Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Rant Run Rant

Of course you all know I live on Turkey Mountain and run there several times a week. What you may not know is that despite the state of chaos that swarms my head, I like my trails neat and clutter-free. Lately, someone had taken some fluorescent pink paint and marked several trees on the west side with obnoxious blazes. I am sure they had found some trails that they liked and wanted to make a route that they could follow. The problem with this is that the Turkey and Taturs race in September uses pink ribbons to mark the way, and someone would undoubtedly see these pink blotches on the trees and follow them right off the course. Couple this with the officials at the YMCA asking us if we knew anything about the painted trees and I came up with a plan. A trip to Home Depot netted a can of flat charcoal gray spray paint, which was a pretty good match for the gray tree bark. Now I am not a tree hugger and I am not sure if this paint is harmful to the tree, but it can surely be no worse than the lipstick pink crap that these bozos used.

Mark and Cameron called me just about the time I was through with my tree fixing, and wanted to run 4 miles. I had them meet me at the top of Lip Buster, and we ran part of the Snake trail, and then cut over to the YMCA, and then ran the Jelly Legs trail back up through Rock City and headed back to the lower parking lot. We went very slowly through Bee Sting Pass with no casualties.

At that point, we met the usual Wednesday group and did a Red trail loop. Bee Sting Bob had taken a fall, which I did not get to see, but he still gets points for ample dirt on a white shirt, and a few scrape marks. WTG!!

I started with a rant, and I'll finish with another. My Wednesday group told me that while at the Sitting Rock on the north side of the mountain, some whiny mountain biker unloaded on them complaining of Tatur leaving their ribbons and trash all over the mountain and that Tatur was painting the trees with these pink blazes. Because Glen was wearing his Tatur shirt, this goofball thought he could do his little tirade on our group. For the record, all the ribbons that almost daily are showing up all over the mountain are not put there by Tatur. Some cross country team, or a soccer team had a planned training run there and marked some trails. Fleet Feet had their Escape From Turkey Mountain race last weekend, and I left the ribbons that this cross country team had put up thinking some of them MIGHT have been preliminary markings put up for the Escape race. However, Fleet Feet used YELLOW caution tape for their race, and did a very good job of cleaning it up after the race was over. The last race held on Turkey Mountain put on by Tatur was the Barkley Book Fair, and ALL of the ribbons were pulled by the following Tuesday. Same goes for the Tatur Estim8ur. I pulled ribbons for both of these races myself. (I had help for the BBF.) And yes, Tatur has used pink ribbons in the past. But the ribbons showing up on the east mountain and down Lip Buster were NOT put there by Tatur.

I am not sure if I should automatically pull down every ribbon I see when I see it, because someone puts it there for a reason, and they may be having a training run or fun run. That's all cool. But people NEED to take down their ribbons when they are through! And I am tired of Tatur being blamed for course markings that are not theirs.

So, whiny mountain biker, if you read this, please call me at 814-6433, or email me at Lets talk about it, and I'll buy you a beer.

Monday, August 25, 2008

For my good friend, Johnny Spriggs

My good friend, Johnny Spriggs, who probably runs more races than I do, recently ran an insanely hard mountain marathon, and then an incredibly hard, hot, and humid 50K in Texas. He writes a good race report, too, and I wanted to post them here. Happy reading.

Leadville Trail Marathon
Saturday July 5th 2008

I just happened to mention to my wife last winter that I thought it would be nice to spend the 4th of July weekend in the mountains this year, maybe Colorado, possibly Leadville. I mentioned that I thought there just might be a trail marathon going on about that time. She said that she was fairly certain there would be. I also mentioned that I would like to spend my birthday, July 19th, in Ft Worth, Texas. She said there just might be a trail race going on that weekend, and you know what? She was right.

The Leadville Trail Marathon takes place every year on the Saturday after the 4th of July. This year it was July 5th. We went up a couple of days early to see the sights and try to acclimate so I wouldn't sound like a freight train going up the mountain (you know, from breathing so heavy.) Leadville is a very old silver town with a colorful history and plenty of stories about people like Wild Bill Hickock and Doc Holiday. Main Street is said to be at 10,004 ft and my lungs will not argue that one bit.

