Sunday, February 19, 2017

San Angelo to Abilene to Fort Worth; February 19, 2017

Open weekends are fun.  That's actually a code word for "challenge".

So many options.  Not enough time.

One that popped up late in the week was that the top two men's NCAA wrestling teams were facing off in a dual meet in Stillwater, Oklahoma -- #1 Oklahoma State and #2 Penn State.

I couldn't figure out how to squeeze in a race and make it there before tickets went on sale for remaining seats at 1 p.m.

There were 5Ks on Friday afternoon on the Baylor campus and Saturday evening on the Texas A&M campus, produced by student organizations.

However, it was that Saturday race.  I really like to try to race in some place new.  Haven't been able to make that happen in four weeks.

As far as seeing a collegiate contest, the intrique of knocking out two arenas in four hours in Abilene was the most enticing.

Question turned out to be:  What was I going to wrap around it?

Had great Tuesday and Wednesday evenings this week, but Thursday night was the culmination of an emotionally crappy week.

I ran at the track and saw both of my good friends, Jim and Leanne Rosser.  Jim actually walked a mile with Mary Carter, while his wife, who's training for this year's Boston Marathon, knocked down seven.

Both nights included great dialogue and banter with my best friend - besides my daughter, Bill Dwyer.

Wednesday evening, I went to a reception that was being held at Whole Foods Market for USATF 100-mile National Champion Ronnie Delzer, who ran 13 hours and 44 minutes at Rocky Raccoon two weeks ago.

Then I went to hang out at the track and bantered a lot again with Bill and Layton Gill.

After talking with Layton, it seems like my trip planning has rubbed off a little bit on him!

Like I mentioned earlier, Thursday just totally sucked.

I definitely wanted to try and make sure that I was in church on Sunday morning, regardless what else I did during the trip.

A long walk Thursday evening, though, cleared up a lot of things.

Well, long, that is, for chilly temperatures walking The Woodlands Waterway.  While it wasn't any more than about 47-48 minutes, it was enough.

I had some work functions that I needed to attend to Friday morning.

I rented a car again to keep miles off of my car, this time from Enterprise close to the house.  However, I couldn't get on the road until about 12:15 p.m.

My plan was three baseball games, two basketball games, one race and one church service.

Because I didn't take the toll road in Austin on 290 and 183, it slowed me down a little bit as I ventured west to San Angelo.

Google Maps showed just under six hours, but I didn't pull onto Knickerbocker Road until about 6:35 - 6:40 p.m.

Lubbock Christian was playing at Angelo State and they were playing a doubleheader.  I could see the lights on, but I first needed to charge my phone (because my cigarette lighter charger wasn't working in the rental car that didn't have a USB charger).   Crazy iPhone5 that I have.

So I went to Chick-Fil-A to eat and charge the phone.  It wasn't enough.

So I literally drove a very short distance down Knickerbocker to the Fairfield Inn that I was looking at staying, went into the lobby with my laptop and made a reservation.

I checked in and continued to wait for my charge to complete enough to boot the phone on.  At this point, I just decided to forget the baseball game and get the rest I needed to run the Shannon Trail Race Series #3 15K at Burkett Trailhead State Park in San Angelo State Park.

The alarm was set for 6 a.m., but I was starting to toss and turn at 5 a.m.

I made it to the Park and was registered by about 7:20 a.m.

It was a little chilly so I decided to stay with my white long-sleeved USA Space City 10-Miler technical shirt and over top my blue Lunar Rendezvous Run tech shirt.

They had a trail briefing that said that the 5K course was about 3.45 miles and that the 15K would likely be about 9.8 miles.

The 5K didn't start until about 8:05 a.m. and then the 15K was 10 minutes later.

The trail set out before us was probably 30% technical, mostly rocks and/or gravel, 65% dirt or packed dirt trails and then another 5% park roads.

Maybe even less than five percent, actually.

They also told us that the water stop would be at about 4.5 miles and then there would be another one about two miles from the finish.  And the suggestion was made to carry water.

I had hydrated through the night pretty well and had downed most of the bottle of water, but I decided not to carry it.

We hadn't made it a mile and not only did we see a pretty big sized longhorn, but a cyclist came up behind a group of five of us that were trailing one section of the 15K.

He wasn't looking to try and get by us or anything, but after learning that I was new to the area he told me about the first technical section of the trail called "Playground".

More importantly, he also told me that when we got to Bell's Point that there was city water there.

By the time I got there, he was actually there and then I saw him at another spot before I made it to the 4.5-mile aid station.

There were lots of places to run, but also some challenging sections.  Nothing totally insurmountable, though.

My biggest fear was, of course, snakes.  It is why I tried my best to keep moving and not to walk too much or too long.

