Thursday, January 30, 2014

It's just me whining about my knee

I'm not running. It's my right knee, which has been an issue since September 21st of last year. Work had kept me from getting my long runs in, and I had the FlatRock 50K and Arkansas Traveller staring me in the face--so I ran 33 miles mostly on the Creek Turnpike trail. It was a good run. I felt good, ran a good pace, and proved to myself that I still had enough within me to finish another rocky hilly 50K, and that would work as a training run for the 100 the next week. Good plans. Or was it? The last 4-5 miles of my 33 mile training run, I noticed a slight twinge on the inside of my right knee, but I attributed it to the phenomena of mysterious ghost pains that crop up just before a big goal race.

I nervously ran FlatRock with no issues--other than a muddy course. Arkansas Traveller the next week seemed like a sure finish, but my pace was a little slower than I wanted, and we had a couple of very heavy rain showers which made an otherwise firm running surface a bit squishy, and I was in danger of missing the time cutoffs. But somehow I found my mojo and ran a spirited pace from miles 48-56 and actually got back in the game. Then around a half mile out from the turnaround running down a hill and stretching it out, I kicked a rock with my right foot, and took a few lunges trying to keep from falling. My second or third footfall I twisted the bum knee and it hurt like a mofo. If was a very muddy and uphill half mile, and I trudged that half mile in 16 minutes, giving back some of the time cushion I had earned. The writing was on the wall. I just KNEW I did not have 43 miles left in me, and my knee hurt. and despite being disgusted at the proposition of quitting, I took a ride out.

Since that time, I have become an on-again-off-again friend with Ibuprofen. I had my longest non-running streak in well--forever--or at least since I started running. I eased back into running but instead of averaging 40 miles per week, it has been more like 12-15 miles. My longest run has been 13 miles, and I have had an 18 mile day, but it has been a struggle. I LOVE the idea of running--running all day (and all night)-- but I am not able to do it. It has seemed like my knee pain has very slowly getting better, but it is not well. Last Saturday--by my own choosing, I ran 6.5 miles with my RW buddies, and then 10 miles on the trailz at Turkey--all with a careful gait and at a cautious pace. Saturday night, there was hell to pay. It actually felt like I had broke something. I have a friend who fractured her tibial plateau and I feared that was where my problem was. but maybe it's an inflamed tendon. So--the guy who was never injured and who hates going to the doctor is seeing the doc next Thursday. I suppose he'll refer me out and a MRI is most likely in my future. (Pics to follow.)

It is tough for me to just NOT RUN. I crave it. I like being outside going from here to there via dirt. I lead the TOTs slow group, and the RW Black Toenail Society ultra training group. Last Sunday, I led them to Post Oak, and sent them off and did not run. Last Tuesday, I met my group (well--just Jason) at Mohawk, and walked around while he ran. Yesterday, I walked part of the Snake Trail measuring for a course change for the race--and I mixed a little shuffling in. You knew I would. Maybe the doc will give me a magic Cortisone shot, or do a nifty outpatient cleanup of whatever needs fixed. I hope and pray. I have a 100 miler to run in March.

So now--I still am thinking about how to get my miles. When I get up out of a chair, I can barely take the first couple of steps. Then, my steps are short--it seems like I take a short step and a real shirt step. It takes me longer to walk from point A to point B, but hey--that's more time on your feet, right? read about friends running and read race reports or race strategies for Rocky Raccoon and plans to run Sake, Post Oak, Western States. How many miles of read race reports equals a mile of running? Can I line the text up in a lineal line and measure it in inches and convert that measurement to feet and then miles? My finger scrolls on the mouse as I read. One scroll of the finger is about an inch, so if I scroll 63,360 times, can I log a mile for my finger? Right now, I'd love to have the feel of a bad blister or a black toenail. Give me a reason to tie a bandanna on my head, or eat a chunk of potato rolled in salt. I need to be well and now would be good.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Bigger and better things ahead.

This is the new banner for Pumpkin Holler Hunnerd. I like it. It is a product of some Photoshop work--DOH! I guess it's a given that it's not an actual photograph.

I have some CO-RD help this year. Stormy Phillips and Susan "Melon" Westmoreland are teaming up with me to help in with parts of the race where they excel. And as always, I'll have the stellar help from one trail-babe Dana, my dear wifey--who keeps me focused and in line (if that's possible!) I also have Brian Hoover doing the timing and he does so much with the setting up sand packing up that he is a needed and permanent fixture in this race.

