2017 Ragnar Trail Hill Country Race Recap

This may go down in history as one of the most spur-of-the-moment race decisions I’ve ever made. A friend of one of my TIR teammates needed a few legs picked up at Ragnar Trail Hill Country due to late drop-outs and injuries. Apparently if you ask me to run an overnight relay two hours away in middle-of-nowhere Texas with 12 hours notice, I will have no problem saying yes.

I ran Hill Country its inaugural year in 2014 so I knew what I was getting myself into. I almost signed up with a team earlier this year but decided due to my clumsiness it wouldn’t be in my best interest to run a trail race so close to Indy Monumental. But at this point my registration had been downgraded from the full to the half so running Hill Country seemed like a good idea.

I initially committed to picking up the 7.5 mile Red Loop late Friday night and the 3 mile Green Loop early Saturday morning. However, upon arrival in Comfort I learned one of their runners was a no-show (?!) and wasn’t answering her phone. We had to do a lot of leg switching but the reworked assignment was Green Loop in the afternoon, Red Loop late night, and the 5 mile Yellow Loop on Saturday morning. I hadn’t run anything farther than 4 miles since June so it was probably ambitious (read: dumb) to take on all of that mileage, but I went with it. YOLO. Thankfully the team was not competitive so my game plan of “just don’t fall + hurt yourself” would work out just fine.

Green Loop
Creekside Trail
33:27 (2014 — 55:13)

As the shortest loop, it was obviously the easiest. My legs felt a little rusty, and just as I was starting to hit my groove? The leg was over. However – I’m glad I wasn’t running Red or Yellow because it was 5:30pm and 80 degrees.

Red Loop
Buckeye Canyon Trail
1:38:41 (2014 — 2:07:01)

When I ran this in 2014, I fell more times during the Red Loop than I can count on two hands. I am notoriously a clumsy human being, so despite being armed with a solid headlamp I just couldn’t stay upright for the life of me. That being said, I was very cautious on this leg since I’d be tackling it in the dark at 10pm. I am pretty sure Ragnar only rates their legs based on the distance because the Red is by no means hard. Sure there was a decent amount of climbing (like where you were basically climbing rocks and wondering if you were still on the course or had made a wrong turn somewhere) but this leg was glorious. There were enough single-tracks sprinkled in where you could really stride it out and make up some time. When I came through transition at the end, I was on Cloud 9. This was the runner’s high I had been missing for many months. I was BACK.

Yellow Loop
Pipeline Hill Trail
1:11:25 (2014 — 1:36:32)

I stayed awake until 6am, taking teammates to/from the transition, downing coffee after coffee, and keeping track of our pace with a fancy clipboard (Type A’s dream come true) to make sure we were on track. I slept for mayyyybe 45 minutes before I gave up. It was super humid but the temperature was mid 60s and I felt simultaneously hot + freezing. Not exactly ideal sleeping conditions. I inhaled 4 pancakes with butter + syrup, pretending this was a good idea before my hardest leg, and took off at 8:30am to knock out the Yellow Loop.

Oh. This trail is not my favorite. It was a death march for me in 2014 and it didn’t take long into it this year before I remembered why. It’s almost four miles of climbing, and when it’s your third leg – it’s not fun. The view from the top is pretty though!

The last mile is almost completely downhill and while it’s tempting to haul ass down it, you still have to remember you’re on a trail and could potentially hit a hole or twist your ankle on a rock. I did remember seeing some decent paces on my Garmin during that mile but forced myself to reign it in so I didn’t faceplant.

Official Finish Time — 22:57:40
13th out of 75 in the Mixed Category
49th out of 218 Overall

Tuesday Things

About that relay… I’m still struggling to put together a recap for last month’s Reach the Beach. Ideally I’d like to keep it to one post so you’re not subjected to another multipart recap but it’s proving to be pretty difficult. Here’s the short version: it was awesome and I kinda-sorta-maybe unexpectedly fell in love with New Hampshire. In a “I could have a summer house here”, not in a “ooh, I’d like to live here year-round” type of way. My team was great, the views were gorgeous, the weather was perfect. It really couldn’t have been any better.

