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.

Lake Bob Sandlin State Park

Lake Bob Sandlin State Park was my home base for the east Texas trip. It is about two hours east of Dallas in Mount Pleasant, TX. This park had Christmas decorations at every turn and that made the easy hikes fun. The park had no difficult trails and I was there at an odd day and time so I had the park to myself. The hikes were very peaceful. The sunset was magnificent turning the sky blue and pink. I also got to hike around in the dark and see the Christmas displays lit up. This is what I expected all east Texas parks to look like but of course they all are different. The bonus was seeing dozens of deer and a mini waterfall.20181217_162914.jpg20181217_170118.jpgDSC01414.JPGDSC01431.JPGDSC01438.JPG20181217_203617.jpgDSC01411.JPG

This was hike 47 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. I really enjoyed the peace and quiet and the Christmas decorations at this park.

Next day is the same park but different trails and a different point of view.

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.

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.

Wild Hare 50K

I have been training most of the year for this race. I wanted to finish this year as an ultra runner. The 50K distance is the shortest race to reach ultra runner status. I signed up for the race and knew I was going to finish. I was confident after my 1/2 marathon and 20K but lost all that confidence after the 25K. The 25K race made me change my race preparation for the 50K. I still do not do long runs over 12 miles but I started doing 8-10 mile training runs. I also did 4-6 mile runs back to back with a ten minute break in between runs. Lastly, I did more flatter course runs than hills. The 50K course was a relatively flat course.

The night before the run I had my normal pizza dinner. The only thing I regularly do before a run. I did not eat pizza the night before the 25K and I will not do that again. An hour after dinner everything went wrong. I had diarrhea all night and most of the morning. The first thing a had in the morning was pepto bismol. The start of the race my stomach was still churning but I was going to finish no matter what. I felt better after a port o potty break and the second loop went well. I was actually one hour faster at the half point than my disaster of a 25K. I finished in a time of 8:48:42 but my running time was 7:48ish. I spent about an hour of the race at the aid stations. I was going to do a full change but I only changed my shirts. I should have done the full change because I finished the last loop with painful chafing. I finished and I am now an ultra runner.Snapchat-125743004.jpgResized_20181117_144949_1228.jpgFB_IMG_1542586076132.jpgSnapchat-843970798.jpg20181118_195631.jpg

The running club I run with calls all of the ultra runners “badass”. I have been shying away from the name but I ready to embrace it. I would like to do some other long races in the 20-25K range more often but not a 50K or longer.