Friday, September 27, 2013

Lighthouse Hill Ranch 10/20 Mile/ 50K Trail Run Recap

Since I usually have a difficult time running any distance longer than 20 miles here locally, I was going to run the Lighthouse 50k as my weekly long run. Sometimes, it is an expensive thing to do my long run during a race. I know. I know. I can run it bandit, but I prefer not to.

My goal was to run it conservatively and just finish. Besides, it’d been raining all week, so I didn’t want to risk any sort of fall/injury. The fact that it rained the entire drive to Johnson City only reinforced my thinking. I actually thought “Do I wanna run in mud for 31 miles?”

The night before and the morning was actually really nice and cool. It was odd, because the day before, it’d been in the high 90s, and here I was less than 24 hours later wishing I’d pack a sweater.

I was pleasantly surprised that the morning of the race, the course was not very muddy. The temperature was cool, and no rain in sight.

Loop 1:

Lately, I’ve been very fatigued, so I was worried with the few “easy” climbs during the 1st couple of miles because I felt sluggish. I guess after I warmed up (and coincidentally the climbs were over with), I began feeling stronger.

The course was fairly flat. As I was running, I could see huge hills I was headed towards. The course ended up going around them instead of over them. I was glad, but a little disappointed. These races in the hill country are my only opportunities to get some hill work done.

The rest of the course was very runnable. It passed through several pastures/brush areas – typical hill country minus the rocks and hills. There were quite a bit of longhorns and cattle along the course. Several times, I had to give some of them the right of way – more like I had to stop dead in my tracks while they crossed or even skedaddled down the same trail I was running.

I managed to run the 1st loop in 1:36. I felt really strong and confident. I skipped each aid station since it was nice and cool, and I had my own handheld. I felt I was in pretty good shape downing a couple s caps and a couple stinger waffles. Besides, the aid stations were not manned yet, and truth be told, I sometimes prefer the volunteers to the goodies.

Loop 2:

Having restocked on haterade and finding out how many of my frunners were doing (some did the 10/20/50k), I began my 2nd loop. Again, I began feeling sluggish the 1st several inclines/miles. “How could this be?” I asked myself. “I felt great 5 minutes ago!” My only guess was that maybe I took too long at the start (10 minutes) that my body got out of it’s “zone.”

By mile 3, I felt much better and continued running well. I continued taking my s caps and nutrition at the top of the hour every hour.

The 2nd loop was completed in 1:45.

So far, I was pretty content with my splits. If only I could be consistent during the last loop, I told myself.

Loop 3:

By the start of loop 3, the sun had come out and it was beginning to get warm out there. Again, yes, again, I struggled the 1st 3 miles. The heat didn’t make it any easier on me. This time, it took me about 4 or 5 miles to regain my mojo.

At mile 5, when I was finally able to go fast (since it was a pretty steep downhill), a longhorn appeared out of nowhere and started taking its time on the trail. I came to an immediate halt. I started having an inner debate with myself:

What’s the proper thing to do when you’re running and a longhorn gets on the trail in front of you?

1.       Do you go around it? If so, will it chase me? (I decided not to chance it)

2.       Are longhorns like bulls? (Probably not, but not gonna chance it)

3.       Do they chase people? (I just don’t know)

4.       I’m tired. Can I outrun a longhorn? (Probably not)

5.       Should I “shoooo!” it? (I tried. It didn’t work)

6.       Should I throw a rock at it? (I just couldn’t do that. I threw the rock near it)

I ended up doing what any rational runner would do…I walked behind it for a couple of minutes until it went off trail. It served as a rest period, I convinced myself.

This time around, I was stopping at each aid station and pouring water over my head. The heat was becoming very uncomfortable. Nevertheless, I able to finish this loop in 2:04.

Overall, it was a nice race. Not too tough. Not too easy. I slowed the last loop but managed to place 1st in my age group AND set a 50k PR by 17 minutes (5:26).
Photo courtesy of Run In Texas


Friday, September 20, 2013

Is There Ever Enough Time In A Day???

One of the benefits of being a public school teacher is being off the entire summer. My plan was to run early in the mornings and then (possibly) in the evenings this summer. The beloved 2 a days. Now that the summer has ended, I can admit that I only ran once in the morning. My bed was just too comfortable. The rest of my runs were in the afternoon/evening.

School's begun, and I get home tired and sometimes with work to do. By the time I get my run in, it's late, and it feels like I just get home in time to run, eat and then go to sleep.

How best to juggle school and my (lack of a) personal life is a difficult question.

I've run early a couple times since school began, but that's torture. I had to get up at 4:30am to at least get in 10 miles and be at school kinda early.

But it looks like I'll have to do some early morning runs to be able to juggle all that I have to juggle.

I'm curious how y'all juggle running, life and everything else that comes your way.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Rough Creek Death March...

The race on Saturday would be 3 13ish mile loops. I’d read race reports that the course would be exposed with little shade and to expect some crazy climbs. After upping my training the last several weeks, I wasn't expecting much more than just a finish to a really long run.

After getting lost a bit, we finally found the race location with less than an hour before the start. We got our bibs and began to get ready.

Loop 1:

Immediately, at the start of the race, I realized my hydration vest bladder had a leak. It was a slow leak, and my back and butt was soaked with Gatorade. I hoped that it was a slow leak and would not affect me much. Besides, I had no back up.

I ran this loop alongside Ace Gallegos and finished the loop around 2:40ish. We were running at a pretty good clip and were so self sufficient that we didn’t stop at any aid station. I began and continued eating something and taking an s cap at the top of each hour. About 10 miles of the course were pretty runnable with the exception of about 3 miles which had some crazy climbs. Looking back, I’d call them obstacle course type climbs. There were runners climbing the steep hills on all fours. We took about 10 minutes at the start before beginning our 2nd loop.  

Loop 2:

The weather during the 1st loop was pretty reasonable, and I knew it’d be getting hot pretty quickly during the 2nd loop. My buddy, Ace, changed into a long sleeve shirt and cap with flaps that he had submerged in ice water before starting the 2nd loop. I’d soon come to realize I should’ve done the same. Ace had an extra hydration bladder that seemed to fit my salomon vest. I quickly realized that it was a 2 liter bladder that was filled to the rim. I noticed the weight difference immediately but thought little of it.

7 or so miles into the 2nd loop, the heat became unbearable. I felt exhausted, dizzy and just plain overheated. My calves and quads were screaming from the hill workout I’d just put them through. I found a tree that had some shade and sat my butt down. I rested for about 30 minutes before deciding I wasn’t going to chance it any further – I was gonna call it a day.

My plan all along was to treat this as a long run…a 40 mile long run. Truth be told, I’m more  likely to do a long run if it’s a race. I’ve never been able to complete a long run of over 20 miles otherwise.

I told myself to keep my eye on the prize, Cactus Rose 100, and not sweat this DNF. Nevertheless, I’ve already begun making a contingency plan for CR in case the heat becomes a factor.

A special shout out to my 1 & only, Sami, for completing her 1st marathon. That day, the heat and course was too much for me…not for her.