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Bandera 2013: Women’s Top 5 Q&A Bonus

More bonus goodies! This time…more insight from four of the top 5 women in the Bandera 100km scamper.


Michele Yates – 1st – 10:08:48

EB – After winning Nueces 50 mile in Spring 2012, you were definitely familiar with the Hill Country terrain. How were you feeling mentally and physically coming into Bandera?

I love the trail…any trail, but especially the technical ones 🙂 I feel my strength is downhill technical but with the Texas hill country and this past year of training on a lot of uphill (knowing it is my weakness as well as it being an uphill year for mountain trail running) the rolling hills seem to compliment my abilities.  I actually almost didn’t come to Bandera!  In the last five weeks I had only trained two weeks and most was on the bike and very minimal due to a respiratory infection, so I was not feeling mentally or physically strong.  I tried to focus on the fact that I had a lot of rest and with a great pep talk from my new buddy Dan Vega, I decided to run my own race and however that played out was how God wanted it to be…

EB – How did you feel throughout loop 1 and at the 50km turnaround? Any strong thoughts running through your mind as you headed out for another 50km?

My legs were shot from the get go. I assumed it was from the lack of training but tried to stay positive. I just repeated “With God all things are possible” …numerous times! Also, even though I am new to the ultra scene, I knew enough to take care of myself nutritionally early on. I believe this helped with the ebb and flow of my stride.  I felt strong, no tummy troubles, and excited knowing I haven’t trained much and I’m rolling along pretty good now, so with training and health the possibilities are much greater!

Melanie Fryar – 2nd – 10:17:30

EB – You recently had an excellent effort at Pinhoti 100 where you finished in 20:25. This adventure seemed to be a bit of an “un-fun” experience for you. With Pinhoti taking place in early November, what was your approach to regroup, refocus, and get ready to play at Bandera?

Pinhoti was not fun for me. Mostly, that is due to sever abdominal cramping I had for most of the race. The day is what it is. And it sucked to have a big race land on such a bad day for me. However, I learned a lot out there that helped me at Bandera this year. Namely, I didn’t have time to train for Bandera. But I knew I could do it, and do well because how bad, bad, bad Pinhoti was for me and the fact I still did it. 🙂

EB – How were you feeling physically and mentally race morning?

I have not been 100% physically since last year. Surgery, stress fracture and over compensation injuries kept my race volume low this year. But I feel stronger and stronger every month. I’ve had a big knee injury since March that hurts the worst during taper. But I knew that I’d feel better as I ran…or actually tear something.  So I didn’t think much about it. Mostly, this was my best mental game ever. Even though I wasn’t physical in my best shape.

EB – Seeing you at Chapas aid station on loop 1 (mile 11.04), you appeared to be in “work” mode and the pace didn’t appear to be coming easy. At the 50 km turnaround I noticed a sparkle in your eyes and a spring in your step. Am I imagining this or what there some moment where it transitioned from work to play?

At Chapas that time, I was kicking myself for not having eaten a THING since the start. I felt hungry. And 11 miles into a 62 mile race isn’t the time to already feel short on calories.

Also, I was trying so hard to NOT race the other runners…Yet. I don’t like going out hard. But trusting in “my run” being the best thing for me was hard. I didn’t want to get sucked into another runners race so early. That was hard work!! oh Yes. My pace was comfortable though.

EB – How were you feeling starting the last loop? Were there any specific thoughts running through your mind? How would you describe your final 50 km?

Starting the last loop, I was trying to not think and just run. My knee and ham hurt. I felt like I was slowing down, but ok really. Basically, I did what I do at ultras. I decided to run to the next aid station and didn’t think beyond that.

Sabrina Little – 3rd – 11:00:03

EB – After running a spicy 135+ pavement miles at Ultra Centric in mid-November, what was your approach to recover and refocus on the Bandera 100km, a rugged and competitive trail race?

All of my training is catered for the 24-hour road events. I love them. I’m on the US team, and my focus for 2013 is to perform well at 24-hour World’s. Ultra Centric was fun but pretty casual–I took a nap at one point and walked the final two hours because nobody was chasing me. Because it was so relaxed, recovery only took a couple of days, and I fell back into my regular rhythm of training.

To race well on mixed terrain like at Bandera, I do plyometrics, free standing jumps onto park benches, and burpees to build muscle and complement my road training. But actually, I signed up for Bandera on the Tuesday before the race, so I was fit but not “Texas Hill Country” fit. I went to enjoy myself and try to run hard, and I had an excellent time.

