Thursday, October 29, 2009

Twilight Zone at RunnersWorld




It was the last run before Halloween, and our normal Thursday night to run. It was decided we should have a costume party....why not? We did last year and it was fun....we ate a bunch of bad snack food and had a good time. I gave very little thought to what to wear, and at the last minute visited the Salvation Army store across the street from RunnersWorld and bought a dowdy dress and a bonnet that was supposed to make me look like an Amish girl (or grandmother!) I was a little early getting to RW, and while adjusting my bonnet, I looked up to see myself looking at me?!?!Sandra had whiskers, and glasses....like mine...and shorts like mine....and a Snake Run shirt like mine!! WHAT???? You are dressed like ME!!! Oh, she had the details down. Had the water bottle, had the camera in hand....even has a watch on the left hand and a Garmin on the right. Funny stuff. Flattering even.

It gets better! Roman walked around the corner in the same garb. Amazing!! I did not have my camera....it was out in the car while I was putting on a large dress that needed to be a little larger to fit me....but I made a quick dash out to fetch it. It was on the way out that the zombies came out of the woodwork....Trail Zombies, that is.Roman was looking super-cool as a zombie runner.

Nope, this is not me. It's another impostor! Whereas Sandra had the quirky props, Tom had the look. Maybe a little too much gray in the hair, Tom....but you were very handsome.


Jason has the look perfected. Maybe just a little heavy on the gray/white stuff, but he has the physique down, and even the slight head tilted to one side. I have that copyrighted, ya know. This is just too weird!!!

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Susan Alexander does a great impersonation. I especially like the skulls on the do-rag.

Bobby, always thinking "outside the box", decided to come dressed as my car. Notice the front of my Prius on his shirt. The back of his shirt has (you guessed it) the back of my car, as well as my MARATHON HO sticker on it. Funny stuff, Bobby!!
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Caroline wears my favorite race shirt, the shirt from the 1st Six Hour Long Snake Run. It's a cotton T, and is a little hot to wear on most runs, but I love the design.

More impostors.I LOVE IT!!! How did you all pull this off??

Susan looks so much like me she could BE ME!! (Susan, the shovel I used to kill that copperhead had a much longer handle!)
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world in Egypt of all places, an outbreak of "TrailZombie fever" cropped up.Nothing short of terrifying!

All together, there were 14 people dressed up as me, and I looked NOTHING like me!!! Lisa really looked the part. Teresa also could have passed for me even in a brightly lit room. I thought I had Brian take a pic of all the TZs in front of the store, but it was not on my camera. I'll post it if he sends me a copy of what he took. Favorites? It's hard to say. Tom was mistaken for me. Sandra had all the props. Jason had the mannerisms. Gosh, I loved em all.

Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, or so I was told. I am blessed to have such awesome friends!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

A few pics from tonights run




I joined some friends for a quick jaunt around Zink Lake, a segment of the Arkansas River with a low water dam making a lake of sorts.It's a great place for some speed work or for just an easy jog. Tonight's run was a mix of the two....a faster pace than the usual zombie-shuffle, but slow enough to hold down my back-of-the-pack status in most races.

I ran with my friend Brian, who will be wearing a new running outfit this Saturday. Brian lost a bet at Heartland and has to wear a pink tutu at the Tulsa run this Saturday.Know this, if you know nothing else....there will be ample pictures of his cute self in that dainty little outfit!







The sunset tonight was awesome.

The east bank is a great place for pics at dusk.







Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Lake Yahola



One of my favorite places for a short run is lake Yahola, aka Mohawk Lake. This man-made lake is a holding area for Tulsa's water supply--water is pumped from Spavinaw to here, and then treated, or so I am told.There is a sparsely maintained gravel-ish road around the lake, and runs the 3.2 mile circumference. It's pancake flat, a nice flat surface, a great place to view the sunrise, and I rarely run the lake and not see deer. The above pic was taken a year ago on a sunny albeit hazy day. Today, the weather was a bit nastier.

