Friday, April 29, 2011

killing time

I was a few minutes early to an appointment today, and did not really have time to hunt for a geocache since it usually takes me a while to get my thinking cap adjusted right.I stopped in a park in Bixby, thinking I might find some amazing trailz, and there were some jogging paths of sorts--nothing to interesting. This old bridge that was hauled to a location where it was of no use caught my eye. I am sure it has lived a useful life, but now it lies in waiting to either be demolished or consumed by termites.
Spooky trees. I like 'em. This one seemed innocent enough in broad daylight, but I know better. In the midnight hours against a full moon, I'm sure its devilish side emmerges.
I found this elegant bench in a less than elegant setting. But to some, sitting for a spell admiring the growth of wild flowers would be a treat.
Weeds, or wild flowers--both are beautiful in their own way. If only I could convince my neighbors of that.
I like this picture. I wandered around under the vine covered trees, letting the sun just barely peak through. It almost looks like the tree is overhanging water and the sky below is a reflection in the water. This will end up as wall paper on my desktop when I tire of the picture I have there now.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

My Fat Pix

As I complete a week of taper, having ran only 1 mile tonight with no further runs planned until Sundfay at the OKLC Marathon, I have given thought as to where I was before I started running. Oh I was quite the athlete, spending 2-3 days a week....golfing, riding around in a golf cart, drinking suds and margaritas, and stuffing the cheeseburgers down the hatch.

These are pics of a golf game in Playa Del Carmen north of Cancun.

Of course I rode in a cart.

I doubt I could have walked and carried my bag if my life depended on it.

I was a husky boy when Dana and I got married, and I steadily gained in the following years.

This in New Mexico where there are no doubt miles of mountain trails. There was no chance of finding me running back in those days.In the past few years, Dana and I have changed our lifestyle, eating healthy most days, running almost every day, biking and hiking regularly, and living life to the fullest.

Ken and Dana in 2010 on Turkey Mountain in Rock City.My modeling career has taken off. Icebreaker liked my resume, and used this pic of me for their ad campaign. (Dirty rats put some other guys head on my body though!!)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Warrior Princess Trail Run

