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.

Chupacabra 15K

I love running races in Waco. I appreciate the difficulty of the courses and the friendly atmosphere. Waco Striders Running Club host four trail races each year and as a group they are called the Huaco Cuatro. This was my second year finishing all four races. This year I decided to do the max distance in all four races. The first two races were 5 milers that are always longer than 5 miles. The third race was a 10K which has been an accurate distance. The Chupacabra 15K was a distance I no idea what to expect. The 5K last year was a bit long but nothing unexpected. I ran several distances around the 10 mile range so a 15K was not going to be an extraordinarily long distance. The terrain in which this particular 15K was held is a different story. Running in Cameron Park is difficult but with high humidity and heavy rain before the race made it extremely tough. I would compare this 15K to a hard 1/2 marathon on the trails. I actually finish my trail half marathon faster and finished a mountain 20K in about the same time. This was a tough race. I actually spent part of the race in last place. I am not the fastest but I am competitive enough not to be last.  I finished with a not so great time but just finishing was good enough on that day. I liked the post race breakfast tacos, always a good race when tacos are involved. I will be back next year to conquer this race. 41abe49c-f8d7-4dc3-86b7-bdda70cfcba8-bBQ6X-.jpgThe race medal(wood) was awesome.20181013_210432.jpgThe Huaco Cuatro completed once again.20181013_132607.jpg20181013_132753.jpgThe flooding on the side of the road on the way home during the second round of showers that day.

Next up is a bucket list race I finally will run.

 

 

10 of my favorite trails races

I was going to do a top 10 trail races but changed it to my favorites. I did not know how I was going to put them in order so it had become a random list of favorites. I have been out of commission for over a month. I could do some hiking but no running. During the unwanted break from trail running I had a chance to look over some of the 40 plus races I have run over the last two years. I have missed trail running and speed hiking is losing it’s luster. I have finally been released to run but I lost much of the little endurance I had built. These are my favorite races in no particular order.

10. The Mammoth-I have run this race twice which is a rarity because I like to do different races. This was also my first trail race.22538943_719551654916633_5436678689366950007_o.jpg22712615_723111544560644_6197470883484751293_o.jpg

9. Waco Striders Cross Country Trail Race-This race was one of the most painful races I have run. Once again this was a rare race I have done twice. The below graph says it all.20170318_135848

8. Piney Woods Ultra-I did the 10K last year and will do the 25K this year as a training race. This is a surprising tough course that slowly breaks down runners.UE.Piney.WoodsLogo

7. Natural Bridge Caverns Trail Race-The only race that starts a 1/4 mile underground. It is not an overly tough race and the atmosphere was awesome.NBC 5K.jpgStill uphill.jpg

6. Down N Dirty Trail Race-This is also a Waco Striders race. This gave me a second chance at a course that kicked my butt. I still was not ready for the final climb.27787967_10155071770440894_3307425675672448535_o.jpg

5. Run4Bibles-A race that is just five minutes from home. I also did their night race and the course is challenging. I love running this course and run it often.20180303_14083029025895_1645132918903707_3517117571591569408_o

4. Knob Hills Trail Race-This was a long 10K. It was actually 7.3 miles and I did not even get lost. The fun part was all of the crazy little hills.download.png

3. Wild Canyon Ultra-One the most scenic and difficult races I have run. It is located at Caprock Canyon SP and if the canyons do not get you the weather will.images.jpg

2. Mount Magazine Trail Run-My first true mountain race. The race course lead runners to the highest point in Arkansas. Plus two three mile climbs.20180512_092220.jpg

1. DanMan- This was my first half marathon. The course was not very technical but being a first made it a favorite. The after party was easily the best of all races.f42541f2-a723-4c44-9384-dd0df5d7648c20180412_224512DSC00779.JPG

These are my 10 favorite trail races. Most of these races were first or something different from usual races.

 

Cross Country Run 5M

I really enjoy the races the Waco Striders host at Cameron Park. This is the easier of the two courses they have at Cameron Park. I must say easy is a relative term. The two courses are some of the toughest courses I have run in Texas. But I have not run in the Texas mountains yet. The thing that makes these courses tough is that you are always ascending or descending. There are very few flat areas and the downhills are technical. The course is not one of the more scenic courses but there is a nice view of the Brazos River before you descend to the finish. I was prepared for the extra mileage they always put in the races. This time it was only an extra half mile. The odd thing is that they did not have bananas for the runners. They had the usual water but then popsicles and donuts. 34074315_10155323166195894_3946207765357133824_o.jpg34017793_10155320002360894_1196142391866687488_o.jpg

I really like that this year they have wooden medals and soft thin cotton shirts. I do not like the tech shirts or the under armour type shirts. Overall it was a good time and good race.

