Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Documentary on Mud

Mud comes in so many varieties. When I try to describe the different types of mud to people, they look at me as if I were a little off center.
Normal garden variety mud, clumps to feet, knocks of easily.
Similar mud, but with a clay mix. This mud cakes up like jumbo-sized pancakes to your shoes. A big mistake with this mud is walking on grass or leaves after getting a good dose on your shoes. The leaves and grass blend well with it to make adobe, which is a popular building material in the southwest.Once dry, a light duty jack hammer available at any tool rental enter is needed to restore your footwear.
For a more durable shoe covering, pure clay is hard to beat. This variety is best used when you want to strengthen your quads, glutes, and calves. No problem loading 20-25 lbs per foot. Just stomp through and begin your workout.

Aww.... good old red dirt. Makes fine colorful mud which will give your shoes a nice color variation. It has a mild caking factor, and actually will cling to some of the sticky clay and clay blends and can actually help to remove a few of the outer layers of build-up. Given clean shoes and a 1/4 mile of red mud to tromp through, you will walk away with no more than a few extra ounces of weight, have shoes that may or may not match your running outfit, and will have a fair amount of grit hell bent on finding it's way into your shoes and between your toes.

At the Free State Trail run in Lawrence Kansas this past weekend, there was a section of trail that had green mud. I kid you not. Nasty stuff, that really clung to your shoes too.

One of my favorite muds is black mud aka shoe sucking mud.This mud has a good clumping factor, and can be deceptively deep. Baptize your shoes in this, and you had better be careful stepping out of your predicament. This mud will KEEP your shoes, and quickly cover up the crater where you stepped. I believe this is where some of the crazy barefoot runners got their start.
Another variety of black mud is mud made from rotting leaves. It has many of the same characteristics of the above black mud, but is characterised by a foul smell, like old doo doo.
Hopefully no black doo doo mud here. This is the good garden variety mud, diluted to a thin slop state. This mud is actually so clean that you could eat a Quik Trip sandwich without even bothering to wash your hands. (I always advise smelling the QT sandwich before biting into it.)
A good mix of 2 or 3 of the above mentioned muds. This runner made it through a marathon through some of the worst mud that Kansas has to offer. Even some rain and hosing had not been able to wash all of it away. Notice the mud that was able to make it's way through the shoes and socks and between the toes.
Finally, proof that the battle with the mud in trail races is sometimes lost. Mud that will take away a shoe will also take all it can get. That foul smell in some of that mud may be more than rotting leaves!

Monday, April 27, 2009

DNF due to Tornado

Sometimes it is harder to get a race report to going than it is to actually make it to the starting line. I did a double of sorts over the weekend, picked up no blisters, managed to run for over 60 miles and not further injure my PF, added to my tick count for the year, and came home with ZERO medals!

Well, this 1st installment of the weekend update will cover the Free State Trail Run, put on by the Trail Nerds. I ran this race last year, the marathon that is, and this year, I planned on running the 40 miler, followed by the OKC Marathon the next day. Sounded like a good idea anyway.

My great friends Jason and Lisa were running the marathon and also doing the full in OKC to qualify for 4 stars on Marathon Maniacs. ______________________________________________________________________________________ Roman was running the marathon, and then doing a leg of the OKC Relay. And Kathy was matching me step for step, also doing a 40/26.2 double. We are gluttons for punishment.Dana, Roman, and Lisa cruise along early in the race. The marathoners had an out-and-back before starting on their 20ish mile loop. I heard grumblings about the unevenness of the grassy fields, but later in the day, the grass did not seem such a bad memory. :-) From the looks of it, and also judging by their finishing times, Jason had long since sped away.

But just like an episode of Lost, this post will flash back and flash forward in time.An hour before the marathon start, the 40 milers and 100 K-ers took off. In usual Zombie fashion, I was in the porta-pot just minutes before the start, and took a few pics of the race start before taking off myself. Very soon, I found my place in the long line of runners as they entered the first of many miles on single track trail. Fortunately, Kathy was near by, and we ran and chatted for about 10 miles or so.The trail wound along one draw, down a ravine, across a stream, back up, sometimes on the shore of the lake, sometimes deep in the thicket.
One of the signature sights at this trail is this structure made of old driftwood....sort of an arbor, made lean-to style with no visible nails or ropes.It was a grayish day, forecast to be in the mid 80s, but the cloud cover kept it around 10 degrees cooler. Not the best day for pictures though.

Our first aid station was at Land's End. Just the basics here. Succeed sports drink, water, a few candies, fruit, and salty snacks.Some yummy chocolate chip cookies showed up later, or maybe I just missed them the 1st time through.

