Run The Rail Half Marathon

On a day when some amazing feats were accomplished, I ran a half marathon. A flat and fast trail half marathon. The ease of the course did not diminish the difficulty of the run for me. I did not run a 100 miler I had No Business running(see what I did there) or run a mind boggling time in a marathon. What I did do is set a personal goal and run my butt off. I still get inspired by those running their 1st 5K to those who crank out a 100. Each runner has a breaking point and to see them pass it is amazing.FB_IMG_1570938000735.jpgIt was a small race and I am the tall guy in the grey hat.FB_IMG_1570938021104.jpgI am focused going in that straight line.

This race was located in New Boston, TX and was on the NETT(Northeast Texas Trail) which is 130 miles long. The race was a point to point from DeKalb to New Boston. I was expecting an extremely flat course with crushed gravel and some road. I was wrong, like usual. The course was more like a cross country course. Little to no crushed gravel and a bunch of grass and some muddy sections. Plus for a rail course it had some surprising elevation. The footing was tricky on parts of the course and slipping in the mud was a possibility. The best thing was the temperature. The race started with a 36 degree temperature and a finishing temperature in the mid to upper 40s. It was sunny and for most of the race there was a slight head wind. The wind picked up near the end but nothing too bad. I love running in that type of weather.20191012_072317.jpgSun has risen and time to run

The course was a straight line out of one small town through another town and finishing in another small town. The course featured the usual sights in east Texas small towns. A few barns, farms and ranches. Plenty of flat land that had miles of visibility. The last three miles were on concrete with a slight downhill finish. There were plenty of aid stations and potties along the course with enthusiastic volunteers. At the finish you were treated to a fajita chicken taco bar, all sorts of beverages and cookies.FB_IMG_1570937970747.jpgFinishing section in New Boston downtown.

I wanted to do a few of things during this race. I wanted to run the entire race without walking. I did that except for one restroom break but I ran in and out. I wanted to run a consistent pace. I did that. All miles were in the 10 minute range except two. The last mile and a third was under 10 minute pace and the restroom break was 7 seconds over the 10 minute range. Lastly I wanted to run a sub 2:30. I had an official time of 2:20:10 but my actual half marathon was 2:17:21. I set 5 new personal best but STRAVA has them as 2nd best due to a car incident.Screenshot_20191013-121625_Strava.jpg10:36 pace is good for me.

It was a good experience and a valuable training run. My legs are sore since I never done some of things I accomplished at this race.Screenshot_20191014-115347_Strava.jpgI am liking these times.

Next up is another half marathon on the NETT in Farmersville, TX.

Do Wacka Do 25K

The race was located in Erick, OK at Sandy Sanders Wildlife Area in western Oklahoma.  I was drawn in by background picture of a canyon trail.  The picture was very accurate. The views were awesome.  They were the best part of the race and a reason to run it again.  The run was not particularly crowded also. Plus they had port o potties with showers.20190907_064728.jpgEarly start of the race20190907_071301.jpgSun rising over the plains

The course was mainly jeep trail and no shade to be had the entire race. The course covered from canyon rim down into canyon basin and back up several times. The 25K was a 16.2 mile loop with just under 1400 feet of elevation gain. There were four aid stations along the way strategically place at the top of some very steep and long climbs. A switchback or two would not have hurt. Most of the hills were straight up and only one had the benefit of switchbacks.20190907_072653.jpgView over the canyon

The 25K, 50K and 50 miler started at 7 AM and it was a cool low humidity morning but it was hot around 9:30 AM and I do not believe the aid stations were prepared for the type of heat that was coming later in the day. I was worried about fellow DDR because he was doing the 50 miler in 100 degree heat. The aid stations were not like Habanero i.e. ice was not plentiful.20190907_075854.jpgLooking for shade20190907_080248.jpgShade in the canyon basin

As for myself, I ran at a good steady pace the entire race. The hills kept me from going to fast out of the gate. STRAVA says I ran my third fastest 1/2 marathon. I was surprised since there was a bunch of elevation on this course. I finished in a good time of 3:33:23 and 21st out of 47. I rarely finish in the top half of a race this distance. The longer runners did not fare as well. One of the 50K and one of the 50 miler runners dropped down to 25K. Of the 16 runners that started the 50 miler only 6 finished and 9 dropped down to the 50K.

