Friday, May 28, 2010

Ye durn fool

I wonder why I am even writing this. No one believes me. Sure, I kid around....pull a few gags from time to time. This is real, or maybe I am truly over the edge. I am back--and I thought I would never get here. Apparently I am where I should be. How can I possibly explain it all?

I was running what seems like 2 weeks ago--actually looking at the calender, I see it was 15 days ago. It was a cool foggy morning, a perfect morning for a run. Turkey Mountain was all to myself as I hit the high spots northward on the Ho-Chi (lower yellow trail for those who don't know what the Ho-chi is.) I was just running for feel, no garmin, no self imposed pace to keep. I had mowed down way more than my share of spider webs--a slightly aggravating drawback to early morning trail running. Trail running in the fog where you can't see more than 50 feet or so is exhilarating!!

About 2/3 of the way northward on the trail, I heard what sounded like a rustling of wind through the trees, although up til now it had been dead still. Near the place on the mountain where I brought the Barkley runners up from the railroad tracks last year, I saw what was almost a whirlwind of fog, and there was a hint of illumination brightening and dimming, like a very slow motion strobe light. Just below the trail, there is a small cave, or more of a depression in the rock, and it appeared that was where the commotion was coming from. The night runners from the Barkley Book fair might remember this cave. It usually has a great view of the river, and more than once I have used the overhang to duck in out of a thunderstorm. But what was the swirling fog and the dimming and flickering light? I was almost afraid to check it out, but manned up and shuffled down the steep slope and around to the small cave, not sure what to expect. No one was there, nor could I find the light source, but still, the area in the cave would get a little brighter and then dimmer.Then I noticed the side of the wall vibrating and moving--sort of in-and-out of focus. A few bits of rock from the wall would fall off, and I for a second was wigging out thinking we might be having an earthquake. I remembered I had my camera and grabbed it to take a picture. As I turned it on, some sort of menu came up. I could not get the menu off, and figured well CRAP! Then I reached out to touch the vibrating blurring wall, and to my amazement, my hand actually went INSIDE the rock!! I pulled my hand out, and then reached my arm way in clear to my shoulder. It felt cold near the surface, and warm about a foot inward. I really felt like this was another passage way to the other side, or one of those time-shifts that that Eldridge guy had told me about. I was just not brave enough (or stupid enough) to try to step into the rock wall.

Had I left well enough alone, I would not be telling this story now....well, maybe I would, but what happened next changed my life and almost took me out of the picture all together. The third time I reached into the wall, the rock solidified around my hand--and I was trapped! It was like my hand was set in concrete! I pulled and pulled but the rock was solid. I could barely move my fingers, if at all. I was truly stuck. I yanked and twisted, but could not dislodge it nor would the rock give way. I yelled out "HELP!!" How cool is that? TZ crying out for help. No more Mr Tough Guy--not that I ever was that! There evidently was no one on the trails this particular morning. It was a little before 7:00, or so I thought. Could not be sure as my watch was also set in solidified rock. But AHA!! I had my cell phone. It was in my left pocket, so with my right hand, I tried to fish it out, and I DROPPED IT! It took a tumble down, and plummeted over the edge and landed in what sounded like some undergrowth below. GREAT!!

So it was a waiting game now. I was not far at all below the trail, and the lower yellow trail (Ho-Chi) is a popular trail for mountain bikers and trail runners. I'd just wait until I heard someone going by, and yell for help then. I knew I might be there a while, but surely not all day. I tried my camera again, turned it on an off a few times, but the stupid screen just had a line of figures. I was not running with my glasses, but I squinted hard enough to notice it was the time stamp settings. I tried set the date, but I could not get it to set. Finally, I pushed the shutter button, the screen came up, and it appeared I was in business. So, I was able to take a couple of pics of my predicament.
It seemed like hours went by. I did not have great footing, and could not sit down. There was nothing to do but wait. The fog stayed dense and soupy--maybe even misty, but fortunately I was under this shelter. I would gladly traded a downpour and being soaked for the mess I was in.

