Run The Rail Half Marathon

On a day when some amazing feats were accomplished, I ran a half marathon. A flat and fast trail half marathon. The ease of the course did not diminish the difficulty of the run for me. I did not run a 100 miler I had No Business running(see what I did there) or run a mind boggling time in a marathon. What I did do is set a personal goal and run my butt off. I still get inspired by those running their 1st 5K to those who crank out a 100. Each runner has a breaking point and to see them pass it is amazing.FB_IMG_1570938000735.jpgIt was a small race and I am the tall guy in the grey hat.FB_IMG_1570938021104.jpgI am focused going in that straight line.

This race was located in New Boston, TX and was on the NETT(Northeast Texas Trail) which is 130 miles long. The race was a point to point from DeKalb to New Boston. I was expecting an extremely flat course with crushed gravel and some road. I was wrong, like usual. The course was more like a cross country course. Little to no crushed gravel and a bunch of grass and some muddy sections. Plus for a rail course it had some surprising elevation. The footing was tricky on parts of the course and slipping in the mud was a possibility. The best thing was the temperature. The race started with a 36 degree temperature and a finishing temperature in the mid to upper 40s. It was sunny and for most of the race there was a slight head wind. The wind picked up near the end but nothing too bad. I love running in that type of weather.20191012_072317.jpgSun has risen and time to run

The course was a straight line out of one small town through another town and finishing in another small town. The course featured the usual sights in east Texas small towns. A few barns, farms and ranches. Plenty of flat land that had miles of visibility. The last three miles were on concrete with a slight downhill finish. There were plenty of aid stations and potties along the course with enthusiastic volunteers. At the finish you were treated to a fajita chicken taco bar, all sorts of beverages and cookies.FB_IMG_1570937970747.jpgFinishing section in New Boston downtown.

I wanted to do a few of things during this race. I wanted to run the entire race without walking. I did that except for one restroom break but I ran in and out. I wanted to run a consistent pace. I did that. All miles were in the 10 minute range except two. The last mile and a third was under 10 minute pace and the restroom break was 7 seconds over the 10 minute range. Lastly I wanted to run a sub 2:30. I had an official time of 2:20:10 but my actual half marathon was 2:17:21. I set 5 new personal best but STRAVA has them as 2nd best due to a car incident.Screenshot_20191013-121625_Strava.jpg10:36 pace is good for me.

It was a good experience and a valuable training run. My legs are sore since I never done some of things I accomplished at this race.Screenshot_20191014-115347_Strava.jpgI am liking these times.

Next up is another half marathon on the NETT in Farmersville, TX.

Training with 3 weeks to go

I did not have a race last weekend.  I have two half marathons in the next two weekends.  Both are rail trail races, they mimic the look of the 100K .  I have really ramped up my running on relatively flat trails.  I have also started again with tire pulls.  The 22 pound tire really is a tough workout.  I have been doing hills with the tire and then small hills the next day.  The rest of the week I will go to Trinity Groves.43098483_1956246097731987_6609849695248318464_oTrinity Groves flat and fast

I will also throw in a bonus Sunday run on trails that are runnable but have some little hills.  I have also been trying not to run stupid but it not working out.  I still start way to fast and hang on to a finish.  11053274_609237285878608_3598116021927754336_n.jpg

The temperatures have dropped about 15 degrees and I have been running well.  I guess  all the summer heat training is paying off.  I did something earlier this week I have never done before.  I ended a run with negative splits.  The problem is that the pace was still too fast.  I was trying to do 13 minute miles for 10 miles.  I went out too fast and settled for 9 miles.72230048_2545707355452522_8606380047546187776_o.jpgNegative splits for 8 miles

I will try again for the 13 minute mile pace.  I have developed a race plan though.  I am going to try to do 13 minute miles for the first 31 miles.  The next 17 miles just try to hold that for as long as I can do it.  The last 14 miles I am going to drop the hammer and try not to go over 16 minute miles.  If all goes right and the temps stay low I might be able to get done in 14 hours.  If I have a good average race I should be able to finish in 15 hours.  If all else fails it is going to be a long day and a half.

