Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Years Eve Eve Long Run, with Mitch

My friend Mitch told me at the TATUR Christmas party he was debating making a push to meet his yearly running mileage goal of 1,200 miles. He was a little short--"How short is short?" I asked. "Um, around 100 miles." (It was December 13) This sounded doable to me, but I asked for a little clarification--"How close to 100?" thinking it might be 90-something. "Well--115 miles." And so the challenge began. "We better start early then," I said.

Mitch has been whittling away at his total, stretching the weekday and weeknight runs by a few miles here and there, and we have tacked on a few extras on out Saturday runs. Last Tuesday with the Night Crawlers, he was in the upper 40s to go, and our plan was to get a few miles in Friday (yesterday) as we were both off work.

SO Yesterday around noon, we took off from the Bixby YMCA with plans to run to Lake Bixhoma and back. We started with a little jaunt around Washington Irvington Park--a half mile loop on some nice soft chat trailz.
We saw some running friends Amelia and Rachel, who were squeezing in a 4 mile lunch hour run. We were about a mile into our run, and I realized I had forgot my hat and/or bandanna back at the car, so we made a quick diversion back to the car and began our run again, but at least I would not sunburn the top on my head.Just after crossing the Arkansas River on the old iron bridge, we followed as newish paved bike path that runs for about a mile eastward and dead-ends by some baseball fields.
From there, we followed rural roads south and east to hook up with a short section of HW 64 which runs from Bixby to Haskell. That stretch of highway has wide shoulders to run on, but the cars and trucks whizzed by at 70 mph, and was not the most run part of the run. I had plotted the route on for the best way with shortest amount of busy roads, and the route was semi-scenic--enjoyable to run, but not a course to plan a trip around.
Lake Bixhoma, on the other hand, is an awesome place to visit. The fishing is good, there are a few picnic areas, a lot of geocaches, and a few miles of gravel and dirt roads for trail-running sorts like me.
We had climbed a mile long hill from the Leonard community, and the decent to the lake was steep--enough-so that I really took it easy going down so-as to not make my knee any grumpier than it had to be. Mitch let gravity take over, and easily beat me to the bottom.
We were in no hurry this day though, as our distance was 25 miles, and Mitch needed to have some gas in the tank for his remaining miles the next day--and I was testing my achy knee.
It's easy to take good pictures at Bixhoma. Just aim the camera and push the button. The scenery does the rest.
We ran the perimeter clockwise first, which is about a half mile out and then back. This picture looked like a loser when I viewed it on my camera screen, but after loading it on my PC, I like it.
Through here, we are about 50 feet above the lake shore. Years ago I climbed down the rocks and fished with some cut shad for catfish. This lake is super deep--maybe 80' or so, and I hooked onto a HUGE cat--took me 10 minutes to bring him up. I don't know what he weighed, but was as long as my leg. I am not usually a catch and release guy--I love to EAT fish--but I let this big guy go.
We hit the turn-around and headed back the other way. I mentioned to Mitch that it would be so awesome if the road/trail went completely around the lake. I had bushwhacked my way around the lake a few years ago, over hills and rocks, fallen trees, and briers, and cutting a trail would be a huge task, but worth it--if we could get permission.
And to my surprise, when we reached the turn-around on the other side of the lake, we saw where someone was starting a trail!! It looked like they took a box blade and plowed through the scrub trees and rocks. What was left was a very rough jeep road, if you could even call it that. It went about 1/4 mile upward and dead-ended in a rock field on the side of a steep slope, and I don't know how they could plow from there. Looks like WORK, but at least I know that I'm not the only one who wants to see a trail around the lake.
On the way back, I told Mitch of another time when I had followed a faint trail up a hill and into the woods and found a camp site with some furniture constructed of huge rocks, and how someone had commented that it looked more like an altar. I suggested we try to find it. I'm not sure if Mitch really wanted to climb and hunt for it, but he agreed. I suspect he thinks a lot of my stories are tall tails (and a lot of them are) but proving that this one was true adds (temporarily) to my credibility.
As we were leaving the lake, we got to talking about the time, the distance, and our pace. Simple mathematics suggested that we were not going to get back to the car before dark--not even close. And neither of us had a light.
I was not really worried about it though. As long as we got off the busy highway while the sun was still up, I felt safe. We had stashed an ice chest at the base of the Bixhoma Lake hill, which re reached at mile 9 and again at mile 14. Peanut butter pretzels--YUM!! We picked it up a little, and easily made it off HW 64 before dark. The remaining miles were unlit--no street lights, but we still could see well enough. Hey, it was roads.
We have had some awesome sunsets in NE Okla lately. No exception last night. We made it back around 7:00, and still had the task of driving back to Leonard to get the cooler. The drive seemed long, but we had ran a lot further.

