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.
Mount Magazine 20K
Wild Hare 50K
Mount Nebo, Arkansas
Chickasaw National Recreation Area, Oklahoma
2018 was an incredible year and my plans for 2019 are even more adventurous.
I decided to do a short 5 miler to test out my legs in a trail race. This race takes place at Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, TX. I have ran here and hiked here many times over the past two years. This race did not actually start in the park but outside a back gate I did not even knew was there. Even though it was an odd place to start, the race quickly hit a familiar hill that is on every race directors places to have us run. It was good to get to this particular hill early because it is a leg killer. Since I was only doing a 5 miler, I only had one technical downhill and the rest of the race was fairly easy. I was really surprised at my time. I have been trying to get a sub one hour 5 miler on a technical course and have not come close. I did not break one hour but if I knew how close I was I might have run myself into ground to get the time. The course was not marked the best but I love running here and I was not going to get lost. I actually won my age group for the first time ever.
I am going to start training for another tough race next year. I am planning to run a 27K with two miles of elevation change. This is going to be much different than my 50K on a relatively flat course. The 50K had two thirds of a mile of elevation change. I will run hills most of the year to prepare. I am also going to do less races but longer distances with more hills.
Next are my final hikes of the year. East Texas here I come.
The race was held at one of my favorite state parks, Tyler State Park. The park is located in Tyler, TX which is about an hour and a half east of Dallas. The 25K distance was a new long distance for me. This year I have run a half marathon, two accidental 15Ks and an accidental 20K. Plus a 12 mile training run. I still was not certain how I would do at this distance. The course was sneaky difficult. The hills were long and winding. They were not overly steep but went on for quite a bit of distance. The course held up well under extreme rainy conditions the night before and the morning of the race. There were a few muddy areas but not too bad. My pre race estimated time to finish was 3:30 but that changed after a two hour first loop. I thought 4:20 was a good possibility. I was still feeling good and not too tired. At the 3:13 mark, my legs completely quit. I thought I was moving fast but I could not go very fast. I struggled to finish and was doubting my ability to finish a true ultra race. The funny thing was my mind was lucid and I did not feel tired but my legs just gave in. My finishing time of 4:41 was not good at all but at least I finished. I looked at some of my past races in rain and mud. I did not fair well in any of them. The main problem with the 25K was my wet socks and feet. I did not bring a change of shoes or socks. Lesson learned. I ended up registering for the 50K in November. I learned a lot about running longer distances and will put it to good use.
I have a week off of trail racing so I will get some hiking in in Oklahoma. After that I have seven weekend races each weekend until the 50K.