Monday, May 27, 2013

Appalachia Bay Trailz

I thought I'd hunt down a couple of geocaches Monday afternoon. Appalachian Bay on Lake Keystone had two listed, and I headed that way. Should have taken Jake, but he and I had ran a little at Chandler Park earlier, and he just doesn't understand why I stand in the woods looking at my phone instead of running. 
I found these on my PC at home, and blowing up the map, it sure looked like there were trailz here. Actually, I did know there were ATV trailz, but thought these would just be muddy rutted out roads, and had never investigated. Crossing a road that led to an island that was technically a peninsula, it looked like these were no more that boring roads.

The long narrow island had a "major" through road for about half the distance, but the side loops were a bit more interesting. Yes, these were somewhat rutted and tilled with off road tire tread, but most of the trailz early on were runable.

Loop after loop brushed the edge of the lake, making for a very scenic trip.

By now, I had forgot about geocaching. My mission was to investigate--running all the way to the end of the island on the west shore, and back on the east side.

This was not a flat island either. I climbed a 150 foot hill, that had several spiderweb trailz blasted out by ATVs futile attempts at ascension. If I had a criticism, it was the brainless trail construction. No, construction is to nice of a word. It was far more destructive than constructive.

Near the south end of the trip, remnants of a couple of oil pumpjacks stood in rusting majesty. Seeing the second one, I was sure I had gone in a circle and was lost, but I consulted my camera and saw it was a different one.

The southern end also had loose sand. My shoes were full, to the point that if I wanted to run at all, I had to empty them. It was like running on the beach, and actually, that's what I was doing for much of the way.

The whole trip, the rev rev rev of dirt bikes and ATVs drowned out the whir of the wind through the trees, and the lap of the waves on the rocks. But on a holiday weekend on an ATV course, I was the guest on their playground.

This is the vies from the east beach. I was heading back with a little over 3 miles done. The loose sand and all the picture taking had me in a time crunch and I needed to make some time back, so I carefully chose trails from the multiple webs that were less sandy.

This in no way meant the return trip was less scenic. At times, it seemed like a run through the jungle, and at times it was a run through the pines.

I'd come here again to run. Next time, Jake gets to go as there are endless swim opportunities. Coming after a brief rain would help with the loose sand problem. Coming on a weekday might avert some of the annoying ATVs and dirt bikes. I guess I should thank them for sharing their playground with me. And next time, I'll find those geocaches.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

A field trip to a place with trailz across fields

Our Sunday group, better known as the TOTs (which stands for Training on Trailz) took a field trip today to Lake McMurtry. We ran the trailz on the east side, and had an dozen who ran for 7 or 14 miles on some excellent single track. 
Bad zombie did not get a group pic--need to pull my head out. We took the north route first, cuz I think it's purtier. They're both awesome. All the rain had softened things up, and the run was so nice compared to concrete and asphalt.

We ran at about a 12 minute/mile pace, which is about my top comfortable speed. We got spread out a little,  and mark sent us on. Dusti and her friend were a bit back from them and were doing quite a bit of walking, so we went on. I usually don't like to do that, but since there was really only one group today (we probably should have had two) we went on. The three behind us made the rounds, and made all right-hand turns, but found a wrong turn that took them right along the lake shore, and got a bonus mile in. I'm jealous!

The north side trailz have slightly more rocks than the south side, but both are tame compared to other Oklahoma courses.

I lost count of how many turtles we was on the course. Jen had the idea that it might be mating season, and these guys were cruising for babes.

The trailz were slightly more overgrown than when I was here a few weeks ago, and grass and forest growth swiped our legs along the way. This grass is a boarding gate for ticks to grab onto hairy legs. I managed two travelers, the Plate boys had a couple, but I think Jen had the most--which would seem to indicate that she needs to shave her legs.

We finished the north loop in just over 90 minutes, rehydrated, regrouped, and headed out for some more miles. Just Stormy, Brandon, Cameron, Jen, and I went for extra mileage, while Mark, Brynna, and Bob waited around for us. Kristina, Casey, Dusti, and her friend stopped with 7.2 or in Mark's case 8.1 miles.

I think the south loop is easier--I guess because when I camped here, I did it first. The first 2-3 miles do not have any steep sections at all, and seem like a fast course. My pace was a bit faster, but on this side, Stormy was leading the group and he had his fast shoes on. I love the wooden bridges, although there were no water crossings, despite all the rain we've had.

