Sunday, December 28, 2014

An impromptu 3.2 miles

Driving home on a winding road along a hillside, I hit a chug-hole in the road, which for a second I thought knocked my back out of whack. In the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of something silver whiz by me, and it zigged and zagged before exiting the road  over the edge of a long steep drop off. I pulled over to inspect my tire, and as I feared, the silver passer-by was one of my hub caps.

Fortunately, there was a wide shoulder and even a place to pull completely off the road. Most folks would have just let the hubcap go, being down what looked like a 100 foot deep ravine, but not me. I still ha\d my running stuff and trail shoes on from my morning run, and took this as an adventure.  

The only way down was too steep to walk, but I descended holding on to any small tree I could find and using tree bases for solid braking places for my skidding feet. I really had no clear idea where the hubcap was, and with the still plentiful snow cover, it could have skidded under a drift. I quickly became more interested in the culvert at the bottom.

A second culvert went under a nearby railroad track. I'd like to see these after torrential rains. 

The long passage under the road above was spooky. I am sure I am a little to much of a chicken to pass this way by night. But maybe not--I DID visit a 100 year old cemetery with Satan on one of the tombstones once. A pile of wood (maybe firewood), some old discarded clothes, and several empty milk jugs and 2-liter bottles made me wonder if some modern day moonshine aka meth had been cooked here.

Climbing out the other side, and taking a picture it looks more like a mine shaft entrance. I decided to follow the boulder strewn dry creek bed for a while as it seemed like a trail of sorts. My path was flanked by towering inclines on both sides with old growth trees, dead-fall, and briers. 

Less than a half mile south, I came to a huge overhang--a shelter from a heavy rain or snow if one were stranded here. Feeling like I might be exploring where no one had explored before, I had that idea dashed by crumpled Bud Lite cans littered. Oklahoma rednecks.

Finally, the creek bed was intersected by a 4-wheel drive road which led upward and eastward. I stayed in the creek bed which showed signs of wheeled and foot traffic. About a quarter mile later, the road/trail headed out of the creek bed. That was good--maybe. Getting back to my car before dark was a concern, but climbing out of the cry creek brought the setting sun back up over the horizon. I followed, and the route seemed to bend back toward my car. 

One last climb, and I could tell I'd made a big loop--one I would like to do again. Another hubcap quest when the snow melts.

When in doubt, always follow a power line. Someone will ask me where this is, and if asked privately, I'll tell. I have a few friends who know this area, and we seem to agree to be a little secretive as to this location.

I passed by an area where there was a lot of dumped trash--a particularly disgusting sight which is all to common in Oklahoma. You see odd things dumped in the woods, and this was no exception. 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Turkey Snow Day

Saturday morning--a "lazy" day for us--meaning we did not get up at 5:00 am as is usually the case for Dana, or 7:00 am as is usually the case for me. I had to make a quick run to 71st/Yale by 9:00, and when I got back Dana was up thinking about breakfast.
Coffee first and foremost, and these home made cinnamon rolls that had raised all night. And no, I did not eat just one.

An unexpected snow was falling, and to my surprise, the gal who hates cold weather wanted to go to Turkey Mountain to run some trailz in the snow.
Jake caught on real quick that there was some talk of running, and left no doubt that he wanted to go. We headed up the hill to the pond on the Blue trail where Jake could get a swim. He did not waste the opportunity, although it was a quick dip.

Running in the snow on the trailz is a real treat. I'd say there was a good two inches, but the trailz were just cold wet mud.

Somebody was having way too much fun this cold winter day.

We took the Blue to the Possum Skull, then cut up to the Ridge trail. At the end, we turned around and headed back--good for 3.6 miles, although it seemed like more. 

Everything was warm, except my shoulders. I had a polar fleece on, and it caught the snow, and the melt saturated me from the top slowly down. Dana had grabbed an overhead tree branch and covered me with snow. (It snowed more on her than me though.)

Another group was running at 2:00 led by Brian Hoover. I wish I could have joined them, but we had to cut it short. Even if it seems crazy, if you are a runner or hiker, you should visit Turkey Mountain in the snow.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

100 miles is the new marathon

100 milers are the new marathon. I have been saying this for the past year or so, and it's true. 10 years ago, I only knew a few people who had even ran a marathon. In the RunnersWorld group, marathon runners could have been counted on one hand. Now, it takes both hands and both feet to count the 100 mile runners. 

