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.

 

The Narrows Wichita Mountains

This was my third trip to the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in Lawton, OK.  I have been hiking two to three sections at a time.  I have heard about the Narrows from other hikers, so I decided to check it out.  The trailheads here are poorly marked and the trails are not marked, so finding the trail and going the right direction took some help.  Although the trail markings are nonexistent, the trails are a blast to hike.  After getting directions from a fellow hiker, I took a one and a half mile out and back turned it into a two mile adventure.  It had rain plenty the past few weeks and the river had a brisk flow.  The trail had several steep inclines and the elevation gains and loses were quick and long.  I did lose the trail once but I was down in a valley with only one way out so the only thing I needed to do is hike up.  It was fairly crowded for my taste but not overly crowded.  There are many overlooks on the trail and the temperature was perfect for the lizards that were out sunbathing. 20190419_160813.jpg20190419_161831.jpg20190419_162807.jpg20190419_155753.jpg20190419_154404.jpg20190420_165516.jpg

Next up was a hike gone almost terribly wrong that involved bushwhacking.

Down N Dirty 8K

This has become one of my favorite races I do yearly. The unfortunate thing this year has been the rain.  I did get to run with my sister which is always fun.  I talked this race up to my sister on how hard it is but fun.  The other bad part was I ran almost daily since my 50K and my sister is recovering from an injury, so we ran very slow.  The course is not very difficult when running at a slow pace.  The last half mile climb is usually the leg killer but it was not hard at all. Once again the Waco Striders provided a great medal and the shirt was just as cool.  The weather did not cooperate since we ran in thunderstorms the entire race.  I really do not like running in rain.  There was a good turnout and some fast times despite the weather.   I do not know if any pictures were taken so the only one I provided is the medal and the the course below.  It does not look like much but there is some serious elevation change and a few nice views.28424171_10211889389570407_7131194681041561580_o.jpg

My next race was the Tanner Higgins Warrior Run but it was cancelled due to rain. Next up is a trip to Oklahoma and the first in my camper.

Red River National Wildlife Refuge

The Red River National Wildlife Refuge is located in Bossier City, LA.  It was just a fifteen minute drive from Shreveport.  I expected a flat hike through marsh wetlands. This place was a bit different than what I expected. There was no elevation change but that is expected at wetlands but the terrain was varied.  In some areas I was hiking in sand and other parts dense forest.  It had rained several days before and some of the lower wetlands were flooded.  I did hike on every trail in the refuge and only missed about 2 miles of trail.  I enjoyed the views of Lake Caroline in the middle of the refuge. The trails were clearly marked and it would be difficult to get lost once on the trail system.  I had a hike of 6 plus miles but the map stated there is only 5 miles of trail.  I did have to back track some  due to the flooded trails.  There was wildlife in abundance and if you are a bird watcher this place would be awesome.  I also caught a glimpse of deer.   I was expecting to see alligators but I was lucky enough to avoid that creature.  20190324_103329.jpgDeer crossing the trail20190322_094647.jpgLake Caroline20190322_094539.jpgRandom tractor20190322_083551.jpgCool looking trees20190322_090342.jpgSandy trail20190322_092907.jpgFlooded trail

Next up is a trip to Kansas to run a 50K.

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.

Government Canyon State Natural Area

Government Canyon SNA is located 10 minutes northwest of San Antonio. I was hoping it would be like Hill Country SNA which is about 45 minutes away. I was surprised that is was not really like Hill Country SNA. The area has been inundated with rain so parts of the park were not hikable. I did get to all of the possible overlooks and some were nice. There were some blocked views at others but overall not too bad. The trails were very rocky and I had issues with my ankle I had twisted a few days earlier. I did get 9 miles of peaceful hiking. The hike had some good elevation changes but nothing steep. They have several trail runs out there but I will not run them. I would return to see the rest of the park.  DSC01497.JPGDSC01493.JPGDSC01486.JPGDSC01476.JPG20190128_140006.jpg

This was a fun hike but I would like to see the rest of the park when they open the trails. Next up is a short trip to Arkansas. I hope the rains have not closed all of the trails. I might have to do some concrete trails.

Trinity Groves Dallas, TX

I like running on all the trails I can find in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Being a trail runner and hiker, for that matter, is that weather sometimes determines how much outdoor time I can enjoy. The rain in 2018 was the second most in the area since they started recording rainfall. The most just happened to be 2015. The rain floods the trails and the they get closed for weeks at a time. I would usually trudge to the gym and get a workout there but I found with the help of my running buddies a great place to get some trail time. Trinity Groves on the west side of downtown Dallas. The trail is crushed gravel and drains really well, so running can be done even on raining days. The light from downtown Dallas keeps the trail lit fairly well, so I can run at night with or without a headlamp. I have been running here regularly but am anxious to get to some less urban trails. The trail is flat and fast but you can add hills when running down into the levee. This part gets flooded when it rains a bunch and the Trinity river rises and covers the lower trail. The is an out and back for the most part but you can run a 16 mile loop, so I heard. I particularly do not like out and back runs but when returning on this trail you get great views of downtown Dallas the entire time. The lights of the city keep the run interesting especially during any event. The buildings in the city will have a light show that correlates to the event. FB_IMG_1539225142284.jpg43098483_1956246097731987_6609849695248318464_o.jpg43053753_1956246164398647_7220257267763904512_o.jpg43110257_1956245897732007_6908378015701401600_o.jpg20181219_182051.jpg

The very distinctive bridge in the background is the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge.

Next up is my first run of the year. I need some revenge at Tyler State Park.