Tuesday, July 27, 2010

July 27, 2010

Ho Hum. Happy birthday to me. Truly, there ought to be a provision to somehow erase the day of ones birth for those who do not embrace the idea of being classified a little older, AARP, senior citizen, middle age, whatever. I said last year that 50 was it and now I am going backwards. I am 49 now. When I am zero years old, I should be dead.

But hey, I am actually in a good mood. I had a great Saturday! I ran with Chuck, my middle son. Way back in the year 2002, I had just started running and Chuck (then 20 years old) ran a couple of times with me and almost on a dare, he ran the Turkey Trot at Mohawk Park. He stayed with me while I plodded along, but at the 4K mark, he smelled the finish line. He finished in 23:31, and I plodded along and finished in 25:16. We were both thrilled with our results, but because he had not really got his running legs built up, he had a lot of aches and pains and decided running sucked. Now, 8 years later, he has gotten into P90X and has went from a 135 lb zero body fat skinny dude to a 145 lb zero body fat body builder. He would deny the body builder description, but he has some pretty good guns to show.He ran 3 miles at a 10:30 pace and I think he would have gone a bit faster, but I preached the importance of taking the long runs and particularly his first few runs slow. He did not have the achy legs thing going on, and I suppose that anyone doing P90X could do anything. His plans are to run another 5K in 3 weeks--the Riverside 5000, which is pancake flat and if things go like he thinks, he'll shave a little off his PR. Me, I would be thrilled to run 25:something. We shall see.

After he went on his way, I ran on with my RW friends and ended up with 10 miles. Upon returning home, Dana and I left out for a bike ride. It was hot--it is Oklahoma in July. But we rode and were under 5 minutes per mile for the first 12-13 miles.We ate lunch at Elwoods on the River--club sammy and Gatorade--FUEL! On the ride home, we had a strong headwind, which felt good, but made more work pedaling. The new asphalt laid on the westside river trail was like a convection oven and it was like riding over a furnace. We stopped several times on the way back to rehydrate and regroup. If there was ever a good time to throw a chain, it would definitely NOT be on a steep uphill in the 98 degree heat in the SUN!! But that's where Dana threw her chain. Made for a grumpy finish, but still a good bike ride.

I took a short nap, ate fish tacos at Tin Star, and then at 7:00, it was time for Round III. Kathy, Roman, Caroline, Charlotte and I were running all night (or til whenever) as part of our Lean Horse 100 training. Bobby joined us for 10 miles, and Cassy joined us mid way through and got in 10-12 herself. I questioned the wisdom of the fish tacos right before a long humid night run--would they stay down?It was an urban run. We ran through neighborhoods, from RunnersWorld to Charlotte's Mom's house, then to one of several Quik Trips. The major-HUB/aid station was Casa Sandra. Sandra has all the very best aid station goodies plus a lot of things even better!The watermelon hit the spot--sweet and cold! Peanut brittle sounded good, and I meant to get some the third time through but forgot. I did have a Popsicle each time through. Awesome. We decided to just run 3-4 mile loops and come back through again and again. Thanks you Sandra. We owe you bigtime.

We saw this poster somewhere around 45th and Harvard.Sad that Lucy is lost. Roman wondered is she could read lips?

Can anyone guess where we were?

Roman cools himself down at the fountains at TU. Seconds after this, I plowed him right through the fountain.Seconds after that, Roman returned the favor. I had already soaked down, and enjoyed a second helping. My feet were already wet with sweat and I ended up with my feet in pretty good shape for the punishment I dealt out.

From there, we ran west on 15th Street, stopped at Charlotte's place near Cherry Street, and went as far as Quik Trip at 15th and Denver.Most everyone ate here, but I did not. My fish tacos I had for dinner stayed down and were nourishment enough. I ended up with 21 miles on the night run, and slept like a rock after showering.

One more long run--probably a 30/20 back to back, or maybe a 40 mile all nighter. Then, I can taper.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Someone painted crap on my mountain!