Stan Jensen's website lists136 100 milers, and there are a few more not even listed on his site. There are 36 states that have at least one 100 miler, and there are 7-100 milers in Canada. A few 100 milers not listed on his website are the Barkely Marathon, Rouge/Orleans 126.2, and the Lost 118. Visiting turns up several others races of various distances of 100 miles or further.

I am kind of a nerd, but I did some counting. According to, California has the most 100 mile races with 17. Utah is second with 11, followed by Colorado with 9.

Oh heck--here's the list.
California                      17
Utah                              11
Colorado                        9
Florida                           8
Arizona                         6
Texas                            5
Washington                  4
Pennsylvania                4
Kansas                          4
Nevada                         4
Georgia                        4
New York                     3
Alaska                          3
North Carolina             3
Virginia                        3
Minnesota                    3
Ohio                             3
Illinois                          3
Vermont                       2
Arkansas                      2
Idaho                            2
Wyoming                     2
Oregon                         2
Alabama                      2
Wisconsin                    2
South Dakota               2
Oklahoma                    1
Kentucky                     1
Indiana                        1 
New Hampshire          1
New Mexico               1
New Jersey                 1
Hawaii                        1
Montana                     1
Wisconsin                  1
Iowa                           1

Add in the races not listed on and the dozen or so 24/48/72 hour runs and there's over 170 100 milers. I guess I should step up the training.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Taft Lake at dusk

Driving home from Muskogee, for the second time in the past two weeks, I drove west on HWY 16 past Taft Lake. Two weeks ago, it was just past sunset--a sun that was unseen for the duration of the drizzly dismal dank dark day. I drove around the lake because it seemed to call to me, and I was hypnotized my the mysterious aura around the shoreline, but took no pictures.

But this day, about the same time, I was prepared. The skies were gray as they have been for so long. Muskogee had drizzle, and it seemed I would have a replay. I took a few pictures, but the mystique was just not there. So I cheated a little and changed a setting on my camera to take B/W pics.

I stopped near what I call the Hangman's poll,and got out of my truck to walk for a while. I do not know the history of this lake, and spent about an hour this evening trying to find something of particular interest. Nothing. Except that in 2005, a record 35 lb 15 oz channel catfish was caught by a Muskogee man.

This ladder over a fence led to the old earthen dam for this lake, the largest of three man-made lakes in the vicinity.

When was this lake built, and why? Perhaps it was a water supply to nearby Taft, an old mostly black community, with a population of 250. Taft once had a couple of businesses in it's short downtown(?) area, but those old buildings are mere shells of what they once were. Most are burned or torn down, and the remaining are vacant. 

On the southern end of the lake, the well maintained road leads by what was once a small park area.

Old forgotten picnic tables are covered by graffiti and unruly weeds, but Winter has beat the weeds down for the tables and they'll  live another season.

Taft is home to the Jess Dunn Correctional Facility, a minimum security prison. I did not take the picture below--it came from Google.
From a PDF published at, I found this information on the prison. 

"The Jess Dunn institution was originally constructed in 1930 and used as a mental hospital for black patients only. Through the years, the institution has been used as a tuberculosis sanitarium, a juvenile girl’s facility, and a juvenile co-ed home. In April 1980, the facility was transferred from the Department of Human Services to the Oklahoma Department of Corrections (ODOC). Jess Dunn Correctional Center is a minimum security facility located in Taft, Oklahoma." 
"Jess Dunn served as warden of the Oklahoma State Penitentiary from 1938 to 1941. Dunn was killed in a shootout that resulted from an offender escape attempt on August 10, 1941. Also killed was a sheriff’s jailer (a former OSP officer) and 3 of the 4 offenders involved in the escape attempt. The remaining offender was later executed for Jess Dunn’s murder."

I have since found out that there are two geocaches at Taft Lake--both practically where I was standing taking pictures. There are also no less than 18 geocaches along a 10 mile stretch of old Taft Road. Another blogpost....

Thursday, December 18, 2014

2014 TATUR Christmas party--documented

Last night we had the 10th? TATUR Christmas party. We had it at Laurie Biby's photography studio--an old warehouse-type brick building that is sorta retro-industrial. I loved the place--we'll be back there next year! There was lots of stuff to eat--and more deserts that you could imagine. The sliced brisket, German potato salad, and potato casserole were to die for.I would like to insert a word of deep appreciation here--to my wife Dana for putting a lot of time and effort in getting the food ordered, reminding me of what I had forgot, which was a lot more than I care to admit. 