EB – How did you feel mentally and physically as you lined up race morning?

I was nervous. I wasn’t sure how to pace myself over a 100 km, and the women on the starting roster are such outstanding athletes. But I was also excited to be in their company and to compete. I felt physically loose and had to reign myself in at the beginning so I wouldn’t burn out on the course early.

EB – You hung out in the top 5 through the entire first 50 km loop. How did you feel and what did you think of the course? Any specific thoughts running through your mind as you started the final loop?

The first 50 km I was biding my time, trying to run conservatively until the halfway point. My best bet in any race is to pick it up as the race progresses. I like length and try to negative split the second half of ultras.

I kept tripping on rocks because it was such a beautiful course, I wanted to look around! I am new to Texas, so cacti still enchant me. Like any ultra, the beginning of the race was social hour. Everyone was exchanging hello’s and catching up. It was awesome and a distraction from the task at hand. I barely remember the first 25 km passing.

The mud was awful. I was wearing road shoes that collected the mud in piles, so I’d find rocks and do a little tap dance on them to shake the mud off. Unsuccessful.

EB – During the final 50 km, you moved up two spots to finish third! How did that last loop play out and were there any specific challenges you had to work through to get to that finish line?

For most of the race, I was told Liza was 2-3 minutes up on me. When the aid stations told me I was in third, I thought they’d probably just missed her. The second lap felt pretty good. I love the second half of races. I was able to watch the sunset while I finished. That was neat.

Sydney Pitt – 5th – 12:19:42

Sydney at Bear 100 in 2012. (Photo credit: Carrie Delbecq)

EB – Running a spicy time at Nueces 50 km last Spring and winning the female scamper, you definitely are comfortable with the rocky goodness of Texas Hill Country. How were you mentally and physically feeling race morning?

Race morning I woke up feeling fine. Not especially rested, but fine. The week leading up to the race was a bit hectic, so I was really looking forward to just spending the whole day outside on the trail.

EB – I did not see you all day and then…there you were…5th female at the finish. Could you share how your day played out? I would guess you ran a couple pretty consistent splits? And I would guess you had a fun final 10 miles or so with Erica Baron, Meghan Arbrogast, and Katrin Silva, as you all finished quite close to one another??

My race was fairly consistent. I passed and was passed very few times. I did place myself somewhat close to the start to avoid any bottleneck situations. I passed Katrin during the first loop. She was looking strong, I was sure I’d see her five minutes later. It wasn’t until about mile 45-50 that I passed Meghan. She and I briefly discussed the challenges of the day. Her race was not going according to plan, but decided she was going to finish (respect!). We came into the next aid station together. I didn’t see her again until after the race.

When it started to get dark (right as I got to Last Chance), I got lazy. Then it dawned on me that if I got passed due to my laziness, I would be disappointed. I started to shuffle down the last descent. Then I hit the hard left that I knew was just a few minutes from the finish. I was running at a good clip simply because I was ready to sit down! I saw a woman in a yellow jacket (Erica) walking. We exchanged a few words as I passed. She finished very closely behind me. And within a few minutes of her crossing, Meghan crossed. What a day!

EB – Any strong memories from the day?

I do have some great memories. The night before the race, my four friends and I (who were also running the 100 km) were at dinner in Boerne. It was about 8:30 pm and we were on our third bottle of wine. We had a revelation that a few years ago we were so uptight, regimented, and down right unpleasant to be around pre-race, that there is no way we would’ve been out to dinner. Let alone at 8:30 pm. And wine?! No Way. We raised our glasses to finding balance, and not letting our hobby (ultra running) get the best of us, but instead getting the best of it.

This is something I thought about numerous times on Saturday. My friend Carrie calls it an “attitude of gratitude.” That’s what got me through the day. Encouraging the people I passed who were out there giving it their all, thanking the volunteers, and just smiling in general. Our sport is special.

About the author

David Hanenburg David Hanenburg is the passionate dirt-lovin' creator of Endurance Buzz and has been playing in the endurance sports world since 2000 after knockin' the dust off of his Trek 950 hardtail thanks to a friend asking to go ride some local dirt. In 2007 he ran his first ultra on the trails and fell in love with the sport and its people. For more information on David's endurance sports journey, check out the About page.

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