Long ago, the parking lot for Turkey Mountain trails was at the top of the hill, right at the curve where Elwood turns onto into 61st street. The city closed the parking lot partly because is is a blind corner and a little dangerous to turn out into the road.But many think it was because the parking lot and adjacent woods was a romantic hang out for those seeking a rendezvous with nontraditional partners. A new larger parking area was built down the hill below, and just last year was enlarged. Subsequently, the ones with umm....love on their minds??....started frequenting the lower parking lot--but that is not what this post is about. Let's go back up the hill. The city barricaded the upper parking lot with concrete barriers, but the corner has a wide paved area and a lot of mountain bikers, hikers, trail runners, picnickers, kids wanting to just hang out and drink beer, and I am sure a few lovebirds wanting to cuddle while watching sunsets or the lights of downtown or the lights of their dashboard--parked on this wide paved area right at the corner. Musta ruffled the wrong feathers of someone though, because NO PARKING signs were erected, and then nice large boulders were placed all along the outlaw parking lot making it very hard for me to squeeze my little Prius in between them when I parked up there due to at times my being too lazy to climb Lipbuster before running the easy trails like the Snake. I even smunched up the side of my car door last year on a no parking sign while pulling in and around and trying to not hit one of the rocks. Make no mistake about it--I am not a fan of these rocks. But now to add insult to injurious aggravation, some PUNKS have spray-painted all kinds of crap all over the rocks. Now maybe these young hippies think they are the neo-vikings and are leaving Rune-stone inscriptions. I think they are just a bunch of gang symbols.They're infringing on my playground, and I don't like it much. Heck, I sent a nasty email once to the Tulsa Walking Club for spray painting arrows on the dirt out on the trails so some of their older folks could hike around without feeling like they were lost. (I can be such a jerk sometimes.)What does this mean? Are these the letters you remember from when you woke up hungover and your 1/3 baby brother had on Sesame Street blaring on the TV set? Are these the initials of the last 5 girlfriends you knocked around? Hey, if I find out who wrote this crap on my mountain, ya better look out. I'm gonna....hmmm....well, I'll do something. And itsa gonna be bad.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


I love running off road, on trails, or even off trails. Sort of like "Boldly going where no man has gone before." Well, where I was Sunday, no man should have gone. These creatures, which viewed in this enlarged state, look like something you might find in a sci-fi movie. This is a picture of a chigger enlarges 1,500 times it's actual size. Were they large enough, I would steer clear. But in their microscopic state, they grab onto my hairy legs and climb up to a good picnic spot and begin their feeding frenzy. They plunge their long pinchers into the skin and inject saliva which is acidic and dissolves the flesh. Then they suck the puree and enjoy. I have always thought they burrow into the skin, but actually, they are brushed off or washed off. But the damage is done and the wounds itch and fester and are hell for days and days.This is my left ankle. My ankles, tops of my feet, and calves are covered. There are bites spread out over my thighs, buttocks, belly, and arm pits. Itch itch itch. I scratch until they bleed. I spray HOT water on the bites while in the shower. I want to take a wire brush and just go to heaven! Note to self--> Stay out of the D#*%@!!*#!! tall weeds!!!!
Chiggers do not thrive in temperatures below 60 degrees, and will die at temperatures under 42 degrees. I knew I loved winter!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Return to the Osage Hills

With it being Dana's weekend to work, I had the whole day Sunday to myself. It was hot--like 99 degrees with heat indexes at 115. I needed a long run--20 miles or so, but that was very unlikely. I decided to head north to Bartlesville and then west toward Pawhuska to the Osage Hills State Park. The last time I was there, I had found some new trails that a mountain bike club had cut, that went on and on and were quite runnable. It was time to check them out!
I avoided actually driving through the town of Bartlesville (for no particular reason) and took the country roads to the state park.What a treat to have such a beautiful day to run in. If only it were about 62 degrees!When I go back, I will come this way, even though it probably means more driving time. Of course the next time I venture this way, this bridge will be gone. A new one was being built 1/4 mile up-river.

