Sunday, May 8, 2016

Running at Pace Bend Park.

I ran the Tejas trails Paleface 30K race for the first time last year and although it has some technical rocky sections I did not think much of the course in terms of it being pretty or very challenging. This year though the course was rerouted and changed to a Marathon and Half Marathon that included more views of the bend in the Colorado river that surrounds about two thirds of Pace Bend Park. Like Mikey, I like it!  There was a climb along some power lines, nice views of the river,  and an abundance of wildflowers on the flat dirt trails near the end. I ran the Half Marathon.
I was not expecting to run hard yesterday. My left hip has been hurting a bit and affecting my hamstring on that side. Foam rolling has helped. I have to stick with it though.
Arriving at the race site is always fun. Meeting folks in our group with big smiles, hugs, and laughs sets the tone for a fun day and motivates everyone to try to do well. There is truth to finding more in yourself than you think there is when you are exposed to "the Group effect" and we have a great group in the Rockhoppers.
At the start line I exchanged teasing and well wishes with my buds. As the race began I took off at a swift pace trying to get to the single track quickly. I hung on to Rick and John who run at about my pace. Soon I felt like I may not be able to keep up with their pace but then it seemed we all relaxed and toned it down. Exchanging greetings on the trails with my friends of the Austin groups is always fun too. As I pass them feels good also. Of course this racing is all in fun. Hah!
At about mile 6 our buddy Wade passes us looking great! I tried to hang on to Wade. Wade had a smooth strong pace going but at one point he did pause to take a glance at the water below as we ran along a ridge. "Pretty, huh?" I asked. Wade knodded.
The next aid station was at the bottom of a hill. After quick gulps of Mountain dew and Tailwind with a pretzel I was running up the hill to catch Wade who was gone!
Power hiking this short hill and sprinting to catch Wade the hip and hamstring issues were out of mind. I was very surprised at how well I was feeling hopping over roots, rocks and through trees. The group effect! I hung on until the last aid station with Wade. Here I commented on how he was maintaining a great pace. We leave together but I could not match his pace. Now I just wanted to keep him in sight.
Racing is fun. We were not racing for the win. We were racing for ourselves.
Wade started to pull further away. A runner I came up on asked if I wanted to pass. I really did not want to but I did. Sprinting to pull away from him because I would not want to pass someone only to slow down. By this time I knew I could not catch Wade so I settled into a comfortable pace without slowing to a shuffle.
My dream goal to finish under two hours faded but my realistic goal to finish under 2:15 would happen.
I finished in 2:09 and Change. A bit over a minute after Wade. Rick and John were only a few minutes back. At our group tent we exchanged high fives, smiles and congratulations.
Another fun, exciting, and great day at the races.
My Hip hurts today.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

A tale of two races

The first weekend of March I ran the Pandora's Box 'O Rox half marathon. Last year I ran the Marathon here and after that vowed never to run long again. For the umpteenth time. I have yet to learn how to run this course. Revielle Ranch, where the race is located is in the Central Texas Hill Country. The terrain is littered with granite rock and there are not too many even surfaces here. Those darn little hops over and around rocks and rock domes are killer. I admire those who run a 50 miler here. Of course running a half marathon makes one run a little harder. Only because in our mind it is a "short " race.  I started Ok but after 5 miles those little hops took their toll. Then at about mile 8 I twisted my ankle. It was painful to pivot or turn on my left foot. One good thing about this is I had my good friend Tom in my sight and soon caught up with him and was able to trot with him for about three miles. Tom's commitment to run by heart rate has paid great dividends. Tom completed the Texas 250 today at the Hells Hills race. The Texas 250 award is presented to anyone who completes 5 Fifty milers of Tejas Trail races in 5 months. Congratulations to Tom!
I finished the half marathon back in March but beaten once again By Pandora.

