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 am getting more road time than usual especially since most trails are open. We had a day with plenty of rain so I hit the road. I enjoy the road a little more than I used to for two reasons. The trails close at sunset for good reasons and where a live I still can get a wilderness feeling. I can run along the boundary or on the roads of Cedar Hill State Park or Joe Pool Lake. Some of those views are spectacular at sunset. I really do need to get pictures of both the next time I am on a slow run(slow being a relative term). As a random thought does anybody else but me just look at the sky. The clouds and colors are so impressive. I like the north Texas skies but sunset in central Texas is a must do for everyone at least once. I do get sunset pictures post run in my neighborhood. Low clouds across the street.North Texas sunsetThe sun reflecting off the cloudsNot as late as beforeNot as pink but just as nice.
A quote that everybody gets wrong and is now driving me crazy. “Money is the root of all evil.” I hear it this way all the time and they are not saying the quote correct and it ruins the true meaning of the quote. “The pursuit of wealth i.e. money is the root of all evil.” What does this quote have to do with running or hiking, nothing. People who have worked hard and earned money are not evil. They made money. Doctors, lawyers and businessmen who have made millions have worked for their money. It is those who are in pursuit of money and do not earn it fall into evil ways. It is those with the ability to make money but do not want to earn is who the quote is referring.
I am going to stop here because this can go in many different ways religious, political, philosophical and my favorite nonsensical. I try to keep it light.
Oh yea I am still training and down to 247, twelve more pounds to go.
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 started this blog as a hiking blog. The first posts were strictly about hiking but the blog has evolved into hiking and trail running. The blog has gone back and forth between both activities. This summer I did much more hiking than usual because I wanted to get out in my camper. I have one more trip planned then my blog will have a change of direction. My blog direction change will come after I finish blogging about my summer hikes and after my first tune up race in August. My blog will primarily be about me training for my first 100K.
I have 14 weeks till my first 100K. I have done a lot of trail running but nothing like this distance. I do not train like most trail runners i.e. find a tried and true program per a coach. I run as much as a can and listen to my body. I do not particularly like long runs so I do races in place of a weekly long run. I have set up a race schedule that will hopefully get to the point where I can finish a 100K. I have a midday 30K in August to start and find a baseline. I have four half marathons also on my race schedule. I will rerun a 25K that physically and mentally broke me down last year. Plus for a bonus run I will do my third 50K.
My 100K race.
One of my last two races before a seven week race break. This race was held in Frisco, TX and will be the last race at the Northeast Community park. In the fall the park will be a golf course. I am not a golfer so I think it is a waste of space. The trails are nice and not too technical. The main use of the park is as a mountain bike trail and green space. This is also a race in which I chose the longest distance offered. I usually do a shorter distance but I wanted to test myself to see if I could not come in last.
The race started at 6:45 in the morning so the temperature was not too bad but the humidity was still quite high. We were lucky that most of the time at the race we had mostly cloudy overcast. It was good because there was little tree cover on the course. I started in the back like I always do but immediately moved passed a few people. I found a good pace group and stayed with them for a few miles. It was a group of five and the lead runner was Amber. I did not get the names of the other runners.
About 3 miles later it was just Amber and I. We picked up two more runners but they also dropped off the back. Amber said she was keeping a 13 minute mile pace but was actually going about 11 minute mile pace. We ran together to about the seven mile mark and she said she was going to pick up the pace to the end. I wished her luck and thanked her for pacing. I could not keep up.
At about little over a mile to go the 15K and 10K courses merge. I got into another group of five to get to the finish line. This group ran at a random pace going fast than walking and passing each other every few minutes. I kept a steady pace and then in the last half mile or so just took off. I passed the 10K runners and dropped the entire group and finished quite fast for my speed. I had a very good time for myself at a 1:48:49 15K. I felt good afterwards and finished right before the clouds vanished and the sun was blaring.Back of the pack startAmber setting a fast paceThe aid station where I got droppedMe dropping some people before running solo.
This was suppose to be my last race but I signed up for a 10K just because.
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.