The highlight of the TATUR party is the awarding of the coveted Silver Spuds. Susan Melon Westmoreland put these together this year. I really liked the silver which almost looked like chrome. We had plenty of these to present this evening--but we'll get to that a bit further down in this post.

This past weekend concluded the Oklahoma Dirt Trail Series--a collection of TATUR and TATUR affiliated dirt trail races. Points were given for completing races. Each subsequent race completed earned progressively larger points. Bonus points were given for top 10 finishes. And best of all--volunteering also earned points. 

The deal was--do ALL of the races by either running or volunteering, and there would be some nifty awards. Jana Graham, Sue Ann Bement, Jason Bement, Bryan Carpenter, Mike Rives, and did just that--perfect attendance. Little Blake Bement stands in for his dad, who was home sick with the flu. Brian helped hold up the red Christmas tree. (Brian has lately turned into the incredible shrinking man, and almost was completely hidden by the tree.)

These brass pocket compasses were engraved on the back--Oklahoma Dirt Trail Series
Never Quit Running 

Pro: Keep this compass with you, and you'll never get lost. 
Con: if you keep it in your back pocket, people will think it's a can of Skoal.

The winners of the Oklahoma Dirt Trail Series--well let's just say it was an Ochoa sweep.

 Aaron entered every race, but had to drop on his last race at the Half and Half--but his relentless perfect attendance and top 3 finishes really racked up the points. He pretty well clinched the series by the 8th or 9th race. What can I say about Katie? She entered 8 races, and won 7 of them, and was 2nd in the only one she did not win.

Their award? A combination compass/sundial. This is actually an old-school Garmin. It is also waterproof up to 1000 feet.

Jennie, Brynna, Jen-O, and Sarah modeled some of the new TATUR uniforms. Brynna and Jen-O had on 6" heels, and were over 7' tall.

Stormy emceed the program for the most part. He has the gift for this. How does someone grab a mic and ramble for 30 hours, and still be funny after a day and a half of no sleep? Stormy always has a way of bragging about everyone, and tonight was no exception.  

Most Improvved TATUR went to Scott Smaligo and Geoff Hanley. Yes--it was a tie. These two have both done a few ultras, both signed up for Pumpkin Holler Hunnerd, both finished in just over 26 hours--less than 4 minutes apart. I later heard that they actually did a lot of their training runs together. It was a very fitting tie-vote. Geoff could not be there, but Scott was delivering his spud.

Most Beat-Up Feet is an award that recognizes someone who runs a lot of races, does insane training, does running streaks (not naked), and yes--who has blistered/mangled feet as a result. Bryan finished the Pumpkin Holler Hunnerd, and trained like a madman to get ready. Bryan would run after 8:30 in the evenings after his kids were in bed, running 8-12 miles every night, and back-to-back 20-30 milers on the weekends. And yes--his feet looked like someone had beat them with a small sledge hammer after his 100 miler. (I loved Stormy's outfit--right down to the blue boxers.)

TATUR Rookie of the Year went to Jeremy Wiley, Jeremy started coming to our Sunday and Tuesday runs on Turkey Mountain. He usually ran with the group that I led. He huffed and puffed and it seemed like I was killing him--but he always stayed up and kept coming back. By the end of summer, he was leading my group when I couldn't be there. He signed up to run the Red Dirt Shuffle Half Marathon and despite being a little nervous about the distance and despite the course being actually 14.5 miles long, Then he entered the Pumpkin Holler 50K, and again finished it easily and seemed like he could have gone out for another 31 miles. Now, he has his sights set on a belt buckle. 

Most Inspirational TATUR went to Wes Rupell. Wes had some bad health issues this past year, with pneumonia, and then some heart trouble. His doctors orders were no running, and wear a heart rate monitor. Funny thing is though,they wanted him to walk--so he walked a half marathon up and down the halls of the hospital. Wes would come to our runs and take the monitor off and come walk with us but always ended up running. Now, Wes is BACK. He may not be running 100 milers. But he will never stop running.

