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.

Austin Rattler 10K+

I had heard many good things about Rocky Hill Ranch in Smithville. TX. I was looking for a race to run there and found several. I decided on the Austin Rattler 10K. The ranch is located about 45 minutes southeast of Austin. It was amazingly beautiful. The drive out the was very picturesque with the bluebonnets and indian paintbrush flowers all over the place. The two days leading up to the race the mornings were very foggy but this morning the fog burned off early and it was a fantastic day. The race had people from all over the country. I talked to people from Missouri, Colorado, Oklahoma and of course Texas. They announced runners from Maine and California also. The race date was April 1st and this is mentioned due to my trend on getting lost.

I started out running strong and feeling good. I was staying behind a pack of five runners for a long time. I was trying to hang on the back of that pack but got dropped. The next thing I know I am running by myself for fifteen minutes. I check my phone and I have ran over the 10K distance by a half mile. I continue and start to see several runners flying through the trails. They were the 33K runners. I realized I was lost. I got directions and missed my turn again. I am now 8.5 miles into a 10K. I find some volunteers to get placed at spot on the course where I should not get lost. Yes I do mean placed. I had to get an ATV ride. I was going to finish and was not going to get a DNF in a 10K. I get dropped off where I made my second wrong turn and finally pass where I made my first wrong turn. At the finish, I realized I was less than a mile from the finish line when I made my first wrong turn. I ended up running 10.4 miles. It turned out to be my long run before my first 1/2 Marathon next week.20180401_075242.jpg20180401_075419.jpg20180401_075909.jpg20180401_075905.jpgbazu-15942367.jpgThe crazy look you get when you realize you ran an extra 4.2 miles and still did not come in last place.

I had a great time even though I was lost most of the time. I finished in a very unspectacular 2:30:35. Although the course was muddy in some sections, the time was not good. I guess I played an April Fool’s Day joke on myself.

My next blog will be about the 1/2 Marathon then back to the trails.

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.

Lake Murray State Park

Lake Murray State Park is located two hours north of Dallas in Ardmore, OK. The state park is the oldest and largest state park in Oklahoma. Half the park is the lake itself but the land part of the park is very nice. The trails were nice, even though like most trails I have been on in Oklahoma, they were poorly marked. I did not know the name of the trail I hiked even with a map so I made it an out and back. I wanted to hike to and then walk up Tucker Tower but it was closed by the time I got to the park. I basically hiked blind for five miles. The views of the lake were very nice and the terrain was rugged with a lot of elevation change. I really liked the solitude of the area I hiked. I did not go to the floating cabins or the lodge. I decided to hike the trails less traveled. They might not have been as scenic as the others but they were peaceful with a bit of difficulty.  Fishing and boating seem to be the popular activities but I am more into just hiking so I did not take full advantage of the park.  It is a nice park but ranks low on the other places I have been to in Oklahoma. 20180312_165430.jpg20180312_165442.jpgDSC00453.JPGDSC00475.JPGDSC00478.JPGDSC00484.JPGDSC00487.JPG

Lake Murray State Park is a nice park with very good trails. This was hike 18 in ny 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. This is another place I never thought of visiting but the challenge is taking me to new places.

Next hike is back on the Texas state park trails.

Chickasaw National Recreation Area

I love waterfalls. I do not care of the size. I love the huge straight down drop ones but also the long multi tiered shallow ones. I was even amazed by a dry one once. I had not been to this area of Oklahoma in about 20 years but this place advertised springs and waterfalls. It has been raining a bunch for about three weeks so I decided it would be a perfect time to visit the Chickasaw National Recreation Area. Located in Sulphur, OK, which is about a two and a half hour drive due north of Dallas. Driving in the park to the Travertine Nature Center you pass four very different waterfalls. I was here to see Little Niagara Falls and it did not disappoint. I was not expecting a huge 40+ foot waterfall but a ten foot high velocity waterfall. I got exactly what I wanted. I got there early and there were not many people but after a three mile warmup hike, it started to fill up. It was hard to get good pictures without random people in the photo. I ended up hiking to Little Niagara, Bear Falls, Garfield Falls, Pebble Falls, Sycamore Falls, Lost Cave Falls and Panther Falls plus Travertine Island, Antelope Springs and Buffalo Springs. The falls were amazing and all different. The water was crystal clear. There were some springs and falls that are so clean that you can drink from them. I decided to pass on that decision. The number of falls seems to be a bunch but they are only about a quarter to a half mile apart. I was constantly finding more and more picturesque places here that I stayed twice as long as I scheduled. 20180312_150021.jpgPanther Falls