Mitch now stands at 8 miles, and seeing that it is now noon on Saturday, I am sure he has got his job done and is kicking back with a cold one. Congrats, my friend.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

I read all the time--few books, but lots of magazines and online articles--mostly about running, but sometimes about photography (and of course for me, photography is strongly related to trail running. :-P) Trail running is growing incredibly--no surprise, as it's just so darn fun! One thing I read often though, is the lament that "There are no trailz close to where we live." But I say, trailz are where you find them. I have a trail radar, and while I'm about town and country in my job, I have my sniffer on alert for new places to run.Yesterday, between Bixby and Jenks, I saw this dirt road leading off toward the west bank of the Arkansas River. There were no "Posted" signs, although I have certainly been known to ignore such signage.
Deep blue skies and barren trees were on display. A day like this yields crisp clear pix.
Dirt (or muddy) roads like this are as good as single track trailz--call them "double track."
A headache in the making. This was a fun half mile hike. This is not a destination outing here, but now I know. Sometimes places like this turn out to be such awesome places to run and explore.
The highlight of the trip was this small structure--a hobbit's house, I'd say. The door was locked, and I knocked but no one answered.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Good news, and a TNC report

My first post-holidays run was a great success--successful for multiple reasons. 1. my knee injury is improved. I went to see my massage torture-ist today, and she says it if not a bone or joint problem--if it were, it would be a deeper and continuous pain. She thought it was an IT band problem, and treated it accordingly. IT HURT!!!!
But after an hour, I feel 95% better, and ran pain-free. I also am so relieved that it is not anything dangerously serious, and I ran with confidence over rocks and roots.
2. After being down in the dumps--bummed about not running, not being able to run, and gaining weight from overindulgence in holiday yummies and stress-eating, I feel like I took control of that calorie in/calories burned ratio. 3. The Rocky Raccoon training can resume!!!

There were seven joining me tonight for the Tuesday Night Crawlers run. We opted to run easier trailz on the east side of the mountain, and I ended up with 4.5 miles. Mitch got close to 10 miles in his quest to reach 1200 for the year. He is down to 44-45 miles to go, and I promised to run an ultra with him Saturday if needed.

A quick video of the congregating crawlers just before we slithered off into the night. 

New Songs on my Playlist

I have been asked repeatedly as to WHAT SONGS DID I ADD TO MY PLAYLIST. I have over 300, but I can easily share the songs I recently added. The ones with asterisks denote songs that were suggested by this friends from the contest--and again, THANK YOU ALL.

Options--by Gomez
Airstream Driver--by Gomez
Little Pieces--by Gomez
I Might--by Wilco
Rapture--by Blondie ***
Hella Good--by No Doubt
Big Wheel--by Tori Amos ***
Stranglehold--by Ted Nugent ***
Flirtin' With Disaster--by Molly Hatchet
Midnight Rider--by Greg Allman ***
Blue Wind--by Jeff Beck
Gallows Pole--by Led Zepplin
Love Reign O'er Me--by The Who
The Crunge--by Led Zepplin
D'yer Maker--by Led Zepplin
Angel Dance--by Robert Plant
If It Wasn't For Bad--by Elton and Leon
Oh Well--by Bob Welch
Hypnotised--by Bob Welch
Crazy Little Thing Called Love--by Dwight Yoakum
Fast as You--by Dwight Yoakum ***
Guitars, Cadillacs--by Dwight Yoakum
Without Me--by Eminem
Dad Life--by Church on the Move ***
Truckin'--by Grateful Dead ***
Touch of Gray--by Grateful Dead ***
Friend of the Devil--by Grateful Dead ***
Uncle John's Band--by Grateful Dead
Shakedown Street--by Grateful Dead
Casey Jones--by Grateful Dead
What id Life--by George Harrison
Got My Mind Set On You--by George Harrison ***
Any Road--by George Harrison
Brainwashed--by George Harrison
Run So Far--by George Harrison
Looking For My Life--by George Harrison
Whatever Gets You Through The Night--by John Lennon
It Don't Come Easy--by Ringo Starr
Venus and Mars/Rock Show--by Paul McCartney
Ride My Seesaw--by the Moody Blues
Steppin' in a Slide Zone--by the Moody Blues
Sing the Changes--by the Fireman
1985--by Paul McCartney
You Wreck Me--by Tom Petty]Saving Grace--by Tom Petty ***
I Won't back Down--by Tom Petty ***
You Don't Know How It Feels--by Tom Petty
Tangled Up In Blue--by Bob Dylan
Coconut--by Harry Nillson
Daybreak--by Harry Nillson
Spaceman--by Harry Nillson
Avenging Annie--by Andy Pratt
The Road Goes on Forever--by Robert Earl Keen ***
Til I Collapse--Eminem ***

I now have over 300 songs, and I'm not typing them all--takes too long!!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Contest Results

Results of the drawing for the $25 iTunes gift card:
I had all the guessers on an excel spreadsheet, and contestants got one entry for suggesting up to three good songs. They got an extra entry if I liked any of the three songs. And finally, the big bonus, they were allowed up to three guesses as to what was already on my iPad--for a total of five chances. Actually, Terrie Broomhall and Cheryl Issacs had 5 entries into the drawing. Kate Ellisor and Arena had four entries.There was a total of 30 people who participated in the contest, and a total of 65 entries. I already had everyone numbered, and cut the numbers into small tabs.I gave thought to drawing one, but decided to take another approach.
I dropped the tabs and let them fall where they may.
It made quite the mess! I removed the ones landed number side down, and gathered the others and tossed them again. After 7 tosses, there was one number left--number 19. I then checked my excel list, and the winner is----Kate Ellisor. Congrats!!!
This contest was fun. I loaded around 20 new songs to my list--many that I would not have thought about. While I don't run all the time with music, long runs by myself may go a little easier with some good toonz.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Me and Jake--banished from the kitchen.