Yesterday at the Hells Hills race it was a different story. My training has not been what I would like but is it ever? It has to improve though. I have registered for The Never Summer 100K in Colorado on July 23rd. Does it ever end? I don't know. I have been wanting a new adventure and should go for it while I can. So  it will continue. For Now.

Back to Hells Hills;
Race morning was a chilly 43 degrees. What to wear was a worry as I hung around with fellow Rockhoppers huddled around a butane heater provided by Rich and Jeanie at our hangout near the start line.
I decided on a short sleeve cotton T over a sleeveless tech shirt and shorts of course. Shorts which kept slipping off.  My original plan was to take it easy and try to run by my max aerobic heart rate of 128 while listening to music. My earbuds kept slipping off too! Not my usual ones. I discarded the earbuds but kept my shorts on.
The HR running went out the window too when the race started. My buddy Rick, John MC.Allen and a host of others raced up the hill at the start and I tried to hang. Only for a little bit I thought. Then I'd back off and cruise. yeah right.
We drew a few others and soon had about 8 to 12 runners in a pace line. I don't know what the pace was as I have quit tracking mileage pace and all that other stuff that made it seem like work. I work 5 days a week in IT monitoring software, tracking and troubleshooting data! I don't want to do it while I'm trying to have FUN!
Anyway, a runner drops off unable to keep up the pace. A quick look at my new heart rate monitor (ok, I've started to look at that only because I see Tom's success) and I am at 156 bpm.
I try to relax without slowing too much but soon find myself dropping off the pace line with two others. Seeing the lead pack led by Rick pulling away I speed up and pass runners racing to catch Rick and John and three other runners. One of the guys then trips and falls. We stopped, made sure he was OK and continue as he gets up. This guy dropped off the back later.
No one stops at the first unmanned aid station. At the next aid station Chris Russell is walking up and with a grin says "Man you guys sure are moving slow."  He also says we shouldn't bromance it and walk across the finish line holding hands. Gotta love the big guy.
After leaving the aid station a tall guy in our pace line wearing a long sleeve red shirt decides to pull off the front and takes off. No one follows. Until a few minutes later when the youngster with spandex under his shorts takes off leaving John, Rick and I.
The pace remained even with John now leading, I was right behind and Rick not too far behind me. John keeps asking where Rick is. Not far behind me I say. Soon John starts to pick it up and I find myself  trying to hang and not willing to let up.
The Thrill of it all! Makes me feel like a kid again!
With about 3 miles to the finish we catch and pass Long sleeve and soon after overtake the spandex kid. John kicks it up and drops a guy who tried to cling on to his heels a bit earlier. Rick is right behind me. In an attempt to catch John I recall words from a book I am reading. Actually the Title of the book, "How bad do you want it?" A glance at my HR monitor and I'm still at 156 but it doesn't matter anymore. Rick is right behind me and the thought of waiting for him crosses my mind but the thrill of the chase keeps me going. I love Rick! He has helped me become a better runner. We've trained and  run races together.
I turn it on and pass a couple of runners heading for the finish but can't catch John.
Still good enough to take third place Masters, Thanks to John and Rick.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Just Like Ruben

Yesterday My truck would not veer towards the trail head. My tired legs kept my arms from turning the wheel.
That was not the case today and I am glad! I fumbled with my gear getting it ready for a trail run on my home turf, Leon Creek. As I stepped out of my truck and on to the Paved trail that leads to the woods, Ruben came riding by! My good old friend Ruben! I've written about Ruben before. My friend who Challenged me years ago to ride and go further and further. We rode our road and mountain bikes on  many Texas back roads and desert trails. He is still hitting the trails on his mountain bike. Mostly the paved ones but hits the nature trails every so often. Not many 75 year old guys are able to do that but Ruben is still at it. My old pal  and I caught up. We laughed, shared stories old and new. He asked about my brother Andy who joined us on some rides way back when.. We vowed to get together soon as we parted ways. I could not help to wonder about how active I will be at 75 years of age. Can I be just like Ruben?
Running on n the trail again after my last race felt labor-some at the start but soon I eased into a comfortable pace. It was nice being on familiar trails. I contemplated upcoming races. What next?
Towards the end of my run I came around a corner and to a slight incline as another runner was about to descend. He stopped and said "come on, I need a rest." Running up to him I asked how he was doing. "Good" he said smiling, as I passed he added, "Keep at it!"
Yes, I thought. I will. Just Like Ruben.
Leon Creek, My home turf

