Tag Archives: Texas

If we, I mean, We will make it through December! Race week !

I started this post on Wednesday night. It was going to be about how crazy the past two weeks have been. Then I woke up Thursday morning feeling renewed. Hmm, I thought. Looked at the calendar, yep, it’s a New Moon! Still a crazy couple of days, but I feel a new sense of hope that it will get better. I don’t think everyone is as aware of moon cycles and spiritual things as some of us, so they just think it’s all random or caused by this or that and they try to fix those things and when they feel better they think they fixed it , not realizing the changing moon cycles were at least partly responsible.

Wait!, you say. I thought this was a Christian blog! It is ! But God made the moon and the moon has strong effects on the earth, so why would it not affect the people God also made? Do I worship the moon or think that I should be very concerned about it, no. I trust that God is more powerful than anything He created. I pray constantly for His help and I feel his presence in my life , especially during crises. God is in charge!  He can even blacken the sun when he wants to make a big point.

The road has been rocky for the past two weeks. Everyone has been passing around a virus which meant that eventually my daughter would catch it and she did. I had to put her on oxygen to help her breathe on Wednesday, but Thursday she was looking much better! All this sickness meant we got very little school work accomplished, but we did work on math and reading. Today my husband feels terrible so I will be taking care of him as well as her.

The other things that have happened have been mentioned I think, unexpected plumbing expenses, car troubles and expenses, no money for Christmas, stress and worry over a depressed husband and son, my own sickness, not being able to get out and run this week, and trying to be ready for a race this weekend with all this on my mind. We also missed Bible Study class yesterday due to the virus. But God is good and I just keep praying and asking my friends to pray. Oh, yeah, after a few nice sunny days, it’s now raining and will be raining during the race unless God answers my prayers to change the weather. I have a pretty good record with God giving me good weather for races, so I try not to complain. My best friend lives in upstate New York and it seems to rain every time she races! I don’t want to live there.

The race will be exciting! Rain or not. There will be some famous elite runners there as well as many sub-elites. Ian Sharman, who until recently held the 100 mile Trail record, Gordon Ainsleigh, the father of the famous Western States 100, some of the Tarahumara runners from Mexico might be there , and many other fast runners  are coming in from around the country to this lil’ ol’ state park in Texas that is mostly known for its’ large alligator population, many small lakes and bird-watching. Many of my friends will be there, some attempting their first 100 mile distance, others running other distances or volunteering or pacing.  This event was recently chosen for the 100 mile Trail Championship race for 2019 which is a big deal for the race director, who is a friend of mine, so congratulations to Robert Goyen of Trail Racing Over Texas (TROT)! https://trailrunner.com/trail-news/usatf-mountain-ultra-trail-council-announces-2019-national-championship-races/ 

 

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Brazos Bend State Park 

I did my packet pickup, errands and weekly grocery shopping yesterday, so today I will be trying to ‘rest’ for my race while I take care of everyone and do my usual cooking and chores. I know most runners do not get to rest much before a marathon and I usually don’t,  so this is not a big deal. But I’m glad I don’t have to go into Houston like I did yesterday! The traffic!  I am just not fond of the city anymore after 15 years of country living. But I have to be thankful that  I did get in and out fairly quickly and with no trouble, not counting the time I had to circle around  for awhile to get in the lane I needed to get on the freeway. I felt a slight urge to hit some of the millions of stores in Houston, but instead, I headed west on I-10, away, away! I stopped at Buc-ees for a soda and ended up doing some Christmas shopping there.

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Every good road trip includes a stop at Buc-ees 

 

What is Buc-ees? It’s a gigantic gas station with over 60 gas pumps at this location and a huge carwash, a restaurant (BBQ and sandwiches) and bakery, clean restrooms, a huge convenience store with every imaginable snack and drink item and coffee, AND a huge gift shop! In other words, a Texas-sized gas station. Take a look here . It’s quite impressive! However when I got home I looked at my receipt and found that I had been charged for a sandwich I didn’t buy, which made me a bit upset since that store is not known for it’s bargain prices. I sent them an email which is the only way to contact them. I’ll update if I get a refund.

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Mmm, Beaver Nuggets! (Sugar coated corn snacks)

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Some fun gifts I bought for my sister in Utah who is always positive 🙂 

Well, my time is up. Sick husband is trying to cook himself food and it’s not going well. Have a good day my friends!