The race starts just one block off main street and heads uphill for almost four miles before you get your first long downhill. The problem is what goes down in Colorado must come back up. You do this several times on old wagon trails and single track trails until you get to Mosquito Pass 13,188 ft. It was 42 degrees when I was there, they had food and water and a medical person to see if you could remember who you were and why you were there. I told him all I wanted was to get back to where the oxygen was. He said I was fine and away I went back the way I had come up and over and over and over.

I finished without having to crawl any of it, it was my third time to run the Leadville Trail Marathon and I will be back next year. It is the most scenic trail run I have ever done, I may have to run it a dozen times to feel like I have seen it all.

We took off for Ft Worth on July 19th right after the Mohawk 5000. I wanted to run the El Scorcho 50k Midnight Run for my birthday party. El Scorcho was dreamed up by a couple of Marathon Maniacs I know, Ryan Valdez and Jason Constantino. It is ran in Trinity Park in downtown Ft. Worth. The race starts at midnight and you have until 7 am to finish, a 50k, over 31 miles in the heat of the night. They advertise it as "Dark, Steamy, Hot, and Sweaty. Takes a certain amount of fortitude, or stupidity."

You run ten 3.1 mile loops through the park for the 50k, or five loops for the 25k if you are not totally insane. Of course, I would never consider doing the shorter distance. I found myself in the porta-potty after the 5th loop with a very upset stomach. I will not go into detail except to say the contents of my stomach were getting out any way it could. After 18 minutes I exited the porta-potty hoping no one else would ever go in there. I kept telling myself, "I will not DNF, I will not DNF, I will not DNF". I ate a banana, drank some water, and took off down the dark, hot, steamy trail like the idiot that I am.

I did finish before the 7 hour cut off and I was not last. That is the only thing I can think of to brag about. I was very happy to have my wife there to drive me home while I slept like a baby. I will be back next year if for no other reason because it will be very easy for me to PR this race.

These were very different trail races in very different conditions. They both tested my grit and determination and for me that is what it is all about.

Johnny M Spriggs

Sunday, August 24, 2008

After running a fast six miles Saturday morning, catching a 3 hour nap, driving 2 hours so Westville, Okla and then back, I readied myself for my all night run. My house, to 11th Street near downtown, and then south to Jenks, east to Broken Arrow, and on to NSU, and then back. There were 20 people running with me for some of the way during the night. I truly have awesome friends!!

Pictured from left to right are Tatur Uno, Tatur Dave, Charlotte, Curtis, Alex, Earl, Kathy, Dennis, Rob, Mark, Cameron (the little guy), Vicky (in back), Ken, and Aaron, Me sitting, and Brian acting goofy. Glenn must have been powdering his nose, because I know he started with us.

We headed north down the new paved trail on the west bank. Quickly, we divided into two groups....the FAST group, and the group I always seem to be in. 7.25 miles later, we hit our first aid station. Dana had brought a huge ice chest full of water and Gatorade, chips, Fritos, and a few other snacks.At this point, Mark and Cameron, Curtis, Alex, and Brian caught a ride back to their cars. Earl had ran from his house, and was through when he passed his house. By the time I reached his house, we was showered and had his jammies on. Smart man!

Because of the demolition of the trail on Riverside between 31st and 51st, we detoured and ran through Brookside right down Peoria. While running by Crows Creek Tavern and some of the other watering holes along the way, we were cheered along by some of the patrons. I had no idea that Ultra-running was followed so closely by the main-stream beer drinkers! At one of the bars, a couple of girls joined us in our run. Tina and Tracy actually ran about 5 blocks with us, in street clothes and flip flops. Kind of like "running with Karno" except it was running with Ken.Tina and Tracy, you were good sports!

