Hey everyone! Ellie and I are hopefully finishing up our travels later today. Remind me that traveling from the middle of Wyoming in the middle of the winter is not an easy task! Add in some dogs, some icy roads, and some flight delays and you’re bound to have a bit of an adventure!
As many of you already know, I had an amazing race experience on Saturday, and that’s what I’m focusing on in today’s newsletter. So many of you have passed along kind words and congratulations and I couldn’t have a better group supporting me!
The Bandera 100k is a Golden Ticket event as the first and second place male/female get an opportunity to bypass the lotteries and run at Western States. This generally draws competitive runners to these select events and the lineup at Bandera wasn’t lacking talent!
The race started in the fog, in the rain, and in the dark, which would have been an issue had Jeff (an athlete I coach who was also at the event) not reminded me that I’d need a headlamp for about the first hour of running (rookie error on my part)! Regardless, the conditions were a bit rough as we picked our way through the very technical race start with rough visibility. In fact, I was running comfortably in 3rd place early in the race by myself, but lost the trail a few times and opted to fall into a follow pack as I was having trouble watching my footing and navigating an unfamiliar trail!
Around mile 7, things were getting lighter and I decided to move a bit quicker with hopes of catching runners in front of me. I was in the top 10 at this point and started to move really well through the next ten miles finding the leader, Adam M. at mile 17. I wanted to share some miles, but also knew I was moving really well and that doesn’t always last for long, so I decided to take the lead and charge ahead.
The next 15 miles were incredible. I was moving so well (maybe too well) and my crew, Ellie and Hack, were keeping me moving quickly through aid stations! I knew there were going to be some harder miles ahead but was really enjoying the feeling of running without too much concern with what was going on around me.
After the first 50k lap, I hit the steep climb that we started on and was immediately hurting! The mud had been pretty tough all morning (nothing deep, just really sticky and heavy on the shoes) and this climb was especially rough. It felt like I had 5lb weights on my feet and I had to hike a few steps, which felt like a problem at the midway mark!
I had a 4 to 5 minute lead, but assumed that that was deteriorating with each climb. I was still moving exceptionally well on more gradual terrain and just tried to keep the hammer down when possible…and then keep it down even when it felt less possible!
Jon (the winner) eventually passed me around mile 42. He was looking insanely strong and I was feeling especially rough… I took some faith in knowing that other runners were in the same position as I was and I had the advantage of having some time on them.
Eventually, the wheels came back and I had a good final 10 miles or so. I doubt I gained much ground on Jon, but I was no longer losing any and was thinking I was putting some space in between me and anyone chasing. I thought someone was close behind with 5 miles to go and really just went for it knowing there wasn’t much ground left to cover.
The day wasn’t perfect, but it was really really good. My nutrition sat well, I didn’t have many ‘mechanical issues’, and my crew kept me moving quickly through aid stations. Additionally, I found a mental gear I’ve had trouble accessing before. Things were really hurting and I just assumed they would get better…and if they didn’t, I’d just have to hurt to the finish line. I kept believing even when doubt crept in, and this was a really awesome feeling to draw upon late in a race.
I especially can’t thank Ellie enough. She was at every aid station, in the rain, with a ‘weight vest’ and without a complaint. I’m a very lucky guy.
Western States wasn’t really on the ‘calendar’ for the year, but assuming no major setbacks, that’s the next big objective! We’ll have our hands full with a newborn (and everything else), but we’re definitely not unique in that way and I’m pretty excited for the journey ahead!
Scott P. took third this past weekend at the Wild Azelea Half Marathon! Scott has been balancing a very vey full plate this past year and went into the race with no expectations following a hit-and-miss training block. However, he obviously was making the most of his time and absolutely rocked it!
Jeff A. also finished the Bandera 100k this past weekend, fighting through one of the most difficult days I’ve heard about. Despite debilitating blisters starting at mile 10 and old injuries resurfacing, Jeff pushed through and got that WSER qualifier!