The Adams enjoyed a nice long break with family in Texas. I was fortunate enough (read: unemployed enough) to get to spend a few extra days with my mom in Houston. We hung out, went to her fave yoga place (which I suck at), and went to see Peter Pan just like we did over 25 years ago. Much like Peter Pan, I haven’t matured much. Well, maybe around the eyes.
Harley took on the task of driving Iris and Roger to Texas from Atlanta. He hit some crappy traffic around Lake Charles-ish but made it on the Friday before Xmas. We drove to El Campo (the “Pearl of the Prairie”) the next day to spend some time with my Mie-Ma. She was as cute and sweet as ever. Now you know where it comes from!
Sunday we caravanned to Bandera – the Cowboy Capital of the World – to spend Xmas with my stepsister, Nicole, and her cute family. I had been twirling my thumbs
on running the Bandera 50k in January for a while. Growing up in Texas and visiting the Hill Country has been such a joy when I was younger, I had been curious to know what the trails were like out there. Well, no need to run the race if I could squeak in a training run out there – at the Texas Hill Country SNA – a mere 15 minute drive from Nicole’s homestead.
So Xmas Eve Harley and I piled in the cat hair-ridden Matrix and headed to “Bandera.”
I was exuberant. I had printed out the course maps for the Capt’n Carls/Tejas Trails Bandera Ultra races out there but was still unsure what we would be doing or what to expect. The ranger at the park HQ was uber helpful. She handed us a map to the area and highlighted a possible route for us – based on the miles we wanted to do (approximately 25) and her knowledge of the race routes.
Trail running is very humbling. Very. And every time I forget this, I am quickly reminded. Here I was thinking we had tackled some tough parts of the Appalachian Trail, the Benton MacKaye Trail and the Duncan Ridge Trail in GA – surely running in Texas would be a cinch. Holly, check your ego at the door. You too, Harley. The route we took was very runnable for the most part. But I don’t care what people say about the rocks at Pine Mountain, the Texas Hill Country is like a rock bomb went off. Between the tap dancing we did to get around them all, the technical ascents, and the heinous heinous heinous heinous yucca – our legs were shot. Okay, to be fair to the yucca, it was no big deal until the last part of the run. It was actually nice and scenic until it started to draw blood.
I’ll tell you what did us in – was a little section of trail called “Ice Cream Hill.” Yes it sounds like a real treat – but beware – it’s a bitch of a climb and I’m not sure why. We have faced more difficult climbs in GA. Maybe it was because it was 80 degrees? And there was ZERO shade? Harley said if it could be any flavor of ice cream it would be Rocky Road given how rocky it was. I agree. We ended up only being able to carve out 17 miles. And we were very pleased with that.
Ok, I’m sorry if it sounds like I’m bashing the Hill Country SNA – I actually loved it! It was so beautiful. It exceeded all of our expectations. The trails were well marked; the Hill Country flora is unlike anything I’ve ever seen; and it felt very remote (we only saw two other people out there). We can’t wait to make this a holiday tradition.
Back at the homestead, we made gingerbread and enjoyed some Shiner Bock. Mike, Nicole’s husband, is quite the gourmand. He made a rib roast that even this vegetarian felt compelled to try. But it had nothing on his homemade peppermint ice cream with fresh vanilla and brownie chunks.
The day after Xmas we headed to San Antonio to see Harley’s parents and got in some nice trail runs around there. A
couple days later we decided to take the cats back to their very own homestead in Smyrna. The trip sucked. It rained the whole way – and by whole – I mean damn near 17.5 hours. Oh, and Iris (for the first and LAST time ever) peed in the car – 30 minutes into the trip. She remains our 2nd favorite cat. Though there were some strays vying for her spot at the time.
We got back into Atlanta on the Friday before NYE – around 1:30am. Suck. Our plan was to hit the Yeti Spaghetti Trail Marathon that Jason Green organized on Sunday. There was a 6.2-6.4 mile (depending on whose Garmin you went with) loop that started and ended at the same spot – near a fire pit and a keg of
Bell’s Double Hearted. It was 28 degrees at the start and a lil windy – my least favorite weather condition. I am here to tell you – this was such a fun running day!!! The event was super casual – it was free, it was untimed, you could take a break in between laps and enjoy the aforementioned fire and keg. And stop after as many laps as you wanted. Also – Jason built most of the trail we ran on – INCREDIBLE! We loved it. We ran all four laps. Casually. But what’s funny is – after the 2nd or 3rd lap I happened to look at my $8 watch and thought – damn, we’re doing better than I thought. Rock on. Later I realized…my watch was still on Texas time. Go figs!! In any case – we each pulled in about 60 miles of running on a holiday week – that included a bunch of driving. Just in time for New Year’s Eve!