Hogs Hunt 25k

After running a 50k the weekend before, thought I’d entertain myself with another 25k at Huntsville State Park.  Weather started off nice, as I was shivering and chilly, somewhere around 46 degrees before the sun came up.  Since it was only 1 25k loop, I took splits between aid stations rather than for each loop.

Split 1: 41:21 4.51 mi 9:10 min/mi
Started off with Cees (was thinking early this maybe was a mistake?) but he left me once we got on the CCC trail. Was nice to catch up with him.

Split 2: 30:01 3.4 mi 8:49 min/mi
Didn’t stop long at the A/S before retracing steps along the CCC to the chinquapin trail and was feeling pretty good, surprised I was still moving this fast.

Split 3: 50:53 5.23 mi 9:44 min/mi
Didn’t feel like I was slowing down, but that’s what my garmin said. This part does drag on for a while, and had quite a bit more sand than I remember. Started to feel more like work in this area as I was really just waiting to get the long bridges which means you’re near the end of this section, and near the HTREx A/S. I think two runners blew past me in this stretch.

Split 4: 25:53 2.6 mi 9:56 min/mi
I just grunted for more water at the HTREx A/S as I was feeling a bit spent, and quickly got out there, and walked for about 30 yards, which is really the only walking I did during the race. Definitely was pretty hard to sustain a “quick” pace in this section, but just kept pushing. The last mile or so, there were two chicks who were probably not more than 50 yards back, so that was really my only motivation to keep going…. and to try to sneak in under 2:30. Which I did, with a finishing time of 2:28:10. Only my 2nd 25k (my first was 4 years ago at this course, which was my first trail run), but will always take a PR. It was a nice run, but I was glad it was not any further — legs and body were pretty drained by the end, especially from the previous weekend’s 50k. Chatted with the other HTREx buddies at the finish before chilling at the A/S for a bit and heading home.

2013 Hells Hills 50k

One of my friends, Adam, was planning to run the 50 mi, so as the weeks ticked by with decent training, I increasingly became more interested in running the 50k at Hells Hills.  I have sort of bad history with this race: 2011, I did the 50k and had a decent time thru 20 miles or so, then encountered some sort of foot pain that prevented me from running any more of the race and posting up a 7+ hour finish; then last year, the heat, a *nasty* rolled ankle, and plantar fasciitis (wicked 3 combo, by the way…) caused me to drop at the mile 45 aid station.  But I had decent, consistent training over the previous 6 weeks and didn’t have any real time goals, other than expecting to finish in 6.5 hours, maybe sooner if I got lucky.

 

Weather was nice and chilly at the start.  Kept rolling thru the first loop, probably too fast.  Had a bit of a wardrobe issues on the first loop.  My raceready shorts had my goodies in them, except they are apparently too heavy for my pants.  So, the first loop, my pants would start to sag down pretty quickly every so often, so I had to reposition them.  Again and again…. Ugh.  Nothing too embarrassing, but thankfully there weren’t any runners behind me a couple times….. This problem went away on the second loop — don’t know if I was carrying less items or what.  Kind of strange, since I don’t recall this issue happening before the seabrook marathon, and I KNOW I haven’t lost any weight… if anything I’ve put on a few pounds.  Anyway, back to the running.  I kept running pretty strong the first loop, maybe too fast, completing in ~2:51.  Maybe I can beat 6 hrs?  I knew it would be tough since my PR is 608.

Started on the 2nd loop, and it wasn’t ungodly hot thanks to overcast cloud conditions (and also a lovely, cool breeze). I had a nagging stomach discomfort all morning that hadn’t slowed me down too much, but was getting slowly worse.  And consequently, I couldn’t put down any more calories…which leads to my energy level crashing.  I shuffled it into the next A/S and spent quite a few minutes reloading on food, which helped me rebound nicely the last 5 miles or so.  I was actually running really hard the last 3, but the race was over, and I snuck in under 630, satisfied with my time and effort.  If it weren’t for my bonk around mile 19-25, I would have easily chopped off another 20 minutes (at least).   Ran with another guy briefly who was finishing his first ultra, always fun to see those guys cross the finish line.

