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Grasslands Report and Lessons Learned

Last Saturday, I ran the Grasslands Trail Marathon outside Decatur, TX. The trails are part of the Caddo-LBJ National Grasslands, which are mostly used for horse riding, but last Saturday, the runners took over the trails early. Thanks to the Race Director and all the volunteers (and cooks!) who made it a wonderful experience.

The weather was ideal in the morning, but got up to 80F in the afternoon, which made for a warm finish. What added to the fun was it had rained hard the week before, and the trails were muddy and many places had standing water--memories of our trail half-marathon about a month ago. (Although, that was a much more rugged course.)

Every run is a laboratory. You learn something every time you go out because every time is different. You are different. The course is different, and the conditions are never the same. 

Grasslands Trail Run,
So what did I learn this outing?

Running in creation is still better than running on streets. I'm biased, but I am convinced we were created to run in creation, and if we would go there, more of us would run and more of us would run longer into our years. Jay Norman, my running hero, ran the half marathon at age 74. Running on dirt in fields and forests--even when the miles are many--is part of how we were created. Suburban and urban life has stolen this gift from us. The beauty of the fields of flowers and clover are indescribable.
Fuel and water are essential to finishing. Nothing new here, but when mileage and heat combine to drain your reserves, you better have the fuel and water to re-supply or you are done. Scarcity of water and fuel, which is the runner's responsibility, took its toll late in the run. The art of long-distance running is to monitor and resupply your energy so you will have what you need to finish the run. (Faith is like this, too. Remember, Hebrews 12:3?)

Having a plan helps get through the rough spots. I went into this run with a run-walk strategy. Several training and running plans call for alternating between running and walking. I set my watch alarm for 13-minute followed by 2-minute intervals. Knowing walking was coming helped us sustain the running. By the end, however, we got to where we hated the sound of the alarm to get us back on the move.

Helping someone one else accomplish their goals makes everything much easier. A group of runners--David Chisum and friends--paced me through my first marathon in 2000. I could not have finished without them running alongside me. When I finished, you would have thought they had just finished their first marathon. In running, you return the favor to others in order to help them reach their goals. This run I got to lead Amy Nash to her first marathon finish. And, yes, when we crossed the finish line, I felt like I had just finished my first marathon! When I wanted to stop, her goal became my goal, and we kept going. I think that is part of what Solomon meant when he wrote about the power of 2.

It was a wonderful outing, but I'm ready for riding season, and I look forward to more Sunday afternoon rides with the Legacy Cyclists (4:00, at Legacy Church). Who knows, maybe I have another marathon or ultra in me. Wanna join me?

Here are the results of the marathon

Check out the video of the entire Barron Family finishing the marathon! (You can see the conditions of the trails here too.)