Execute: Sage Canaday’s Course-Record Bandera 100k Race Report

[The following is Sage Canaday’s race report from the 2013 Bandera 100k, which he won while establishing a new course record. The race was also the 2013 USATF trail 100k national championship as well as part of the 2012-13 Montrail Ultra Cup.]

“Execute.”

I had this one-word mantra on a loop in my head for the last 42 miles of the Bandera 100k (I also had a song by Awolnation stuck in my head at times, but that’s another story…).

“Execute, Execute, Execute.” After an opening uphill mile of 7:28 (according my GPS and Strava upload report), the lead pack of Dave James, myself, and Dave Mackey had separated ourselves from the rest of the pack. A couple miles later, after some rather technical, rocky trails and a more tame, muddy path, I had taken the lead and opened up a little gap on the Daves. I was pretty much alone with my thoughts (and my mantra) for the remaining 59 miles of muddy trails, skull-crushing rocks, and sharp cacti.

The mantra became my simple way of coping with the pain and inevitable mental struggle that ultras bring up. The challenge is a full-on exposure that strikes at your vulnerabilities, your own self-doubts. However, this mantra was effective in combating that internal, mind-body battle in that it reminded me to do the basics: Eat, Drink, and Keep Running! On the rocky, steep uphills I just concentrated on putting one foot in front of another; on the technical downhills it was a matter of not falling and/or breaking an ankle. On the flats I tried to cruise but the soul-sucking mud seemed to sap the energy out of every step.

Thankfully Joe Prusaitis and the local race committee had marked the course very well with arrows and “do not enter” signs at every questionable fork in the trail. Staying on the course and not getting lost was another big part of this whole “execute” strategy! Also, due to the fact that I was wearing my SCOTT Kinabalu 2 trail shoes, I actually never fell in the slippery mud or on the slick, sharp rocks that were scattered about on many sections of the course. My Drymax calf sleeves helped protect my legs from getting really cut up and the compression seemed to help the tibialis anterior tendonitis that I’ve been struggling with for the last couple of months (It still hurt quite a bit, though, despite that and all the taping I did before the race as seen in the video below.):

After an opening marathon split of 3:14 (much too hard of an effort considering the muddy conditions and technical rock sections), I braced myself for the remaining 36 miles. There was a decent chance I’d crash and burn…

Things started getting pretty tough around the 40-mile mark. I remember thinking back to my first 100 km race at UROC and how devastating it was to wrap my head around the idea of still having to run close to a full marathon just to reach the finish. I HAD to force such negative thoughts out of my head. I concentrated on just taking it one mile at a time and trying to keep the pace reasonable. It became a battle of looking at my Garmin mile splits and counting down the remaining tenths of a mile until the next aid station.

I’ve posted data from the run on Strava.

The Nachos and Chapas aid stations were very supportive. Thanks to all the wonderful volunteers there, I was able to move through these stations efficiently. It became routine: ditch empty gel packets in trash, pick up a couple new gel packets, and fill up my Ultimate Direction handheld with Coke (or in some cases Heed). Also, I ran with an Ultimate Direction belt that had lots of pockets in it… sometimes I adapted and grabbed things on the fly and stuffed gels in my pockets to eat for later. I ate and drank stuff that I’ve never tried in training (I don’t recommend that.). I tried S! Caps for the first time because I knew I would be losing some salt through sweat in the relatively high humidity (Although I will say that I only took about five or six total… not even one an hour and each time I did it made my stomach feel a little iffy… something I’ve found out in long training runs with them.). I slammed some potato chips here and there as well. Good thing I’ve practiced with this key, extreme-carb-eating-running “workout” a couple years ago when I ran for Hansons:

The whole race I really had no idea what my lead was on second place was. With about 12 miles to go I was still looking back over my shoulder and expecting to see someone within a couple minutes of me. That kept me motivated (as did the mile splits I needed to execute up the final climbs to sneak under the course record). Things got pretty tough the last 10 miles or so… but I still tried to soak in the run… enjoy the terrain, the race unfolding in front of me after hours and hours of being alone. I thought of all the wonderful support I’ve been so fortunate to receive from my family, my girlfriend, my friends, my sponsors, and the running community. There was a lot of emotion and relief when I made the final turn onto the homestretch of road that led to the finish line in the last half-mile of the race. I drew energy from all these thoughts in my head and was even able to pick up the pace a bit and finish at a stronger clip.

Sage Canaday - 2013 Bandera 100k

Sage winning and setting the course record at the 2013 Bandera 100k. Photo: Rick Kent of Enduro Photo

In closing, I’d like to thank the Tejas Trails, volunteers, and RD Joe Prusaitis for putting on a memorable race. The support I’ve received from readers/fellow runners is also phenomenal and very much appreciated– I couldn’t do this without you guys! Also, I’d like to congratulate all the runners out there who participated last weekend.

Sage Canaday - Joe Pursaitis - 2013 Bandera 100k

RD Joe Pursaitis and Sage after the race.

Sage Canaday - Sandi Nypaver - 2013 Bandera 100k

With my amazing girlfriend, who is quite the ultrarunner herself!

See you on the trails,
Sage

PS. Here is some video footage of the finish-line area (I had just crossed the line.):