All was good.  I covered the 9.8 miles in 2:07:27 - so somewhere a little over 12 minutes per mile.

Given that it was a smaller field in the 15K, I might have placed in my age group, but I didn't stay as my plan was to be able to leave Abilene by 11 a.m.

I saw the cyclist, walked over, extended a hand of thanks and thanked him for being out there for me.  It literally felt as if he was an angel out there to watch over me.

That race was one in my 127th Texas city or town and 65th different Texas county.  I'll add another next Saturday in Victoria.

I got on the road for Abilene no later than 11:10 a.m.

You go north through Bronte, which I stopped at a Stripes store to grab a quick lunch to eat on the way, and then on into the city.

It was pretty easy to keep it at 75 miles per hour most of the way.  Only saw one DPS officer.  They had somebody else stopped.

What's neat about making the drive to these locations is that you see road signs to towns that you've only previous known because they play Texas high school football.

I ended up arriving at McMurry University before the National Anthem at 1 p.m. to see their women's basketball team wrap up the regular season in the American Southwest Conference against Concordia University (Texas), from Austin.

I left at about 2:40 p.m. to be able to make the short drive to Hardin-Simmons University.

I could have ended up staying as the women's game between the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and Hardin-Simmons had gone long.

The men, though, eventually got their game started and blew through the first half.

And even though HSU had overcome a 10-point plus deficit to tie the game and take a brief lead, I left at 4:40 p.m. to be able to make the short drive to Abilene Christian to catch a baseball game there.

It was a very short drive.  Even shorter than it was from McMurry to Hardin-Simmons, but finding a place to park was another story.

I ended up parking on the far west side of the track and field stadium.

To get to Crutcher Scott Field, you have to walk by the new 8,500-seat football stadium that will bring football back on campus for the first time since 1942.

Michigan State out of the Big Ten was in town to play Abilene Christian.  They had won on Friday night and then the first game of a double-header earlier in the afternoon.

I sat for an inning or two on the Michigan State (first base) side of the field and then stood up near the top of the bleachers.

While there, a gentleman noticed that I was wearing my Liberty University baseball hat and asked if I had gone to school there.  I replied, "No, my daughter will be walking in May."

He had played college basketball, he said, with one of Liberty's former men's head basketball coaches, Randy Dunton.  I had known an individual, Stephon Leary, who coached for Dunton during his second stint at Liberty.  (Leary also played basketball for the Flames.)

I talked with him and another father of a Michigan state player.  One of their sons played second base and the other played right field, I believe.

Great conversation and was glad that I engaged.

It got to be about 7:05 p.m. and I was beat.  I went to the hotel, checked in, then left to go get a bite to eat and got to bed around 11 p.m.

I realized Saturday evening that the Penn State at TCU baseball game had been moved up from 12 noon to 11 a.m.

This meant that I needed to find a new church to attend on Sunday morning.  I had originally chosen Alliance Baptist Church, which is affiliated with Baptist Bible Fellowship International (BBFI), but with the time change I then selected North Fort Worth Baptist Church.

They had a worship service that began at 9:30 a.m. and it was a traditional service, meaning a choir, organ and sing out of the hymnals.

I set the alarm for 5:45 a.m., with a goal to be out of the hotel no later than 6:30 a.m.

I achieved that goal and had time to grab a little breakfast at McDonald’s.

I pulled into the parking lot a little after 9:20 a.m. and once inside, I was greeted by David White, who gave the opening welcome comments.  He saw my Liberty shirt and we traded some pleasantries about the University.  I was warmly welcomed for being in attendance, which I appreciated.

The church was in the middle of a series of sermons and this week’s was that “Saved people serve people”, which I believe to be true and something that believers should strive for daily.

I try to and believe that I succeed a fair amount of times.

Getting to Lupton Stadium wasn’t too bad as I got onto 35W and headed south to Interstate 30.  I exited off on to University Drive and went south to Berry Drive where I went west.

I had to park along the street in front of some homes west of the track and field stadium and walk all the way around to behind the dugout.

A lot of beautiful upgrades had taken place there I learned over the last 3-4 years.

TCU, of course, was at the College World Series again last year before losing to Coastal Carolina for one of the teams that made it to the Finals.

By the time I got inside Penn State was up 2-0 in the first inning.  TCU had won the first two games of the Series on Friday and Saturday.

And by the time I left near the bottom of the fifth inning, TCU had gone ahead 6-2 before Luken Baker, who hit 11 home runs in his freshman season a year ago after coming out of Conroe Oak Ridge, launched a shot just to the right of the scoreboard in left to left centerfield.

I made it home by about 5 p.m., got a bizarre text, spoke with my daughter for about an hour and 20 minutes and then visited my parents, grandmother and nieces before coming home to finish this blog post.

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