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).
One more race till I take a two month break and stick to training for the 100K.
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. The top of one those fun hills.The beauty of the course.The tree rock and root section.The section before the jump across.Feeling good on the first loop.Ahmed and I on our sprint finish.We 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.