This weekend was the 31st running of the Tulsa Run, a 15K which is the largest race in Oklahoma. I have ran it in 2002 (5K), and the 15K every year since with the exception of 2006 in when I ran the Mother Road 100 on the same day. I am not a huge fan of road races although I do my share of road marathons, but this race is so much fun. I have a ton of friends there, and the course lends itself to running fast with some rolling hills, and also a lot of flat stretches where you can really pick up the pace. A lot of the course is out-and-back so you get to see who all is ahead of you and behind you. Us runners always seem to be good about saying how good everyone looks or in my case, lying about how good I look. (But this year, I was looking FINE!) I was part of a team that ran as a boxing match. My good friends Kathy and Debra were the boxers, My Heartland pacer Roman was the referee, and I was the ring girl.Sorry if you were eating while reading this! If you got throw-up all over your keyboard, just send me a bill!
We were not the only ones in costume.Don't know this girl, but her boyfriend is a fruit.
I am so lucky to run with so many princesses. These babes are in my Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday running group at RunnersWorld....as are these fine looking ladies.
Someone must have thought this was nice enough to snap a pic!
I did manage to get 4 miles in on trails both Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Saturday night, went to see Appaloosa, a western with Viggo Mortenson, Ed Harris, Renee Zellweger, and Jeremy Irons. T Z gives it 5 stars. Good enough to make up for a 5 dollar drink and a 6 dollar bag of popcorn.
More grim details of the happenings over the weekend on tomorrows post.
Today I had the time and yearning for a long run. Started from my house to get an easy 16 in. Seven miles later, I was approaching the 11th Street bridge. I crossed over and ran up the east side of the river and headed home. There was a fierce southwest wind, and it clouded over and was fairly cold. I put the camera away and picked up the pace on the way home. Trail Zombie is all happy again!
The first cold rainy day of the season. No run for the zombie, although I should have. I made another stab at organizing pictures, and decided to post a few.This was taken last year with Dana's camera. I was trying to portray the despair I was feeling at the time, in the midst of several gray days. Winter can sometimes knock me down. Not sure why I like this pic other than it framed my feelings at the time.
This was in with a bunch of Turkey Mountain pics, but I am pretty sure this is taken on the Butterfield Trail over at Devil's Den. I can't place where this could be on Turkey.
Another mystery pic. Makes me wonder if this was from Arkansas. Both were in with some pics taken with a disposable camera.
Swiped from the web thanks to Google. I just like this shot. Might be a mood thing.
Another borrowed pic. I have held onto this stairway, having been at the bottom looking up several times myself. Ya think I need to get out and get some sunshine maybe?
One of several pics taken from the pedestrian bridge. This one was in with the above ones, and I am sure it was with a throw-away Kodak camera. I like the purple-ness of the sky as evening approaches.
Taken on Highway 33 west of Sapulpa. I am a sucker for a sunset.
Recovery was going well. I had ran a little (4.8 miles) on Tuesday, another 4 on Wednesday both days at a very leisurely pace. Thursday, I ran with the RunnersWorld group and ran 8.5 miles. The first 3 were at a spirited pace, then the next 3 were at almost 5K pace, at least for me. I ran the last 1/4 mile to the store at an all out sprint, trying to stay ahead of my friend Brian, who managed to blow by me 100 yards from our finish. Then Roman and I ran back out to make sure one of our girls made it in OK since it is getting dark earlier. Like I said, recovery seemed to be going well.
Friday, Dana and I got up early and took the dogs to Turkey Mountain for a run. Both boys were pumped to go and tugged and pulled hard on the leashes. Jake was pulling on my leash so hard that I was braking hard while going UP Lip Buster!Is this the face of an ornery dog or what? I figured they would settle down once they had their swim.We let Rocky run free after that since he minds pretty well. Jake still was yanking my arm off trying to stay up with his dad. On their second swim though, Jake just swam to the other side of the small pond and away he went with Rocky in pursuit. Dana took to the trails to try to head them off, and I bolted through the thicket trying to follow them. Our hot pursuit went quickly cold and in 2 or 3 minutes, they were out of sight and earshot. I told Dana of a shortcut back to the road and I took off for the YMCA where I thought they might be heading to since there is another nice pond there. But I had no run left in me. All the yanking and braking from holding onto Jake's leash had my legs useless for anything other than a shuffle. I was painfully slow getting to the Y and when there, saw no signs of the dogs. Dana shortly showed up with the Jeep and we headed home. I logged 4 of the lousiest miles I have ever "ran". I felt like I had been run over by a freight train, and could have easily tossed my cookies. Upon getting home, I took a shower, crawled into bed, called into work, and slept for about 36 hours straight. I ran a temp as high as 101, and had absolutely no energy. (Oh, and because our dogs have tags with our phone numbers, some very considerate people called and told us they had found Rocky and Jake so they are now home, safe and sound.)