Then finally, I hear someone passing on horseback. "HEY!! HELP!! DOWN HERE!!" I thought I head the horse stop. Then I heard some mumbling in a gruff voice. Of course, I wondered if this was the next meeting of Eldridge, as I heard him dismount and say whoa and I presume he tied his horse. Then I heard him shuffle down the loose scree and step around to where I was. "What the hell ye doing here, ye durn fool?" It was not Eldridge.
"Can you help me?" I asked (and hoped.)
"Ye durn fool, yer in a mess there. What ye doing round here? This here's a bad place. Ye shouldn't be messin roun these parts. Good way ta gitcher self killed." This guy was a scrawny wirey man, who looked all of 70 but possibly looked older because of hard living. He had reddish brown greasy hear and an old beat up cowboy hat that looked a lot like the one that Matt Dillon wore on Gunsmoke after it was run over by a stampede of cattle. He had the cowboy look going on, the cow crap smell going on, and probably was a real cowboy, as opposed to the normal equestrian riders that frequent the trails here.
"Look," I said explaining my predicament, "I was running the trail and saw some swirling fog and lights flickering and came down here to see what was going on." He listened, and turned his head to spit out a wad of tobacco juice. "I saw the wall here moving, and I touched it and my hand went inside the rock. I got it back out, and reached in again. It just hardened up on it, all in a sudden before I knew what was happening. I've been here for hours. I think I can move my fingers, but my hand's lodged in to tight and I can't pull it out."
"Shud it up, ye durn fool. I'll try an get ye out. Hold on there." He scrambled back around the corner and up the hill, and returned with what looked like some mining tools. Climbing right up beside me, he took a long cold chisel and a rock hammer and started picking away at the rock. I was concerned that he might peck that chisel right through my hand, but I have to say he was actually pretty careful....but it was taking a long time. I pulled my camera up and wanted to take a picture of him chipping away (always looking for good blog material), and had to deal with that timestamp menu thing again. Somehow, I could not get the right camera angle to get a good picture. So, I turned to take a picture of my feet and figured I'd get more pictures later. Snapping the picture turned out to be a bad idea."WAAHHH!!!" He turned and bolted a few steps, and then stopped. "What the hellaz that?"
"This?," I asked, holding up my camera. I just wanted to take a picture or two. Sorry if I startled you. Shoulda said something. Sorry." This guy was really going the extra mile to help me and now I pissed him off?? Good job, TZ.
"What's that thing there ye got? Lemme see it." I handed him my camera, and he turned it over, looked at it with a dumb curiosity, and handed it back to me. "Is that whut made that lightening flash?"
"Well, yeah. I usually just leave the flash on. Probably didn't need it. Sorry."
"Falsh huh? Point that thing out that way and do it again. Can ye do that?"
"Sure." I turned it back on, jacked with the menu again, and snapped a pic.
"So what's a little tender box?"
"Um,'s a camera." I was realizing this man had never seen a camera with a flash. Ok.... "It takes pictures." Then, I had a quick thought that he might take my camera away, and I definitely realized I needed to be OUT of the rock, so I slipped it in my pocket and tried to backpedal. "Yup, it's a tenderbox. Won it in a card game. Sorry to flash it at you. You getting close to having that rock chipped out?" Luckily, he let it go. He could have easily decided to take that "tenderbox" and left me there to rot.
"Yeah, I bout got you out. Just being careful not to hit things too hard. I'll have ye out here in a bit, ye durn fool." I was getting a little tired of being called a durn fool! Of course, I was the one with my hand stuck in the rock.
After about five more minutes of chipping, my hand was free. My watch was all jacked up. The cold chisel apparently had scraped the face of it, the face was crushed digital numbers were not even visible. Then, it was question time!
"Now tell me again--what the hell wuz ye doin down here in these parts?"
"Just out for a run."
"Out for a run. Ye were just out here running?"
"Well, yeah."
"Running from what?"
"Just running. Trail running. To stay in shape. I like to get in 5 miles or so out here."
"Ye RUN 5 miles? I don't even like to ride my horse that far!! Ye durn fool!"
"Well, I'm trying to stay in shape. I'm training for an ultra in June--" He cut me off.
"An ALTER. What do ye know about this here alter. Why the hell ye here??"
"NO, I said 'ULTRA' running, not alter."
"Ultra? Don't know what the hell that is. Well this here's a bad place right here. This is some old indian worship place. They been killin deer and animals here to sacrifice to their gods for years and years. Durn injuns...need to run em clean outa here. Shoulda done it years ago." Wow, I thought. This guy is really a space case.
Being the stupid runner and always loving to talk about it, I tried to explain what an ultra was although I doubted we were ever gonna be on the same page. "An Ultra is any race over the marathon distance." I got a dumb look. So I went on. "A marathon is a foot race 26.2 miles long."
"Whadya mean Point two?"
"26 and 2/10 of a mile. Just a little past 26 miles."
Well why in the hell don't ye just make it a round number. Ye durn fool. Yer a lying little sack anyway. No one can that far. Why the hell would you tell me sometin like that?" I decided to just let it go. "But listen, ye better git yerself outa here. Run along. HAR HAR HAR HAR!" Oh, he thought he made a joke. What an ass, I though to my self. He scrambled back up and I followed. He had a rifle in a saddle holster, and a small buck draped just behind the saddle that he evidently had shot earlier in the morning. As he mounted up, I remembered to thank him.
"Hey, thank you so much for helping me out. What happened down there?"
"Oh, that's why that's a bad place. Bad spirits and such. Some say it's hanunted. It's just an evil place. Few years back, we used to come through here hunting and smelled an awful smell, and there was a bunch of buzzards flockin around. Turns out some durn injun had durn near his whole body stuck in the rock. Those durn birds were having a time eatin the flesh right off his bones. that was right near where you had your arm stuck."
"Gosh, what a story!" I exclaimed.
"Ye better believe it. That's an evil place down thur."
"I believe you. Hey, I'm Ken. What's your name?"
Samuel. Samuel Bad Dog." (Where had I heard that name before??) With that, he headed north. I turned south and walked a few yards south until he was out of sight, and then backtracked down to the cave and quickly descended to the bluffs below it. I needed to find my phone.

