Saturday, April 7, 2012

Hells Hills Race Report

Total mileage run this year through Friday: 93.05 miles
Longest run in 2012 through Friday: 10 miles
Not exactly a formula for success for a 50K.  I knew I would need to take it slow today, so I did.  Maybe a little slower than I thought I would, but I still felt good at the end.
Mark is the family 50K champion.  Perhaps my protruding gut and his fit physique have something to do with that. . . .
The day started with a 4:30 wake-up at the Skeeter's farm house (Thanks, Stuart, for the hospitality!).  We drove from Round Top to Rocky Hill Ranch in Smithville in plenty of time for a 6 a.m. start.  We got our race packets, greeted some familiar faces, and got ready to roll.  The moon was full, and lots of runners had headlamps, so Mark and I started out without lights.  Joe counted down and gave us the signal to head down the trail for a long day.

My plan was to stay with Mark as long as I could, hoping that would be the first loop of the two-loop 50K course.  After a couple of miles, it became clear that I wouldn't be able to, so I let him slip away into the distance.  Shortly after, I caught up with Fred.  He's 62, and we finished close to one another at Rockledge Rumble, so I thought I'd run with him.  He took off and I didn't see him again on the trail.  He's a strong runner!  So I plugged away on my own through the first loop.  I knew Mark was way ahead of me, and I knew Joe is very generous about letting 50K runners drop and claim a 25K finish.  But I decided I might as well head out for another loop.

As I pulled out of the start/finish area, I jokingly asked another runner if she was ready to pace me for the second loop.  She laughed, but little did she know I would tag along for half the loop.  Malea is from the Dallas area, and we know many of the same people in NTTR.  Once again, I had to give up trying to keep pace with my elders.  She's a good 10 years older than me, but clearly in great shape.  She hung back for a bit, I think, but I told her to feel free to go on without me, so she did after setting a great pace for 6-7 miles.
Malea heading into the distance. . . .
Shortly after she left, I fell in with Raul, a San Antonio police detective.  We took it easy together, and made each other feel better about walking much of the last 1/4 of the race.  Finally I cruised through the finish chute, where I saw Fred hanging out--he'd clearly been there a while!--and across the finish line where Mark met me, after waiting on me for an hour and seventeen minutes!  Poor guy.  I did warn him, though. . . .
Piney woods along the course.
This was my first time to run at Hells Hills.  It's a Tejas Trails race, so, no surprise, it was hosted flawlessly by Joe and his team of volunteers.  Trail runners in Texas are lucky to have him putting on great races.  The course was terrific, highly runnable, with some ups and downs but not a lot of climbing.  At times it reminded me of Lake Grapevine North Shore, with its short descents and climbs, and at times of Huntsville State Park, where Rocky Raccoon is held, with some long, straight portions and tall pines.  The day did get pretty warm; it was at least in the low 80s by the time I finished.  I was starting to feel overheated and underhydrated.  I considered going shirtless, but after being stuck by a shirtless, flabby runner for an unpleasant portion of a race a couple years ago, I decided that unless and until I was flabless, I would wear a shirt at all times when running.  All told, even though this was my slowest 50K to date, I still felt decent at  the end and had a good time on the course.  Maybe next time I'll actually try to train for it. . . .
The wildflowers were more beautiful than this picture can show.


  1. Paul! 10 miles was your longest run? Is this a race to train strategy?

  2. I know, I know, not too smart. I've just had a hard time getting into a training rhythm this year. Next race I'll be better prepared!