Sunday, February 18, 2018

Meego Bingo

Picture by Michelle Bates
I spent my morning with friends again--this time playing Bingo in the woods. No, there were no banjos, but there was a lot of food, running, beer, fireball, and awards for Bingo-ing, and for not Bingo-ing. How can you possible lose with a deal like this?

Mike Rives puts this event on at his property near Skiatook. Here's the deal. Each participant is assigned a Meego Bingo card. As always--the free space is blotted. Then the runner gets two more free spaces and they have the choice if blotting any two spots. Smart blotters will choose two numbers that line up with the free space--leaving only two more numbers to Bingo. Easy--right? Wrong. You have to run a lap to earn another blot. These "laps" are 1.85-ish miles long and on nice single track trailz. (LOVE!!!!!) Fortunately, the bingo balls are sifted through for each runner to make sure they get a blot on their card each time they pass through  the start/finish table--otherwise this might be a 2-3 day event.

As much as I enjoy describing trailz here and there as Relatively Flat, I cannot use these words to describe this course. I did only 4 laps* this year, and made practically zero-progress in getting a Bingo--I obviously had the Bingo card from Hell. Each spike is a lap, and you climb 170' in the first .7 of a mile. Then you have a little over a mile of much more gradual downhill. Each side looks brutal, but the downside is much milder. Runners can, if they choose, run the course in reverse. I did that once, but the steep decline that you have at the end of the lap was a bit more uncomfortable that I preferred.

*Justin Walker ran 15 of these laps!!!

Mike's evil alter-ego is the real one to blame on this sinister hilly course. Meego is to blame for a lot of crazy ideas in running in this part of the world.  Mike describes Meego in great detail HERE.

Everyone got a finishers trophy! I forgot to bring mine home:-( 
Oh, by the way--nice vest Rock Star.
Great awards were given to the first bingo, and to the place where every competitive runner hates to be--4th place. (In most races, 2nd and 3rd place walk away with trophies or medals, and 4th goes home empty handed. Well, the tables are turned at this event.) And for those who had unlimited energy, there was an award for multiple bingos. And my favorite--an award for most laps ran without getting a bingo. (I won this one last year--kind of a Biggest Loser award.)

My race went slow. That first mile that sucks until you get it out of the way--well it hung on and sucked all day. I didn't whine. I love hills. I kept a shuffle or a power-walk all the way to the top, and then shuffled carefully the downhills. I just could not get comfortable stretching it out and increasing my leg turnover. And that's ok. I had fun, took a lot of pictures, and hung out with friends.

Here's another incline snuck in on the downhill part. Well played, Meego--well played.

By the time you reach this pond, it is all flat and/or downhill to the finish line.

Picture by Michelle Bates
Michelle Bates was the card blotter. I tried to bribe her for an extra spot or two on my card, but she's a tough cookie. She did mention that $100 would guarantee a winning card. And would you believe it--I only had 70 bucks on me.

Leaha showed up to just to hang out and catch up with friends, and I talked her into walking a lap with me. I was about to call it a day anyway, but my 4th lap gave me close to eight miles which sounded a lot better than six.

Did I mention I stopped to take a few pictures? I love old abandoned houses, old bridges, and old barns. Torn-up scary dolls are on my list, too.

Picture by Michelle Bates
 Ah the awards. Brandon Plate had the first Bingo. He ran over 15 miles to get it though.
Picture by Michelle Bates
 Jfrank took home the Tough Luck award. I could swear there were two of him running out there. He was knocking out over two laps to my one. And if I am right--I got as many Bingos as he did.

Picture by Michelle Bates
Jwalk scored the Bound and Determined award for those who got more than one Bingo.

Picture by Michelle Bates
Will and Carrie got the team award. Will cooked up a bunch of pulled pork and brisket. The street tacos were superb, and the pulled pork went down well with me in the form of meat shots--a nice pinch of pulled pork in a shot glass of Fireball. For some reason, this grosses people out--but it is awesome. I think if a restaurant offered these as appetizers, they could make a killing.

It was a great day for dogs too. Luna and Taylor were playing and it took 8 quick pics to get one good one. I wish I had brought mine. Roxie would have been good for a couple of laps, and Zeke could have done one.

Everyone had fun. No one got hurt. It seems like the Bingos were a little bit harder to come by this year. Thank you, Mike Rives, for having our friends out to play for a day at your place. If this event happens again, I won't miss it.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Pryor Creek

A group of five journeyed to Pryor this morning to check out some newish trailz. I say "ish" cuz I've run here twice before and have wanted to share the fun playground in this low-lying area along Pryor Creek.

We met at the Elliot trailhead--probably named after a nearby landowner who may have allowed access to the lushly wooded tract. (I'm guessing here.)

It had rained during the night. How bad? Weather apps had varying opinions on the coverage area and amounts. My app showed the edge of the rain was right over where we would be running. When we started out, there was a steady mist, and I had taken off my windbreaker but put it right back on. It was actually great for running though, and the precip let up within the first mile. Only in a few spots was there any standing water or unmanagable mud.

