For those who have never run at Hill Country State Natural Area in Bandera, TX, there really isn’t a good way to describe the trails that will truly do it justice. Bandera throws a little bit of everything at you. There are rocks (lots of them, big and small), flat stretches that allow you to open things up, hills so steep that mortals (i.e. most anyone I run with not named Liza) are forced to walk, sotol cacti that rip your legs to shreds, and unshaded sections that leave you exposed to the merciless Texas sun. Sound like fun?
This past Saturday I ran 20 miles with some friends in Bandera and had a blast. We started just after light so we wouldn’t need our headlamps. Some of us were running 10 miles, others 15, and a few 20. The humidity was thick as we started, but that soon burned off and gave way to blue skies and a hot sun beating down on us. It was the first time this year any of us had run in the “heat”, although the temps in July will make this past Saturday seem like a cold winter day. We did our usual first loop, heading over Lucky’s Peak, Cairn’s Climb, and Boyle’s Bump. Upon reaching the saddle by Sky Island, we bid farewell to a few friends and headed over towards Trail 1 (bypassing Ski Island by the mandate of Chris). This stretch allows you to pick up the pace if you are feeling good, and we all settled into a nice run. Back to the car to drop off Tanya and refill our bottles, then back out for another 5 miles over the 3 Sisters with Chris and Larry. My legs felt great, and I could have definitely gone out for more. This is a huge mental boost as I head into my taper for the Bull Run 50 miler next weekend.
Despite the heat we encountered, I wouldn’t trade our runs at Bandera for any other trail in the area. The scenery is unmatched in its beauty. It’s always fun to catch up with friends and make new acquaintances. Saturday was no exception.