Cross Timbers is said to be the oldest and toughest trail race in Texas, this being it's 32nd year. It takes place along the shores of Lake Texoma north of Whitesboro and immediately west of Willis Bridge.
I seriously underestimated this race. Aren't we in Texas? Isn't it all flat here?
There were 5 mile, half marathon, full marathon, and a 50 mile ultra as race options. The half was out and back to the 6 mile mark, while the full went out and back 13 miles, and the ultra did the full twice.
The cost to run the race was only $45. More than fair for anything with the name "marathon" in the title. Not only do you get the race but they also feed you TWICE! Most participants drive in the morning of the race, but if you stay at the campground, which we did, you can hang out and eat dinner with the volunteers and other racers. My step mom had made us a delicious dinner that we ate at my dad's trailer (he has a swanky horse trailer with camping quarters in the front) but I still partook in the spaghetti being offered at the Cross Timbers tent. Who passes up free food?
The weather was cold Friday night. I think it got down into the 30's and there were some camping lessons learned on my part. 1) My Coleman Prairie Breeze cabin tent is kick ass, but not for cold weather. It is specifically designed for ventilation around the rain fly which in this case was just letting in tons of cold air. My dad gave us a little space heater but it didn't do any good. 2) Sleeping on a cot in cold weather just means cold air coming up from below as well as from up above. 3) Our sleeping bags aren't as awesome as I thought they were. Not in temps that low. At 4:30 am on Saturday morning I decided, while never leaving my sleeping bag, to sack race out of the tent and into my car where I turned the heat all the up and slept for a good two hours. I hate being cold.
We woke up at about 6:30, put on our warmest gear and headed down to the start line for check in. I was overdressed, but I had been so cold all night long and I didn't want to feel it anymore.
|My Brother (showing Brad no love), Brad, My dad, Me|
I accidentally passed right by the first aid station not realizing what it was. I was expecting your usual table with cups everywhere, but they had full tents with all kinds of snack food and drinks. I thought it was just a medical tent. I passed up free food! Oreos nonetheless!
I would say that at least 30% of the trail was not even runable. Well, not runable for me. There were plenty of seasoned pros out there who were able to bound up and down the rocky slopes like mountain goats. Those people were incredible to watch.
|From the Cross Timbers website|
I didn't eat breakfast and my stomach was churning until we reached the aid station at the turn around. The station is conveniently located atop a massive hand and foot, literal climb, known as "stairway to heaven". At this station I refilled my water, had potatoes, Oreos, pretzels, more Oreos and took some candy with me.
Ya know what else I didn't take that day (or the day before, really)? My Medela! I realized this mistake in the middle of the night when my lovely lady lumps were solid, painful mother melons. I did what I could to relieve the pressure but in the last 1/4 of the race the simple pain of bouncing prevented me from doing any more than a weird shuffle.
Brad on the trail in front of me before he starting complaining about his leg cramping up.
I still had a little left in me toward the end of the race but my legs were getting noodleish and unstable so I had to go slow for fear of face panting. I had already fallen THREE times BEFORE my legs were worn out! Klutz, I am.
Of all of us, my 58 year old dad did the best. He finished in 3:18. He's also better trained than we are. What's that meme that I see sometimes? "Your excuse is invalid"?
Little brother came in next with a time of 3:33. Soon. Soon I will kick his ass. He won't see it coming either. He will simply cross a finish line and see me, having already finished ages before him.
.... An hour later... ME! 4:31. I'll get that down next year. (that little wooden plaque in my hand is the "medal". Cool and different)
Then only 3 minutes later Brad came strolling through. I went immediately in the tent to get a burger because I thought he was further back (and because I was starving!). I missed his whole finish!
We didn't get to stick around very long after the race because we had to pick up our kids.
I dare say this was the best race that I have done thus far. It was so hard, and I hurt so bad at the end, but I was smiling the entire way.
Trail runners are a completely different breed of runner. Almost every person we passed said "hi", waived, and even gave bits of encouragement. This is the runner that I want to be. There are going to be many more trail runs in my future.