These are nice soft single track trailz with very little in the way of hills and after I had my first mile that sucks out of the way, I settled into a semi-fast (for me) pace that felt wonderful. If I had longer hair, it would have been flapping in the wind.

Now I thought I had heard these trailz were only a couple of years old, but there were several of these nice park benches along the way that looked older--but who knows?

Oops--I forgot to mention the members of our tribe. Pictured above are Lynna and Mishelle. Pictured below are Kate and Taylor--aka Tay Tay.
Kate ventured down a steep embankment so Tay Tay could get a drink. The climb back out involved a lot of slipping and sliding and 4-legs towing 2-legs to level ground.

I am not a good selfy taker--my arms are too short. Lynna manged here without getting her finger in the frame.

This HUGE fallen tree has been laying here for over a year and a half. It's getting lower and lower as time passes. Some of our group climbed under. Kate and Taylor went over. I took a path down a steep embankment and did my slip and slide act basically paving my backside with slick sticky mud.

There were lots of fallen trees. Lynna dared, begged, and pleaded with me to walk across this one, It was wet, slimy, and not only guaranteed sending me to a cold baptism but also my untimely death. Everyone knows TZ no swimmy. If I were a fish, I'd be a bottom dweller.

Make no mistake--this is a fake picture. I was nervous even being that close to the edge.

Right after crossing Troll Bridge, a bridge that seemed way different the last time I crossed it, we met this tree standing menacingly overseeing our passage. A brief fog swirled in adding to the mystique. I remembered more of a steel bridge. Maybe it had simply been redecked with CCA treated wood planks.

Here are the remnants of another passage over the river. I had crossed the stream and climbed out the other side on these odd concrete steps last time here, but with the mud and the flow of the river, we decided to bypass this adventure.

Connecting the north trailz with the south, we ran along the edge of what was once a hayfield. We were about five miles in at this point, and I was still enjoying a great run.

It was somewhere along this stretch that food was mentioned. Instantly, my stomach growled. All I could think about was pancakes.

Here we are crossing the fallen tree. Youth and canine fly over the top. Lynna had my phone and took pics. 

Here you have the horror of my huge butt crawling under the trunk. Unflattering, and being the gentleman that I am, I'm not posting the other limbo pix.

We ended u with 6.1 miles. Would have been 6.2 had we not taken a shortcut on the way back. Everyone enjoyed the trailz, and we will possibly return later in the year--but not when the ticks are bad. Yes, I got my pancakes. We hit the Denny's out on HWY 69.

Next trip--in 2-3 weeks. I'm open to suggestions as to a locale. If you'd like to jump in and explore trailz with us, visit TZ'z Trail Trips on Facebook.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Recent night runs

My training schedule, which is near nothing, took a very gradual upturn this past weekend. Mostly, it has consisted of walking the dogs at night and doing a trail race on the weekends. I did three races in January, but only have one on tap for February.

My bestie Chrissy Whitten asked if I could squeeze out time for a run Friday night, and I took her up on the idea. She needed 24 miles, and I was game but doubted I could keep up with her for much of that. She did a little of her scheduled 25 miles on the treadmill though and 15 was the final required amount for her to meet her training. For me--any run was training compared to what I have been doing.

I suggested LaFortune Park. It's a 3.25-mile loop, some asphalt, some chat. It's mostly except for the semi-scary places where it's not.

 When we have run together in the past, we usually got into some kind of shenanigans--nothing destructive, but it's possible that someone somewhere would not see the humor in our selfies. I wanted to hop up on this huge steam-roller (for want of a better name for it.) My luck, I'da kicked it out of gear and see it rolling down the embankment smashing everything in its path.

 Its a big deal for Chrissy to find money on her runs. She views it as pennies from heaven--sort of a sign from God that He's thinking about her--and of course He is. I actually was the one who spotted the quarter and penny in the gravel and was part of God's plan to see them for her. I like that. I usually pick up pennies, thinking I only need to pick up a penny 100 million times to be a millionaire.

We did three laps for 9.7 miles by my watch. Even with our bathroom stops and picture taking, we averaged just a few seconds over 16-minute miles. That was something for me to build on. It's been so long since I've even given a flip about my pace, but that will need to change if I am gonna finish another 100-miler.


Saturday night, it was another dog walk. If both dogs would decide to--let's just say trot--trot, I could use them in my training. But it's not so much a run or walk for them as it is a sniff outing.

We usually go to Turkey Mountain and sometimes do the pavement, but we prefer the trailz. This night, for a change, I took them to the parking lot south of 96th/Riverside. They have never been there, and with the wide paved trailz, I thought I could keep them from being distracted from all the new smells in the grass, bushes, and around trees. Whatever. They stopped t sniff practically every blade of grass between Riverside Drive and Yale Ave. 

A moon two days past full shone through the trees. Good thing because I forgot my headlamp. I forgot how dark the path can be since they've installed those eyesore concrete sound barrier walls.

