Flat Rock 50K umm 25K

I want to start off by offering prayers and condolences to the runner and his family that was struck by lightning and killed during the race.  It was difficult for me to write a running recap of this race due to this tragedy.

I have always wanted to run a race with a tight cutoff time. I did not expect this to be that race. I thought with 10 hrs for a 50K would not be that bad. My very first 50K was under 9 hrs. Little did I know what I was getting myself into. I know that about 179 runners registered for the race.  I do not know how many actually started but only 103 had finishing times.  I was planning to get pictures on the way back but that did not workout.  I do not know where to start.

The course was tough.  Let me restate this, it was the toughest most unique course I have ever been on. There are parts of the course, as a hiker, I would not even think of hiking.  I got close to 1400′ of elevation gain in the first 25K.  It is less than Piney Woods but much more difficult.  I guess the easiest way to explain this course is this way.  It is a mixture of Colorado Bend SP with the rocks, Cleburne SP with the short steep hills, Lake Mineral Wells SP with the squeezing and climbing crevices then throw in some Arkansas cliffs and Louisiana low land terrain.  The lack of wind made it a sauna the entire time.  Mind you it never got above 83 degrees but the humidity was about 67%.  The funny thing was people at the start complaining how hot it was going to get and might reach 85.  I was laughing to myself thinking I have not had one run in months that low.36516580c7a7dd4f36da935644458c8f.pngThe elevation profile is deceiving and hides the difficulty of the course.

I tried not to run stupid from the start.  I took it easy at the beginning.  It turns out that was the wrong strategy.  I should have ran hard at the beginning and at every possible place I could have run.  I did not think the hills were going to be that technical.  I am talking hands on ground going up and down these hills.  Did I mention two ladders on the course?  Plus water crossings and mud.  It had not rained in awhile and the course was mostly dry but every “obstacle” was extreme.  The course went down into a basin of a waterfall.i-FhRHndT-XL.jpg

I got to the turnaround 10 minutes past the cutoff.  I changed into dry clothes and did the math on making the finish cutoff.  I could drop three minutes per mile on the way back and make the cutoff.  I was feeling pretty good.  My legs were fine and I was hydrated and ate properly during the first half.  I was not low on energy but something in my mind said do not go back out.  The clouds were breaking up and the sun was out so I was not worried about rain.  Several others decided to try their luck and return and they looked much worse off than I.  The volunteer asked two more times if I was going back out and I finally said I am done.  I truly believe in divine intervention and I know that is the reason I did not try to finish the race.i-n9X63RD-XL.jpg

The rain eventually came and it was heavy but it did not stay around for long.  I would have got caught in it more than likely on one of the more runnable sections of the course. I think I could have made the 10 hr time limit but it would have been close and not very fun in the rain and on a wet course.  This was also the time the tragedy struck.  The runner was a quarter of a mile from the finish line.i-FrXvXp9-XL.jpg

I am leaning on doing it again next year.  I am going to run my usual dumb race because I know I will not be able to keep up a fast pace for more than two miles at a time before something slows me down.  So if anybody wants to run the most amazing course you will ever run, I am willing to do it again.  On a positive note, I wish I had gotten some pictures because the course had so many picturesque places and features.  I was awestruck running the course.

BTW, my legs are still sore.

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.

 

Cooper Lake State Park

Cooper Lake State Park is located in Sulphur Springs, TX which is about an hour and fifteen minutes east of Dallas. I will do this blog as a trail run instead of a hike. The trail was set up to hold a trail run and it does every year. After hiking the trail, I got a message from a friend stating he runs a race there every year. I actually have already signed up to run the race. Back to the trail, it is a wide trail. Most hiking trails are single track trails, but this one was a wide trail like jeep trail. The trail was relatively flat and straight. It was a lollipop out and back. It was also very simple to navigate. The only bad thing is that it did not hold up well after the rain. It had not rained in a few days but it was still muddy most of the trail. There were some good views but nothing special and that is good when trail running. I am easily distracted and will stop and take pictures during a trail run. The best part of this hike was all of the wildlife. I saw over a dozen deer and they were even photogenic for once.20181218_113957.jpg20181218_115306.jpgDSC01464.JPGDSC01459.JPGDSC01466.JPG

This was hike 49 of the 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. It was also supposed to be the last hike but I got one more in a fews days later. Completing the hike challenge was difficult due to injury and rain, lots of rain.

Next blog is the last hike then some fun lists blogs and an adventure of a different kind.