This race could not and will not be possible without LOTS of volunteers, and we have been so blessed with enough help to get the job done. This year, I want to see the race go up a notch or two to the next level--with more runners, volunteers, and awesomeness (some might say "epicness"!) My big-time dream is to see this race grow upwards of 500 runners, and have a shot at being a Western States qualifier--lofty goals, but it's a possibility.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

It all started in 2008

6 HOUR LONG SNAKE RUN  (from 2008)

Come to Turkey Mountain SATURDAY for the....

This will be a timed run all on nice easy single track trails on the western portion of Turkey mountain.
The run will start at 9:00 am, and run until 3:00 pm. The course will run west from the upper parking lot following some of the trails used in the Turkey and TATURs race, then north onto the Snake Trail. These are some of the flattest and easiest trail on the mountain. We also have taken great pains to remove all of the larger snakes from the course.

(Actually, the snake trail gets its name because it winds around like a snake, not because of an infestation of slithery reptiles!) You will run approximately 2 miles out, and then return and run the trail in reverse to the start/finish area. There will be 2 aid stations, one at the start finish area at the upper parking lot, and one at the turnaround. You can run one out and back, run until you complete a marathon, a half, or a 50K if you're real fast. All starters will receive a long sleeve T-shirt with our TATUR mascot being hotly pursued by a vicious viper!

There will be a 1/4 mile out and back to be ran by choice during the last hour for those not able to complete a full 4 mile out-and-back circuit. The winner is the one who runs for 6 hours and covers the most miles.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tuesday Night at Mohawk

The Tuesday Night group, or as we have been called in the past The Tuesday Night Crawlers, have been haunting the woods of Mohawk Park.
6:00 pm is right at sundown, and dawning headlamps, we take off on single track trailz to the amusement of several deer. Bambi and company often follow us through the woods just to see what we're up to.

Jason, seeming a lot like a Keebler Elf anyway, seems right at home in a tree that could easily serve as a chocolate chip cookie bakery. It could also house a mad raccoon, or geocache.

There are around 4 miles of trail beyond the gates to thew Oxley Nature center. We basically wind around and run most of them. Dark evening skies come alive along the shores of Sportsman Lake as thousands of honking Canadian Geese curse us and take a brief flight as we tromp along the shore trail. You cannot see them in the night, but the air is full and you can feel the pulse of wings taking flight. This alone is worth coming out for a 4 mile run--but of course trail runners don't need payment for having fun.

Last week, a near full moon joined a nearby Jupiter and together they hosted passing planes as they took off from Tulsa International Airport. The lake below captured the image on a glossy canvas. Words cannot capture the awe of the moment, and picture is but a reminder of how unique the moment was.

This week, Thomas, Jason, Barbara, and I saw a few deer, and a few armadillo. We passed by a huge beaver lodge, and stopped to check out the biggest cottonwood tree maybe in the state.

We ran in circles on purpose, and crossed a long wooden bridge twice just for fun. These Tuesday runs are the very definition of fun. Come play with us.

Sunday run at Post Oak

A fine group or dirt-loving runners travelled to Post Oak Lodge Sunday to run what was a preview of the upcoming Post Oak Challenge. I didn't get an accurate count, but I'd say a dozen or so adventurous sorts gathered at 8:ish and listened half-heartedly to the directions from RD Johnny Spriggs. Thanks to Johnny for marking a couple of loops for us. We ran a 3-something which included a summit of Holmes Peak, and then a 5 mile loop that went all over everywhere.
Driving up the long drive to the lodge, one can't help but glance to the north to the daunting heights of Holmes Peak. (I know this must seem hideously funny to those in Colorado and other mountain states-THIS?? A PEAK???)   I'll attest that this is one of the most deceptive hills in Oklahoma. Leaving the lodge parking lot, we descended over 100 feet, only to begin our trek upward. Some speedsters led by Stormy charged up the winding ascending trail to the base of the peak, only to take a turn on a trail retreating down the northeast slope and around to the eastward approach trail.

