Sunday, April 29, 2012

Frisco Railroad Run

While a host of running friends were travelling to Oklahoma City for the marathon, I was running a beautiful trail NW of Springfield, MO. The Frisco Railroad Run. This event included a 50 miler, a 50K, a marathon, half marathon, and an 8K. Something for everyone.The turnout was huge--I think this race had way more entrants than last year due to the addition of shorter distances.
The Tulsa contingent included Dana and I, Charlotte, and Dennis (pictured above) and Cheryl (pictured below. Kurt and Shelley Egli, and Eric VanSee also made the trip, but I did bot get a picture of them.
Cheryl ran the 50K, Eric ran the marathon, Dana ran the half, and Kurt and Shelley, Charlotte, Dennis, and I ran the 50 mile.
The marathon and ultra distances started at 8:00, and the first 2.25 miles were on a paved bike trail (formerly the Frisco railroad line.)
The first aid station was where we got off the pavement and began out trek on nice chat and gravel paths.
Going out, I loved the trail. I wore my Asics NEO33s, which seemed like a good decision until mile 30 when the small gravel began wearing on the balls of my feet. I rarely deviate from trail shoes running off road. It gave me a bit of trouble, but nothing major.
Most of the way was well shaded, and it was overcast and rainy-looking, but once or twice the sun peeked out and the temps would spike--it could have been a hot day.
Around mile 10, the trail narrowed, and the trees towered above the trail. This was my favorite section, and it was here that I realized I could have a good half-marathon split. I picked it up for 3 miles, and hit 13.1 miles at 2:13 and change. This got me thinking about what I could actually do on this day. Was a sub 10 a possibility?
The old railroad bridges had a certain charm. In places they had a steel deck that would really bounce up and down when I ran across. Not a cool thing. I walked all of these. Some were surfaced with treated decking, and some were concreted.
Why there would be road kill on a path restricted to bicycle and foot traffic is beyond me. These two kills were about a 1/4 mile apart, and to save a picture, I toted the armadillo to where the chicken hawk was to save room on my camera card.
After the marathon and 50K runners turned around, it was just us 50 milers, and I ran alone for much of the way. I had my iPod and cranked up the tunes.
This bridge slanted to the left so much that I wondered if erosion was affecting the pilings. This was another walker.
This is the signature bridge of the trail.
We had run along this river for a couple of miles, enjoying views of small rapids and waterfalls. Here, it was just a muddy lazy river.
My 25K split was 2:45--a little off the pace, but still a time I was happy with. 4:53 at the marathon, and 6:20 at 50K. By now, I realized a sub 10 was out of the picture. Doing math while running is very difficult, but I thought I still had a fighting chance at 10:30.

I had heard the trail was mostly uphill going out, and downhill coming back. Actually, the course was very flat, but there was a slight climb most all of the way back. Runnable, and I ran most of it, but it took a toll and the last few miles were a struggle. I'd make myself run for a song, walk 100 steps, and then run til the end of the song again. It got me there.
I had played leapfrog with Charlotte off and on for the last 20 miles. She is a faster walker and slightly faster runner. I took shorter walk breaks though allowing me to occasionally pass her. She had a pacer and crew, and they graciously allowed me to fill my water bottle with ice, which helped immensely!! When we reached the pavement (only 2.25 miles to go!!) her pacer bowed out, and Charlotte and I agreed to run it in together. I had a grand plan to hit it hard once I hit the pavement, but there were no runners within sight to run down, so we took walk breaks as needed. Jonathon, a friend from Arkansas passed us, and since I was twice his age, I gave in to youth. Knowing we had 2.25 miles on the pavement, and 30 minutes to break 11 hours was a relief. We finished in 10:55. It would have been 10:54 by the chip--we had chips, but the finish line and timing mats were gone--put away a few hours before the race was over. It looks like the 50K and shorter distances got the benefit of chip timing, but not the 50 milers. No biggie, I suppose. They were also out of medals, but I was told one would be mailed. The medal (Dana got one for her PR half marathon finish) was nice looking.I also was given an award for first in my age group, which I was sure was wrong. And technically it was wrong. They give age group awards in 10 year increments three deep, but also give masters awards, and veterans awards. ( I guess veterans are older than masters?) So, there was a 50-59 guy who got a veterans award, and another who got a masters award. I got a glass and a small medal for first. I did beat two other codgers.

