Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Running Enchanted Rock

Enchanted Rock State Park, TexasMy trail running group was meeting last Saturday at Enchanted Rock State Park for a training run. Enchanted rock is an enormous pink granite rock, covering over 600 acres and rising over 400 ft above the surrounding terrain that formed from an ancient molten magma bubble.

I had a meeting in Southwest Austin Friday afternoon, and so I decided to head from there straight out to the park the night before and camp. This provided me the following benefits:

  • Skipped Friday evening rush hour traffic to get home up north.
  • Got to watch the sunset from the top of Enchanted Rock
  • Got more sleep since I went to bed soon after sunset. I would have stayed up later if I had been home.
  • Didn’t have to get up by 4am Saturday for the 2 hour+ drive to the park.
  • Got part of the run in during the cooler morning hours before the daytime temperatures rose above 100 F
Sunset pictures did not come out, so I won’t be posting those. (Edit, well, maybe a couple here came out OK)

Enchanted Rock State Park, Texas
Enchanted Rock State Park, Texas

While the running group was to meet at 7am, but I got up early and started the loop around 5:40 in the dark. Central Texas weather has been extra hot recently with high temperature each day over 100 F. Running in these temperatures has been sucking the energy out of me. But at this early morning hour, the temperature must have been in the 70’s or maybe low 80’s and felt very refreshing.

There was a near full moon out, so I almost did not need the head lamp. Normally the red filter on my lamp is too dark to run with, but this morning it was perfect to save my night vision to enjoy the moonlit scenes around me. All along the trail, I kept hearing deer run away. At least, I will assume those things I heard were deer. The sun rose as I was 4 or 5 miles into the loop. I saw a skunk just after daybreak approaching the trail but not close enough to spray me. Towards the end of the loop, the route took a steep climb up the rock that really exercised my calfs. I had my second breakfast granola bar at the top. Then it was another a steep climb back down, returning me to my campsite after 6.5 miles or so.

Enchanted Rock State Park, Texas

By the time I got to the end, I had missed the rest of my training group who would have started at 7am. I took a few moments to rest, refill my water, and went ahead broke my tent down before starting the next loop. I grabbed a pack of Powerbar gel blasts for nutrition on the second loop. The sun was starting to come out, but I still had a cooling breeze so it was not too bad. It was not nearly as humid there as my last few long runs in Austin. A mile or 2 into the loop I opened the gel blast packet to find that the gel blocks had all melted together. So I had to nibble on this congealed mass for the rest of the run. It still was good.

I met up with some of the others in the training group at the end of the second loop, and then did a small out-and-back to cap of some distance before cleaning off in the campground shower and heading out. This was the first long run I have had in a month that I have felt got at the end. I am glad I was able to start early before the heat came in. I just learned how to embed the gps record of the loop in Google maps, embedded below. (if you are viewing in a reader and the map is not visible or not centered, try the original post or see it in google maps)

View in Google Maps

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  1. the google mps thing worked on my reader and on readello.

  2. Thanks Mike. Looks like it works in the big ones. Doesn't work in Bloglines.


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