Another Top Ten List:Most Difficult Races of 2018

I have been asked the same question over and over again lately. What has been your favorite race so far in 2018? I was thinking that this list is going to be the same as my most difficult races of the year. The list is the same except for one race. The most difficult race did not make my favorite race list. I decided to do the most difficult list and wait on my favorite list. So far this year I have done every race distance I have wanted to do except one. My 50K is this weekend and then I have a couple more races planned to end the year with 25 races. I have done a 5K, 5 miler/8K, 10K, 15K, 20K, 25K and a 1/2 Marathon all on trails. I have done races in freezing weather and snow. I have done races in unbearable heat and humidity and pouring rain. The views from some of these courses have been absolutely breathtaking. All the races and training has been leading up to this weekend’s 50K. The following 10 races as difficult as they were are going to make this weekend easier but not easy.

10. The Wild Canyon Ultra 10K in Caprock Canyon State Park-The rain made the course wet and slick. The course was hilly and rugged but manageable to run. The views were by far the most impressive.20181114_123511.jpg

9. Rugged and Raw 10K at the Cedar Ridge Preserve-The preserve is my training ground and I am there about 3 times a week. A race here is just different. The trails are difficult on a normal day but this was a particularly warm and humid day. 20181114_124531.jpg

8. Rough Creek 10K at Rough Creek Lodge in Glen Rose, TX-This race is well known for the Rusty Crown. It is a torcherous uphill that is a definite leg killer. If that is not bad enough a steep downhill that tends to sends running crashing to the ground. 20181114_125300.jpg

7. Down N Dirty 8K at Cameron Park-I ran this race last year not knowing how hilly the course was going to be. I was not surprised this year and it still kicked my butt. The last climb after the 5 mile mark is the one that gets me.20181114_130102.jpg

6. Cross Timbers 5 Miler off of Lake Texoma-The rain made this course a muddy mess. This is one of the more technical courses but with the pouring rain it was down right impossible to run. The views were nice when the sun finally came out but it was a beatdown of a race.20181114_131043.jpg

5. DanMan 1/2 Marathon in Oklahoma-I wanted to get this distance done this year and nothing was going to stop me. I ran in freezing temperatures, rain, snow and mud. I finished and was ten minutes ahead of my predicted time. The course was not too tough but the elements made it a doozy. I only got half of the elevation profile.20181114_131951.jpg

4. Ragnar Trail Relay in Comfort, TX-The three courses were difficult but once again rain was what made this a difficult race. The 7.5 and 3 mile courses were not too bad but the 5 mile course was treacherous. It was by far the most technical and I had to run it night with bad lighting. 20181114_132702.jpg

3. Chupacabra 15K at Cameron Park-This is another race at Cameron Park but the start/finish is at the bottom. The course is relentless. It is always going up or down or a switchback. There is not a straight or level part on the entire course. It slowly wears a runner down.20181114_133339.jpg

2. Mount Magazine in Arkansas-They lure you in with a free race then you realize it is a trap. The heat and humidity were way too high for that early in the morning. The course was probably the most beautiful and dangerous. The cliffs are unforgiving and the climbs last for miles.20181114_134207.jpg

  1. Pineywoods Ultra 25K at Tyler State Park-I did not think I was going to finish this race. Another rain soaked race with high humidity and muddy trails. The distance was the longest race to date but I fell apart well before the finish. My legs gave out and I finished, barely. The race was not that technical or difficult but it was just one of those races where nothing went right.20181114_135316.jpg

The biggest factor in making these races difficult besides the elevation changes was the the muddy courses and high humid temperatures. The good thing is that these races make me prepared for anything. I like the weather prediction for the 50K. It is supposed to be sunny and dry with a temperature range between 46 and 62.  Hopefully the 50K will not make this list but the list of one my favorite races of the year.

See ya on the trails.

