Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Shoe Review

At FlatRock Saturday, I ran in a pair of new, BRAND new, not even available in store new trail shoes: the Mizuno Wave Cabrakans. The Mud Babe pictured with Bad Ben and I is Sophia Wharton, the Mizuno rep for Kansas, and (well, I am not sure how big her territory is.) Sophia had two huge boxes of these shoes at the pre-race dinner, and invited everyone to try them on. This shoe was voted Trail Runner Magazine's Editor's Choice in the new October 2009 issue. They felt wonderful, like old friends on my feet....the kind of shoe that makes you say ahhhh. Then, I could hardly believe my ears when she asked if I wanted to run in them the next day, across the hardest most rugged 50K in this part of the continent, and on a day when mud would be a frequent obstacle. But it was true, and despite the conventional wisdom of never running a race in new shoes, never trying something different on race day, I was thrilled to try them out. It seems they wanted to see how they held up in difficult race conditions, and there is no better course to test them than FlatRock. I was giddy early Saturday morning lacing these puppies up. I had Injinji socks and a thin sock over them. I had also taped my pinky toe that always blisters, and also wrapped my heels that have been barking with PF symptoms. My feet felt safe and secure, but would they be so happy after 15, 25, 31 miles? You would think that out of 50 some-odd runners, there would be more than one brave soul willing to try these new shoes. I was the only taker....the other wearers were Bad Ben and Sophia.

I ran a good race, and the wet conditions made the going a little slower than usual due to a lot of the rocks being slick. I doubt my Trabucos, Hardrocks, or LaSportivas would have had better traction. These shoes were great through the mud, and had enough scratch to prevent slipping through slick mud and thick cakey mud. The good traction pattern did lend to picking up a lot of the clay-like mud, but what shoe doesn't? The toe bumper on the shoe was not massive, but I never felt a rock despite kicking quite a few. The heel cup was stiff enough that I never came close to rolling an ankle. I have strong ankles, but this course is an ankle eater....just ask Brian. And these shoes, despite me running in the factory insoles (I usually upgrade in my trail shoes), my feet did not at all feel beat up. This was a first for FlatRock. Finally, the blister count. Zero. None, nada. I always blister at this course. I usually have the 2 small piggies on each foot a solid blister, and hot spots on the ball of my foot, sometimes on the arch, and on the big toe. But I took my shoes off after the race and my feet were as pretty as a baby's foot.Wish I didn't have to give them back....they will be my next shoe purchase. Sophia, thank you for introducing me to the Cabrakan. :-)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

FlatRock, slow run, much fun, 8 down, 2 to go

It's Sunday night, and I have been one grumpy customer today. I feel like a Mach truck ran over me. No, nothing is injured, no pulled muscles, no blisters, no black toenails, PF is behaving, even going down stairs is not so bad. I endured another running of the FlatRock 50K at the Elk City Reservoir near Independence, Kansas. I have ran this 50K every year since 2003, and in 2007, I also ran a one time running of a 100K there....that's one 50K, and then another 50K immediately after that at NIGHT! This is the hardest 50K I have ever done. Turkey and Taturs is also a very hard race, but FlatRock is tougher. There are rocks all the way. Oh sure, there are a few sections where there is some nice dirt, but make no mistake, there will be a craggy rock that God put there from the beginning of time sticking up just enough to stub a toe on. It's just hard to get a good rhythm going, especially in the later miles when fatigue begins to take it's toll. The course profile is a scary thing to behold. Oh sure, one could take the river trail in Tulsa and make a course profile of it look daunting, but the trail at FlatRock has lots of short steep ups and downs that will get the heart pounding. This, compounded with the fact that EVERY steep hill has loose jagged limestone rocks. There are no exceptions. Oh boo hoo. Give me some Ibuprofen.