In summary--it was a nice race. It's a great PR course. (I PRd, although my 50 mile PR was soft--at the Midnight Madness HeatFest.) The medals are great. The tech shirts are pretty good. I would have liked a better selection of aid station food. The aid stops were no more than what you'd get in a road marathon--water and Gatorade. I like to EAT in ultras. One or two of the stops had a few PBJs, and a couple had Pretzels and potato chips. I really ran low on calories, and fortunately I had a pack of shot bloks and plenty of electrolytes with me.

It was good that Dana ran the half. She had time to go back to the motel, shower, nap, and then meet me at the finish with a McDonald's frappe. Plus, she drove me home. Like I said, I'm spoiled.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Robber's Cave State Park--spectacular trailz!!

A group of the usual TOT gang was slated to run trailz at Robber's Cave State Park last Sunday. Due to me not considering the previously mentioned Run Tulsa Pink 5K, most of the trail running conglomerate bowed out so they could volunteer in helping set that race up. I was stubborn, and talked Russell to making the trip 120 miles south and east to run ~12 miles of single track.

We hit Wilburton at 9:30 am, and remembered we needed to have a cooler of cold beverages waiting for us after the run. A Styrofoam box, a bag of ice, and a six pack of cheap beer later, we were properly packed and ready to run. Robber's Cave is a beautiful area, with the caves, two small lakes, and a river framed by tall pines and taller bluffs. We planned on running all the trailz, and basically do the outermost loop. I had navigated some of it a few years ago, and wanted to conquer the unknown--all of it.

The dam had water spilling over it, and the deep cold lake begged for pictures, and in this case, a short video.

From there, we ran north on the park road downstream to another small dam to cross to the south trail head. So, as you can see, we started our trip with wet feet.
Not soaking wet though, as my shoes (Montrail Hardrocks--my old faves that just won't die) drain well.
I was concerned that the top of the mossy dam would be slick, and the water could have been deep on either side. Wet cameras and iPhones would be a bad thing. But there was no slippage.

Crossing the river, we began a long gradual climb. I remember this being a very steep hill, but this day it did not seem all that bad. The temps were in the low to mid 60s all day, with a steady breeze and bright blue skies. Perfect!!

Following the river northward, we dropped back down to the other side of the dam shown in the video.

A fall here would have been a disaster.

Russell took a lot of the pictures. I have lost the charger to my Canon. My iPhone was doing a great job though. If I am in the pic, it's Russell taking it.

The trailz were amazing--following the lake shore for about a half mile before veering away and eventually climbing a steep scramble to the top of the bluffs.

The trail was tight single track, lots of rocks in places, and pine needles all day long. Love it love it!

A last shot of an inlet in the lake before the climb.

We tucked in under these sandstone overhangs, and then snaked right up the other side. There were 7-8 switchbacks as we ascended 200 feet in less than .2 miles.

In a couple of places, it was a arms and legs workout to cover any distance at all. But after that climb, it was pretty tame for the rest of the day. Relatively flat, or something like that.

The view from the top of the bluffs is worth the climb, although I think very few of the vacationers make the hike.
The water is a lot farther away than it looks. You could not dive off these bluffs. Even throwing a rock does not hit the water.
It's just amazing here.
Russell on Inspiration Point. Does he look inspired?

The trail was well marked--just follow the blue blazes.

This brief section of trail is shared with our equestrian friends. Sometimes horse hoofs beat up a trail, but it was not bad here at all.

