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.

 

Coyote Run 25K

We finally got some good weather in the DFW area.  The temperatures have been in the 80s with the rain diminishing.  I headed down to Cleburne State Park for another 25K.  My first 25K did not turn out well but I finished.  I can say the same for this 25K.  I have run two 50Ks and some other longer runs since my first 25K so the distance should not have been a problem. The run was actually 17.4 miles so I got a bonus two miles and I did not even get lost.

The shuttle to the race was not a good start.  We were crammed in a cargo van sitting on the floor.  I am tall and not that flexible so the ride was hard on my knees and legs.  After the packet pick up I was ready to go. The run consisted of two loops of what was posted as 8.33 miles a piece.  The first loop could easily break the spirit of a runner not use to the rocky hilly terrain.  The aid stations were place at the start/ finish and the half way point of the loop.  I knew things were bad when right before the first aid station at the first loop when a runner doubled over and stumbled off the trail.  I got to the aid station and sent a volunteer back to check on him.  I later saw him finish his first and only loop.  The course had plenty of short steep hills that were tough and valleys that did not seem to bad.  There was one water crossing that got my feet wet which I do not like and one I jumped over.  I finished the first loop in just over two hours.  I got some runner food at the aid station.  Talked to my sister and got updates on some other runners in the running club I run with.  One runner had already dropped out and another was not looking good trying to finish the 50 miler.

The second loop started with some Tylenol and a salt tablet.  My nutrition was holding up under what was now a sunny hot and humid day.  I got to the first water crossing and my feet did not dry as fast as they did on the first loop.  I got to the midpoint aid station and my feet were hurting but is was not too bad.  I learned a lesson from my previous races and filled my water bladder.  I did this for two reasons.   First, it already had a mix of electrolytes in it and secondly I ran out of water on my last long trail race.  I was feeling fairly good when I got to the second water crossing.  This time I took my time and made sure I could make the jump.  This is the part of the course that is the toughest.  I made it up the first short steep hill but I struggled.  The second steep hill was longer and that did me in.  I could not get back up to speed.  I was just walked and walked.  I could not even run the douwhills due to the technical nature of the trail.  The downhills were also steep with switchbacks, rocks and roots.  For me, the added danger was low hanging branches and leaning trees.  I finally made it to the last climb and it caused me to stop twice.  I was now starting to pass people that looked worse off than me.  I also caught up to a running buddy.  Ahmed and I ended finishing the race together but it was painful.  We now got to the rolling valleys section.  The valleys were not as steep but they seemed ten times more difficult now.  We were able to run down into the valley but getting out got more and more difficult.  We got to the end and wanted to have a fast finish and mistimed our run.  We ran out of gas and had to restart our sprint finish. FB_IMG_1556412667949.jpgThe top of one those fun hills.FB_IMG_1556412757304.jpgThe beauty of the course.FB_IMG_1556412736664.jpgThe tree rock and root section.FB_IMG_1556412708458.jpgThe section before the jump across.FB_IMG_1556892200023.jpgFeeling good on the first loop.received_694717837597810.jpegAhmed and I on our sprint finish.received_668647996925470.jpegWe did it.

I can easily say that was the toughest race I have ever run.  The heat and humidity took a toll on many runners and the DNF percentage was higher than usual.  My toes were bloodied and I broke three toenails.  I survived and had fun.

The rain has closed most of the trails so my Arkansas race is a no go and so is hiking but I have a special blog next.

2019 Tyler State Park

As I start off the new year, I am trying to up my mileage in both hiking and trail running. I am trying to get more hiking in this year than I did last year and some longer hikes. I also am going to increase my trail running distances and try to get at least one long run a week. For me a long run is anything above ten miles. So far so good with the running but not so much with the hiking. It has been raining so the trails are still closed. I have gotten a couple of runs at Cedar Hill SP on the roads. I much prefer trails but the roads at this state park are hilly and curvy. I also got a run/hike at Tyler SP. It is one of the few parks that hold up well in the rain. If I continue to hold onto these two goals I will prepared for a 50K in March.

My hike/run at Tyler SP was nice since I was on the parts I have not been on yet. I now have finished this park also. I have a handful of Texas state parks that I have hiked the entire park. The biggest surprises at this part of the park were the many small waterfalls scattered along the trails. It was probably  due to all the rain but it was nice to hear the running water for most of the 9 miles on the trail. Of course the huge east Texas pine trees and loblollies trees are always impressive. 20190105_100738.jpg20190105_100728.jpg20190105_095027.jpg20190105_100844.jpg20190105_104108.jpg20190105_102633.jpg

I am a week away from my first run. I am starting off with an 11 Miler then going to a new for me state park the next day. Getting those outdoor miles in in the best way.

