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.

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.

Knob Hills 10K Trail Race

It has been raining for weeks now and I have not been able to get much hiking done. I did get a few trail races in between the rain. My first race of the year was the Knob Hills 10K. As most trail races distances can vary. So I was not surprised the race was actually 7.3 miles and not the normal 6.2 miles. The trails were nice single track trails. The course is located in Roanoke, TX right off of Lake Grapevine. They are DORBA trails but did not have the normal DORBA feel. There were not many switchbacks or short steep hills. But there were hills and some were long and some were steep. I put up a time of 1:26:13. I am pretty proud of the time considering the distance. The running conditions were great. It was a clear and cool morning. 20180120_072559.jpg20180120_072611.jpg20180120_073533.jpg20180120_073538.jpg20180120_073546.jpg

The hat, shirt and medal were nice also. I am ready to up my mileage but I will do a few more <10 mile races. I have a 1/2 marathon and a 50K on the schedule.

Palo Duro Canyon State Park Day 2

I had an early morning start to day two of my adventures to the Texas canyons. It was 25 degrees when I started my second hike in Palo Duro Canyon. I do believe this was the coldest hike I have done all year. I chose the Lighthouse Trail for this hike. I wanted to see the famous Lighthouse hoodoo in the park. I did not know that there were other trails the also get a good view of the Lighthouse hoodoo and to get a really good up close view of this particular hoodoo I would have to break a rule. The hike was relatively easy and at the time I started I was the only one out on the trail. I do like when the trails are not busy. I get a chance to take all the pictures I want without other people wandering in them and also waiting for other people to take the picture I want to take. It might be selfish but I am OK with it. On the way back I saw a dozen or so people on their way out on the trail. This hike might have been a disappointment if there was not so many picturesque views on the way to the end of the trail.20171220_085511.jpg

As you can see there is more trail behind the “End Of Trail” sign. I really wanted to keep going but the sign must have been there for a reason so I stopped and went back. Little did I know is that if I continued on the trail I would been able to get to the base of the Lighthouse hoodoo. I did end up finding an additional mile of hiking off trail on the way back in a dried up creek bed. The part that made up for the lack of closeness to the Lighthouse hoodoo was how close I could get to the other rock formations and the bright colors of those rocks. I liked being in the canyon as much as being on the rim of the canyon. This place is truly awesome and is one of my favorite places I have ever been. 20171220_092341.jpg20171220_090021.jpg20171220_094854.jpg20171220_095939.jpg20171220_080332.jpg20171220_100138.jpg20171220_081334.jpg

I could spend an entire week here and still not get to all the parts of this park. I do plan on going to the Grand Canyon and if it is more spectacular than this then I will be absolutely amazed.

The next hike is at Caprock Canyon. Another Texas canyon with great sights and maybe some buffalo.

Elk Mountain Wichita Mountains

This was definitely one of my favorites hikes of the year. I had a second chance to hike Elk Mountain and I made the most of it. The summit of Elk Mountain was spectacular. It was a freezing morning when I started hiking but warmed up near the top. It was great to have the summit to myself.  The chance to take in my surroundings in peace was awesome. The views from the top were incredible. It was cold and windy but that did not bother me at all, just being at the summit was enjoyable. After several minutes of picture taking and wandering around the summit I headed back down to the trail head. The biggest problem is that the trail is not marked so I got lost on the way down several times. I was blessed to find a hiking buddy with a GPS app that was working on the way down but we still got off trail twice. The trip down was an extra three quarters of a mile of pleasant views. This is a good starter summit hike for hikers. It is definitely not easy but not too hard. You will have to do some bouldering but nothing too difficult. It was a nice hike on a cold clear day.20171209_082322.jpg20171209_083039.jpg20171209_085244.jpg20171209_085830.jpg20171209_085622.jpg20171209_090924.jpg20171209_090817.jpg

I absolutely loved this hike and will definitely do it again. The entire wildlife refuge is beautiful and the summit of Elk Mountain gives a great view of some of it.

The next blog is my last hike in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge and a waterfall hike.

Race the Base 4M

The last trail race of the year was at Pinnacle Mountain State Park in Little Rock, Arkansas. The morning of the race was freezing, really. The temperature was thirty degrees. The race only had one distance option so I was hoping not to come in last. I think there were more road runners on the course than trail runners. The runners seemed more aggressive on the trail and tended not to move to the right when a faster runner was passing. Plus it was the middle of fall and leaves were all over the trail. Leaves on the trail do two things, first they are slick and secondly they hide roots and rocks. They made the race very difficult because the course had more roots and rocks than any other trail race I had run. With all that being said the race was enjoyable and extremely scenic. The mountain was a nice sight and the parks in Arkansas are always nice. My time of 53:45:06 was not too bad considering they threw in a super steep and long hill at the end. The course was odd in the way it was flat but with only steep inclines and declines. I came in the bottom half overall, gender and age group but was not last. IMG_0934.JPG20171111_082716.jpg20171111_082502.jpgIMG_0745.JPGIMG_0747.JPG

I did like the run but will not do it again next year. I did like the fact that I got to hike Pinnacle Mountain, Hot Springs NP and Lake Catherine SP. I also like the race shirt and finisher’s cup.

I will back to blogging about my hikes. I have done six hikes so far. I have the 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. I have a great problem because five of the six hikes were so amazing that I cannot believe that I can find better places to hike.