Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Prickly Pear 50k Race report

I was very excited to run this race, as I had wanted to run it for awhile. The trail conditions there were dry, as there had been no rain in the area in some time. In fact, the weather was approaching the mid-eighties as race day approached, so I knew my time was going to be a little slower.

I had met a friend of mine from Idaho, and my wife and I had dinner at Olive Garden the night before with Jenny and one of her friends. It was a great dinner, with good conversation and good pasta. I was so ready to excitement was building. I could barely sleep that night as I thought about the race.

The next morning, Jenny, her friend, and I, all loaded up and headed for McCallister Park. It is an interesting place, as you don't expect to see such a large acreage of trails, trees, cliffs, and wild country sitting in the middle of San Antonio, Texas. We received our race briefing, along with the discussion about leaving the Rattlesnakes alone if we saw any...which I had planned on anyway....common sense, right? As they said, "go," we all took off and entered the first part of the trail, which was a single track through low hanging tree branches and a dried, hard-packed ground. The 50k was held in conjunction with a 10 mile event, which they would run one time, but we would run 3 10.3 mile loops.

as we proceeded to the top of a dam, the wind hit me full in the was so strong, I thought it was going to blow my bib right off my shirt. We headed into this 40 mph wind for about a mile before the trail went downhill into a nice Live Oak forest, where the wind was negligible. Soon after that, we found the hardest part of the trail...a cliff you could barely walk was very steep and was better "climbed" than ran. The rest of the trail consisted of single track trails through Live Oaks, and then meandered behind some houses, out past some soccer fields, and then back into the woods for the final three or four miles. The hills were manageable, but I walked a few of them nonetheless.

I ran the first loop in a little over 2 hours, and was doing fine. I came around for the second loop a little slower, but at the 22 mile mark, I started getting cramps in my left hamstring. It tightened up on me, forcing me to slow down and walk more than I would have liked that last 10 mile loop. The heat was unbearable in some spots, but there was a nice cloud cover that kept it from getting out of hand.

I finished in 7 hours, and was a little disappointed in my time, as I wanted to break 6 hours, but the temperatures ensured a PR was not going to happen. All in all, it was a great trail run. I struggled the last 8 miles, but it made the run all the more memorable. Great race, good friends, and I celebrated with a Sam Adams beer and a nice t-bone steak!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

El Scorcho Tres 50k

My next race is the El Scorcho 50k race at Trinity Park in Fort Worth. I have wanted to run this race for the past two years, but was in Africa during the last one, and in Peru the year before. This summer I am running it for the first time. It is truly a unique race.

Description of the Race: it is held at midnight during the hottest time of the year, July 20th. The temperatures will be high, and the race will consist of 10 3.1 mile loops around Trinity Park, which includes a mix of crushed limestone, asphalt, the occasional concrete sidewalk, a couple of foot-bridges, and a basketball court. About half the course is lit at night by streetlamps, but according to the race directors, they never seem to work, so it will be dark, and the entire race will require a flashlight or headlamp to find your way.

Training: I have been training hard for this race, including running in the heat of the day as much as possible to acclimate to running in a high temperature environment. I have also been running on a loop course to get used to the repetitiveness of the course. I have been running hill repeats once a week, and including some long runs on saturdays, as well. As the race gets closer, I will run back-to-back long runs to prepare for the distance involved. I will bump my long run up to about 26 miles, with a 13 mile run the day before so I can get used to running on tired legs. We will also be running a practice run in the Running club to simulate night running conditions.

I love races that are unique, and El Scorcho seems to offer that, and I can't wait for it to get here.

Monday, April 27, 2009

updated racing schedule

Well, the McNaughton 100 trail was was canceled and moved to Vermont, and I was going to move up my 100 mile race to February, but I think that is a bad move. I am going to stay with my plans to run the 50 mile race in February at Rocky Raccoon. I wanted to run all 50k's this year, and I think that is still a good plan. I want to improve my speed, my strength, and my endurance, as well as my hill running capabilities before taking on the 100 mile race.

So, in light of this fact, here is what I think will be the final schedule for me this year, finishing up with two races in 2010, the 60k as a warmup and training run at Bandera in January to get me ready for the Rocky Raccoon 50 miler in February.

March: Prickly Pear 50k (completed)
July: El Scorcho 50k
August: Dark Side Series, 60k
November: Louisiana Trails 50k
January, 2010: Bandera 50k
February, 2010: Rocky Raccoon 50 mile race.

While the 100 mile race is a goal, I will try and run a couple of 50 milers first. So, 2010 will be a year to run nothing but 50 milers.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Going for it!

Ok, this blog is about to change in scope and intensity. I have finally decided to attempt the 100 mile trail race. That is not the most unusual scenario for me, as I have had that as a goal since I started running ultras. But after my first failed attempt at 50 miles (missed cutoff time at 37.5 miles), I was worried that I might not be capable of completing a 50 mile race, nevertheless, a distance twice that far.

