Piney Woods Ultra 10K

My first official trail 10K. I have already completed three road 10Ks but trail running is a whole other monster. I was confident of being able to not only but also finish in a good time. I previously ran an “8K” in Waco that was actually a 9.5K so the distance will not be a surprise. I had also previously hiked in Tyler SP so I thought I knew the terrain. I must have missed the part that had a hill that was long but not to steep but long. Did I mention it was long? The course was a loop so I did not get a chance to run the hill as a decline. The course also had many other smaller hills but that one hill was a leg burner. I really liked the course though. It was very scenic and I just love those tall pine trees in east Texas. The drive in the morning was also very nice. Driving through east Texas is picturesque with all the ponds and farm land. My time of 1:24:26 was good but I thought I could have had a better time. I took 5th in my age group and was four minutes out of the top three. I do not expect to place in a 10K race anytime soon. I am trying to finish in the top half of all males first then go for placing in my age group.20170923_110400.jpg20170923_102103.jpg20170923_102115.jpg20170923_102358.jpg

It was a fun race and I talked to some runners with CHRC that I have seen at Cedar Ridge Preserve. It was a fun atmosphere. I also talked to the winner of the 25K, he was a nice guy.

The next trail race is once again at the Cedar Ridge Preserve and this is a bigger race than my first race at the preserve. This will be a more difficult 10K but at least I have ran these trail weekly.

#OptOutside 2017

Once again, I did an Opt Outside hike. Last year this was going to be my first hike of the 52 Hike Challenge but I decided to start the challenge with a New Year’s Day hike. This year the hike was the first hike after completing the 52 Hike Challenge which was both easier and harder than I thought. I was fine time was but finding places was the real challenge. Like most most challenges when they are completed, the reward is within. I loved seeing all the new places that I would not have been to if it was not for the challenge to get the 52 hikes done in a year. I give credit to Opt Outside for all the hikes in 2017 because I would not have found the 52 Hike CHallenge if it were not for Opt Outside. Black Friday was actually fall color Friday. I hiked my favorite place, Cedar Ridge Preserve. I got five very good and productive miles. 20171124_121000.jpg20171124_121955.jpg20171124_121348.jpg20171124_124730.jpg

I cannot wait to see where my hikes take me in the next year. Opt Outside is just not a one day decision it is a yearly lifestyle that I am trying to adopt for a lifetime.

The next blog is going back to trail running and then back to some crazy good hikes.

 

Jurassic 5K Trail Run

This is my third Xterra trail race and my third third place finish. This is also my third trip to Dinosaur Valley SP. It is also my second of three night trail races sort of. I will get to that in a future blog. The pattern of three was interesting but just a sidebar. I had done a few road 10Ks prior to this run. The distance did not bother me but the course was brutal. This is my second race here and this course was more difficult and it took me five minutes longer than my first trail 5K at the park. This course lead the runners to the top of park and on the steepest trail in the park. The first mile was basically straight up hill with a few flat breaks. We were literally going uphill with hands on the ground. The rest of the course was downhill but very technical and very dark.  The single track downhill was also on the side of cliffs, so falling off of one of those kept my pace slower than normal. My time of 47:04 was not too bad considering the conditions. It was also a hot and humid Texas July night.20170708_194715(0).jpg20170708_195321.jpg20170708_195234.jpg20170708_213652.jpg19748616_1216874245085178_9067091331563840417_n.jpg

At this point, I did not realize I do not like running at night. I ran two more times at night and now I will not do it anymore. I say so but it might happen again in a special circumstance.

My next trail run is at my favorite place to trail run. Plus it is just five minutes from home.

Down N Dirty 8K Trail Run

This is the second race in the Huaco Cuatro Race Series. The first was a 5 miler that was actually a 5.7 miler. I was prepared this time for the longer run and the crazy steep hills. The good thing this time is that the race started at the bottom of the park not the top. The logic would seem to be a downhill finish. The race was in Waco so nothing is logical. It was a flat finish after a small hill and a switchback downhill. I finished the run in a lower time than the first race. I like to see my pace but it skewed because it is based on the listed distance. The actual distance of this race was 9.5K. After this race, I felt comfortable I could finish a trail 10K. The course was almost as tough as the first race and was one of the more difficult courses. I truly like both of these runs and the Waco Striders put on another great race. 20170513_075036.jpg20170513_075041.jpg20170513_075046.jpg

This was also the race I began to see improvement in my trail running and actually being competitive at the 5K races. I am still finding my way in the longer distances. I am already getting ready for this race series again next year. I am going to do the longer races next year. These first two races were the longer races but I went with the shorter races for the last two.

Next up is the first of three night trail races. I liked the night races but might not do it again.