The night before the race, they have packet pickup at a shelter below the dam. This is also where the finish line is for the race. Each year, it is pasta, a vegetarian sauce, and yummy meatballs, salad, and some rolls. I seem to remember one year them having some garlic butter, but maybe it was a dream. It was good to see friends who I see only once a year....many crazies doing what I love to do. At FlatRock, the RD, the semi-honorable Eric Steele has provided a "Hall-of-Pain" status for any runner who runs and completes 10 FlatRock 50Ks in a row. This honor means they are Knighted into a brotherhood, and have a permanent bib with their permanent race number, and a Lifetime entry fee to do this race until the end of time. This was to be my 7th year to to the 50K. I had mentioned on my FaceBook Friday night that I had gotten some GREAT news. Eric took me aside, and told me they were going to count my 100K as a finish. So, now, as I type, I have 8 finishes and only have two more years before I am knighted into the "Hall-of-Pain"! (No offence intended at all, but Eric has always made me think of this character from Goonies.)

Race day morning: it had rained 1.5 inches during the night, and a heavy fog blanketed the valley.A lot of my Tatur friends had drove up from Tulsa during the wee hours of the morning, and they all hung out waiting for the pre-race briefing. Rob Phillip (in the gray) was getting his 1st dose of the Rock this year. Brave Brian was going again on the course that sprained his ankle once before. Tammy and Marvin were back to waltz through this course again, just like last year. Dana once again was doing the crew-babe thing and worked the turn-around aid station. had my ham sammy waiting, along with an ice cold Mocha. (A quick look into the future: Rob, who ran for 2 weeks in the Rockies last month, had this course kick his butt, although he finished with Marvin in a respectable time in my books. Marvin and Tammy both admitted that this course was harder than they remembered. Brian sprained an ankle again.)And OMG!!! Tom came up to run....(Honestly, Tom, I was only kidding about this course being easy!!!)And is this Jason??? No, just a Jason McGinnis look-alike. (He went on to win the 50K, and notice Nikki in the back of the pic honkin her nose?? She won the women's 50K!! Way to GO Nikki!!!!)

Here, I pose for a pic with Bad Ben the head Trail Nerd, and his Mud babe GF Sophie. More on Sophie in my next post.

Another pre-race pic: Earl looks like maybe he had not quite woke up. Somehow, he did come alive, and ran a great race, finishing in the top 10.

Partner in crime, Ken aka K2, was suckered into running this race as his last "training run" for the Heartland 100 in 2 weeks. K2 hung away and finished with nary a battle scar. Nothing like a little 50K in KS to prepare for a 100M in KS. WTG K2.

Future superstar Janeen was running her 1st FlatRock 50K. It is only a matter of time before she starts knocking down 100 milers. Dana said she finished the race and looked like she could just turn around and run it again.

Last pic before the race started. A little chilly, with a temp of around 60.

At 7:30 sharp, we were off. This pic is a little blurry, but is significant in that this was the last of easy running for quite a while. I had found my niche already, and had settled into last place.

Between the rocks and through the fog.

Around and through a series of limestone formations.

Long Vu descends down through the Devil's Butt Crack.

From the top of the world, the highest point on the course, overlooking Elk City Lake.

One of many many water crossings. Never got my feet wet though. There were always rocks to step on. I did stop and wet my head and hat in most crossings on the way back.

K2 and I ran most of the way together. I had to stop to tie my gaiters a couple of times and he would run ahead. Also, at the turn-around, I left and had to go back to give Dana my keys which were beating my legs up. Both times, K2 put about a 1/4 mile on me, but I would eventually catch him.

My best guess: this is why they call it FlatRock. Problem, most of these rocks are on the trail, or planted sideways like mini tombstones.

Yup, that's the trail.Watch your head.

