Texas Summertime Reflections

“Summertime and the livin’s easy”

OK well not so much if you are an ultrarunner in the Texas summer! But after surviving (and that’s what it was–plain survival) through this summer (which ended appropriately yesterday), I thought I would post some reflections on my running this summer, my first summer of ultra distance running in the Texas summer where I signed up for the 3 60k (~37 mi) trail races in the Capt’n Karl’s race series.

— The heat will expose you and I was exposed.  You will need more water, salt, and food than in other seasons, and more than in your training sessions if you are running trails.  I never needed that much salt during my training runs, but I learned that lesson quickly after DNFing at The Lake.

— Not only is surviving/completing the races hard, but training is just as hard too.  By 9 am, it is hotter than heck.  Soon I learned that starting to run at 6 am was not adequate and I needed to start at 5 am for my long training runs.   Kind of hard to have much of a social life if you have to get up at 4 am on Saturday mornings!

— You can go farther and achieve more than you think you can.  In the springtime, it’s easy to say you can run 3 60k trail races during the summer, but once summer begins to boil, believing that goal is achievable is  a bit of a different story.  Before I started, I thought finishing just ONE of these races in the summer would be a great feat, which it was.   I didn’t finish the first race, but in hindsight, if I only had a better nutrition plan then I could have my first belt buckle.   And maybe it wasn’t THAT bad that I managed to finish the last two (I suppose brain damage has set in).   Mental toughness is a good thing, and walking is OK and totally acceptable.

— Sometimes the only way to learn is through your mistakes.  I suppose this is applicable to other phases of life, but sometimes you just have to learn lessons the hard way.  Similarly, running as many races as you can is the only way to really gain experience.  Training runs, especially fwhen you live in Houston where little trails are available, just can’t cut it.

— I ultimately was proud of my performance.  Not ground breaking by any speed standard, but after DNFing at the first of 3 60k trail races, I was faced with the decision of downmoding (sorry… work terminology) to the 30k distance or continuing to try with the 60k for the other two.  Be reminded that the first attempt I was dehydrated and had to stop due to my poor nutritition plan, not even halfway through the race and my stomach had some of the worst pain I can imagine.  I could have easily just have taken the easy way out and pursued the 30k option, and I was prepared to do so.  But after asking the race director if that option was available, he told me to think about it, and I glad I did, since I managed to put in a great performance at the second race.  The third race wasn’t perfect, but I finished after struggling through rolling my ankle too many times and negotiating the tough terrain.

And lastly, it was great to meet some of the other runners on the trails.  I guess the trail running community is a smaller niche community, but there is just something about meeting others out on the trails, and sharing the bond that is forged by going through the pressure cooker of ultra running.

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