This is the post excerpt.
This my blog enjoy stay awhile. I will be as entertaining as possible with stories and pictures in the blog section and videos under the other stuff section. Mostly I will chronicle my adventures to becoming a hiker as a sidebar to trail running. Hopefully I will have a before and after weight lose story also.
The race was amazing. The race was held at Palo Pinto Mountains State Park. The state park is not open yet but the runners got a sneak peek of what the future of the trails might look like at the park. The park is located in Strawn, TX which is about an hour and a half west of the DFW metroplex. The hill country of Texas makes up most of central Texas and this area in the northwest part is beautiful. It has the hills and flowers and some great views.
The race offered distances ranging from 5K all the way up to a 50 miler. I chose the half marathon because I am starting to like this distance. It is long enough to feel like hard work but short enough to recover fairly quick. The half marathon course consisted of two out and backs over a changing terrain. The trails held up well from the rain overnight. They were wet and had some muddy spots but overall in good shape.
The first out and back was a feeling out process and not difficult. The course started with two small but steep uphills. The first major climb came after a water crossing. The water crossing was not too deep so I rock jumped to keep my feet dry. The top of the climb had great views but I could not get good pictures because of the weather. It was cloudy and very very humid. It was smoove sailing down the hill to an area filled with wildflowers. The trail went into a forest type area in which the trail turned a bit muddy. After the muddy section was the turn around point of the race. I decided to get most of my pictures on the way back. I was feeling good and I wanted to get the picture before the second out and back. I got to the start/finish ahead of my three hour half marathon pace.
I started the second out and back drenched in sweat. My shirt and shorts were soaking wet. My shirt was feeling heavy and my shorts were clinging to my legs. My nutrition and hydration was still good but my clothes were an added weight. I had to tuck in my shirt to keep my shorts from falling down. The water crossing was a bit deeper but crossable without getting too wet. At the top of the climb the temperature dropped at least ten degrees. The sky got darker and thicker clouds came rolling over the course. I made it almost to the muddy part when it started to rain on and off. I got to the turn around and the sky opened up. It started to rain consistently. The thunder and lightning started after I was out of the now swamp like muddy section. I could see lightning bolts go from cloud to ground. As I started up the backside of the biggest climb it started to pour. At the top of the climb, it started to hail. By now the trails were flooded and muddy. There were mini waterfalls on the big hill. The water crossing was shin deep. The rock jumping idea was scrapped and I just ran through the water. I finished drenched and exhausted. My time of 3:17:13 was slow but I was happy just to finish.
Overall, I really liked to race but better weather would have made this race great. I did get to see another Texas state park. I have week till my next race in this same area.
We finally got some good weather in the DFW area. The temperatures have been in the 80s with the rain diminishing. I headed down to Cleburne State Park for another 25K. My first 25K did not turn out well but I finished. I can say the same for this 25K. I have run two 50Ks and some other longer runs since my first 25K so the distance should not have been a problem. The run was actually 17.4 miles so I got a bonus two miles and I did not even get lost.
The shuttle to the race was not a good start. We were crammed in a cargo van sitting on the floor. I am tall and not that flexible so the ride was hard on my knees and legs. After the packet pick up I was ready to go. The run consisted of two loops of what was posted as 8.33 miles a piece. The first loop could easily break the spirit of a runner not use to the rocky hilly terrain. The aid stations were place at the start/ finish and the half way point of the loop. I knew things were bad when right before the first aid station at the first loop when a runner doubled over and stumbled off the trail. I got to the aid station and sent a volunteer back to check on him. I later saw him finish his first and only loop. The course had plenty of short steep hills that were tough and valleys that did not seem to bad. There was one water crossing that got my feet wet which I do not like and one I jumped over. I finished the first loop in just over two hours. I got some runner food at the aid station. Talked to my sister and got updates on some other runners in the running club I run with. One runner had already dropped out and another was not looking good trying to finish the 50 miler.