It was Christmas Eve afternoon. Dana was cooking, I was in the way sampling (I call it taste-testing.) Jake was my assistant, and despite our zealous efforts, we were both FIRED!! Jake had his own Christmas celebration last night, having found a huge platter of fresh Artisan rolls from Sam's, and seeing as they had no one else's name on them, he ate them. I was antsy about not getting to run. Jake needed to burn some calories. So, I decided to take Jake for a walk.Fortunately, I brought my camera. The skies were an amazing deep blue, the air was clean and clear--a perfect day for a walk and for pictures.

Cotton candy clouds danced about the sky, begging us to come play.

But I behaved and walked--not running a step. My knee is 1% better. But at least it's not worse.

After a run down the street and a brief trail loop, we were at the Turkey Mountain parking lot. Jake did a little butt sniffing with a couple of dogs, and we went for some more pictures.

This one and the one above are taken through Turkey Mountain's own natural fake rock arch.

Not far from the arch is a tall outcropping that many climbing enthusiasts enjoy. Look at the team who are almost at the summit.

A view to the east....

A view toward heaven....

A view of a good looking dog.

My usual pic-into-the-sun pic. We ended up with about two miles. Jake is really getting good on the leash, which means the resistance training I was getting on my right (leash) arm is over.

Friday, December 23, 2011

I had 30ish minutes to kill this morning, so I checked out an old railroad bridge a few miles from my job site.It has been maybe 20 years since a locomotive ran the Union Pacific rails between Bixby and Haskell, and much of the levee has been leveled and reclaimed by landowners.Another bridge closer to Bixby (Snake Creek, I believe) was demolished several years ago, but this one near the Tulsa/Wagoner County line is still standing.Of course, the steel rails are gone, but the trusses are still in fair shape.Not at all sure what the name of this creek is--it's not even on Google Maps.I doubt I'll do a session of bridge repeats here any time soon, unless I have a death wish!This was about a 30 inch step--nothing that was not doable, but careful footing was employed none-the-less. My Canon has a strap that I ALWAYS have around my wrist. I did not have my camera though, and my iPhone has no strap. Careful footing, and handling!!!This was a 6' jump--of course I walked across on the steel beam.Once across, I continued down the "trail" for around a 1/4 mile +/-. This would be an awesome run, if the trail continued on for a few miles, but it enters private land a little further up as in passes through the Stone Bluff area.I turned back, having blown my 30 minutes pleasurably.I'll go back soon to see exactly how far I can go with an out-and-back. 4 miles and it'd be worth the drive.Remembering my friend Yogi's pic of the sky taken below some playground equipment , I took one from a similar vantage point.These old bridges were built to last forever. It's the wood in them that decays. The have strength but in an artistic sort of way--does that make sense?I heard years and years ago that there was a movement to make this a pedestrian/bike trail. Merle haggard, the country western singer, had something to do with it as I recall. Nothing was ever done though. Oklahoma messed up by not developing these trailz, and the abandoned railway that runs from Skiatook to Barnsdall. These could have been fantastic trail systems.And finally, a peek at the mighty Arkansas River. It actually has water flowing, which is unusual considering the drought we've had for the last year. So, I burned my 30ish 45ish minutes, and got a junk mile with pics in the books.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A CONTEST !!!!!!

I recently got an iPod Nano, and have been slowly filling the 8G with tunes to make me go. I like all kinds of music, but feel I need suggestions for good running songs. So, I propose a contest. Give me three good running songs--or just good songs that you like to listen to on a run. Give me three suggestions, and you get your name in the hat. If I LIKE any of your suggested tunes, you'll get an extra entry into the drawing. And then as a bonus, if you can guess up to three songs that I already have on my iPod, you'll get one more entry per correct guess--for a total of up to FIVE chances in the drawing.

What do you win???
I'll put all the entries in a hat, and next Monday, I'll draw a winner who will receive a $25 iTunes gift card.
So, send me your responses.
I'll take entries from comments to this blog post, and from comments to the facebook post.
Looking forward to giving away this gift card, and to filling up my list of running songs!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Night running on Turkey Mt

There's something so amazing about night running. Especially on trailz. Especially when it's cold. Especially when it's foggy and misting, with an oppressing north breeze and a threat of gloom in the forecast. Especially onTurkey Mountain.My headlamp was on it's last legs. It needed batteries changed out several night runs ago.
Water is always more eerie at night. A boring nondescript pond has mysteries of old wafting from the depths on a cold December night.
Finding my way back to where I was to meet friends for a group run, wondering if anyone was for sure coming out. Running alone is not at all out of the question, but things do move about at night--things that you try to not wonder what they are....
Not everything that moves about at night on the mountain is wild, but many are.