Dana met us again at 71st Street where Ken Saveth caught a ride back to his car. Dennis and Charlotte ran with us to Jenks, and then returned northward and crossed 71st and headed to my house ending up with about 23 miles. Roman jumped in with us at Jenks and ran with us all the way to NSU for 15 miles.

Tatur Dave had said in his blog that if we did not hear from him after this night run it would be because he had died. I am sad to say that he did indeed die along the way, right in front of a MEC unit.Kathy checks for a's gone.Never being one to miss out on an opportunity, Kathy promptly "lifts" Tatur Dave's wallet.

Along the way, Bee Sting Bob joined us, and he ran with us until Sheridan where he and Glen called it a night. Bee Sting had stashed a very nice array of goodies at Sheridan including BEER, cupcakes, and other goodies. Curtis also had an oasis placed at Harvard. Vicky placed several other aid stops every 3 miles or so all the way to NSU. We never went hungry or thirsty despite the long night and humid conditions. Aaron called it at Garnett, and Rob and Vicky kept a torrid pace all the way, steadily increasing their lead on us all night long.

The night wore on, and we kept the pace. Roman, Kathy, Tatur Uno, and I (and Tatur Dave! I was just kidding about his untimely death!) stayed together, and laughed and joked, and sang song....very old songs. Dave knows songs that were in the top 40 before Marconi invented radio.

Tatur Uno chilling at a water stop.
Kathy adds to the rust problem on this steel bridge. Finally, after 32.7 miles, we reached NSU. I drank some flavor of Gatorade that did not set well, ate a couple of PBJs, and considered dropping. Uno was through, Kathy was feeling a little sick, and had to work the next day, so she called it a night as well. Rob and Vicky had finished earlier, and they were on their way home. That left Tatur Dave and I. We decided to go for it. This was Dave's longest run ever. Dave has done a a few marathons and a couple of 50Ks, so every step was in uncharted territory. But with 20 more miles, it seemed doable. So away we went. Our pace was as quick as 9:30 at times, and averaged between 10:10 and 12:50 for most of our mile splits on the return trip.

Now long distance runners let gas rip along the way. Be honest, you know you do! Somewhere before crossing Elm in Broken Arrow, Tatur Dave said he needed to find a Quik Trip soon to tidy up a little. One such letting had turned out to be a little more than he expected, and to avoid having a major rash, he wanted to freshen up. I told him that at Elm, a Quik Trip was about a mile north, and at Sheridan a QT was about 1/2 mile south. But at Elm, there was an all night Wal-Mart right there. However, the entrance to the store was maybe .25 miles from where the trail crossed, and then .25 back. Dave decided he had sweat enough that maybe he could get by without any attention. It was at that very instant that I saw a nice clean washcloth right in the middle of the trail. I pointed at it, and Dave said, "Hmm, a wash cloth."
"No," I said, "It's a blessing from Heaven. Just as God provided manna for the Israelites, He had provided a clean wash rag for you to wipe your butt!" So, business was taken care of, and Dave mentioned that he hoped someone did not find the washcloth and think God had provided a rag for them to blow their nose with! TMI??....maybe!

Later, it was warming up, and I mentioned that it would be so nice for a north breeze to blow in. Not 30 seconds later, we got that breeze, and it stayed with us for much of the remaining run. With temperatures rising to 83, the breeze made the run bearable.

After 46 miles we had somehow gone the wrong way!!!!

The last 1.6 miles were uphill across the 71st Street bridge. I run this a couple times a week, and run it non-stop, but this morning after 50 miles, it was a real challenge. We did walk about .25 of the steepest part. A marathon is 26.2 miles, Two marathons is 52.4 miles. Tatur Dave and I ran 52.6 miles overnight. Not bad, I think. Just knocked out a couple of marathons for a long run.Next time you see Tatur Dave wearing his RunnersWorld shirt, ask him.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Come run with us on Wednesday!!

Wednesday nights are becoming my favorite run of the week. Last Wednesday we had 11 runners out,and two others who came and just missed us, but ran a few miles on the trails anyway.