DSC00356.JPGBuffalo Spring

DSC00384.JPGLittle Niagara Falls

DSC00395.JPGFalls and clear water

DSC00419.JPGBear Falls I think

DSC00426.JPGGarfield Falls I think

DSC00368.JPGCrystal clear water

I had a hard time narrowing down what pictures to use. I would use all different pictures at a different time. This was awesome and I only hiked half of the park. I will definitely have to return.

This was also hike 17 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. This series has me exploring places that have been magnificient to see. So far I have hiked up mountains, down in canyons, around lakes and on a beach.

The next hike I continue my exploration of Oklahoma.

Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge

Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge is located in Sherman, TX which is an hour north of Dallas. I had never heard of this place before visiting. I had no idea what to expect to see on this hike. I randomly picked the Haller’s Haven Trail. It seemed like a good trail to start with and the distance was not too long or short. The lady at the visitor’s desk did mention that it is legal to hunt on this trail. I am not a hunter but she said if you see some cars already there you might want to hike elsewhere due to possible hunters shooting. I was intrigued by the possibility of being shot so I posed the question of what would they be hunting. She replied small game animals like squirrels and other small rodents. So I decided to take my chances if people were already out there to hike anyway. What is the worst that could happen, I get hit in the foot by 410 shot or a .22 slug. Not too surprising there were no cars at the trailhead when I got there. The terrain was flat but the trails were really nice. I kept thinking to myself these are the perfect flat trail running trails. They were wide and tree lined. You could see small rolling hills in front of you and behind you. The trail did have one stretch of uphill hiking but it was not steep and relatively not that long. There were two small ponds and Lake Texoma on the trail. I also like the bridge that was near the beginning of the trail. There was nothing to scenic unless you like birding. I am guessing that this is what it is most known for. There were all different types of birds everywhere. As for anything else not much to see. It was a relaxing stroll the day before race day.  20180216_133454.jpg20180216_133627.jpg20180216_133943.jpg20180216_134012.jpg20180216_140034.jpg20180216_135240.jpg20180216_141952.jpg20180216_135719.jpg

This was the second wildlife refuge I have visited. They are vastly different. In retrospect this place is also very different than the state park nearby and a natural public use area. This was hike 16 of my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series.

 

Eisenhower State Park

Eisenhower State Park is located in Denison, TX which is about an hour and a half north of Dallas. The park is on the Texas side of Lake Texoma which is on the Texas-Oklahoma border. The park is named after Dwight D. Eisenhower our 34th President and a Texas native. I have driven through Denison many times but never thought to go to this state park. I did not know what I was missing. This park has a little of everything. It has two beaches on the lake. One is a very small rocky beach and the other is a small sandy beach. They are both surrounded by high cliffs and the sandy one has coves and some bouldering opportunities. This park also has some good hiking trails and the views from the cliffs are can’t miss. Standing on top of the cliffs and seeing the waves crash into the rocks below is a sight to see. I did not expect much when going to this park but left extremely surprised on how much I liked this park. Hiking down to the sandy beach was nice and then you see the coves and a small boulder field. I took the opportunity to do some bouldering to the coves. Once again hiking up the boulders you get a good view of the waves moving across the inlet and against the rocks. DSC00291.JPGDSC00299.JPGDSC00309.JPG20180216_113954.jpg20180216_114343.jpg20180216_114907.jpg20180216_115003.jpg20180216_115200.jpgDSC00332.JPG

This was a great park to visit. I would like to come back when it is warmer and the sun is out. This was hike 15 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. This one was one of the best so far.

I finally got to another state park and the next is a wildlife refuge.