From time to time, the have to drain the lake to do some sort of maintenance. I have never seen the lake in the empty state, and stopped by to snap a few pix.Gray shades of sky over the remaining gray water and charcoal mud. Good place to bury some trail shoes....NOT! I am sure there is quick-mud, mud that would swallow a zombie in short order.This concrete structure is where the water is pumped back into the lake. I wondered what happens to all the fish. This is a hole frequented by peeps fishing for carp, buffalo, and drum. I suspect there are a few mud cats there as well. An old fisherman walking across one of the levees told me they are pumped into a creek on the north side of the lake, and many of the fish don't survive the passage.This is one of the levees that cross the lake. These are usually under 6-8 feet of water. I gave thought to running across to the north side to see/smell the dead fish. Would have possibly made a nice gross pic for the blog, but the drizzle had turned to rain, and I headed back to the car.

Here's my little lake on a perfect day. Just add blue sky and water.I'll be back when the lake is full.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A little too much excitement on a Monday night






Get the song playing....the title has a little to do with the post, but the actual lyrics do not. Good song though.

I went for a quick 4 miles tonight, actually starting at 6:30. I ran for about 45 minutes on the paved trail at the base of Turkey Mountain. Nice smooth new asphalt, and I was doing my pathetic excuse for speed work. Two miles out, and I turned back. It is a very gradual uphill coming back....almost flat most of the way, but with a slight incline and I intended to run a negative split as the daylight faded and evening blanketed the Arkansas River Valley helped by the shadow of Turkey Mountain. A quarter mile past the treatment plant, I caught a glimpse of what looked like a snake in the road. I gave it a semi-wide berth, and it struck at me, missing me by a long shot. WOW~!~!~!! I stopped to check it out, and the little bastard was coiled and ready to strike again!!Normally, this would have been a fatal mistake for the slithering menace, but there were no big rocks or sticks around, so I went on. Just ahead, I saw two guys walking back that way and warned them of the potential danger ahead. They told me they had seen two snakes ahead just past the railroad tracks. Hmmm....we had been enduring an early cold spell in our weather, and today the temps got up into the mid 70s, and the snakes evidently were getting out on the asphalt as the evening temps were dropping to soak up the last bit of warmth from the pavement. And just like the guys said, there were two copperheads laying in the road that any biker or runner mcould run over or step on. Whew! Good thing I was watching out for them.Then a biker past me and said to watch out....there were poisonous snakes ahead. WHAT?!?! More???? By now, it was just past 7:00, and any remaining daylight was waning. I stayed right in the middle of the path, and hurried carefully. Just a quarter mile further, I saw another copperhead right on the edge of the pavement. I stopped to make sure I was not imagining things as every stick and leaf in the road had me thinking snake. Sure enough, it was what it was, and slithered away into the grass. A little farther, I saw another one, laid out straight. I thought it might be a stick. and actually nudged it near the non-business-end and found it was dead, probably ran over by a bike?? One more copperhead on the big hill, where it was a little more lit as I had gotten out of the shadow of the mountain. Right in the middle of the road. At least I was close to the parking lot. But that was not all! I saw the last one not 100 yards from the top of the hill, again right in the middle of the path in plain sight.That makes 7 snakes in about a mile....any of which could and would bite anyone who might step on or beside them. Bobby, Sandra, and Deon who were about a half mile ahead of me saw 6 snakes, and Susan, Deborah and Amanda saw some too.

Not trying to strike fear into anyone wanting to go out for a nice evening run. But for me, I will wait until the temps are at least 20 degrees colder before I go down this trail again at dusk.

Friday, October 16, 2009

ICEBREAKER




Jason and Lisa, for the year and a half that I've known them, have preached the benefits of Icebreaker Merino Wool. Jason ALWAYS wears an Icebreaker shirt, and underwear. He claims that it never stinks and he wears his shirts and underwear for up to TWO WEEKS before washing it!!! He also claims that the record for wearing a Merino Wool top without washing is 260 days (not by him).

