I want to start off by offering prayers and condolences to the runner and his family that was struck by lightning and killed during the race. It was difficult for me to write a running recap of this race due to this tragedy.
I have always wanted to run a race with a tight cutoff time. I did not expect this to be that race. I thought with 10 hrs for a 50K would not be that bad. My very first 50K was under 9 hrs. Little did I know what I was getting myself into. I know that about 179 runners registered for the race. I do not know how many actually started but only 103 had finishing times. I was planning to get pictures on the way back but that did not workout. I do not know where to start.
The course was tough. Let me restate this, it was the toughest most unique course I have ever been on. There are parts of the course, as a hiker, I would not even think of hiking. I got close to 1400′ of elevation gain in the first 25K. It is less than Piney Woods but much more difficult. I guess the easiest way to explain this course is this way. It is a mixture of Colorado Bend SP with the rocks, Cleburne SP with the short steep hills, Lake Mineral Wells SP with the squeezing and climbing crevices then throw in some Arkansas cliffs and Louisiana low land terrain. The lack of wind made it a sauna the entire time. Mind you it never got above 83 degrees but the humidity was about 67%. The funny thing was people at the start complaining how hot it was going to get and might reach 85. I was laughing to myself thinking I have not had one run in months that low.The elevation profile is deceiving and hides the difficulty of the course.
I tried not to run stupid from the start. I took it easy at the beginning. It turns out that was the wrong strategy. I should have ran hard at the beginning and at every possible place I could have run. I did not think the hills were going to be that technical. I am talking hands on ground going up and down these hills. Did I mention two ladders on the course? Plus water crossings and mud. It had not rained in awhile and the course was mostly dry but every “obstacle” was extreme. The course went down into a basin of a waterfall.
I got to the turnaround 10 minutes past the cutoff. I changed into dry clothes and did the math on making the finish cutoff. I could drop three minutes per mile on the way back and make the cutoff. I was feeling pretty good. My legs were fine and I was hydrated and ate properly during the first half. I was not low on energy but something in my mind said do not go back out. The clouds were breaking up and the sun was out so I was not worried about rain. Several others decided to try their luck and return and they looked much worse off than I. The volunteer asked two more times if I was going back out and I finally said I am done. I truly believe in divine intervention and I know that is the reason I did not try to finish the race.
The rain eventually came and it was heavy but it did not stay around for long. I would have got caught in it more than likely on one of the more runnable sections of the course. I think I could have made the 10 hr time limit but it would have been close and not very fun in the rain and on a wet course. This was also the time the tragedy struck. The runner was a quarter of a mile from the finish line.
I am leaning on doing it again next year. I am going to run my usual dumb race because I know I will not be able to keep up a fast pace for more than two miles at a time before something slows me down. So if anybody wants to run the most amazing course you will ever run, I am willing to do it again. On a positive note, I wish I had gotten some pictures because the course had so many picturesque places and features. I was awestruck running the course.
BTW, my legs are still sore.
Let me rehash a bit about the race. I ran this race last year in preparation for my first 50K. The race kicked my butt and I almost quit running. I had such a tough time finishing last year and it was not fun suffering on the course. I barely finished and a month later finished my first 50K in bad shape but better that Piney Woods.
Fast forward to this year’s race. I did not die or feel dead and I finished. I actually finished 50 minutes faster this year than last year and still could not find the finish line without help. Thanks to the volunteer or I would still be looking for the finish 5 feet away. We did not have the torrential rains from so that helped out a bunch.
I am guessing the course was the same as last year but the aid stations seemed to be in different places. I could be wrong. The hills seemed longer and also more of them on the course. The weather was better even with the high humidity. As usual the trees provided plenty of shade early but had a greenhouse effect as the temperature rose. There was little to no breeze all morning. Did I mention more hills? It was about 1500 feet of elevation gain over the 25K. The roots were also a bit bigger this year but the rocks stayed the same. The course for the 25K was two loops of 7.75 miles. I know I ran the same loop twice but the second loop seemed to have more downhills. Also the second loop seemed to be the faster loop although I was about 10 minutes slower.