I chose a more methodical rhythm of running 3-4 minutes and walking whenever it got steep or when my out-of-shape lungs screamed loud enough. I watched the fast group bound up the final approach as I neared the east base of the peak. The group that were patiently following me matched my power-walk (bragging a little) and my jog slog all the way to the top. I was laboring for breath once above tree-line, but composed myself enough to take a few more pictures before planning our descent.
Yes, I said "above tree-line--do you see any trees atop Holmes Peak? I think not. The north wind was stiff and cold, and we were not taking the dangers of exposure lightly, what with wind chills being in the 20s. The wind also acts like a convection oven in the summer months with dangerous wind chills, and the wind here also acts like a convection over in the summer months, and being 170 feet closer to the sun makes this a dangerous summit year round. Still, the view from Holmes Peak is amazing, and the trip is well worth it.

Laura, Theresa, and Cindy are stoked about bagging the tallest hill in a three county area.

The western route is more straightforward, and if anything--steeper. I paused during the descent to shoot a picture of the steep face of what is one of NE Oklahoma's premiere mountains.

Upon finishing our first expedition, we regrouped and started the second stage of our run I had to make a quick trip home, and sent my group on ahead, trusting in the promised placement of orange ribbons, which were a great help. But I got no further than two miles toward home before I found I did not need to make the trip after all, and returned to try to catch my group.

I threw caution to the wind and streaked down the trail. The trail made me pay for my haste as I was ankle-tackled by a tree and for a second, I flew like Superman, but quickly turned into the human plow. It was good for a laugh--me laughing about falling yet again. I still pushed the pace thinking I might catch someone.

I truly enjoyed the beauty of the hills. There are about 15-16 miles of trailz here--some wooded, some are wide open--and all are rocky. This picture is a good representation of Post Oak. Believe me--there are rocks under that grass just waiting to be kicked. Word: pick up your feet. 

The Post Oak Runs use colored ribbons. Lots of them. You had best know your colors. The color blind are in for a challenge. We were following orange on Sunday, so this cluster was no help. :-)

I am pretty sure I got off track here. There was no orange leading me here, but I like this section on the northern end of the Botanical Gardens. From there, I picked up orange and ran as fast as a middle-age-self-professed zombie can run. I heard voices in the woods--mainly Jason's. I was pretty sure I was closing in, but with the repetitive series of switchbacks on Johnny's route, I*( think I was still a 1/4 mile behind him. Near what I thought was the end of our loop, I caught Theresa and Cindy, and caught a glimpse of Jason and a group heading out for their final mini-loop. I called it a day for myself, and counted it as a solid 7.5 miles. A few of us took the scenic route to Panera for bagels and coffee, capping off a great morning.

The plans are made for another trip back nest Sunday. I'll be gunning for 10 miles, if my deteriorating body holds out.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

carpooling, I've fallen--but I did get up, a hill peat, and IHOPing

A small group carpooled/caravanned to Keystone to run the trails just south of the dam. This is 5 miles of pure single track, with about half of it pretty darn rocks, and the 2nd half quite runnable. I quickly set the bar high--falling twice in the first mile. I was actually on pace for 10 falls in a run--but made some adjustments to my gait (PICK UP YOUR #&*@!! FEET) and finished my run upright--for the most part. RunnersWorld's Ultra Training Group along with the TOT remainders are joining forces on Sunday mornings, and a field trip here and there is on the docket.We ran the course, and then knocked out a hill peat. (A hill peat is a session of hill repeats that stopped at one.) There was no complaints, and we were very democratic about it. A one-by-one vote assured a tie, and then the lure of breakfast (BACON) tipped the scale in favor of an IHOP run over a hill run. All you can eat pancakes (actually a pancake and a half was good enough for me), and the group took seconds almost unanimously. Jason demonstrated the art of pancake bacon sandwiches, and is was the makings of a very good day.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

From last year

2013 Snake Run Report

Click here to sign up for the 2014 Snake Run

Sunday was the 6th running of the TATUR Six Hour and Three Hour Snake Run. This is Oklahoma's OLDEST trail run measured by time rather than distance, a record of which I am particularly proud. The format: how far can you run on easy trails in six hours, or three hours. This is a great event for one to try trailz for the first time--there are really no hills (ok, a couple of very gradual inclines) and very few technical areas (ok, a couple of very brief rocky spots.) The winner? The one who runs the farthest in six or three hours.
A race like this could not happen without lots of volunteers, and we are blessed. There was never a time in set-up, during the race, and clean up that we did not have plenty of help--and this was on a day that it was cloudy, misty, windy, and COLD! Although it was actually great running weather, it was tough on those in the volunteer tents and the timing area. Michelle Bates (with the soccer hat, and Diana Mar worked with signup, with the lap counting, and aid stations all day long.