Lessons learned:  keep up my hill training.  The treadmill worked wonders for Cactus Rose last year, and I haven’t gotten back into it since I haven’t “needed” it for a race.  But there are times on the 2nd loop where it definitely would have helped hiking up some of the inclines.  Also, I  need to work on my nutrition.  My GU Chomps just weren’t appetizing.  Maybe even liquid calories?  Probably would be easier on the stomach and less time eating too.  I really liked turkey sandwiches a few years ago, which seemed to work well for me… not sure why I stopped bringing them along….

 

Well, onto the next race…. 25k at hogs hunt this weekend? Possum Kingdom 55k?

2013 Bandera 100k Race Report

Bandera 100k

So close, yet so far

Drip…. Drip… Drip.  The sound of the rain landing outside my cabin’s window woke me up long before I really wanted to rise.  I held out hope the night before we might luck out and there wouldn’t be any rain Friday night, but sadly, no such luck.  Just the first challenge to deal with for the day.  I, my friend Jamie, and his wife, eventually rose and began our pre-race rituals before heading to the park.  We arrived at dark where it was still a light mist of rain, and you could see the line of cars behind, Field of Dreams style.  We got our drop bags together and posted up in the covered area in the lodge.  I couldn’t help but think, This is going to be a long day, and it’s about to get real. Anyone who knows me, knows I don’t like running in the mud.  Rain, I don’t mind.  But mud, or more importantly, going up and down hills, or just running through it for hours on end, is not exactly my ideal condition to run in.  My balance is poor and this course is not exactly for one who lacks good balance, especially when it’s wet.  Bandera’s technical rocky terrain is already challenging enough, the question is, how much tougher is 62 miles of this going to be now that it is soaked?

We started at 730 am on Saturday with some light rain/fog for the first few hours.  I was going OK, and thankfully the first few downhills were dry.  The first flat was already a rough surprise where I quickly learned not to run on the rocks.  That first little flat part had options for you to run in between or on top of the rocks. Well when they were wet I would just slide all over the place and I knew it would end my day early.  Quickly I figured out this race would be more about survival than really trying to achieve a good time.  One wrong footing here, and it could be game over.

The first section wasn’t that bad, but already I could tell my heart rate was running a bit high.  This would continue for the first couple hours.  Probably it was the dense humidity due to the rain, lack of sleep, hadn’t gotten over a cold…?  Who knows, but my body was telling me to slow down but it can be hard in race mode, and I wasn’t even really moving that fast honestly.  But working hard none the less due to the rough conditions.  Made it to the first aid station and didn’t waste much time.  This was where Timothy Olson, who came in to run a nice 50k and drink some beer, blew past us.  He had already run twice as far, crazy.  The second stretch, I don’t remember being too remarkable one way or the other, still wet, humid, and I was working hard but not moving terribly fast.

The third section, somewhere about mile 10-15, is where the mud started.  I learned Bandera has 3 kinds of mud: the slippery mud, cake on your shoes mud, and the shoe sucking mud.  This stretch had a bit of number one and number two types.  This section is really the easiest in terms of the hills and terrain, but the mud changed all that.  There was one open field where it was pretty much impossible for me to run since 5 lbs of mud would cake on your shoes, and then you’d have to try to scrape it off, only to just repeat the process….

Thankfully the mud field ended and I got to crossroads where I had a cup of Gatorade and swear it was the best thing I ever tasted.  No more mud, for now.  Around this time Jamie and I started hiking together.  He hadn’t run at Bandera before, so I told him the next section, which contained the Three Sisters, was “memorable.”  Jamie was having some issues with an injury, and my heartrate had been running high all morning, so I decided to hang with him for a while.  Hiking these hills was just what I needed, as I soon started to recover a bit.  We even took a couple brief breaks on the sisters (and in hind sight… maybe we should have just camped out up there all day?) to enjoy the view, where the fog had now retreated revealing the nice views.  I started feeling a bit better and decided to huff it back in to the crossroads aid station.  It sucks to leave your friend behind, but sometimes you just have to run your own race.

Feeling Better Now

Leaving the crossroads, I started feeling a bit better and could get in a decent amount of actual jogging.  There was a nice flat section, which contained the third mud, the shoe sucking kind.  Luckily I kept my shoes attached to my feet before ascending Lucky’s peak.  It was ascending this beast where I saw the young man who had one prosthetic leg (in case you need any motivation).  His story is way more compelling so I would suggest reading it if you have not, but suffice it to say it was pretty cool passing by him and I wish I could have seen him finish.