Meet Chrissy Whitten. Chrissy got her feet wet race directing recently, hosting the first annual Warrior Princess Trail Run to Honor Lilian Grace, who fought a battle for 103 days before earning her wings. It was important for Chrissy, who loves the trailz, to have a trail race with a distance of 103. That would have been a tough race if it were 103 miles, and 10.3 miles was also tough, but we went with it.I was honored to help her with it, devising a course, and helping out however I could. We decided to have it at the Keystone Mountain Bike trailz--an awesome course where there had been an annual race a few years back that was discontinued. The course is around 5.5 miles of trailz that twist and turn making several different loops, crossing a stream several times. Chrissy and I marked the course with pink ribbons and yellow caution tape the Saturday before, and the trailz were dry and dusty at that time. Oklahoma has been in a drought for the past several months, but just in the past couple of days, we have been pounded with rain. This race, on a Monday evening, in a downpour would have been a very tough challenge. But somebody--maybe lots of somebodies--prayed that thew rain would stop for the race. And Somebody listened. The rain stopped at 2:00, and the sun even came out about halfway through the race.
Chrissy is in her element pre-race. There was a costume contest, but I did not dress up. :-( I was also running around like a decapitated chicken, and did not get all that many pictures. I did have the good sense to give my friend Bill Ford one of my cameras and he took a ton of good pictures for me. I also have borrowed heavily from Chrissy's Facebook page.
A shot of the sign-up table. There were actually a few walk-up signees, which from a race director's standpoint, is always a good thing. The race was chip timed, so the registration table was a busy place pre-race.
This is one of the aid stations. The first 5 miles of the course were on the trailz, and then the runners came right back through here, and then headed out on an out-and-back down old HW 51, an old blacktop pot-hole-ridden road. One aid stop on the trailz, and then one at the turn-around on the road.
There were around 100 runners between the two distances, but just as impressive was the number of volunteers. I do not know how many there were, but Chrissy had 4 peeps at each aid stop besides tons of help setting up, tearing down,. and working the sign-up table.
Lilian's quilt. You'd need to read Chrissy's blog, the Caring Bridge, to know the full story. I'll work on getting a link posted on that.
There were bunches of zombie-friendz out for the race. Sandra, making a semi-rare appearance on the trailz, seems in good spirits so far. It was early.
I was excited to see Candice and Joye out. They were entering a tough 10,3 miler with not a super lot of training. In fact, it had been a year since Joye had ran, yet she seemed to float over the hills, valleys, and streams. (Bill was the photographer, and fortunately, I was sucking it in at the time of the shot.)
First trail race for both Bronda and Cassy. They did great, and I hear at least Cassy is hooked. :-)
Chrissy gives the announcements before the start of the 10.3 race. We started right at 6:00.
BeeSting Bob barely made it. I waited in hiding for him and thought I'd run a bit with him at least until he caught up with the pack, but he was off like a shot, and I never saw him until the road section.
At 6:30, the 1.03 mile fun runners headed out. Their course was an out-and-back all on the road. Problem is--it was a half mile down a hill, and then back up. Devilish course designer--that I am.
My job during the race was to run sag. Since there were a few new runners on the trailz, I wanted to make sure everyone made it out of the woods by dark Turns out, that was not a problem, as darkness did not fall until we were nearly through with the final road portion. Plus, I think there were a few newbies that dropped down to the 1.03.
Water crossings--there were four, with a few other little jumpers. Most were easily passable by stepping on a few rocks, but I am sure there were many-a-wet foot.
Headache tree. I am sure this tree has taken out a few mountain bikers over the years. I have bumped my head on it once as well.
The final runners were not slow--but were simply enjoying the trip. The final train of runners was lead by Pat, followed by Sandra, Joye, Candice, Dana, and me.
No trail newbie here. Candice makes the most of the water crossing.
Dana considered navigating the slick rocks, and finally crossed the safe way.
By the time we reached the start-finish and headed out for the 5.3 miles on the road, the first three men had finished. Chrissy was waiting for them with trophies.
From right to left, Stormy Phillips took 1st, Wes Hollander was 2nd, and Aaron Ochoa took 3rd.
The women's podium was Tasha Todd (in the center) Kathy (in the salmon top), and Karrie Garriott (on the far left). Congrats, ladies!!!
Many thanks to Bill Ford, who brought bagels and cream cheese from his company in Stillwater--Old School Bagel. Mmmmmm--CARBS!!
Thanks to Brian and Kathy who worked for days with Chrissy with sign-up, timing, and setting up aid stations. There is a ton of work that goes on behind the scenes in putting on a race that many people never know. Brian and Kathy are the peeps who do that work.
Michael and Chrissy have been through a lot, and through it all, have been an inspiration to everyone who knows them. And the great news--they are expecting a new arrival in a few months!!! A little trail runner, no doubt!!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Following My Dreams

After running a spirited six miler with the RW group yesterday, I went to Keystone and met Chrissy and we marked all the turns for her race which will be tomorrow. I also squeezed in some bonus miles, and hunted down a couple of geo-caches while there.

The plan for today was to run with the TOTs early, and then go to Pumpkin Holler to run a 50K loop. I had recruited Brian, Kathy, Rob, Matt, and Kirk to go. Sounded like it'd be a great time. Matt messaged me last night and said he had family stuff. Kirk also remembered it was Easter and stayed home. Rob was geared to go, but had a watchful eye on the weather. At 7:00 am this morning, hearing the thunderstorms rumble through, I burrowed down under the covers and left my buddies (who braved the rain and showed up at Turkey to run) out in the cold. Bad Zombie. Turns out that Rob had messaged me with a weather report of 12 inches of rain and severe flood warnings for the Tahlequah area, so I decided to not go run the Pumpkin. I texted Kathy to tell her, and they already had the good sense to shelve the trip.

So what to do?? I am not much of a weekend TV sort. I got around, drank some coffee, and met Dana for an early lunch at the hospital. (Her weekend to work.) Then, I made a cat/dog food run, came home, and retired to the easy chair with a blanket to catch a nap while it rained.

BUT I COULDN'T SLEEP! How many times have I told people that some of the best runs ever were in the rain? I love running in the rain. And, I love running new places and new trailz! Heck, I even DREAM about running on new trailz! So, I decided to man up and head out to run....somewhere! I decided to go ahead to Tahlequah, and if the Pumpkin Holler loop was not good, if the river was out of the banks, I would check out some trailz near Sparrow Hawk, another camping area on the Illinois River. I had read of some trailz there that went up and over Sparrow hawk Mountain--maybe 6-8 miles of single track--WOW! It seemed perfect!
So here I am, parked, and the trail head is right up this road. It was raining a little, but not all that bad. Who knows--with the tree cover, it could be a great run. I had not called to tell Dana what I was doing, and ouch! I had no signal here. Bad Zombie!

