Rails to Trails 100K

Rails to Trails 100K race recap:

I will start with a course description.  We start in a medium town and run south to a very small town then continue to small town.  After that we continue south to a smallish town then proceed to an extremely small town and turnaround and head north back to the original medium town.  We do that for 62 miles with a little less than 900 feet of elevation gain.  The course views were mainly flat farmland in Kansas.  Lots of cows but a did see a combine actually moving.  I did like the tree lined course though.  The weather was perfect.  It started out in the 30s but never made it out of the low 60s.  The sun was shining and there was very little wind.  I could not have asked for a better day.FB_IMG_1572156498411IMG_38811.jpgIMG_38761.jpgIMG_38691.jpgFB_IMG_1572149301800 Pictures from the smallish town and the trees around the trail.

Now for my crew.  They were awesome.  Not one of them is an ultra runner and only two are regular runners.  I worked with two of them for a combined 30+ years and the other two are family members in addition to being great friends.  We had fun learning what to do on the fly.  I was mostly confused on what I needed when I needed it.  They were there doing everything necessary to keep me moving and well supported.  My pacers were the only reason I finished.  At times we did not see people for hours, when the sun went down I would not have made it by myself in the dark.  I have praised this magnificent group in other forums and I cannot say enough about how grateful I am of them.                      FB_IMG_1572156551907IMG_3895120191027_010538FB_IMG_1572147273262FB_IMG_1572147236296FB_IMG_1572147374204 These are the best four people I could have ever asked to finish this journey with me.

How I got to this point.  I want to thank North Texas Trail Runners for being the first group to get me to run more than a 5K on the trails.  Dallas Dirt Runners (D.D.R.) this group put the idea in my mind that I can something this crazy.  If I named all the individuals it be pages of praise.  I am going to single out Ray Liberatore for being a person who not matter how a feel just talking to him calms me down and gives me confidence in my abilities.  My Wednesday running group: Kenny Hallman,  Darren Beck,  Dennis Starkey and Noemi Moreno Lusk to name a few.  Those Wednesday night runs with this group are must do runs.  I will drop a few more names Agustin Negrete, Nikki Davis and Elisa Norman, I have not run with these three much lately but they have inspired me to run far, faster and do stupid things.IMG_38671.jpgIMG_38871.jpgFB_IMG_1572148074518        I had to find some fun in this longest of long runs.

I am happy to have buckled the eff up with a 100K.  I have regained the ability to walk somewhat normal as of now.  The chaffing is not as bad as I thought it would be.  I am having trouble standing and sitting but it is just sore muscles.  I also have some mystery bruises.  I am overall elated and feel accomplished.  I finally feel like I am somewhat of an ultra runner.  Bonus information, I finished in a time of 15:06:47. I was trying for 14 but this is good time for me.  I took second in my age group and yes there were more than two of us in my age group.  Lastly, I finished in the top half overall.20191027_010703FB_IMG_1572147230442FB_IMG_157214726143120191027_18032420191027_180543

It was a long training season but worth it.  I had some ups and downs but mostly good times.  I had two DNFs in training races and literally had wasps flying out of my shorts in a training run.  I had a hard time sitting after that incident.  I also made some great friends on the trails and my last to lead up training races I set all sorts of personal best.  While in Kansas, I had to get some Kansas City beer for the celebration.

One more thing on the Kansas trip, I drove through the Flint Hills section of Kansas.  It was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.  I can’t explain it.  It is simply rolling hills but so much more.  I can’t wait to run a marathon out there.  Sorry for the no pictures on this section.

The best part of the weekend was my son graduating from the fire academy.20191018_19095620191018_1910465937205411

This ends my journey to a 100K.  I miss hiking so much.  I am going to take some time off from trail running and get back to hiking once my legs are stable.

Oktoberfest Half Marathon

Can you say flat and fast. The course is a very flat rail trail. Just like last week it was on the NETT(Northeast Texas Trail). I did the far east Texas section last week and the northeast section this week. This part of the trail is really well taken care of. The trail is a mixture of crushed gravel and concrete. It had a some elevation gain but nothing to difficult. The trail was easy to run but it is a multi use trail. The multi use part is not always a great thing. It is used by runners, hikers, bikers and equestrian. The latter is the problem in more than one way. The horses poop on the trail and I guess the riders are not responsible for the poop like dog owners. Horse poop comes into play later in the recap.20191019_072640.jpg20191019_072453.jpg

The race started at 8 AM and the temperature was in the high 50s but quickly rose into the 70s. These temperatures are about 15-20 degrees higher than I like but they felt good. There was a light breeze the entire time. The first half was a tailwind and the turnaround change direction into a headwind. The trees did a decent job of blocking the wind without a greenhouse effect. As you can see this was not a point to point like last week, but an out and back. The aid stations were good but nothing special. I stopped at one to get some gatorade but as soon as I started to drink the volunteer said it was pickle juice. Too late, I had already taken it like a shot. Pickle juice is nasty by the way. The only other adventure in this race was a copperhead on the trail. I was running at a speedy pace and thought to myself more darn horse poop on the trail. I made the usual side step to avoid it but at the last moment I realized it was a small copperhead. I must of scared it because this was the first time a snake lounged at me. I was hoping National Geographics is correct by stating a human’s reflexes are faster than a snake’s. I do not know if this is always correct but it was in my case. Or maybe I just jumped higher and longer than the length of the snake. Funny thing is that I was so pumped up that the “snake” mile was the fastest mile I ran.20191019_072717.jpg20191019_072723.jpg

After the race, there were brats to eat and beer to drink.  They also had chips and cookies and some good music.  People stayed around to socialize more than usual but the race was a small race so not too many people.  The day was perfect for a festival type atmosphere.20191019_072900.jpg

This was supposed to be a double race recap but I did not put in an official loop at Dirt and Vert. I did run two loops at Sister Grove but Nikki and Michael took up my slack. I did try to get there as fast as I could run and drive. I set more personal best times but this time I felt good afterwards. No leg soreness and still ready to run. Plus this is the first time I finished in the top half of a race this long. Supposedly 80+ people ran the half and I was 37th and 3rd in my age group.