Deuteronomy 4:15 “Therefore watch yourselves very carefully. Since you saw no form on the day that the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, 16 beware lest you act corruptly by making a carved image for yourselves, in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female, 17 the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the air, 18 the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water under the earth. 19 And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them, things that the Lord your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.20 But the Lord has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be a people of his own inheritance, as you are this day. 

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Don’t underestimate Children

I went for a run today at the state park closest to me. I kinda wanted to go to a different one but I got a late start and I didn’t really feel like using that much gas, so I settled for one near me that is not my favorite because 1)the trails are flat, 2) the trails are short, and 3) this park  is not usually much of an adventure. But I ended up being blessed! Below are some photos I’ve taken on past visits.

It was cold and raining when I woke up but as I drove to the park, the outside temperature was literally rising before my eyes on the car thermometer. It was 50 degrees when I got to the park and I was very surprised to see a bunch of cars in the parking lot at the park entrance. I have a park pass which means I get in free, but I had to wait in line with the campers paying their fees. This park doesn’t have a lot to offer , in my opinion, as far as state parks go, other than nature walks in the forest, deer and other wildlife and pure camping experiences, no lake, no fishing, no climbing, no mountain views, no boating or swimming. What it does have is trails that tend to be flooded by the adjacent Brazos River or extremely humid conditions and mosquitoes. The whole park was under water twice in the past three years and I really thought they might just give up and close it but they didn’t. But city folks and RVers like it.

So anyway, I don’t come here that often but today I just wanted to get out of the house, and not into the gym, and go for a run in the forest. I had no real plan but as I was driving I remembered that I told myself that I wanted to run for two hours on one of my weekend days, so that became my vague plan. I wasn’t sure what to wear, remember it was 85 degrees here this week, so I was wearing a short sleeve tech shirt under a long sleeve tech shirt , Nike running tights, and gloves and a hat. I decided to shed the hat before I even started and the gloves went into my vest pocket after a few miles.

The first few minutes felt stiff and awkward, but I know the first mile is a liar so I tried not to let it freak me out. I forgot to mention that my back has been hurting this week and the last time I ran was Tuesday which means that I missed three days! By a half mile in I was feeling warmed up and then I started to see PEOPLE on my trail. A lot them. I say ‘my trail’ because I live so close ( around 20 miles away) and have run here many times, usually weekday mornings . There is hardly ever anyone here,  but since I got started so late, around 11:00 AM, and it’s Saturday,  the campers and hikers were stirring like ants. These people were walking on my trail, in fact they were standing on my trail talking, a group of hikers with a guide. The guide is a friend of mine and he told them to “Say Hi to Paula”,  which I found very amusing! I politely said a few words to them and kept going knowing that I would see them again very soon because this trail was a dead end at the river overlook.

My run started feeling pretty good. I don’t usually listen to music on the trail and today was no different. I do a lot of thinking and praying and trying to stay focused on not tripping. I kept going, said hi to the hiking group again, and also passed a group of what looked like people from another country,  maybe Chile or Brazil, some South American country , Spanish speakers,  and they all had nice puffy jackets and their kids were walking pretty dogs on leashes. It was a big group and I had to get past them several times on my run. They were friendly and I tried to get past without bothering them. I heard one say something about ‘cansado’ which means tired. Not sure if they meant me or them.

The trail is a loop around the park and there are also some other trails called the lower trails that are currently closed due to flooded areas.  It has been raining and raining and raining here in Texas. I went down a  trail that leads to one of the closed trails and I just had to go past that little “Trail Closed” chain to see how the trail looked on the other side. Sorry, don’t yell at me, I know this park well. Happily, the trail was in really good shape except for that one little problem of the creek being over the trail in one spot. Running along through the tall trees on the quiet, leaf covered trail, I came upon some nice trail work that had been done on that section, two new boardwalks. I haven’t been in this part of the park in a few years due to the aforementioned flooding and it made me really happy to see some of my favorite giant trees.  This park and I have a lot of history and it means a lot to me to see that the state has not given up on it. That history includes many runs with friends that I no longer run with, my first night run, volunteering for races, and watching people literally wade through waist and neck deep water in one famous race . I’ve learned to love and support all Texas State Parks because of this one.

