Whew! that was a nice solid race, it was the first time I made it to the start/finish uninjured, healthy and feeling like a thousand words. As usual, this last week I was nervous, nothing really I could about it just pre-race jitters, think I even passed some of that anxiousness to Lety at the beginning of the week (sorry honey…). As usual, the compressed version of the report is: I ran conservatively most of the race and left enough energy for the last loop for us (more on this in the full summary) to kick it up a notch at the end of the race. In short, it took me 9:09:16 to complete 60km, the race was really awesome, there were rocks were there weren’t supposed to be rocks but leave it to Joe to make this happen. Full summary of what my brain remembers below.
Before the race
I’ll take the time now to thank Luis for driving me home and not having to worry about driving back 🙂 oh and waiting 2hrs for me at the finish line. We drove together and got there about an hour and a half before the race started, which meant plenty of time to get warm, chat some, listen to the race briefing and get ready. Luis went on to complete the 30k course and had some interesting stories to tell after the race, that included: emergency response team, basics of trail running, and race conclusions.
To make out for some missing mileage we started and out and back, that we will only do to start the race, the race consisted of 4 loops, with each loop having 3 aid stations, one of them being a fully manned aid station at the start-finish. The race started at 7PM at a nice and comfortable 101 degrees. As we did the out and back portion I ran with the iRun RGV folks (David, Ben, and Marcos), always good to see them since they are always full of energy, a plus in a race like this. I started out in the middle of the pack and run at a comfortable pace, told myself I was going to start slow and hold off whatever energy I had left for the last loop. As we made our way back, before starting the first loop I kissed Lety, Sofy and Jorge good-bye, I would take every single bit of energy I could.
First loop – the beginning 1:53:06
I”ve always run better in a group setting, fortunately for me I found a group of 3 other runners (Scott, Christobel and Colin) that were running at a good pace, obviously I went out too fast the first loop but it turned out ok as I still had enough in the tank to push on the last loop. Ran the entire first loop with them, there is not a whole lot to tell about this loop because it went fairly well, the pace felt comfortable. I really thought that we would make it to the second loop without having to turn our handlamps on but it wasn’t the case.
Second loop – stop and look at the stars 2:20:16
By the middle of this loop I had settled in with the group I started with and stuck with them, we were running fairly comfortable until about midway when Scott started having some problems, he and Christobel stopped at the first aid station to rest some and Colin and I kept going. Colin and I would run the rest of the race together and pushed each other when the other couldn’t. I rarely ever find someone that’s running my pace but Colin was spot on, he works with the Team in Training folks and had some stories to tell, which I appreciated as there were some sections on this course that it would have been a pain to be running solo. Most of the entire loop was runnable but ended up walking/hiking/power hiking the section in the middle of the loop where Joe seemed to have brought a piece of Bandera and dropped it right in the middle of it. After the second aid station the course has some open sections where you could see the shiny bright stars and a beautiful moon.
At the end of the second loop Olga sliced and diced some great watermelon and I flavored every single bit of it, that was followed by a grape popsicle that tasted, for lack of a better description, awesome. Olga said go easy on this loop (the third one) so you have enough kick for the last loop and so we did.
Third loop – the dreaded one 02:36:53
This is always the harder part of a race, the loop or section where you know there’s only one more lap after this. Only thing you can do is move forward one step at a time and enjoy every single step. For the first time I wasn’t injured and the only real issues I had during the race were with nutrition, could eat but 1 gel and 3/4 of a honey stinger waffle. So instead of eating what I was carrying, I ended up eating aid station real food instead. Here is what I remember eating: a complete orange (I took about 3 to 5 pieces at each aid station), about 5 slices of watermelon, 2 PB&J pieces, 1 banana, 1 popsicle, 1 coke, 5 s-caps, I refilled my pack 4 times which puts me right about 6L of water consumed (I was also drinking at the aid stations).
Fourth loop – The finish 02:19:01
The fourth loop turned out to be a fun one as we had enough kick to run most of it, we went out trying to make up lost time and so we did. Colin had paced for the entire race up to this point, I took the lead to about half way past the first aid station; I told him I was going to try to run as much of it until the grinding section, and then run some more before the last aid station and so I did. We were both huffing and puffing but were moving rather nicely. At some point before the first station aid we started playing the running game with 4th place female winner and it turned out to be a fun game. We caught up to her at the first station but she took off before us, we quickly refueled and were on our way out, it was probably 1/2 a mile before we passed her but then came the ugly section, we had said we were going to run until we got to this section and we sticked to the plan, we power hiked most of this section and got out of there, we started running again but we now had a tail behind us so we started moving faster. By the last aid station we had gained some ground on her, so we decided to quickly re-stock what we needed at the last aid station and keep moving, she caught up to us as we were leaving the aid station and quite frankly were tired and didn’t want to play games but we did anyway. We kicked it up a notch and started moving faster, we only saw her headlamp once and ran a little faster, at this point I really didn’t want to get passed by anyone anymore and still had some kick so we pressed on, it was full steam ahead until the end. We crossed the finish line in 9:09:16 which was no PR but then again I really enjoyed the race so who cares about a PR, ok maybe I do but there’s always more races.
After finishing the race I got to chat for a little while with Jorge (and his coach Jennifer who graciously offered me a coke, thanks 🙂 ). I really just wanted to head home so chatted for a little while and started getting ready to leave. Like I said before, I was glad I didn’t have to drive back and because Luis was driving I could at least extend my legs on the way back and relax for a little while. We drove home, Luis had some awesome stories to tell ( he can’t really say that I make him run boring races :)). When I got home around 5:30AM, Lety was awake and asked if I wanted Rudy’s breakfast tacos to which I said yes!, took a much-needed shower and slept some until I was woken up by delicious tacos. All in a day’s race!
I’d like to take the time to say Happy Birthday to my little brother who turned 25 this weekend and even though I didn’t get to talk to him on his birthday I had him in my mind for about 9 hrs. I would also like to take the time to thank each and everyone that makes me running life an awesome hobby: Lety, my kiddos, my running and non-running friends, Joe and Joyce, and the awesome volunteers.
Nutrition: for the most part my nutrition has been better overall, less processed foods when I can, its hard! more fruit and vegetables. This has improved my recovery times, like being able to run 10-15 miles after a long 27 miles, or doing back-to-back runs.
There is a nagging sore pain (like a fall kind of soreness and no I did not fall) in my lower back that I’m not sure what to make of it. It sure wasn’t there last night but it seems to be gradually increasing the day after the race, most likely has to do with my hip-flexors and glutes being tight.