Saturday, December 5, 2009

Chilling out at the Texas Trails 50k

Trips to Huntsville are always interesting. I guess it's primetime hunting season right now as it seemed like almost everyone we saw in town was decked out in camouflage. I had to constantly suppress the urge to say "I can still see you" every time I passed one of them.

But I didn't want to get shot (and I wasn't sure if it was British season as well as deer) so I contained myself :-)

Last night it got super cold, so after supper we were glad to retire to a nice toasty warm hotel room. We awoke to a cold frosty morning, and got to the park just as dawn was breaking to find the temperatures were down to 22F. As if to make up for it, the lake was simply beautiful - mist floating across the water. Here are some more of the obligatory "misty morning" photos.

Smoke on the water - beautiful Huntsville SP

The race got going right at 7:30am. I had decided to wear just shorts and t-shirt as I knew I would warm up once we started running (and I did), but I did make a concession to the cold by wearing gloves (especially as I was carrying handheld bottles). The weather eventually warmed up into the upper 40s, and it was perfect running weather.

I didn't think there was anyone I knew at this race, but it turns out that quite a few people knew me. At the start line I chatted to Alan from Dallas who I'd met at the end of the Timber Knoll 60k over the summer. I'm glad he remembered me and it was good to visit for a while. We waxed nostalgic about "the crazy guy" from that race and then we were off.

22F at the start line

I seem to be missing the competitive edge I had last season. Maybe it's because I don't have any goals currently, or maybe my goals have shifted, but I'd decided I was going to run this one for fun and ignore the clock. I can honestly say that I really enjoyed just pottering around the park, chatting away with anyone who would listen and enjoying the surroundings. It was a beautiful day, and I finished an easy-paced run in 5:32:02 (36th overall out of 170 finishers), so not a bad effort.

Here are my highlights of the race.

I spent a large portion of the first (10k) loop chatting with Allen Darilek who I'd recognized from Cactus Rose. Our kids are right around the same age and we had a great time swapping stories.

There's about a mile to-and-from the turnaround that you run both ways. That means that you get to see folks both in front and behind you. As I headed out for loop two (the first of two 20ks) I was surprised that several people called out "hey there Welshrunner". I guess there are a few folks in East Texas who've read the blog. Whoever you were, thanks so much for the encouragement and I hope I replied or at least smiled. I seemed to spend most of the day smiling and talking, so chances are good I did :-)

It was good to see and chat with Daryl Lazauskas, who I'd run with at the Seabrook marathon back in March. I hope to see him again at Rocky and that he gets his 500 mile jersey.

Somewhere on the second loop I found myself running behind a young lady with an outstanding rear. It really was hypnotic and I guess it put me into a trance because a good few miles had passed before I snapped out of it (sorry Nancy - it's a guy thing).

The park was simply beautiful, and there was an abundance of fall foliage. As I climbed up onto the levee I noticed the dam had water flowing, and it caught the sun and glistened like diamonds. I stopped every loop to admire it.

There was snow on the trees, and as the sun came out it started melting which resulted in an amazing "summer rain" effect.

I spotted my family right at the end and I got to run the last few hundred yards and crossed the finish line hand-in-hand with Gavin (yes, we got quite a few cheers for that).

Gavin and the "big leaf"
Heading to the finish line

Tomorrow's the Decker half marathon, so another early morning. In the meantime, here are a couple of finish line photos.

At the finish line with Gavin
Really nice finisher's sweatshirt


K said...

Great to see you out there! I didn't introduce myself to you as I thought it might creep you out a bit that I knew you without you knowing me. I guess that's part of the life of a blogger though. LOL

Great race and beautiful pictures!

And I did give you a shout out, "Hey Welshrunner!" and you were very kind to respond!

Allen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Allen said...

Hey Mark, great seeing you! What a fun race huh? really nice course!
And you ran a half the next day!? You crazy person! hahaha,
When's ur next one? I hope to see you out there again soon.


Jason Holmes said...

Hey Mark,

I didn't get a chance to meet ya but I am sure we saw each other somewhere along the frozen trail that day. Anyway, good to meet ya and if you get a chance check me out at

Keep on runnin