So back to the run, I decided to keep run the loop and that out and back section, racking up as many miles as possible and then turn around and retrace my path back to my vehicle and then repeat, doing the math all along and figuring out how to get 10 miles in this tiny park. As I was running back I met up with two little boys, maybe 8-9 years old, walking on the trail alone. There were quite a few groups with kids out there that day, but these two were alone. Both of them looked right at me and started to talk so I stopped running and listened. They had seen me go by earlier and were interested in the fact that I was still running. I told them I was coming back around. Then they proceeded to give me instructions on where to go on the trail so I could be sure not to miss seeing the river. Thanking them with a smile I kept going, with new joy in my heart. What an uplifting moment! These two little boys gave me a real gift. It made me so happy that they were enjoying their hike so much and wanted to share it with a random stranger! This is what life is all about . God bless those boys and their parents! I got my 10 miles in, but these kids were the high point. Happy Running!

Why are you doing this ? Crewing Capital to Coast Relay Solo 2018

I’m sitting on a country road in my friend’s Toyota Tundra which currently , and often , smells like stinky running shoes and sweaty clothes. We are around 60 miles into a 223 mile run from Austin to Corpus Christi. No, we aren’t a relay team. My friend is running all of it , just like he ran the entire 203 miles of the Texas Independence Relay.

The first time we did this everything seemed easier . This course is pretty hilly , we started at night in the rain, and there is way more traffic than I expected. We also have no other crew members to help us,  unlike last time when we had quite a nice group of pacers and supporters. But also I’m just really struggling with not wanting to be here. I’ve been in a menopausal funk lately that has zapped me of all motivation. I’m still fulfilling my responsibilities at home . I just am content to do little else. This is not me ! I’m usually always on the go or cooking up plans. But I would never let my friend down and he doesn’t know I’d rather be at home doing nothing .

But this is dragging on so slowly! Thankfully the sun came out and it’s not so gloomy , but I hope it doesn’t warm up too much . We started the race at 10:30 last night . You can see the video on Facebook. I did enjoy the first hour or two of running through my old college town. It’s not the same, of course. Austin is one of the fastest growing cities in the country. New skyscrapers are going up everywhere, along with sky high rents. New toll roads and highways are full of cars. But the downtown night life brought back memories of my freshman year. We used to party on the famous 6th street after walking there from campus, then walk back to our dorm.

Part Two

Okay those first two paragraphs were written yesterday afternoon. Now it’s the next night and I’m at home and the race/run is over. My friend did not finish this time. Things were just not going well and he decided that he didn’t want to run/walk for another 40 hours. The total was going to end up being more like 80 hours instead of the 68 he had planned. The  finish line would have been taken down, no hoopla, and possibly no official recognition of his efforts, but we weren’t sure about that. But we did know we’d be finishing sometime after midnight Saturday night. It was just not his day.

I’m happy to report that I did start having more fun with my fellow crew member after I wrote the first paragraphs. But, boy oh boy, I am so glad to be out of the truck! I am so glad to be at home! I am so glad to be here with my husband, kids and dogs. I am so glad to be able to cook dinner and hang out. Last time we did this I was totally into the race, enjoying the journey through country roads and then all the way from one side of Houston to the other, a long way.  We were having a good time even though it was difficult at times to keep my friend going and the run lasted about 62 hours.  This time we were very  much alone, not much to look at along the way, the road was not very good, and I just felt like we weren’t prepared for it all. But every run/race is a learning experience if you pay attention. This time I learned that it is very important to train for the specific conditions you will be running, that one’s diet matters very much, as in, don’t under eat before and during a race, and that you must have very good reasons to run long distances or it will suck. You can’t run to prove your worth to others or to beat others or to win approval. You must prove it to yourself, beat yourself, gain your own approval. And you must be able to dig deep from your own well of motivation, strength and peace because running for hours and hours alone is not for the weak. My friend is definitely not weak. He ran a 100 miler two weeks ago and got a personal best and won the race! But he was physically tired and not sure of his own reasons for doing this race. In the end, it just wasn’t worth it to him to continue to suffer. His knee, feet and back were hurting the whole time. He pulled the plug at 94 miles, got in the truck and went to sleep. When he woke up I asked him if he wanted to continue and finish at least 100 miles but his heart wasn’t in it. It’s okay. A DNF ( did not finish) is not the end of the world! It doesn’t define your value or status as a runner. I really hope my friend will not beat himself up over this. Running is supposed to be a positive force, not a negative one.