One Ale of a Trail 5M

I wanted to up my mileage so I will be prepared to start doing 10Ks by the end of the year. I picked this 5 miler over another 5K. I missed this race last year when the medal was an all purpose tool. The race was moved to Fort Worth on the Trinity Trails. The trails are flat and fast but not much of true off road trails. The course was concrete, gravel and some grass and sand. They basically moved a road course ten feet away from the Trinity River and called it a trail run. Despite the lack of a true trail, this is a Run Project run so it will be a good atmosphere. The after race party was awesome with an 90’s theme for some reason. Plus as the name would suggest they had beer. There was a bunch of people dancing and it was also kid friendly. I cranked out a 51:08 which was good for fourth place. I missed third by eight seconds. I was really happy with my time so the close fourth place finish was not too disappointing. 20170408_080041.jpg20170408_080150.jpg17854667_1499125063432871_6950150732057816397_o (1).jpg20170408_081102.jpg

For the next trail race, I upped my distance again. I was prepared for the craziest of the Waco hills.

 

 

Pinnacle Mountain State Park

 

I really need a good camera. I had another day of not great sun light. I digress, this is almost a part two of my first trip to Pinnacle Mountain State Park. I wanted to hike/climb to the summit at that time. I did not get a chance because of the crazy heat. The state park is located on the west side of Little Rock, AR. The mountain has four trails that go around and up and down the mountain. The rest of the park also has about four trails in which I had already hiked on my first trip. The summit trail is what I wanted to do and finally completed. I bonus on this trip is that I got to do a trail race on one of the trails around the base of the mountain. I will blog on that race later.

I had two options on trails to the summit. I took the relatively less difficult summit trail but they both looked equally strenuous.20171111_133406.jpg

I quickly found out that hiking in Arkansas is easy to follow but heed the warnings. I hiked the entire weekend without trail maps. I have a tendency to get lost but the trails are clearly marked and they have signs at every split in the trail.20171111_133633.jpg

As a bonus, they have trail markers that tell you where you are on the trail. It was nice to have the peace of mind not ever being lost. I was making decisions on what path to take depending on what I wanted to see. 20171111_144642.jpg

The hike itself was very strenuous and I had a great time getting to the summit. The only thing I did not like was that the trail was very crowded. This was the first time I had hiked on a trail that was this crowded. I usually see around ten people or less per hike. I saw around 100 people on this hike. It was hard to get pictures with all those people. I could not get a good one without people in the shot. I got to the summit and had such a feeling of accomplishment. I just wanted to yell but I would have scared the other twenty plus people already on the summit. I just soaked in the view took many pictures and headed back down the trail.20171111_141337.jpg20171111_135205.jpg20171111_141713.jpg

The pictures from the summit were nice but seeing it live was much better. I also got a little surprise on my way down the trail with a wish stump.20171111_145050.jpg

The hike was awesome and I need to get back to Arkansas and hike to some more summits.

The next blog is back at Lake Catherine SP for another summit.

 

Lake Catherine State Park

I signed up for the Race the Base 4 Miler Run in Arkansas. I looked at some of the local parks in the area of the run to hike. The two obvious ones were Pinnacle Mountain State Park where the run was taking place and Hot Springs National Park. Petit Jean and Lake Ouachita State Parks are also close but not close enough to highway I-30 for a quick trip home. I stumbled upon Lake Catherine State Park and it had a waterfall. Lake Catherine State Park is located twelve miles southeast of Hot Springs, AR. I can never pass up a waterfall. The pictures on the website were great and I decided to go to this park at least twice while I stayed in Arkansas. The park has four trails but I was only interested in three trails. The trail that led to the waterfall was my top choice of the trails and the other two were mountain trails. I was hoping the waterfall would be flowing because it rained during the week. The time of year could not be better also. The leaves were falling and the trees were all different colors. I was so excited for the weekend of hikes and of course a waterfall hike.

I started on Falls Branch Trail on my way to the waterfall. The trailhead sign says three trails three adventures. One of the adventures was closed for hunting. The two trails that I most wanted to hike were open. Falls Branch trail had some good elevation changes and was very picturesque. The term obstructed view came to light many times on this and the other trails in Arkansas. The trees are what make this trail great but also are in the way of the views. There was a small creek with water flowing through it so I was pumped to get to the waterfall. I finally get to the waterfall and was massively disappointed. The waterfall was nothing but a trickle. I could not believe it. A nice hike with good views but the shining point of the trail is dull. I did like the view of Lake Catherine and the swinging bridge was also cool. I will post my walk across the bridge on youtube.20171110_161710.jpg20171110_152655.jpg20171110_152810.jpg20171110_155141.jpg20171110_155418.jpg20171110_155421.jpg20171110_155751.jpg20171110_160052.jpg20171110_160837.jpg

I liked this hike even though it had obstructed views and a water trickle. The bridge and the views of the lake partially made up for it. The trees and falling leaves also make for a great back drop.

The next hike is a long awaited summit hike.