I would consider this a successful race even though I was about 20 minutes slower than my predicted time. I had plenty of help from the great volunteers and others I talked to on the course. I would like to apologize to all the people I met in previous races and said “hey you ran in … race remember me?” I say yes but I really don’t, I am terrible with remembering people while running during a race. I will remember the couple from Wisconsin and my campsite neighbors in the mini camper. They were very nice people I talked to before, during and after the race.
I like getting to run with fun people at fun places.The peopleThe place
This race was once again a prep race race for a 50K. This time it was a week before not a month. I am off to Kansas to do their oldest and hilliest trail 50K.
I had a time at this race. Blaze Trail Running put on a great race. The course was sneaky difficult but was set up with so many great views. The loops with in the course intentionally went to bluffs overlooking the Texas hill country. The volunteers were awesome and the parking set up is a detail that usually gets forgotten but it was great. Plus grilling at the finish line. Not many races have a person grilling hot dogs and hamburgers at the finish line, a nice touch. The race was fairly local so a bunch of trail runners I run with during the week were there running or volunteering. Parking right by the start/finish
The race itself caught me by surprise. I did not think it would be relatively easy but it was hillier than I thought. The race starting temperature was great but the humidity was in the upper 80s. As the race went on the humidity dropped but the temperature rose. You got to love running in Texas in August. The location was at Six-0 Ranch in Cleburne, Tx which about 45 minutes southwest of the Fort Worth. The ranch is beautiful and a great place for this race. It is also a working ranch so cows were roaming around and leaving fresh patties. Morning sky
The course was set up to go about 3.5 miles slightly downhill then 7 miles with significant elevation gain and finishing with a 3 mile downhill run with a quick uphill at the end. Within the first mile I heard yelling and looked back to see what all the commotion was about, a herd of cows were sprinting between a pack of runners and people were trying to get out of the way. No one got hurt but those cows were moving very fast and way too close for comfort. About 4.5 miles in we got to the lake, the first of many scenic areas. We looped the lake which prior to running here I thought was odd but I understood why they made the course this way.The lake on one sideThis view on the other side
Seven miles in I was drenched. Not normal drenched but shoes and socks puddles drenched. I was properly hydrated but I was hungry but not hungry. It is hard to explain but I was so hungry but I did not want to eat. It is a problem I have running when I am going longer distances. I have to force myself to eat during these runs or hit a wall near the end due to lack of nutrition. I make it to the aid station at 9.5 miles and refilled my drink and just get some watermelon, big mistake. This was another place on the course where there was an awkward place to put a loop. But the view added by having the loop was worth it.One of my favorite views from the course
After the aid station there was still a but of hill climbing to do. The downhill started fast and furious as did my demise. I was holding a 12:20 mile pace until this point. I ran into the wall and my pace jumped up. I ended with an average above 14 minutes per mile. Unlike last race I somewhat expected this to happen at sometime. I have been losing weight and not taking in as many calories as I need for a race this long. My finishing time of 3:12:17 was a little disappointing but considering the course difficulty and am not that unhappy. I like the windmill and I do believe that was one of the hills on the courseOne of the few areas of tree coverStruggling up the hill
I do not have many pictures of me having fun when running but the Dallas Dirt Runners caught me having fun and turned it into a meme. My fellow runner is Sue Fee.
We were nowhere near the finish line at this point.
A good time was had by all and next week it is a 25K in Oklahoma.