So I’m home. I ran 27 total miles with him and my legs are feeling it, but I am thankful for the experience. We had a good time running until it was no longer fun. I took a break while he kept going into the night. He got discouraged by the hills and got in  the truck to sleep a bit. When he woke up, the sun was up and  we ran some more . We talked and laughed and braved the dogs and traffic . Then he ran alone all through the night down gravel roads  with fences on both sides under the full moon until it just got too hard, something like 32 hours. My brain is too tired to do math. We had adventures! I peed behind two campaign signs next to a school along a road with no trees after holding it for an hour waiting to find a hidden spot. We missed our turn once and had to backtrack half a mile. We saw deer, raccoons, cattle, horses and more dogs. Coyotes howled at the moon that was so bright you could see the road without any lights. We may not have finished the course, but we gave it our all, especially him. It was worth it.

A Beautiful, Rugged Hike at Lost Maples State Park

I had trouble choosing a title. I wanted to say that God answered my prayers again, gave me the desires of my heart, showed up in a big way as always, because He did! But I’ve become more hesitant about saying that only because I know many people are praying for important , urgent, and much desired interventions and sometimes God waits a long time to answer, but always in His perfect timing. I don’t want to make anyone feel bad that God answers my prayers so often. Believe me, I am still praying, waiting and trusting for many things. Keep trusting and praying! But, it’s true, this time I was praying for the rain that was falling Saturday morning to stop , not flood the roads, not close the trails and for us to have a great day hiking, which was my chosen birthday activity. It all worked out! Here are the photos. Thanks be to God who blessed me once again!

This video is what got me so fired up to go here. Lost Maples SNA Part 1 of 2

 

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We drove through heavy rain to the park.

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Finally we came into view of the mountains!

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Ready or not! Let’s go!

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The trail was wet and rocky all the way.

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And easy section that was NOT in the creek bed.

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Taking a break from climbing up.

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A little more to go to the top.

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This is the trail.

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Octopus tree?!

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We were mostly alone but there was a young couple with two kids following us.

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Clear, clean water!

 

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A lovely pond  in which my husband took a quick dip .

How the day went: Left the house at 7:00. Hit rain about 9:00. Called the park and they said they were still open. Kept driving. Got to park at 11:00. About 80 degrees, breezy and not raining! Drove through some water on the road to get to the park. I started feeling emotional and excited when I spotted the mountains rising up ahead of us. The route is a very scenic road along a river through hunting leases, farms and ranches.  The area is a favorite place for motorcycle riders. We stopped for a quick photo in the town of Utopia. Who could resist?
Parked, got our gear, headed to trail head . We immediately had to cross over water on some large rocks. Looking across to the other side we saw a group of middle aged women ( like myself) laughing and talking and looking our way. We got to them and discovered that one of them had lost her balance crossing the rocks and fallen into the water. She had taken off her wet pants and was just wearing a rain poncho. They thought it was hilarious. We laughed with them,  wished them well and kept going. A little later we came to another crossing of the same creek but no dry way across , so that was the first of many times we got our feet wet.

Another group was heading out in the opposite direction at this point in the loop. I had heard that the clockwise direction was the more difficult way and I picked that . I thought it might be easier to go up the “hard side” and  down the other side. But in reality, I think it may have been just as hard either direction. But going clockwise you do get the hardest parts over with first and then finish on the easy trail, which I liked. There is one relatively big climb  and then you come to a flat spot on the top where we took a lunch break. There’s a chemical bathroom up there as well and primitive camping. Then you go back down which was very technical, but doable, and we were glad we had hiking poles. Then once again you are in the canyon, mostly hiking through or next to the creek bed with canyon walls on both sides. The trail was hard to follow due to a recent flood and leftover debris which made it hard to see a way through in many places. So that added a level of adventure which made it more interesting than your typical groomed trails. You can’t really get lost unless you scramble up the side of the canyon , which would not be easy or wise! We enjoyed the sounds of the bubbling, gurgling creek, the occasional breezes, and lovely variety of trees and rocks.