But as is my answer for most anything, I just needed a good run. So late Saturday afternoon, Dana and I went out and got in another 4 miles and this time it was a good run. But boy was my sleep cycle ever screwed up. Dana had rented about 5 movies, and we were up until 3:00 Sunday morning watching movies and then slept in Sunday until around 11:00. All this meant I missed running with my Saturday group (sorry) and the trail runners that run early on Sunday at Turkey. Boy have I ever been out of it! I had also planned on biking with Bobby and Susan, but Dana needed to get her long run for the week in since she is running the 50K at Sunmart this December. (Sorry Bobby and Susan! We'll catch you maybe next week?)
So Dana and I packed an ice chest and parked our Jeep in the upper parking lot on Turkey Mt and ran a course I devised for our Sunmart training. It consists of a modified out-and-back on the upper yellow trail, then the 6 hour Snake Run course, which together totals 7 miles. These trails are fairly flat, are not extremely rocky, and there are a fair share of tree roots just like in Huntsville. After this 7 miles, we did the 1st out-and-back again for a total of 10 miles. I set up our Garmins to display the time, the distance, and the average pace for the run.Since Dana would like to break 8 hours at Sunmart, I told her to do make sure to keep the 15s off of her pace.Pretty nice job for Turkey Mountain trails, I'd say!
Actually, she can average 15:25 per mile and finish under 8 hours. She ran a steady pace, slowing only by a few seconds per mile in mile 9 and 10. Now, if she can triple that effort without killing her coach!
All is well after last weekend. No aches or pains, the minor blisters are well, and I have a good spring in my step. I ran yesterday...took it easy with a little walking mixed in. Tonight, I went to Turkey and ran 4 miles of trails. It seems like it's been forever since I have ran there, and in fact it has possibly been over a month.I ran an easy jog for the first mile, and then picked it up just a little.Call it familiarity, call it home turf, but these rocky trails are way easier than some of the gravel roads in the Flint Hills of Kansas.Part of the charm of Turkey Mountain is that it is a dense wilderness tucked into the corner of metropolitan Tulsa.The leaves are starting to change.My favorite time of year on my favorite trail!A quick snapshot of downtown Tulsa.It was getting dark, and I had 2 more miles to go. I had to pick up the pace.I ended up running the powerline trail back since I was rapidly running out of light. It has three fairly steep uphills and I ran them hard, never slowing down. For whatever reason, today it was easy.I had quite the buzz afterwards. Twas a good run.
A quote taken from the TATUR chatroom Heartland thread from Tom Brennan (who just last weekend WON the Arkansas Traveller 100 for the 2nd time): "I'm anxiously awaiting to see two things - (1)If Trail Zombie can Zombie his way to two consecutive 100s in two weeks! (2)Will Michael Adams claim his first 100 and just how fast will it be?! I would have posted this earlier but wanted to wait until the race started because I did not want to add to their pre-race jitters."
Well, I did "Zombie" my way through it. :-) When I signed up for these two 100s, I knew it was highly improbable that I'd finish them, but because I was coming off of 3 consecutive DNFs, I felt this "double" would right the ship.
I did recover well after the AT 100, and by Thursday, felt good enough to run an easy 6 miler with very little discomfort. Also, even though I am quite the night owl, I managed to get 8 hours sleep the two nights before the race.
This weekend's race was the Heartland 100 Spirit of the Prairie, in Cassoday, Kansas. Cassoday has the distinction of being the Prairie chicken capitol of the world. I can now check this town off my bucket list.The Heartland edition of Team Zombie. Roman was a pacer from mile 43-58, crewed, and took a ton of pictures. Marvin also helped with the crew duties and paced me from mile 58 to the finish. Dana, crew babe extraordinaire, was in her usual form going more hours without sleep than I did.
A strange thing happened before the race. Dana and I were EARLY to the race, and Brian and Kathy were the ones who made it to the starting line with just minutes to spare!Kathy was to be running all the way with Mr. Johnny Spriggs aka Tatur Uno. Uno had ran 99 marathons in his illustrious career, and wanted his 100th to be a hundred miler. Kathy was along to make sure he made it, and because, well, she is just always around! There had been a little smack talk thrown around between me and the two of them. I had been secretly been ordering extra cheese on Kathy's sandwiches when I brought in lunch on Fridays at RunnersWorld, and threatening to through her in a ditch if she tried to pass me. I had not actually threatened Tatur Uno, since I suspect he might be packing a firearm, but I had told him I would definitely have the bragging rights if I finished anywhere near him after doing a 100 the week before.