I came down Lucky’s and eventually to the next aid station, with ~5 miles to go on the first 31 mile loop.  There were 3 or 4 chatty ladies in front of me, so I decided to hang with them for a bit for some company.  We climbed up Boyle’s Bump and they wanted a picture.  I obliged and told them my price was a 6 pack of beer but all they had were some electrolyte pills.  Anyway, I hung behind them for a bit, just to hear some other folks and have some sort of company.  Climbing up the next hill, the girl’s phone in front of me started going off.  No phone reception around the park… unless you are climbing on top one of these beasts.  Those girls lost me descending off of Cairns, which was really technical given that it was real slippery.  I started getting closer to the start/finish to end the first loop and was feeling pretty rough.  31 miles down and now 31 more to go.  I had spent 8 hours on the first loop, which was real slow, even for me.  I knew even in a best case scenario, it would probably take me at least 10 more hours to finish the 2nd half.

The 2nd loop

I needed some food and luckily Amy was done with her race and nearby to thankfully help me out.  I plopped down in a chair and started inhaling some food, garbage disposal style.  2 or 3 bowls of ramen, a honey stinger waffle, a couple cups of coke, banana, pretzels, and I don’t know what else.  Felt like I had been eating enough but apparently not.  While I was sitting down refueling, the winner of the race, Sage Cannaday, ran in and finished.  Dude had just run twice as far, twice as fast!  Damn.  Well, I guess I oughta get up outta here.  Eating and the long break helped, and now that I had only 1 loop left, it was a huge mental lift.  The enormity of the conditions and distance had been a burden the first loop, but with half of it done, I felt a lot better beginning the 2nd half and overall felt fine.  Just run aid station to aid station and finish it.

The first task at hand was getting in as much as I could before nightfall, where I knew I would slow down.  I was doing OK the first section, but definitely slower than the first (31 miles ago….).  Made it to the first aid station who had wonderful volunteers (they all were great) and refilled with at least 2 or 3 cups of ramen.  They said they would start charging on the next cup, and I had refueled enough, so I got out of there before probably just before dusk.  I am pretty sure I consumed more ramen in this race than I have in the rest of my life, combined.

Anyway, it was getting dark but my legs were still feeling pretty decent, all things considered.  I didn’t see too many runners around this point, but eventually caught up with another runner, Amy.  We hiked together for a while and came to the conclusion we’d probably like some company to descend all the nasty hills in the rain and dark, and decided to stick together.  So we hiked and hiked, and kept up a pretty good pace.  I wanted to run… but the combination of mud and the technical trails was just too hard.  It was real nice to have some company and chat away, one of the great things about the sport.

You know you’re an ultrarunner… if you don’t finish the race on the same day as the winner

I refrained from doing math (you try after you’ve been running for 12+ hours) but eventually figured we would finish on Sunday AM going at this pace—whoa!  No mind, we seemed to be in good spirits and good condition.  I even felt like running, just the conditions were holding me back.

In the section leading to crossroads, the mud field, we briefly got lost for almost a mile extra.  This was maybe the longest stretch, so by the time we rolled in to crossroads, I was hungry and really looking forward to it.  The temperature had cooled off from the mugginess from the morning, but right about now is where it started getting a tad bit windy.  We left crossroads after a decent break (some day I’ll learn to make quick aid station visits…) and headed back out to the 3 sisters.

Around this time is when the cold front rolled in.  We were climbing up these hills, and gusts probably 20-30 mph were coming through frequently, and the temperature was quickly dropping to the 30’s… felt like the windchill was getting into the 20’s. Temperature must have dropped 20+ degrees in less than an hour.  This area also coincided with where my heartrate started acting unusual. It would spike for a couple seconds, then go back to normal.  No other symptoms of anything, or any other correlation I could figure out. But it was a bit concerning after it kept repeating again and again, so I pretty much made up my mind I would drop when I got back to the Crossroads aid station.  Pretty much just like that…. My race was over.

The End

I told the medical guy, but he didn’t offer much of an explanation since there’s not much to diagnose.  I sat at the A/S to think things over a bit more, and now the wind was whipping up real good, sending the tarp surrounding our little oasis flying.  Amy was waiting there for me this time, and decided I should wait in the car since it was so cold out here and now I wasn’t moving any more my temp would drop too.   In the car, I went from an uncontrollable shiver back to a much better warm state (thankfully no picture of me in several layers of clothing/blanket and wearing mine and Amy’s cap… and very thankful she was there to help me out).  Could hear the wind all around the car… and now that I stopped, I knew there was really no way to go back out in the cold.  With only 9 more miles left it go, it was pretty disappointing to make it that far, to put in all that training, and struggling through the course all day, to end it like that.