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I had hoped to hike a little further but we were taking our time and not covering distance very quickly, so we decided at one point in an out and back section to turn around and finish the main loop, knowing we still had a two hour drive back to our hotel. Happily for our tired, sore feet, we found some less rocky trails ahead. My husband took a dip in a lovely pond while I had a snack of Skittles and took in the natural beauty of the canyon. We passed more hikers in this easier section of trail. Finally we made it back to the car ,covering just under 6 miles.  We took the time to visit a small motorcycle museum, where we met a very friendly lady and saw about 50 very cool bikes from all over the world,  before driving back to San Antonio. All told, a wonderful day!

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By the clear pond. Those are green rocks in the water.

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The rocks that the lady fell on. I would have hurt myself if I’d fallen! Glad she didn’t.

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Utopia, Texas, where everything is perfect!

Well, Now What?

My happy and excited mood was instantly replaced with disappointment and questions when I checked the weather this morning. All week I’ve been patiently waiting and anticipating what was supposed to be great weather and a hiking trip for my birthday (which is actually Monday). Evidently the jet stream or whatever has shifted , as often happens for good or for bad, and now we are looking at a 60% chance of thunderstorms and a high of 80 degrees. I can handle the heat but this park closes the trails when it rains . So, now what?

The park is over 3.5 hours drive from here. Do we risk it? We have a hotel reservation , as well. Do I cancel or change it to somewhere else? Do we just pray and hope for the rain to hold off or be lighter than expected? If you’re from Texas you know most of the time rain here equals storms , not pleasant showers, but we get those occasionally and that might feel nice when hiking as long as the trails don’t get too slippery. They are steep and rocky , like I like them, but I don’t want one of us getting hurt.

The current weather is gorgeous! I’ll try to enjoy it while it lasts . I’m going to pray and see where God takes us. Maybe we need to stay home for some reason. I will choose to trust Him.

True Grit: Sky Island 25k 2018 Race Report

Me: “Hey ,honey ?! Want to run Sky Island 25k? My husband: “What? Oh, sure, why not? Sign me up! ”

Way back in March of this year,  I got the email for priority registration for previous runners of the Spectrum Trail Racing Sky Island trail race which took place September 22nd.  Even though this race is one of the hardest race I’ve ever run,and last year didn’t go very well, I still keep going back for more. I like a challenge! I was on my computer signing up and I yelled into the other room to ask my husband if he wanted me to sign him up, too. He had a goal of running a half marathon this year and this race offers a 25k distance as well as a 50k, so I thought it might work. Sure, why not, he said, and I signed him up. Plenty of time to train!

A little background info

What makes this running story extra special is that my husband has a surgically rebuilt leg. Not a prosthetic, his leg was saved from amputation and reconstructed from his own bones and muscle tissue. He has some pretty impressive scars all over his body.  Riding his motorcycle home from work one day in 1989, through no fault of his own, he was run over and nearly died. Along with being unconscious for a couple of weeks, suffering severe pain, and having multiple surgeries,  he spent a year lying in bed, then gradually using a wheelchair and  then another four months learning  to walk again . Surgeons did a good job of making his leg functional, but his hips are not level so it’s like having one leg longer than the other, which contributes to significant knee and hip pain when he runs. But my husband is a a determined man. I met him at a Halloween party when he was just getting back to being able to ride motorcycles and work again. We hit it off right away and were married in May.

Fast forward to when I first discovered the joy of running and racing back in 2011. Soon after, my husband decided he wanted to try it , too. Doctors had told him he would have limited mobility and would probably need a knee replacement someday after they rebuilt his leg, but he had already spent over 20 years walking, standing and working on his feet in a shop all day on that leg. Why not try running with it? We signed up for the same local 5k race that had been my first race, one year later. He pushed my daughter in her special needs jogging stroller and had my two youngest sons dragging along with him, so it wasn’t fast, but he had fun and it sparked his competitive spirit to try to do a faster race. After about two years of running 5k road races , he switched to trail races with me in 2015. Because of the way his leg looks, he gets some stares and curious looks which makes him feel a bit uncomfortable, but he doesn’t mind answering the question, What happened to your leg?!

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His first 10k trail run at Brazos Bend

A temporary setback

Evidently I inspire him, because when I decided to start a run streak , he decided to try that as well. Even with his bad leg he was running at least one mile every single day for 115 days!  He was doing well, feeling great about his accomplishment, and then one day a dog startled him in the dark and he made a sudden movement which caused a painful and lasting knee injury in the rebuilt leg. This was really unfortunate because running had greatly improved the depression that has plagued my husband off and on for the past 10 years.  He had to end his streak and stop running for many months. Even walking was very painful and he went back to using a cane.