Now let it be known: I am skeptical about this. When I peel my sweaty tech shirts off after a day of running, I have to yank it quickly over my head or else the stench provokes a gag reflex. And I have no problem going to the extra trouble of changing under shorts more often than every two weeks.

When RunnersWorld started carrying a few Icebreaker items, I decided to give the tops a try. It is a little itchy at first, and Jason swears it will get better....the itchy fibers wear of, and/or your body gets used to it. Time will tell. It's a bit pricey, but if it keeps you warm on cool days and comfortable on warm days, and never needs washing, it will end up being a bargain. I tried a GT200 on tonight, and the clincher was when Sandra accused me of looking "too hip." I knew I had to have one!!!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Heartland



A day or so after my less than stellar performance at Heartland has found me regrouping. Legs are a little sore, feet are a little more bruised, and my pride is still a little more wounded than my feet. I ran 10 miles tonight, so that should tell you that there are no permanent injuries, no disabling blisters, no bones sticking out. Actually, I had a good Monday night 10 mile run which in a way makes my DNF at mile 73 at Heartland even more disturbing.

But enough of my self pity, here's the story.Heartland Spirit of the Prairie starts out the night before with a pre-race dinner cooked up by ladies in the community that have spent their lives refining the art of cooking up absolutely delicious entrees. Juicy tender roast beef, smothered chicken breast, cole slaw, new potatoes, and homemade bread. Top that off with brownies....yum yum.Top that off with good friends and great dreams and aspirations, and it's a perfect race eve.

Race day morning. I stumbled around deciding what to wear. Temps were cold, but how cold? Felt like upper 30s, and the forecast was for highs to be in the low 40s....but with rain? Wind? I opted for tights, a wicking shirt and my Patagonia fleece lined pullover. Took gloves just in case.And OMG, it was a frigid arctic blast at the starting line!!! Left to right, Jason is doing his 1st 100, Lisa her first 50, Roman, his first 50, and Ken aka K2 his 2nd stab at a 100.

Not a lot of fanfare at the start, just shivering and anticipation. The race started at 6:00 am, so the 1st hour was in darkness. I chose to run without a headlamp and intended to mooch off others. Turns out my friend Ken Saveth, whom I had committed to run the 100 with, wore a headlamp so all was well.Ken snapped a nice shot of an early morning sky. I had forgot my camera (can you believe that?!?!?!?!?) so all of the pics in this post are ones donated by Dana, Ken Saveth, or swiped from Bobby, Russell, Cindy (Jason's Mom), Sandra, or Roman.Early in the day, the sun made a brief appearance, and then a bank of clouds rolled in. With the arrival of the clouds, a stiff north wind settled in to blow, and continued all day. A day of comfortable running turned into a day of surviving the cold and combative wind, one which made downhills seem as hard as uphills when running south to north. Crosswinds were also bad. Not until mile 57 did we get to run with the wind at our backs.

A lot of people think that Kansas is flat. No, there are no mountains like Colorado. But in this race, the rolling hills can indeed take their toll on long distance runners, particularly this one.Another annoyance in the course is the abundance of flint rocks on the miles and miles of gravel roads. One of the warnings to crew persons is that these flint rocks can cause a lot of flat tires, and indeed one of our crew chicklettes got a flat tire, and the tire was chewed up....had a sharp rock broke off in the rubber. Imagine what they do to shoes.K2 and I ran well for the 1st 25 miles. We stayed in the thick of the runners, playing cat-and-mouse with Kathy, Jason, Roman, Lisa, and Randy.It was awesome as always to have a large crew working with us.Dana aka Taturcakes aka Crew Babe was in top form, refueling me with ham sammys, PBJs, and my faves: pb-oreo-w/m&ms. Later in the evening, she had hot chicken and rice soup. Ultra rocket fuel!!
There are a few crew-babes-in-training as well.Here, I stop for a pic with Crew Chicklettes Sandra and Susan.

