Tuesday, January 17, 2012

2012 is here and for the new year and I have completed two firsts. My first blog and my first 100k. I had just come off a long season for a first year of ultras.  March 2011 to Nov 2011 I completed eight 50k and finished my season with the Red Rock 50 mile in Santa Barbara Thanksgiving weekend. It was just over a week later that I remember telling my girlfriend Keira that I don't think I can wait 3 months to do another race, as Orcas Island 50k was already in the schedule for the 4th of February. We began to look at the calendar of races and I decided that Bandera 100k would be the best race for me to do next. Given my season of good success with three wins and six 2nd place finishes, I thought that maybe just maybe I could nab one of the two entries to Western States offered for coming in first or second place. It was a decision based on the entrants list which at the time had only one recognizable elite. That was early December, and as the month progressed the list began to grow.  Bandera was a venue that was not daunting in the profile or terrain for that matter. What was daunting for me was the distance and the level of competition that was coming to the race. Up until this point I had never toed the line with so many elite runners in an ultra and had never run more than 52 miles which was the Red Rock 50 mile just 6 weeks earlier.  I was also coming into the race with a fractured rib from a non trail related fall that happened 3 weeks before the race. At any rate here we were poised at the start line, ready for another adventure.
My plan was to of course to run my own race and not overextend myself early so that I had something left for the second 31 mile loop.The race began and I found myself in a group of 5 up toward the front running with a small group in the top 10 that included Todd Braje, Paul Terranova, a fella named Chris from San Antontio wearing a head cam, and  fellow Rudy Project Ultra Running team member Yassine Diboun. The pace seemed comfortable and I was happy to be where I was.  I came into the first aid station in eighth place taking on only water, it was a quick stop. Not quick enough though to hold off  the 2:20 marathoner Justin Ricks who it seemed ran straight through without having to fill a bottle because he was not carrying one, putting me into ninth place. We ran as a group for the next couple of miles. It was great running with Yassine as he would talk with everyone, maybe his strategy to keep his pace low enough to converse while running or maybe just because he's a nice guy, I think it was a combination of both. Around mile 8 the group began to spread out. Yassine pulled off to take a nature break and as I passed him he yelled out great job and also mentioned that he hadn't quite learned how to pee on the fly, something that has become necessity for me to do as I go so much I would loss all kinds of time.  Justin Ricks crossed the gap to reach Todd and Paul who were a couple hundred yards ahead, Chris dropped off the pace and Dave Mackey finally showed his face. I knew that I had seen him at the start line but I didnt recall seeing him up ahead, I just figured I missed him in the opening mile as my head was down trying to stay focused on my footing, because there is no way that I should be ahead of him. But here he was. That had me questioning if I had gotten caught up in the racing fever and had gone out too hard. Yassine being the chatter bug that he was, shared a couple words with Dave about his Western states inclusion and before long both of them were around me leading me into the mile 11 Chapas aid station, where I saw the first of my crew. That just happened to be my parents who decided to meet me and Keira for the weekend on there three month tour across the country with there camper trailer. There my dad was waiting with a fresh bottle of Carbo Pro and my Rudy Project sun glasses. It was a quick 20 second switch and I was out, leaving just behind Yassine and just ahead of Dave.
There comes a point in every race when the muscles get tight and sore when things begin to be uncomfortable. That state of discomfort and the time that it takes to reach that point is determined by your pace and level of exertion. Those two things will  both change by your amount of training. The more time and effort you put in the more you will see your pace quicken and your exertion level decrease. One thing that you cannot prepare for in training is the level of discomfort you will feel during a race. The more times you reach that point and push through the better you can handle that feeling. If you can learn to welcome that feeling and enjoy it that's when you will see your racing reach new heights. Become comfortable with being uncomfortable. It was within the next couple miles that I started to notice the effects that the rocky course had taken. Somewhere in the opening miles I had landed on a rock that caught me right in the plantar fascia band and was now presenting itself in a sharp pain with each foot strike. The first signs of discomfort.