These four would rocket on ahead, and about once a mile, they'd stop to wait for the old guy. Hey--I stopped to take pictures! Gimme a break, would ya?

Spring flowers were in full bloom, and there were plenty of them.

Fiddling with my camera settings was costing me time, so I pocketed the camera and just ran. My second loop was almost exactly the same as my first, although I did slow down a little in the last mile.

On September 22, 2013, I am putting on the inaugural Red Dirt Shuffle--a Half Marathon, and a 10K right here on these trailz. Depending on whose Garmin you wanna believe, the course is 13.9 miles to 15.5 miles. In either case, it looks like it'll be slightly longer than a half marathon, although I might be able to tweak this a little by making a more direct route between trail-heads, and I may be able to choose to take a shorter loop on the north trailz. I won't do it if it makes the course goofy though. If it's long--well, I like to give you a little extra at my races anyway. AN ultra-marathon is technically any race longer than 26.2 miles. We could call the Red Dirt Shuffle a HALF ULTRA. Well, maybe not.

We all had a great time, and I love going to new places to run. We plan on having field trips monthly, or as close to monthly as we can. Don't miss the next one!!

Friday, May 24, 2013

A few things

First off--I am stoked to have a THREE DAY WEEKEND. Plans are to have dinner with TaturCakes and maybe a movie this evening. Then, around 6 miles on trailz tomorrow morning followed by a birthday party sometime tomorrow--midday??? Then, a 20 mile night run with Kathy and my RW friends. I cannot do much more than 20 though, because early Sunday morning, I am going to Lake McMurtry East Side to run trailz with my Sunday group (TOTs). I plan on 13 miles there, but that is subject to change depending on who all needs to go what distance, is it raining and nasty, how hungry I am, have I been snake bit, or eaten by a wild badger. Monday--maybe another long run.

Second, I am bummed about what I thought might be a good writing opportunity. Hub Pages. It is an online magazine about anything anyone wants to write about. There is supposed to be some way to actually make a modest income for contributing significant amounts of content. I wrote one article, but the thing is formatted so hard (very much unlike the blogger platform I use here.) I have submitted one story, and it had a few readers, but I am pretty much dead to them now. I have tried several times since to submit another story--and it will take written copy, but not pictures--OR, it will take pictures only with short captions. I wasted two hours last night trying to submit what was basically a past post, and a good story if you don't mind the sound of me patting my own back. So, unlike most guys, I asked for help. Their response was
Excellent questions, Ken, and I'm glad that you asked them!

Some answers:
1. Content on HubPages cannot be published anywhere else, so it will not be possible to cross-post some of your blog posts.
2. Text and images must be entered separately into Hubs (our articles) using the HubTool, so even if you have deleted a given post from your blog and waited about a week (to make sure our systems know it is not published elsewhere), you unfortunately will not be able to paste the entire post's HTML into our HubTool.

I guess I should not be disappointed about that, but I am. In looking at LOTS of the articles published on a variety op topics, many are poorly written, and most are just ugly layouts. The look like a Wall Street Journal with an occasional picture and plenty of random ads. I had AdSense once on this site, and took it off because I felt like I was selling out. I do not want to advertise for a pig wrestling 5K, of super deep discounted running shoes in some New Jersey outlet shopping mall. I may tinker with it again, but I'm not gonna cease publishing what I do here to put stuff on Hub Pages.

I am excited about a new TRAIL RACE CALENDAR I have put together. This list is 95% pavement-free. It's a calendar for trail runners who want to do trail races, and are tired of wading through page after page of Saturday morning road 5Ks to find a fun race to run. Find a race here, and go run in the woods with your friends. It's that simple. 
I have left out all the spectacle races--warrior wannabe dashes, tuff muddas, jump over the hay bale runs, dive in a pig slop mud pen races, etc. Yes, a lot of these are ran off road, but they are not at all in the true spirit of trail running and being at one with nature. If someone is offended that I have left these off, I have good news: they can make a spectacle race calendar. Brian has put it on the TATUR webpage, and I have a link for it on the left column of my blog, and on the TZ TRAIL GUIDE as well.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

pics on the run

I've been a slug this week, but I believe I can slough that off as an excused absence from running--since I did the 100K in 3 days (A tough feat but far easier than the 100K done a few weeks earlier.) The tornado news was a factor--I am not glued to the TV, but feeling the pain seemed to dampen my enthusiasm for the run. But today, it was time. Jake agreed, and we set off for whatever miles we ended up doing. Garmin was purposely left at home, but I did take the camera--and a baggie to put it in just in case. I was looking for colors in the midst of drab--kind of like my mood.

