Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Cactus Rose 100- Only those who risk going to far can possibly find out how far they can go- T.S. Eliot

Holly- toughest lady I know
Me the night before the race

I tried, I DNF'd, but that will not be the end of the story. I went on this adventure with my friends Holly and Tim. It was my first try at a "more difficult" 100 mile race. Not that running any 100 is easy, but I know which kind of 100's I can finish, and I wanted to challenge myself to something new. The idea of finishing this race scared and excited me. It drove me in training, it was something I had to do. My friends and I planned to run the entire race together. We had trained together and we had a vision of the 3 of us crossing the finish line together; holding hands, with our arms raised high in the air. That vision is still there, it will just have to wait for 2014 to happen. I was sad. It takes many, many training runs to get to the starting line of a 100. You dream of a race all year- and when you figure out on the course it's not going to happen, it's tough. So now I've started this race, I learned lessons I needed to learn and I am prepared for my next run at it. The dream is not lost.

Despite the disappointment of not getting to finish I had many things to be thankful for. My friends of course. I loved being with them all weekend. We laughed a lot, worked through some tough miles and made memories that we will treasure forever. The people of Texas were great, so welcoming. The runners in the race, the RD's, the finish line volunteers, they all were very supportive. It's a great community.

As far as the race- First off the course is awesome. I loved it and I miss it already! I can't wait to go back! I'm a cowgirl at heart and I love cowboy country! It is rugged, rough, and beautiful. The terrain is dry, sharp, various sized loose rocks. Parts of the course are run-able and parts are steep climbs and descents. On top of the climbs you can see breathtaking landscape for miles. The course had many huge Sotel patches. They were tall, grand and in full bloom. These plants had leaves with little teeth that cut you up. There was no way to avoid them, you just had to barrel through.
Close up picture of a Sotel. These plants were taller than us.

Camping at the start finish line is really easy. It only cost 10 bucks per car for the whole weekend. There was a nice wide open field to put up your tent.

My tent is the big one with awesome views of Hill country 
The race does not supply food or have any volunteers at aid stations. You drop your drop bags off at designated spots the night before then pick them up after you run the race. This was really easy and it only took about 30 minutes to drop off and pick up. The race supplied an unlimited amount of water and ice. It was about 5 miles between every aid station and every 25 miles you got back to the start/finish line. When you went back out you got to run the course the opposite of the last time.

Pre-race directions the night before
I barely ever eat any of the food at aid stations so bringing my own food was no big deal.  The aid stations always had a ton of ice with scoopers in it. The ice was clean. I get easily grossed out and I put the ice in my water bottle at every aid station. The race organizers did a great job at everything.

The race is described perfectly when it says on the website "We avoid anything flat to take you on all that is rugged and nasty".  The race director says everyone reads the website but does not believe the course is as tough as they describe. Believe it. In Ultrarunning Magazine Cactus Rose is rated tougher than Sawtooth. My girlfriend Holly has ran Sawtooth and she agrees with that statement. It is a beast, but it is not impossible. It kicked my butt but I will miss it every day until I get to go back. I will start this race again, and next time I will make it to that finish line.

Tim Kruse was the only one of our group that made it to the finish line. It was his first 100 mile race. He did a great job. At mile 50 Holly and I were pretty beat up and he looked like he had just started a 5 mile run. We were both so happy and proud of him. Holly went to High school with Tim and they just reconnected in the last year. They thought it was pretty funny that they used to work together in high school and now 20+ years later they are running a 100 mile race together.

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