FB_IMG_1567911109026.jpgStart/Finish line

On a side note, I would usually take my camper out to the races.  I decided to get a hotel because I thought it would be to hot to stay in without electricity.  It was cool enough over night not to have electricity and the hotel was a nightmare.  First, the shower did not work and did not find out until the morning of the race and was up to late to do anything about it. Secondly, I saw what I believe was blood splatter on the drapes. Oh crap there was blood spots on the drapes.  I finally got the shower to work by almost ripping the handle off the wall.  I went across the street to get disinfectant for the room because of blood splatter on the drapes.  The TV malfunctioned and I had to fix it, I did not to not have TV with blood on the drapes. I will be using my camper from here on out.

Six-0 Half Marathon

I had a time at this race.  Blaze Trail Running put on a great race.  The course was sneaky difficult but was set up with so many great views.  The loops with in the course intentionally went to bluffs overlooking the Texas hill country.  The volunteers were awesome and the parking set up is a detail that usually gets forgotten but it was great.  Plus grilling at the finish line.  Not many races have a person grilling hot dogs and hamburgers at the finish line, a nice touch.  The race was fairly local so a bunch of trail runners I run with during the week were there running or volunteering.  20190831_071403.jpgParking right by the start/finish

The race itself caught me by surprise.  I did not think it would be relatively easy but it was hillier than I thought.  The race starting temperature was great but the humidity was in the upper 80s.  As the race went on the humidity dropped but the temperature rose.  You got to love running in Texas in August.  The location was at Six-0 Ranch in Cleburne, Tx which about 45 minutes southwest of the Fort Worth.  The ranch is beautiful and a great place for this race.  It is also a working ranch so cows were roaming around and leaving fresh patties. 20190831_070214.jpgMorning sky

The course was set up to go about 3.5 miles slightly downhill then 7 miles with  significant elevation gain and finishing with a 3 mile downhill run with a quick uphill at the end.  Within the first mile I heard yelling and looked back to see what all the commotion was about, a herd of cows were sprinting between a pack of runners and people were trying to get out of the way.  No one got hurt but those cows were moving very fast and way too close for comfort.  About 4.5 miles in we got to the lake, the first of many scenic areas.  We looped the lake which prior to running here I thought was odd but I understood why they made the course this way.FB_IMG_1567279017938.jpgThe lake on one sideFB_IMG_1567279021447.jpgThis view on the other side

Seven miles in I was drenched.  Not normal drenched but shoes and socks puddles drenched.   I was properly hydrated but I was hungry but not hungry.  It is hard to explain but I was so hungry but I did not want to eat.  It is a problem I have running when I am going longer distances.  I have to force myself to eat during these runs or hit a wall near the end due to lack of nutrition.   I make it to the aid station at 9.5 miles and refilled my drink and just get some watermelon, big mistake.  This was another place on the course where there was an awkward place to put a loop.  But the view added by having the loop was worth it.FB_IMG_1567279041523.jpgOne of my favorite views from the course

After the aid station there was still a but of hill climbing to do.  The downhill started fast and furious as did my demise.  I was holding a 12:20 mile pace until this point.  I ran into the wall and my pace jumped up.  I ended with an average above 14 minutes per mile.  Unlike last race I somewhat expected this to happen at sometime.  I have been losing weight and not taking in as many calories as I need for a race this long.  My finishing time of 3:12:17 was a little disappointing but considering the course difficulty and am not that unhappy.  FB_IMG_1567279045385.jpgI like the windmill and I do believe that was one of the hills on the courseFB_IMG_1567278999087.jpgOne of the few areas of tree coverFB_IMG_1567279978092.jpgStruggling up the hill

I do not have many pictures of me having fun when running but the Dallas Dirt Runners caught me having fun and turned it into a meme.  My fellow runner is Sue Fee.FB_IMG_1567297044687.jpg

We were nowhere near the finish line at this point.

A good time was had by all and next week it is a 25K in Oklahoma.