More gravel, nice sharp flint rocks.Mile 28 brought us into open prairie....literally. This land is big, no telephone poles, no signs of civilization except for every mile or so a barbed wire fence and a cattle guard.
Mile by mile, we moved on. Through this open prairie, it seemed as though we were making no ground on the horizon. Was this road a huge treadmill in the middle of nowhere? Maybe a giant slow motion belt sander?
Finally, we reached the Matfield Green aid station. We were through the mysterious open prairie.I was wearing and keeping a close eye on my Garmin. I know from past races that I have ran well what pace I need to see on it in the early miles. Miles 10-20, I want to see a 10-12 minute/mile pace. As the race goes on, I slow down, which is normal. I see my average pace slow to 13 m/m and I am ok with that. I can slow to an average or 14:24 m/m and still finish under 24 hours. 15, 16 m/m is ok, but results in slower times. 18 minutes/mile equates to a 30 hour finish. You cannot have 18 minute miles in the middle of a 100 miler and expect to finish, but at miles 43-57, we were getting closer to that. We hit Matfield with 25 minutes to spare. Then, I thought it was 6.5 miles to the turn-around when infact it was 7.5. This equated to 2 extra miles and absorbed all of our cushion! We hit the aid station with 8 minutes to spare!

Getting back to Matfield and mile 57.5, we were 15 minutes under the cut-off. Russell was set to pace us for as long as we needed him. New life! Fresh legs. Anything for a jump-start.(Of course, this pic of Russell was taken in a warmer part of the world.)
The aid station was 6 miles and we had exactly 2 hours to get there. But K2's knee was hurting, and my zombie-shuffle was netting 17 minute miles at best. We got to Ridgeline with 15 minutes to spare. I had to have some of the amazing Prairie Power Pellets. Yum!! I heard the bad news that my friend Long Vu had gotten nauseated, tossed all the contents of his stomach, and then walked for a long way and was uncontrollably cold. He was dropping after looking so good early in the race. Fellow blogger Colleen aka Cynical Dirt Doll was helping at this aid station because her runner had dropped. K2 was wavering, I was beat. I needed to get out of that tent! It was warm and getting hard to leave. I made myself leave, and the three of us headed out into one of the harder parts of the course. We had to pick up the pace!!!

The cut off for Texaco Hill, 5.5 miles away (I think it was further) was in less than 2 hours. I knew if we could maintain 17 minute miles, even with a lot of walking, we could make it. But a lot of this section was a gradual uphill. It could easily be ran with fresh legs, but fatigue was winning. It was getting colder, and the wind which had died down had whipped back up. Somewhere under a dark starless sky, I watched the time tick by with no aid station in sight. I knew we had missed the cutoff time. When we did amble into the aid tent, They served us warm coffee, soup, cocoa. What great people. Then a man stuck his head in the tent and told us we were past our cutoff. He told us he wanted us to finish, and would let us go on, but we had to make up some time. I knew the next 6 miles were tough. Hills, rugged roads. My feet felt like someone had beat on the bottoms of them with a hammer. I had no blisters due to pre-taping and toe socks, but I felt like I was running on swollen bruises. K2 elected to stop. Since we were told we would have to wait for maybe a couple of hours before they trucked us out of the prairie, and since they told us we COULD continue, Russell and I decided to hoof it. I was hoping for some zombie magic. Maybe I could find my running mojo? Maybe if I made myself run, I could find my rhythm. The plan was, the truck that would be taking K2 out would also have all the aid station stuff packed up, and would pass us and pick us up if we wanted, but possibly would let us stay in the race if we were making sufficient time.

This is where my race really fell apart. I had control the situation, but let sleepiness, fatigue, and aching feet dictate my race. I was stumbling around in the middle of nowhere in the dark, in the cold, and in an increasing wind. Poor Russell, who had really wanted to run and help us to the finish, got in 10 miles of mostly walking. Sorry, Brother.