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Return to Huntsville State Park

Late last year I mentioned to Tom that I would like to run at Huntsville State Park again. My first Ultra was at Huntsville 10 years ago. A 50K which was then called The Sunmart trail race and where I set my 50k PR that still stands.
Since then I have been to the Rocky Raccoon trail race at Huntsville to pace a good friend on her first 100 miler and to volunteer at the Damnation aid station.
Early this year I registered for the February 13, 2016 Fifty mile run.
On one of my almost daily conversations with my brother Andy, I told him my plans to run at Huntsville. His response was, “hey, maybe I'll go and meet you there! I can support you.” Of course I thought that was a great idea..
Andy booked a room and counted down the days every time I spoke to him. Asking what I would need him to do and planning what we would do after I crossed the finish line.
Feeling I had not trained properly for a 50 miler and knowing I would not be up to doing anything with my brother after the race, I changed my registration to the 50K so that I may be more able to spend time with Andy. My big brother who I owe so much too. He doesn't see it that way but Andy has done so much for me all my life. When I introduced Andy to Jeanie at Rockhopper Central she asked me what kind of brother Andy was.
Andy scolded me and even may have punched me (tongue in cheek) if and when I strayed but did everything for me otherwise. I could not have asked for a more loving and supportive big brother.
Andy drove from his home north of Dallas, I from from San Antonio to The Woodlands, TX. We met at the Hotel Friday afternoon before the race and were soon joined by his son, my nephew Andrew who had recently relocated to Pearland, TX. After having dinner we settled in to our room and caught up and learned some history and interesting facts from Andrew. That guy has a wealth of knowledge. As a kid Andrew read The Guinness book of world records, issues of the Farmers Almanac, and Texas Almanac cover to cover and would keep up with new editions. When he learns something new he researches it even further (something we learned from Grandpa, my dad). It's fun having a conversation with Andrew.
Andy dropped me off at the race site in Huntsville state park at 5 AM the next morning. He would drive back to the Hotel 30 miles away to have breakfast with Andrew and the two would return two hours later and hang out with the Rockhoppers at the Damnation aid station.
Rockhopper Central was already buzzing with smiles, hugs and well wishes at 5 AM as everyone was getting ready for their race. My plan was to run relaxed and hope to have a good time emotionally and on the clock without bonking.
As the race started on time at 5:45 AM, I found myself trying to stay close to other runners so that I
 could take advantage of their headlamps. Mine was a bit dim. I should have replaced the batteries beforehand.
I completed the first loop feeling good about seeing so many Rockhoppers on the course and at all the aid stations. Damnation had the biggest group of Rockhoppers and that place was really hopping! I looked forward to running into Damnation because of the big ruckus there. Also it's where my big brother was. I had pushed my pace just a bit over my comfort zone on the first loop but held back many times trying to conserve some energy for the second loop.
I walked out to begin the second loop eating an oreo cookie pancake while thinking I had only seen a couple of old guys (like me) at the turn around before me. Hmm, masters awards go three deep. Ah, I'll run my best, I thought. Then, An old guy passed me. Now the competitive side of me thought, I need to stay close to this guy. I fed off his pace trying not to stay too close. I felt he knew I was close behind as he picked up the pace. I gave him more room. Approaching the nature center aid station I relaxed and fell! I got up and walked in to the aid station and lost sight of the guy in front of me. He was gone. A mile or so down the trail, there he was. I caught him and passed him. Soon he passed me. I stayed close. I passed him again. The race was on. On the downhills my pace was faster. Running uphill he was stronger. I let him go up the next hill as I power hiked. As I crested that hill he was halfway down the other side. With another hill up ahead I made the decision to try and kill his spirit. Hey, this is racing! I get that competitive fire in me. Maybe I learned this from my brother as a kid. Andy was a great competitor in Soccer, Tennis, and life.
I picked up my pace going downhill trying to get momentum to carry me up and over the next hill in hopes of dropping my competition and making him think I had a full tank of energy.
I crested the next hill and kept on pushing into Damnation. In and out after big smiles with my Rockhopper pals I kept pushing on the out and back that would bring me back to damnation again. A funny thing happened on this out and back. I acquired some pacers! Two dogs ran out of the woods towards me! One ran ahead of me and the other behind. I talked to the beautiful light brown brindle pit bull and the dark brown hound mix. On the way back on the out and back, there was the other old guy about a quarter mile back. I tried to stay strong without blowing it. The dogs ran back into the woods as I approached damnation. Jokingly I asked Chris Russell to help me out. Engage the old guy in conversation Chris! He's gaining on me! Stall him. We all know Chris can talk.
A quick laugh, a bottle refill, and a pancake with bacon, I was out of the damnation aid station.
My only thoughts now were can I keep up my pace and stay ahead of this guy. Now, I was not sure if I really had a chance for a masters award but in my mind it was now me and the guy behind me. If I am in the running this guy will not take it from me. Does it matter? In the big scheme of things, probably not. But this is my little game of competition, in a little race, in the woods.
I'll confess to using the same line at Park road aid station with Claudette. In this case I asked Claudette to use her charm on the guy behind me to stall him. Jason chased me out of Park road.
By this time my legs were tired and a bit achy. I ran into another guy who was fading. We talked and encouraged each other on (later he would come over to Rockhopper central and say thanks).
I ran trying my best not to look back and remembering a quote by the great Satchel Paige “Don't look back, something might be gaining on you.”
I crossed the finish line and was asked how old I was (guess I look like an old guy) and was awarded third place masters. A big metal red ant! Another yard ornament to remind me that I am very fortunate to be able to run.
And fortunate to have friends like the Rockhoppers and a big brother like Andy.