Upon reaching OHSP, I cruised the park and camping area looking for any undiscovered trail heads and actually found one that I may try next time up. Then I stopped by the park office to see if they charged for day parking. (Did not wanna get a ticket like I did at McMurtry last March.) I asked if they had any idea how far the new bike trails went, and they opened a desk drawer and handed me a MAP!!This looked like it had just enough details to get me around the course, but as much as I was sweating, I knew the paper would disintegrate in a few minutes in my pocket. So I snapped a pic and used that for reference. Worked great.I debated parking by this small lake, thinking that it might be safer than parking by the trail head since it was semi-secluded. But no one was parked here either and if someone broke into my car, then what the H??? I have insurance. Turns out at the end of the run, nothing was disturbed, and I am guessing that would not be an issue here anyway. Plus, campers were few and there was no foot or bike traffic anywhere in the park. It was just so dang HOT!
So I ventured out. I had my camera, my iPhone, a couple of packs of shot blocks, some electrolytes, and my 22 oz water bottle. The plan was to run the outer loop, and then the inner loop--all in one swoop, or make a trip back to the car to refill with water between loops if need be. Looked doable. I had my first of many water crossings not a half mile into the run, but no prob keeping feet dry in this one!Most of these trails were narrow single track, not a lot of rocks, but a few. Not too many hills, but a few. Mountain bikers like trails that are rideable, and these were runable too.A short downhill rocky section.
Every now and then, the trail popped out into a meadow. Here, the flora tended to edge in on the trail. A little more bike and runner traffic would help this, as would a weed eater.
TZ sported a sea green bandana--drenched with sweat early on. I had it down over my ears to keep them from sun-burning. An added benefit from this was that the horse flies could not buzz my ears. I think it really confused them, but one followed me for most of the day.
Look!! Some nice green carpet to run on!! There was about a hundred yards of moss covering the trail. Very cool!
There are quite a few rock formations to run through and around. There are also a couple of small caves in the state park which I visited last time here--last year on Thanksgiving day. Click here for some pictures from that run.
It was somewhere just after that where I came to an intersection. I knew I would be hitting it somewhere along here and knew I needed to turn left. Turning right would take me into the inner loop, but I needed to get back to the car to refill my water bottle. However, while the map showed there was a fork here, and left was the correct turn, the directions the trail went did not quite match up with the map. Hmmm. I followed and thought maybe the trail would switch back and head back towards the trail head. That never happened. It seemed that I was heading south and west instead of north and west. After a half mile, I decided that this was not the correct turn, but the trail was good, and it seemed to be following the bluffs above Sand Creek and I thought it must hook back up with the river near the western part of the camp grounds. A mile later, this was seeming less likely. I only had a small swallow of water left, and I had long since quit running but was hiking at a moderate pace to conserve energy and to keep my sweating down somewhat.I debated filling my bottle here, but chose not to. I have drank from streams before and would probably do so here, if the water were running, but this was standing water. I have watched Monsters Inside Me, and I don''t want to do the parasite thing!

I had just about decided to turn around, when I saw this cabin off to my left.It was a welcome site, but the strange thing is, why was it on the LEFT when the campground and cabins at the state park were in the right? Maybe I was confused?? My thoughts were--knock on the door and ask for water. Or maybe they had a hydrant. No one home, and it looked to be vacant. There were no hydrants either. So, I followed the road that led to the cabin thinking there would be others. I came to a big stone picnic shelter and there were no hydrants there either. I started toward a camping area, and YAY!! I found a hydrant!! I doused down, filled my bottle and drank til I sloshed. (Hope it was potable water!)

I was ready to be back at my car, so I decided to follow the roads although I was not completely sure where I was. Eventually I saw a sign--Camp McClintock. I had noticed a sign out on the highway on the way in this morning. Following the roads meant at least 6 miles to get back to my car!! But at least I was heading there on a route that would get me there! Problem is, there was no shade. and no wind. The scenery was great though.The more I thought about it, the more I decided maybe I had made another wrong decision. 6 miles of walking and 22 ozs of water seemed like a bad equation. Eventually, I crossed a cattle guard and I pondered the idea of following the fence line back towards the start park area. The trails I had ran on tracked right by a boundary barbed wire fence a couple of times, and I was sure following this fence would take me home.I am sure I picked up most of my chiggers through here. But, this fence, after going down a small canyon and back up, did indeed take me to the trail, ironically very near where I had made the wrong turn. This time, I went the other way and very soon after that I came to the intersection noted on the map where the REAL left turn was. AHHHH. Now it all made sense.Last climb, and I was back at my car!! I slugged down a couple of cold bottles of water and a cold Gatorade, read some email, and pondered what to do from there. The plan was to go out for another loop. I decided against that. Plan B was to go for a swim/soak in the Sand Creek rapids.I headed over, and my camera was acting up, and I decided to just head towards home. I wwas HUNGRY anyway. The above pic is from the last time I was here. My camera is kind of hit-and-miss. (I do have a birthday coming up!!)

