Do Wacka Do 25K

The race was located in Erick, OK at Sandy Sanders Wildlife Area in western Oklahoma.  I was drawn in by background picture of a canyon trail.  The picture was very accurate. The views were awesome.  They were the best part of the race and a reason to run it again.  The run was not particularly crowded also. Plus they had port o potties with showers.20190907_064728.jpgEarly start of the race20190907_071301.jpgSun rising over the plains

The course was mainly jeep trail and no shade to be had the entire race. The course covered from canyon rim down into canyon basin and back up several times. The 25K was a 16.2 mile loop with just under 1400 feet of elevation gain. There were four aid stations along the way strategically place at the top of some very steep and long climbs. A switchback or two would not have hurt. Most of the hills were straight up and only one had the benefit of switchbacks.20190907_072653.jpgView over the canyon

The 25K, 50K and 50 miler started at 7 AM and it was a cool low humidity morning but it was hot around 9:30 AM and I do not believe the aid stations were prepared for the type of heat that was coming later in the day. I was worried about fellow DDR because he was doing the 50 miler in 100 degree heat. The aid stations were not like Habanero i.e. ice was not plentiful.20190907_075854.jpgLooking for shade20190907_080248.jpgShade in the canyon basin

As for myself, I ran at a good steady pace the entire race. The hills kept me from going to fast out of the gate. STRAVA says I ran my third fastest 1/2 marathon. I was surprised since there was a bunch of elevation on this course. I finished in a good time of 3:33:23 and 21st out of 47. I rarely finish in the top half of a race this distance. The longer runners did not fare as well. One of the 50K and one of the 50 miler runners dropped down to 25K. Of the 16 runners that started the 50 miler only 6 finished and 9 dropped down to the 50K.

FB_IMG_1567911109026.jpgStart/Finish line

On a side note, I would usually take my camper out to the races.  I decided to get a hotel because I thought it would be to hot to stay in without electricity.  It was cool enough over night not to have electricity and the hotel was a nightmare.  First, the shower did not work and did not find out until the morning of the race and was up to late to do anything about it. Secondly, I saw what I believe was blood splatter on the drapes. Oh crap there was blood spots on the drapes.  I finally got the shower to work by almost ripping the handle off the wall.  I went across the street to get disinfectant for the room because of blood splatter on the drapes.  The TV malfunctioned and I had to fix it, I did not to not have TV with blood on the drapes. I will be using my camper from here on out.

Six-0 Half Marathon

I had a time at this race.  Blaze Trail Running put on a great race.  The course was sneaky difficult but was set up with so many great views.  The loops with in the course intentionally went to bluffs overlooking the Texas hill country.  The volunteers were awesome and the parking set up is a detail that usually gets forgotten but it was great.  Plus grilling at the finish line.  Not many races have a person grilling hot dogs and hamburgers at the finish line, a nice touch.  The race was fairly local so a bunch of trail runners I run with during the week were there running or volunteering.  20190831_071403.jpgParking right by the start/finish

The race itself caught me by surprise.  I did not think it would be relatively easy but it was hillier than I thought.  The race starting temperature was great but the humidity was in the upper 80s.  As the race went on the humidity dropped but the temperature rose.  You got to love running in Texas in August.  The location was at Six-0 Ranch in Cleburne, Tx which about 45 minutes southwest of the Fort Worth.  The ranch is beautiful and a great place for this race.  It is also a working ranch so cows were roaming around and leaving fresh patties. 20190831_070214.jpgMorning sky

The course was set up to go about 3.5 miles slightly downhill then 7 miles with  significant elevation gain and finishing with a 3 mile downhill run with a quick uphill at the end.  Within the first mile I heard yelling and looked back to see what all the commotion was about, a herd of cows were sprinting between a pack of runners and people were trying to get out of the way.  No one got hurt but those cows were moving very fast and way too close for comfort.  About 4.5 miles in we got to the lake, the first of many scenic areas.  We looped the lake which prior to running here I thought was odd but I understood why they made the course this way.FB_IMG_1567279017938.jpgThe lake on one sideFB_IMG_1567279021447.jpgThis view on the other side

