Possums Revenge 17 Miler

I heard so many great things about running at Possum Kingdom Lake and this race in particular.  I just had to sign up and run.  I decided on the 17 miler which would give me one entire loop of the race.  I am glad I only did 17 miles because it was hot and humid.  The Texas weather has been very wet lately but also very humid but just in the last few weeks the heat has been turned up.  For many runners, this was there first hot race.  The rain has closed the trails and for those who do not road run they would have had limited running time in these conditions.  I was lucky enough to get run a 25K and a half marathon in last past few weeks.  I also have trails close by that rarely close since they drain really well.

I brought my sleeper camper to this race to stay at the state park but decided to stay at the start/finish line area instead.  I did not have electricity at the start/finish line so I had to make do with a cool breeze coming off the lake for my A/C.  We had a group of about 15 people stay in that location so good times were had by all the night before the race.

Even though the race start time was relatively early, it was already humid and warm.  The first 4 miles was uphill and sandy.  It was not an ideal start because both of those conditions take a toll on your legs.  The course had constant elevation changes so getting into a running rhythm was difficult.  Luckily about 4 and a half miles in there was a long flattish downhill section that lasted about a mile and a half.  I got into a good pace and felt fast and comfortable.  It was a trap.  It was the only part of the course that could be run like that and I went way too fast to early.  The first manned aid station was over 6 miles from the start. By the time I got there I was drenched with sweat.  I decided to go with a hand held instead of a vest.  I should have done a vest.  I got a refill and iced everything I could and started off down the trail.  The views I got until the next aid station were awesome.  The course turned extremely hilly and challenging but the views were worth it.

I got to the second aid station and stayed a bit longer and this time took in some food.  I re iced and refilled and headed off for the final six plus miles.  This section was not as difficult but I was exhausted.  I could not keep a decent pace and rarely found a running rhythm.  The hills were not as extreme but still plentiful.  There were also some nice prairie land sections which were flat but I could not get enough speed to make them fast.  I also took a nose dive in the section trying to swat at bugs flying around my head. I learned a lesson this day.  I cannot outrun bugs flying around my head and I can trip over nothing.  I get to the final aid station and I am absolutely spent.  I spend more time here than I should but get food, ice and refills.

I am on my way to the finish line knowing that the sand section is on its way.  I am so sweaty that the sand on my shoes look like mud.  I know that I am running downhill but it does not feel that way.  I am really tired so now I am walking a bunch.  I only start running again when I hear the noise at the finish line.  The sand ends and I get to the road and the short but very nice downhill finish.

It was a tough race made tougher by the heat and humidity.  I think the aid stations were spread out to far.  I ran out of liquids twice.  Overall a great course ran by a great company. Trail Racing Over Texas(TROT).20190525_065635.jpgFB_IMG_1558824502018.jpgFB_IMG_1558824509178.jpgFB_IMG_1558824515764.jpgFB_IMG_1558824552096.jpgFB_IMG_1558824533779.jpg

One more race till I take a two month break and stick to training for the 100K.

Coyote Run 25K

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. FB_IMG_1556412667949.jpgThe top of one those fun hills.FB_IMG_1556412757304.jpgThe beauty of the course.FB_IMG_1556412736664.jpgThe tree rock and root section.FB_IMG_1556412708458.jpgThe section before the jump across.FB_IMG_1556892200023.jpgFeeling good on the first loop.received_694717837597810.jpegAhmed and I on our sprint finish.received_668647996925470.jpegWe 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.

Best of 2018 Trails upon Trails

This year I hiked 50 new trails in 45 new places. I was doing the 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series which is to hike 52 new places in 12 months. I did not get to 52 new trails but the 50 new trails were worth the travel. I found some local city parks and many state parks. I ventured into two other states besides Texas. I liked the hikes in Arkansas and Oklahoma and already have plans to return to both states. I also had some first in my trail running. I did my first 1/2 Marathon, 20K, 25K and 50K all on trails. 2018 was an awesome year to be outside.

20180522_175637.jpgAustin, TX

DSC01327.JPGTulsa, OK

20180606_190159.jpgDallas, TX

20180512_092220.jpgMount Magazine 20K

20181117_120020.jpgWild Hare 50K

20180511_191554.jpgMount Nebo, Arkansas

DSC00406.JPGChickasaw National Recreation Area, Oklahoma

2018 was an incredible year and my plans for 2019 are even more adventurous.

 

 

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.