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.

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