Seven miles in I was drenched.  Not normal drenched but shoes and socks puddles drenched.   I was properly hydrated but I was hungry but not hungry.  It is hard to explain but I was so hungry but I did not want to eat.  It is a problem I have running when I am going longer distances.  I have to force myself to eat during these runs or hit a wall near the end due to lack of nutrition.   I make it to the aid station at 9.5 miles and refilled my drink and just get some watermelon, big mistake.  This was another place on the course where there was an awkward place to put a loop.  But the view added by having the loop was worth it.FB_IMG_1567279041523.jpgOne of my favorite views from the course

After the aid station there was still a but of hill climbing to do.  The downhill started fast and furious as did my demise.  I was holding a 12:20 mile pace until this point.  I ran into the wall and my pace jumped up.  I ended with an average above 14 minutes per mile.  Unlike last race I somewhat expected this to happen at sometime.  I have been losing weight and not taking in as many calories as I need for a race this long.  My finishing time of 3:12:17 was a little disappointing but considering the course difficulty and am not that unhappy.  FB_IMG_1567279045385.jpgI like the windmill and I do believe that was one of the hills on the courseFB_IMG_1567278999087.jpgOne of the few areas of tree coverFB_IMG_1567279978092.jpgStruggling up the hill

I do not have many pictures of me having fun when running but the Dallas Dirt Runners caught me having fun and turned it into a meme.  My fellow runner is Sue Fee.FB_IMG_1567297044687.jpg

We were nowhere near the finish line at this point.

A good time was had by all and next week it is a 25K in Oklahoma.

What the heck just happened? #DNF

I am still wrapping my mind around this race and what could have been.  The Habanero Hundred and in my case the Habanero 30K or my DNF 20K.  It was a case of doing everything right but one little change of my routine and that was it.  I heat trained for weeks and had good nutrition and hydration the week leading up to the race.  I was ready for the worse that the Houston area heat and humidity had to offer.  I was ready for the course with its sand and no shade.  I was ready to conquer the hottest race in Texas. Did a mention a change in my routine.FB_IMG_1566174670394.jpgPre race group photo and my shirt is already drenched

Since I have been training in the middle of the day all summer, the noon start time did not throw me off as it did some runners.  Instead of drinking from individual water bottles, I decided to go with a gallon jug of enhanced water.  I usually do not drink enhanced water because I get my electrolytes from SOS powder mixed in spring water.  I still used the SOS powder but I thought I needed this enhanced water due to the nature of a midday start of the race.  I was told how hard the race can be if you are not properly  prepared.  The temperature reaches triple digits and no shade.  The sand makes it even hotter and tender feet.  I had all of these thoughts going through my mind while training for this race.  I knew I was prepared and slightly confident.  Did I mention a change in my routine.FB_IMG_1566174677365.jpgThe most shade on the course.

On the four hour drive down to the race I was drinking plenty of enhanced water so I would be hydrated before running in the heat.  I got to the race with three hours to spare before the race start.  I set up my camper and met up with the DDR crew and I was sweating a ton.  I drank more enhanced water because I did not want to be dehydrated before I even hit the starting line.  I have now finish off a half gallon of enhanced water.  I never even checked what enhanced water was or what is in it.  Hence the change in my routine, I never drink enhanced water.68806151_10103722227208884_2417079402299916288_o.jpgMe being the tallest and darkest at the start

My race should have consisted of three 10K loops and a smile and medal at the end.  My race actually consisted of two 10K loops and feeling like death.  I was flying the first loop and finished it feeling good and about ten minutes ahead of my predicted pace.  I even did a little dance at the end of the loop that made the volunteers laugh.  I hadn’t taken in any food but that is usual for me.  I had been icing myself at every aid station and felt good. It was the feeling of the beginning of the end.FB_IMG_1566174695823.jpgStill looking for shade

The second loop started like the first loop. Since the trail was not technical it was easy to get into a rhythm with only the sand being a constant obstacle.  I got past the first batch of sand and realized I had stopped sweating.  I had gotten iced down at the aid station and refilled my bottles with enhanced water. I thought maybe I just over iced and started drinking more water.  By the time I got to the midway aid station, I was sweating again and feeling good.  The feeling last about five minutes.  It felt like a bomb went off in my stomach.  I was releasing so much gas and it was awful.  I am sorry for all of those running behind me.  I could not stop.  The end was near.  My stomach was killing me.  Everything else felt good and I was showing no signs of heat exhaustion.  I had no idea what just happened in my stomach.  I tried walking and it was painful and running made it worse.  My legs felt good and my mind was clear.  No dizziness or nausea, I actually felt good except for my stomach.69388451_2473859359515349_8782063932442411008_o.jpgI look soooo defeated at this point.

