Pinnacle Mountain State Park

 

I really need a good camera. I had another day of not great sun light. I digress, this is almost a part two of my first trip to Pinnacle Mountain State Park. I wanted to hike/climb to the summit at that time. I did not get a chance because of the crazy heat. The state park is located on the west side of Little Rock, AR. The mountain has four trails that go around and up and down the mountain. The rest of the park also has about four trails in which I had already hiked on my first trip. The summit trail is what I wanted to do and finally completed. I bonus on this trip is that I got to do a trail race on one of the trails around the base of the mountain. I will blog on that race later.

I had two options on trails to the summit. I took the relatively less difficult summit trail but they both looked equally strenuous.20171111_133406.jpg

I quickly found out that hiking in Arkansas is easy to follow but heed the warnings. I hiked the entire weekend without trail maps. I have a tendency to get lost but the trails are clearly marked and they have signs at every split in the trail.20171111_133633.jpg

As a bonus, they have trail markers that tell you where you are on the trail. It was nice to have the peace of mind not ever being lost. I was making decisions on what path to take depending on what I wanted to see. 20171111_144642.jpg

The hike itself was very strenuous and I had a great time getting to the summit. The only thing I did not like was that the trail was very crowded. This was the first time I had hiked on a trail that was this crowded. I usually see around ten people or less per hike. I saw around 100 people on this hike. It was hard to get pictures with all those people. I could not get a good one without people in the shot. I got to the summit and had such a feeling of accomplishment. I just wanted to yell but I would have scared the other twenty plus people already on the summit. I just soaked in the view took many pictures and headed back down the trail.20171111_141337.jpg20171111_135205.jpg20171111_141713.jpg

The pictures from the summit were nice but seeing it live was much better. I also got a little surprise on my way down the trail with a wish stump.20171111_145050.jpg

The hike was awesome and I need to get back to Arkansas and hike to some more summits.

The next blog is back at Lake Catherine SP for another summit.

 

Lake Catherine State Park

I signed up for the Race the Base 4 Miler Run in Arkansas. I looked at some of the local parks in the area of the run to hike. The two obvious ones were Pinnacle Mountain State Park where the run was taking place and Hot Springs National Park. Petit Jean and Lake Ouachita State Parks are also close but not close enough to highway I-30 for a quick trip home. I stumbled upon Lake Catherine State Park and it had a waterfall. Lake Catherine State Park is located twelve miles southeast of Hot Springs, AR. I can never pass up a waterfall. The pictures on the website were great and I decided to go to this park at least twice while I stayed in Arkansas. The park has four trails but I was only interested in three trails. The trail that led to the waterfall was my top choice of the trails and the other two were mountain trails. I was hoping the waterfall would be flowing because it rained during the week. The time of year could not be better also. The leaves were falling and the trees were all different colors. I was so excited for the weekend of hikes and of course a waterfall hike.

I started on Falls Branch Trail on my way to the waterfall. The trailhead sign says three trails three adventures. One of the adventures was closed for hunting. The two trails that I most wanted to hike were open. Falls Branch trail had some good elevation changes and was very picturesque. The term obstructed view came to light many times on this and the other trails in Arkansas. The trees are what make this trail great but also are in the way of the views. There was a small creek with water flowing through it so I was pumped to get to the waterfall. I finally get to the waterfall and was massively disappointed. The waterfall was nothing but a trickle. I could not believe it. A nice hike with good views but the shining point of the trail is dull. I did like the view of Lake Catherine and the swinging bridge was also cool. I will post my walk across the bridge on youtube.20171110_161710.jpg20171110_152655.jpg20171110_152810.jpg20171110_155141.jpg20171110_155418.jpg20171110_155421.jpg20171110_155751.jpg20171110_160052.jpg20171110_160837.jpg

I liked this hike even though it had obstructed views and a water trickle. The bridge and the views of the lake partially made up for it. The trees and falling leaves also make for a great back drop.

The next hike is a long awaited summit hike.