That's all the story I am gonna tell for now. I did find my phone, and it did not seem to be messed up thanks to the Otter Box. It would not power on, but I could not get a signal at all. I reclimbed the bluffs, took one more chilling look at the cave, took a quick photo of my bloody hand, and turned for home.
From there, the day only got worse. I am going to have to consider how I can tell the story so as not to seem insane.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

An update from Zombie-dom.

Ok, I am in the taper part of my training. All my long runs are done, and I am supposed to be in a restful state. Funny thing is, I feel like running--long--hard--up and down hills--in the heat of the day--or all night. It is 10 days until I tackle another 100 miler--the Kettle Moraine in Wisconsin. This is not he hardest 100 I have entered, but it will be the hardest one to date that I have finished--at least I think so. 99.9% of this race is on trails, which means no long no-brainer sections of road (paved or gravel) where one can put some valuable time in the bank. 30 hours for the time limit means I have to average 18 minute miles which includes pee breaks, aid station stops, pausing to take pictures, tieing shoes, throw up delays, sitting down to eat a sandwich, foot soaking in water crossings, stretching (ok, I never stretch), and poop episodes if I have em. Gotta keep moving--or covering ground--or putting the back foot in front of the front foot. Can I do this in 30 hours?? I do not want to fail.

The elevation chart is a scary sight. They always are.A close examination shows that the longish wicked looking climbs are only 100 to 150 feet at best. Running Lipbuster at Turkey Mountain is a little over 100 feet in .3 of a mile. The elevation chart here suggests 100 foot climbs over a few miles. Hmmm. Either it is not that big of a deal, or there are a lot more ups and downs than the graph shows. Truth is, one could make an elevation chart of the paved bike path at Riverside look like a snaggle toothed hillbilly by stretching it out. Still, the reported 12,000 feet is still over 2 miles of climbing.

I get to be in a new age group this time around.

Open 18-39
Masters 40-49
Senior Masters 50-59
Grand Masters 60-69
Great Grand Masters 70 & Over

Yippee!! I am a Senior Master!!

