My first run at Bandera was just wonderful.  I carpooled with my buddy Stephanie and we arrived at 7:30 AM and it was 28 degrees.  We sat in the car and waited for signs on life to appear.  Soon the parking lot was buzzing with crazy folks getting ready to run. I was wondering if I would soon discover that I had forgotten some essential part of equipment like my running shoes.

Before the run got underway we all gathered around Jason’s truck where all the goodie bags were stored.  Henry was standing in the back giving a lecture on the course and handing out maps.  After the course description he started tossing out goodie bags by shirt size to the first person to raise their hand to claim it. I usually do not like holiday gift exchanges but this was the most unique white elephant exchange that I have participated in.  If you did not like your bag you still got the best gift of all and that was the run.

We all started out on the first 10 mile loop and soon separated into a fast pace group and a slower group that I was in.  Several others diverted away from the 10 mile loop but I did not keep track of where they ran. When I had talked to Joe Prusaitis about running the Bandera Race he recommended that I run the course before the event so that I could appreciate how beautiful Bandera was.  Joe said that the Bandera race was like Woodstock. The run this past Saturday was truly beautiful.  When we climed up the hills we got a view of the fire red oaks and the deep green cedars that was splendid.

I took several geology courses in college and when I was a kid and as an adult I have always loved exploring canyons studing rocks and rock formations.  Since I have started trail running I have a love hate relationship with rocks.  One thing that I am beginning to notice is that I am beginning to understand the Texas landscape by running trails and looking at rocks.  Usually in my rock exploration activities I am looking at rocks from a distance like in Monument Valley or the Grand Canyon.  When I take a closer look at rocks it was while walking.  Trail running is like watching text code stream across the screen in the movie the Matrix.  When I am running I am trying to see where the best place to place my size 13 shoe so that I can miss a sharp rock or twist my ankle.  While I am scanning the rocks I also notice the different colors and rock compositions and how they change.  One thing nice about Bandera is that the terrain changes so if you get bored with one type of terrain it will soon change.

Usually I start running a long run at a pace for a 10K which is too fast. Today I wanted to run at a sustainable pace. I know that my buddy Stephanie has run 50 mile races and I told her that when I am running behind her that I will not listen to her when she tells me to go ahead and get in front of her because I am faster.  Today I wanted to run smart so I told myself that I was going to run with Stephanie the whole run an see how it went.  I was also nursing my left knee which always gives me problems when I do not need them.  My left knee has a long history of injuries which started when I fell on it when I was about 28 while running across a bridge. I came down on it hard.  The second injury came in my late 40’s when I was playing basketball and I was hit by a line backer as I was going up for a jump shot.  I had all of my weight on my left leg when he hit me and my internal knee ligaments got stressed and stretched.  This injury was the first time that I had to wear a brace on my leg.  I was in it for about 6 months and it is the reason that I stopped running.

So I was running with a group of woman named Eva and Marsha and Stephanie lead by Henry.  I was paying particular attention to how fast we were running because I really need help with this aspect of my training.  We ran the down hills at about 9:30 minute miles.  We were running the flats at about 10-13 minute miles and we were walking the uphills at 14-15 minute miles.  Even though I ran less that half of the run that I will be doing at Bandera in January I finished feeling strong and not in any pain on my left knee.  My knee started to bother me at the end of the first 10 mile loop and I thought it was going to be a long painful afternoon but it did not get any worse.  My left knee has this personality that sometime it will nag me then when it gets warmed up it will just start behaving like my right knee. This was the case at about mile 17. The pain in the front of my left knee just when away and I was left with running with my normal fatigue.

When I finished the run it was 84 degrees.  I ran for about 6 hours.  I lost my group at the last water stop because I missed the turn on trail 9 when I should have gone on to trail 2C.  I was in the middle of this beautiful field or native grasses and I was yelling hello and listening to my echo.  I was not afraid of being lost I was in awe of the beautiful remoteness and calm quite that surrounded me.  I guess I have lived up to my BIC 2008 nick name, Space Cowboy.