I heard so many great things about running at Possum Kingdom Lake and this race in particular. I just had to sign up and run. I decided on the 17 miler which would give me one entire loop of the race. I am glad I only did 17 miles because it was hot and humid. The Texas weather has been very wet lately but also very humid but just in the last few weeks the heat has been turned up. For many runners, this was there first hot race. The rain has closed the trails and for those who do not road run they would have had limited running time in these conditions. I was lucky enough to get run a 25K and a half marathon in last past few weeks. I also have trails close by that rarely close since they drain really well.
I brought my sleeper camper to this race to stay at the state park but decided to stay at the start/finish line area instead. I did not have electricity at the start/finish line so I had to make do with a cool breeze coming off the lake for my A/C. We had a group of about 15 people stay in that location so good times were had by all the night before the race.
Even though the race start time was relatively early, it was already humid and warm. The first 4 miles was uphill and sandy. It was not an ideal start because both of those conditions take a toll on your legs. The course had constant elevation changes so getting into a running rhythm was difficult. Luckily about 4 and a half miles in there was a long flattish downhill section that lasted about a mile and a half. I got into a good pace and felt fast and comfortable. It was a trap. It was the only part of the course that could be run like that and I went way too fast to early. The first manned aid station was over 6 miles from the start. By the time I got there I was drenched with sweat. I decided to go with a hand held instead of a vest. I should have done a vest. I got a refill and iced everything I could and started off down the trail. The views I got until the next aid station were awesome. The course turned extremely hilly and challenging but the views were worth it.
I got to the second aid station and stayed a bit longer and this time took in some food. I re iced and refilled and headed off for the final six plus miles. This section was not as difficult but I was exhausted. I could not keep a decent pace and rarely found a running rhythm. The hills were not as extreme but still plentiful. There were also some nice prairie land sections which were flat but I could not get enough speed to make them fast. I also took a nose dive in the section trying to swat at bugs flying around my head. I learned a lesson this day. I cannot outrun bugs flying around my head and I can trip over nothing. I get to the final aid station and I am absolutely spent. I spend more time here than I should but get food, ice and refills.
I am on my way to the finish line knowing that the sand section is on its way. I am so sweaty that the sand on my shoes look like mud. I know that I am running downhill but it does not feel that way. I am really tired so now I am walking a bunch. I only start running again when I hear the noise at the finish line. The sand ends and I get to the road and the short but very nice downhill finish.
It was a tough race made tougher by the heat and humidity. I think the aid stations were spread out to far. I ran out of liquids twice. Overall a great course ran by a great company. Trail Racing Over Texas(TROT).
One more race till I take a two month break and stick to training for the 100K.
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.
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.
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. The top of one those fun hills.The beauty of the course.The tree rock and root section.The section before the jump across.Feeling good on the first loop.Ahmed and I on our sprint finish.We 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.
After my first 50K, I vowed to not run another 50K. I was also told once you run your first ultra I would to run many more. I guess I was wrong. I finished my second ultra and have already signed up for a 100K. The Prairie Spirit Trail run was located in Ottawa, KS, which is about an hour and a half south west of Kansas City. Unlike my first 50K, I had no crew or fellow runners to help pace. I ran alone with the use of a drop bag. I did not use my drop bag as much as I thought. I had a change of clothes, some extra food and pain aids. I did not change clothes and probably should have changed shirts. I did eat some additional food but the aid stations were well stocked. I did use the 2Toms anti chafe pads. These pads saved the race for me.
The race started in a snowstorm and ended in the bright sun. The 2Toms came into play early because the snow made my clothes wet from the start. The 2Toms eased the rubbing and I had no chafing problems the entire rest of the race.
The race was a very flat and fast out and back course. The 50K runners had a short out and back before heading on the main trail out and back. The first manned aid station was located in Princeton and that is where I had my drop bag. I thought I was running slow but I was way ahead of my predicted pace. I had to tell myself to slow down so I would burn out early. I have this problem in my long runs. I start off way to fast and have nothing left at the end of the race. I slowed myself down by taking pictures and this aid station is also where I had my first application of 2Toms.
The next manned aid station was at Richmond. This is also the 50K turn around. I was still ahead of schedule but the race changed entirely at this aid station. The aid station to the finish would be into a 25 MPH head wind with gust up to 45 MPH. It felt like a 10 degree temperature drop and it was a tough run. I could not get any pictures because my hands had 2Toms on them and it was just to cold to take off my gloves.
I got to the Princeton aid station on the way back and still felt pretty good. I was still ahead of pace so I readjusted my finishing time and sped up. I should not have changed my plan. I struggled the last 5 miles. I also ran out of water with 2 miles left. I felt the slight uphill to the finished line and it hurt. I did have a somewhat sprint finish to get my time under 6 hours and 30 minutes. My official time was 6:29:27 which is over 2 hours faster than my first 50K and 30 minutes faster than my predicted time.
I met a bunch of good people at this race. I am going to be back here for the 100K and might pick up another two trail races in Kansas. They told me that there are hills in Kansas so I will sign up for those races.
Next up is a super hilly race in Texas.