Elevation Gain ~7300' between 1416'-1924'
October 28, 2017 - When I awoke, I found myself sitting on the ground at the start/finish line - barefoot - with my shoes, but no socks, set neatly next to me. I was alone. Everyone was gone and mine was the only car parked in the field next to the Lodge. All I can remember are the extremely bright lights surrounding me not long after I began the third washing-machine loop of the course under the early darkness of night. Memories of the first fifty miles are still quite clear, but I am at a loss as to how I ended up at the finish line two days after the race was over, barefoot - without a finisher's buckle!!!
Sounds like a good excuse to me. Certainly a plausible explanation for my dnf, and certainly possible. But, alas, I will have to save it for another time. As circumstances would have it, a hard fall onto my back at around mile 31 punched both kidneys so hard that I began peeing blood. When the color changes from yellow to red, it's a clear indication that it is time to stop. Upon reaching half way I checked in with the medical support person, Becky, who concurred with my assessment after expressing serious concern. My hundred mile race was over.
Nonetheless, it was a perfect day to race in Bandera and I had a most enjoyable time. Finding my friend Iris Priebe from Calgary prior to check in, we hung out the evening before and got caught up. I slept well and awoke without an alarm at 0400 in mild temps of about 41 degrees. After a relaxed pre-race routine to get ready, we all set off at 0500 for the first two plus hours of darkness. Whether racing 25, 50, 75, or 100 miles, everyone began together. The field was small enough that it was never crowded and I never really fell into queue before finding a comfortable starting tempo.
As always conversation was upbeat, but not distracting. My plan was to start easy and cover the first 25-mile loop in 6 to 6.5 hours. I had been here before to run Bandera twice. I knew how technical the trail was, and knew that no matter what I did not want to fall. Iris started much faster and I was not up to the same conditioning to share the trail with her. All was good for the first clockwise go-round with a stop at 15 miles to lighten my attire, lose my light, and gulp down a Red Bull.
It was all comfortable when I made the turn at the Lodge to make the second loop in the counter-clockwise direction. I had found a tempo where I was hardly breathing and was able to accelerate on the level sections at will. Having strength in my legs again was gratifying. My left knee, which was wrapped well to support a healing meniscus injury, gave me no pain despite all the egregious insults my legs would bear in the extremely nasty rocky ups and downs. I was feeling good and able to catch and pass nearly anyone on the climbs.
Then somewhere around the 50k point I slipped in scree on a vertical descent, losing my balance and my legs and landed on my lower back and elbows. It was a hard fall as I was moving with good momentum and I took a hard shot to the kidneys and lower spine. It hurt so bad that I just layed there on my back, most concerned about my bad knee that had twisted under me in the fall. Straightening out my leg first, with justifiable concern, my knee was alright, surprisingly. Getting up slowly, I walked a bit before resuming.
Once I got past the initial pain from the fall and got back into rhythm, I could feel pain in both kidneys and my lower back. When I peed, there was blood in my urine. My running continued good, so I tried to drink more to see if the blood was just temporary. After about mile 46 I slowed to a walk to relieve the pain from the jarring of my lower back. Still red pee. I've been around long enough to know I had to stop. With official medical consensus back at the Lodge, I was done.
The second loop took me slightly over 7 hours, leaving me with 22+ hours to conclude the back half of the course. Legs and energy level were still good, but it was not worth the risk. I headed to bed to rest and after three more good pees during the night, my urine was back to light yellow. No apparent damage beyond kidney bruising. I would live to fight another day.
I hung around to celebrate Iris' finish in 29:37 as third female. She was deservedly elated. After collecting our stuff and getting organized she headed off for a nap while I found a hotel and a beer or two or three to assauge my ego and... flush my kidneys, of course!!!
Disappointed? Sure. But it's always a matter of perspective. In general I am getting wiser about running these things, but there is a growing relentless list of limitations that will always be there to make these events that much more challenging than for my younger less-encumbered peers. Rather than recover and come back ready for the next one, I think I have now become resolved to give up the longer events in exchange for less challenging future endeavors. Time will tell, but for now, I'm just going to kick back and enjoy being old, and take satisfaction in my pretense of being wiser.