Mile 24-30 get really tough. Last year, my mantra was "This trail does not own me, I own this trail. I managed to get through the death miles unscathed, and actually ran my 2nd best time. This year, my going out time was slower because the rain had made the rocks slick, and I could not spring across them as I was slipping a little. Ok, maybe it's just an excuse. I am just getting fat. This year, I had a new mantra for the death miles. It was: God gave man dominion over all the Earth, and that includes this trail. Seemed to work. I stayed out of the death-march-mode and ran most of the way. I finished in 10:10, my slowest time except for my 2nd crossing in my 100K. Proud to have it done though. I vow to go back next year and run a PR for he course (better than 7:53.)Was proud to receive another piece of the Rock. Eric really knows how to put on a race and a post race ceremony!

Fellow FlatRockian Roy Schneider was knighted, having run the Rock 10 consecutive years. He was the 6th to have this honor.If all goes well, I'll be the 8th Knight of FlatRock.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Lotsa stuff, running stuff, silly stuff....and more stuff

This last week/weekend has been a whirlwind of stuff....mostly running/trail stuff. I have an insane race slate this fall that actually has already started, and on one hand, I should be in full taper mode. Nope, can't do it. I just have to run.

A good compromise this past week involved a little running, a little walking, and a lot of ribbon pulling. I pulled a kazillion ribbons from the Turkey and Taturs trail run.Pink polka dots, and yellow caution tape were stuffed into Wal-Mart sacks, and properly disposed. I logged possibly 11 miles on the trails over 4 days at a blistering pace of around 40 minutes per mile. A big thank you toArnoldTatur Dave, and Candice who also pulled some pink. Turkey Mountain is now ribbon free, at least from our race.

Saturday, I ran with my friends at RW, and 18 miles was on the slate. make that 18 miles of pavement.I ran with
BobbySandra, and Chrissy....great company for a four hour outing.

Several miles down, and finally the sun makes an appearance.

Another appearance, and a rare one. A LIVE armadillo. In Oklahoma, 99% of all armadillos are dead on the road.

Ok, one more rare sight....Jason on a Saturday morning NOT running. Jason is in full taper mode for his upcoming 100 miler in Kansas.

Crossing the Arkansas River, while our friends opt to not take the bridge.

Some of our group on their return trip.

Coupla runnerless pics.

And now a few pics with LOTSA runners.We ran into the race for the Cure. Some of our group opted to do this huge 5K to support the cause of "saving the tatas."Somewhere in the midst of this 5000+ 5K race, we made our turn-around and headed back to our cars. It was no problem sharing the road, as we stayed on the paved bike path while the race was on a 4-lane road. We also shared the road with a few other creatures.Enough worm to fish with all day.And a bug large enough to eat all those fish.

Chrissy being Chrissy!

Two miles to go, but not before taking a break.

Yay Sandra! Longest run ever!!

Saturday evening, there was another 5K, and one with a twist. The Ladies First 5K was a run where all the ladies got a 3 minute head start, and the winner of the race was whoever crossed the finish line first regardless of gender. this race raised money for suicide awareness, and was held in conjunction with the Scottish Games, which gave me as well as a lot of other men to wear KILTS! The goodies for the race were Brooks Podium tech shirts for the men and running skirts for the women.Here, Kathy is sporting her Ladies First skirt.

Jason and I were sporting kilts. Jason, sexy thang that he is, won the sexy leg contest!

Good friends Earl and Jen appear to be dressed for the occasion, but Earl is no stranger to wearing the plaid.

Probably the nicest kilt I saw. Matt ran a good race and caught a skirt or two along the way.

Who won this race? A man or a woman? I was pulling for the girls, and I was not disappointed.McKale Davis (the girl that won the Reckless redneck Mile) won and in fact, 3 of the top 4 in this race were ladies. The one thing that bothered me is that when the results were posted online, they still separated the men's and women's times. I guess there are good points for both listings. For another (similar) account of this race,CLICK HERE

And I'll fess up. I did my best to make Kathy's skirt look....er....well, wide. (snicker snicker) Sorry, I am bad.She'll get even!