Ultra #16 / Overall #48
Capt’n Karl’s Reveille Peak 60k (last of the nighttime 60k series)
August 26-27, 2017
Reveille Peak is the last of the Capt’n Karls summer night time trail series. Last year I had done all 4 60k’s and got the belt buckle for completing the challenge. Two weeks after Reveille Peak last year, I came by El Paso on my way to Phoenix, AZ and did the Franklin Mountains 50k. The Capt’n Karls prepared me fairly well for the Franklin Mountains 50k.
And this year, it’s gonna be the other way around. Living in El Paso, it’s like a freebie to quality trail training living next to the Franklin Mountains. These trails are a lot more technical (loose rocks), have significantly more elevation (4,500 to 7,000 feet range, compared to most of the Capt’n Karls races are held at an elevation of 1,200 to 1,400 feet).
Here are some footages during my 5-6 weeks of training with Team RWB in El Paso, including how I almost ran over a snake on day 1… and afterwards Kenny won’t stop giving me a hard time about it LOL
Change of plans the week before the race…
And then on the forecast and all over the news was the coming of Hurricane Harvey, previously a tropical depression then a tropical storm, predicted to hit the Texas Gulf Coast as a category 3 hurricane at landfall, making its way onto land by late into Friday.
My original plan was to fly into San Antonio, hang out with a few disciples, then drive to Dallas on Friday to see my parents and friends, drive down to Burnet for the 60k on Saturday, and return to San Antonio on Sunday, flying out Monday. Then Southwest Airlines issued a warning regarding flights out of San Antonio and Houston might be impacted on my travel dates… ugh…
I had also FB messaged Brad Quinn the race director and asking if the race is still gonna go on despite hurricane conditions… He reassured me with a yes. Tejas Trails historically has been excellent in dealing with weather and runner safety, and had only one cancellation in its history. So… I decided to divert plans and drive straight to Dallas, and going down for the 60k, if weather permits.
So I left for Dallas on that Thursday afternoon from El Paso… had to stop in Midland and get a quick 1 mile run in lol…
Sometimes you just never know who you’re gonna meet and when you’re gonna have a spontaneous road trip with them… lol. It’s funny how the Marathon Maniacs community functions in many similar ways as disciples from different churches. It’s like, once we see someone who’s wearing that yellow, pink, black, or green Maniac shirt, we’d be like, “hey Maniac!” and start a conversation… Anyways, the couple that I met from the BMW Dallas Marathon was Bobby and Laura, and both of them were doing the 30k this weekend in Reveille Peak. When I had told them about my change of plans I had asked if I could ride with them. They graciously offered me to come down with them on Saturday.
On Friday, Hurricane Harvey made landfall in the Texas Gulf Coast just north of Corpus Christi. The surrounding initial impacts were predicted to be devastating, but the worst is yet to come. There was still uncertainty in where the hurricane was going to track. Just a little west, and San Antonio/Austin would’ve been affected greatly. Just a little east, there would be nothing.
I was messaging one of my trail running buddies Bill (who encouraged me to complete the Capt’n Karls series last year – see my previous posts on Muleshoe Bend thru Reveille Peak from 2016). And this is what he wrote back when I asked him “is the race going to be cancelled or moved?” :
Geez… Bill, you really used those words of encouragement on fleek!! :O
So on Saturday morning I left my parents’ house in Allen and headed to Plano where Laura and Bobby were. Because I-35 was potentially affected by Tropical Storm Harvey, I advised them to take US 67/TX-220 to Hico and take US 281 down to Burnet. We ended up stopping at this BBQ place in Hico, when it was raining the whole time! At this point, Burnet was experiencing some light rain and mild to moderate wind.
We got to Reveille Peak Ranch around 2:30 pm… that was about the earliest possible time haha… So much for taking a nap… Luckily the pavilion was covered, and there was a steady rain that was falling down on us.
To be honest, I felt a little uneasy. In the past few days, I had thoughts of doubt. What if it rains really hard up there on the dome? What if the winds blow excessively up on the dome? What if there’s lightning on the dome just like Bill said? What if I slip on the granite rocks? What if I ended up breaking a bone because I fell because I was too tired? What if my headlamp dies out? What if there is torrential flash flooding? Etc…
But, I feel like God had been using the people around me to provide reassurance and confidence and fear not. In reference to Matthew 8 when Jesus calms the storm, his disciples at the time were so afraid, and he asked them where is your faith at.
It was so good to catch up with people that I haven’t seen in almost a year since I live on this side of the state now… I also learned that Bill (the guy on the top left) grew up in Richardson and was part of the first inaugural class at MY high school (J. J. Pearce)!!! What a small world haha…
And we are about to enter straight into the storm. Brad did a pre-race briefing at 6pm. By that time, it was official that we were on the edge of Tropical Storm Harvey and the rain is getting steady and consistent. Even though I have no idea what I am getting myself into, I took a leap of faith and mentally accepted the challenge. Though I had doubt, with my small measures of faith I trusted that God will keep us safe tonight and that we are truly going to have a blast out there. And I asked God, please protect us out there tonight and keep everyone safe and wise on the trails out there..
The 60k started at 7:00 pm sharp. I waved my friends who were doing the 30k goodbye lol, and off we went… The rain was light but steady, but to my surprise, the trails held rain pretty well.
