Tuesday, January 21, 2014

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.

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