Oktoberfest Half Marathon

Can you say flat and fast. The course is a very flat rail trail. Just like last week it was on the NETT(Northeast Texas Trail). I did the far east Texas section last week and the northeast section this week. This part of the trail is really well taken care of. The trail is a mixture of crushed gravel and concrete. It had a some elevation gain but nothing to difficult. The trail was easy to run but it is a multi use trail. The multi use part is not always a great thing. It is used by runners, hikers, bikers and equestrian. The latter is the problem in more than one way. The horses poop on the trail and I guess the riders are not responsible for the poop like dog owners. Horse poop comes into play later in the recap.20191019_072640.jpg20191019_072453.jpg

The race started at 8 AM and the temperature was in the high 50s but quickly rose into the 70s. These temperatures are about 15-20 degrees higher than I like but they felt good. There was a light breeze the entire time. The first half was a tailwind and the turnaround change direction into a headwind. The trees did a decent job of blocking the wind without a greenhouse effect. As you can see this was not a point to point like last week, but an out and back. The aid stations were good but nothing special. I stopped at one to get some gatorade but as soon as I started to drink the volunteer said it was pickle juice. Too late, I had already taken it like a shot. Pickle juice is nasty by the way. The only other adventure in this race was a copperhead on the trail. I was running at a speedy pace and thought to myself more darn horse poop on the trail. I made the usual side step to avoid it but at the last moment I realized it was a small copperhead. I must of scared it because this was the first time a snake lounged at me. I was hoping National Geographics is correct by stating a human’s reflexes are faster than a snake’s. I do not know if this is always correct but it was in my case. Or maybe I just jumped higher and longer than the length of the snake. Funny thing is that I was so pumped up that the “snake” mile was the fastest mile I ran.20191019_072717.jpg20191019_072723.jpg

After the race, there were brats to eat and beer to drink.  They also had chips and cookies and some good music.  People stayed around to socialize more than usual but the race was a small race so not too many people.  The day was perfect for a festival type atmosphere.20191019_072900.jpg

This was supposed to be a double race recap but I did not put in an official loop at Dirt and Vert. I did run two loops at Sister Grove but Nikki and Michael took up my slack. I did try to get there as fast as I could run and drive. I set more personal best times but this time I felt good afterwards. No leg soreness and still ready to run. Plus this is the first time I finished in the top half of a race this long. Supposedly 80+ people ran the half and I was 37th and 3rd in my age group.

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Next up is the 100K.  I have done so much training for this race.  I miss hiking and I cannot wait to hit the trails at a walking place and get some good pictures.

Run The Rail Half Marathon

On a day when some amazing feats were accomplished, I ran a half marathon. A flat and fast trail half marathon. The ease of the course did not diminish the difficulty of the run for me. I did not run a 100 miler I had No Business running(see what I did there) or run a mind boggling time in a marathon. What I did do is set a personal goal and run my butt off. I still get inspired by those running their 1st 5K to those who crank out a 100. Each runner has a breaking point and to see them pass it is amazing.FB_IMG_1570938000735.jpgIt was a small race and I am the tall guy in the grey hat.FB_IMG_1570938021104.jpgI am focused going in that straight line.

This race was located in New Boston, TX and was on the NETT(Northeast Texas Trail) which is 130 miles long. The race was a point to point from DeKalb to New Boston. I was expecting an extremely flat course with crushed gravel and some road. I was wrong, like usual. The course was more like a cross country course. Little to no crushed gravel and a bunch of grass and some muddy sections. Plus for a rail course it had some surprising elevation. The footing was tricky on parts of the course and slipping in the mud was a possibility. The best thing was the temperature. The race started with a 36 degree temperature and a finishing temperature in the mid to upper 40s. It was sunny and for most of the race there was a slight head wind. The wind picked up near the end but nothing too bad. I love running in that type of weather.20191012_072317.jpgSun has risen and time to run

The course was a straight line out of one small town through another town and finishing in another small town. The course featured the usual sights in east Texas small towns. A few barns, farms and ranches. Plenty of flat land that had miles of visibility. The last three miles were on concrete with a slight downhill finish. There were plenty of aid stations and potties along the course with enthusiastic volunteers. At the finish you were treated to a fajita chicken taco bar, all sorts of beverages and cookies.FB_IMG_1570937970747.jpgFinishing section in New Boston downtown.