Looking for peculiar camera angles in a world where everything is familiar is a fun challenge.

I played with this picture, making the poles eclipse the buildings, moving forward, moving backward.

I liked this one the best, and stretched it a tad for good measure.

My road pace, which at best dips just under nine minutes per mile, was shot. Many walk breaks were taken disguised as photo ops. Good recovery runs are like that. I was playing with a color swap app on my phone that sort of worked. I helped it with a photo editing app on my desktop. Just playing--I need more practice.

This was taken with the color swap app, with a boost in the contrast. Or maybe it was the drugs.

No trickery here, except for a little cropping. Then, I ran for about a half mile.

I had grand visions for the City of Tulsa sitting on a bridge. It seemed so surreal, but the picture falls short. So I just kept jacking with it til I sorta liked it. Very well thought out meticulous photo editing. HAHA.

There was no editing or cropping here at all. Just ask Mario.

I put my camera away, and ran the 1.75 miles back home, narrowly beating the hard rain. Jake got his run in. I shook out the aches and pains left over from the weekend. And I got some pictures to play with.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Just pictures

I have not felt much like blogging lately. News of those hurting in the aftermath of the tornado crisis make my silly musings and conquests so insignificant, and well they are. However, I still feel the need to create--to express myself. I just don't know what to say.
These are a couple of pictures taken over the past year. The one above is a picture of an old reproduction of a picture in the jury pool waiting room downtown. It was hanging framed on the wall, and the flash on my iPhone almost drowned it out. But at first glance, it looks like an end of the world pic.
This one is related--not the end of the world, but the beginning. In the iPhone game Draw Something, my younger brother Fiver drew this for me to guess. I pondered over it for days. The game plays back the drawing and speeds up the process, yet with the multiple layers, it took a full five minutes for the drawing to complete. The answer--Big Bang.

I need a good run.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

3 FUN Days to 100K (the Oklahoma way)

Kathy, Derk, and Barbara (with Roman and Dee) competed in a 6 day stage race in Costa Rica last February, and did not even make it home before they started planning a stage race for HERE--in OKLAHOMA--the Three Days to 100K--a 25K followed by a 50K the next day, and a 25K on Sunday. This was an ambitious endeavor involving three different races in three different locations, and on day two and three on courses that none of them had ever ran (or knew of) before. We, the runners, were treated to three races that were challenging, well marked, and extremely fun.

Picture courtesy of Roman

Day one--Friday evening, we ran one of our usual night run courses--the paved bike trailz from NSU in Broken Arrow to Jenks.  Hayley Jennings (above) was primed and ready to RUN. She was my pic to win the womens prize, and took care of business Friday night, finishing 1st woman and 2nd overall. She ran hard, and overheated and felt like crap afterward. Still, she recouped and was ready to run Saturday morning.

Picture courtesy of Roman
We usually do an out-and-back from Jenks, but since the prescribed distance was 25K, we were bused out to NSU and raced back. The bus ride on the Creek Turnpike runs parallel to the bike path, so anyone unfamiliar could see every hill along the way.

Picture courtesy of Mitch
The dynamic duo of Brandon and Careron Plate, aka Thing 2 and Trail Goat, were stepping it up a notch by doing this event. They are both Half fanatics, and Marathon Maniacs, earning their Maniac status by doing more 50Ks than marathons. Their plan was to go easy and make sure they still had mojo on Sunday, and they stuck to their plan and did great. More on that later.

My plan, instead of the usual easy first day and save energy for later, was to GO HARD on day one. I figured day two would be a slow 50K anyway. I run the return trip from NSU very well--knowing every bump on the trail and every hill. I saw this as a very probable PR for the distance, and thought I might even finish in the top five or so.

I had hydrated well, and peed twice before boarding the bus, and had to make a last minute dash behind a cedar tree to whiz just before the race start.

Picture courtesy of Roman

I started near the front of the pack, and then took command, leading the field for several miles yards. Actually, I kept my average pace per mile around 9:45 for about 10 miles, and slowed down coming up the gradual incline near Grace Church around mile 10. I labored to make up for it, but it seemed \like someone turned up the thermostat. All at once it seemed 10° hotter and extremely humid. My heart was about to pound it's way out of my chest. The occasional walk breaks became more frequent, and a little longer. With 4 miles to go, I would have had to average just over 10 minute miles to PR. Another mile later, I needed to run close to 9 minute miles. After another mile, the hope for a PR was gone. I just jogged it in from there, finishing in 2:44--11 minutes off my PR. I was nauseated, but not hurling. I excused myself and drove home, showered and went to bed. It was a good call, as I felt fine in the morning.