But eventually he noticed his leg was feeling almost normal and decided to try running again. His pace is slower now and he’s lost a lot of fitness and gained some weight back that he’d lost from his earlier running but he is very happy to have the ability to run again. . He is only running once a week now, sometimes twice, and that seems to be the magic key to preventing too much leg pain, which leads us back to the current race on the schedule.

Coach/Wife

I really didn’t know if my husband could run this particular race. The course is rocky, technical, has big climbs and no shade. I can barely handle it with two good legs and pretty good fitness! He’s had some blood pressure issues and even heart concerns in the past , but was in generally good health. But I didn’t want to push him too hard. I knew he’d have to train very specifically and consistently.  Once we got started , he showed me that he was serious and put in the miles even when he didn’t feel like it or it hurt.  He told me that he mentally turned it over to me as far as how he stayed motivated.  He listened to my advice and heeded my warnings that this race was not going to be easy. We gradually increased his run distance until he ran his first ever unofficial half marathon, or 13.1 miles, on the road. This was a very special milestone!  After doing that he felt sure that he could make it 15 miles. To prepare for the race, we ran a few times on some trails that had some good steep and rocky climbs and descents to get ready for the race. There were a couple moments where we both thought he might pass out on those climbs. We also ran some flat, easy dirt trail miles.  Most of our training was in the usual, awful Texas summer high temperatures with high humidity, so we were looking forward to heading to the cooler temps of the high desert the first weekend of Fall.

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After a fairly busy summer of running, training, and traveling, September finally rolled around which means I was back to work homeschooling my kids, plus my son had a birthday, so the first few weeks passed quickly.  We didn’t run very much in those weeks which always makes a runner nervous. Finally race week arrived! The days flew by with me trying to get packed while still teaching school and making sure we had everything we needed for the trip. He was getting pretty nervous and told me he wasn’t sure he could do it. Maybe he would just be happy with 13.1 . Just taper madness, I reassured him. Oddly I was not nervous at all about the running even though I knew how tough the course is. I was more concerned about getting him to the finish line happy and uninjured. I knew this was going to be a big challenge for both of us, but that a successful race would be so rewarding.

Heading West!

The race location, Davis Mountains State park,  is 550 miles from home, in far West Texas, near the famous town of Marfa.  Leaving behind our dogs, cats, older sons and my daughter who was being cared for by my sister, we hit the road Friday morning  with the youngest kids, a cooler full of drinks, bags of snacks, and plenty of nervous excitement. Even with an 80 mph speed limit for much of the route, it still takes a long time to get there. There was rain in the forecast and sure enough, it started pouring down so hard that my husband could barely see the road and then something crazy happened. The rain was so heavy it was beginning to flood the highway and water started coming into the van under the door! That has never happened before. It kinda freaked us out and it got some of our stuff wet , but not too bad. We made it through the storm okay,  but some of our friends who were a little behind us were not so lucky. There was a flash flood that covered the highway and traffic was blocked for a few hours.

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After escaping the flash flood, we drove into better, COOL weather, and finally arrived at our destination right on time and got our room keys. We were among the lucky ones to get a room in the lodge which was the headquarters and start/finish line of the race. The historic Indian lodge was very nice and my kids and husband took a moment to relax in our comfy room and check out the cable TV, which we don’t have at home,  while I went to explore. I found the starting area being set up and then just took a moment to look at the beautiful location. This is one of my favorite places in Texas. Later we went into the nearby town of Fort Davis for dinner at a favorite tourist spot, The Drug Store. Not my best pre-race meal ever, a small, lukewarm baked potato, but the service was very friendly. My husband and kids enjoyed their burgers and fries. We thought it was super funny that multiple employees kept coming by offering them soda refills. Seriously,  you can only drink so much!

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Race day!