Mark and Cameron ran across the river on the 71st Street bridge, and just missed us, ran a couple of trail miles, and then ran back across the bridge. Must have been 6-7 miles....way to go!

Nedra flashes her brilliant smile just before Vicky warns her about the guy with the camera.

Kurt snarls, "OK Zombie, that's enough !*%@**#! pictures!"

Trail casualties: one Bee Sting (who else?? It's Bob!)

One bruised knee on Alisha.

And three seed ticks for me!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

It is no secret that I am a tick magnet. I can run five miles on trails, and collect the only two ticks on the mountain. Naturally, my friends love it when I run with them because all the ticks instinctively gravitate to me. I think having hairy legs helps the ticks in their quest. My legs must seem like a jungle-gym to them. “Here comes a couple of hairy legs....let’s grab on....WHEEE!” I have a tick counter on my blog, which I update almost every day. Right now, my “tick count” for the year is at 103. Most of the critters I have found climbing up the fur on my legs, but a few have gotten their teeth into me, and then comes the ITCH!

Ticks tiny first cousins, the dreaded chiggers, are even more of a nuisance. First of all, they are so small they are practically invisible.
Secondly, they come in bunches. I routinely feed about a dozen hungry chiggers on each trail run.
There are several “remedies” for the chigger bite: rubbing Vaseline over the bite, painting the bite with clear fingernail polish (try that with hairy legs!), and my favorite, rubbing Icy Hot over the area. Burning is better than itching!

Of course, the mosquito is ever present, and they like the cool confines of shaded trails, especially around ponds and creeks. 
I have always thought that a mosquito will not land on a moving object like a runner. But after several hard miles, my pace usually slows to where the mosquitoes, with a good flying start, have no problem landing on me. I sport half dollar sized welts after a bite, and the remedy that works best for me is to scratch it until it quits itching. Works every time!

And last, there is poison ivy. While exploring that slightly overgrown trail that meanders beside a stream and alongside a bluff, the beautiful greenery trailside is often the three-leaved ivy. One swipe against the ankles results in a nice inflamed rash of oozing blisters. Itch itch itch. Try scalding hot water in the shower, grinding salt into the rash, or consider amputation. Actually, I have obtained some drops that taken once a day have built my immunity to the dreaded ivy. Since taking them for a few weeks, my poison ivy is far less of a problem.

Major league baseball players have a feat called “hitting for the cycle.” This involves one player hitting a single, a double, a triple, and a home run all in the same game. This is a rare feat, as uncommon as a pitcher throwing a no-hitter. I think trail runners should have recognition for “itching for the cycle.” This would involve getting a mosquito bite, a tick and a chigger bite, and some poison ivy all in the same run. This could be my claim to fame….my stats on the back of trail running trading cards.
288 races ran, 79 last place finishes, “itched for the cycle” 58 times in his career.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Map for the NSU and back 50 miler

If I have done it right, below is a link to in which I have mapped out the Turkey to NSU and back run for this Saturday night. According to Mapmyrun, it is 51.5 miles there and back, using the proposed detour around the snail construction. (Oops, I meant TRAIL construction!)

We will meet at my house at 718 W 67th St just west of the main parking lot at Turkey Mountain at 9:00 pm, and leave at 9:15. We will go north on the new paved trail on the west side of the river and go to 11th St, cross the bridge, and head southeast on the river path. At 31st street, we will go east to Cincinnati and head south to 34th St, east almost to Peoria, cut through a parking lot to 35th Place, and west to Madison, south to 41st, jog a 1/2 block west to Detroit, and then south to 47th, west to Boston Place, and south until the path that leads to the crosswalk across Riverside at the stoplight. It's not as difficult as it might sound. If anyone gets lost, call me at 814-6433, or just run in the grass along Riverside. Let's just all try to stay together at least until we get through this point. From there, it is just the same bike path that we all know, except we stay on it until we get to NSU.

There will be a lot of folks joining us along the way. Cell phones will be quite handy coordinating our meeting places.

Who's up for an easy 50?