Picture courtesy of Roman My buddies Roman and Mitch swept the course. Mitch was at my house at 6:00 Saturday morning and we carpooled out to some private property near Lake Heyburn for the 50K.

Picture courtesy of Mitch The menu today called for three 10ish mile loops. An orange, a pink, and a backwards orange. Kathy actually looks pretty good for someone who had not slept in two days. And of course, Roman is photo-bombing.

I never got a picture of Derk--probably would have broke my camera anyway. Derk kept the water stops supplied and did a ton of Race Director stuff. Barbara (on the right) helped Kathy with the main aid station and with the finish line activities. Both these girls were overworked. :-)

Brandon is loose and relaxed, and Cameron is super-focused.

It seems this dude did not read where there were no race-day sign-ups. These cows really wanted to join in on the fun.

When Kathy told them no, they looked pissed.

Picture courtesy of Roman
No starting cannon, no fireworks, just the word GO.

Picture courtesy of Roman

It had rained during the night, and there were a few muddy spots, but 99% of the trail was dry and runable. Some people thought the course was super rocky, and there were some rocks, but any good trail has rocks. I loved it here. The trails twisted around, meandering from hill top to bottom land, finding several nifty rock formations and creek crossings. I was able to navigate all the small water crossings with dry feet.

I thought I was in last place, but a group evidently started late. I stopped to take pictures occasionally, and just enjoyed the most efficient running stride ever invented--the zombie-shuffle. On a day where 90° was the predicted high, we were blessed with overcast skies for most of the day.

Picture courtesy of Roman
The group that snuck up on me was none other than Johnny Spriggs, Frank Muller, Karrie VanZee, and Angela. We played cat and mouse for many of the next 10 miles.

Here's me taking a picture of Mitch taking a picture of a KEEP OUT sign. I did not quite understand WHY this sign was on a tree deep in the woods.

One of the water crossings. I almost bit it here--standing still flat footed, and the slick as snot rocks almost claimed a trail runner. Roman would have found himself in the water if he had laughed. :-)

Whoever cut this trail liked this creek. I had ran the Rattle Snake Trail just east of here a few weeks ago, and knew at least a little about the terrain, but these trailz were a lot nicer.

I somehow got out ahead of Mitch and Roman and caught up with Charlotte and Caroline. I'd run with them for a while, and fall back when I took pictures or peed. And so it went.

Finally, after around 10 miles, we were back at the start/finish. I sucked down some Gatorade, ate a PBJ, and was off.

Derk has a good sense of humor, using an armadillo shell as a trail marker.

A dead trail runner cuddles with a dead cow. Johnny was running the 3-day event of nearly no training. His longest run before the race was 4 miles. Can you say Well Tapered?

Johnny wanted this cow skull for his Post Oak Trail Race. I suppose if I had offered to carry it for him....but nope.

For most of the pink trail, I ran alone. I felt good, and the pink loop had more gradual downhills and uphills, whereas the orange had more steep ups and downs.

I think this is what Derk referred to as the moon rock. It reminded me a lot of Bathtub Rocks at Pumpkin Holler. And as you can see, the cows were banditting the race.

There was at least a little crowd support on the course. Spring flowers waved as I sped by.

As the day heated up, I gave thoughts to wetting my head down--but the creeks were too muddy, and the ponds were too snaky looking.

I really enjoyed the trailz here--they had a little bit of everything. Rocky, but no too bad. There were some long gradual runable stretches where you could make up a little time, and some definite walk-up hills. I was running well, until a 1/4 mile steep ascent, and the sun had popped out, and any hint of wind had died. I was close to being out of water despite carrying two water bottles, and was really counting on the last water drop. But--the water jug was dry, and the other had warm Gatorade, which at the time just did not fit the bill for me. I filled a bottle half way, knowing I had only 2.3 miles more to go. My comfortable slow/steady shuffle was laborious, and I did more walking than shuffling, but made it in.
Picture courtesy of Danielle Huddleston
Day two was in the books. I plopped in a chair and took a nap--waiting for Mitch to get in--he was my ride home. We stayed around for the last runner, and then helped Kathy pick up a few things before leaving for home.

Day three was 7 miles south of Kellyville on private property again. (I guess that's why I did not know about these trailz.) This time, it was an 80 acre plot of land that had around 7-8 miles of motocross trailz to play on.