I got to the start/finish aid station and called it quits.  I could hardly walk at this time.  I ate some peanut butter pretzels and my stomach immediately rejected it.  I hate public restrooms and especially port a pots.  I used the same one 20+ times the next eight hours.  I once again apologize for those who had to go in after me.  I had an awful sleep but woke up feeling better.  I learned a very important lesson the next day.  There is a mineral called magnesium.  It makes you POOP and too much gives you diarrhea and guess who drank almost a gallon of water enhanced with magnesium citrate.  Yours truly.  The one change in my routine killed me.  The leftover water it still sitting in my refrigerator.  I will eventually drink the rest but not anytime soon.  It is a reminder of my self imposed colonoscopy.FB_IMG_1566176452008.jpgBack to drinking regular water and I didn’t die like Kenny. Just kidding he survived.

A huge shout out to two fellow bloggers @thedancingrunner and @pkadams for both crushing there 50Ks.  They are an inspiration to me and true badasses.

Inks Lake State Park Again

I am back at Inks Lake State Park.  I have one more trail here to hike and I would have hiked the entire park.  I hiked Devil’s Backbone Nature Trail and that was it.  This is one of my favorite trails now.  The trail travels along the banks and cliffs overlooking Inks Lake.  The lake level was the lowest I have ever seen and the waterfall was dry.  I still enjoyed this trail and also seeing some people cliff diving into the lake.

The hike was peaceful and not many people on the trail.  Most of the people were in the lake because it was another hot day in central Texas.  I found different ways to get up and down the rock formations.  I was trying to find the correct angles to get some good pictures.  The only drawback was once again no Milky Way picture.  The rest of the time was great.20190723_182210.jpgTrying to get all the colors of the park20190723_182714.jpgI love the way the rocks enter in the lake20190723_183417.jpgThe cliff jumping area20190723_191134.jpgLake level view20190723_182327.jpgBalancing rock20190723_181455.jpgWhere the waterfall use to be.

Another wonderful time at Inks Lake.

Caprock Canyon State Park Eagle Point Trail

I was back for the third time at Caprock Canyon State Park.  I wanted to hike two different trails that I did not get to the first time I was here.  First, Eagle Point Trail is a two mile out and back trail that goes to the natural tunnel and bridge.

I got on the trail later than expected due to the 100+ degree temperature.  The temperature never went down too much but it was a dry desert heat.  Hiking here was much different than hiking in the hill country which was very humid.  Although the temperature was hotter in the panhandle of Texas, I did not sweat as much as I did in the south of Texas.  The trails were not occupied by people but the bison rerouted me twice. I started down Eagle Point Trail and about a half mile in a bison was camped out around one of the corners.  I decided that the bison could have the trail and back tracked to the trailhead. 20190717_190525.jpgMy friend peeking around the corner.

I started my second attempt on the trail from the other trailhead.  The views were impressive as usual.  This place is so large that you could hike for days and see something different each day.  20190717_192700.jpgStart of the other trailhead.20190717_192845.jpgHere I go again.20190717_193352.jpgThe natural bridge and tunnel area with my shadow.20190717_200557.jpgSun setting in the canyon20190717_201509.jpgFavorite picture of the day20190717_203358.jpgI am in a ditch trying to avoid another bison.  I was a half mile from the trailhead again.20190717_190050.jpgFirst time seeing a horned toad this big.

I miss this park already.