Caprock Canyon State Park Canyon Rim Trail

This trail was within walking distance of my campsite and although it is not a very long or a difficult trail the views were amazing.  I walked passed the prairie dog area and there was the trailhead.  I got out early in the morning and was the only one on the trail.  The temperature was relatively cool but the horseflies were driving me nuts.  The trail followed the rim of a small part of the canyon, hence the name.  The canyon colors were on full display and the depth of the canyon was easily seen up close and personal.

The trail is a loop so I started on the prairie side of the trail and finished with the canyon rim side on the way back.  The prairie side had great views of the other side of the park with the colorful vistas.  The rim side of the trail overlooks the canyon.20190718_075657.jpgThe prairie side of the trail with red rock in the background20190718_075702.jpgThe white rock background off of the prairie side20190718_080920.jpgI like the mix of colors20190718_083300.jpgTrying to get the depth of the canyon20190718_083546.jpgLooking down at the canyons layers20190718_092404.jpgFinally got a picture of the entrance on the way out.

Bonus pictures20190718_081232.jpg20190718_084714.jpg

Rough Creek Trail Run 10K

The Rough Creek Trail Run is held in Glen Rose, TX which is about an hour and a half southwest of the DFW metroplex. I chose this particular race because I wanted a tough but short race before my 25K the next week. I am getting really use to running 10Ks now so this was the perfect distance. The tough part was the infamous Rusty Crown. The Rusty Crown consist of several 40+ degree gradient up and down hills ranging from 300 to 80 feet in length. If the uphill does not wear you out, the downhill will knock you down. I did not make the mistake I made last race but not eating enough. I was properly nutritioned and ready to run. The course had some rain on it from the previous days but held up well and the steepest parts were fine. Prior to the race it was great to see all the familiar faces from the different running clubs. The Waco Striders Running Club had members running the half marathon, North Texas Trail Runners and Dallas Dirt Runners had runners in all of the distances. The Rough Creek Ranch was absolutely beautiful and the morning sky was awesome. The sky was mostly cloudy and there was a heavy fog before the race. By the time the race started, the sky was clear and the fog has burned off. The Rusty Crown was everything I had heard about. It was a tough first climb and the first decent was the worse part of the entire Rusty Crown. The rest of the ups and downs were difficult but the first two were leg killers. On the way up many people had to stop and take breaks and some had to bear crawl up the incline. On the way down several people fell or just slid down on their bottoms. I had a strong run and felt good the entire time. I did not fall or need to use my hands to go up the inclines. My time of 1:27:41 was a good time for me. I took 4th in my age group and finished with four negative splits. I even passed five people in the last mile and a half.  20180915_063643.jpg20180915_071259.jpg20180915_072049.jpg20180915_092101.jpg

I had a good time at this race and feel really good about the race next week. Plus this was the race I did not get lost and also directed about a dozen other runners who missed a turn back on course.

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.

Bastrop State Park

I have finally made it to Bastrop State Park. I have been to seven Austin area state parks but never had a chance to go to Bastrop State Park. The timing has not made it possible to visit this park. I found a trail race near the park and I was not going to miss my chance to hike Bastrop State Park. The park is located in Bastrop, Texas about thirty minutes east of Austin. The park in recent years has been devastated by floods and fires. The majority of the park was burned down and then a couple of years later flooded and left about half of the park under water. I am visiting the park three years after the last major natural disaster and the park is rebuilding itself. I was told it would take about 80 years for full restoration.

I arrived early in the morning and it was cool and very foggy. I did not think I would get good pictures in this type of fog but I was told to go through with the hike. The person described the park in this fog as “majestic” and “enchanting.” He was spot on. The park was beautiful in the fog. The views were incredible and even though you can still tell that the park had be through natural disasters it still was spectacular. The different tree colors, the red dirt, the elevation changes and the regrowth of smaller plants made this park a must see. The park for me lived up to all of me expectations and more. This park also had some interesting CCC features.20180331_090444.jpgDSC00668.JPGDSC00681.JPGDSC00703.JPGDSC00715.JPGDSC00729.JPG

This was hike 24 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. It will definitely go down as one the best and most memorable hike. Of course, I got lost in the fog. It was a good built in excuse. I would have gotten lost on a bright and sunny day. I added an extra mile and a half to the hike and it was well worth it.

The next park was a quick ten minute drive down the road.