It seemed like there were a lot more people here today, and in fact, I think there were a few runners who were running this day only. They were in for a treat! The race started out with an out and back on gravel roads. Two miles later, we were back at the start/finish, and then went out on a dirt (mud) trail loop, hit the start/finish aid station again, and then did another loop hitting the start/finish a third time. Then, the whole thing was dona again in reverse. One aid station handled it all--a genius design.

After the gravel out and back, we started to work. These are primarily motor bike trailz, and early on there were very steep ups and downs, with several jumps. It had rained again the night before and these were mud slaloms. Squishy ooshy gooshy mud that you had to claw your way up and ski down.

Mud is really not my thing, especially after 100K of it at FlatRock a few weeks ago, but knowing that the worst scenario would be 13 miles of it, I thought I could get through it. Mitch and I ran together and the time passed by seemingly quick.

Hitting the aid station after the second loop, we found Charlotte waiting on us. Caroline had gone into power-walking mode, and she is a machine. Charlotte wanted to go a little slower so she waited on a couple of slower guys.

The next mile was amazing. Not a tenth of a mile from the aid station, we descended down a narrow ditch--could this possibly be the right way???

Footing was sketchy here, and if not for all the caution tape sending us down this chute, we would have never guessed there was a trail here.

This narrow slick-as-snot trail carved right on the edge of the wall of this deep ravine tried in vain to send us careening into the creek. Up until now, I had dryish but muddy feet, and did not want to go splishy splashy if I didn't have to.

Then growing right out of the wall, was this prickly pear cactus. I twisted my head and torso around it and held onto the 8 inch wide trail. But it would get worse. I asked Mitch later if he had seen Jack-Ass the movie and wouldn't it be cool to smash your face right into the clump of cactus just to get a video of it. He said no--not cool. Oh well.

Charlotte starts her descent, and ends up in a butt-slide. That turned out to be a useful maneuver for this course.

Things got tighter and tighter--this was one of the wildest trailz I have ever been onthrough. On our return trip, I videoed our passage through this tunnel of a trail.

There were other creeks we crawled through. Rather than crossing the bridge and following the subsequent trail, we made a left turn and ran right up through the creek. This was starting to be a common theme. We hit the aid station and started out on the last mud trail. Mitch and I both agreed that it was kind of sad that this weekend was coming to an end.

This section of the trail, while still muddy, was so much more passable that it was earlier in the day.

Derk, Barbara, and Kathy did a great job of marking the course(s), and went through a a mile or more of caution tape.

We met several of our running buddies on the final out-and-back on the gravel road. I had gotten ahead of Mitch, and at the top of the long gravel road hill, I sat down and waited for him.

I took a few pictures while I waited--including my sexy legs.

Wilma and her friend pass by. I had caught up with them, but wore myself doing it, and sitting down under the guise of waiting for Mitch was restful.

As it turns out, Mitch had a prolonged stop at the last aid stop--eating a hamburger and drinking a beer.

Picture courtesy of Danielle Huddleston
Well, when we were within sight of the finish line, we quickened our pace. People were cheering--some for me, some for Mitch. Our competitive nature kicked in. Mitch threw an arm out in front of me. I threw an elbow.

Picture courtesy of Danielle Huddleston
It was fierce--so I pulled out the big gun and squirted him with a warm Gatorade blast.

Picture courtesy of Danielle Huddleston
Well--I think we tied. Kathy was there to greet us--maybe she was just trying to stop a fight.

And then the good stuff--Chef Eduardo had burgers, grilled chicken, grilled turkey sandwiches, grilled ham sandwiches, and grilled grease served piping hot--and beer. Life was good.

Wes came along to make sure all the beer was good--and it was awesome that he and Ed and Christy helped with the food fest.

A cool thing--Kathy gave out all the 3-day awards from the last to the first, and made a big deal out of every one. Cameron Plate won the final 25K, and finished 4th or 5th overall for the 3-day event. Results can be viewed here.I do know Hayley Jennings won the women's race on Sunday to go with her Friday win. But due to getting about 5 bonus miles on Saturday and having electrolyte issues, she finished 4th overall for the 3 days.

I was near the bottom of the pack for the overall, but was happy with my races. I'll absolutely do this one next year. Maybe it'll be a 4 day, or even 100 miles? Once again, a HUGE THANK YOU AND CONGRATS to Kathy Hoover and Derk and Barbara Pinkerton, along with all the volunteers for doing such a superb job on this long and tedious stage race.