Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 in review

The last day of the year.  No more running until 2012.  It's been a good year for running.

  • 6 races of marathon distance or greater
  • 100 consecutive days of running
  • Marathon PR

According to my Garmin records, I ran 1109.81 miles, for 205 hours, 7 minutes, and burned 156,573 calories.

I don't have any particular goals for 2012, nor have I signed up for any races.  I would love to:
  • run 6 races of marathon distance or more
  • set another marathon PR
  • run a mountain ultra
  • finish another 50 miler (last 50 miler I finished was Feb. 2010)

Here's wishing you a happy, healthy, and active 2012!  Keep on running!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Nice Place to Run: Dana Peak Park

Last weekend, when the whole Mastin clan got together at Meme and Papaw's for a Christmas gathering, my brother and I got up early on Saturday to head over to Dana Peak Park for a couple of hours of trail running.  Only about a 30 minute drive from Salado, Dana Peak Park treated us to some rocky trail running with sunrise views over the lake and some nice climbs up Dana Peak and the hillsides around Stillhouse Hollow Lake.
Up and running before the sun on Christmas break. . . .
We came across these crosses carved out of a stump.
The lake is LOW, but we saw several people fishing in boats, so I guess the fishing is still OK.
We saw a bunch of deer, especially near the lake.  I thought about trying some persistence hunting.  It was a perfect opportunity.  The deer were on a point; we could have cornered one and . . . well, I didn't know what I would do with it once I caught it.  I didn't really feel like having to explain myself to a game warden.  I'm sure I could have caught one!  Haha.

I wouldn't say these are the greatest trails I've ever run on, but it's definitely a nice place to run.  There's not a lot of shade, so come summertime, you'll be wanting to jump in the lake.  If you're in the area and looking for a place to run, check it out.  I'm sure I'll be back sometime.  Here's a web site with pictures and descriptions of the trails.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Isle du Bois 50K race report

Pacing.  It's all about pacing.  After my highly successful run at White Rock on Sunday, where I ran a negative split, I thought maybe I would have learned my lesson about pacing.  For this 50K, I would hold back for the first couple laps and blaze to the finish on the last lap.  Instead, I ran my usual trail ultra, feeling good at first, gradually getting to the point of wanting to quit the stupid race, then feeling great for having finished.

This was the debut race for Endurance Buzz Adventures, put on by Dave Hanenburg of  I had never run at Isle du Bois and for some odd reason I was picturing a relatively easy course.  It turned out to be similar to the Cross Timbers course at Lake Texoma, although not quite as tough as that.  I would place it at tougher than Lake Grapevine's north shore, where I ran the Rockledge Rumble a few weeks ago.  Slightly more ups and downs, many more technical sections, and way more lose, pointy rocks.  Thankfully I never fell, but one runner I talked to had already fallen 6 times--on lap 1!  And check out this runner's busted lip! (Go to Julie's blog here and scroll to the bottom.)

I started out hanging around the back of the pack.  I thought I might replicate my White Rock strategy--start out in back, so I'm passing and not being passed.  That's probably a dumb strategy.  I passed a few people early, then fell in behind a small group of runners, including a lady named Chris and a guy with a mohawk.  I ran with them for a few miles, but at the aid station, halfway through the loop, I left before them and felt like I picked up the pace a little.  I finished the first loop in 2:00:46, feeling like I could keep that up and beat my Rockledge time (6:50).

Loop 2 started out well.  I was thinking negative splits, passing and not being passed.  I managed to keep a pretty good pace the first half of the loop, but after the aid station I slowed down, feeling like 2 loops would be plenty today.  After White Rock, my soreness and stiffness was gone by midweek, but the latent muscle fatigue began to rear its ugly head right about now.  Chris, who had been in sight most of the second lap, finally passed me shortly before we got back to the start/finish area.  I finished the second lap at 4:13:36.  Not a negative split, but still not so bad; loop 2 was .4 mile longer, after all.

I filled up my hydration pack--no cups at this eco-friendly race!--and got a snack to head out for the third loop.  I knew at this point that a negative split was out of the question, shortly gave up on beating my Rockledge time, and ended up just wishing to finish, to get off this trail and back home.  The field was so spread out by this time that I saw very few other runners.  One way-too-perky-after-having-run-23-miles lady passed me up, looking fresh like she was on her first lap.  A runner named Bill caught up to me with a few miles left and we crossed the line together at 7:17:31.

This is one race where I'm glad I didn't run in my VFFs.  Not knowing the trail at all, I chose to wear my NB MT101s.  There were some really nice sections of dirt, but with the sharp rocks, and with lots and lots of dead leaves masking the lurking obstacles, my feet would have been thoroughly bruised and bloodied by the end of the day if I had worn the Vibrams.

Dave deserves praise for putting on a first-class trail race.  Of course, the weather cooperated beautifully, which helps, but he busted his tail to make the rest of it fall into place.  Everything ran nicely, the support was perfect, and, as best I could tell, everyone had a good time.  I hope IDB becomes a staple of the North Texas race calendar.

