top of page

The Road to Bandera Part 1: Chicago to the Grand Canyon

On June 25th of this year, I spent about 10 hours watching the amazing live coverage of the Western States 100-mile endurance run. As a huge fan of the sport of ultra-trail, this was highly entertaining but also a dangerous proposition for someone with easy access to Ultrasignup and a plethora of races to sign up for. It did not take long for me to be researching what races were qualifying races for Western States. There are several ways to get into Western States, you can run a qualifying race and finish under the required time to get one ticket in the lottery, or you can finish in the top two at any of the 7 golden ticket races and get an automatic entry. The Bandera 100k checks both of those boxes and so I signed up! The top two finishers get golden tickets into Western States 2023, and all finishers under 17 hours get into the lottery for 2024. I have decided to bring back my blog to share my training for the Bandera 100k, I will be starting from the completion of my last training block that led up to the Chicago marathon, enjoy!

On Sunday October 9th I ran the Chicago marathon. It was an amazing day; I ran a huge PR of 2:33:35 and never felt so strong throughout a marathon. Afterwards I took things pretty light for a couple weeks. I took two days off from running before getting back into some very easy running.

Monday October 10th: Off

Tuesday October 11th: Off – 2.5 miles of easy biking with cross country team

Wednesday October 12th: 6-mile easy run with summer group

Thursday October 13th: 5-mile easy run with Rosa’s group at Wash Park

Friday October 14th: Off

Saturday October 15th: 11-mile easy run with summer group

Sunday October 16th: Off

Weekly total: 23 miles of running - 3.5 hours

The following week I again kept things light and ran mostly with my cross-country team and at group runs. I capped off the week with an amazing bike ride in Boulder with the Newtown boys: Kevin, Max, and Erik who was in town visiting.

Monday October 17th: 3.1 mile run with cross country team in the AM to scout the regionals course, 5 mile run in the evening at Sloan’s Lake.

Tuesday October 18th: Off

Wednesday October 19th: 6.2 mile run first solo and then with the high schoolers

Thursday October 20th: 2 miles of easy running around the course at regionals, followed by 3.1 miles pacing Averi on the regionals course!

Friday October 21st: Off

Saturday October 22nd: 7 mile run with the high school team

Sunday October 23rd: 31 mile bike ride with the boys!

Weekly total: 26.7 miles of running, 31 miles biking - 6.5 hours

Week 3 after Chicago we started to ramp things back up a bit, I actually ran every day this week as I ran with the high schoolers a good amount as it was our last week of practice leading up to states. I had two high school athletes go to states this year and they both did phenomenal!

Monday October 24th: 5 mile easy run at Sloan’s Lake group run

Tuesday October 25th: 4 mile run easy run + strides with the high school team

Wednesday October 26th: 4.5 mile easy run with the summer group

Thursday October 27th: 5.3 mile easy and snowy trail run with Jon + 4 miles easy with the HS team

Friday October 28th: 2.6 mile shakeout run with the HS team

Saturday October 29th: 3.5 miles warming up with Nick and Allison and running around the course cheering at States

Sunday October 30th: 11.7 mile long trail run with DTR. Lots of stopping to regroup made for a long morning but it is always great to run with the DTR people!

Weekly total: 41 miles - 7 hours

Heading into the 4th week post Chicago I had decided to take a road trip and head to the Grand Canyon to run a bucket list trail: rim to rim to rim. This involves running from the south rim of the Grand Canyon to the north rim and back for a total of 45 miles. I drove from the Denver area to the Grand Canyon on Tuesday November 1st, a 12 hour day in the car. I did get to drive down this iconic road that has a very popular running scene in a movie...

I found a place in the national forest to camp, heated up some pasta I had brought, and got bundled up in my sleeping bag in the back of my Subaru. I surprisingly slept very well and woke up at about 6AM to have a small breakfast, change and get to the trailhead. As the sun was rising, I embarked from the South Kaibab trailhead and began my 6 mile descent down to the Colorado River. At sunrise each day a train of mules carry supplies down from the south rim to Phantom Ranch and so unfortunately, I got stuck behind one of these on my way down, I also took it a bit slower than I had planned as it was very steep and technical and I was not interested in rolling an ankle or falling this early in my journey.

I made it to the river in a little under an hour and settled into a rhythm as I made my way across the canyon and then gradually started ascending towards the north rim. In retrospect, I should have gone slower on the descent from the south rim as my quads were feeling fairly beat up. I also should have stopped to filter some water from the creeks when I had the chance. I wanted to travel as light as possible so I used gels and water mixed with Nuun to fuel and hydrate. It wouldn’t be until I had left all water sources behind that I realized I was getting very tired of sugary drinks and fuel sources.. The Grand Canyon is spectacular, this was my first time going down into the canyon and it won’t be my last. You really feel the immense power of nature when you are down there surrounded by towering canyon walls. I reached 10 miles in about 90 minutes and felt good about my time but I knew that I had a ton of climbing still to go.