[BEGIN BACKDATED RACE REPORT:
Ultramarathon #1 / Overall #4
Hell’s Hills 50k – Tejas Trails
Rocky Hills Ranch
What did I get myself into?? Well, I blame it on my ultra running friend Alex. Apparently he had been training with Kate (a running friend of his). He had mentioned training for a 50 miler, which I thought was absolutely INSANE… I’m thinking… why would I ever run 50 miles if a marathon is enough? But I figured since he’s gonna be doing it, I might as well join. But I’m “ONLY doing the 50k… The 50 miler? Hell no!!”
Alex and I drove up together from San Antonio on the Friday before for packet pickup.
The route consisted of 15.5 mile (25k) loops which the 50k people would have to do twice. The 50 milers, on the other hand, had an extra 1.2 mile extra loop between the first and second (actual) aid stations, making it a 16.7 or so per loop, and they had to do it three times.
The 50k started at 6am, but the 50 miler started at 5am. So of course Alex took off.. with his running SANDALS lol…
Even at 6am, the skies were still dark, requiring headlamps.
And at last…. daylight came about, and we wandered through the trails, which were mostly switchbacks and such…
In between the first (bottleinfrontofme) and the second aid stations (tunnel of pines) wasn’t too bad. There was a decent amount of ups and downs, and they were relatively short but steep. The terrain was otherwise manageable.
However, having been inexperienced… I wore road shoes instead of trail ones… And I noticed that everyone else was perhaps having a little “easier” time with it… Or is it just me?
Here’s the second aid station… “Tunnel of Pines”. Let the fun begin after this…
From the second aid station to the start/finish consists of around 5 miles and started out flat… but soon we would find ourselves through a section called “the Grind”.
Pictures don’t do any justice here in describing how steep and sharp these rolling hills were in the form of switchbacks. There were some parts where we literally had to get down on our knees and almost climb with our hands… Man that was challenging!!
After leaving the Grind, the start/finish is within our line of sight…
It took me a while (like nearly 5 hours) to finish the first loop, but onto the second loop I go.. I have all day to do this.
The skies were clearing up on my second loop, and I was better able to appreciate the beauty of the trails and piney forest of central Texas. These are taken from the start/finish leading up to the second aid station (tunnel of pines). The hills are still manageable, but there are definitely short and steep segments – nowhere near as bad as the Grind… however!
Back to the first aid station… “bottleinfrontofme” – yes one word!
Also, not to mention, leading up until the second aid station, there was this “grandma” that was going approximately the same speed as I was, and I had been playing a game of cat and mouse with her on the trail… -__- At some point I was like, that’s it, I’m running more. I CANNOT let grandma overtake me!! LOL
And the collection of food at the second aid station (tunnel of pines). The mileage at this point is 26.5, and I had now ventured into territories I have never gone before – going beyond a marathon!! I called one of my teammates in the valley on RuNsane Running Rolando to tell him that 1) I was still alive at mile 26.5, and 2) I was eating a burrito wrapped hot dog at the aid station 😀
“I was starting to hurt, but then I burped and took a crap and now am feeling much better”… LOL. Back to the Grind…
It was a slow finish, but yet I finished in over 8 hours close to 9…
When I was at the finish line, Alex was still there. But I noticed that he had put on my spare pair of shoes (which was also road… lol) that I brought..
At first, I was thinking, “what are you doing with my shoes man??!!”
Alex: “yeah… I’m done with these sandals! I saw your shoes in the drop bag when I came back from the first loop. I had felt great and was leading a pack of runners in the beginning but it was just starting to bother me just a LITTLE bit… And then when I left for the second loop I was really starting to regret it… Everything every little bump on the trail was like ow!! ow!! ow!!.. and had you not brought that extra pair of shoes I may have given up… But these feel like super cushiony to me now so I’m just gonna go out there and make the cutoff…”
And indeed he did. Alex’s first 50 miler and my first 50k (31 miles) at Hell’s Hills, Rocky Hills Ranch, Smithville, TX, on 4/6/13. As of today we can call ourselves ultramarathoners…
END OF BACKDATED RACE REPORT – 5/21/17]
Lesson learned in life: never, ever say “hell no!!” to any challenge in life. In exactly a year later (2014), Alex and I would return to Hell’s Hills and we would BOTH tackle the 50 miler. Since he did not train in 2014, it was more of a struggle for him lol. It was a struggle for me because everything hurted. But nonetheless, (besides being less than wholesome talk) never use the phrase “hell no”. LOL
The sky’s the limit, and God’s will shall lead the way…