Reach the Beach - Pumped Up Kicks - Finish Line

Coming up next… I realllllly need to take care of the RTB recap because after this weekend, I’ll have another recap to write. For another relay. I mean, have I completely lost my mind? I voluntarily signed up for all of these but I’m sure it sounds crazy to run 3 relays in 3 months. This particular one, Ragnar Trail Hill Country, is a little bit different than a traditional Ragnar. We’ll be ditching the vans and replacing them with… no, not smaller cars: TENTS! Instead of leap-frogging one another for 200 miles from Point A to Point B, we’ll setup a base camp and each of us will alternate running 3 different trails until we’ve completed each once. That probably sounds confusing. I like visuals, maybe a picture will help?

Note: we are a ‘Regular’ team because I have not yet reached the level of crazy that one must possess to sign up for an ‘Ultra’ team.

Ragnar Trail - How It Works

The loop distance and difficulty varies by location [find one close to you here] but one aspect is always the same: you will be running on trails. Let me tell you a little bit about my history of trail running… Oh. Right. This will be my first trail race – ever. EXCITING. Brad and I hike a trail [it’s debatable whether or not you can even call it that] almost every weekend and sometimes I trip over tree roots in broad daylight. The thought of running on a trail in the darkness at 2am seems slightly terrifying. If I make it through this race upright it’ll be a damn miracle. Hopefully I’ll be able to tear myself away from monitoring every single footfall to catch a glimpse of those Hill Country views they speak so fondly of on the website.

Ragnar Trail Hill Country - Course Map

On internet life… Lately I’ve become increasingly aware of just how much of my life is out there on the internet. I knew when I signed up for Twitter and then published my first blog post in 2010 that that was likely the end of any semblance of privacy. You can search the internet and you will find me. Not on Facebook though, I have that locked down so hard that even my coworkers are like “I tried to send you a friend request on Facebook, do you even have Facebook?” Anyway, back to my story. It wasn’t surprising when someone from my past – who has absolutely no business being a part of my present – emerged and began attempting to contact me on various social media channels. They started with LinkedIn, then moved on to my work email, then called my work 10+ times a day only to hang up on my voicemail. They then discovered my blog and in turn, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. I know this because of all of exit links in my analytics report.

One night while stalking my Instagram they accidentally ‘liked’ one of my photos and then had a ‘holy shit, I messed up’ moment and promptly ‘unliked’ it. Maybe I wouldn’t have noticed if I wasn’t on my phone at the time – but I was. BUSTED. Instagram is now on private. Tear. This person also started reposting photos of my sister’s family to their own Instagram account. (!!) Seriously creepy. I’m not entirely sure they understand how Pinterest works either, because they repinned several of my pins, which obviously I can see. Pinterest is the probably the least of my worries – it’s a bunch of photos from the Internet pinned to categorized boards. But I blocked them anyway, because why not? I left my Twitter account on public because I really have nothing to hide on there. Over the weekend I had tweeted about the UT/OU game and this person then proceeded to retweet a few things about OU winning the game. This person has never showed ANY interest in college football, let alone anything to do with a team close to where I live.

I never really cared much about my analytics until this whole fiasco. I don’t have a ton of traffic but I know who reads my blog back at home and where they live. I began seeing extended visits from two locations that I knew were associated with this super creeper. And over the course of 3 days, they spent over 7 hours going through my archives. And then began checking my blog every.single.day [and multiple times a day] for new content. Did you know you can block IP addresses? Helpful information. The only social media stream left for them to see is my blog’s Facebook page. The views are up. WAY up. Directly related, undoubtedly. Unfortunately for them, most of my activity on FB is sharing links to new blog posts. Good luck accessing them, stalker, with your blocked IP address.

I’m kind of blown away by the situation. If I won’t return your phone calls, text messages, or emails … why would you think I’d respond to you on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest? Take a goddamn hint and move on with your life. It’s embarrassing.

Go Away Stalker

On marathon training… Remember when I was talking about how “life happens” and our marathon training schedule may need to be tweaked accordingly? I didn’t anticipate having to change it so early in the game. The entire first week was plagued with thunderstorms. It rains in Texas, like, twice a year. And never on consecutive days. But the rain from mid-September completely washed out [heh, see what I did there?] Week 1. Rude. The following week was a struggle to get back on track and I had to flip around our long run mileage until it looked like a feasible build up. Such a pain in the ass. This past weekend we had our long run scheduled for Saturday morning and it monsooned/thunderstormed from 1am through almost noon. We moved it to Sunday, even though we’d be out late the night before at a hockey game drinking beer and eating crappy food. Halfway into our run [with a forecasted 4% chance of rain] the skies opened up and we were stuck in a torrential downpour. Hopefully this type of luck doesn’t carry through the rest of the cycle.