My last long run was a familiar journey. From QT in Jenks to NSU in Broken Arrow, and back. This is the 5th time I have run this route. At night, even though it is all paved, it is still a fun run. I ran it again with a lot of friends, although there were also quite a few new faces belonging to folks training for the Midnight Madness 50 miler that is coming up in July here in Tulsa. Still, I ran my own pace, pushed when I wanted to, and after being satisfied with my ability to maintain a profitable 100 mile pace for 30 miles, I slowed down a little and enjoyed hanging out with my running buddy K2.Ken finished his 30 miler and was in good spirits throughout the night. I believe he was encouraged by his outing.

Kirk and Charis stop for a water refill at mile 10.Kirk has gone from couch potato to ultra runner in just a year, and is running the 50 miler in July. This was Charis' 2nd or 3rd night run with us. Not sure if she is towing the line for the 50 or not.

I was very impressed with 3 friends. Laurie and Derek England showed up to crew the runners, and stayed out from 8:00 to nearly 3:00 am waiting for us with cold water and Gatorade and snacks.They recently ran their first half marathon and no doubt we'll snare them into trail running and ultras soon!!
And my friend Sonya also helped crew and shuttle runners back to their car who decided to bail out early.Sonya has a handful of half marathons to her credit, and I drop the hint to try trails every now and then. We'll win her over.
Thanks so much to these three, and to Brian who put this run together. Brian also did the crew babe thing, although if I posted his picture in the pretty pink skirt he was wearing, he'd kill me!

Of course, I have also been getting in a lot of trail miles as well.My trails on Turkey Mountain sustained a bit of tree damage from the tornado a couple of weeks ago. This tree is on a trail we call the Bunny Trail. I think the local mountain bikers made it and it is smooth, almost rockless, and is a sweet downhiller. But now, there is a nuisance of a tree across it.Kind of tough for a Senior Master to make it under it!

Right now, I am on a bit of a running streak, having run every day for almost 2 weeks. Someone needs to help me to understand the taper.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The little tornado that could

Last Thursday, I was not awakened by my alarm. My cats did a good job as a back-up though. Our power was off, and I quickly showered and left for work--not really late. I read Facebook, and the tales of storm damage littered my wall--so to speak. It seems that we either had some high winds around 5:00 to 5:30, or maybe it was a tornado. The reports of damage were amazingly near my house. I never heard any sirens, but I am a sound sleeper. Someone said on Facebook that the sirens went off, but should have never been sounded. But the damage reports rolled in, and in my opinion, we had a small tornado that skipped across Tulsa striking here and there, or maybe it was just strong straight winds--or both.

These are a few pictures of the RiverPark trail on the east side between 61st and 71st Street. This was just after the cone skipped past my neighborhood, and made its way to 61st and Lewis before demoing Ace hardware. Then, it did some tree work in Southern Hills, and then more in Lafortune park. (This little tornado does not like golfers!!) Then it headed east northeast and plowed into Brian and Kathy's neighborhood. Now the damage was not like some of the monster tornadoes that mow down everything in their path, but it sure chewed up some trees, and helped the roofing companies out.

One mile from my house, as the crow flies.1/2 mile away.Four miles Southwest.Two miles Southwest.Much closer to home--VERY close--Jake does not like tornadoes.Nope, not one bit!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Running Hope Through America, running with Dana, and running with friends.

A busy weekend. Saturday, I fully intended to get up at 5:00 and begin my 50 mile run with Lisa Smith-Batchen.Their planned route was 2.5 miles north on the Riverside Trail starting at 41st Street, and then coming back. Ten of these for 50 miles. That's a lot of pavement, although the new trail is some of the softest asphalt ever. Instead, I slapped the snooze, and got a couple of much needed hours of ZZZZs. I met up with the "Running Hope Through America" entourage at 7:ish, and chatted for a bit. I had forgot my camera (bad zombie!) so I returned home to get it. (Plus, I got a bathroom break addressed!)

