First things first, This race was not part of my plan. My goal race of this season was Bandera 100k.
Ive run the 50k at Bandera a couple of times and always pitied and envied the poor souls headed back out for another loop. It seems that, in the past, either injury or travel got in the way of my training to feel like I could complete the 100k. But this past spring I started training with Erik Stanley and Trail Roots with the goal of Bandera 100k in mind. I did three of four Captn' karls series races and the 50 mile at Wild Hare (after a rolled ankle changed my plans of Cactus Rose 50) and more track and hill work than I've ever done. With all of this I felt good about the 100k coming up.
But somewhere in the back of my mind was the thought (never expressed to anyone) that maybe, if 100k went well I could take a shot at Rocky Raccoon 100 mile. So while out on the course at Bandera I was sharing some miles with my friend and fellow Trail Roots training partner Stephen Bush when he asked "whats next after this"? This was the first time that I mentioned RR100 was a thought.
Stephen said he was doing it and that if I felt good after Bandera I should go for it. After talking to my wife and Erik, I decided that if I felt good two weeks after Bandera, which is two till Rocky,that I'd do it, and I did.
The plan was that my wife Nancy would crew for me after coming off her first 50k at Bandera.
I was registering late but reached out to friends and came up with a couple of the best pacers (Travis Wilder and Brandon Batiansila) I could've ask for even if I was a year out. My dad came into town to take care of the kids and Nancy and I left Austin about 6pm Friday night. Knowing I'd be arriving late, I'd ask fellow Trail Roots friend Billy Satterwhite to pick up my packet for me as I knew that waiting till race morning to do it would stress me out. Thanks a million Billy.
I got a pretty decent nights sleep and woke to thunderstorms about 4:30 am but it cleared out by race time. I had some Yerba mate' and a pre made pb&j and got ready to run. I was the most calm that I've ever been pre race. I think the idea of running a hundred miles was so inconceivable that I had ceased to worry. Nancy drove us over to the start finish and soon we were off. Dark and crowded I just kept it slow and steady and got the first loop done without incident in about 4:40. I had decided to go out with the idea of sub 24 being a possibility but to let it go if need be. So far I was sticking with it. First loop was mostly gels and tailwind, maybe a pringle or two. I dropped the cold weather gear and headlamp I'd started in and headed out for loop two. Stayed on pace for most of 2nd loop, met some nice folks, shared some miles and came in side by side with a really nice girl from Kansas City with whom I had a mutual friend, small world the ultra community.( Loop 2 5:20) Nancy had my night time gear ready and quickly I was off on loop 3. Last thing I said as I left was tell the pacers 24 hr is out!
I was totally fine with just finishing my first 100 miler, but I did not want to be chasing cut offs.
That's a miserable existence. It got dark about halfway through the second loop as I'd planned. Everyone says the 4th loop is where everyone drops so I knew I wasn't messing around at start/finish.
I'd texted Nancy my estimated arrival and my first pacer would be ready.(Loop 3 5:45) I put on some warmer dry clothes, changed headlamps and Travis and I set out. This was a lot of fun, after running mostly alone all day it was great to have good company. Travis kept me moving and eating and drinking and that's all I needed to do to get this done. BUT about 10 miles in I realized I was getting blisters on the bottom of both feet. I've never had a problem with blisters at all (also never run this far) so I'd taken no precaution. In hindsight I should've changed socks at 40 miles but like I said, never had a problem. We were getting it done and gonna have plenty off time for loop 5. We came in from loop 4 (6:20) and I had texted ahead for pants and socks and shoes. Nancy was ready with a chair and I quickly changed socks, applied Trail Toes, and fresh shoes. Also put on a pair of sweat pants I'd never dreamed of running in but I was scared that having slowed down that I would start getting colder. Brandon and I set out on Loop 5. I was power hiking and eating a cup of Dr. Mcdougall's Miso Ramen Soup for the first bit. Once I was ready to start running again I realized that the blisters had become so painful that each step hurt really bad. I knew I didn't have time to address them so I told Brandon lets just keep moving as fast as possible. Combination of darkness, pain, and fatigue kept me to about a 16:00 min mile average but that was plenty fast enough to finish in the allowed time of 30 hours. I know I must've driven Brandon crazy asking for info about pace and time as my watch had died and phone too. But above all we just kept moving. We saw some seriously fatiqued people out there on that last loop it made me grateful to be moving as well as I was.
At a certain point you know you're gonna get it done and you just keep plowing ahead being careful not to make a mistake that could cost you a finish. The sun had come up and Nancy and Brandon's family are texting Brandon wanting to know where we are. By the end I was done asking questions and figured I'd just keep moving till I saw the finish. About that time two little kids came flying down the trail toward us, it was Brandon's boys and I immediately picked it up and realized I could beat 29 hrs, it aint much but hell I'd take it. Brandon and the kids ran ahead and started the cheering section complete with snare drum. I think I hugged Nancy and then hugged Joe Prusaitis and reminded him how about two years ago we were out running in the greenbelt and I ask him "how do you know when you're ready for the next distance"? He said " you don't know, you just sign up and go for it'!
I guess thats what I did. I know Ive could've never done it without so many that helped in so many ways. Big thanks to Nancy Daniel, Travis Wilder, Brandon Batiansila, Erik Stanley, Bob Daniel, Janis Kilgore, Anthony Jacobs, Mark Kendall, Noah Moos, Joe and Joyce Prusaitis, Henry Hobbs and the whole Tejas Trails crew and volunteers and Greta and Isabel Daniel.
Whats next now? Well, I want a mile PR and a 5K PR this spring, and other than that we'll see you all at Hell's Hills in April.