Red River Trail Run 10K

As part of my training for my 50K. I am doing some races to work on speed in between my endurance training during the week. It started with the 25K, then the Chupacabra and then Ragnar and now the Red River Trail Run. The race was held in Callisburg, TX on a private ranch which is about an hour north of Dallas. Unlike the previous races, this race was flatter with the ability to run hard most of the course. The trail was a bit muddy but overall the trail was in good condition. The rain has let up a few days earlier but most of the local trails are still closed. I have been training on the rode but I prefer trail running. My finishing time of 1:26:46 was not too bad considering the trail condition. I just seem to struggle more than most with wet and muddy courses. I was fourth in my age group and finished just outside the top half of the overall. 20181103_082443.jpg20181103_082457.jpg20181103_084035.jpg20181103_084121.jpg20181103_084138.jpg20181103_084211.jpg

This was my first trail run at a North Texas Trail Runners event. It was well organized and very well marked. I run with this group monthly and have also volunteered at an event. I also found out my training race next week was cancelled due to the trail being four feet under water. The rain is still messing with my training.

My next blog will be the 50K result.

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.

Ragnar Trail Hill Country

I have been wanting to run this race for almost two years. Last year I did not have a team so I just waited for this year asking anybody if they were going to run Ragnar this year. North Texas Trail Runners stepped up and put together three teams. I was on the regular team since I am nowhere near being in shape to do a Ragnar Ultra. The race took place in Comfort, TX which is north west of San Antonio. It was on a private ranch which was nice. The race comprises of 8 runners and 3 distances repeated until all 8 runners complete all 3 distances. I like the fact that we ran loops unlike the road Ragnar which is a point to point race. The weather during the race was perfect. The problem was the weeks of rain prior to the race. The camp area was a mud pit. The course held up fairly well in most places. I decided not to go down early and stay the night to avoid the rain the night before. I was also lucky to pick which leg I wanted to run. I choose leg 6 for two reasons. I knew I would only have to run one leg in the dark and also I would run the longest distance first and the shortest distance last. The first leg was 7.5 miles and it was awesome. The only slow down was a cow on the course. There were plenty of cows around the ranch but this one decided to stop right in front of me. I looped around it and kept on going. The cool temperature offset the wet course and I had a really good first leg and felt great after the run. The second leg was 5 miles of misery. I could not find my brightest headlamp. The temperature was still cool but the humidity rose. My glasses kept fogging up. Plus this was the leg I was running at night. This leg also had the most falls and people getting hurt. I did not fall but I stubbed my toe really bad. I was limping with no glasses in the dark with a dim light. I really struggled with that leg. I survived the night run but I was tired and needed rest. I got two hours of sleep and I was up ready for my final leg. I had about three hours to wait but I could not get back to sleep. The last leg was 3 miles and not too technical. I was physically tired and wanted to take it easy. I started off slow but felt good and finished fast. I finished and felt good and kept on running. My team was awesome and it included my sister. I had a great time with a great group of people. I also had some time with other running groups like the Dallas Dirt Runners, Waco Striders Running Club and Cedar Hill Running Club. FB_IMG_1540128922822.jpgThese are the three loops with the elevation profile.FB_IMG_1540078922437.jpgFB_IMG_1540078936861.jpgFB_IMG_1540128947046.jpgThe trails and views from the trail.FB_IMG_1540129038101.jpgFB_IMG_1540155115940.jpgThe mud fest that was the camping area.

This was one of my bucket list runs. I have done a few bucket list items this calendar year. This race has definitely moved to the top of my favorite races list.

I get back on the hiking trails next and I ramp up my training for the 50K.

REI Mudbug Run 10K

I have no idea why I signed up for this run. Maybe because it was close, cheap and flat. I have never been to the John Bunker Sands Wetland Center but wanted to see what it had to offer. The wetlands are located in Seagoville, TX which is about twenty minutes southeast of Dallas. The wetlands were really nice. I was expecting to see alligators. The morning of the race was hot and very very humid. It had rain most of the night before and the course was muddy. As advertised the course was flat but at the end there was a long hill to the finish. The only good thing about the uphill finish was I got a chance to get all the mub off of my shoes before the finish. The hill was grassy unlike the dirt and mud of the lower part of the course. The course was 6.6 miles long which is a long 10K but nothing out of the ordinary for most trail runs. I like the added distance of most trail races. My time of 1:13:25 was very good for me. I was averaging about 11 minute miles. I was hoping for a sub 1:05 but running with all that mud on my shoes wore out my legs legs. I was ahead of pace the first half of the run but the next three miles slugging through mud wore me down.20180505_072045.jpg20180505_072519.jpg20180505_073554.jpg20180505_075301.jpg

I liked the course and the people were great. I was a no frills race but still had some good swag in the bag. I think on a dry course it would be a course I could possibly PR.

Next up back to Waco for some hills.