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Grasslands Half Marathon Trail Run 2011 Race Report

Finally a chance to write up last weekend’s half marathon adventure at Grasslands.

As Team Hanenburg parked within the grounds of the LBJ National Grasslands four thoughts entered my mind…

One – It sure is a lot easier to get to this place with the sunrise and rainless skies. Last year I circled like a vulture in the park trying to find the race headquarters so I could have some unique fun at an aid-station in the rain, wind, and occasional sleet.

Two – (as I put the car into park and looked up at a couple runners on the trail) Holy sh*t, is that bad-ass Olga racing again in north Texas? It was! She ran the 50 miler (of course).

Three – OK, not a thought but an internal feeling that expressed itself in this huge internal smile. Β The vibe and energy of the area felt hugely positive. I was extremely grateful to be starting my third trail race this year as I continue to rebuild the body.

Four – I need to find a bathroom…NOW!

The Race

What can you say about the Grasslands course? Its a bit like wandering through the plains of North Dakota…a few trees, small grade changes, small field vegetation of various types, and an occasional cow. The largest physical challenge of the day would likely be the sand that is strategically scattered throughout the course. Conditions were dry, the sand was ready!

Pic from 2009 - Still good for today as well!

A few areas feel like this. (Courtesy Bryn Jones2008 @ http://flic.kr/p/74p85H)

The course doesn’t really draw me to this event…the people do.

The race strategy for this half marathon was pretty simple for me – run sustainably hard.

What the hell does that mean?

With the help of my trusty Garmin 305, my goal was to keep the old ticker near but below 175 bpm as much as possible. Then simply ride whatever pace that allows. Bam! Let’s go!

In typical trail running fashion, RD Kevin Boudreaux casually said “Go” and we were off…

Race start - Waving to Team Hanenburg!

Within 4 miles I was in a place I often visit within a race – no man’s land. I was too slow to be with the front group and too fast to be with the next larger group of runners. I simply focused on form, breathing, a few peeks at the scenery and heart rate data – then simply celebrated the ability to run.

One cow grunt was about all I heard the entire run.

My heart rate data pretty much describes how my day went.

Click on image to enlarge

I maintained fairly consistent effort through 10 miles before adding a few more logs to the fire in the final 5 km. Add a couple bottles of water with electrolytes, 200 calories of carb goodness, and you have yourself a Grasslands half marathon.

Enjoyed the last bit of sand leading to the finish line, took a hard right directed by good friend Mike Krejci, and crossed the line in 1:50:05 (per my Garmin). Wendy and Griffin were expecting me closer to two hours so they were still playing with trucks in the dirt. It was a fun day! πŸ™‚

Shortly after finishing with G-man looking for the next "Big Rock!"

The fam then hung out, had some dirt time with G-man, chatted with friends, and watched my good buddy Tim Jagoda rock the marathon (2nd place).

The sun was now shining with a mild breeze blowing, it was a great March day!

"Sugar please!" - Buddy Tim Jagoda turning off the Barry Manilow after finishing second in the marathon! Big congrats to him.

We eventually had to continue our day as G-man had another birthday party to go to in the early afternoon.

As we left the park, I happened to see Superman Elliott displaying his bad ass determination to finish the marathon. We stopped, I yelled some encouragement out the window, then we rolled on out of the LBJ National Grasslands.

Grasslands goodies - Sweet tech shirt and reusable bag. No "garbage" included. Really dug this.

The knee held up great…still can’t say it is at 100% but continues to be so close.

Huge thanks to RDs Kevin and Stacie Boudreaux and all the great volunteers (NTTR crew and others).

The Rebuilding Continues

Over the last six-plus months I have tinkered with but over the the last three months I have consistently followed a new-to-me training paradigm that puts huge emphasis on quality run training and full body strengthening. My typical approach of run, run, run didn’t work for me especially in longer races or higher run volume…I would tweak something. I have really enjoyed this new approach and am hopeful that it will greatly up my durability as I return to more ultra distance adventures (time will tell).

The training philosophy I am following/modeling is Crossfit Endurance. I am so intrigued by this approach that I recently completed a CrossFit Endurance Trainer Course.

The general approach to the CFE training model is first – Technique, then Intensity, and finally Volume. Overlay on top of this a full-body strengthening program and you start the process of creating a running warrior.

Since the new year I have averaged ~15 miles/week (3 run sessions per week) along with four strength-type sessions (15-30 minutes per). And hugely important, having a lot of fun with the process.

My next big adventure planned is the Jemez 50 km (in May) which is going to be a significant test for the body…and mind.

This is going to be interesting....

Bring it!

Be active – Feel the buzz!

David – EnduranceBuzz.com

About the author

David Hanenburg David Hanenburg is the passionate dirt-lovin' creator of Endurance Buzz and has been playing in the endurance sports world since 2000 after knockin' the dust off of his Trek 950 hardtail thanks to a friend asking to go ride some local dirt. In 2007 he ran his first ultra on the trails and fell in love with the sport and its people. For more information on David's endurance sports journey, check out the About page.

4 Responses to “Grasslands Half Marathon Trail Run 2011 Race Report”

  1. on 25 Mar 2011 at 7:40 am Dave Ellliott

    Nice…sub 2 hours…Hanenburg is back…like scary back….like maybe give Jagoda a run for his money back…dang brutha…

    and you picked a nice little 50 K to show a little sumptin’ sumptin’

  2. on 25 Mar 2011 at 8:19 am Steve Wray

    I think I saw you zoom by me as I was pokin along. Great job.

  3. on 25 Mar 2011 at 8:49 am Olga

    My god, that some good time for this course, man! I am in owe. And, speaking of CF, without really naming it, it is close to the idea I have for this year. Kind of, I’ve done all other ideas before, and I don’t have time anymore. So, quality and full body, both with intensity. No volume whatsoever. I think I averaged 40 mph. Which is less than half of my previous training.

  4. on 28 Mar 2011 at 9:27 am David Hanenburg

    @Dave E – Hey bro. Thanks for the kind words and huge congrats to you on the marathon finish. I wouldn’t say I am back…still in rehab mode but as a good and wise friend often says…I am pressing on!

    …and the only run for Jagoda’s money will be if I continue to run the half while he runs the full marathon…then I can sneak in front of him to the finish. πŸ™‚

    @Steve – Thanks man! Say something next time…would love to have met you! Congrats on your solid 50 mile day. Awesome stuff!

    @Olga – Thanks for the extremely kind comments. The time was OK, race execution was the highlight.

    Huge congratulations to you on the sub 10-hour finish for the 50 miler! You continue to lead by example and inspire.

    Concerning the training quality training approach…I also really like the ability to get a solid amount of training stimulus in a relatively short amount of time. Enjoy the journey.