Monday, April 2, 2012

Arbuckles to Ardmore

I love point-to-point marathons and ultras, and have had my eye on the Arbuckles to Ardmore Marathon for a couple of years now. It just worked out this year so I could go. This race finishes in Ardmore, OK, and starts in the Arbuckle Wilderness at Turner Falls.

A good group from Tulsa made the trip down, and a few of us drove out after the pasta dinner to check out the course and starting line. Turner Falls is beautiful, and my trail-sniffing nose was alert. I just knew there had to be trailz alongside the river that spills over that bluff.

Here, I got a pic of friends at the overlook. Left to right--Ray, Diane, Dana, Jeff, and Jessica held still long enough for me to snap a shot. Ray was running with Jeff's wife Mary (not pictured) to help her achieve her Marathon Maniac status. Dana was running the half with our friend Roman. Jeff had pneumonia and was sitting this one out, and Jessica was also running her third 26.2 for Maniac status.

Dana and I were in our car, and we went exploring briefly after this picture (by car to the entrance gate for Turner Falls.) The $12.00 per person entry fee 30 minutes before dark was more than I wanted to spend, so I earmarked this place for another trip. I did get a brochure and the vague map shows some trailz.

Being a point-to-point race, we had to catch buses to the starting line. Kathy and I boarded the last bus, which was a good call as we had less time to have to stand around atop the hill pre-race.

It was foggy, windy, and almost chilly. Neither of us had any specific plans other than to have a good run. Kathy had purposely ran 12 miles hard the day before so she could run today on tired legs. I, on the other hand was well rested and under-trained.

The sun was trying to peek out before the race. GO AWAY!! The forecast was for the 90s later in the day!! We were hoping for all the cloud cover we could get.

Our friend Sherry Meador was running. This was a bunny run for her, being that she runs a 100 30-40 weekends a year.

At 8:00 am, we were sent off. (7:00 would have been nicer.) We had a mile long uphill before heading straight south and a mostly gradual downhill with a few rollers.

Kathy lagged behind, and I turned to catch her striding hard to catch up.

The aid stations were about every mile apart, and you could have almost ran this race without a water bottle--but in the latter miles with the mercury knocking on the door of 90, having a few sips of water between stops was nice. Every aid stop was well staffed with enthusiastic volunteers, and they worked tirelessly all day long. Very impressive and appreciated.

Not the best video, but hey--at least it's short.
Highway 77--the route for 16 of our miles, was mostly straight with cow pastures, and a few houses. having a friend to run with was a PLUS!

At mile 7 we detoured through a horse ranch. This was on a softer asphalt road, and everything was lush and green. It gave us a chance to see who was ahead of us and behind us.

Kathy's plan was working--she had tired legs.

The clouds were breaking, the sun was taking over, and the temps were rising. We got back to HW 77, and headed back into a brisk headwind. Topping the last hill until Ardmore, we could see a huge water tower that SEEMED close, but was in fact eight miles away.
I found it best to just look 10-20 feet ahead, and run. Looking up made it seem like we were getting nowhere. We would leave an aid station, and look ahead and could always see the next one a mile down the road. After mile 16, we seemed to get a little stronger for a while, and began to pick runners off. Two tired runners would occasionally trudge past other tired runners. Whoop whoop! (This picture and the one below courtesy of Russell Bennett.)

At mile 20, we reached that darn water tower, and turned away from the finish line for another out-and-back. Here's where the race got tough. Running west through a semi-wooded park ended the nice south wind that was keeping us a little bit cooler. But don't think this park gave us shade. We did have about 27 feet of shade, but that was it!! Adding insult to injury, this out-and-back was mostly downhill going out, and all uphill coming back.

We saw our friends Troy and Kathy on our way back. They were in good spirits--or maybe they were just posing for a great pic.

Here--we are close. We ran into the stadium and then had the pleasure of running a lap around the track!!!

Kathy and I agreed to cross the line together--but you be the judge. She was stretching her feet out just a toe-length, and she beat me by a shoelace. We ran a 5:13:10 gun time, 5:12:54 by the chip. (The picture above, and all the ones below courtesy of Russell.)

Meanwhile, my buddy Bobby Michaels ran a 2:22 half and earned a bright shiny PR.Bobby has lost a bit of his baby fat lately, and has really refined his training, using a structured running schedule and runs by his heart-rate zones. It has paid off, as he shattered his previous best by over 20 minutes.

Simone ran the half, and knocked it out in 2:44.

Dana followed my training method, opting for the under-trained approach, and finished in 3:03.

She still came within 6 minutes of PRing. Thank you Roman for hanging out with her.

Most of the halfers had the luxury of taking a shower before coming back to see us 26.2ers come in.Bobby has an eye out for his friends. Susan was signed up for the half, but had to sit it our due to pneumonia. (Both her and Jeff had the same ailment??)

Thanks to Russell for spending thew whole day following us around and taking pictures!!

The whole gang waits for the rest of our friends to finish.

Ray, Mary, and Jessica are about to wrap it up.

Jeff and Mary look tired but happy. (A funny story from Jeff later in this post.)

Two new Marathon Maniacs, and an old pro. Congrats!!

We never stop having fun. Even after the race, we hung out at the hotel while the Ray, Mary, and Jessica got cleaned up. The host hotel was kind of goofy in their dealings with the late checkouts, giving approval to some, and charging extra for others. It would seem that a host hotel would know when the race would be over, and adjust the late checkout time to accommodate those runners. We brought hundreds of runners to their hotel, and deserved better treatment than we received.

We then spilled over into Two Frogs Grille for a feeding frenzy. I had the first chicken fried steak I have had in several years. Everyone left full.

I was doing the goodbye/see-ya-later/drive safe thing, and Jeff (always the comedian) tells me that he used to think he wanted to have a runner's physique--until he realized that " I " was a runner. HAHAHAHA!!!! Thanks a lot, Jeff!!

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