I think I am injured, maybe.

I will start with a little history of why this possible injury is sadly exciting. About two years ago I decided to start running to get in shape that was not round. I started off running all the time and quickly re aggravated a past knee injury. After a month off, I started wearing knee sleeves on both knees. I also realized that I could not run more than two days in a row before my knees were so painful I could not walk.

Finally about six months ago I accidentally left my knee sleeves at home and ran a 5 mile run. I had no problems that day or the next. Even though I still wear the sleeves I know I do not need them but they make me feel comfortable. I ran many times without them with no problems since the initial oversight.

This weekend I ran three days in a row. My knees are fine but my hamstring did not make it. Day 1 was a slow flat 6 mile run on concrete. I slowed my pace to 11 minute miles since I was going to do a race the next day. The race is where the problems started. It was a 10K trail race on trails I am very familiar running. The first three miles were at a good trail pace of about 10:45 minute miles. Then it hit me, a huge cramp in my hamstring. I massaged it and continued. Twenty minutes later same hamstring cramped again. I stopped stretched and continued. I felt fine after the race but my pace went up 4 minutes per mile the last 3.4 miles.

My hamstring was sore the rest of the day but I thought nothing of it. The next morning was a very slow 3.5 mile trail run with the local running club. I had no problems during the run but the rest of the day I had problems every time I bent my leg. I am also sore today and it is painful to stretch.

The good news is that I can finally run three days in a row. I can also up my mileage to prepare for the half marathon in April. It will be my first. The bad news my hammy is possibly strained.

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Viking Dash 5K

The second trail run of the year was the Viking Dash 5K. I have not done a 5K in a long time. I am glad I choose the 5K because the course was extremely muddy. I cannot run well in mud. I decided to pace my sister and not worry about my time. We both struggled and the mud was sticky and heavy. At the end of the race, the mud was caked on the bottom and sides of my shoes. Little did I know it would rain all February and I had two more trail races and a road race in the next five weeks. My time of 47:08 is about fifteen minutes slower than my average trail 5K time. The course was not particularly difficult but the course condition was not good. They even rerouted the course or it could have been worse. I think the race would have been really nice if it was not a mud run. The Viking Dash people put on a good race and I think the Fort Worth run will be better. 20180126_122804.jpg20180126_124116.jpg20180129_073051.png20180129_073654.png

I usually do not post pictures of myself but these pictures turned out pretty good. Check out the muddy shoes. It is race day today so I will be running my third trail 10K and the sun is out and the weather is great.

Knob Hills 10K Trail Race

It has been raining for weeks now and I have not been able to get much hiking done. I did get a few trail races in between the rain. My first race of the year was the Knob Hills 10K. As most trail races distances can vary. So I was not surprised the race was actually 7.3 miles and not the normal 6.2 miles. The trails were nice single track trails. The course is located in Roanoke, TX right off of Lake Grapevine. They are DORBA trails but did not have the normal DORBA feel. There were not many switchbacks or short steep hills. But there were hills and some were long and some were steep. I put up a time of 1:26:13. I am pretty proud of the time considering the distance. The running conditions were great. It was a clear and cool morning. 20180120_072559.jpg20180120_072611.jpg20180120_073533.jpg20180120_073538.jpg20180120_073546.jpg

The hat, shirt and medal were nice also. I am ready to up my mileage but I will do a few more <10 mile races. I have a 1/2 marathon and a 50K on the schedule.