9 more miles going up those remaining 3 hills in the dark…cold…wind, tired, to finish off a 62 mile race, it would have made for an epic story.  Hope I can return back next year and tell that story.

I guess I should have felt more pride about going the farthest I’ve ever gone, 54 miles, for the longest time, 16+ hours, 5000+ ft going up and down those hills, when most runners (and most sane people) probably would have quit after mile 1.  These 54 miles honestly felt twice as hard as the 50 miles at Cactus Rose (where I finished and felt like I had plenty left in the tank), so it certainly was a challenging day.  But I came there to finish 62 and get the buckle – guess I’ll just have to get stronger for next time.  And the likely issue was an simply an electrolyte imbalance/deficiency.  Now, in my professional life I can make the space shuttle fly and train astronauts… but eating in an endurance event is too just too complicated?? It makes no sense!  Hopefully one day I can figure it all out…. Not much reward if it’s easy, no?

Just do It

This past weekend was another large training volume for me, training for bandera 100k.  My goal was to get in 40 miles between Saturday and Sunday. And wouldn’t you know it, but the weather here was not exactly ideal.  My understanding is the seasonal average high is around 68 degrees F — Saturday it was probably a high near 85 and today it topped out at 79 when I got to my car (overcast skies)– wasn’t summer already over?  The humidity was pretty bad in the early morning hours too.  Nevertheless, I got in 24 miles on Saturday and followed it up with 17 more today.  Nothing very fast, and nothing screaming at me too bad (although my left quad muscles I can tell now are not as strong as the right since they seem to be the muscle group that gets sore first… have to watch that) but my quads and body were ready to be done after the run today.

 

Coming around the finish today at Seabrook, I only had a quarter mile or so to go, and almost stopped and walked it in (it doesn’t help when you can see your car…).  But I told myself “just f**ing do it”.  I wasn’t hurting that bad, and stopping to walk isn’t going to help anyway, so just effing do it, and finish the run.  I did, and was glad to be done.  Very glad it wasn’t any hotter as it would have been quite hard to get in the necessary miles for Bandera… we’ll see how my body feels but has been generally feeling pretty good since Cactus Rose.  Foam rolling for 5-10 minutes after I showered helped and I’ll have to have another session tonight.  I also plan to get in another big week 2 weeks from now, maybe doing the end of the world marathon in 2 weeks… we’ll see how I recover from this.

2012 Cactus Rose Race Report

Coming into this year’s Cactus Rose, I hoped to learn some lessons from last year to help improve my finishing time and condition.  Namely, last year I had done a lot of running, but not enough hill work.  I think I also didn’t eat enough early on which cause a pretty severe bonk around mile 40.  After struggling through Nueces in the Spring (another hilly, and in my mind, tougher course) I was determined to add back in some weight training to my regimen which had been left out for the greater part of a year.  In addition, I also started going to a spin class once a week and also doing some treadmill hill work once a week (usually hiking at a 15% grade for a few miles, then running at slight inclines for a while before returning to a hiking grade for a 5 mile workout) both offered thru the work gym at Gilruth for free so how can you argue.  The outcome: I’d have to say that incorporating all of those definitely helped.  I was passing people on the uphills (even in the last half of the race) and while my quads were sore at the end, I honestly probably could have kept going—didn’t feel like they were holding me back (that’s NOT to say that the hills were easy—the last time going up Ice Cream Hill in the clockwise direction was a real *&%!).  No IT Band problems this go round.  So that was my main concern going in to the race.  My actual running training had been decent, but I felt slightly undertrained.  I had gotten in 2 50+ mile weeks, and really felt like I needed another one or two to be in tip top shape for this beast of a course.  I also hadn’t really gotten in enough running hard due to our heat which never seemed to dissipate (until, thankfully, race day).

The Beginning

Race week arrived and I also felt kind of worn out, kind of a stressful week and of course didn’t get a huge amount of rest the night before, but that never really happens anyway.  We were blessed with ideal running conditions (for me) starting around mid 40’s and peaking I suspect somewhere in mid 60’s during the day.  The first few hours were pretty uneventful –your body is fresh, the terrain is easy, and the mood is light.  The only downer was passing a woman who seemed to have dislocated her shoulder or something of that nature – sounded to be in a tremendous amount of pain but as she was helped along by another runner there was nothing I could do to help, thankfully they weren’t that far from the A/S to get to help.

