Hidden Hills Half Marathon

The race was amazing.  The race was held at Palo Pinto Mountains State Park.  The state park is not open yet but the runners got a sneak peek of what the future of the trails might look like at the park.  The park is located in Strawn, TX which is about an hour and a half west of the DFW metroplex.  The hill country of Texas makes up most of central Texas and this area in the northwest part is beautiful.  It has the hills and flowers and some great views.

The race offered distances ranging from 5K all the way up to a 50 miler.  I chose the half marathon because I am starting to like this distance.  It is long enough to feel like hard work but short enough to recover fairly quick.  The half marathon course consisted of two out and backs over a changing terrain.  The trails held up well from the rain overnight.  They were wet and had some muddy spots but overall in good shape.

The first out and back was a feeling out process and not difficult.  The course started with two small but steep uphills. The first major climb came after a water crossing.  The water crossing was not too deep so I rock jumped to keep my feet dry.  The top of the climb had great views but I could not get good pictures because of the weather.  It was cloudy and very very humid.  It was smoove sailing down the hill to an area filled with wildflowers.  The trail went into a forest type area in which the trail turned a bit muddy.  After the muddy section was the turn around point of the race.  I decided to get most of my pictures on the way back.  I was feeling good and I wanted to get the picture before the second out and back.  I got to the start/finish ahead of my three hour half marathon pace.

I started the second out and back drenched in sweat.  My shirt and shorts were soaking wet.  My shirt was feeling heavy and my shorts were clinging to my legs.  My nutrition and hydration was still good but my clothes were an added weight.  I had to tuck in my shirt to keep my shorts from falling down.  The water crossing was a bit deeper but crossable without getting too wet.  At the top of the climb the temperature dropped at least ten degrees.  The sky got darker and thicker clouds came rolling over the course.  I made it almost to the muddy part when it started to rain on and off.  I got to the turn around and the sky opened up.  It started to rain consistently.  The thunder and lightning started after I was out of the now swamp like muddy section.  I could see lightning bolts go from cloud to ground.  As I started up the backside of the biggest climb it started to pour.  At the top of the climb, it started to hail.  By now the trails were flooded and muddy.  There were mini waterfalls on the big hill.  The water crossing was shin deep.  The rock jumping idea was scrapped and I just ran through the water.  I finished drenched and exhausted.  My time of 3:17:13 was slow but I was happy just to finish.FB_IMG_1558287448257.jpg20190518_082225.jpgFB_IMG_1558287604486.jpgFB_IMG_1558287620636.jpgFB_IMG_1558287611176.jpg20190518_103242.jpg

Overall, I really liked to race but better weather would have made this race great.  I did get to see another Texas state park.  I have week till my next race in this same area.

 

Grasslands Half Marathon

The Grasslands Half Marathon is located on the grounds of the LBJ National Grasslands in Alvord, TX. The city is about 45 minutes north of Fort Worth.  I have heard about this race for about two years but did not think I could run a half marathon until last year.  I liked the location and the race director is a good person so I signed up for the Rockledge Rumble.  Yes that is a different race but the same race director. Rockledge Rumble was cancelled because the trail was several feet under water, so I transferred my registration to the Grasslands Half Marathon.  We still had rain days before this race but the trails held up very well. There were a few muddy spots in the low lying areas but overall they were in good shape.  The trails were fairly wide but some single track.  The trails also were made of compact sand for many miles which was different to run on .  I was using this race to train for my upcoming 50K just like Rockledge suppose to be for also. I wanted to hold a slow and steady pace but finish under three hours. My first half marathon I worked hard to get under three hours.  This time around it was quite easy and my running partner and I had to slow down several times because we were going too fast. I finished in 2:57 and change but I felt great.  I was not tired and I felt like I could run it again faster. The weather was perfect.  Sunny skies with the temperatures staying in the low 40s to mid 60s. Plus who can argue with beer and BBQ at the finish.FB_IMG_1552768414726.jpgFB_IMG_1552768427092.jpgFB_IMG_1552768450001.jpg20190316_080355.jpg20190316_080325.jpg

It was a good day of running and next up is crossing the state line for some fun in Louisiana.

Hiking on Hold but still on the Trails

I have only done about a half dozen hikes this year. I could blame the weather but I have not been away from the trails. I have several big trail runs coming up this month. I have a half marathon and a 50K trail run in a two week period. Also in April and May I have four races on technical terrain each ten plus miles long. I then take a two week break and go into 100K training. I like hiking and if I never started hiking I would not be trail running. I have a great group to run with and I happen to live in an area where I have six great trails within fifteen minutes from home. So here are some pictures of places I am training and people I am training with.nZz3Q4rK0JEuc9eGPUo00Y4jsuuyHwFP6FjWlbN3ZGA-2048x1152.jpgEagle Mountain Park52607936_2159477870742141_4923248044205408256_n.jpgCedar Ridge Preserve22289666_10214717700999924_1406004877095561363_o.jpgNTTR Group when I am up north of the metroplex38392101_10217363826673368_3624816384799670272_n.jpgDDR when I am in my neighborhood43041061_1956246004398663_5133407678831263744_o.jpgTrinity Groves with downtown Dallas in the background.FB_IMG_1529546131471.jpgThe main group of crazies.

The places and the groups make training fun and interesting. I miss my solo hikes but running with a good group of people helps me take my mind off the training. This big guy will be back hiking soon enough.

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.

 

 

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.

 

DanMan Challenge Half

I ran a Half Marathon. Did I mention, I RAN A HALF MARATHON. I am excited. This was my first half marathon and a big step on my goal to become an ultra runner. The run took place in Madill, OK on the Oteka D. Ranch. I realized that mind over body is the key to running long distances. Two weeks before the run I was doubting myself. The week before the run I not only got lost but also a big confidence boost. When I was lost, I ran more miles than I had run before and felt fine when I was finished. I was mentally and physically ready for the run but then the run happened.

The day before the run it was raining on and off for hours. I was hoping the course would not be too bad because the weather was dry the days prior. The forecast also had a hard freeze for the morning of the run. I have run in below freezing temperatures before so I knew what to expect. It rained the night before and it was frozen to the windshield. The temperature was 28 with a wind chill was 19 degrees. The wind was  gusting up to 20-30 miles per hour and it snowed. I also was not so lucky with mud but the ranch was beautiful. The run was free so many people were dropping down in distance but I was determined to finish my first half. After the first loop my time was what I expected it to be in perfect conditions. My second loop, the longer one, I surprised myself by passing people and picking up my pace. I finished twenty-five minutes faster than my worst case scenario time. I finished in a very nice 2:50:10. DSC00770.JPGDSC00769.JPGDSC00777.JPGDSC00779.JPGDSC00784.JPGPlus having my wife there(not pictured) and having friends cheering when I finished was awesome. This will definitely be a race I remember forever. Plus the BBQ at the end was great and the people were fantastic and friendly.