Next time I come, I'll know where to go and where not to turn, or if I choose to head toward Camp McClintock, it would be a nice out-and-back. Next time, I think I'll bring Dana and camp (in a cabin!) Or maybe a group of friends could invade the trails here. Twould be great fun!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Waterfalls, spiderwebs, broken pinkies, broken glass, and snakes

Our summer this year has been a mixed bag. Not one where every day is different, but every 3 weeks, it takes a turn. We had a late cold spring, then 3 weeks of heavenly weather, then summer moved in on us with a vengeance. Follow that with 3 weeks of rain, and now we are really boiling with 80% PLUS humidity and temps in the mid to upper 90s. I feel like I need a machete to slice of a chunk of air to breathe. Seriously, I have thought about filling an air mask with ice to simulate a cool gasp of breath.

Saturday, after the RunnersWorld/Tatur poker run, and breakfast with 20 of our running friends, Dana and I hit the trails at Turkey Mountain for a few bonus miles. It was 93, and warm.Everything is so green. Normally, we have grass turning brown, and some of the more frail trees shedding leaves. But our trails are like running through a rain forest. All of the recent rain has all the streams flowing on the mountain, although a couple of dry days and that will end. This is one of the more impressive waterfalls on our trails. There are several out there, if you know where to look for them.
I tried to get Dana to come over to the edge so I could get an action shot--like her slipping on the slick-as-snot moss--and possibly cascading over the falls. Um....maybe not such a good idea.
Below the falls, we had a water crossing. There were no rocks to step over, and Dana entertained the idea of bush-whacking upstream or downstream, but when I mentioned all the chiggers waiting for her there, she forded the creek.And I was quick to follow.We had the trails all to ourselves this afternoon, and for most of the way, we were breaking spider webs. Dana usually runs out in front, which is perfect for me--except I am about 4 inches taller, so every now and then a well placed web catches my forehead. Nothing a good spiderweb stick can't handle though.This time of year, we always keep an eye out for snakes. There are plenty of snakes on our mountain--mostly non poisonous ones--but there are a few copperheads. All the snakes are fairly bashful and will leave you alone. We found this fellow laying on the trail maybe stalking a very small frog? It would have to be very small for this little guy to eat him.We stayed mostly on the trails that seemed to be less muddy, although we got our share. Dana evidently found a burr patch, and brought a good crop of porcupine eggs home.There is a newish trail on the west side that the mountain bike peeps have made. It connects a couple of pre-existing trails and makes for a 1/2 mile of twisting, winding, not too rooty, not too rocky single track. There is one particular section of this trail that is 150 yards of uphill, and for some reason, Dana likes to charge up full speed. (Never mind that I am still limping around on tender toes, and shot calves.) But on this run, she managed to kick a stump, and then take 2 or 3 recovery lunges before doing a full face plant. The last time she fell like this, she separated a rotator cuff and was out of commission for about 8 weeks. This time no bones were broken, but her right hand wrapped around her spiderweb stick, and her pinky finger rolled underneath it and she nearly separated it from the socket. She could move it, wiggle it, but the pinky and side of her hand was sore sore sore.
All in all, it was a good day on the trails, but we did cut our run a couple of miles short in order to get home so Dana could ice her hand.

We came in through our garage into our kitchen and were very surprised to find broken glass all over our kitchen floor. Somehow, the glass door to our oven had exploded. It is tempered safety glass, and when it breakes, it breaks into millions of tiny pieces, that take forever to sweep up.
Today is Tuesday, and we are still finding a piece here and there. The oven had not been left on--it had not been used in over a week. There were no signs of vandalism, nothing laying in the floor that would indicate the cats knocking something into the door. We are baffled. It's on my list of things to get fixed this week. That, and maybe to call Ghost Busters.