Jbob Jones could not attend the party, but Aaron was gracious enough to take him his trophy Jbob won Best Performance in a Race for his win at the Pumpkin Holler 135.6. Jbob ran with trekking poles, which is allowed, and ran like a river current--smooth and relentless. Jbob took a nap, and Kathy Hoover came within a mile of catching him, but Jbob turned it on and finished strong. While Jbob had never entered a 100 miler before, he had paced a friend for 100 miles in the Tahoe 200, and I knew he was a lock to finish the 135. 

Female TATUR of the year was given to Jenny Bailey. Jenny helped so much with the Tuesday/Sunday group runs often leading the fast group. Jenny finished 2nd at Lake McMurtry 50K, 2nd at Warior Princess, and 4th at Pumpkin Holler for her first 100 mile buckle. She earned her silver spud.

Poor Jason--home sick with the flu. :-( Besides scoring a cool brass antique compass, Jason won in a tie for Male TATUR of the Year. Jason is a steady-as-she-goes runner, and never seems like he is laboring at all. Besides running every ODTS race, he also had two top ten finishes. Jason is an encourager, somehow talking his wife Sue Ann to doing every race too, including their first 100K at Pumpkin Holler. We tried to figure out a way to put a long beard on the Silver Spud, but it ended up looking like a hairy skirt. But you know, Jason's beard is not that far from doubling as a hairy skirt.

I did mention that Male TATUR of the Year was a tie. (We had a panel of 8 voters) Cameron Plate won a share of Male TATUR of the year. Cameron ran nearly every race in the Dirt Series. He finished in the top 10 in all but one race, and he won at Warrior Princess. He also ran 112 miles at Across The Years 72 Hour, and 127 miles over 3 days at the Silverton 1000, where he and his brother Brandon were co-winners of the 72 hour event. In a few years, Cameron will be winning every race he enters.

A new award--the Mitchey--was presented to someone who selflessly volunteers, and has the knack of finding things that need done, and doing them without even being asked, and then expecting no thanks at all. This award was named after Mitch Drummond, who is selfless help--personified. This years Mitchey went to Edward Lebowsky, and as I expected, claimed he was not worthy. But he is worthy, appreciated, and a true  friend. He declined having his picture taken, admitting to damaging expensive camera lenses in the past.  

For the 9th year, we donated proceeds from Turkey and TATURs to the Westside YMCA, where the race starts and finishes. We Love the Y and they have been great to us. 

Our friend Mitch Drummond (in the tux) is a huge supporter of the Westside YMCA, and posted on his Facebook wall. 
"I must say last night was quite the honor - two of my favorite groups in the same room for food, celebration and a bit of bragging. TATUR (Tulsa Area Trail & Ultra Runners presented a nice check to the Westside YMCA and Camp Takatoka to help send kids to camp. It was awesome. 
It's funny how opportunities and decisions can changes lives in unimaginable ways. I took my kids to camp one summer about 15 years ago. I liked the results so much I joined the board with the goal of helping send more kids to these great camps. During one board meeting someone said "a run group is having a race Saturday and asked for help." Well that was about 10 years ago and here we are. Still raising money to send kids to camp. I'm running more than I ever imagined (without my brother chasing me). I've met some great people. I've changed a few lives. And I can't wait to change more."

Thank you for the kind words, Mitch.

Most of the above pics are courtesy of Beyond Ordinary Life Photography Laurie did a fantastic job hosting the party, and taking pictures. Truly, I feel blessed to have such talented, generous, and amazing friends. Have a blessed Christmas and a joyous new year, my friends.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Half and Half Marathon

Sunday was my last race for the year-- the Half and Half Marathon. My running has been a far cry from year's past due to much unwanted off-time due to my gimpy knee and my workload quadrupling. Life just gets in the way I suppose. But this race was a joyous and fitting punctuation to a so-so year or trail running for me. 

Kathy Hoover and Derk and Barbara Pinkerton--the RunnersWorld Tulsa Trio--put on this third year event on my home course--the Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness. This race incorporates all of the easier trailz and they are strung together using sometimes slightly technical connector trailz. Yes, they are HILLS--it wouldn't be called Turkey Mountain if if were a pancake, now would it?

This race has a uniqueness to it in that there is a road half marathon and a trail half marathon going on simultaneously. One can choose either, of do both for a full marathon. I suppose someone could also say they ran two halves, although most would rather lay claim to a full in my way of thinking.