The second loop started with some Tylenol and a salt tablet. My nutrition was holding up under what was now a sunny hot and humid day. I got to the first water crossing and my feet did not dry as fast as they did on the first loop. I got to the midpoint aid station and my feet were hurting but is was not too bad. I learned a lesson from my previous races and filled my water bladder. I did this for two reasons. First, it already had a mix of electrolytes in it and secondly I ran out of water on my last long trail race. I was feeling fairly good when I got to the second water crossing. This time I took my time and made sure I could make the jump. This is the part of the course that is the toughest. I made it up the first short steep hill but I struggled. The second steep hill was longer and that did me in. I could not get back up to speed. I was just walked and walked. I could not even run the douwhills due to the technical nature of the trail. The downhills were also steep with switchbacks, rocks and roots. For me, the added danger was low hanging branches and leaning trees. I finally made it to the last climb and it caused me to stop twice. I was now starting to pass people that looked worse off than me. I also caught up to a running buddy. Ahmed and I ended finishing the race together but it was painful. We now got to the rolling valleys section. The valleys were not as steep but they seemed ten times more difficult now. We were able to run down into the valley but getting out got more and more difficult. We got to the end and wanted to have a fast finish and mistimed our run. We ran out of gas and had to restart our sprint finish. The top of one those fun hills.The beauty of the course.The tree rock and root section.The section before the jump across.Feeling good on the first loop.Ahmed and I on our sprint finish.We did it.
I can easily say that was the toughest race I have ever run. The heat and humidity took a toll on many runners and the DNF percentage was higher than usual. My toes were bloodied and I broke three toenails. I survived and had fun.
The rain has closed most of the trails so my Arkansas race is a no go and so is hiking but I have a special blog next.
Great Plains State Park is located in Mountain Park, OK., which is about about 45 minutes west northwest of Lawton. The name of the city is an ideal name because it is surrounded by mountains. It is between the Wichita Mountains and the Quartz Mountains. The Great Plains State Park is miss named because it is nothing but hills and mountains. This was also my headquarters to go between the two mountains ranges. I unfortunately did not make to the Quartz Mountains. The prior day I spent more time than I thought at the Wichita Mountains. Plus this being the first trip with my camper I had some “forgot some stuff issues.” I did get some hiking time in this state park.
The park had the usual lack of trail markings I come to expect while hiking in Oklahoma. This time my hike to an unusual turn for the worse. I headed to the trailhead which was marked by an orange bucket with a flag in it. I had a map, it looked like somebody just drew it, and a compass so I felt comfortable. I also started the hike with plenty of sunlight and the park was not that big. At the first split in the trail I went in a direction that would take me back toward my campsite. The trail had no markings but there were cairns on the side of the trail every few feet. I quickly realized that this trail was not taking me up the mountain but around it. I wanted to get some elevation change plus look down on the park and see other mountain ranges in the distance. I back tracked to the split and headed the other direction.
This trail was a bit more defined but still no markings. I started to see blue tape on trees by the trail. I was guessing this was the trail marking. I followed them up to the top of the mountain overlooking my campsite. I got to see everything I wanted and had markings to follow to get back down. I followed the blue markings and quickly realized this is not the way I got up here. Then the markings went away, I tried to backtrack but I could not find the trail I was on originally. The trail map was no help at all. I went back to one of the higher ridge lines of the mountain and found the dam that was close to my campsite. I decided to take a direct route to the dam. I was on a trail most of the way down until the trail started to circle back up the mountain. I stayed the steady course downward and I had to bushwhack a bit to get to another clearing. As the sun was setting and trees were now blocking my view of anything, I thought of calling 911. I gave myself fifteen more minutes of straight hiking to find something I recognized. I continued in a straight line and I saw a campsite. It was the one in which was camping at but I did not know at the time. I finally get to the road and feel good. I see my camper and now I know I am about a half mile from the trailhead.
I hike the shoreline trail back to my car and the trailhead. I make it safely before the sun sets. The funny thing is I was not prepared to camp in a camper but was prepared to get lost hiking. Trail markingsMore trail markingsMaking my way upThe reason I hiked to the topThey were waiting for me.My way back downhill.Finally the Shoreline trail.
I survived to hike another day. Next up, I went back to the Wichita Mountains to finish a hike I started over a year ago.
This has become one of my favorite races I do yearly. The unfortunate thing this year has been the rain. I did get to run with my sister which is always fun. I talked this race up to my sister on how hard it is but fun. The other bad part was I ran almost daily since my 50K and my sister is recovering from an injury, so we ran very slow. The course is not very difficult when running at a slow pace. The last half mile climb is usually the leg killer but it was not hard at all. Once again the Waco Striders provided a great medal and the shirt was just as cool. The weather did not cooperate since we ran in thunderstorms the entire race. I really do not like running in rain. There was a good turnout and some fast times despite the weather. I do not know if any pictures were taken so the only one I provided is the medal and the the course below. It does not look like much but there is some serious elevation change and a few nice views.
My next race was the Tanner Higgins Warrior Run but it was cancelled due to rain. Next up is a trip to Oklahoma and the first in my camper.