Boring post, right?  No pictures.  Check out these other blogs for some great pics of the day.  You might even see a picture of me if you look hard enough!

Julie, who busted her lip.

The Trail Zombie.

And Dave, the RD, will surely post some good pics at

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

100 Days of Running

After a running lull this summer, I decided that in order to get myself back in the running habit I would try running every day.  Even though I have been, at times, very consistent with a running plan, I find it very easy to stray.  One rest day turns into several, recovery days after a race turn into weeks. . . .  So as I looked forward to some fall races, I started my daily running.

Today marked my 100th consecutive day of running.  Starting at the end of August, I ran every day, a total of 595.74 miles, including a trail 50K and a new road marathon PR.  I think that PR is, at least in part, due to my daily running.

I did learn one thing: it's kind of nice not to run sometimes.  There were plenty of days when I just didn't want to get up in the morning, or, if I hadn't run in the morning, just wanted to go to bed without running.  I have decided that it's OK to have those rest days, and to schedule non-running days.  I guess there's some message here about my personality, that I somehow feel like I can only do things in the extreme or not at all.  Hopefully, moving forward, I can find some balance, following a training schedule consistently without having to compulsively run every day.

In the meantime, I'm sleeping in tomorrow.

Monday, December 5, 2011

White Rock IV

Today I ran my fourth consecutive White Rock Marathon, and it was by far my best and most enjoyable.  All week I had been checking the weather forecast for the race: low- to mid-40s and wet.  The forecasts were spot-on.  The temps hovered around 42-44, I think, and the rain came down continuously.  Thankfully, the rain wasn't very heavy; it ranged from a misty drizzle to light showers.  The result was a wet course, lots of splashing through puddles (VFFs are perfect in these conditions), and thoroughly drenched runners.  (Oh, and by the way, the rain kept some of the bands, who usually play along the course, away.  I didn't miss them at all!)
Slick and splashy was the order of the day.
One of the things I hate about these big urban marathons are the crowds, so I decided to avoid the pre-start mess as much as possible.  I intentionally went late, so I had absolutely no traffic.  I parked right at 8, and heard the National Anthem and fireworks from afar.  I got to the first bank of port-a-potties, and to my surprise there was a bit of a line, but I only had to wait a couple of minutes.  (Note to other runners: when you're doing your business in there, lock the door!  When it's not locked, some oaf like me will open it, embarrassing both of us!)

I jogged over to the starting corrals, and fell in with the crowd, walking slowly with the herd a few hundred yards to the starting line.  I ended up crossing the starting line at 8:23.  Pleased with myself for a smooth arrival and start, I began running by all the slower runners.  Since I was late I started several corrals back from the one I was assigned based on my projected finish time.  So the first mile or two I spent a lot of time weaving in and out of the slower runners.  Eventually the crowd thinned out, especially after the half marathoners split off from the full marathon course.

This was a unique element of today's race for me.  Usually, especially late in a race, I'm the one getting passed.  But today, from the start, all the way to the last mile, I passed virtually everyone I encountered on the course.  Unless I'm mistaken, the only runners to pass me were relay racers on fresh legs.  I kept thinking that it couldn't last, that I wouldn't be able to keep up my anticipated pace, but as I passed each mile marker, and remembered those places where, in prior races, my pace slowed for good, I kept pushing, determined to keep a steady pace.  Somehow, I did.  In fact, I ran reverse splits.  My slowest mile was the first, crowded one.  My fastest mile was mile 24, near the end!

At the race expo Saturday morning, I picked up a pacing arm band, which tells you what your time should be at a particular mile marker in order to have a particular finish time.  I almost picked up a 3:45 band, not trusting my training, but decided that I would give 3:35 a shot and try to PR.  I'm sure glad I did!
The volunteers had a tough, cold day, but were cheerful and helpful without fail!
I was more inwardly-focused during this race than I usually am; I didn't really talk to anyone, except to say hello to NTTR member Eunsup Kim, who I see at every race I run in.  But, as usual, I saw a couple of other runners who nearly stopped me in my tracks and made me thankful for two good legs and the ability to run.  One was a double amputee.  He ran on some of those prosthetic running blades.  I didn't stop and chat but was inspired by what must have been a huge effort on a difficult day.  A few miles later, I passed a wheelchair racer.  Just up the street was his cheering section with signs reading, "My husband is the stud on wheels" and "My dad is my hero--first wheelchair marathon" and that sort of thing. 

Besides running my best marathon time to date, the fact that I ran consistent splits and felt great throughout made this the most satisfying race I've run.  I guess I could always train harder, but I really wouldn't change a thing about my training, race day preparation, and pacing plan.  The only thing I would change would have been to lose those 20 pounds I have been meaning to lose.  How much faster could I have run without the extra weight to carry around!  I still love the trails, but come December 2012, you just might find me pounding the pavement of Dallas once again.

Bottom line: 3:33:51
462 out of 4530 overall
401 out of 2810 all men
83 out of 537 men 40-44
and best of all: Over the final 6mi I passed 285 runners and 0 passed me!