We didn’t sleep much the night before the race, but that’s not unusual. The bed was okay and it was nice and cold in the room, it was just race anxiety. Our phone alarms went off at 5:00 even though we only had a one minute walk to the start and our race started at 7:15. Gotta have plenty of time to eat a snack, drink coffee, get dressed, and poop! I almost forgot that we still needed to pick up our timing chips. It was chilly (for us) , mid 50s,  and misting rain, but we figured it would warm up a bit,  so we weren’t quite sure what clothes to wear. First I put on capris, but then I decided I might get hot, so I changed into shorts at the last minute. My husband wore shorts and we both grabbed our lightweight wind breakers which we ended up shedding and stuffing into our packs about two miles into the race, but they were nice while we needed them. We both wore hats, plus our  hydration packs which I filled with GU Roctane hydration drink. I also packed a few gels and a couple of snacks. He chose to run in his Brooks Ghost 10 which aren’t trail shoes, and I wore New Balance MT910 trail shoes.

Ready, set , go!

We found the crowd of nervous and excited runners staying warm and waiting for the pre-race briefing in the lodge living room , which they call the lobby. Then it was time to line up in the sprinkling rain outside! The sun was not quite up so we used our headlamps for the first mile, then we stashed them. The race started off with a run down the asphalt park road to the park entrance, then down the side of the highway in the grass, under a bridge and then back up the road to the trail head on the other side of the highway. This was a nice warm up. The first part of this trail was pretty flat, including two crossings of a dry, but rocky, creek bed which had had about 8 inches of water in it the previous two years, so we had a pretty decent pace for the first 3 miles. After that we slowed down a lot as we climbed the first mountain on a long and winding trail. We were both encouraged by how good we felt and by the wonderful cool,cloudy weather.

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Staying warm before the start

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The desert terrain is tough but beautiful!

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Across the dry creek bed.

Primitive Loop

After we made it to the top of the approximately 550 foot gradual climb, reaching around 5400 feet elevation, where the aid station was located,  we began a 6 mile loop around the top that included some small inclines, and tons of rocks and awesome views. We were feeling good and enjoying the awesome views from the mountain, talking and keeping a fast walk/jog pace.  Sadly we did not have any wildlife sightings up there. Last year I saw a tarantula, frogs, and a Javelina . We started getting tired towards the end of the loop and slowing down. We got passed by one of the few people that were behind us when we had to stop to pee a few times and then to re-tie a shoe. The course was so rocky on that section near the end of the loop that we were mostly walking because both of us were starting to stumble. Our trekking poles had already saved us from falling several times.  We were both feeling  ready for that loop to end.  Finally we heard the sound of cheering and  a drum being played at the aid station by one of the volunteers and knew we were close. We stopped there and refilled my husband’s pack with water and he ate some peanut butter tortilla wraps that he said were delicious. Funny how good food can taste when you’re  trailrunning!

We were excited to go back down the trail we had came up on,  but it was not easy going. The fast runners from the 50k race began to pass us going down and the slower 50k runners were coming up the narrow trail which meant that we stopped frequently and stepped to the side. I was having trouble with my left foot, stumbling a lot, which was making me anxious, and my husband had a painful blister on his toe, so we were both not in the best mood at that time.  Then we passed an injured woman who was waiting for the medics to come carry her off the mountain and we realized that things could be worse! A few minutes later, the medic team went by.  We were both relieved to reach the bottom of the trail. My husband stopped to check his blister and discovered he had more than one and the one on his toe had already popped. There was nothing to do but keep going.  Meanwhile I went to pee in some bushes. During that short break another back of the pack guy almost passed us. We hurried up and got moving again,  went  under the bridge and back up the road into the park and then onto the next trail.

Indian Lodge trail

My husband’s only real goal for the race was to finish, but he also said that he’d be very happy if he could finish in under 5 hours. Both of us have a competitive streak and neither wanted to come in last! He has a history of go-kart racing, drag racing, and motorcycle racing and enjoys giving a race a good effort.  Since the 50k had taken me over 9 hours both times I’d run it, I knew this 25k would take us a long time, but I was trying to get him there in under 5. We still had about 2.5 miles to go and  that included a very steep climb and rocky descent. I had been nervous about this trail ever since we signed up and waiting for it all day! It was on this trail that my husband reached his longest distance ever run, when he passed the 13.1 mark. After that point the thought crossed his mind that maybe he would just stop there because he was having a low point and had blisters! But thankfully, he kept trudging along. I gave him a pure Maple syrup packet and that really perked him up once it got into his blood. But the climb was very steep and his heart was racing and he was even feeling dizzy, so we took it slow until we made it to the top. I was praying hard the whole time. Faster runners were passing us but even those speedsters were slowed a little by the technical trail. This trail that had terrified me the first year was not even hard for me this time, I was so focused on my husband. I would move forward a little, then stop and give him time to get almost to me, then move again. There was not much talking going on other than me telling him to take his time and catch his breath and watch his step.