Friday, January 15, 2016

2015 year end recap

With 5 series races under my belt for the year 2015, I ran my last two sub-ultra races this past November and December, in a quest to end up in the top three for my age group in the Texas trail Championship series. Success!

After Cactus Rose 50 I slacked off in training. I was Relying mostly on 15 mile weekend runs but not enough mid-week training. Getting Lazy? Or getting old. I can’t do that much longer. I paid for it after running these last two races of 2015.

The Wild Hare in November was a race I had not ever run. The race is held on a mountain bike course in Warda, Tx. Pretty nice area in east Texas surrounded by rolling hills. I ran the 25 K event. The trails are not technical. They wind down, and around a stream with slick (if it’s wet) short descents and climbs. Some of the course was wet. All in all I had a great run and won a metal pig as third Masters coming in at 2:33:59.

My Last race for 2015 was in far North Texas along Ray Roberts Lake in Isle du Bois state park. I really enjoyed this park! The course on the 23 mile event was 99 percent single track under a canopy of trees. The area had been flooded recently and some picnic tables near the lake shore were under water. The course was dry for the most part. There were about three areas where we had to run through water but these were no longer than a couple of yards.

I was having a great race until about mile 15 when I began to feel just a little fatigued. I started out too fast I guess. Around this time I could see my buddy Thor up ahead. He seemed to be struggling. I caught him with about six miles to go. We pushed each other to the finish and crossed the finish line together at 4:04:30.

Got to ramp up my training and stay consistent. Rocky 50 on February 13 is fast approaching!