Loop 1 of 3 – split time of of 2h 58min
Of note, this was also my first time running with my fairly new Nathan VaporAir hydration vest. I had my phone in one pocket in the other pocked I had a spare bottle to carry tailwind or electrolyte water.
After the first aid station, the 10k/60k split from the 30k as we headed up towards the dome. I remember clearly from last year the gorgenous sunset view we had at the dome. This year… not so. At least it was only cloudy and not much rain at this time.
Coming off the dome, we saw a glimpse of the sunset coming out. It was truly beautiful. I thanked God for every moment of dry weather that we had. I was going at a moderate pace as well. Surprisingly, I did not feel heavy with my breathing at all!
Between the second and third aid stations seemed like a little drag, for we went through the foresty areas and there were some “fallen” or displaced tree branches. There wasn’t much rain until the very end between the third and start/finish aid stations.
Loop 2 – split time of 3h 9min
If you wondered what the trails look like, including the top of the granite dome, here they are lol:
I remember as I was leaving the first aid station, the rain started to come down a little harder but still manageable. I got a little concerned as I started climbing the dome, but quickly realized that these rocks ain’t that bad after all!! They contained water fairly well, and to my surprise was not very slippery!! Perhaps there were pores within granite unlike slabs of shale where it’s just flat and carved out… To be honest, it felt pretty good with the rain! I was cooling off fairly easily and was able to maintain a good pace despite adverse conditions.
And here I ran into Colleen Jay (a transplant surgeon at University Hospital where I did my residency and fellowship back in San Antonio) who was actually volunteering at an aid station cooking up some bacon!!! mmmm…. I had to grab a piece lol.
There was a more steady rain during the second half of the second loop.
To my surprise, my breathing was still relatively easy, even though I did push myself some. At this point, I was beginning to pass people left and right. I had expected myself to slow down quite a bit because of the darkness and rain, but my overall time was only 10 minutes more than the first loop!
At the start/finish aid station, I saw Laura and Bobby again as they had finished their 30k. They were going to take a nap in the car while I was out there on my last loop.
Loop 3 – split time of 3h 18min
At the start of loop 3, the rain had been coming down even more, but not to a point of being intolerable. Of course, as I was going up the dome, it became even wetter and muddier at some spots. This was the loop which I feel my legs fatiguing out, but surprisingly, not my breath!! I remember last year, by loop 3 I was already falling asleep. I was so exhausted, and maybe because I had pushed myself too hard in the first loop.
But not today… I felt relatively strong even on this last loop, and I passed at least a dozen people on the way. Unfortunately, I jammed my toe a few times in between rocks, and they sure hurt like a mofo!! The rain sure felt good, and when it stopped it became soggy and humid, and I was like, “come down hurricane rain on us!!” LOL. There were times when I was impatient at how “slow” I was, but I resisted the temptation to anxiety and just simply went the best that I could without running out of breath…
Finish time – 9:30:15 – a PR for the 60k (37.2 mi) distance!!
This turned out to be a PR for this distance, and on the hardest course out of all 4 Capt’n Karl’s race series!! My previous fastest 60k was in 2015 in Pedernales Falls with a finish time of 9h 54min, so this was definite a PR by a large margin!!
We did get a sliver of the Hurricane Harvey experience, but for the most part we were right on the edge of it. By the time I finished, the bulk of the storm was east, and unfortunately affecting Houston, Galveston, and the southeast coast more than many had anticipated…
Although I was done, I did not feel too tired. Either I had become a better runner, or (more likely lol) training at elevation in the Franklin Mountains helped me with running at lower altitudes. There’s a picture with Brad Quinn the race director for the Capt’n Karl’s race series.
Also, I was happy to see Joel (from the South Texas trail runners group) finally earned his belt buckle this year!! Last year he completed all 3 up to Colorado Bend but bonked out and had to drop out of Reveille Peak. This year, he did it. All 4 60k series in one summer (like me, last year). Congrats brother!
About an hour after I finished and showered up, I got my stuff and woke up Bobby and Laura, who were sleeping in the back of their 4Runner lol. We packed our bags and I ended up sleeping in the back of their 4Runner as they drove back to Dallas!!
And there we have it… the Reveille Peak 60k. I suffered minor cuts to my legs from going under that stupid tree that fell between the 2nd and 3rd aid stations… and PAINFUL, PAINFUL toenails!! Lol.
I was able to make it to church at noon in Plano with the DFW folks, met up with Vo for lunch, then with Joel and Michelle (disciples that I knew from Las Cruces who got baptized there and now in the DFW region), and somehow drove back to El Paso that night, getting back in town around 1:30 AM local time…
We braved the Hurricane…. LOL. My thoughts and prayers are to those who were affected by Harvey.
Too bad I did not get to catch up with folks from San Antonio… When I was talking to Valentin a little later he said… man we’re preparing to get slammed but all we got was a little rain and some wind.. 😦
I will remember this race as a PR, but more importantly, it’s an experience that reinforces some spiritual concepts as well. I will always remember this race as a physical trial that in many ways resembles a spiritual trial. Sometimes, it’s inevitable that we walk into a storm, and just the thought of that can be frightening / anxiety provoking. But this is when we gotta keep on persevering, moving, and holding on to what we believe (Phillipans 3:12).
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9