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Starting the climb, stepping up and over a rock on the trail.

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Near the top. You can see another runner to the right coming up the steep climb.

The end is near

With great relief , I watched him make it up and over the top edge of the mountain. We knew after that we only had about a mile or so to go! No turning back now. The trail along the top of this small mountain was still fairly technical and we were not going fast. I wanted to push him a little because I knew we had a chance to make sub 5 hours, but I didn’t want to cause him to fall, so I just kept moving and pulling him along.  You could see and hear the finish line way before you could get to it, and that motivated us to move as fast as we safely could, while allowing the faster runners to pass. As we got closer to the bottom, we met a woman who was going even slower than us on the steep, rocky, uneven trail. She was afraid of falling, so we gave her encouragement, then passed her and kept going down. By this point we were both excited and eager to be done.  The trail ended and we ran a short way across a parking lot then down a small hill to a drive way and through the finish line holding hands ! Official time 5:01. We had done it!

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Our finisher awards were Sky Island logo trucker hats that were handed to us as soon as we crossed the line. We were both a bit overwhelmed at the cheering crowd and feeling like, now what do we do? The race had been a very intense experience emotionally and physically.  After speaking to a few people who were very happy for us, we decided to head over to our lodge room, which was so convenient, take a few moments to process what just happened,  take a shower and rest a bit. First I took a quick photo of my husband.

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Wearing the hat that only finishers get!

Later we had a delicious lunch at the lodge restaurant of Angus beef patties with grilled onions, bacon , and fried eggs on top. Plus french fries. Then my husband rested in the room with the kids, who had been watching TV the whole time we were running,  and I went and hung out with some friends by the pool and had a celebratory beer. It was a great day all around! The following day I was able to take my sons on a hike on the Indian Lodge trail, which made me very happy.  They aren’t really into hiking,  but I just had to show it to them! Then we went for a lovely scenic drive through the mountains and to visit the unique town of Marfa. We also had plenty of time to talk about and relive the highs and lows of the race.

 

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Resting

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Almost there

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We made it!

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Happy mom! Indian Lodge in the background

I want to give God all the glory for bringing us across the finish line happily and  successfully, as well as getting us safely to the race and having a wonderful 4 day vacation in the Davis Mountains. I believe that He answered prayer after prayer during the months of training and the race itself. Everything could not have gone better, except for the blisters. 🙂 We have talked about different races we might want to run in the future,  but for now we are just enjoying the good memories.

 

 

 

 

Take a walk with me and my Doggies

Every morning my dogs are eagerly waiting for me to finally get out of bed and immediately take them outside. The slightest delay while I make coffee or turn on my laptop will start the whining from the dachshund. If possible the Shepherd will put her nose under my bedroom door or at least lay against it loudly to remind me that she’s waiting for me, lazy bones, and I should hurry up ! When I emerge from the room she will run to whatever bedroom the Dachshund is sleeping in and stare at the door until I open it to free her buddy so she can accost him by putting his head in her mouth. They both will stare at me intently and watch my every move and try to telepathically force me to do their will. Usually I can’t stand the ultra high pitched whining for long so off we go. Here are some photos of what we see along the walk, with captions.

Today I almost beat the sunrise over the trees. It’s only low 70s right now but will hit mid-90s by noon.

On your left is the red dirt “pond” that only holds water as long as it keeps raining.

The Sky is really pretty today.

Looking north back towards the “hill” where dewberries grow in May and where we run and ride dirt bikes up and over and down.

Along the road we get wildflowers in the spring . I run on this road.

This part of the trail is very sandy and slightly uphill. It’s more fun running down .

Trying to get the mole they can hear but we can’t .

this is the much hated Yaupon bush that grows and takes over property all over Texas and is very difficult to remove .

The back of the hill. You can see the dead berry brambles.

The steepest path down the hill , also gravelly . No trouble for Ellie.

and back to the house. My husband made the fish . There’s a huge hornet nest by the door. Lots of them this summer. Hard to kill .

I hope you enjoyed our walk! Now it’s time to drink coffee and then start another busy day! Maybe tomorrow I’ll share some of the hundred different hummingbird photos I’ve taken lately . God bless you and keep you.