Actually, all this smack talk was all in fun....I think. Also pictured is Bill Ford, aka Spud. More about him later.
We started about three minutes late by my watch, not that it mattered to me. I had my stopwatch going on my watch, and my Garmin working for me. I had Dana's Garmin to trade out whenever mine ran down. I had my data screen set for average pace, and wanted to keep the 14s off the screen for as long as possible. Like last week, I wanted to go out a little fast and then see what would happen as the day progressed. I suppose that a 100 miler that starts on pavement would seem like a fast start. It seemed like everyone was starting a 10K, and I tucked right in and ran with them.The 100 milers and the 50 milers all started together, so about 120 runners spread out quickly along the wide gravel roads that marked the beginning of our journey. Along the way during the pre-dawn hours, I chatted a little with some of the runners, particularly ones who had ran this race before. I asked when the hills were coming, and how rough the roads were. I still was a little worried about 100 miles of course gravel tearing up my tootsies.In about an hour, the sun was making it's debut for the day. A nice forecast of sun and 82 degrees was on tap, along with steady south winds. I had not started with a headlamp and mooched off of other runners who had. Worked for me last week, too.
Soon, at the first aid station, I ran into Spud. Now I knew I was pushing my pace a little, but to catch up with him, I thought I must be in BIG TROUBLE. Bill is FAST!!!He was glad to see me, and wanted to run with me. The privilege was mine. We kept our pace in the low 12s including the walk breaks on the hills. We would come to a hill and pick out a spot about 1/3 of the way up, and run to it. Then we'd walk to almost the top and take off running again. Along the way, my pace was well within a 20 hour finish. I knew that would change.
The roads at Heartland are mostly gravel and the rocks are flint....the stuff the Indians used to make arrow heads with. To me, it was like running on a cheese grater, or on serrated shark teeth. It seemed like it was tearing all the tread off of my shoes. Also, I kept getting grit and pebbles in my shoes. Can you say GAITERS?After a quick dumping or debris from my shoes, I was ready to go.And as you can see, I was not the only one who had this problem!
There was not a lot of shade on the course. During the day light hours, I suspect I might have been ran in the shade for a total of 50 seconds. It had to wear on the aid station workers too. Sure, they set up tents, but the wind all day was so fierce that tents were kites waiting to lift off.
The question is....What Lies Beneath?The answer is....Brian!
Bill turned around at mile 25 as he was running the 50 miler. He went on to finish in 9:47:22. Nice job, Brother!! I went on and the road entered some free-range area. This section was amazing as you could see for miles and miles, and yet see nothing but tall grass and gentle rolling hills. There were no mile markers, no runners to be seen and even when I would catch a glimpse of one, they seemed like ants on the horizon. (Could be because I did not run with my glasses!) There were no telephone poles, no landmarks except an occasional cattle guard. It seemed whether I ran slow or fast, I was getting nowhere. Had I not had my Garmin, I surely would have wigged out as it seemed I was running in place. The temps were in the mid 80s, but with the strong south wind, I was quite cool for most of the day. Some runners complained about it being exceptionally hot, but weather-wise, it was a perfect day for me. Eventually, I hit the Texaco Hill aid station at the top of a slight hill, and then it was more of the mysterious prairie.After what was probably the most trying miles of the race, I reached the next crew station.Dana was there, cold Gatorade was there, and Dave Dinkel's Power Pellets were there. These magic pellets were actually a 48 bean soup with little sausages in it. Quite salty, and quite good. He claims to have saved the lives of many a tired ultrarunner with this wondrous concoction. I told Dana and Roman about the no-mans-land I had passed through, and of seeing a huge red and white tower that it looked like I was going to run right by, but it seemed to keep moving, sometimes in front of me, sometimes beside me, and sometimes behind me. Then it would be back in front of me, but I never seemed to get closer. They just shook their head. Later, Roman and I indeed did run right past that tower, but neither he or I had our cameras. Now I wonder if it was all just a hallucination.
6 miles later was the crew stop where I could pick up a pacer. I was excited and picked up the pace a little to get there. At about mile 41 for me, I met Michael Adams, a fellow Tatur doing his first 100. (This pic was taken at the starting line.) He was leading the race, and yet stopped to talk to me for a bit. Wow. He was feeling a bit queezy and food was not sounding good. I had an unopened pack of Shot Bloks and gave it to him. He went on to finish the race, finishing a strong second. I am glad he was able to pull it together! :-)
My crew was waiting and ready for me as I rolled into mile 43.Roman was geared and ready to go the 7.5 miles out to the turn-around and back. Dana had hamburgers and hotdogs on the barbie, but I opted for some chips and vowed to have a burger on the return trip.