I was pleased that the line for the dirt running far outnumbered the road running. I think people are getting smarter. How can ANYONE say the pavement was more fun than the trailz???

RD Kathy Hoover goes over announcements. I was not listening.

I meandered to the back of the pack--sizing up my competition. Here was a couple I bet I could outrun. Johnna and Wilma hammed it up for the camera.

The gun sounded, and the trail runners went west toward LipBuster and the roadies followed some pavement--heading across the river I think.

Brian Hoover and I were running together. It is a rare thing that Brian runs a race, and we've possibly never actually ran a race together. Brian posted the following on his Facebook page.
"I am ashamed and amazed to say that I have a friend who I have never ran with in a race. He was one of my very first "running" friends when I took up the sport back in 2005. He has helped me tremendously in getting the Tatur club up and running and keeping it going. We have traveled to over 50 races together and have seen a lot of amazing things together. Yet for a variety of reasons, we have never run a race together. That will change on Sunday Dec. 14th as Ken TZ Childress and I will run the trail half of RunnersWorld Tulsa's Half and Half Marathon together. I look forward to it my friend. Maze Runner and UKahnDuet."
Brian and I met by chatting on Runner's World's (the magazine)  public forum. Back in 2005, I went by the handle of Mazerunner, and had posted a long menu of races distances I had on my schedule.  A chap named Ukahnduet rattled off the names and locations of my races, and I figured out we had probably knew each other from races we'd both ran. We've been friends ever since.

Any race at Turkey Mountain that starts in the main parking lot starts out with some climbing. This race really only had two tough climbs.

I was trying something new. I used KT tape on my knee, and I must say it helped a LOT. I had no knee pain or discomfort during the race. I actually forgot I even had a knee problem. Now, two days later, I still have no knee pain or discomfort. Not saying it's well, but it seems like the run with the tape actually helped the overall condition of my meniscus.

We were near the back of the pack. We started slow, and stopped a couple of times to fix caution tape that had been moved.

There was no hope of us catching this guy. Justin Franklin scorched the course, winning the half trail.

Katie Ochoa was blazing too, but paced herself perfectly to with even splits enroute to a marathon win.

Brandon had his A-game, and finished 4th overall in the marathon. Brandon took a little easier and cruised on in for a 5 hour 26.2.

Two more fast chicks we could not catch. Jana and Theresa never cut us any slack. We tried, but just could not run them down.

Team Bement rolls along. Jason and Sue Ann have ran EVERY race in the Oklahoma Dirt Trail Series.

Our quest to catch Wilma and Johnna fell short as well. Jeremy tucked in with them, and finished a marathon (his first) to go along with his recent Pumpkin Holler 50K finish.

Johnna smiles for a passing race picture. Scott Smaligo was stationed at the figure 8 intersection directing traffic. Scott took all of the pictures of the runners in action seen here .

Arnold was on a quest for bonus miles. He ran the course once before the race to check course markings, and then started late, but caught and passed Brian and I.

And my stab at being political, a tree hugger, and a Turkey Mountain advocate. Should the Simon Outlet Mall be plopped down on the western part of Turkey Mountain, part of the Half and Half will have to go right through the mall. The above is an artist's rendition of the mall, and my rendition of the race course.

Ukahnduet (pronounced YOU CAN DO IT!) kept plodding along and managed to pass a few runners to keep us out of last place--not that there's anything wrong with being last.

I even stretched it out for the last 50 feet or so to give the appearance of actually running. I finished in 3:51:58, and we were almost 30 minutes quicker on our return trip than we were going out. I attribute to not stopping on the way back to fix caution tape, not lollygagging as much at aid stations, and there are more downhills on the way back. CLICK HERE for full results.

Brian has a 30-some-odd day running streak, and always posts a sweatie selfie after his runs. I got in the picture on this one. His post:
"Sweatie Selfie #33 - weight loss 34 lbs. Ran the in RunnersWorld Tulsa's Half and Half Marathon. Ken Childress and I ran the trail half. We had a blast as we took it really slow so we could check and fix the trail markings as we went. 13.1 great dirt miles in the books. Felt good to run instead of being stuck doing the chip timing."

Now on to future things.I have been likened to Santa Clause more than a few times lately. Surely it's JUST the beard, right? My belly does not shake like a bowl full of jelly.  I am not jolly. The beard may be going soon. Maybe after Christmas.