Cross Timbers Trail run is a Monster…and if you throw on a pack, it becomes a Monster with a really bad attitude. I had never run the Cross Timbers Trail…and if I had, I would have thought twice about running it with a 40 lb Pack. I initially considered running the full marathon with ole Helga (it has been renamed and I will get to that in a minute.) The likes of Kari Kennedy and Sonia Burdett quickly admonished against that since this was only to be a “training run” for the Bataan Memorial Marathon. During that race I thanked them and cursed them all in the same 5 minutes…Thankful I didn’t run the full and cursed them for even letting me run the ½ with ole Helga.
Early on Saturday morning I found myself driving to Lake Texaoma with intentions to arrive a little after 0600. My race didn’t start till 0730 but I wanted to catch up with some buddies that were running the 50 miler and their race started at 0630. It was good to see the likes of David Smith and Paul Mastin as they were in for the “Long Day.” The hour or so before my race I got to catch up with a lot of really good people…some of the best in the world.
As I strolled over to the check in table, the volunteers asked which race. Full disclosure here! I was a little embarrassed to utter the words…”1/2 marathon.” About 4 hours later I was really glad I uttered those words.
At a little before 0730, I donned the 40lb pack named Helga. In my last post, Kari Commented that Betsy was too “sweet” a name….go with something like Helga. I had just read “Lonesome Dove.” In that story, the main character, Call, has a really great horse he named “Hell Bitch,”…Call named her that because of the difficulty in breaking process of the horse. So the full name of that pack is Helga the Hell Bitch…but Helga for short….and in front of the kids.;-)
Despite the recent snows and all the rain this season, the trail was in really decent shape, but there were still lots of mud. I have attached pictures below showing really how the over all Cross Timber Trail shakes out. There is very little level ground. You are either climbing steep hills or descending down the other side…and there are lots of tree roots and rocks to make it technical too. Throw in the mud and make that slick up hills and down hills. It used to be known as the “Toughest Trail Race in Texas.” Frankly I think it’s a toss up between Bandera or Cross Timbers and that is probably determined on which of the two trails you just got through running.;-) The course is an out and back.
steep up hills
another steep uphill...
what the...more steep uphill...and I got to come down going back...
more freaking up hill
bad to the bone downhill..
I found it hard to get in any good running pace as the steep hills required me walk them and the downhills so steep and technical that the extra 40 lbs made me cautious…although one time early in the race with fresh legs I did past about 5 runners on a technical downhill. (Technical downhills are my strong suit and at times it was a bit frustrating knowing that could have had reckless abandonment scorching this part sans pack.
Several runners passed me that knew exactly what I was training for and all of them commented that Bataan is no where this difficult and in fact one of my buddies, Don, at the end of my race told me that I was as good as ready for Bataan after running this ½ with the pack. Many runners also indicated that they would be running one of the events in White Sands…so I hope to see many of them there.
The race went well….as well as could be expected. I was slower than I thought I would be, but then again I had never run this trail or I would have quickly changed those expectations. The last 2 miles with all that climbing and my quads started screaming. There is a ½ mile hill up to the finish and towards the end of that the quads refused to fire a couple of times. The back and body felt relatively good at the end…it was the legs screaming this time…which is a testament to all the core work. Towards the end of my race, Buddy Teaster catches up to me. He was running the 50 miler…it was great to see him…Buddy is great guy who pulled me through a dark hole in my first 50 miler.
I finish up. My friend Matt Crownover is there waiting to pace Buddy and he looks at me and says, “Dave, you are insane.” I made him pick up the pack…and he looked at me and uttered something like you are out of you mind…or something like that…we laughed and I was glad it was over. Don't know where I finished up, but there were a handful of people still out on the course so I wasn't DAL...which was really my goal. ;-) It was a great day. Caught up to some old friends and made some new friends as well. It was tough, it was messy…would do it all over again today…but let’s wait awhile. ;-) The day after...no soreness hardly at all...:-)
Next week back to some Bataan History….we got a rescue mission!
Smith and Mastin in for a long day...50 miles long
Laurie and me...she is a 100 mile finisher...running the marathon and volunteering
My Lubbock Texas buddy..Mark the Naked Runner...who ran five 50 milers in 5 months last year....
Lynn Ballard...I have lost count how many 100's he has finished...going 26.2 today
Teresa a great runner and the Race Director for this little jewel of a race.
1/2 way complete...dang it...I have to go back through all that again?!?!
Sonia Burdett, former Marine and will be running Bataan Heavy...ran the 1/2 with a pack also.
Soloman....trail running shoe of choice...at least between Dan and me...
I am done...I am going HOME...poor 50 milers...got another 5 or so hours...been there...not today.