I am still wrapping my mind around this race and what could have been. The Habanero Hundred and in my case the Habanero 30K or my DNF 20K. It was a case of doing everything right but one little change of my routine and that was it. I heat trained for weeks and had good nutrition and hydration the week leading up to the race. I was ready for the worse that the Houston area heat and humidity had to offer. I was ready for the course with its sand and no shade. I was ready to conquer the hottest race in Texas. Did a mention a change in my routine.Pre race group photo and my shirt is already drenched
Since I have been training in the middle of the day all summer, the noon start time did not throw me off as it did some runners. Instead of drinking from individual water bottles, I decided to go with a gallon jug of enhanced water. I usually do not drink enhanced water because I get my electrolytes from SOS powder mixed in spring water. I still used the SOS powder but I thought I needed this enhanced water due to the nature of a midday start of the race. I was told how hard the race can be if you are not properly prepared. The temperature reaches triple digits and no shade. The sand makes it even hotter and tender feet. I had all of these thoughts going through my mind while training for this race. I knew I was prepared and slightly confident. Did I mention a change in my routine.The most shade on the course.
On the four hour drive down to the race I was drinking plenty of enhanced water so I would be hydrated before running in the heat. I got to the race with three hours to spare before the race start. I set up my camper and met up with the DDR crew and I was sweating a ton. I drank more enhanced water because I did not want to be dehydrated before I even hit the starting line. I have now finish off a half gallon of enhanced water. I never even checked what enhanced water was or what is in it. Hence the change in my routine, I never drink enhanced water.Me being the tallest and darkest at the start
My race should have consisted of three 10K loops and a smile and medal at the end. My race actually consisted of two 10K loops and feeling like death. I was flying the first loop and finished it feeling good and about ten minutes ahead of my predicted pace. I even did a little dance at the end of the loop that made the volunteers laugh. I hadn’t taken in any food but that is usual for me. I had been icing myself at every aid station and felt good. It was the feeling of the beginning of the end.Still looking for shade
The second loop started like the first loop. Since the trail was not technical it was easy to get into a rhythm with only the sand being a constant obstacle. I got past the first batch of sand and realized I had stopped sweating. I had gotten iced down at the aid station and refilled my bottles with enhanced water. I thought maybe I just over iced and started drinking more water. By the time I got to the midway aid station, I was sweating again and feeling good. The feeling last about five minutes. It felt like a bomb went off in my stomach. I was releasing so much gas and it was awful. I am sorry for all of those running behind me. I could not stop. The end was near. My stomach was killing me. Everything else felt good and I was showing no signs of heat exhaustion. I had no idea what just happened in my stomach. I tried walking and it was painful and running made it worse. My legs felt good and my mind was clear. No dizziness or nausea, I actually felt good except for my stomach.I look soooo defeated at this point.
I got to the start/finish aid station and called it quits. I could hardly walk at this time. I ate some peanut butter pretzels and my stomach immediately rejected it. I hate public restrooms and especially port a pots. I used the same one 20+ times the next eight hours. I once again apologize for those who had to go in after me. I had an awful sleep but woke up feeling better. I learned a very important lesson the next day. There is a mineral called magnesium. It makes you POOP and too much gives you diarrhea and guess who drank almost a gallon of water enhanced with magnesium citrate. Yours truly. The one change in my routine killed me. The leftover water it still sitting in my refrigerator. I will eventually drink the rest but not anytime soon. It is a reminder of my self imposed colonoscopy.Back to drinking regular water and I didn’t die like Kenny. Just kidding he survived.
A huge shout out to two fellow bloggers @thedancingrunner and @pkadams for both crushing there 50Ks. They are an inspiration to me and true badasses.
Training in the heat is going better than I thought it would go. I got 175 miles in July. The total miles surpassed my best month by over 20 miles. I am slowly building up my mileage per run also getting several 7-10 mile runs. I still do not like long runs. I am not fast so long runs take up a bunch of time. I do, time on my feet runs, which last from two and half to three hours.
My races this month include Habanero 30K and Six-0 Ranch Half Marathon. They will be my long runs and to see where my fitness is at by the end of the month. My previous hip injury has been nagging a bit but nothing major. My knees are feeling good. I am surprised because I am running six to eight days in a row.
I am going to start to incorporate gym workouts twice a week to build core strength. My weight is down to 253 and I want to be around 235 by the time I run my 100K. I should be able to lose 18 pounds in 12 weeks but it is going to be tough. Back to the heat and hills.
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.
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.