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.

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