My pace slowed a litte bit and before long I was passed by three other guys who I did not recognize. It didn't matter to me at that point, I just needed to focus on my pace and my race. From mile 11 to the next aid station (Crossroads mile 17) you could say that it was totally flat and runnable but when you don't train that way it can be difficult.  I could see the other runners up ahead on the straight sections and through the open fields and knew that I was not loosing that much ground and if I could hold my pace that I might be able to pick up some of the carnage that would come up in the later stages of the race,  if I wasn't part of the carnage myself. Crossroad is a double aid station and when I came in there were 3 or 4 of us that were all within a minute of each other. That is the last time I saw anyone until the turn around at mile 30. From 17 to 30 I was in my own state of suffering. Things began to get real uncomfortable after leaving mile 17. The plantar area on my left foot was beginning to REALLY hurt, and now the other muscles in my legs were starting to tighten up. Time to hunker down and begin the suffer fest. I felt as if my pace really slowed and began to wonder how I was going to do another 31 mile loop. I didn't have thoughts of throwing in the towel, I still had fight left in me but I didn't quite know long I was going to be able to manage the pain in my plantar. As I turned the corner for my half mile in to the start finish area, who do I see heading out for his second loop but Yassine, who still had the ability to throw out his words of encouragement with a "Great first split Jesse!". I glanced at the clock as I came in to the turn around and saw 4:09. I had two thoughts when I saw it. 1- I cant believe I ran that fast! and 2- What was I doing running that fast! I had aspirations to run a 8:40 and that would mean two loops at 4:20. I didn't think anyone would be able to negative split there second loop on tired legs with the rocky trails and increasing heat. But with the quick work of the aid station volunteers and the cheers from the onlookers for motivation, out I went for another round of punishment. On my way out I saw two runners heading in to the turn around about the same spot Yassine and I had passed. I had no intentions of trying to pick off runners, only thoughts of trying to hold off the pursuance. I stumbled my way through the next 5 miles to the Nachos aid station mile 36 with the worst of the rocky section behind, holding my position. The muscles were sore, ribs felt surprisingly well, salt intake was high and no signs of cramping. The only problem I faced was the plantar fascia in the left foot that felt as though it was going to tear. I came into the Chapas aid station  for the last time and as I was getting my fuel from my dad, I saw Yassine just 50 yards out. That gave me a boost.  I voiced out loud that my plantar was killing me, but knew with the flat section that was upcoming that it might straighten out or at the very least not get any worse, so after a quick calve stretch I was off in pursuit of Yassine.  As I left, I asked how Keira was doing, and although my dad didn't know another crew member said that she stopped after the first loop. I knew going in that this race was not in her big picture and that this is not her type of course, so being that she made it one loop, I knew her reasons for calling it quits. I also selfishly knew that she would be there to help me finish strong....the only thing she didn't know was that if my foot didn't straighten out that I was going to call it quits, and not destroy my whole season with an injury.  In route to the Crossroads mile 47 aid station I finally caught Yassine who was complaining of stomach issues on the first lap and was now unable to run for any length of time. We stuck together for a bit and tried to push away each others pain with encouragement, I would gave him some mentos for his stomach and he gave me a good stretch for the plantar. Although in a great deal of pain I was still able to run whereas he was not so I left him 2 miles out from the aid station. At Crossroads I was greeted by many cheers, someone saying wow great job on your first 100k and of course, Keira, and my parents. I had decided that I was done because my foot was still feeling like my plantar fascia was about to rip. Keira as always didn't ask what I wanted just had a slue of stuff ready for me to put down. The first thing was some ibuprofen because my dad had told her my foot was hurting, my dad suggested putting on the other pair of shoes that I had set aside "just in case", Darcy Africa yelled out "you only have 15 miles left, you can do that before breakfast!"  I love ultra runners! So in with the food, off with the La Sportiva Skylite 2.0, on with the New Balance 10 Minimus shoes, and out of the aid station I went, just ahead of Yassine who was now getting assistance from Darcy.  I dont know what Darcy feed him but it was less than a quarter mile before Yassine swept by me and threw out some more words of encouragement. Although it was the most costly aid station in terms of time with the shoe switch and all, I have to say it was well worth it. My plantar pain had subsided and I was actually able to run without shooting pain for the first time since mile 11. I came up on Yassine and we traded spots one more time as the ibuprofen or the two glasses of coke, or the egg, or the coconut water, or the rise bar started to take effect. In that 5 mile loop I had a pass for position, saw my plantar pain disappear, felt a blister developing, stub my toe twice with the second one including a near face plant, and a mental switch from throwing in the towel, to bring on the pain I only have 10 miles left! Mile 52 Crossroads, I switched back to my La Sportivas thinking the blister was being caused by the New Balance, got a good soaking of water on my head, had to ditch my now wet and sweat cover Rudy glasses, lost my Ink n Burn shirt, and felt like I finally had a chance to try and take on 6th place. That desire was short lived as mile 54 began my own stomach problems. Nothing was leaving me, I tried to vomit with little success, I couldn't take on anymore fluids because they wouldn't go anywhere. I just kept pushing hoping Keira would have something for me at the next aid station as she said she would be there. Sho nuff, she was there, and after I told her about my issues she and Olga knew what I needed. As I took off, mouth full of some kind of chalky pink stuff, Olga yelled out just 50 minutes left! I pushed hard in the last segment to try and hold off Yassine or anyone else that my have been feeling better than I was. I rounded the last corner onto the last half mile stretch and sprinted what was probably a 10 min mile pace to cross the finish line of my first 100k, 7th overall in 9:16. It was very satisfying for me to be able to run with so many talented people, and to be on the verge of dropping out and then seeing my race change so much in the last 15 miles and have so much help from my girlfriend, and parents, and volunteers, and fellow competitors. So glad I found ultra running!  Big thank you to Joe Prusaitis for putting on such a great event, thank you to all of the volunteers for making it a great day. And that was how the Bandit 100k went down in history from MY POINT OF VIEW.
See you on the trails
Here are some pics from the race taken by endurancebuzz.com and Linda Haynes aka my mom.....
Coming in to mile 47 thinking I should call it a day

Coming in to 52 fired up and ready to go

Shoe switchback and a quick shower at mile 52 

Full bottles and ready to leave 52 with Keira and Ma and Pa Haynes


  1. Great recap bro! I look forward to some entertaining posts...What happened to your ribs? Hahaha. I think your blog should be dubbed Climbing Mountains with Gilbert Grape

  2. Thanks for posting this Jesse, I was wondering how it all went down. Yeah, how did you break your rib???

    Hope you heal quickly, lets run soon it's been awhile. I'm trying to get into 50 mile and 100k shape so that I can make you suffer for at least a little bit of Miwok (until you pass me and laugh for going out too fast).

  3. Great re-cap baby!! Love you!! Prizzle and Wick are babies.