View Interactive Map on

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Happy birthday, Makenna


Last Thursday was my granddaughter Makenna's first birthday. Geeze, time does fly! Dana saw a picture of birthday cake she just had to make for the occasion. It was a mama cat with two kittens. This cake was constructed out of two pound cakes baked in loaf pans. She carved out the head, body, ears, and tail for all three felines, and iced and decorated them. I was so impressed! The eyes were mini M&Ms, the whiskers were chocolate Twizzlers (yum! I'm polishing off the remains of that as I type!) and the ears were triangles cut out of pieces of Starburst candies.Birthday girl was so excited about the cake. She is starting to say a few words....of course Dada, and dog, cat, NO, besides a whole string of jibberings that I haven't figured out yet. Makenna got a whole kitten head for herself. She seemed to prefer the orange-ish kitten, and marveled at it for a while before pinching off just a small taste of it.Once it passed the taste test, it was hammer-time! Makenna spends a little time watching Sesame Street, and in true Cookie Monster fashion, she devoured the cake.
After a thorough power-washing, it was time for the presents.
Makenna now drives a fuel-efficient Little Tykes two-door coupe.

Books are cool....especially ones that play music, oink, moo, meow, and bark at you.

Touched by the spirit of giving, Hooch gives a warm doggie kiss.

Makenna graciously allows her dad to play with her toys.

Did somebody say CAKE?

TATUR represented at the Leadville 100

A member of TATUR is at the Leadville 100 right now as we speak and is giving it a go for the third time. Brian is also raising money for a good cause, to help the children of coffee bean farmers in third world countries. Anyone want the best latte they have ever tasted, visit Brian's shop: Double Shot Coffee Company at 18th and Boston. They are truly works of art.

Check Brian's blog periodically to check on his  comments:  Links to this post

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A day in a life of a zombie

Tis usually so-so to bad news when the boss calls before 8:00 am. This morning, I just let the phone ring, and made coffee before calling him back. In his usual gruff voice, he asked what I had going on this afternoon. That usually means he wants me to make a trip out of town to run a lead that he does not want to do. (Quite the pessimist, aren't I?) But to my shock, he asked if I wanted to play some golf!!!! :-) :-) I gave this some thought for about a half a nano-second, and said HECK YEAH! SO after making a couple phone calls and figuring a couple of jobs, I headed out to White Hawk. Shock two was when he picked me up at my truck in a golf cart and had already paid for my cart and green fee. He also bought drinks (water) and lunch (hot dog and diet coke). 
What did I do for thanks???? I beat his butt all around the course. Actually, I had 5 or 6 pars, quite a few bogies, and a couple of disasters. He also had a few good hole as well. It was a very enjoyable afternoon. Take away a 6 on a par 3 and a 9 on a par 5, and it would have been a respectable round for someone who plays only a few times a year.

After golf, I had just enough time to get to the trails to meet my Wednesday night buddies for our run.We are a high tech group of trail runners. Here, we stop to review a previous trail race on a laptop Brian had set up on the trail.

We also wear high tech shoes!Cool shades Aaron sports his new Inov-8s. We have been trying to get the Inov-8 rep to visit us at RunnersWorld for months, and would like to sell their shoes. The rep calls, but has yet to set up a visit.

Pictured on the front are Glenn and Brian with the antennas, and in the back, Bee-Sting Bob, T Z, Kurt, Shelley, Mike from Kansas City, and Vicky. Cool Shades Aaron took the picture.

After running to the end of the mountain, Brian, Bee Sting, Mike, and I ran to the mi-chi trail where the mudslide wiped the trail off the map. It was my opinion that this section needed some major attention before the Turkey and Taturs race.Brian loses it and slides all the way to the bottom.He then decides that it was FUN, and wants everyone to have a turn at it!! :-)Tired ultra-runners should have no problem ducking under this tree.

Mike and Bee Sting Bob bush-whack their way through the mudslide area.

I had envisioned a series of rickety bridges on the side of the mountain. Maybe we'll see some bridges for the next Barkley Book Fair.