Judgement Day Run 6 Trails 1 Day

So I tried the mini Judgement Day trail run on the south side.  A judgement day run is doing multiple trails in one day.  The trails included Windmill Hill, Boulder, OCNP, CHSP Dogwood Canyon and CRP.  I got an average of 3 miles per park and a bonus 2 for good measure.  This was easily one of the three hardest runs I have done along with my first 50K and last year’s Piney Woods 25K.21765050_1440469806006426_8076358115759936169_n.jpg

Run report:
Started at 11AM at Windmill Hill, got a good paced 3.28 miles at 11:21 minute miles. This is a small park with short and steep elevation changes.  I felt good and took a ten minute drive to Boulder.

Boulder was a leisurely paced run. The drive in the car wore me out more than refreshed me.  This park is a bit more level with one long hill but it is not too steep.  I got 3.45 miles at a 13:20 pace.  The late start hurt due to the temperature rising at noon.  The next ten minutes were driving to OCNP.

OCNP was the first park I had to make a trail decision. I did the white and blue trails.  The blue trail is hilly and technical but the white trail is relatively flat.  I started to tire on this run.  My morning fuel was depleted but my hydration was still good.  I had some fruit juice and a banana for breakfast.  I did 3.28 miles at a pace of 13:34 minute miles. I got back to the car and got a banana and a nutri-grain bar and took the long 15 minute drive to CHSP.   14495274_1102904826429594_910515625703402285_n.jpg

CHSP was hot. I had my first thoughts of a DNF but it was not a race but still.  I was tired and my legs were turning into jello.  CHSP is a sneaky hard trail.  It has a bunch of switchbacks and elevation changes.  I did the Green Loop and got 2.75 miles(really 3) at a very slow pace of 15:23 minutes per mile.  I also had a clothes change. I needed a new shirt but that was all.  The next was a quick seven minute drive to Dogwood Canyon.

I knew Dogwood Canyon would be the shortest trip.  This is another small park but it has several nice views from the canyon rim.  I did forget about the climb up the canyon. The quarter mile climb is steep and was tearing my legs up.  It was hot and I was just trying to get up this hill.  The trail was also longer than I expected but I trudged on.  The trail was 2.23 miles total but had the most elevation gain of all of the trails.  My pace had slowed down to 16:28 minute miles.  My final drive was six minutes to CRP.

I got to CRP and was sitting in the car debating on getting out.  I got out and tried to get it done as fast as possible.  Fast being a relative term at this point.  I was exhausted and did not eat enough to get me through this run.  I did drink plenty of water and SOS electrolyte drink.  I struggled through the 3.31 miles in a turtle like pace of 17:20 per mile.  I decided to avoid all of the hills and steep climbs and did a flat loop around the top of the park.

I finished the 6 trails and 18+2 miles in seven hours including the drive, change of clothes and the thoughts of stopping.  The two extra miles came with warmup and cooldown miles.  I saw a familiar face at the end which is always nice.  Thanks for the chat Elisa.  My thought is this was not one of my best ideas.  It was a good training run.

Spicewood Springs Colorado Bend State Park

I got back to Colorado Bend State Park and it was much overdue.  I hiked the Spicewood Springs area of the park.  I hiked down Spicewood Springs and up Spicewood Canyon trails and it was five miles of leg busting beauty.  My first trip I did Gorman Falls and that area but I wanted to do the other side of the park this time.

It was the usual hot and humid Texas summer weather.  I got to hike it with little to people because I was out there midweek and midday.  I can say I did not get lost but just misdirected two or three times.  Hiking these trails counter clockwise was not a good idea.  I hit all the steep hills on the back half of the hike and the gradual downhills at the beginning.

I wanted to do this section for the waterfalls and the crystal clear pools of water and it did not disappoint.  The views were breathtaking and it is hard to put in words all the combinations of sights and sounds.  20190628_101624.jpgA view from the top of the first big waterfall20190628_102138.jpgClear water pool from the waterfall20190628_104001.jpgOver the ledge view of another waterfall and clear water20190628_104347.jpgTwin waterfall20190628_104444.jpgAnother set of twin waterfalls and more clear water20190628_104720.jpgClear swimming hole 20190628_110209.jpgFinal view from the top

The Texas Hill country is the place to be this summer.