 

Flat Rock 50K umm 25K

I want to start off by offering prayers and condolences to the runner and his family that was struck by lightning and killed during the race.  It was difficult for me to write a running recap of this race due to this tragedy.

I have always wanted to run a race with a tight cutoff time. I did not expect this to be that race. I thought with 10 hrs for a 50K would not be that bad. My very first 50K was under 9 hrs. Little did I know what I was getting myself into. I know that about 179 runners registered for the race.  I do not know how many actually started but only 103 had finishing times.  I was planning to get pictures on the way back but that did not workout.  I do not know where to start.

The course was tough.  Let me restate this, it was the toughest most unique course I have ever been on. There are parts of the course, as a hiker, I would not even think of hiking.  I got close to 1400′ of elevation gain in the first 25K.  It is less than Piney Woods but much more difficult.  I guess the easiest way to explain this course is this way.  It is a mixture of Colorado Bend SP with the rocks, Cleburne SP with the short steep hills, Lake Mineral Wells SP with the squeezing and climbing crevices then throw in some Arkansas cliffs and Louisiana low land terrain.  The lack of wind made it a sauna the entire time.  Mind you it never got above 83 degrees but the humidity was about 67%.  The funny thing was people at the start complaining how hot it was going to get and might reach 85.  I was laughing to myself thinking I have not had one run in months that low.36516580c7a7dd4f36da935644458c8f.pngThe elevation profile is deceiving and hides the difficulty of the course.

I tried not to run stupid from the start.  I took it easy at the beginning.  It turns out that was the wrong strategy.  I should have ran hard at the beginning and at every possible place I could have run.  I did not think the hills were going to be that technical.  I am talking hands on ground going up and down these hills.  Did I mention two ladders on the course?  Plus water crossings and mud.  It had not rained in awhile and the course was mostly dry but every “obstacle” was extreme.  The course went down into a basin of a waterfall.i-FhRHndT-XL.jpg

I got to the turnaround 10 minutes past the cutoff.  I changed into dry clothes and did the math on making the finish cutoff.  I could drop three minutes per mile on the way back and make the cutoff.  I was feeling pretty good.  My legs were fine and I was hydrated and ate properly during the first half.  I was not low on energy but something in my mind said do not go back out.  The clouds were breaking up and the sun was out so I was not worried about rain.  Several others decided to try their luck and return and they looked much worse off than I.  The volunteer asked two more times if I was going back out and I finally said I am done.  I truly believe in divine intervention and I know that is the reason I did not try to finish the race.i-n9X63RD-XL.jpg

The rain eventually came and it was heavy but it did not stay around for long.  I would have got caught in it more than likely on one of the more runnable sections of the course. I think I could have made the 10 hr time limit but it would have been close and not very fun in the rain and on a wet course.  This was also the time the tragedy struck.  The runner was a quarter of a mile from the finish line.i-FrXvXp9-XL.jpg

I am leaning on doing it again next year.  I am going to run my usual dumb race because I know I will not be able to keep up a fast pace for more than two miles at a time before something slows me down.  So if anybody wants to run the most amazing course you will ever run, I am willing to do it again.  On a positive note, I wish I had gotten some pictures because the course had so many picturesque places and features.  I was awestruck running the course.

BTW, my legs are still sore.

Piney Woods Ultra 25K 2019 Edition

Let me rehash a bit about the race.  I ran this race last year in preparation for my first 50K.  The race kicked my butt and I almost quit running.  I had such a tough time finishing last year and it was not fun suffering on the course.  I barely finished and a month later finished my first 50K in bad shape but better that Piney Woods.FB_IMG_1569102849942.jpg

Fast forward to this year’s race.   I did not die or feel dead and I finished. I actually finished 50 minutes faster this year than last year and still could not find the finish line without help.  Thanks to the volunteer or I would still be looking for the finish 5 feet away.  We did not have the torrential rains from so that helped out a bunch.FB_IMG_1569102863581.jpg

I am guessing the course was the same as last year but the aid stations seemed to be in different places.  I could be wrong.  The hills seemed longer and also more of them on the course.  The weather was better even with the high humidity.  As usual the trees provided plenty of shade early but had a greenhouse effect as the temperature rose. There was little to no breeze all morning.  Did I mention more hills?  It was about 1500 feet of elevation gain over the 25K.  The roots were also a bit bigger this year but the rocks stayed the same.  The course for the 25K was two loops of 7.75 miles.  I know I ran the same loop twice but the second loop seemed to have more downhills.  Also the second loop seemed to be the faster loop although I was about 10 minutes slower.FB_IMG_1569102859970.jpg