San Felipe Shoot-Out

I had a wild time at this race. San Felipe is a small city one hour due west of Houston. The race took place in Stephen F. Austin SP. The park is nice but the park staff is the best. The wild and crazy part was the weather. I drove in blinding rain for an hour and a half of a three and a half hour drive just to get there. I got to the park and it was hot humid and no rain in sight. I got a good hike in and then settled down at the camp site. The main problem was a tornado watch in the area. I am still trying to distinguish the difference between a tornado watch and warning. I figured it out quick that night. So as the storm clouds rolled in with lightning and thunder, I found out the difference. A tornado warning is that the weather conditions are conducive to producing tornadoes. A tornado watch is when the is a tornado on the ground in the area. I actually slept well in a shelter at would have easily been blown away if a tornado hit the park. The crazy thing is that the park did not get rain either. It rained everywhere but where the race was taking place. I am truly blessed. The shoot-out format was really cool but not for me this year. The shoot-out is a 5K followed by a 10K and lastly followed by a half marathon. All three races are back to back to back, the rest depends on the speed of the finish of each run. I would have had adequate rest between the 5K and 10K but my 10K times at the time would have left me with just a few minutes before the start of the half marathon. I only registered for the 5K and had a great time. I put up a time of 35:54 on a relatively flat and fast course. 20170324_182240.jpgunspecified-3.jpgunspecified-1.jpg17342566_1949792985255325_6530763373753679950_n.jpg17492487_1949435271957763_962042347878396713_o.jpg

I eventually want to do the shoot-out or at least two parts of it. I think this would be a good training run for the year I chose to do the Ragnar Trail Run.

The next trail run was a flat and fast 5 miler. I had an are you kidding me finish.

Cross Country Run

I decided to step up my mileage by doing a 5 miler. I found a very cool challenge put on by the Waco Striders Running Club called the Huaco Cuatro. The first of this four leg challenge was at Cameron Park in Waco, TX. I did not look at a course map nor did I see the terrain of the course. I have driven through Waco many many times and the entire city looked flat. I will get to that surprise in a bit. I got up early to make the hour and a half drive to the race. The weather for the race was great. It was a bit humid but not bad for spring time in Texas. I did not have a problem finding the park but I could not find the start. I was doing race day packet pick up so I was planning on getting there forty five minutes early so I have time to get my bib and get ready to run. I was at the park but I could not find where I was suppose to go. I was asking people where this part of the park was and they did not know. While I was driving around lost for thirty minutes, I realized this park is very hilly. I could tell that the hills were steep but it was hard to tell how steep the hills were from driving. I was really about to give up until I took one more drive up a long hill and just kept going like I was leaving the park. All of a sudden another parking lot was on the horizon and that was where I needed to be. I got there after packet pick was over but they let me get it anyway. The race started five minutes late and I was ready two minutes late. The group of runners were friendly and so were the race presenters. I liked the atmosphere of the race and I am glad I found the start. I was still a little nervous about the distance. I have never done a run this long. I did not even do training runs this long at this time. The race did not go well for me. The run was actually 5.7 miles of the toughest hills I have ever run. The distance combined with the crazy steep and long hills were leg killing. I have never experienced hills like these. The race director must like putting runners through pain. If the hills were not enough the last mile was mostly straight up another agonizing hill to the finish. I was just happy to survive. I was also questioning doing the next three races. The post race refreshments consist of the normal bananas and water which are a must for me plus some awesome breakfast burritos. This still has been the toughest race of the year for me. I have done longer races but nothing like these hills.20170318_110530.jpg20170318_13584820170318_135925

I have run much more since this torture race and recently did a 7.5 training run in the same time I finished this race.

After a sanity check, I prepared for my third race in three weeks with a trip to the Houston area again.