I was so glad when the truck, trailer, and our ride to civilization. My race ended at mile 73. The truck took us to the next aid station where our crew was waiting, and where Bobby was waiting to run me in to the finish. Poor Bobby had changes his clothes (read that: got naked) outside in the freezing temps. Sorry, Bobby :-(

We went back to the finish line to wait for Jason and Kathy to finish. They came in at 24:23. Awesome job, guys!
Earlier in the day, Lisa and Roman finished their first 50 milers, and Randy added another ultra finish to his long resume. Ken aka K2 ran further than he had ever run in his life. He had his knee barking at him from the 25 mile mark, and it was excruciatingly painful from mile 43 until when he was pulled at mile 69. Valiant effort, my friend. You will get your 100 mile finish some day. I am so happy and so very proud of my friends!

Me, I am still processing my running desires. 100 milers are a lot of fun when you have a good race. 24-30 hours of struggling is another story. Do I really want to keep this up? Shorter races are so much easier. Right now, I am canceling all plans for 100 milers for the remainder of the year. Not going to Palo Duro. Not going to Ozark 100. Will do the Tulsa Run dressed up as something. Probably will do Route 66. Might do Texas Trail 50K. Still processing the future.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

counting the hours




It's Thursday evening. I'm almost packed for my race this weekend, the Heartland Spir....well like the pic says. My 2nd year doing the 100 miler. I am ready. I wanna start tonight. I would like to head out the door right now and run to the starting line and just keep going. Mind says yes, body would say nope, I am sure. I have done my training, got in 6 runs over the marathon distance since July, including back-to-back 26.2ers, and a pair of monster-tough 50Ks. I am pumped, and want to get another race in this year. Can I work in the Ozark 100?? We'll see.

Cassoday, Kansas. Famous for the 100 mile/50 mile race each October, but only to crazy peeps who run ultras.It's famous to other people for the winged peeps. Never seen a prairie chicken on my trip last year though. Maybe this year....

I swiped these pics from the KUS website, although I have some very similar ones on my blogpost from last year. This course is miles and miles of gravel road. Big horizons that never get closer. The earth moves below your feet like a treadmill, and runners seem motionless. It's hypnotic in a freaky sort of way.

Hoping for some good weather. Last year, the heat was a bit of a factor in the late afternoon. This year's forecast includes rain, highs in the low 40s, and lows around 28. Rain and even a chance of snow has been mentioned. BRRR!

Mile 36, and then again at mile 64 is a real treat. The Ridgeline aid station manned by Dave Dinkel is an oasis indeed.Dave serves a delicacy called Dave Dinkel's Prairie Power Pellets, a secret recipe that breathes life back into many a weary ultrarunner. They are amazing!!

A lot of my friends are going. Kathy, of course, Jason doing his 1st 100, Lisa and Roman doing their 1st 50s, Randy Ellis, Earl Blewett, and I am sure there are others I am forgetting. My friend Ken Saveth aka K2 is gunning for his 1st 100 mile finish. I am pacing him, and have my cattle prod packed. We'll be crewed by SuperCrewBabe Dana, CrewBabes-in-training Susan, Bobby, and Sandra; and Jason has recruited his mom to be his CrewBabe.

More tales about this adventure when I get back! Rumor has it that Russell and Christin are coming to crew and pace.

Friday, October 2, 2009



Last week I read an article in the Tulsa World announcing that for the first time in many years, there will be a hunting season for black bear in Oklahoma. I am sure that had I read this on FaceBook, I would NOT have hit the "like" button. The article stated that black bears were becoming a nuisance, and a season was needed to control the population. Supposedly, only 20 per year will be harvested, and they can only be hunted by bow hunters with a possibility of a muzzle-loader hunt if the 20 bear limit is not met. I have ran trails through the wilderness area in the counties where the hunts are allowed, and I have never seen a bear, although I would like to....from a distance. I wonder if an arrow is lethal enough to kill a bear....would there be a possibility of a bear merely getting injured and suffering a slow death? Hmmm.... Maybe with the hunts limited to archery, the bears will stand a better chance, but I am sure most bow hunters would find that comment hilarious.

The season was only a day old, and one bear has already been killed.