After this aid station, the mud got worse. We had went through a few muddy sections, but the next several miles was ridden with over-the-ankle slop. At first, most runners tried to go a little wider to get around it with dry feet.After a while, I just gave up and plowed through it.
After 10 miles +/- Kathy got fed up with my poky-ness and left me. My feet were achy, and I was wondering if my Plantar fasciitis was gonna let me finish. I truly gave very serious thought to dropping after one 20 mile loop.

When I did finish the 1st loop, I discovered that our Jeep was gone, and I knew that Dana most likely had dropped. My thoughts were that she was a mile away at the shower, but maybe not. Possibly she had already showered and went back to Lawrence to shop? No way to know for sure. My cell phone was in the Jeep, as was my stash of salty snacks, electrolytes, shot blocks, and ibuprofen. Tried a hamburger at the start/finish, and it was cold. Hmmm.... (Dana, fought hard to stay in the race, and made it 9 miles before her PF flared up bad and she stopped. Still proud of ya babe! If Plantar Faciitis contagious?)

Fellow Taturs Shelley and Kurt had finished their marathon, with Shelley finishing 3rd female. Not sure what Kurt's time was, but as always, he was slower than his speedy wife. While I was feeling sorry for myself, Shelley asked me if I was going back out for the 2nd loop, and I realized I just HAD to go. A Zombie feels no pain, right? It also helped that I was able to snag some Vitamin "I" from the aid station table. With Roman, Kathy, Jason, and Lisa still out, and Dana somewhere, I decided I just as well be moving on the trail as aching laying on the ground. That is LOGIC at work.

Early in the run, there was a long skinny loop, that could have easily been skipped. I have never been one to do anything like that and as a race director, I would immediately DQ a runner that cheated. I was beat up, my feet ached, I knew everyone would be waiting long for me to finish, BUT, despite being able to cut 1.8 miles from my 2nd lap, I decided I could not live with myself. And a weird thing....after that 1.8 miles, I felt much better, pain free almost, and ran stronger (but not necessarily faster!) Maybe that was just KARMA at work?
More lakeside trails
More mud....I actually took my only fall on this second loop, falling on my big arse in a sloppy slippery slope. My entire backside was mud plated, my water bottle was buried, and I lost my glasses, but did find them later.This nearby stream crossing was my bathtub. After cleaning myself up, I returned to find my glasses.

more aid stations. This was the far point aid station and everything from here was getting closer to home. At this point my race was 3/4 over. I was beginning to smell the barn.

On the way back, the deer really started to move. I saw several deer, or maybe they just followed me around.Also, the weather got bad. A little light rain set in, but let up after dampening everything. Even sections like the one below that were dry were just wet enough for the mud to cake up on your shoes. Every 50 steps or so, I had to scuff my feet, or stop and scrape off the excess. Or just run with 10 pound shoes. Slow going, but still going. from the far side aid station to Lands End aid station, the weather warning sirens went off 7 or 8 times. It was thundering and lightening, with light rain. There was nothing for me to do but run. I did not care to lay in a ditch in the rain; besides, the rain was light and where I was there was no wind at all. I figured the warnings were for the boats to get OFF the lake because of the lightening. But I was also worried that when I hit the last aid station, they would be pulling all the remaining runners, and sure enough, that was the case. They had me and around 7 other runners WAIT (I waited around 40 minutes) before we got a ride back to the start/finish. In that 40 minutes, I could have made it the remaining 3 miles to the finish. Well Heck! The park rangers had made the call, and it was later relayed to me that a tornado had touched down IN the lake, some of the tents at the S/F area were blown down, and the park rangers had herded everyone into a concrete building for safety.

Another good friend Vicky finished her marathon HOURS before me.Great job Vicky!!

Back to my plight....I ran what was probably 37 miles +/-, and would have got the 40 on a sore heel completed in around 12:15. Not my speediest effort by any means, but I think I deserved at least a marathon medal. And hopefully, after the RDs decide how to post the results, they will see about getting me one.

It was great to have a hot shower after the run, and just as I reached the showers, the sky opened up. It rained HARD and even hailed a little. The hot shower was just to nice to leave, and I walked out of the bathroom 30 minutes later cleaner than I have been in years, except for a little mud behind one ear.

After meeting for dinner in Lawrence, we all began the trek to OKC. The weather on the way there was horrendous. Dana and I had to pull over a few times to wait out the hard rain. We finally just stopped and slept in the car. Dana dropped me off near the starting line in the marathon just in time for the starting gun. Actually, I had 25 minutes to spare, but it was still close. I will post a marathon report here tomorrow, and a longer report on the RunnersWorld blog tomorrow as well.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The count

The count begins. I have actually collected two ticks on Turkey Mountain a month or so ago, on a day when the temps soared into the upper 70s. Today, I managed to find the third, while mowing grass, right here in my front yard. I had slaved away with some dull limb clippers sculpting shoots that arose from the stump of a destroyed Bradford pear tree (damned ice storm) into some sort of bush that in my dreams may resemble a tree someday.Where was I? Oh, ticks. A friendly little guy was trying to find his way to some choice meat upwards of my forearm. Futility. He met a bitter end.