I know I have run here at night before, but because I was mostly walking and dragging dogs from one sniff to the next, I was nice combinations of darkness, cracks of light, and the illumination glow from the turnpike lights.

We got 3.5 miles in with the return trip a bit faster. I am thinking if I can get Zeke and Roxie a little more focused on running, they can be my training buddies. Zeke needs the exercise, and they are both eager to go. We can help each other out.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Greenleaf 20K, and some other ramblings

Last year I had signed up for the inaugural Greenleaf 30K at Greenleaf Lake east of Braggs Oklahoma. I also was supposed to board a cruise ship early the next morning in Galveston--so I skipped the run. Now I have run these trailz three times prior and I was well aware that the upper route was quite hilly and technical in places, and was eager this year to plow right through the course. 

I had Brandon and Cameron Plate riding with me and they were both signed up for the 30K. They are both 40 years younger than me and 40 times faster than me, so my questionable math skills directed me to do the 20K so I could beat them to the finish line. Haha. I even took a 30-minute early start, leaving out with the 30Kers.

It was a coldish start, but with bright blue skies and no wind, it was a perfect day for a nice long run.

Most of the route was on single track with a little bit of jeep road every now and then. We also had to run a highway bridge across the lake, running on an asphalt shoulder and a narrow concrete shoulder on the actual bridge. The state park people had coned off the road funneling both directions into one lane taking turns to pass through.   I bet we got a lot of dirty snarling looks from non-runners who had to wait.

This short stretch of trail was the old abandoned highway. This section of hit and miss decaying overlays led us from one single track to another.

A mile or so in, this trail sloped precariously close to the edge where one slip of the shoe might send you rolling down the embankment into the lake. Trekking poles--I'm glad I brought them today.

After 2.7 miles we came to Lynna's aid station. Travis Owen was also there peddling Fireball--and I graciously accepted a half a shot.

For me, the highlight of the trip is the swinging bridge. It's hard to run across it. The bridge bounces unpredictably and you can't get a rhythm going. It's fun. I ran once here with my lab, and he would have NO PART of this bridge. I had to carry his 100 lb ass across.

The outbound trail stays close to the shore and has a few little ups and owns, but is way flat compared to what comes later. This cove was beautiful, but I could not get a good snap that captured the beauty and serenity. Bushwhacking to the shore a little further back might have been the ticket, but hey--I ws in a race. 

 Travis Owen must have been hiding in the woods to sneak this picture. See--I'm all business.

The aid station at Mary's Cove was the turning point for the 20 and 30Kers. From here, we headed eastward up a steep hill and then turned back south, but the 30Kers went north onto some of the more remote areas. I heard multiple moanings about the hills on the north loop being terrible.

It was at this aid station where Brandon dropped. He took a fall and bruised up his shin, and decided to be smart and call it a day. The only way they could get the aid station supplies here was by boat, and a boat ride was the only way for Brandon to get back to the start/finish. He finished 1st in the Greenleaf Du--10K trail run and a 1K boat ride.

For the 20K  things got rough for the next few miles--even more so for the 30Kers. You had rocks. All sizes. Some loose, some slick, some sharp and sticking up to trip you. Best of all--they were heavily leaf covered. It was trail by braille. I put the trekking poles to non-stop use for the next 5 miles. Not surprising, climbing was easier than descending.

Instead of having mud cake up on my shoes, I had wads of leaves stuck to my poles. Not really a problem, but a minor annoyance.

The always expected--sun-peaking-through-the-trees shot. Yep--I know there was already one posted earlier.

Cameron caught up with me during this section. He was running with a broken toe, or so he said. Yes, he was moving a little slower than normal. But where he passed me with 5 miles to go, he had run 13 miles while I managed only 8. 

 AHA!! A clearing. This was after 6 bad climbs, and behold--it was nearly flat 

A couple of old friends caught up with me. Susan and Caroline have run 100s with me--as well as a few 50Ks and road marathons. This day, they were 30 minutes faster than me. But did they stop to take pictures (other than this one?) Did they lollygag around at the aid stations?

Back at Lynna's aid station--the Fireball was gone. I hear newer trail runners say they would NEVER drink on a run, but Fireball has become a staple at trail run aid stations. Notice the large empty bottle. My buddy Travis had saved one shot just for me!!!

The route back from Lynna's bypassed the treacherous trail sloping to an icy drowning death, and instead took us up a long gradual uphill jeep road. Good call.

2280 feet of gain--about half of what Switchbacks had, but mile for mile, it's actually close.

What did I learn from this run? Hmmm. Umm....if you keep going, you will eventually finish.? I guess I can claim that. Most encouraging was what happened later that evening. I met with acquaintances from a sacred secret society and spent 4 more hours on treacherous trails in the deep of night to find things that needed to be found. Somehow my worn-out body rose to the occasion and 7.8 miles and 1280 vertical feet later, I accomplished my mission. Both endeavors equaled a good double.