Piney Woods Ultra 25K

The race was held at one of my favorite state parks, Tyler State Park. The park is located in Tyler, TX which is about an hour and a half east of Dallas. The 25K distance was a new long distance for me. This year I have run a half marathon, two accidental 15Ks and an accidental 20K. Plus a 12 mile training run. I still was not certain how I would do at this distance. The course was sneaky difficult. The hills were long and winding. They were not overly steep but went on for quite a bit of distance. The course held up well under extreme rainy conditions the night before and the morning of the race. There were a few muddy areas but not too bad. My pre race estimated time to finish was 3:30 but that changed after a two hour first loop. I thought 4:20 was a good possibility. I was still feeling good and not too tired. At the 3:13 mark, my legs completely quit. I thought I was moving fast but I could not go very fast. I struggled to finish and was doubting my ability to finish a true ultra race. The funny thing was my mind was lucid and I did not feel tired but my legs just gave in. My finishing time of 4:41 was not good at all but at least I finished. I looked at some of my past races in rain and mud. I did not fair well in any of them. The main problem with the 25K was my wet socks and feet. I did not bring a change of shoes or socks. Lesson learned. I ended up registering for the 50K in November. I learned a lot about running longer distances and will put it to good use.42003551_253614308633182_2709355262370135353_n.jpg42202489_1448647401939549_3548392625792876544_n.jpg20180922_132036.jpg

I have a week off of trail racing so I will get some hiking in in Oklahoma. After that I have seven weekend races each weekend until the 50K.

Rough Creek Trail Run 10K

The Rough Creek Trail Run is held in Glen Rose, TX which is about an hour and a half southwest of the DFW metroplex. I chose this particular race because I wanted a tough but short race before my 25K the next week. I am getting really use to running 10Ks now so this was the perfect distance. The tough part was the infamous Rusty Crown. The Rusty Crown consist of several 40+ degree gradient up and down hills ranging from 300 to 80 feet in length. If the uphill does not wear you out, the downhill will knock you down. I did not make the mistake I made last race but not eating enough. I was properly nutritioned and ready to run. The course had some rain on it from the previous days but held up well and the steepest parts were fine. Prior to the race it was great to see all the familiar faces from the different running clubs. The Waco Striders Running Club had members running the half marathon, North Texas Trail Runners and Dallas Dirt Runners had runners in all of the distances. The Rough Creek Ranch was absolutely beautiful and the morning sky was awesome. The sky was mostly cloudy and there was a heavy fog before the race. By the time the race started, the sky was clear and the fog has burned off. The Rusty Crown was everything I had heard about. It was a tough first climb and the first decent was the worse part of the entire Rusty Crown. The rest of the ups and downs were difficult but the first two were leg killers. On the way up many people had to stop and take breaks and some had to bear crawl up the incline. On the way down several people fell or just slid down on their bottoms. I had a strong run and felt good the entire time. I did not fall or need to use my hands to go up the inclines. My time of 1:27:41 was a good time for me. I took 4th in my age group and finished with four negative splits. I even passed five people in the last mile and a half.  20180915_063643.jpg20180915_071259.jpg20180915_072049.jpg20180915_092101.jpg

I had a good time at this race and feel really good about the race next week. Plus this was the race I did not get lost and also directed about a dozen other runners who missed a turn back on course.

I Might be Crazy but…

I also might be just crazy enough to survive the next four months. Starting in the month of September I will embarking on an unexplored running distance and adventure each month. DSC00274.JPGIn September, I am heading to east Texas to run a 25K trail race. Earlier this year I ran a half marathon and also finished two 20Ks. The course will take me all over the place in two loops. I will be running up and down hills. There will be plenty of switchbacks and turns. The distance will be my longest run to date. A week before this run I will be running one the toughest 10K’s in Texas.20180401_075905.jpgIn October, I will be running the Ragnar Trail Relay. This will also be a fifteen mile plus run but it will be broken up into three different parts. If that is not wild enough I also volunteered to do an extra leg due to the team being a runner short. It is going to be a party atmosphere with no sleep and plenty of running. I will run a 15K on a tough central Texas course a week before. I cannot believe I am doing this.20180401_075909.jpgIn November, I will become an ultrarunner by running a 50K. This is going to be the crown jewel of my year of running. I am really excited about this run. The course is relatively flat and will consist of four loops. I thought this would be a positive but thinking about it, it gives me three chances to DNF. I am determined to get my ultrarunner label so DNF is not an option. I will run a 15K a week before this race. The 15K will be a familiar course and not too difficult.FB_IMG_1494106769884.jpgIn December, I will be doing my first marathon. I cannot do anything in a normal way so my first marathon will be a half road and half trail. I have no idea what the course will be like. I am going to try to hike the course location in between all the other crazy races I will be doing. This race will be only three weeks after the 50K so I will not do any races in between. I will restate that as I have no plans to run between the races but there are two races on my radar.

When I complete these tasks I placed before myself, I will be exhausted or bouncing of the walls. I love setting goals that will stretch my abilities but I hope I did not over extend myself.