Quanah Hill

Quanah Hill park is located in Weatherford, TX which is about twenty minutes west of Fort Worth. The park is across the road from Lake Weatherford and is sort of hidden off the road in a gated parking lot. I passed it when I thought my GPS was wrong. I followed a car with a bike on the back and was lucky enough that the car was actually going to the park. This is another park in which the main activity is mountain biking. The trails had the typical mountain bike course set up. It had plenty of switchbacks and hills that were not trail running or state park hills. Those types are hills are long and occasionally steep but mountain bike hills are short and steep. Quanah Hill had plenty of surprises for a mountain bike trail. I will say this to start, it would be one heck of a trail run race set up. I was planning on a three and a half mile hike but ended up doing almost five miles. I got on the wrong trail like I usually do and added the mileage but it was worth it. The thing that makes this trail better than all other mountain bike trails I have hiked is that there is a constant change of elevation. The hike does not give you a break. I was going up or down a hill the entire time. A flat spot on the trails was a rarity. I like this type of hike because it makes a simple hike more difficult. The constant elevation change is taxing on the legs and I get a great workout without having to go a longer distance. The trail had a mountain hike feel also with narrow trails along a steep cliff. Another plus of these trails are the stuff on the side of the trails. There are some odd things on the side of the trails and I had a difficult time telling what was placed there on purpose or left by a mistake or just littering. The horse head and toilet were most amusing. Lastly the signs on the trails were both informative and comical. DSC00240.JPGDSC00246.JPGDSC00255.JPGDSC00258.JPGDSC00256.JPGDSC00275.JPGDSC00271.JPG

This has been one of my favorite trails to hike. The funny thing is that I have never heard of this trail until a trail runner on Facebook was looking for anybody to runs trails here. This was hike 14 of my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series.

I am going to get to those four state parks.

Squabble Creek Park

Squabble Creek Park is a park for mountain biking and has some good hiking trails also. It is located in Rockwall, TX which is about thirty minutes east of Dallas. I hiked this trail because I was going to do a trail race on these trails. Squabble Creek like most mountain bike trails have so many switchbacks with short steep elevation changes. The park also had a long stretch of flat trail that winds between trees and along a creek. I hiked parts of all the loops except Loop 6. The park is clean and very quiet even though it is in the middle of a neighborhood and some construction is ongoing. I got plenty of miles in this small park due to all the switchbacks. The park was surprisingly muddy since it had not rain in a few days. I can see this park getting washed out a bunch with just a little rain. 20180126_123809.jpg20180126_124816.jpg20180126_124116.jpg20180126_124447.jpg20180126_124500.jpg20180126_125520.jpg

I had a nice hike in the small park. The next day it was a muddy mess during the trail run. The was hike 13 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series.

I have some state parks I want to get to in the next few weeks. I also have a couple of trails runs that will get into some new areas of the state.

Arbor Hills Nature Preserve

This park is located on the west side of the city of Plano, TX. Arbor Hills Nature Preserve is a very nice city park. The park is clean and the the trails are well maintained. There is a mix of concrete and natural trails. I always prefer the nature trails. The park has a little of everything. There is an overlook in the middle of the park, a large creeks and two ponds. Most of the trails have good elevation change and good views. This has been one of my favorite city parks. I hiked on the Outer Loop Trail, Pond Trail and Prairie Trail along with two other trails on the north side of the park. The park is surrounded by houses and apartments and that is abundantly clear when hiking the perimeter but it still does not take away from the serenity of the park. There are several creek crossings on nice bridges. The park has a seperate mountain bike area which is nice when the bikers and hikers/walkers are not mixed. This will be a good to trail run or road run depending on if rain washes out the trails. DSC00202.JPGDSC00203.JPGDSC00226.JPGDSC00229.JPGDSC00210.JPGDSC00205.JPG

I really like this park and will definitely be back for a run or another hike. Along with Cedar Ridge Preserve, I would definitely recommend Arbor Hills Nature Preserve for a day hike if you are in the area. This was hike 12 in the 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series.

I have one more city park before the four state parks I have my eyes on.