Cross Timbers Trail Run 5 Mile

I signed up for this race because not only is it the oldest trail race in Texas but also one of the most difficult. What I did not expect was several inches of rain the night before and the morning of the race. The course was tough enough in perfect weather but now it is a mud run. As I mentioned before I do not like mud runs. The adventure was the trip to the race and the race itself was also strange.

First on the drive to the race I got lost. It was pitch black outside and raining hard. I am just driving along and the next thing I know I am crossing a bridge and I am in Oklahoma. I make a u-turn and five minutes later I see a sign welcoming me to Texas. I finally get to the parking lot and it starts pouring down rain again. Finally the sun is starting to rise and the rain stops.

Secondly the course was soaked and muddy and very difficult to run. As a large trail runner I especially struggled in the mud. Plus uphill in the mud is much worse with all the gravity working against me. I only passed two people on the course and they were both injured and in need of EMS personnel. I did meet several people on the trails that made it fun. I even saw one lady leaning on a tree eating pretzels. I finished in a very unimpressive time of 1:58:12 and last in my age group. I did get lost though, I might have moved up a place or two. Some of the views of Lake Texoma were very impressive but the 1000 feet of elevation change in mud was something I will not want to experience again. 20180217_071547.jpg20180217_095056.jpg20180217_072451.jpg

The funny thing about this race is I want to do it again but it has to be dry. I thing the course would be awesome and I know it would be challenging.

Next up is a fun 10K close to home.

I think I am injured, maybe.

I will start with a little history of why this possible injury is sadly exciting. About two years ago I decided to start running to get in shape that was not round. I started off running all the time and quickly re aggravated a past knee injury. After a month off, I started wearing knee sleeves on both knees. I also realized that I could not run more than two days in a row before my knees were so painful I could not walk.

Finally about six months ago I accidentally left my knee sleeves at home and ran a 5 mile run. I had no problems that day or the next. Even though I still wear the sleeves I know I do not need them but they make me feel comfortable. I ran many times without them with no problems since the initial oversight.

This weekend I ran three days in a row. My knees are fine but my hamstring did not make it. Day 1 was a slow flat 6 mile run on concrete. I slowed my pace to 11 minute miles since I was going to do a race the next day. The race is where the problems started. It was a 10K trail race on trails I am very familiar running. The first three miles were at a good trail pace of about 10:45 minute miles. Then it hit me, a huge cramp in my hamstring. I massaged it and continued. Twenty minutes later same hamstring cramped again. I stopped stretched and continued. I felt fine after the race but my pace went up 4 minutes per mile the last 3.4 miles.

My hamstring was sore the rest of the day but I thought nothing of it. The next morning was a very slow 3.5 mile trail run with the local running club. I had no problems during the run but the rest of the day I had problems every time I bent my leg. I am also sore today and it is painful to stretch.

The good news is that I can finally run three days in a row. I can also up my mileage to prepare for the half marathon in April. It will be my first. The bad news my hammy is possibly strained.

One Ale of a Trail 5M

I wanted to up my mileage so I will be prepared to start doing 10Ks by the end of the year. I picked this 5 miler over another 5K. I missed this race last year when the medal was an all purpose tool. The race was moved to Fort Worth on the Trinity Trails. The trails are flat and fast but not much of true off road trails. The course was concrete, gravel and some grass and sand. They basically moved a road course ten feet away from the Trinity River and called it a trail run. Despite the lack of a true trail, this is a Run Project run so it will be a good atmosphere. The after race party was awesome with an 90’s theme for some reason. Plus as the name would suggest they had beer. There was a bunch of people dancing and it was also kid friendly. I cranked out a 51:08 which was good for fourth place. I missed third by eight seconds. I was really happy with my time so the close fourth place finish was not too disappointing. 20170408_080041.jpg20170408_080150.jpg17854667_1499125063432871_6950150732057816397_o (1).jpg20170408_081102.jpg

For the next trail race, I upped my distance again. I was prepared for the craziest of the Waco hills.