More critters....later tonight while feeding my dogs, this 4' rat snake slowly attempted to make an exit from right under my chair. My first thought was that this might have been the copperhead that had bitten Rocky about a month ago.But it's darker color, very slender tail, and slightly skinnier head told me it was not venomous. A Google search showed it to be a rat snake, which actually is a good snake to have around, just not under my lawn chair. After chasing it off the patio, around a couple of flower pots, it retreated somewhere up inside the riding lawnmower inside the garage. It may still be there. I hope he/she leaves before I fire that mower up tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Tax day has come and is past. Don't have to think about that again for a while. Winter months are hard on me and my pshche, and although mid April signals the beginnings of warm days, 4-15 has a bad affect. Even in the years that I got all the tax BS out of the way in February, the negative energy associated with the day does a number. Maybe I should have been treating these symptoms with beer. Hmmm.Instead, I added in a few runs. Besides the 23 miles I ran with my road friends last Saturday, Dana and I hit the trails on Turkey for a few more later that afternoon.

Yesterday, I explored some new trails not far at all from where I live. Another wilderness area in the Tulsa Area, Chandler Park.I do not have any idea how many miles of trails there are here, but I intend to find out!

Other than this dude taking a leak, I had the trails all to myself. I think I barley scratched the surface of what is there. A lot of the trails are cut and used by 4-wheelers, but are still narrow and perfect for running.

What to call this untapped trail-running paradise? Zombie Mountain? Hmmm....

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A run on Zombie Hill

As promised on the TATUR chatroom, and on my FaceBook account, here are my pictures of the trails on Zombie Hill.It was a gray drizzly day, and I was going slow, having already ran once early this morning, and fed my face liberally with donuts, bagels, Tom's awesome protein bars, and some PBM&M Oreos, then a huge bacon egg and cheese quesadilla.
Not having ran these trails before, (I actually did explore here some 4 or 5 years ago when I was a brand new trail runner and had long since forgotten about this area) I was not sure how long I would be gone or how far I was going. On a lazy Saturday, that was OK. I had my Garmin to tell the tail of the distance ran, and in a pinch I could use the breadcrumbs feature to find my way out.
First creek crossing. I managed to keep my feet dry all day, despite the light rain that fell later in the day. Keeping my shoes clean turned out to be another story though.
A few mud holes along the way. Actually, there were some small ponds across the trail in a few places.

On Turkey Mountain, there are a few small caves if you know where to find them. On Zombie Hill, there are probably a few as well. It will take some time to find all the cool stuff out there.
A scary looking tree. I'll shoot several pics of this tree I am sure. Jack with the shading and tint. Might find my way back here at night sometime.
Similar rock outcroppings like nearby Chandler Park.
I need a few more weeks at Weight Watchers to be able to navigate this passage.
Somebody's old campfire site.
Another sign of some sort of civilization. I am pretty sure the roof leaks a little.
Out of the rock wall area, and onto the high country. There are several miles of old jeep roads like this, with heavy briars lining either side. Good place to stay on the trail.
Ok, I lied. I did head back over to the bluffs. This was probably the tallest face I have seen along this ridge. I am guessing it is a good 60 feet down.
If you know your Tulsa geography, you should be able to figure out about where I am.
From the overlook, I headed south. A nice single track trail led me right down to a creek botom, and the trail disappeared. So I followed the creek, and evidently someone who was cutting the trail had the same idea. After a quarter mile, and with a little bush whacking, I found where they resumed cutting the trail.
Gotta few battle scars. Of course any true trail runner likes a bit of blood as proof of a good run.
There are a lot of good climbs along the way. This short section was straight up, and slick.
A powerline runs about 3 miles east and west, and there are fair jeep roads under the lines all the way. These were the muddiest traails/roads in the area, and the stickiest clay/mud you can imagine.
OK, I need some help here. My smoking days are long over, and as I recall, this looks a lot like what some of my former acquaintances used to smoke. Is it is? Or is it ain't?

Lots of animal tracks. Of course there were a lot of deer tracks. Some stah I am thinking might be raccoon or possum. Several tracks like this, that look canine, but dogs usually step left feet/right least my labs do. These tracks seemed to indicate more of a gallop. A Google search seemed to indicate they were coyote, which is no surprise.
These were more interesting. After seeing these, I paid real close attention for some similar, bigger cat tracks. But these bobcat tracks were the only feline ones to be seen. Both above paw prints are ones I shot....the Google drawing is a cut and paste.
Of course, there were a lot of zombie tracks out there today, and I brought a lot of mud home with me.