I wanted to do a few of things during this race. I wanted to run the entire race without walking. I did that except for one restroom break but I ran in and out. I wanted to run a consistent pace. I did that. All miles were in the 10 minute range except two. The last mile and a third was under 10 minute pace and the restroom break was 7 seconds over the 10 minute range. Lastly I wanted to run a sub 2:30. I had an official time of 2:20:10 but my actual half marathon was 2:17:21. I set 5 new personal best but STRAVA has them as 2nd best due to a car incident.Screenshot_20191013-121625_Strava.jpg10:36 pace is good for me.

It was a good experience and a valuable training run. My legs are sore since I never done some of things I accomplished at this race.Screenshot_20191014-115347_Strava.jpgI am liking these times.

Next up is another half marathon on the NETT in Farmersville, TX.

Training with 3 weeks to go

I did not have a race last weekend.  I have two half marathons in the next two weekends.  Both are rail trail races, they mimic the look of the 100K .  I have really ramped up my running on relatively flat trails.  I have also started again with tire pulls.  The 22 pound tire really is a tough workout.  I have been doing hills with the tire and then small hills the next day.  The rest of the week I will go to Trinity Groves.43098483_1956246097731987_6609849695248318464_oTrinity Groves flat and fast

I will also throw in a bonus Sunday run on trails that are runnable but have some little hills.  I have also been trying not to run stupid but it not working out.  I still start way to fast and hang on to a finish.  11053274_609237285878608_3598116021927754336_n.jpg

The temperatures have dropped about 15 degrees and I have been running well.  I guess  all the summer heat training is paying off.  I did something earlier this week I have never done before.  I ended a run with negative splits.  The problem is that the pace was still too fast.  I was trying to do 13 minute miles for 10 miles.  I went out too fast and settled for 9 miles.72230048_2545707355452522_8606380047546187776_o.jpgNegative splits for 8 miles

I will try again for the 13 minute mile pace.  I have developed a race plan though.  I am going to try to do 13 minute miles for the first 31 miles.  The next 17 miles just try to hold that for as long as I can do it.  The last 14 miles I am going to drop the hammer and try not to go over 16 minute miles.  If all goes right and the temps stay low I might be able to get done in 14 hours.  If I have a good average race I should be able to finish in 15 hours.  If all else fails it is going to be a long day and a half.

 

Possums Revenge 17 Miler

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).20190525_065635.jpgFB_IMG_1558824502018.jpgFB_IMG_1558824509178.jpgFB_IMG_1558824515764.jpgFB_IMG_1558824552096.jpgFB_IMG_1558824533779.jpg

One more race till I take a two month break and stick to training for the 100K.

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.

 

Grasslands Half Marathon

The Grasslands Half Marathon is located on the grounds of the LBJ National Grasslands in Alvord, TX. The city is about 45 minutes north of Fort Worth.  I have heard about this race for about two years but did not think I could run a half marathon until last year.  I liked the location and the race director is a good person so I signed up for the Rockledge Rumble.  Yes that is a different race but the same race director. Rockledge Rumble was cancelled because the trail was several feet under water, so I transferred my registration to the Grasslands Half Marathon.  We still had rain days before this race but the trails held up very well. There were a few muddy spots in the low lying areas but overall they were in good shape.  The trails were fairly wide but some single track.  The trails also were made of compact sand for many miles which was different to run on .  I was using this race to train for my upcoming 50K just like Rockledge suppose to be for also. I wanted to hold a slow and steady pace but finish under three hours. My first half marathon I worked hard to get under three hours.  This time around it was quite easy and my running partner and I had to slow down several times because we were going too fast. I finished in 2:57 and change but I felt great.  I was not tired and I felt like I could run it again faster. The weather was perfect.  Sunny skies with the temperatures staying in the low 40s to mid 60s. Plus who can argue with beer and BBQ at the finish.FB_IMG_1552768414726.jpgFB_IMG_1552768427092.jpgFB_IMG_1552768450001.jpg20190316_080355.jpg20190316_080325.jpg

It was a good day of running and next up is crossing the state line for some fun in Louisiana.