Don’t think there are any switchbacks on this course

Eventually the sun arose which allows everyone to see the glorious hill country side.  Actually one of my favorite times is right before dawn, when the hills are black and the sky is a dark blue, just enough contrast so you can see the hills.  You also can start to run a bit faster and start to appreciate the hills and cactus, and actually this area is where the amount of both starts to increase.  I was running at a good pace and keeping conversation with some other folks.  Talking to another guy who was from Illinois but was visiting family and such in San Antonio who was a baseball fan, so we chatted about the Astros and other sports for a decent amount of time.

The hills continue on, relentlessly from this point for the next 10 miles to the end of the loop.  I though I was running slightly slower than last year, which I was a bit surprised, since I though I would be better trained for the hills, but not by much time.  I rolled into the halfway point around 6 hours (last year I believe I left around 5:45).  I took about a 9 minute break to refuel and everything.  One problem I had this year was spending too much time at the A/S – this also seems to be the problem when carrying a camelbak  as it takes more time to unscrew the damn thing and get everything situated in there.  And of course, this is a 50 miler so I was making a conscious effort to eat at every A/S and reload with things that seemed appetizing ( I consumed 4350 calories during the whole race if my math is correct).

Halfway There

Thus I headed back off in the opposite direction to tackle the hills I just covered.  Actually despite a slightly slower time, I was really enjoying the race.  Off I went back up the first two hills, Boyle’s and Cairn’s, which both have flat runnable sections on top. I was able to run both of these – however when I looked at my Garmin my pace seemed a lot slower than what I had anticipated.  I was also monitoring my heart rate to try to keep it below 150 for any extended amount of time which seemed like a pace I could maintain.  Nevertheless, I was happy as I was doing well on the hills and running the flats.  Rolled into Boyle’s and reloaded on some sunscreen via a friend of mine, and headed for the next dreaded section.  This section is probably my least favorite, and I think it was my slowest on the first loop – too much sotol cactus and the ups and downs are the most, I can’t remember a large amount of runnable sections.

Post-race — my legs got pretty chewed up by the sotol cactus. The thickest I’ve seen it there (and everyone else seemed to say the same thing too).

This sections contains Sky Island, the three sisters, Mt FUJI, and some other nasty hills.  I couldn’t increase my pace too much but at least no IT Band problems this year – around this point the previous year is where they started to creep up.  I didn’t remember going up Sky Island, but it probably sucked, lol.  Going up Mt FUJI was OK, definitely a chore, but I got off trail and got lost.  The thing is, I was off trail, saw the markers on the real trail about 20 yards away to my left.  I looked ahead and saw a trail.  Unfortunately this was not the trail I was supposed to go on, but on it I went and after a few minutes, I realized I hadn’t seen any confirmation ribbons and was going down this damn hill in the wrong spot. So I had to go back up (I wasn’t THAT far off, but still…) and find my way back.  Of course, the wrong way sign and such was obstructed by all the cactus and brush that I maybe could have seen.  Oh well, it was only a 10 minute or so diversion but not one you want.  I started back running on some of the flat parts up here and still felt OK, just longing to finish this section, which marks the end of the hardest part of the course, the middle 20 miles.

About to descend Mt FUJI

Rolled back into Equestrian finally, thankful that dang section was done. The hard part was over, just one sucktastic hill left with Ice Cream Hill (my Garmin says it’s only 250 ft but for some reason it felt twice as long and twice as far…), and 15 relatively easy miles.  My energy level kind of crashed when I came in here, so I downed a generous amount of food and hiked a food 5-10 minutes out to let the food settle.  This was mile 36 so I was pretty happy I had managed my energy level this well all day.  I Never had any cramping all day either.  The food settled in and I recovered before tackling Ice Cream.  Was hiking along with a couple other women and a guy too going along that one – it seems much tougher going in the clockwise direction than the other. It never seemed to end either.  My treadmill hills were 2 miles long and those seemed shorter, lol.  Anyway, we got down it but the women blew past me on the downhills. The main issue that slowed me down this race was I couldn’t run the downhills very fast (more so the 2nd half).  My quads weren’t really holding me back per se, but I couldn’t attack the downhills to make up time.  Not confident in my footing due to all the loose rocks, which supposedly was more due to increased erosion in the park (which I could believe).  Hiking the uphills, I could still pass people going up, but then would get passed going down.  Just another lesson I suppose.  Eventually this section ended, which also marks the end of pretty much all the super nasty parts, and all the dang sotol bushes too.

