Trailer Trash


Hell’s Hills 50 Mile RR (Read 49 times)


    What can I say, it was a tough go at the Hell’s Hills yesterday.  It’s run in the Texas hill country outside of Austin.  It’s not overly hilly with long sustained ups and downs, it is more “squirrelly” with lots of these little bumpy ups and downs.  Lots of twists and turns as well with some steep dips that go down and then up from stream crossings.  There are lots of those little stream crossings to get your feet wet.  The 50 mile is 3 x 16.7 loops and I guess half the loop is that squirrely mess and the other half is pretty runnable.  They also have a 50k, 25k and a 10k, but they are so spaced out I basically ran by myself all day.  The trails are located on a ranch where they also do mountain biking on and I guess those bikers like a lot of ups, downs, twists and turns.  We camped out on the ranch right near the S/F the night before the run, which was good due to the 5am start for the 50 milers.


    I had taken some time off to let a tendon injury heal and then jumped right into about 5 weeks of training up to this 50 miler.  I knew it was going to be a tough go near the end, and that part was true.  By the way the ankle never bothered me so that was really good.


    It started out ok, early morning cool temps and the first 2 hours in the dark, just kind of found my pace and followed the conga line.  Felt pretty good.  It got light two thirds thru the loop and still felt good to be running easy with a little chit-chat with the other folks.  My stomach hit a little bad patch in there but it was generally was ok, but my legs were a little tired with all of the technical stuff.  I pretty much slow-ran the whole loop and finished it in about 3:06.


    Changed out my bottles and other stuff and was though the S/F in no time and headed out for loop 2.  At this point I was doing ok and after a few of the larger hills actually started to feel good.  Ran very long stretches and thought that things may just work out today.  But then it happened, the cloud cover started to break and the temps started climbing.  The whole “Hell” part of the name of the race started happening. I’m not good in the heat by the way.  So, the wheels started falling off and the pace started to slow, and I started walking up a few of the longer hills.  Kind of a classic bad patch I guess. And after trying a few tricks to get over it, it was a little better, but not much.  My legs were now starting to feel the lack of long sustained weeks of training at higher mileage, they were getting toasted.  The second loop was around 3:35.


    It was getting much warmer and the legs were now at the point where things get interesting.  Trying to run, willing them to move, fighting the urge to simply keep walking, etc.  So that is how it went for the loop.  I wouldn’t call it a true death-march the whole way because I could run even some sustained periods, but it was slow and it seemed like the spacing between aid stations was getting longer and longer.  I also got my stomach sideways for a while trying to keep the fluids up while not getting too bloated, but at one point there was some sloshing going on, so I pulled over and barfed for a bit.  By the way I eating/fluids bit went well and I never had any cramping or anything like that.  Felt much better after barfing though, and was able to start running again, I was ready for the single track squirrelly parts of the last 4 miles of the loop.  I ended up doing that last loop in about 4:10.  For a grand total of 10:51.  I have no idea what that equates to in the field, will have to wait to see I guess, but to me that’s not a big deal.


    Anyway, it was what it was and overall a pretty good training run.  Got out on the trail all day, got my legs trashed, got my stomach sideways and got practice in pulling out the bag of tricks to try to keep things together.


    Now I’ll take it easy for a few days and leverage this run in the training for Leadville this summer.  Thanks for reading.

    Arkansas Traveler - Oct 7

    Occasional Runner

      Thanks for the report. It's handy that you puke in such a casual way. I have yet to acquire that skill. Maybe you can coach me on the technique.


      Endless trails

        Nice race, sandy, thanks for the write up.

        That second to last paragraph sums it up nicely.

          I am by no means a trail runner (yet). I did the 25k. I thought the rocks and the mud were the parts that kicked my butt. I fell 3 times. I had a good time, but wasn't real sure what to expect.


          How does this course compare to other tejas trails courses?

          ”Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”

          “Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.”



          bubba hotep

            Nice job!  We camped at the sites farther back on the ranch at the top of the hill. I thought the course was entertaining and that one "climb" rewarded you with a really nice view of the countryside.  The heat really got to me on that last loop but I was still able to pull out a 50 mile PR.

            And then there was blog


              So you are not good in the heat but you live in TX. Methinks you need to relocate!


              It does sound like tough day looking at those loop splits but good to read the foot held up. The lack of miles and heat like you said just added up. Still, under 11 for a 50 miler on a bad day. Pretty damn good!

              In dog beers, I've only had one.

              Uh oh... now what?

                I am by no means a trail runner (yet). I did the 25k. I thought the rocks and the mud were the parts that kicked my butt. I fell 3 times. I had a good time, but wasn't real sure what to expect.


