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Interstellar Adventure
Adventure: the pursuit of life — Daniel Roy Wiarda

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My first 25K (plus some)

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Wow. Well, I must say that it wasn't easy...in fact it may be one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. I conquered Bandera and lived to tell about it. I did a 25K trail run in Bandera, TX this weekend. That's in the heart of Hill Country just 50 miles from San Antonio. Some friends told me about the race, and I took a look at the pictures on the web site and said, heck, let's go for it! Little did I imagine that every stretch of the course was rocks, rocks and more rocks, and seemingly all uphill. The day started off early (7:30 amm), foggy, and quite surreal. The starting temperature was about 40 degrees. After about 2 hours of running, the fog finally burned off, and the views from the top of the hills were stunningly beautiful despite the pain it took to achieve them. The first aid station was 5.6 miles into the race, and I still felt pretty good, even though my fingers were starting to swell, resembling the sausage I had for breakfast hours earlier. Someone told me to hold my hands above my heart to help reduce the swelling, so off I ran from aid station #1, resembling either a surgeon waiting to be gloved or a crazy woman running off in the woods with her hands above her head (the latter being the most likely scenario). Faster than I expected, just about 3.3 miles later, I made it to aid station #2. Please note that this aid station was used twice in the race, the third leg being a giant loop back around a really big hill and ending at the very same spot. Filling up on all the goodies to be had, I was still feeling good after a total of 8.9 miles and dashed off ready to conquer the next leg.
Entering Crossroads Aid Station (where I went the wrong way) Posted by Hello Alas, being the novice racer that I am, I made a really dumb mistake and didn't ask directions when leaving said aid station #2 and, instead of starting the third leg of the race, I headed off to the finish line. I realized my mistake when I got passed by another girl from the group I run with who is WAY faster than me. She said we were less than a mile from the finish, and reality hit me over the head. I struggled for a few moments with my options. But, rather than get a 'DNF' by my name on the official race report and succumb to my error, I turned right around and went back to the previous aid station...a 4 mile detour if you will. I then headed off to the correct leg of the race. This was the toughest part of the whole day. Having already run ~13 miles (8.9 plus 4 mis-directed miles), and the day heating up into the 70's and sun coming out, I then faced the mental challenges of fatigue (no wise cracks here please...I know, I know) as well as the physical. Seasoned racers running the 50K and 100K races passed me with barely a gasp for air and seemingly fresh legs. After some time, and struggling to the top of hill after hill and not seeing the blue-tented aid station and terrified that I had again gone the wrong way and ended up on the 50K course, my frustration welled up, and I shed a few tears for awhile. I managed to pull myself together whenever I would hear another runner approaching from behind, and as soon as they were (hopefully) out of earshot, another tear or two would flow. FINALLY, I saw the blue tent I had been dreaming of for so long. I don't think I have ever felt such relief. Oh Yeah! Posted by Hello A few shots of Gatorade, a half-peanut butter and jelly sandwich and some chocolate nutty bars and I set off for the final 2.6 miles. Having already had a preview of what lay ahead, I knew that it was just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other, and I would be munchin' on burgers and beans in no time. I think I actually managed a smile somewhere in here. This was also the shadiest and coolest part of the course, which was also rather refreshing. I could hear the finish line quite some time before I saw it, as other racers ran in ahead of me (yes, even some people completing twice my distance in less time) and winding around the trail up the last sneaky hill. I kicked myself in the rear and threw it into whatever gear I had left and finished the race (plus 4 extra miles) in (according to my watch) 6:35. Yes, all you math whizzes out there, that's just under a 20 minute mile! But, I wasn't racing for time and I knew it going in. Had I not made such a cololassal error, based on my previous splits, I could have finished right around 5 hours (not much faster really). The hills were steep, the rocks were sharp, and I'm more afraid of falling down than I am interested in going fast. My friends had all waited for me and were there to cheer me across the finish line. In fact, they even had to tell me when to stop...I didn't see the yellow cord marking the end! Right now, only last year's pictures are up on the web, and no official results are posted yet, but you'll get the idea from these. http://hillcountrytrailrunners.com/raceBandera.html All in all, this race was a great experience for me. It was very well put together, with great food before, during and after, a free massage after, and a really cool racing shirt and finishers medal that I will wear proudly for at least a week. It was really, really hard, but now, knowing what I can do amid great difficulty, nothing is out of reach for me now! My next 25K is in Tyler on Feb. 12 (yes, I'm going again!), but this time on soft pine needle-covered hills. And each time I leave an aid station I will ask "which way please".

1/12/2005 11:04:00 AM :: ::
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