I would consider this a successful race even though I was about 20 minutes slower than my predicted time.  I had plenty of help from the great volunteers and others I talked to on the course.  I would like to apologize to all the people I met in previous races and said “hey you ran in … race remember me?” I say yes but I really don’t, I am terrible with remembering people while running during a race. I will remember the couple from Wisconsin and my campsite neighbors in the mini camper.  They were very nice people I talked to before, during and after the race. FB_IMG_1569102856288.jpg

I like getting to run with fun people at fun places.FB_IMG_1569120070338.jpgThe peopleFB_IMG_1569120053311.jpgThe place

This race was once again a prep race race for a 50K.  This time it was a week before not a month.  I am off to Kansas to do their oldest and hilliest trail 50K.

The Sunshine Blogger Award Challenge

This nomination comes much to my amazement.  My writing skills are not great so I guess the pictures are bailing me out.  I was nominated by Margaret and Neal Wandering Together which by the way is an excellent blog.  Please go check them out and if you do not like what they are blogging I will refund no money.  Trust me you will like it.  I am glad that some people actually like what I do and where I go.  Thank you for the nomination.

Here are the rules:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you in the blog post and link back to their blog.
  2. Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.
  3. Nominate 11 blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  4. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

The Sunshine Blogger Award is all about the Rule of 11s, so here we go!

The 11 questions Margaret and Neal asked me, and my answers, are:

  1. Do you prefer relaxing vacations or active vacations, and why?  I like active vacations.  I prefer places where I can hike or get a trail run.
  2. What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever eaten?  I usually do not stray from my usual group of foods.  I like simple run of the mill food but I guess it would be Ghormeh sabzi.  It is a Persian dish I ate a lot when my family lived in Iran.
  3. If you could live anywhere, where would it be?  I like warm temperatures and low humidity so I will go with Arizona.  I have never been there but the weather is right.  I also really like the hill country of Texas.
  4. What do you like to do in your free time?  I like to travel.  I just pack up and go.  Taking short overnight trips around Texas and occasionally Oklahoma and Arkansas.
  5. What’s your favorite story about your pet (past or current)?  I have had one pet so far and it the current one.  The yorkie has never been trained so it still poops in the house.  The dog loves to poop and the rug right outside of my shower.  It is like it is trained to annoy me.
  6. What would you sing at karaoke night?  It would be a song from the Beatles or Depeche Mode.
  7. What three items would you take to a deserted island?  I love this question because I always have the smart ass answer of a boat, a compass and water.
  8. What is your spirit animal?  Bear
  9. Do you collect anything?  Race bibs.  Most runners like the medals but I like collecting the bibs.
  10. What are you most grateful for?  Family
  11. What do you enjoy most about blogging?  Expressing myself as best as possible and hoping people take with a grain of salt.

The 11 blogs I nominate are:

  1. Jason Frels
  2. AtoZMom’s
  3. thedancingrunner
  4. pkadams
  5. Colorado Chelsea
  6. The Huntress 915
  7. BIT|Hiker
  8. The Zen Hiker
  9. Nowhere Tribune
  10. Ester Traveling around the world
  11. BionicOldGuy

And here are our 11 questions for you guys:

  1. What excites you right now?
  2. If you had the opportunity to meet one person you haven’t met, who would it be, why, and what would you talk about?
  3. When and where were you happiest in your life?
  4. What chore do you absolutely hate doing?
  5. What’s your least favorite mode of transportation?
  6. What is something you learned in the last week?
  7. If you inherited or won a million dollars, what’s the very first thing you would do with the money?
  8. What is the best job you ever had?
  9. What two languages would you like to be fluent in?
  10. What would you do if you were the lone survivor of a plane crash?
  11. Name 3 things in nature you find most beautiful?

Thank you again Margaret and Neal and looking forward to the responses.

Training is not so bad when beer is involved.