I wanted to make it a quick stop at Nachos, so I grabbed what I needed and quickly got out of there.  It seemed at this point, my energy level totally crashed again, this time much bigger.  I had eaten some PB crackers and a coke at the A/S, but this apparently wasn’t enough – legs and body felt REAL tired. Hiking for a good while out of Nachos, my stomach felt full so I didn’t want to eat anything, but after enough time I convinced myself to do so, and ate again to slowly regain some energy via some GU Chomps.  Only after I ate another Honey Stinger Waffle did I rebound to my previous energy state and my legs felt strong again.  Amazing how much a couple hundred calories can cause you to feel that much better, like elixir of the gods or something.  This down point probably cost me a good 20 minutes or so on my time, as I postponed eating anything extra.  By this point, there was only 6-7 miles left in the race, and since by now all my time goals were out the window, I didn’t have much motivation to really push myself to finish 10-15 minutes faster than if I just coasted, so coasted I did.  Passed some folks out for a nice trail ride in the late afternoon.

You guys got room for one more?

Made the last stop at Equestrian, where again Olga told me I looked pale.  She told me this at the Nueces race too.  I’m not sure what it means !  I felt fine and just wanted a tiny amount of food, so I downed some M&Ms and cup of Gingerale and got out of there.  Hiked/jogged a decent amount of the last section, which only contains Lucky’s peak.  Didn’t seem too bad going up, just the footing going down seemed worse this year.  Chatted with some other folks as we were finishing up the last few miles.  One guy mentioned it was relentless.  I agree: this course requires relentless will, relentless attention to the rocks, relentless forward motion, relentless hills, relentless rocks….

No más

My legs still felt pretty good so I decided I wanted to break away and picked up my hiking pace up and over Lucky’s.  Going down was pretty slow, and seemed a lot more technical than before.  Once I made it down I hit the jeep road where some folks greet you cheering as you make the final turn up the last rock bed.  There is the “option” to keep going for the full 100 miles once you’ve done 50, and while the course didn’t knock me out and my legs actually felt OK (relatively speaking), 50 more miles would be foolish.  Finished around 1313.

Lessons learned:  My hill training worked.  Didn’t feel like having too weak of quads was an issue.  I think doing my weights once a week and the treadmill once a week helped my uphill hiking speed and prevented any inuries from going down (24 hours after, other than some moderate soreness, all systems seem to be OK).The only thing was my running on the flats seemed too slow, so maybe have to get in a few more mid-distance tempo runs (which I knew I was lacking).  Nutrition:  pretty good.  Didn’t bonk until a minor one at mile 36 and a major one around mile 40-43.  I probably just forgot/got behind eating one round or two but it’s hard to remember every dang thing.  Maybe need to set an alarm.  I had no problems with water intake (actually, maybe too much water) but never felt water-logged or cramped.  Mental: felt pretty good.  Despite not meeting my time goals I really enjoyed the race.  A little low around mile 20-30, but I managed to press through it.  Really felt like sitting down during my bonk at mile 40 but somehow managed to press through that one.  Other:  I took a lot of pictures.  I didn’t realize but I took almost 30 pictures during the race(!! ?).  I can’t quantify, but I’d have to think that while it did give me some rest time on the hills, it probably set me back a good 15-20 minutes between taking my phone out of my camelbak and putting it back in.  But now I have some nice ones and won’t have to do that again ;).  Overall slightly disappointed with my finishing time but enjoyed the race.  Had I not taken pictures, gotten lost, or been totally on top of nutrition, pretty sure I could have push between 12-12 and half hours.  Guess I will have to find out next year 😉

Huntsville Training Run, 9/23

Went out for a long training run with some other folks from HTREx.  Met around 7 at the Nature center with probably a dozen or so other runners.  The goal was to get in 30 miles.   The route was running the orange/chinquapin trail (~7 miles long).  We took off a bit after 7, when the temperature was nice, probably around 70 degrees — it would later warm up to probably about 93 (and this was NOT a “nice” 93).

