Monday, April 22, 2013

Hells Hills 50 Mile - Words on the Internet

Cliffs Notes:

  • A great race put on by the Tejas Trails folks that I highly recommend

  • Nice course but not really flat, if that is what you are looking for

  • Camping is the way to go for this one

  •  Great aid stations

The Good
  • No blisters again, injinji socks and proper fitting shoes do wonders
  •  No chafing, I have that dialed in pretty well\
  • No cramping
  • My favorite running shirt is my fishing shirt
  •  Ultra running is made up of mostly great people and I have met some great friends along the way
The Bad
  •  Cool spring means no heat acclimation and that sucks when racing on a warm day
  •  Not really anything else to add to this column

Some Narrative:

Hells Hills50 was my first 50 mile in over a year, but I did do a couple of 50ks during that time span.  I had big running plans coming out of last year’s Rocky Raccoon 50 mile but life and being over trained pulled the plug on that.  It would take me until this past December to truly recognize that I had basically spent the whole year of 2012 fatigued and worn down.  I guess going from very little mileage in my life to 2,400+ miles in 2011 was a pretty good way to wear my body down.   Because of that, I spent most of this past winter just doing whatever felt good and not really focusing on racing this spring.  I had planned to do both Grasslands and Hells Hills but eventually decided to just do Hells Hills.

I started January off with a zero mile week but eased into a pretty good rhythm this spring and was pretty happy with my mileage leading up to the race.  I didn’t ever break off any huge weeks but was hitting some 50+ mile weeks with a good bit of stair climbing and gym work thrown in the mix.  I had a number of goals heading into this race but really just wanted to finish and have a good time. 
I headed down to Austin the Friday before the race and met up with Doom at a random CVS.  We then picked up a few essentials (beer) before heading out to Rocky Hill Ranch, which is near Smithville, TX.  Doom ran the 10k last year at the ranch but still managed to get us lost on the way out there (and he wants to lead an expedition to the Grand Canyon for a R2R2R!).  We got our campsite, setup our tents, headed back to “town” to grab some food, had a few beers and called it a night. 
Nice Afternoon for a Beer
Even Less Comfortable than it Looks

I got up around 3:30 am for the 5:00 start and got ready quicker than anticipated.  This gave me plenty of time to pack up my campsite and toss everything in my ride.  Doom would inform me later that I did leave me car door wide open but luckily no one wanted to make off with an aging Mazda and its load of camping/running treasure.

This Repaired Shoe Would Survive the Race
We made our way down to the starting line around 4:30 (Doom would run the 10k later that morning) and I was major bummed to find out that there was no hot coffee!  I figured that I could grab some coke at the 1st aid station but man did I miss my morning coffee.  The race is a loop course that is run 3 times with the 50 milers running correction section while the 50k & 25k run the basic loop.

My plan was to run the 1st lap slow, then run the 2nd lap even slower, and then just see what happened on the final loop.  I was betting on our abnormally cool spring to play into this plan but that was not to be and this ended up being the warmest day of the spring.  I really considered changing up my strategy and going out hard and then just hoping to hold on through the heat of the day.  However, I had tried that strategy at my last couple of races but that resulted in me blowing up over the last portion of the race. 

The 1st loop went basically exactly to plan.  I cruised around in the dark and would slow down anytime I started passing people.  I ended the 1st loop feeling really good and chatted with Doom for a bit about his 10k before heading off on my 2nd loop.  Other than destroying my right shoe, the 2nd loop went smoothly until the last couple of miles when it seemed like the temp really started to take off.  I quickly changed shoes and headed out for the 3rd and final loop.

I was pleased that my legs felt really good at this point and I had no quad soreness at all.  However, things started to go down hill pretty quickly as I got nauseous and dizzy pretty soon after leaving the Start/Finish area.  I was pretty certain that this was heat related and that was pretty worrisome.  The two main things that worry me when running here in Texas are heat exhaustion / stroke and hyponatremia.  I essentially spent the whole 3rd loop battling the heat and this consisted of running until getting nauseous and dizzy and then walking it off – repeat.  I kept running a check list in my head and kept coming up with heat as being the issue.  I would have forced myself to vomit and continue on, if I felt that the issue wasn’t heat related.

This Shoe Only Last 2 Loops - Can it be Saved?

Anyway, once the end of the 3rd loop was within striking distance and I came across welcome site, Doom heading in the wrong direction to make sure that I wasn’t dropping from the race.  We jogged along and chatted until he sprinted ahead to take some pictures.  I eased into the Finish line with a PR and got a nice firm handshake from Joe Prusaitis.  

We hung around the finish line for a bit cheering on other finishers before heading back up to the campsite to get my car.  I was basically back to 100% after a sponge bath in the woods and something cold to drink.  This made the drive back to Dallas pleasant, esp. being able to stop to urinate and not having to wonder if I will be able to get out of my car and to the restroom in time.  I woke up Sunday morning with sore feet and that was it.  No trashed quads, no stumbling around the house, no wondering what I had done to myself…. this really leads me to believe that I was way too conservative with my running early in the day when it was nice and cool.


  1. Well done! Sorry That I had to leave between loops but my wife is meaner than you. Well done all around. Next beer is on me.

    1. Ha! If I remember correctly... you kind of owe me a couple!