This past weekend I ran the Brazos Bend 100 miler.. my first 100 miler! It was an excellent experience and I want to share my journey with you guys. Skip to the end for training, food planning, crew prep, and gear worn.
Brazos Bend 100 is a looped course, 6 loops of 16.67 miles. It’s dead flat, maybe two 20-foot long bumps in the road per lap. Each 1/2 loop is a series of loops or out and backs itself, so you’re always seeing other runners that are ahead/behind you, it’s nice because while only around 200 people do the 100, you do end up seeing a lot of other folks on the course, plus there’s also a 50 miler, marathon, and half marathon that start at different times the same day, so at times there are lots of folks on the trails (the trails are primarily dirt and gravel roads, and they’re very wide, so more people is fine!)
The race started at 6am, it was around 26 degrees at the start, unusually cold for TX. We took off at a steady pace so I warmed up, and the sun came up quickly as well.. probably around 6:30-7am. First loop I felt great and it was uneventful, I was finished the first loop in 3:16. I ate food from my pack and the aid stations, which there are plenty of.. one every 4ish miles. I did learn after the first loop that it was accidently 1 mile long, they had forgotten to put some turnaround cones out, but the cones were there when we went back for the second loop. Bonus miles!
I came back around to the start/finish, saw Ian, I swapped out packs (I have two Nathan VaporHowe’s so I wore one while Ian packed the other so I could quickly just take the new one each lap). Started off on lap 2, it was really warming up so I dropped some of the layers I was wearing. Lap 2 was also uneventful, I found some friends to run and chat with which helped pass the time, and I was also still feeling great. Looking back, I did not start out conservatively enough and was not able to maintain my pace for the whole race. I finished lap two with a cumulative time of 6:31.
Lap 3 came and went, 50 miles in 10:15 (a 50 mile PR by an hour and 15 min, that’s how you know you went out too fast, lol). On lap three the sun was up and the gators were OUT! I was worried going into the race that they’d be all over the trail and I’d have to leap over them. I saw 3 the whole race: 2 swimming in the lake and 1 sunning itself on the bank. Just stay far away from them and they’re no bother.
Lap 4 started and I think about halfway through this lap is when it started to go down. I knew from reading other 100 miler race reports that you should take the first 60 miles painstakingly slow and eat a ton, while I was able to eat A TON, I did not go slow enough. The sun went down after 4.5 laps and it got really cold really quickly. My pace slowed significantly. I talked to Ian at the 4.5 point and told him to get ready to do half of lap 5 with me, knowing that my pace and mental state were on the downward trend and I needed a buddy. I finished lap 4 with a cumulative time of 14:53, 67+ miles in.
Ian and I started out on lap 5, it was dark out, I was doing a lot of shuffling and walking. He did a good job of encouraging me to trot a lot, a few minutes of power walking with big steps and a few minutes of trotting, which was honestly just as fast as the power walking at this point. Once the sun went down the hot food came out at the aid stations, which was really nice. Cup-o-Noodles, cheese quesadillas, bean burritos, all the good things. I was not really into chewing food anymore at this point so Cup-o-Noodles was perfect, just broth and really soft noodles that I was able to drink. I had to make a pit-stop on lap 5 for an aid station volunteer to check my feet, there was some rubbing on my heel and everyone knows that if you don’t address small problems right away during 100s that they turn into BIG problems, so I sat down and let this very kind woman take off my shoes/socks and cover my feet in vaseline. My feet were in bad shape and it was jarring to see, huge and swollen, covered in a rash, felt like pins and needles all over, but 0 blisters (hurray!) so I just loosened my elastic laces a bit to ease the pain on the top of my foot. Lap 5 felt like it took quite some time to finish, I came in to mile 84 in 20:12.
Lap 6!!! Last lap! Ian was considering going back out with me but he didn’t have enough clothes, only shorts and a windbreaker, and he’s only ever run 13.1 miles ever so he was enough of a trooper to stick with me for 17, I’m very thankful for that. I was so freezing cold at this point that I had to put on my giant winter parka that has a fur hood and comes down to my knees. I also had on: a long sleeve shirt, a Patagonia houdini, a down vest, another windbreaker, a Patagonia Nano Puff, and now my winter Parka. I was so cold and nothing was making me warm. The parka helped and I took off with the intention to walk it in on lap 6. I walked the whole first half of it, dying to find a buddy to walk with. I tried listening to music but eh, music in the pitch dark in a gator state park while walking alone wasn’t doing it for me so I was in find-a-friend mode. I took out my phone which had been away until this point and took it out of airplane mode to find lots of encouraging texts, yay! This really helped. I found one lady who immediately admitted to me she was going to drop, noo! I tried talking her out of it but sure enough she dropped at the next aid. Need to find a positive buddy. At some point on the second lap I ran into my AirBnB roomie Elaine, BOY WAS I HAPPY TO SEE SOMEONE I KNEW! We stayed together and chatted until the end of the race. Elaine is a total badass and has completed 13 (now 14?) 100 milers so she was wise and cheery, and even trotted a little towards the finish! We crossed the finish line together in 26:31.
Overall it was a great experience and I’d do it again. The TROT community is exciting, welcoming, and just great folks.
Training: I went into training with a solid base, I had just come off of the Lavaredo Ultra Trail http://ultratrail.it which was at the end of June. After taking a few recovery weeks, I started following this plan that I found on the internet https://trailto50.com/2017/01/19/21-week-100-mile-training-plan/ pretty religiously. 21 weeks felt long enough to build up again but not get burnt out (I was very burnt out after LUT), another perk of this plan is 2 complete days of rest per week. I did 0 those days. While following the plan I obviously moved some things around to account for vacations or races, but I tried to hit that weekly mileage each week. My longest training run was 35 miles, a month before the race.
Food planning: I wanted to get in 200-300 calories per hour, so I tried my best to make sure I’d be carrying enough food to eat, and also planned on grabbing stuff at aid stations. This was a looped course, 6 loops of 16.67, so I had my bf/crew person Ian pack my hydration pack with all of these things and I just put a new one on when I came around. I meant to whittle this down better before the race but didn’t get a chance to, so he just put all this stuff in my pack.
Crew: My 1 crew person was my boyfriend Ian, and also emergency pacer. He was great, my packs were perfect (I showed him how to fill up the bladder and where to put the food, where to put my iPod, etc.). It was seamless.
Gear: I stayed in the same outfit/shoes/socks the entire race, just added or removed layers from it. Nathan VaporHowe, Saucony Hurricane shoes (road shoes were fine), Injinji socks, Dirty Girl Gaiters, 2XU calf sleeves, Patagonia Strider skirt, Patagonia Houdini pants, Zensah sports bra, Long sleeve with NP PHL tag, https://november-project.com/philadelphia-pa/ Patagonia Houdini jacket, Nike down vest, a random windbreaker that Ian got from a golf event, Patagonia Nano Puff jacket, and last but not least my Calvin Klein knee-length parka.
Questions, comments? Find me on the interwebs on Twitter/Instagram @brimil
Happy running, yall!