 

First lap, was cruising pretty comfortably.  I started running at a good effort… but was unaware that everyone else that came up was treating it as a race?  I guess they *probably* did not intend to run 30 miles so I knew to keep my pace at a comfortable range.  Well the first lap clicked by, and I was feeling good.  Real quick stop, then turned around and ran the 2nd one in the opposite direction (make it a little less boring….).  The second lap also felt pretty good, but could tell it was starting to warm up just a tad.  Took a relatively short break at the cars (but longer than the 2 min break after lap 1) and headed back out for lap 3.

 

Now it was getting warm.  Not stupid warm (or hot), but just enough to slow you down.  The guy I was running with only wanted 16 miles, so I was pretty much solo at this point.  There were two other runners out there for a “long” run, but they were mostly just a few mintues ahead — we played leap frog pretty much the whole day (until the last lap…).  The third lap wasn’t too bad, but the temperature was rising — almost felt like exponentially.  I was doing pretty well with nutrition and such, but it was just dang hot and humid, and now I’ve covered 20 miles in about 4 hours total elapsed time.  I actually felt pretty happy with my time, all things considered.  But I walked alot of the last mile in, since I knew IF I wanted to continue, I would need to conserve a little energy.

 

I took a LONG (~18 min) break between laps 3/4, to make sure I was REALLY sure I wanted to continue.  I had, after all, gotten in a solid 21 miles, and everyone else, except for two, were dropping out, so it definitely makes it easier.  But I thought I could definitely tough out one last 7 mi loop — cactus rose is going to be hard in it’s own way, so I think I should just put my big boy pants on and at least hike 7 miles.  During this break, I also doused myself with some ice water, probably made some sounds the bikers next to me were a little offended/surprised by.

 

Anyway, the 4th loop started out OK at the beginning.  I ran a decent amount of the first mile or so, but my heart rate was just getting too high from the heat.  Not any major cramping or stomach issues, and my legs felt OK, but just the heat.  So I intermixed alot of walking/jogging from here on out.  After about mile 25, my legs started to fatigue.  Probably could have ran more, but I didn’t see much value, since it was so hot, to put myself in any danger out here by myself on the trail.

 

Anyway, I hiked alot of the last 5 miles to give me a 28 mile training run, finishing in 6:17.  Not a fantastic time, but I was pretty happy considering how much it heated up the last few hours.  My legs felt pretty strong, so I was satisfied, maybe my training has been paying off.  The past 6 weeks my training has been such:  Mondays, squats.  Tuesdays, hill training on treadmill.  Wednesdays, spin class.  Thursday, usually a tempo run.  Fri, usually rest.  Sat, usually a trail run.  Sun, when not resting, running repeats of kemah bridge.  Additionally I’ve been doing some core workouts several times a weeks.  I definitely think my legs were stronger running huntstville — not tremendous hills there obviously but I didn’t even really walk a huge amount the first3-4 hours, mostly wasn’t done out of necessity per se, rather just the fact I was going to be out there so long.  I know my legs will be pretty trashed at cactus rose but I think I’m happy with my training thus far — hopefully the weather finally cools off though.

 

Long digression, but I was very happy to be done, once it started to heat up and I felt cooked.  Downed an ice cold gatorade, protein shake, and nibbled on some other things before devouring half a bag of salt and vinegar potato chips on the way back home (made it back to watch the football game which fortuitously started at 3:30p).  Not a bad day….

Colorado Bend Race Report

I ran the Colorado Bend 30k on Saturday.  The course was nice and rugged.  Had some variety — some areas with no rocks, lots of areas with rocks, and a few challenging hills but overall not too bad.

We got to the park around 430, and met up with some friends where we chatted away and made the final preparations for starting the 30k at 715 pm.  It was somewhere around 102, 104 degrees — does it really matter when it’s that hot?  I positioned myself somewhere in the middle, and soon enough we took off.  The first half mile or so, I looked down and saw I was running like a 9 min / mile pace.  Probably a bit too quick… but eh.  Soon after a mile the course starts a nice climb, that ends up lasting for about a mile.  It wasn’t too steep, but not something that I’m going to run.  So I was pacing myself off a tall blondd girl in front of me, who I think I basically played leapfrog with most of the race.  Soon the hill was over, which brought in a nice relatively flat section.  Not too flat, but had some fun little ups and downs in some nice single track.  The only issue I had at the beginning was my stomach was slightly queasy, so I walked a little bit more than I would have liked, but the heat is just a force to be reckoned with.