Hiking on Hold but still on the Trails

I have only done about a half dozen hikes this year. I could blame the weather but I have not been away from the trails. I have several big trail runs coming up this month. I have a half marathon and a 50K trail run in a two week period. Also in April and May I have four races on technical terrain each ten plus miles long. I then take a two week break and go into 100K training. I like hiking and if I never started hiking I would not be trail running. I have a great group to run with and I happen to live in an area where I have six great trails within fifteen minutes from home. So here are some pictures of places I am training and people I am training with.nZz3Q4rK0JEuc9eGPUo00Y4jsuuyHwFP6FjWlbN3ZGA-2048x1152.jpgEagle Mountain Park52607936_2159477870742141_4923248044205408256_n.jpgCedar Ridge Preserve22289666_10214717700999924_1406004877095561363_o.jpgNTTR Group when I am up north of the metroplex38392101_10217363826673368_3624816384799670272_n.jpgDDR when I am in my neighborhood43041061_1956246004398663_5133407678831263744_o.jpgTrinity Groves with downtown Dallas in the background.FB_IMG_1529546131471.jpgThe main group of crazies.

The places and the groups make training fun and interesting. I miss my solo hikes but running with a good group of people helps me take my mind off the training. This big guy will be back hiking soon enough.

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.

 

 

10 of my favorite trails races

I was going to do a top 10 trail races but changed it to my favorites. I did not know how I was going to put them in order so it had become a random list of favorites. I have been out of commission for over a month. I could do some hiking but no running. During the unwanted break from trail running I had a chance to look over some of the 40 plus races I have run over the last two years. I have missed trail running and speed hiking is losing it’s luster. I have finally been released to run but I lost much of the little endurance I had built. These are my favorite races in no particular order.

10. The Mammoth-I have run this race twice which is a rarity because I like to do different races. This was also my first trail race.22538943_719551654916633_5436678689366950007_o.jpg22712615_723111544560644_6197470883484751293_o.jpg

9. Waco Striders Cross Country Trail Race-This race was one of the most painful races I have run. Once again this was a rare race I have done twice. The below graph says it all.20170318_135848

8. Piney Woods Ultra-I did the 10K last year and will do the 25K this year as a training race. This is a surprising tough course that slowly breaks down runners.UE.Piney.WoodsLogo

7. Natural Bridge Caverns Trail Race-The only race that starts a 1/4 mile underground. It is not an overly tough race and the atmosphere was awesome.NBC 5K.jpgStill uphill.jpg

6. Down N Dirty Trail Race-This is also a Waco Striders race. This gave me a second chance at a course that kicked my butt. I still was not ready for the final climb.27787967_10155071770440894_3307425675672448535_o.jpg

5. Run4Bibles-A race that is just five minutes from home. I also did their night race and the course is challenging. I love running this course and run it often.20180303_14083029025895_1645132918903707_3517117571591569408_o

4. Knob Hills Trail Race-This was a long 10K. It was actually 7.3 miles and I did not even get lost. The fun part was all of the crazy little hills.download.png

3. Wild Canyon Ultra-One the most scenic and difficult races I have run. It is located at Caprock Canyon SP and if the canyons do not get you the weather will.images.jpg

2. Mount Magazine Trail Run-My first true mountain race. The race course lead runners to the highest point in Arkansas. Plus two three mile climbs.20180512_092220.jpg

1. DanMan- This was my first half marathon. The course was not very technical but being a first made it a favorite. The after party was easily the best of all races.f42541f2-a723-4c44-9384-dd0df5d7648c20180412_224512DSC00779.JPG

These are my 10 favorite trail races. Most of these races were first or something different from usual races.

 

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.