I had trouble finding the trail head, and there was not a soul around to ask, but finally, I found it. It was not really marked, and brushing through the foliage soaked the remainder of my dry clothes.

I was wearing my New Balance Minimus, a shoe that I thought I would never wear, but I guess my friend Stormy finally talked me into it. They looked cool, and actually felt good on my feet. These trailz were smooth as silk. Nothing to technical so far.

For just a second, the sun popped out. But that was short lived, and as I left the lower trailz near a leg of the river and started to climb, I got up into a low ceiling of clouds.

This trail went up, but not over the tallest of the hill/mountain. It ran alongside the the mountain about half way up and dropped down to a feeder stream. The roar of this stream was musical.

The trail followed the stream towards the Illinois River, which I suspected would be out of its banks. The trail then crossed the stream, and headed back up the hill. Maybe this was where the trail climbed the mountain--I remembered reading there was some significant climbs.

Another view downstream just before the trail veered to the left. From this point, it was twisty turny single track, just like mountain bikers like. It meandered around, covering maybe a quarter mile as the crow flies and a mile or more by trail. As we neared the top, there were a series of rock formations--more like big boulders that had rolled down the hill.

I heard what I thought was a deer, crashing through the brush. I looked up, and as I did, I saw something that froze me in my tracks!! See the little black spot in the center of the frame?? That's a black bear--not really very big, but not a cub. I wondered is maybe it had a mama nearby, but I did not wonder enough to venture closer. I was trying to adjust the zoom on my camera when it evidently saw me and turned and ran uphill like a freight train.

Over the top, and down the other side. I wondered if this trail was a loop, or what. I had 4.8 on my Garmin, and did not have a whole lot of time if this turned out to be an 8 mile out and 8 miles back.

I was back in some bottom land--not the river, but another much smaller stream. This was some pretty soggy running.

Eventually, the trail turned back in the direction of my car. I was thinking it must loop back on itself, although if it did, I had missed seeing the intersection. But at least I was heading the right way--or so it seemed. I had a small climb over hill covered with briers, and the decent was much better, with a series of rocky switchbacks, The descent seemed like much more than the ascent through the briers. I could hear the roar of the river, and it seemed like I should be nearing the campground. Then I came to the river.

And WOW. It was raging. It still seemed to me that the campground must be right over the river--but I had not actually crossed the river--just the feeder stream, and I was upstream from that. There was no way this could be the feeder stream. But still, I just KNEW I needed to get to the other side. So, I followed the bank upstream. There was no trail, which also seemed to tell me the trail went across the stream-turned-river. Could it be that this was a flash flood? Maybe the water had came up rapidly since I had last seen it? That much in less than an hour??? The going was awful--and I should have simply retraced my steps even if it meant a 10+ mile out-and-back. But I was really second guessing myself not knowing if the trail was a dead end, or on the other side, and was this the same stream, or had it quickly risen?

It was then that I slipped. A mossy rock and my Minimus shoes were not meant for each other, and now I was in the rapids!! A lot goes through your mind in a hurry in a situation like this. First, I tried to stand up, and was thrown back down. I then thought of my phone and camera. (I had left my phone in the car) but my Canon which I had just got back from the manufacturer for a cracked screen, was now soaked. Then, I got a mouth and lungs full of water, and was just rolling through the water downstream.

Twice in my life, I have almost drowned--once when I was 18 months, and my mom drug me out of a creek and pumped water out of my lungs. And when I was 13, I went under for the third time in a creek not far from the Illinois River. My heavy feet (with tennis shoes) had sunk me to the bottom, and a friend of my mom and dads held a fishing pole out and I grabbed the end of the rod and he pulled me in. I had no help this time.

In what was probably only 20 seconds, I went from "Oh SH!T" to worrying about my phone and camera, to falling down for the 2nd and 3rd time, to rolling in the rapids with no control, to thinking about not making it out, to what would people say, to all I left behind, to passing into a new life. And with a mouthful of water, I tried to yell out HELP. I then heard a voice--that said in a low muffled tone--"HULP". Turns out the voice was my own, and then somehow I was safe. I found myself in an easy chair covered up with a blanket and a cat in my lap. My own cry for help had woke me up.

Ok--did I "get" you? There should have been a few things tipping you off. One, I would not wear a cotton T-shirt to run in if it was raining. I also would never wear NB Minimus--sorry Stormy. I actually like tanks on my feet when I run trailz. And I did mention that I dream a lot about running new trailz.
And, I had a good nap.