I started chatting with another young woman for a while, and we also sort of played leapfrog and ran a decent amount together.  This race, I also was making a very conscious effort to each every 30 minutes, and take salt every 30 minutes as well.  During the race, I did so, and I suspect I ate a package of sports beans every 30 minutes, so maybe I ate 7 or 8 packages of them, along with a small amount of pretzels and fruit from the aid stations.

 

I don’t remember too much about miles 5-8, other than I was finally starting to warm up (figuratively speaking).  Miles 8-11 or so were pretty nice.  Some nice easy sections, and I felt like I was actually moving pretty well.  At some point, I got lost — when I went down a switchback and turned, two sets of headlights were approaching.  Huh?? I don’t remember getting lost, but there were two runners  that I had passed a few minutes earlier (maybe 5-10) so I must not have missed much.  It was a little disappointing since I thought I was moving pretty well, but I must not have run too far off course.  Around this time, is where I fell twice, probably in the span of about 15 minutes or so.  I will attribute it to me running “faster” on the flat terrain, that even though it was flat, had lots of rocks.  Many sections reminded me of the top of the hills at Bandera, Boyle’s and Cairns, where they have those rocks you can’t step on and have to try to step around/in between.  The other rocks I enjoyed running on (also reminiscent of Bandera) were the ones you *could* step on, and sort of dance from one to the next.  I’m not keen at dancing but that’s what it feels like, and I enjoy the footwork of bounding around on them, as taxing as it may get.

 

Soon we started climbing a hill, but I don’t honestly remember it being that bad.  Sure, I wasn’t moving too fast and it was warm, but the hill didn’t feel that steep.  From another runners report, I thought the hill was REAL steep and later in the course, so I guess mentally it didn’t really bug me.  When I rolled into the last aid station, the other runners said that was the last hill, to my surprise.  Joe later said I’m now a “veteran”…. but I sure don’t feel like one climbing his hills!

 

Well anyway at the last A/S I wasn’t feeling too hot — stomach wasn’t feeling too great and the miles were starting to catch up with me a bit.  My arbitrary goal was to finish under 4 hours, but the time was at 3:15 and I had 5 miles to go, so I knew that wasn’t going to happen.  I left the A/S, and for some reason, my stomach didn’t bother me at all after that.  Kind of a pleasant surprise at once.  Next up was a wonderful downhill.  I think I’ve discovered I really enjoy downhill running, and this one was great.  It was about 1 mile long, with some variety, some switchbacks, some straight jeep roads, and some in between, most with alot of rocks to dance on.   The pace from my garmin in this section didn’t seem very impressive, but I felt like I was hauling ass.  Either way, it was a nice downhill that dropped you next to the river (where you could hear frogs, cicadas, crickets, and who knows what other wildlife) on a flat stretch to the finish.  I was doing OK but I had a headache that was getting real bad, and my energy level was crashing hard.  I made the poor decision just to try to push it w/o taking any food, but after about 10 minutes I decided to eat a Honey Stinger Waffle, which gave me a great energy boost.  If only I had taken it a few minutes earlier, I could have saved a few minutes but it just goes to show you should stick with your nutrition plan now matter how close to the finish!
During this walking stretch, a few other runners passed me, but after I refueled, I had renewed energy.  And there comes a point late in a race where it doesn’t really matter how bad you feel, but you will run with great determination to cross that finish line.  I had passed this point, and I found an extra gear or two I didn’t know I had, and sprinted the last 0.75 miles in and passed a handful of runners who had just passed me.  I tried to get a few of them to follow, but no joy.   So I finished with a time of around 420, but I was pleased with my effort.   I thought I ran pretty strong, and I wasn’t even really sore.  Just need to work on some intervals and hill work to get a bit stronger.  At the finish I told Joe it was a course that had some easy parts, and some not to easy parts (my language was probably a bit more colorful).  Had a much needed burger and sat around for a few hours, and enjoyed looking at the stars and a few meteors as well.

 

After the race, I discovered a few things:

1.  The lower humidity in central Texas is wonderful, compared to Houston.  We could actually sit outside at night…. and it was you know, pleasant.

2.  Running 30k is much nicer than running 60k (like I have the past few summers) — you can actually walk around when you’re done!

3.  These races are pretty challenging.  Even if it’s “only 30k” the combination of the impressive Texas heat and the rocky terrain makes for a challenging combination.