Crazy Desert Trail Race

I did the 5K race again. This is another race by Trail Racing Over Texas(TROT). This is my second TROT race and I like their races. This race was in San Angelo, TX which is four and a half hours southwest of the DFW metroplex. I did this race in combination of hiking San Angelo SP. The course was relatively flat but did have some short rugged hills thrown in. The run started off slow because I was trying to get my run tracker started but it never happened. I was the last one to start and had to pass all the walkers and slower runners. The trail was mostly single track and that took awhile to do but it kept me at a good pace early. I still have a tendency to start too fast and burn out near the end. The course was a single loop that was at the north end of the park. This part of the park was very west Texas desert like. The views were fabulous and the temperature was just right. I ran in these great conditions and put up my best trial 5K time to date. I ran a 34:31 and came in first in my age group and thirteenth in my gender and twenty second overall.

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This was an all around fun weekend. This was one of my favorite 5Ks of the year.

The next trail race was an experience I will never forget.

Natural Bridge Caverns Trail Run

The race takes place at the Natural Bridge Caverns in New Braunfels, Tx which is about twenty minutes north of San Antonio. The race is touted as the only trail race in the world to start in a cave. The caverns are the largest series of caverns in the state of Texas. The race is a Redemption Race Production and they mostly do triathlons but also a few trail runs. We did the 5K with sights of moving up distances later in the year. Since they start the race below ground they had several corrals and also a staggered start. My biggest problem with corrals is that people lie or they do not know there trail mile pace. My son went to the first corral which was the seven to nine minute pace runners. I passed a few of the people in that corral. I went to the front of the eleven to thirteen minute per mile corral. I had too many walkers in my corral, I am not fast but I have a sense of competition. I want to run the the best time I can possibly run without being caught behind walkers. This is not a usual problem with trail runs but roadrunners are notorious for this. The course was odd but very cool. Starting in a cavern was visually impressive. I liked the staggered start because it gives you time take in the sights and spreads out the different paces. The odd part of the course was it was uphill for two miles of the three point one miles. Starting under ground I understand that you must climb uphill just to get to the surface but once you hit sun light you run up another hill. The course flattens a bit then another long hill. The last mile is all downhill. The course was not technical and was on jeep trail and gravel. There was not many turns and it was a simple course. Dade won his age group and was the third overall male. I was fifth in my age group with a time of 37:55. I was surprised at my relatively fast time and I felt good running. My road running time for a 5K at the time was right around 30 flat. The after party was nice also. We had breakfast sausage tacos and cookies and chips. The shirt and medal were nice also. The finishing medal was unique geode slice.20170205_082356.jpg20170205_082406.jpgDade in the cave.jpg20170205_082507.jpgDade braceless.jpgStill uphill.jpgSmiling in the cave.jpg20170205_095127.jpgDade award.jpg

I really enjoyed this 5K. It was a really fun event and a must do again. I would like to see what the longer courses look like because they are suppose to be more technical with another crazy hill thrown in.

The next trail race was in west Texas. This is also a place I got to do some hiking before the race. I got to do this four times this year so far.

Horseshoe Trail Run

My first trail run of 2017 was in Hitchcock, TX at Jack Brooks Park. The race was the Horseshoe Trail Run 5K. Hitchcock is about forty five minutes south southeast of Houston. The race was put on by Trail Racing Over Texas which does many races all across the state. The course was not in good shape and it was basically a mud run. It was raining most of the previous day and then poured all night. The day of the race it did not rain and was really nice and sunny the rest of the day. The morning of the race while running was humid and misty. I have not done many trail races before but I do all my road running training on trails. I was not ready for what this course had to offer. Mud hills in which a human chain was made just to get up to the top, water up to my knees and having to hold onto trees just to get up other mud hills. I am really not interested in OCR or mud runs so this was not one of my favorite runs while running. After the race I was excited to finish and I kind of liked the race. My finishing time was over 1 hour and 30 minutes but that is a true anomaly of a finishing time. I also had my son with me and he also had a good time at the race and his time was about fifteen minutes slower than his usual time on a trail 5K.20170121_074241.jpg16300031_1921559558078668_3801646537308089467_o.jpg16423090_1921558534745437_1719000361527940919_o.jpg20170121_092811

My socks were white when I started and the bottom of my shorts are wet due to running in high water.

The next trail race was the most unique trail race I have ever done and will do.