Best of 2018 Trails upon Trails

This year I hiked 50 new trails in 45 new places. I was doing the 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series which is to hike 52 new places in 12 months. I did not get to 52 new trails but the 50 new trails were worth the travel. I found some local city parks and many state parks. I ventured into two other states besides Texas. I liked the hikes in Arkansas and Oklahoma and already have plans to return to both states. I also had some first in my trail running. I did my first 1/2 Marathon, 20K, 25K and 50K all on trails. 2018 was an awesome year to be outside.

20180522_175637.jpgAustin, TX

DSC01327.JPGTulsa, OK

20180606_190159.jpgDallas, TX

20180512_092220.jpgMount Magazine 20K

20181117_120020.jpgWild Hare 50K

20180511_191554.jpgMount Nebo, Arkansas

DSC00406.JPGChickasaw National Recreation Area, Oklahoma

2018 was an incredible year and my plans for 2019 are even more adventurous.

 

 

New Year’s Day Outside Activities

Not quite a dive but more like a dip. More on that later. I convinced my kids that it would be fun to do a New Year’s Day hike and then jump into cold water. The weather the days before had been in the mid 60s and dry. The adventure looked like the timing would be perfect. Hiking in 60 degree weather with the sun shining and a great view of a three tier waterfall. After a short but hilly hike, a plunge into cold water but returning to warm air sounded awesome. The main problem was Texas weather. A cold front blew in the night before and instead of mid 60s we had low 30s. I do not mind hiking in cold weather. I have hike long distances in the teens and low 20s so the temperature did not concern me. The kids on the other hand preferred the warmth of their beds. I eventually got them up and out of the house. The good thing is we have had a bunch of rain lately and the waterfall at Cleburne State Park was flowing really strong. The creek crossing that was not overflowing two weeks ago was now overflowing. We had to get a baby across and make a jump onto slick rocks without falling. We all survived but others around us did not even try to cross with small children.20190101_110157.jpgWhere we made our jump20190101_110552.jpgThe waterfall20190101_110813.jpgCold but happy

Next up was a drive to Dinosaur Valley State Park for the Dino Dive. The water was cold but the air temperature was the worst part. We chickened out of a full submerging but did get our feet wet and that was it. We agreed to jump in next year no matter the temperature.20190101_122801.jpgThe plunge area which was very deep and a fast of current also.20190101_124933.jpgAll smiles before the dip20190101_131423.jpgStill smiling but they look so cold20190101_131548.jpgYes that is me in the cold water

It was a fun day overall. I had a great time with my kids and they a good time also. We are going to make this a tradition so we can get outside do fun stuff.

Next blogs will be some top 10 2018 moments.

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.

Dangerfield State Park

Dangerfield State Park is located in Dangerfield, TX which is about two and a half hours east of Dallas. I have been looking forward to this trip for three months. Of the three parks I am planning to visit while in east Texas this was the one I was most looking forward to hiking. My west Texas hiking trip much like this one was three parks in two days. My destination park in west Texas was not what I expected and the throw in park was spectacular. The moral of the story is that the Texas state parks are full of surprises and you never know what you will see until you get in the park. Since it is near Christmas time the park had Christmas decorations all around the park. They also had the name of the park all over the park. You will definitely know you are at this park. The elevation change was very nice. Mountain View Trail has three different paths to get to the top. I took two and passed on the third in which I went down. The path down was steep and long. Very technical and difficult due to the damp leaves covering the entire trail. The views while getting to the top were very nice. The highest point was 535 feet but the starting point was at slightly above sea level. The park does not advertise the small three tier waterfall in the middle of the park. The waterfall was a pleasant surprise. This was a great park to hike. I love seeing the loblolly trees and the other fauna that was labelled along the trail.  20181217_123213.jpg20181217_124616.jpg20181217_125255.jpg20181217_125858.jpg20181217_130720.jpg20181217_135245.jpgDSC01384.JPG

This was hike 46 in the 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. I think this will go down of one of my favorites. It was not particularly long but it all the CCC elements around the trail and I am a huge fan of waterfalls and hilltop views.

Next up the continuation of the east Texas trip.