Everybody did their best to find parking places, and filed in before the race, eager to get going so they could WARM UP! There were far more long pants than shorts this day!!

I barked out directions for the race, sending the six hour runners off with a 15 minute head start. The idea behind that was to get the runners spread out on the trailz and hopefully minimize the log jambs where the trail was narrow. I'm sure there were a few congested areas, but I heard no complaints this year.

 We are able to put this race on with runners being treated to an aid station every mile. The first aid stop is hit after one mile, and then after a one mile loop, it is hit again from the other direction. This is the turn-around, and the runners reverse course and return to the start/finish for a 4..2 mile circuit. Shorty was the aid station captain at the turnaround aid stop, which actually gets triple duty. It is still funny to me that a lot of runners never realize that they are hitting the SAME aid station over and over again. One guy after the race was so sure there were two DIFFERENT aid stations out there, that Brian almost thought I had snuck another one in. Shorty had help from Nedra and Russell, with John Nobles helping out here and there.

Dana, Brynna, Edward, Brandon, Jen, Diana, Danielle, and Pam manned the start/finish aid stop, serving bbq sandwiches, scrambled egg and sausage burritos, and the other basic aid station goodies.

Not pictured--the Oreos covered with peanut butter and m&ms. The peanut butter cups and jelly beans were huge hits too. Also, the two flats of brownies went pretty quick, although I had a huge hand in that.

After the runners were off, John Nobles, Diana, and I marked the half mile finishing loop where the runners can tack on additional mileage near the end of their run when they do not have time to complete another 4.2 mile circuit. Then, I ran a loop with Chrissy Whitten, an engagement which has become a tradition. About 3.5 miles into the loop, I saw Dana who had ran a few supplies out to the turnaround, and I ran the rest of the way back in with her. Dana played gopher most of the day, going to the store for more bananas, bread, and bring back several thermoses of hot coffee!!

The finishing chute--at a rare time when runners were not speeding through before taking off for another circuit.Brian Hoover and Mitch Drummond worked feverously all day counting laps and monitoring the stats. Michelle Bates manned the 10-key and nearly froze her fingers off. Thanks you so much!!

Chrissy enjoys a PBJ/M&M/OREO at the Turnaround. Chrissy and I discussed details of her upcoming race in which she is RD--the Warrior Princess Trail Run. This is a great race at Keystone State Park trails and has a 10.3 mile and 10.3 K run. It's April 25th which is on a Thursday this year. I highly recommend it!

The three hour winners: Lori Enlow, Misty Carson, and Jody Lingbeck finished 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. Jack Morrow, Nick Seymour, and Jordan Christy nabbed the top three spots.

In the six hour race, John Stanfield, Justin Walker, and Shannon McFarland were the top three men. Christy Davis out-sprinted Kris Rider to the finish, with Jill Bates coming in third.

We recognized Rondalyn Reynolds for running her record distance on trailz and tacking on 5.5 miles on the finishing loop. We also recognized Brandon and Cameron Plate who ran together most of the day, and at 11 and 12 years old, ran 31.4 miles. WOW!

We had a glitch in the timing which left some gaps in the finishing lap tally. I helped out manually recording numbers of runners as they crossed the mat. Brian and Mitch have worked for hours to get these results accurately posted. They are very close to having it all perfect, and if anyone has a correction, let me or Brian know and it'll be fixed. :-)

 Ken Saveth took quite a few pictures, and I borrowed heavily from his collection. Danielle Martin took the pix of the winners, and I think I also swiped one or two from Russell.

And more volunteers who need patted on the back: Mike Clark, who came early and stayed late, Cassy Russell, Mike Rives, Daniel Sheppard, Kathy Hoover, Edward Lebowski, and David James. I probably have forgot someone. As I said, it's awesome to have such great friends who help out at our events.

A good friend of mine, Laurie Biby, has started her own photography business, and spent the day taking pics at the turn-around aid station. I have stood on this spot in years past to take pictures-- it's a good spot. She took over 500 pics, and I copied a few of theme to post here. These can be bought on her website Beyond Ordinary Life.