However, I have set up a series of races that I will be running to help train myself for the 100 miler. I am running a series of 50k races, and another 50 mile race with no cutoff times, and will be using those races as confidence builders to train for the 100. Here is the racing schedule I have chosen to set myself up for the 100 mile race:

Prickly Pear 50k (March 6, 2009): completed @7 hours in the heat.
El Scorcho 50k (July 20th): Midnight run in the heat
Traverse Trails; Capt. Karl's Dark Side Series 60k (all run in the dark)
Louisiana Trails 50k (Shreveport, Louisiana) November 14th
Bandera 50k race, January 9th
Rocky Raccoon 50 mile race, Hunstville, Texas, February 6, 2010.
McNaughton 100 mile race; Pekin, Illinois, April 9, 2010

McNaughton Park 150/100 mile race

The McNaughton Park Trail Runs are firmly established as a premier ultra event ... the 2008 run had in excess of 200 entries from all over the United States and Europe.

"Easier than Barkley.Cooler than Badwater.Lower altitude than Leadville.Warmer than Yukon Artic Ultras."

Here is the description of the course from the website: "How about the view? One of our 2005 participants described it this way: “It’s one of the most scenic courses I know: Mostly singletrack, forest with some meadows, hills with beautiful valleys in between. Lots of flowers and wildlife. At dawn, when I came to the 3rd creek crossing, thousands of birds were singing, frogs were ‘talking’ everywhere, wild geese above me were chatting, and several Whitetail Deer crossing the trail.”

However, here is another quote from the website: "Do you think Illinois is all flat cornfields? Wise ultra-runners will get some serious hill training in before coming to McNaughton Park! We don’t have mountains in Illinois ... just a few rolling hills with elevator shaft downhills guaranteed to warm your quads on a chilly April evening. Here’s how one satisfied customer described the terrain: ‘I now know why Illinois is so flat. They took all the hills that are supposed to be there and put them ALL into one spot in Pekin, IL ... and called it ‘McNaughton Park’.”

I am not fooling myself into thinking that this course will be an easy one, but it will be scenic and challenging. However, from what I can tell, it shouldn't be any more difficult than Bandera out in the Texas Hill Country, so I am training for that environment...the hills and the rocks of Bandera should be good training for McNaughton.

On this blog, I will be continuously updating my training on a week by week basis on the way toward the McNaughton 100. I will report on the races I have scheduled, and my crazy emotional feelings as I go through this endeavor. Incidentally, my wife has given me the green light and has decided to even accompany me on this trip. Pretty cool.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

All Ultras all the time...

This year, I am concentrating on running all ultras. I'm stepping up the intensity level of my running in general, with the idea of running a 100 mile race sometime early next year. I am gearing up to run a 100 mile race. I have already run the Prickly Pear 50k in March, but here's a list of the rest of the races I am going to complete this year:


El Scorcho 50k--Fort Worth, Texas (July 20th)
Capt. Karl's Dark side Series 60k--Inks Lake State Park, Texas (August 29th)
Louisiana Trails 50k--Shreveport, Louisiana (November 14th)
Bandera 50k--Bandera, Texas (January 9th)


Rocky Raccoon 50 mile race, Huntsville, Texas (Feb. 6th)
Grasslands 50 mile race, Decatur, Texas (March)
100 mile race (?)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Back to Blogging

Well, it's been a while since I last wrote anything, and things have been going pretty well. My running is definitely such a big part of my life, now, with Ultra marathons becoming central to it all. Since my last blog, I attempted a 50 mile race, but missed the cutoff at 8:40 of running. I missed the cutoff by 10 lousy minutes. My feet were like hamburger, though, and since then, I have made some drastic improvements that I feel will help my long distance running. First, I finally got some trail shoes, along with some gaiters. At Sunmart, my feet were like hamburger, because of the dirt and the rocks that ended up in my shoes and even in my socks. I think that will help a great deal. I know the trail shoes have helped with my propensity to fall, as well, and that is a big deal.

Since my last posting, I have run several races for fun, like the San Angelo series trail run. But my favorite trail race has been the Prickly Pear 50k, which I ran in March. That was a blast, despite the heat and the humidity, and the dry conditions of the course, itself. I ran it in 7 hours, which is not that fast, but it was a great run and I enjoyed the company of others, the trails, and the weekend.

I am preparing now for El Scorcho 50k, which will be held in July 17th, at midnight. I am putting in some good hill training, tempo runs, and longer runs, which I am hoping will keep me at least competitive. Looking forward to that race, as well as others I have scheduled. So far, my schedule is as follows:

El Scorcho 50k in July
Louisiana Trails 50k in September
Rocky Racoon 50 mile race in February.

Looking foward to the training and the races!