrian, I told Sami that I thought that’s as far as I could go. I felt really disappointed for stopping at mid 50. I’d like to think I have a pretty high pain tolerance level, so I think it was reached.
I decided to call it right then and there. I also said I’d take a long break from trail running and probably was done with attempting another 100 miler.
We went to our cabin and after a painful shower (from the stiffness setting in and the sotol cuts), Sami taped me up with K tape which made a big difference.
We went back in the morning to pick up my drop bags and cheer on some of the other runners who were out there. Unfortunately, we only got to see a couple runners at Nachos which I think was mile 90. Those guys were HARDCORE!!!
It’s been a few days, and I have had time to think about my DNF. I don’t know how I was able to do that last year. I didn’t start hurting ‘til mile 90ish, and this time, it happened much much earlier.
Despite my DNF, I had a really good time.
Oh, and about taking time off from trail running? Well, I’m debating about doing the 50k or 100k for Bandera…so…so much for taking time off.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Preparing My Drop Bags...Like I needed more stress.

Preparing a drop bag can be very stressful...let alone preparing 4.

During last year's Cactus Rose 100, I fully stocked my drop bags.  Over-stocked, I would say. I ended up bringing more than half of my stuff back. As a matter of fact, Halloween was only a few days later, and I ended up giving the trick or treaters nutritiously caffeinated fuel-filled goodies (GUs, stinger waffles, fig newtons,'re welcomed, parents).

Looking through some of the FB posts lately has made me really nervous. Everybody looks so prepared, and I feel so under prepared.

I feel like my 4 (1 less than last year AND smaller) drop bags are enough for me, though. My thinking is that I've got just what I think I'll need - no more. No less.

Plus, the whole I gotta haul it back after the race thing is what I'm not looking forward to. I don't really think I'll be in the mood to carry it back to our car. I wasn't last year, and I needed my friends/pacers to help me.

I hope I don't regret it (but I think I've thought about everything)...besides, my new approach is: less is more.

BUT if you see me crawling on the trail this weekend dehydrated and near starvation, didn't work.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Ultra Spire Spry Hydration Vest

I'm not a big fan of handhelds, so I'm always on the lookout for a super duper hydration vest. One that fits just right.

I think I've come close to it in the ultraspire spry. Truth be told: I had access to this minimalist vest minus the bladder. Recently, I ordered a bladder for it and wah-la!!!

It's a minimalist vest and I liked it's...minimalistness. The fit was really snug and comfortable.

Personally, I don't really care for 1.5 liter bladders. I think they're just a little too much. Its 1 liter bladder works really well. It's the perfect size for those shorter distance runs or when aid stations are spaced pretty close together.

The bladder was really easy to close. Unlike the salomon s lab (my current second favorite), I didn't have to work at making sure there was no air in it. It closed/sealed easily and it was really quiet. There was no sloshing around during the run, and trust me: the sloshing can annoy you or those around you.

The 2 chest pockets came in handy for my headlamp on a recent run - no bounce. A couple of gels/gus or whatever you fuel on fit in the other pocket comfortably. I'm sure I could even fit a water bottle in there.

My only complain is that the hose connecting the hydration bladder is very long. It wasn't a big deal, though, I just creatively maneuvered the hose around a bit, but it did not affect my level of comfort.

As an added bonus, you can take the bladder out and use the vest by itself. It's a win-win.

It runs around 70$, but in my opinion, it's a worthy investment.

I'm even trying it out this weekend as I tackle 100 miles.

If (like me) you aren't a fan of bulky hydration vests or handhelds, this is just for you.