The 2015 edition of the Trail Racing Over Texas Horseshoe Trail Run was one for the record books. Conditions were sloppy, sloppier and the sloppiest trails you’ve ever seen. Hard rain hit the area the days before the race and a majority of the course was un in ankle to shin deep water. You can check out my recap from that race here.
2015 Race Conditions 2016 Race Conditions
I got down to the event area the day prior, picked up my race gear, listened to the race briefing, and jumped on the trails to do a quick recon mission to dig into the trail conditions a little more. Fittingly enough, Hitchcock, TX got some rain the week before the 2016 race. This would make the course muddy in sections as well as icy on some of the bridges as the starting temperature for the race was 31 degrees.
The first goal race for my 2016 season is going to be at Rocky Raccoon 50 Mile on February 13th where I hope to run in the 6 hour and 15-30 minute range. My plan for the Horseshoe Trail Run 50K was to run at a conservative/consistent pace for each of the races five 10K loops and nail a time somewhere in the 3:55-4:00 range. This time is where I want to come through my 50K split at Rocky Raccoon and running this time would give me confidence going into that race. Even though this race was a true training run and I had 10 trail miles scheduled for Sunday, I still had a difficult time falling asleep and didn’t eventually pass out until 1:30AM and shortly after woke up when my alarm went off at 4:15AM.
I ate a quick breakfast of oatmeal, raisins, a banana, and a scoop of peanut butter, changed, grabbed my gear and headed to the race site. The weather was a frigid 31 degrees, so I huddled in my vehicle until 5:45AM before jogging a few minutes and doing some leg swings. I made my way over to the start line and the race was started soon after. The race starts on a .25 mile road section before jumping onto the Jack Brooks Park trails. On a good day, this trail is challenging in the sense that it is a mountain bike trail and there are a reported 72 climbs ranging from 5-20 feet in height throughout each loop. There are also several bridges and roots to keep an eye on along with the added obstacle of mud given the current trail conditions.
I ran almost the entire first loop with one other runner, Andre Fuqua, who was going for a 50K PR in the less than ideal conditions. We talked for a long time until we hit the worst muddy section around mile 5 and I pulled away. I came through my first 10K in around 48:30, threw down my QuickShot Nathan bottle, picked up the second one out of my VictorySportdesign Bear II Drop Bag (best drop bag around!) and headed back out (I had pre-filled three 10oz bottles with 125 calories of Naked Tailwind and two 10oz bottles with 125 calories of Caffeinated Tailwind for the last two loops). I was happy to be running by myself now so that I could focus more on pacing vs. racing. I plugged my iPod in and tried to get into a groove.
The first loop was fun since I was the first one on the trails and for the fact that it was pitch black outside so my headlamp guided my way. The second loop was quicker as the trail lighted up and I stopped using my headlamp half way through. I tried to remain consistent and finished this loop in 46:51. I initially thought my third loop might be one of my slower ones since the 10K race had started 5 minutes before I went out for my loop. This meant that I had to attempt to pass those runners on super tight and windy single track that was covered with mud. I did have to weave around more than any other loop, but this ended up being my fastest time of the day as I finished in 45:58. I was feeling good throughout and even stopped for a few high fives from fellow Team TROT runner Matt Zmolek and his two sons who were running the 10K as a family.
My fourth and fifth loops were better than I had hoped. I anticipated slowing down simply due to the mud, but I hung in to finish off my fourth loop in 49:05. The only low point of the day occurred during the first two miles of my fifth and final loop. I sipped on my Tailwind and eventually snapped out of it and kept up the pace to squeak into the finish just under the 4-hour barrier in a time of 3:59:41. Despite the mud, I ran right around where I wanted to be and came away with the overall win. I am extremely pleased with the result and feel very confident as I enter my final weeks of training before Rocky Raccoon 50 Mile. I spent the remainder of my day cheering for runners, hanging out with my team mates and fellow Altra Ambassadors and simply enjoying the amazing trail running atmosphere.
Later in the day, Race Director’s Rob and Rachel Goyen presented awards for the 2015 Trail Racing Over Texas Cup Series. Many of my Team Trail Racing Over Texas team members won their age divisions and overall placements as well as the amazing individuals who run the TROT events. I am glad to say that I was the men’s overall winner for the 2015 TROT Cup! I took home the first place trophy, a sweet TROT racing hat and a check for $1,000!
- Race Kit: Trail Racing Over Texas
- Shoes: Altra Superior 2.0
- Hydration: QuikShot Nathan 10oz Bottles
- Sunglasses: Julbo Dust With Zebra Lenses
- In Race Nutrition: Tailwind
- Post Race Fuel: Bearded Brothers Bars
- Drop Bag: VictorySportDesign Bear II
Strava File (Twisty turns took off some mileage)