Last night, we got in a 4 mile power walk down the PAVED bike trail at the base of Turkey Mountain. It's always a few degrees cooler there since after 4:00, it is completely shaded. We saw not one, but two copperheads along the was as the darkness was setting in. The first one was dead--looked like a bicycle had ran over it. The second we almost did not see, and Dana nearly stepped on it.We were extra cautious the final mile of our walk! A word of caution--on warm evenings as it cools, snakes are on the move.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Midnight Madness 50 Miler (OUCH!)

Well, I have had some time to think back about my race last weekend. I had fun. I finished. My time was a little slower than I thought, but I finished. My back has been out of whack ever since, but I finished. My feet sustained the worst blisters I have ever had, but I finished. Nuff said.

But you know me....I am long winded and fancy myself as a storyteller and photographer--very amateurish, I might add. The Midnight Madness was the brainchildof Brian and Kathy Hoover from Runners- World, the BEST running store in Tulsa. Brian really promoted this race, not knowing if we would have even 30 runners. He encouraged anyone who had ran a marathon and wondered if they could go farther to "Kick it up a Notch". There were LOTS of runners entered in this 51.5 mile race who had never run a step beyond 26.2, and some who had not even done that. But hey, it was around the Arkansas River on nice flat paved bike trails--how hard could that be?? (In July? In the heat and humidity? Plenty hard, if you ask me!)
180 runners signed up for this race in it's inaugural year, and I am sure it will be an even that will grow.Good friends running, good friends helping at the aid stations, good friends cooking great food, good friends timing the race. How could I be anywhere else?Mitch gets his instructions for the night. He helped for hours with the timing, went home just before daybreak, and then came back out to work some more.Caroline is prepared to run her 2nd 50 miler. Susan, in the salmon top, ran the whole way with Caroline, and also recorded her second 50 mile finish. The lanky dude on the left who resembles a pale Kenyon, is Glen, who was trying his first 50 miler this night. His big sister Cassy to his left, was his pacer in the later miles. Suffice to say that Glen aced his first 50 mile test.The awesome yellow tech shirt I had on was furnished by my friend Ken aka K2. I think he could have marketed them, as a lot of participants were fascinated by them.Charis ran all the long night training runs with us, and was pumped to get the race underway. She also gets an A for her great finish.Lyle also ran several of our runs to NSU with us, and he ran the entire way with Charis. Kind of like having a pacer for the whole distance! Great job, my friends!
My ace-up-my-sleeve was my crew babe Dana, who stayed up all night and well into the next day tending to my needs. In fact, I rarely even needed the aid stations. It almost seems like cheating. Love ya Babe!!!! Thanks to Susan Westmoreland for taking this pic.
Janet is all smiles before the run. And every time I saw her after that on the out-and-backs, she was still smiling. This was her first 50 miler, and first ultra. She took 2nd in her age group.Roman prepares to drink wasp extract. Vespa. I actually think this is a good race strategy, and have used Vespa at times with good results. I would love to get a hookup with Vespa as a sponsor. HINT HINT!
Roman finished his 3rd 50 miler in less than 9 months. Roman fought blister isues--a common theme in this race, and really gritted out a finish. Just the thing it takes to finish a 100, which is in Roman's very near future at Lean Horse.
I don't have a lot of pictures during the race, as I left my camera with Dana. Figured it would have been sweaty and even thought it is waterproof, a sweaty camera takes foggy pix. Dana took this picture of David Wood, one of the OTRA guys who along with Brett Sholar and a few other friends, manned the other major aid station on Turkey Mountain. Many many thanks, guys!!!

Just before midnight, Brian made a few announcements. He had our attention, as well as the attention of the media.

And then at the stroke of midnight, we were off.I really felt like everyone was going out too fast. I usually think that--like in every race!! Maybe, just maybe, it's just that I am slow. Ya think? I ran the first lap at a steady pace, even a little spirited at times. I was still near the back of the pack, but maintained a 11 minute mile pace, and finished my first 10.3 mile loop in just under 2 hours. I knew I probably would slow down a little on the second lap, and I was very correct in that assumption. My next lap was in 2:35, some 35 minutes slower. That's a good 3:30 per mile slower for you non-math majors. I was in trouble. Considering it was likely that I might slow even more as the race wore on, not only was my lofty sub 10 hour goal out the window, but the possible PR, the sub 12, and even a finish within the 14 hour time limit was in question.

