Cleburne State Park and slight year in review

As time was running out on my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series, I got one more hike to get to 50. I did not get to 52 but this challenge had me in places I never thought I would go. I ventured to east and west Texas. I went to the Texas Panhandle and the hill country. I went to city parks, state parks and national lands in three states. I was injured for two months and it rained daily for a month and a half. I hiked up mountains and down into canyons. I saw waterfalls of all shapes and sizes. I hiked in temperatures in the 90s and in the teens. In the past two years of the 52 Hike Challenge, I have been to over 70 different parks. I have also decided to do it again this year. The last hike of year was definitely not the least.

I once again headed to Cleburne State Park to finish the trails in the park I have not been on yet. 8.3 miles later I have officially hiked the entire park. I have done this in about ten parks. I had a good group of guys to hike and run with on this hike. I really liked seeing the other parts of this park and they are nice but the highlight is always the three tier waterfall in the center of the park. FB_IMG_1545448944959.jpgFB_IMG_1545448835950.jpgFB_IMG_1545448828645.jpgFB_IMG_1545421265252.jpgFB_IMG_1545421245132.jpg

I hope all the readers of this blog have a great 2019. My challenge to all of you is to get out more and see the world.

Next up is new year shenanigans with my family.

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.

Dinosaur Valley Endurance Run 5 Miler

I decided to do a short 5 miler to test out my legs in a trail race. This race takes place at Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, TX.  I have ran here and hiked here many times over the past two years.  This race did not actually start in the park but outside a back gate I did not even knew was there. Even though it was an odd place to start, the race quickly hit a familiar hill that is on every race directors places to have us run.  It was good to get to this particular hill early because it is a leg killer. Since I was only doing a 5 miler, I only had one technical downhill and the rest of the race was fairly easy. I was really surprised at my time. I have been trying to get a sub one hour 5 miler on a technical course and have not come close. I did not break one hour but if I knew how close I was I might have run myself into ground to get the time.  The course was not marked the best but I love running here and I was not going to get lost. I actually won my age group for the first time ever.47214235_2039622916060971_520785078360473600_o.jpgIMG_6298.JPGIMG_6406.JPG

I am going to start training for another tough race next year. I am planning to run a 27K with two miles of elevation change. This is going to be much different than my 50K on a relatively flat course. The 50K had two thirds of a mile of elevation change. I will run hills most of the year to prepare. I am also going to do less races but longer distances with more hills.

Next are my final hikes of the year. East Texas here I come.

Bluff Creek Ranch

Bluff Creek Ranch is a private ranch located in Warda, TX which is about 45 minutes southeast of Austin. Even though the location would suggest the Texas hill country, the ranch had a real east Texas feel. There were not many hills but plenty of pine trees. The oil derrick would suggest a more north west Texas location but nope it is on the outskirts of the Texas hill country.  This is place where I became an ultra runner by completing my first 50K trail run. I did not expect this place to be this scenic. I wish I could have gotten a picture of the sunrise but I was too busing running. There are several ponds located throughout the ranch. There was not one big destination on the ranch but plenty of different things to see that caught my eye. The rolling hills and creeks mixed in with the pine trees and open fields made this a great hike.20181117_105055.jpg20181117_104021.jpg20181117_112933.jpg20181117_120020.jpg20181117_120927.jpg20181117_113113.jpg

It was a crazy day and I am glad I got to be able to hike a private ranch and also run a 50K. This is hike 42 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series.

I will get back on track the next blog with my continuing adventures in Arkansas.

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.

Sutton Urban Wilderness Area

The Sutton Urban Wilderness Area is a nice bit of nature in the middle of the city. It is located in Norman. OK which is fifteen minutes south of Oklahoma City. The trail is flat with a few off shoot trails that have elevation change. The trail is a two mile loop around a small lake. It was a nice peaceful hike. I liked the trees and the water mix but also the open fields. The flat trail made it a speedy four mile trail run. I had to cut both the hike and run short due to the incoming storm. 20181024_121923.jpg20181024_122152.jpg20181024_123315.jpg20181024_123304.jpg20181024_124822.jpg20181024_124838.jpgThis was Hike 41 of my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. I like the different parts of Oklahoma. I have been to both east and west Oklahoma and now central Oklahoma.

The next blog is going to be back at a trail race. I am building up some trail mileage in preparation for my 50K.

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.