The Jenks Aquarium Half Marathon was also happenin at the same time, starting in Jenks and running north to 45th Street. (Very close to the start of the Running Hope Through America.) My friend Kathy was running and pacing a young lady Amanda in her first half. (Amanda is 11 years old, and already had the Tulsa Run (15K), the Polar Bear Plunge, 8 miles in the Snake Run (in frigid temps and snow), and now was adding a half mary to her impressive resume. So, I parked where I thought I might see them, and VIOLA! There they were!!It was a cloudy drizzly day. A fog completely blanked Turkey Mountain, as viewed from across the river. And, on days like this, good pictures are few and far between. I ran with them from 71st to 45th where the turnaround was.Then on the way back, I met Sonya, who after a few months off, was power-walking her 2nd or 3rd half marathon.It was good to see her, as we used to run and powerwalk together a year or so ago on Tuesday and Thursday nights. So, I turned around and paced her for a few miles.

For hours Saturday. the fog hung on. This shot is of Turkey Mountain, or where it should be.
And this is a capture of old decaying tree limbs against a backdrop of fog and a lazy river.

After running Sonya back to where my car was, I drove back to the RHTA group. My plan was to run for 10 miles, and then come home to meet Dana to run on Turkey for a while. But I definately wanted to run with Lisa!!K2, always quick with the camera, snapped my mug as I strolled into the start/finish area of the Running Hope Through America.There were a couple of friendly faces hanging around the RunnersWorld/TATUR tents. Were these guys just there for the food?

It was an event littered with TATURs. Jason ran 20 miles with Lisa, Shelley ran 15 or 20, as did K2.Tom, why the frown? Tom should be all smiles. He was largely responsible for bringing this event to Tulsa, planning the course, and spearheading the aid stations. Were it not for Tom, this event might have happened in OKC!!Sister Mary Beth had just finished her usual 20 miles. She has ran every day with Lisa during her endeavor to complete her 50 in 50 in 60. Sister Mary Beth is 61 years old, and running 20 miles almost every day--WOW!!
I still had some spring in my step, and ran ahead to take pictures. Here, Kirk power-walks shoulder to shoulder with Lisa. He stayed steady, and finished 31 miles before calling it a day. This was Kirk's longest run to date. Rob ran the whole 50 miles, and this was his longest run in several months.

After a few miles with this crew, I headed back home to Turkey Mountain. Dana was itching to run some in the dirt (mud). Actually, the rainy conditions we have had lately only softened the trails, and actual mud was almost hard to find. The damp cushy trails were a treat indeed.She's ready to go ALREADY!And Dana is off like a flash. Now I had 12 miles or so already, and she was operating on fresh legs. I had my work cut out.(or my head cut out?)
Water crossings. One of the joys of trail running!!The color of the day was green. No new ticks today. It's gonna be an off year!

Well, Dana and I ran 7.5 miles--good miles--and then after a bite to eat, I returned third time to run with Lisa Smith-Batchen.Lisa was in the mid 40s of her 50 miler. I managed to get in a few more miles with her, doing the a brief mile out and back to find the group, and then another out and back to make her total.Lisa takes a brief rest, refuels, and then heads back out for her final 5 miles. Tatur Dave looks on. TD kept Lisa laughing with his quirky sense of humor, all while getting in 50 miles himself.The group could smell a celebration in the air. (Or did Tatur Dave fart again??)Oklahoma was Lisa's 22nd state. I have no doubt that she will complete her journey, and on schedule. Raising money for orphans is a noble thing to do, and what a noble way to do it!We assembled for a group pic after the event. (Special thanks to Tom Dorothy for this picture.) I was tired, and after running home, I ended up with 30 miles. Lisa has ran the day before and the day before, and would drive to Texas for 50 miles on Sunday. WOW! I need to get back out there and run.

Monday, May 10, 2010

What is up??

I have not been the busy blogger lately. No worries though. Things are great with me. I have been busy with work, which is a god thing. It's been harder to get my runs in, but the miles have been run. Last week, 76.5 miles was my total, with 40 of 'em on Saturday (which actually spilled over into Sunday.) 

There is a fighting chance that I'll score that copper kettle in Wisconsin in early June at the Kettle Moraine.

This next Saturday, I'll be running 50 miles with Lisa Smith-Batchen who is running a 50 miler in all 50 states over 60 days. She will be in Tulsa running on the paved bike trails on Riverside Drive.
My friend Tom Dorothy is organizing the event in Tulsa, and I am hoping lots of runners, Taturs, and friends come out to support this noble endeavor.

More timely blogposts in the coming days. I promise!