I did not have a training trail race this weekend, so I went to a brewery.  My training is going well, I think.  I really will not know until I finish the 50K in two weeks.  This upcoming week I have a 25K that almost retired me last year.  I am on pace to get 200 miles this month.  I have had some soreness in my hips and knee, so I trying to find out if I am going to far too soon.  A coach in my running group said I needed to take 48 hours off from running and give my body some rest.  It was hard after finding some new routes on different trails.  FB_IMG_1568332004900.jpgCrazy look on Big Cedar TrailFB_IMG_1568332022022.jpgRunning on Big Cedar trail and taking sharp turnsFB_IMG_1568332106336.jpgView of Joe Pool Lake from the trails of Cedar Hill State ParkFB_IMG_1568332116716.jpgWoodsy section of Cedar Hill SPFB_IMG_1568332101621.jpgPrairie part of Cedar Hill SPFB_IMG_1568332165232.jpgStill a forest in Cedar Hill SP

I decided to use my 48hrs off by going to a semi local brewery.  I really like this place after one visit.  The selection of beer is just enough to cover all the bases but not overwhelming.  The atmosphere was laid back but enough noise to be interesting.  I, of course, got the hefeweizen and it was fantastic. My favorite was the John Hancock Lager.  It is a dark and smooth lager that was very drinkable.  They also had a small BBQ stand inside the biergarten which was nice.  They had board games and plenty of TVs so we were thoroughly entertained for hours.20190914_172007.jpgOutside20190914_172903.jpgInside20190914_172854.jpgMy first flight20190914_180514.jpgBBQ sandwich with a John Hancock20190914_185408.jpgMy wife beating me in Star Wars trivia.

I did kick her butt in checkers 3x.  I am now back to more serious training with just six weeks left till the 100K.  Nothing better than a trails and ales break.

Do Wacka Do 25K

The race was located in Erick, OK at Sandy Sanders Wildlife Area in western Oklahoma.  I was drawn in by background picture of a canyon trail.  The picture was very accurate. The views were awesome.  They were the best part of the race and a reason to run it again.  The run was not particularly crowded also. Plus they had port o potties with showers.20190907_064728.jpgEarly start of the race20190907_071301.jpgSun rising over the plains

The course was mainly jeep trail and no shade to be had the entire race. The course covered from canyon rim down into canyon basin and back up several times. The 25K was a 16.2 mile loop with just under 1400 feet of elevation gain. There were four aid stations along the way strategically place at the top of some very steep and long climbs. A switchback or two would not have hurt. Most of the hills were straight up and only one had the benefit of switchbacks.20190907_072653.jpgView over the canyon

The 25K, 50K and 50 miler started at 7 AM and it was a cool low humidity morning but it was hot around 9:30 AM and I do not believe the aid stations were prepared for the type of heat that was coming later in the day. I was worried about fellow DDR because he was doing the 50 miler in 100 degree heat. The aid stations were not like Habanero i.e. ice was not plentiful.20190907_075854.jpgLooking for shade20190907_080248.jpgShade in the canyon basin

As for myself, I ran at a good steady pace the entire race. The hills kept me from going to fast out of the gate. STRAVA says I ran my third fastest 1/2 marathon. I was surprised since there was a bunch of elevation on this course. I finished in a good time of 3:33:23 and 21st out of 47. I rarely finish in the top half of a race this distance. The longer runners did not fare as well. One of the 50K and one of the 50 miler runners dropped down to 25K. Of the 16 runners that started the 50 miler only 6 finished and 9 dropped down to the 50K.

FB_IMG_1567911109026.jpgStart/Finish line

On a side note, I would usually take my camper out to the races.  I decided to get a hotel because I thought it would be to hot to stay in without electricity.  It was cool enough over night not to have electricity and the hotel was a nightmare.  First, the shower did not work and did not find out until the morning of the race and was up to late to do anything about it. Secondly, I saw what I believe was blood splatter on the drapes. Oh crap there was blood spots on the drapes.  I finally got the shower to work by almost ripping the handle off the wall.  I went across the street to get disinfectant for the room because of blood splatter on the drapes.  The TV malfunctioned and I had to fix it, I did not to not have TV with blood on the drapes. I will be using my camper from here on out.