But, I had arranged pacers for the last 3 laps, as was allowed--and what a difference they made!!!Great friends Arena and Tom paced me on the 3rd and 4th laps. When I left out on lap 3 with Arena, I thought I would have to walk a lot as I did during lap 2. But in less than 100 yards, I initiated a shuffle that turned into a jog. Arena and I settled in on about a 13 minute per mile average for 6.5miles, and then picked it up after the Turkey Mountain aid station. From there, it was a mile long downhill, and then a flat 3 miles to the start finish. We managed to pick off a few runners along the way, and I was very pleased that we got in under the 2:35 mile time that I spent on lap 2. Then, Tom took over. We headed back the opposite direction, heading back to 71st Street, and up the mile long hill to Turkey Mountain. Tom and I run together a lot during the week, and we always push each other. He did a lot more pushing from miles 31-41 as he had much fresher legs, but the last mile of his loop was out Tuesday/Thursday race track, and we caught a lot of people. Another loop under 2:30. I did stop and sit down and ate a bit of breakfast casserole made by Sandra!
OMG, it was so delicious!!! Sandra had made 6 or 7 pans of all different kinds of breakfast casseroles, and the one I had was heavenly!!I know I should have never posted this picture. It is one of a slobbering old man who smells bad and chews with his mouth open. But it brings back such fond memories of this food, which actually gave me an out-of-body experience.(Or possibly a too-much-in-my-body experience?)

Well after I got through grazing, Tom passed me off to my nephew Jeff. Jeff and I took off, and after we crossed the pedestrian bridge, and headed south, the rain set in and rained hard off and on for the rest of the race. We fought a fairly stiff headwind and stinging rain, and yet still caught a few people on the way back to the Turkey aid station. There, I hooked up with my crew babe, and laid down on the concrete and stretched my back. My feet were hurting, and what were once hot spots were now full blown blisters on the arches of my feet. I never blister there. I had the usual pinky toe blisters that I usually deal with, and blisters on both heels that felt like bruises. But, running/jogging/shuffling felt way better than walking, and it got us to the finish quicker--a good thing. We headed out to knock the final 4.5 miles out, and once we were running downhill, we passed about 4 more runners. One runner--Bill (I don't know his last name) passed me back, and used this to burst of energy to sprint to the finish. But all the other people we passed we kept at bay. (I am not at all competitive, but I was glad to not be DFL, but in the mid-to-back-closer-to-back-of-the-pack.) I finished in 12:35. And I am very happy with that. Just think, if I could go out and do it again, I might flirt with a 25 hour 100 mile time--that's good any day for me. Makes me think I might have another 100 in me.

More thanks are due. Earl stayed the whole race, and even helped pack everything up.Earl made the timing a lot less work by his hours of volunteering.

Jason and Lisa had intended to work maybe 6-8 hours, but instead stayed all night and clear until the race was over at 2:00. They manned the start/finish area, and were worth their weight in sac-so-soft.

Kristin and Susan helped serve breakfast, and cooked all sorts of breakfast goodies. They had help from Laurie and Derek, the other Laurie, and I am sure I am forgetting about someone else. Please send me a comment or email and I want to heap praise on all who helped.

You all know I love blister pix. I had some doozies. Today--Tuesday night, they are a lot better, but I am still limping around--but I am itching to get out to run.

My blisters were nothing compared to my friend Kirk's. He fought a nasty blister for much of the race, and ended up finishing his first 50 miler.He fought disorientation, dehydration, fatigue, nausea, and with the help of great pacers, he kept at it and got his finish. Congrats.
My friend Ken aka K2 also finished strong, and that rascal had NO BLISTERS!! What a freak!
Finally, I think this will become a pretty significant race in the ultra world. There are not as many 50 milers as there are 50Ks, especially in this area. This one IS a good PR course if you don't mind some pavement. It's definitely one to put on your list.