We bettered the pace all the way out and back. Even on the hills, Roman and I did not let up. When we walked, we kept it short. I also began trying to increase my walking speed. That is an area where I definitely need work. If I remember right, we managed to pass 2 or 3 people on our out-and-back. We also were able to see all the people coming back toward us and all the people we were ahead of on our way back. Randy Ellis was about 5 miles ahead of us, and we were ahead of Kathy and Johnny by about 2 miles. Johnny was having some tummy troubles, so I gave him my sea salt and a few E-caps, and reminded Roman to make sure I restocked when I made it back to Dana.
At mile 58, Roman's duty with me was done. He kept me in the game for a 24 hour finish where I could have easily have dropped off.
Marvin was chomping at the bit to take over.He was ready to TAKE IT TO THE HOUSE! I told him I was probably in way over my head, but as much as was possible, I would continue to push. We did not talk a whole lot, just a little conversation here and there. I would ask him to remind me to eat or drink whatever at the next aid stop, as I tend to get extremely absent minded in the wee hours in the morning. He also made sure I did not twist an ankle on all the cattle guards. At one point, he kept me from stumbling right over a skunk. Not sure if I would have smelled better of worst had that encounter happened!
The mystery section that had played with my head was not a factor on the return trip. You could not see for miles since it was dark. All I concentrated on was what was illuminated by my headlamp and the miles passed. One by one, we went through aid stations, eating chicken noodle or potato soup and refilling our water bottles. At the crew stations, Dana waited on us like a busy little waitress. MMMMMWA!! I love ya!!
With our pace still in the 14 minute mile range, we were not losing to the quest for sub 24. We also passed maybe 5 or 6 runners. My math is fuzzy after 90 miles of running with no sleep, but it finally hit me that if I could at least keep jogging and not doing my zombie walk, I could finish under 24. Marvin was nothing but encouragement, and kept me motivated. Thank you so much, my brother.
When I finally reached that last turn that led onto a paved road, I knew I was only 1/4 mile from the finish. I ran that at about 98% effort, which was still pretty slow but seemed really fast. 23:20:17 was my time, hence the final 3 numbers in the title line of this post. The first 3 numbers are the date of the race. (Kinda dorky, huh?)Brian and Dana were there to congratulate us and take a few pictures. Special thanks to Brian for some of the pics in this post.Me and my goofy grin and my closer.
We went back to our motel for a shower, and met up later with Brian, Kathy, and Johnny. I was bummed that we missed their finish.I was thinking they were probably gonna finish in the 28 hour range, but Uno came back to life and ran the last 16 miles strong despite the hills and finished in 26:34:34. Very impressive!!
We had some breakfast and sat around and talked about all the events of the night before. Good times.
Then, it was back to Cassoday for the awards ceremony, which was short and sweet. All of the 100 milers were awarded a big honkin' belt buckle.Gotta say, I kind of like this belt buckle collecting hobby!
Today is Wednesday. I have not run today, but I could....work just got in the way. Now I know most of you think I never work, but every now and then I have to earn a few bucks to pay my way to my races. Anybody wanna sponsor me???? Actually, I walked briskly for two miles Monday, and ran 4 miles on Tuesday. I'll get six miles in tomorrow, and rest on Friday.
This week I have focused on recovery. My breakfast is highly fortified with pain killers. Anything to get ready for this weekend and another 100 miles.
I have a little apprehension about this run. But tired legs or not, I am going. I had thought about just going easy for a 29:59 finish, but have decided to push right from the start if my body will allow. My fears are the flatness of the course. I know, there are "rolling" hills, but being able to see for miles and miles all while moving at 3-4 mph worries me. This, coupled with the gravel and in some cases big chunks of gravel, makes me wonder if my feet will resemble hamburger when I am through.
I have borrowed these pictures from the KUS website, and it's OK, I intend to return them, or at least send them a handful of ones I take while there.Not to many trees, unlike last week where 95% of the course was under a dense tree cover.
With 80 runners entered in the 100 miler and 46 in the 50 miler, I'll be able to see a lot of other runners since the course is out-and-back. But spread 82 runners out over several miles and I most likely will be alone for a lot of the miles. Thank God for my pacing crew!! Roman and Marvin, you guys may have to drag my sorry ass along!
No bears or mountain lions to be seen on the course, but I hear there may be quite a bit of livestock.