We followed this stream off and on all day--or so it seemed. maybe it was different streams--not sure. I would have drank this water, if I had to. It seemed that clean. (Of course my luck, there would be a bear peeing just upstream.)

Several small waterfalls.
Russell got right up next to this one.

We doubled up on this reptile who wanted no part of having his picture taken.

We came to a junction about 7 miles into our run. I had my Nathan pack, and had plenty of water. Russell had one 24 oz water bottle and was low, so we took a shortcut to the caves where we could refill.
Near the caves, there were lots of sight-seers. Folks there to see the caves, but staying in the parking lot because the trail up was too steep. After taking a couple of pics, eating a honey stinger waffle, and a Gu, we ran up the hill as a few tourists gawked.

This is the north side of the huge boulders that make up Robbers Cave. No outlaws here today though.

Russell and I headed to the northeast part of the big loop. We were at mile 9 and heading away from our start point. Russell thought we might have missed a turn. I doubted that at the time, but I still thought it best to take a gravel road that headed toward the right general direction of our car. This took us to the main park road (paved) and we ran 3+ miles southward to the camp office and our start point. These 3 miles were a gradual downhill all the way, and we cooked along at an 8 m/m pace. This brought our average pace back down to 17 m/m for the day--slow, but we were not in a hurry. We enjoyed a cold beer, and then headed back to Tulsa, but not before searching in vain for a good hamburger. A&W was a big disappointment. We made it back for the Run Tulsa Pink 5K.

I plan on going back to Robber's Cave in a few weeks. I want to run the loop in the opposite direction. I bet there are a good 20 miles of trail, and I need to see them.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Run Tulsa Pink

A rare Sunday night race was held yesterday.

The Run Tulsa Pink 5k benefited the Turn Tulsa Pink movement, which works to show Awareness, Kindness, Love and Respect to those affected by cancer.

Turn Tulsa Pink partnered with RunnersWorld-Tulsa, who held this 5k road race.

The race turned out 1,200 runners, and was a huge success.

As you can see here and in the pictures below, pink was the color of the night. It was a treat to see Candice, a great friend who I MISS RUNNING WITH!

Chrissy, RD of Wednesday's Warrior Princess Trail Run was my running partner for the night. She is just getting back into running, and was worried about being able to run the whole way--not that there is anything at all wrong with walking a bit if needed!

My friend Ken aka K2 was dressed in his usual psychedelic spandex shorts, but he seemed eerily conservative amid the sea of pink tutus.

By 7:00, the area was teaming with pink clad runners ready to run a new race course.

A quick look around revealed some very questionable characters. Stormy looks like a cross between Russell Brand and Hello Kitty.

This fine group of ladies drew cat calls by showing off a lot of flesh.

And it just got more weird. Larry, a well known transvestite, dressed as Catra, yet he did not even to profess knowing who the ultra superstar is. (Well, Catra minus a few tatts.)


Soon enough, the gun sounded and we were off. Chrissy and I started near the back, and maintained a steady pace. Not too fast. We were able to shuffle along at a dead even 12 m/m pace. We slowly picked off a few runners, but I was careful to not get into a racing mode.

down a slight incline, and back up another. Someone called these hills--nah.

Ewwww. This dude(ette>) was running in flip flops?!?!?

Um---oh. That was me. My outfit was just something I threw together. Special thanks to Susan Westmoreland for making me the tutu.

And yes, I did run in flip flops. They were pink and black and matched my arm panties. For the record, I did have appropriate covering under my tutu.

Such great fun, such great friends.

We hung around, and had fun way into the night. And the race--it raised thousands for a worthwhile charity.

Thanks to K2, Susam M, and TATUR for letting me borrow a couple of pics.

And a huge thank you to Kathy Hoover, for organising a near flawless race. I know how stressful race directing can be with 250-300 runners. 1,000 would scare me to death. Actually, SHE looks scared to death!