                What is it you feel you need to do to become a trail runner?  No one is ever sure of what to expect.  That is why they have a starting line (and psychiatrists).


                Congrats to both of you.. and anyone else in that place with no mountains.


                Follower of Forrest

                  Well done.  I enjoyed reading about your bag of tricks.  Sounds like you took the day for all you could.  I still am in awe of the "I'll just run a 50 miler as a training run" mentality.  Really impressive.

                  6/21 - Manitou's Revenge 54mi


                  A man may never run the same trail twice for it is not the same trail and he is not the same man


                    Sounds like a great run with so little time to prepare. Awesome job I envy your ability to puke on command. I'm scared to death to pull the trigger" but theare have been plenty of times that I wish I did because of how my stomach felt.

                      What is it you feel you need to do to become a trail runner?


                      Practice on trails-

                      - me being scared of the footing bothered me. I was also running with someone that wasnt real condifent on trails either. So we probably slowed each other down more than we needed to. learn to be a little more aggressive at times going up and down the hills.

                      - the ups and downs and constant windings are way different than the roads that I run on.

                      - try to be more mentally prepared for curve balls.


                      now I guess I need to fins some trails to practice on Smile

                      - The Texas coast isnt known as the Mecca of trails, but I have found a cow pasture to run in that I guess is better than just road miles all the time.


                      Oh well, it is what it is.

                      ”Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”

                      “Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.”




                      Faster Than Your Couch!

                        Well done, Sandy, congratulations!


                        Now if you're not a heat runner, how do you pull off your summer runs at 100+ degrees - I always marvel when you casually mention that.

                        But I agree, when you're not used to running in the heat, much lower temps can do you in quickly. Glad you could resolve the issue and finish a great race!

                        Run for fun.

                        Le professeur de trail

                          When I was young (er) I used to love to run in the heat of the day in the summer.  Now - not so much.  In fact anything over 70 I have issues with.  So I am in agreement with others - you need to relocate.  You have family here in PA.  We have a great change in seasons.  Winter to Summer with a couple days of Spring and Autumn thrown in.


                          Thanks for sharing your RR.  Looped courses seem to really be a challenge.

                          The incarnation of peacefulness and patience




                            Thanks everyone for the comments.  Hope you liked the little RR.


                            Lace_up: Thanks, once I figured out that it feels 100% better to barf instead of struggling with nausea for 5 or 6 miles, it made is easier to just let 'er rip.  Also to be totally gross, it’s also mostly liquid anyway.  Hope this little "coaching tip" helps.


                            Jonferg: Thanks.  That's what training runs are all about I guess.


                            T-rod: Nice job on the 25k.  Rocky Raccoon in Huntsville State Park is easier because it’s flatter and less twisty, but there are some rooty areas.  Cactus Rose/Bandera is tougher because it’s a little hillier, there are tons of rocks and less shade.  Haven’t done any other of Joe’s races.


                            Bubba hotep: We camped back there two years ago, but decided to stay up front this time.  It is quieter back there, still heard the coyotes howling Friday night though.  Good job on the 50 mile PR, especially with some fairly tough conditions !!!!!


                            XT:  Yeah I’d love to relocate to cooler climes, but work dictates I guess.  Thanks.


                            John M: Thanks.  No mountains down here, but those repeated gully washes get to be a pain after a while.


                            Tmotmo:  See “coaching tip” to lace_up above.  A few times I have barfed and said to myself, I should have done that 5 miles ago.  By the way I don’t barf all the time, but it usually is when it gets hot and I'm also trying to keep the fuel/fluids topped off.


                            FTYC: I’ll still never get used to running when it’s hot, but I guess I can suffer through it.  When it gets over 90*, I try not to go too far.


                            Boyjame: You wouldn’t believe how many times my DW has “suggested” we move to Central PA to be near her sister.  Only thing is there aren’t too many shipbuilders or shipowners in central PA.  I have a love-hate relationship with loop courses.

                            Arkansas Traveler - Oct 7

                            running under the BigSky

                              Sandy way to tough it out!  Amazing what the body & mind can overcome Smile  I can definitely relate on the heat thing- I really suffer in the heat (probably why I stay in MT), my recent Joshua Tree run the temps were only in the upper 70's, but having been running in 30's, it felt searing.


                              This summer I plan on doing some training in the heat, I've always dodged the heat by running early in the morning or at night- hard to get accustomed the heat w/o being in it Big grin



                              Ultra Cowboy

                                Sandy, I always seem to learn something from your race reports.  Keep 'em coming.  Do loop courses for 50 milers generally not have pacers?