Trail Running in Texas & beyond

Paleface 30k, Cactus Rose Relay


I haven’t been doing a good job writing down my work-outs but overall the training for October has been ok. No pain or issues with the running other than a new job messing with the schedule and rhythm a bit. On the running side, I want to get the volume up from about 35-40 per week to 55-60 per week. That will require some focus but overall I am feeling the legs are coming around a bit of struggle in September with getting back to mileage. The weight training is going well and I feel the technique improving and the impact that has on the quality of the workouts.

Paleface 30k

Went into this race rested with to having to skip a few workouts at Travis County Strength and runs due to work. Had a terrible run on Wednesday and was really questioning my training but showed up to the race with loose and rested legs.

A cold front provided a light rain and low-60s starting temperatures as we headed out on the 15k loop in the dark. The trail heads up a jeep road before dropping us into a series of mountain bike switchbacks that work their way up the gradual climb to the high point on the course. A few roots, some rocks but very runnable overall.

First loop was done in 1:22 and, after a water refill, I headed out for another tour of the course. The rain had picked up and now there was quite a lot of water on the trails making it slippery in sections. I picked a target to get to the first aid station with the idea in mind that if I got there by a certain time, I could make back to the finish for a good time. I arrived pretty close to the target and headed back. I played it safe through a rocky mile or so before really pushing the last two finish with a time of 2:44:28 (1:22:17 first loop, 1:22:09 second loop). 8th overall and 15 minutes faster than previous year.

Felt good about this race as it was one of the first races I ran every step (except refilling bottles and 2 bathroom breaks). I am still learning what it means to “run” these distances and where the threshold line lies.

Cactus Rose 100 Mile Relay

Justin put together a nice team for Cactus Rose. I was concerned about being the slowest on the team and holding them back. There was another team that signed up that was quite strong and I didn’t want to be the weak link.

I had volunteered to be the first leg since I didn’t mind heading out the day before and getting up at 3:30am for a 5am start. I preferred the clock-wise direction and figured it was likely to be cooler in the morning which suits me well. When the forecast showed 90 degree temps, I was extra glad to have that early morning leg.

Start to Equestrian was uneventful though I arrived a few minutes slower than my rough plan. I didn’t feel that bad but didn’t settle into a groove until about 3 miles in. As we hit the field, things began to click better and the 8 & 7 trails sailed by until we arrived at Nachos aid station. I filled up my bottle and as I walked out felt a sharp tightness in my left knee. I haven’t had any issues there for almost 2 years so that was an unpleasant surprise. Got going again and didn’t pay much attention to it as we made our way up and over Ice Cream Hill and back to Equestrian and then got to the Sisters and Sky Island. All was ok until I started up Boyles and the pain increased and reduced me to a power hike. The real trouble was going downhill as it was flexing the knee wasn’t going well and the act of lowering down myself down the rocks and hills put a lot of pressure on that area of the knee. Up and over Cairns felt like it a crawl as time slipped away from what felt like a great run up to that point. In hindsight, I guess I was moving ok but I sure didn’t feel like it at the time.

As we hit the flats, I was able to jog again and then run for the final mile and came in for the loop at 4:09:03. On one hand, I felt a bit down since, without the knee trouble, I feel like I would have been a good bit faster. On the other hand, anything under 4:10 is a solid time and I knew my teammates would rock it.

Justin ran an outstanding loop in the heat and showed up almost exactly 4 hours later (3:59:21). Very much to our surprise, the second place team’s runner didn’t arrive for another 50 minutes. He is a strong runner but had some stomach and heat issues.

Paul headed out and was back in 3:49. Peak day temperatures, a blazing first 15 miles, and running out of water in the hills made him suffer more than I thought was possible. At that point we were well under course record pace and with a strong final runner felt good about our chances. The thing about Cactus Rose is that it takes a lot to go right to have a good run out there. It eats up a lot of runners and splits them out. Jason flew for 20 miles before GI problems arose reducing him to a walk and side trips. I’ve spent more than my fair share time in the bushes and it is no fun. He rallied to finish in 4:35 for the win and just off the course record.

The best part of Cactus is hanging out at the start finish. It was a glorious day (if you weren’t running) to be outside and I enjoyed great company while cheering on amazing runners. I was very happy to see Brian Hopton-Jones get the win (and his 500 mile jacket) and Lise Plantier get the women’s win in the 100 mile. Nicole Studer destroyed the 50 mile course record a week after a course record at Palo Duro 50.

As far as the knee goes, I think I over-extended it during a session during week and the quad was pulling on the connectivity tissue causing the pain below the knee cap and to the side of the knee. Icing and some mobility work has already improved the situation greatly.

Relay Trophy:


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