Friday, November 6, 2015

My Cactus Rose 50 Mile trail run 10/24/2015, with Orlando

Cactus Rose 50 mile trail run highlights
Race started before the rain came.
Seeing Rosie!
Running with Orlando.
The rain came, without Lightning.
Listening to the wind howl through the hills.
Climbing ice cream hill with Rick Smith and Chris Russell.
Helping a runner who thought she was lost.
Again helping her and seeing her smile.
Playing Rabbit to Orlando on his first 50 miler.
Orlando and I leap frogging with two other runners.
Rebecca recognizing me and reintroducing herself.
Seeing Edward running in the rain wearing sunglasses.
Crossing paths with Jazzy and Jean and getting two BIG HUGS!
Reaching the half way point and getting out of the rain.
Seeing familiar happy faces. Sheila surprised that I was smiling.
Joe P. pointing to me and smiling.
Getting into a dry shirt.
Rani feeding me.
Eating half of a turkey subway sandwich!
Heading back out with Orlando on the second 25 mile loop.
Sheila coming up behind me running the second loop of the relay and pausing to give me a motivational hug.
Seeing Rosie coming down Cairns!
Chatting with Bear on Boyles.
Running with Rebecca descending Boyles.
Two pretty girls crossing my path saying Hi and one of them asking, What's that on your leg? As I looked in shock, she laughed, smiled, and said, Just kidding!
HA! I love it, I said.
Climbing Mount FUJI saying to Orlando, This is the last Fuji Climb.
Rebecca (not far behind) saying, Thanks for rubbing it in. She was doing the hundred and would see Fuji again. Twice.
Arriving at Crossroads being greeted by Rani, Jeanie, and JOHN! The Rockhopper Grand Puba!
Listening to Jeanie tell about how John restored order to Rockhopper Central after Rain and wind had toppled a Canopy and runners gear was rain soaked.
Rani ensuring I ate!
Heading back out for the last 15 miles following Orlando.
More Rain and Orlando saying, This is like when we were Kids running through puddles in the rain.
Orlando and I pausing at a stream to wash off the mud caked on our legs.
Seeing Julie at Crossroads and sharing Hugs!
Orlando's wife Elda meeting us at crossroads. Mile 45. She had so much food I couldn't decide what to eat! So I ate a little of everything.
Seeing Edgar in the field just before nightfall.
Running into Jean as she descended Lucky, with Kelli Newlon pacing her! More Hugs! Hugs are good medicine!
Recognizing Eliot In the dark as he came up on us running the third leg for his relay team. We shared a manly hug!
Orlando saying we had 8 minutes to reach our goal of breaking 15 hours with less than a mile to go and as we hit the thick, sloppy, quagmire. The shoe sucking mud leading to the finish.
Laughing together as we made our way trying to run on the grassy edge.
Reaching the chute to the finish, Orlando said, We have  a little over 2 minutes.
Sprinting in together crossing the finish at 14:58 and change with Elda greeting us there.
Greeted by Ben, Chris, and Rachel at the tent.
My old friend Gabe Ayson, a friend from Austin who was a big influence on me with regards to Trail running so many years ago, and who I had been thinking about recently, coming up behind me to say Hello.
Enjoying post run food and beverages with Orlando, Elda, and Tom.

It was a good run.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Lighthouse 20 miler

Things went so well at my latest race. The lighthouse 20 miler is held on a ranch north of Blanco Texas. The course is fast with most of it on a totally exposed jeep/gravel road, I made a comment to rick that it wasn't very scenic and he pointed out that the vistas from a top the hills were nice. They were. I think Rick was trying to tell me to "Look and you will find beauty."
The race began with great conversation while running with Rick and Cara. I thought this would last a few miles then we would part ways as the run went into the late miles. We stuck together through the first loop of ten miles sharing interesting stories. On the second loop it was Rick and I. At one point I thought I would slow down but Rick encouraged me to keep up the approximately 10mm pace while walking every single incline no matter how short. This worked well and led to my first negative split ever in a trail race.
Rick and I came in together in 3:25:20. He did officially beat me by 20/100 of a second though.
It was fun!