Oak Point Nature Preserve

Oak Point Nature Preserve is located on the east side of the city of Plano, TX. The time I got there it was not crowded but quickly became crowded when I was leaving. It is a nice place to get a hike but not for picture taking. The trash was everywhere around the trail and in the Rowlett Creek. The trails are easily followed and there are an abundance of trails to hike. They are all easy I assume since I only hiked about three miles of trail. The trails I hiked were flat except for section by Go Ape Zip Line and Treetop Adventure. I guess that is the adventure park in the middle of the nature preserve. I looks like it would be fun if you liked doing that kind of stuff. My fear of heights prevents me from even thinking about zip lining. Ironically I have repelled down a building once when I was in college. This is your typical nature preserve except for the adventure park in the middle. There was no big wow factor or big hills and no over use switchbacks to lengthen the trail distance. It is a nice get away from the city and get to some place different park. I did find some interesting looking white trees. I do not know if this is good or not. I was awful as a botany student. DSC00176.JPGDSC00181.JPGDSC00185.JPGDSC00192.JPGDSC00196.JPGDSC00197.JPG

The trails are close enough that I will go again to do some trail running and get to some other parts of the preserve. This was hike 11 in my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series.

Next hike I go to the west side of Plano.

Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center

Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center is located in Denton, Tx and has some very nice trails. The trails are very well marked and clean. There was not much elevation change on the trails but they are a fun hiking experience. I have been to several city parks and nature preserves and about half have trash everywhere but this one was nice and clean.  I did misread one sign so I missed the Trinity River but hiking along the Clear Creek was appealing with good views. This is another park I never heard of but will be running a race here in a few weeks. I like to check out the course before I run it so I know what I am in for. This is going to be a fun run because the trails are nice and flat and just a good tranquil place to be. DSC00155.JPGDSC00156.JPGDSC00161.JPGDSC00163.JPGDSC00170.JPGDSC00173.JPG

This is hike 10 of my 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. This series has put me at different places I had heard of but never been to parks. I have been to city parks and nature preserves but I am itching to get back to the state parks.

The next couple of hikes take me back to some city parks.

Race the Base 4M

The last trail race of the year was at Pinnacle Mountain State Park in Little Rock, Arkansas. The morning of the race was freezing, really. The temperature was thirty degrees. The race only had one distance option so I was hoping not to come in last. I think there were more road runners on the course than trail runners. The runners seemed more aggressive on the trail and tended not to move to the right when a faster runner was passing. Plus it was the middle of fall and leaves were all over the trail. Leaves on the trail do two things, first they are slick and secondly they hide roots and rocks. They made the race very difficult because the course had more roots and rocks than any other trail race I had run. With all that being said the race was enjoyable and extremely scenic. The mountain was a nice sight and the parks in Arkansas are always nice. My time of 53:45:06 was not too bad considering they threw in a super steep and long hill at the end. The course was odd in the way it was flat but with only steep inclines and declines. I came in the bottom half overall, gender and age group but was not last. IMG_0934.JPG20171111_082716.jpg20171111_082502.jpgIMG_0745.JPGIMG_0747.JPG

I did like the run but will not do it again next year. I did like the fact that I got to hike Pinnacle Mountain, Hot Springs NP and Lake Catherine SP. I also like the race shirt and finisher’s cup.

I will back to blogging about my hikes. I have done six hikes so far. I have the 52 Hike Challenge Explorer Series. I have a great problem because five of the six hikes were so amazing that I cannot believe that I can find better places to hike.

The Mammoth 10K

 

The Mammoth 5K was my first trail race last year. I had a great time camping and hiking  at Dinosaur Valley SP and running the race the next morning. I decided not to camp out this year and run the 10K. The course was tough. I knew from last year the course would be difficult but the 10K course was more than twice as hard. The course climbed the steep trail that leads to the summit of the park. I ran this trail at my last race here but that was part of a 5K and the rest of that race was downhill. This time after the hill the race was only a quarter the done. The course then went down and back up to the second highest point in the park. The course seemed longer than 10K but it had some very serene parts. The long scenic parts allowed me to get a steady pace for awhile. My time of 1:32:07 put me in the top half overall but only in the top two thirds of all males. IMG_21571.jpg22791979_723111514560647_1938614310425051603_o.jpgIMG_21591.jpg22712615_723111544560644_6197470883484751293_o.jpgIMG_21601.jpg

I will be doing the 15K next year. I really like being at this park for both hiking and running. This was also my last trail 10K this year. I have two more trail runs left this year.

My next next race is the final race of the Huaco Cuatro.