YABRR: Toughest N Texas 2019 Edition
AKA: A River Runs Through It.
I guess I owe the biggest thanks to Collin College, since Shellene had to work I ended up running this race. Also, thanks to the volunteers for this race, they put up with a lot of bad weather and were still smiling.
This race has been on my "need to run" list for a while, but usually it's not at a good time for my training schedule. I have heard nothing but good things about the Cameron Park trails, words like "Scenic", "Lots of climbing" and "Tough" all come to mind. Since I didn't have any other races for the month, I figured I might as well run it this year. Sorry folks.
Watching the weather for the week prior, I had a feeling that it wasn't going to be an easy run in the park. The night before the RD sent out emails warning that he may have to adjust the schedule to avoid storms. Since I was planning on driving in that morning, it made for an early start to the day (I had to leave early enough that bad rain/traffic wouldn't cause me to be late). I only drove through one storm cell to get there, so I was right on time for packet pickup - followed by a 15 minute nap. After that, it was time to say "hello" to the other fools who came down. Ben, Lisa, Arturo, Phil and Laura (Missing Michelle the entire time, and saw Chris after I finished), then it was time for the prerace.
Since the weather was good at the start - but projected to get bad, both the 20 mile and 50k races started together. I thought I had marked all the 50k runners, only to find out later that neither bib-number, nor bib-color meant anything, so I had no idea who was running what. The course started with a nice easy run along the river, before heading into the actual trail section, which was neither nice nor easy. The RD mainly marked the course at turns, there were very few confidence markers out there. At one point I came to a "Y" in the trail, where neither was marked. I figured that he didn't want us heading up to an open space, so I continued down, but started to be a bit concerned that I was off the course completely. I figured if I was, I'd just keep running and get some hill training. Heading down one of the hills I managed to misplace a foot (I found it the next day behind the sofa) and twisted my left ankle (again, this is starting to be a habit). As I was sitting on the ground checking for damage two other runners passed me. They both checked to make sure I was ok, and I told them I was. This also let me know I was actually on the right trail. After a few tentative steps, I was able to get up to speed and catch them. They were both running the 50k, and the three of us finished the lap together (after I tried to take a wrong way shortcut to the start leaving an aid station). We got a little rain on the first lap, but nothing too bad. The trails were limestone, not too muddy, but slick.
Photos by Laura and Lisa
One of the two runners was Richard, who had done the same type of spring season that I did two years ago, with lots of long races with little recovery time, and his legs were shot. During the second lap we slowly ran away from the third runner, who had been so quite that I didn't even notice we dropped him for a while. It was during this lap that we got the max-misery that I was hoping for. The skies opened up multiple times, including dime-to-nickle sized hail, lighting. rolling thunder and what sounded like tree branches dropping. All in all, just what I needed to get into the mental game, with flashbacks to Big Cedar (1 and 2), Zion, Rocky Raccoon, and Chattanooga among others all coming to mind - I was having fun. During the second lap, Richard slowed down to a walk a few times, and even though we were both racing masters I would walk and wait for him. He told me to not wait, and I said that I'd finish this lap with him (since to me the lap before the last is always the toughest mentally), and then head out for the final lap at pace. We got to run up, down and over water-runs (I had never run up a waterfall before). When we came to the final aid station in the pouring rain, and when I got there the volunteer gave us the news: they were shutting down the aid stations and we could either wait with him for a ride, or run it in, but we would not get an official third lap. We had been warned that might happen, and Richard and I chose the only "real" option: we geared up and ran laughing out of the aid station. During the next stretch we had to slip around the downed bamboo, and then we finally got back to Jacobs Ladder (88 stone steps), which wasn't as slippery as I was afraid it was going to be. From there, just a short run to the finish line (which had gotten moved, since the original location was knee deep in water) and our race was done.
Sat around relaxing and eating as we waited for everyone to finish. When Ben finished he had to run to the original finish line (it's Ben, what else do I need to say). While I didn't get the 30 miles I wanted for the day (I could have gone out solo), I did get 5,000+ of elevation gain for the day, and lots of bad weather running. All in all, a good day.