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Next up is the 100K.  I have done so much training for this race.  I miss hiking and I cannot wait to hit the trails at a walking place and get some good pictures.

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.

Piney Woods Ultra 25K 2019 Edition

Let me rehash a bit about the race.  I ran this race last year in preparation for my first 50K.  The race kicked my butt and I almost quit running.  I had such a tough time finishing last year and it was not fun suffering on the course.  I barely finished and a month later finished my first 50K in bad shape but better that Piney Woods.FB_IMG_1569102849942.jpg

Fast forward to this year’s race.   I did not die or feel dead and I finished. I actually finished 50 minutes faster this year than last year and still could not find the finish line without help.  Thanks to the volunteer or I would still be looking for the finish 5 feet away.  We did not have the torrential rains from so that helped out a bunch.FB_IMG_1569102863581.jpg

I am guessing the course was the same as last year but the aid stations seemed to be in different places.  I could be wrong.  The hills seemed longer and also more of them on the course.  The weather was better even with the high humidity.  As usual the trees provided plenty of shade early but had a greenhouse effect as the temperature rose. There was little to no breeze all morning.  Did I mention more hills?  It was about 1500 feet of elevation gain over the 25K.  The roots were also a bit bigger this year but the rocks stayed the same.  The course for the 25K was two loops of 7.75 miles.  I know I ran the same loop twice but the second loop seemed to have more downhills.  Also the second loop seemed to be the faster loop although I was about 10 minutes slower.FB_IMG_1569102859970.jpg

I would consider this a successful race even though I was about 20 minutes slower than my predicted time.  I had plenty of help from the great volunteers and others I talked to on the course.  I would like to apologize to all the people I met in previous races and said “hey you ran in … race remember me?” I say yes but I really don’t, I am terrible with remembering people while running during a race. I will remember the couple from Wisconsin and my campsite neighbors in the mini camper.  They were very nice people I talked to before, during and after the race. FB_IMG_1569102856288.jpg

I like getting to run with fun people at fun places.FB_IMG_1569120070338.jpgThe peopleFB_IMG_1569120053311.jpgThe place

This race was once again a prep race race for a 50K.  This time it was a week before not a month.  I am off to Kansas to do their oldest and hilliest trail 50K.

I don’t usually run on roads but when I do

I am getting more road time than usual especially since most trails are open.  We had a day with plenty of rain so I hit the road.  I enjoy the road a little more than I used to for two reasons.  The trails close at sunset for good reasons and where a live I still can get a wilderness feeling.  I can run along the boundary or on the roads of Cedar Hill State Park or Joe Pool Lake.  Some of those views are spectacular at sunset.  I really do need to get pictures of both the next time I am on a slow run(slow being a relative term).  As a random thought does anybody else but me just look at the sky.  The clouds and colors are so impressive.  I like the north Texas skies but sunset in central Texas is a must do for everyone at least once.  I do get sunset pictures post run in my neighborhood. IMG_20190830_142240.jpgLow clouds across the street.IMG_20190830_142408.jpgNorth Texas sunsetIMG_20190830_142439.jpgThe sun reflecting off the cloudsIMG_20190830_142442.jpgNot as late as beforeIMG_20190830_142449.jpgNot as pink but just as nice.

A quote that everybody gets wrong and is now driving me crazy. “Money is the root of all evil.”  I hear it this way all the time and they are not saying the quote correct and it ruins the true meaning of the quote.  “The pursuit of wealth i.e. money is the root of all evil.” What does this quote have to do with running or hiking, nothing.  People who have worked hard and earned money are not evil.  They made money.  Doctors, lawyers and businessmen who have made millions have worked for their money.  It is those who are in pursuit of money and do not earn it fall into evil ways.  It is those with the ability to make money but do not want to earn is who the quote is referring.

I am going to stop here because this can go in many different ways religious, political, philosophical and my favorite nonsensical.  I try to keep it light.

Oh yea I am still training and down to 247, twelve more pounds to go.

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.

Running and more Running

Training in the heat is going better than I thought it would go.  I got 175 miles in July.  The total miles surpassed my best month by over 20 miles.  I am slowly building up my mileage per run also getting several 7-10 mile runs.  I still do not like long runs.  I am not fast so long runs take up a bunch of time.  I do, time on my feet runs, which last from two and half to three hours.

My races this month include Habanero 30K and Six-0 Ranch Half Marathon.  They will be my long runs and to see where my fitness is at by the end of the month.  My previous hip injury has been nagging a bit but nothing major.  My knees are feeling good.  I am surprised because I am running six to eight days in a row.

I am going to start to incorporate gym workouts twice a week to build core strength.  My weight is down to 253 and I want to be around 235 by the time I run my 100K.  I should be able to lose 18 pounds in 12 weeks but it is going to be tough. Back to the heat and hills.