Colorado Bend 60k (third in the Capt’n Karls nighttime trail series)
Bend, TX (Colorado Bend State Park)
Overall #30 / Ultra #9
After Muleshoe, I had felt pretty discouraged, but surprisingly, it only took me several days to regain my strength and focus, thank you Jesus. I had thought and reflected on what Bill had told me and his encouragement for me to show up to Colorado Bend. Knowing that it will be the hardest, I decided that it would be wise to at least train a little for this… Haha. I spent the next 2 weeks doing Powerhiking at Eisenhower Park and simulating those long climbs that I would face in colorado Bend, for I had no idea how “steep” or large they would be. Also, I purposefully trained during the hottest time of the day, i.e. sometimes at 6pm, when it was close to 100 degrees outside. I kept thinking to myself.. it can’t get any worse than this lol. Also, I knew that it was going to be a 5 mile segment which there will not be any water. Now that’s just mentally sounds exhausting in the Texas heat + humidity, and thus I trained as much as I could under those conditions.
On a side note, I had still be job hunting at the time. I had remembered on the Thursday before the race, a brother and I from church decided to fast about our jobs and careers. It was the first time which we fasted specifically for that. On that Friday, the chair of pathology at Texas Tech El Paso called me for an interview. And in my mind I was like, man, is this for real? We had JUST fasted and the next day I get a call for an interview… Food for thought as I was driving to Colorado Bend and thinking about the answers to our prayers…
Okay don’t judge… but I stopped at this place called Das Peach Haus in Fredericksburg and bought myself some carbs (canned peaches) and had a little shot of booze… LOL. The drive to Colorado Bend from San Antonio is a long one, about 2 1/2 hours. I went through Fredericksburg and Llano before I reached the park itself.
When I finally made it to the park.. we had to go down to the level of the canyon. Indeed, it was a bit muggy but somehow (because of my training??) It felt manageable. The views down there were spectacular (this picture does no justice lol).
It was great to see familiar faces again… I started the race, not knowing what’s going to happen, but rather, just stepping out there with a leap of faith. There was some peace in my heart knowing that I have accepted a job interview. But nonetheless, the battle of the 60k is ahead of me, and had full expectations that it was going to take a lot out of me. I’d expect to be tired and sore, and I was ready to face the challenge. And I was sure glad that Bill enouraged me not to give up.
As the race started, the first 0.5 miles were flat as we were on the bottom of the canyon by the Colorado River.
And then came the climbing… That 2.5 miles to Lemon Ridge aid station was steady, moderately technical, and long. I took my time though and wasn’t ashamed or dissatisfied about myself. But it was HOT…
When I got to the Lemon Ridge aid station.. I felt my right calf a little sore, so I went down and tied my shoes, only to realize that I had a BLOWOUT on my right shoe!! And they only had 160 miles on them!!?? WTH??!!
Guess who I saw at that aid station… Bill! And he had some duct tape which came in handy!! I wrapped my shoe with duct tape, and it managed to do the job at least for the time being.
The next segment from Lemon Ridge to Windmill aid station was a 5.2 segment that turned out to be not as bad as I had thought. It was only moderately technical but there were gigantic slabs of granite like what is seen here that we had to go through…
And… I got lost for about 1/4 of a mile after I left Windmill, realized I had been off course, a cop re-directed me back on course…
Then came the night… The rocks were a bit technical, but overall it felt like they were manageable. It was about another 3 miles before we hit Gorman Falls, which was a water-only aid station that also had energy gels… lol what an interesting combination ha.
From Gorman Falls back to Lemon Aid is a 5.0 mile stretch with quite a bit of descent at first, followed by a flat area right by the Colorado River (which would probably look beautiful if there was light), but I could hear every insect chirping and mosquitoes that be spreadin’ Zika all along that bank… LOL j/k
After the mile down at the River Bank, the trail verged back inland a little bit, and then there was an arrow with the sign “Lemon Ridge Pass”
And immediately… the next 1.5 miles was a straight climb. No joke no kidding. It was tough but boy I was sure glad to get it out of the way.. just in time for me to be back at Lemon Ridge and the duct tape on my shoe to fall off!! I asked Bill for the duct tape again, and patched it up, which lasted the remainder of the 2.5 miles prior to returning to the start/finish.
Thankfully, I happen to have another pair of trail shoes in my car. That saved the day!!
The second loop I started with hiking sticks, but they turned out to be more of a burden than anything else… So I dropped it off at Lemon Ridge aid station before taking off to the main loop… It was long, but somehow, it didn’t feel as bad as Pedernales Falls or Muleshoe Bend. What was about it? I dunno. Was it hotter? Some people thought so but not me. Was it my training, or….
Also, I learned to use a second light to my advantage. While I had my headlamp on for general guidance on direction, I found that if I lit up the ground low, it gives the rocks a 3D view and provide my eyes with depth perception. And because of that, I found myself being able to run more without worrying about tripping.
I remembered Psalm 119:115
“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”
So that I may not stumble… LOL
And there was Bill again, as I encountered him at the last aid station (Lemon Ridge).
He asked me, “are you going to do Reveille Peak?
Me: “Oh yes…!! I will be there!”
Bill: “I’ll be there at the Gate aid station”
And I had to thank him, “Bill, if it wasn’t for you and your words at Muleshoe, I wouldn’t be here today trying this race.”
The final stretch was that 2.5 mile of rolling and then downhills, followed by the 0.5 miles of victorious running on flat.
The second picture in the middle is with Joe… the founder of Tejas Trails. Man it’s always good to see him haha.. The sun was coming up, and I managed to pull a 10:58 (just under 11 hours) on this race. Though the time wasn’t great, I felt pretty good afterwards both physically and mentally. Just in time for me to drive to Austin to join the church service.
Concluding remarks: Overall, this was a good race. I thought it was definitely more challenging than Muleshoe and Pedernales, but I had expected a lot worse. I wasn’t feeling too beat, although I was tired, and having that hope and realization that I have overcome 3 60ks with one more to go. No matter the circumstances, I’ll give Reveille Peak with my best and give all the glory to God for delivering me through this nighttime journey.