Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Explaining a weird Facebook post

A Facebook post:
In a journey of 2 miles and thorns, I came upon an upside-down traveller with a shell on his back. I pondered righting his ship, but instead I did some writing on his underside. He was happy and content to stay belly side up, so I left him.
Then I began a quest for squirrel poop. I found a tree, and rummaged around in poop seeking a silver pill bottle and the contents inside. I searched until all of my nails were poop crusted, and gave up--but then I remembered a saying that was so simple but so complex--"Yes we did!" and then I knew where the silver pill bottle in the squirrel poop was.
I returned to the upside-down traveller before I returned home, and a green thorn brier named Karma paid me for my sins.

An explanation:

I had about an hour to get in a run, although I did not feel like running. Jake, however, thought a run was a GREAT idea. He knows when the running cargo shorts come out of the drawer that his chances are good. Then a running shirt enhances his excitement. The buzz of the Garmin as I turn it on sends him over the edge. He gets so worked up he jumps and dances (as well as a 105 lb lab can dance), grabs the leash and tries to actually walk himself. Then he realizes he must look silly, and then forgets he is looking silly and does it all again.

I had seen on that there were a couple of new geocaches not far from the parking lot at Turkey Mountain, and I could shuffle a little, find a couple of hidden gems, walk/run the dog, extend my "Mile a Day in May", and stay within the rules of the taper. Talk about multi-tasking!!! The first one was called Turkey Mountain Fauna. I headed up one popular trail and made a switchback down another, set my geocache app from "map" to "compass" and walked slowly until I was within 20 feet of ground zero and the supposed hide was exactly due east. Then, I proceeded into the thicket--knowing that there would be ticks and chiggers glad to see me.
This tree seemed to be the focal point. I looked in it, near the base, in the branches, and then made my way around it. Eventually, I found the prize. It was a clever hide. One that made me laugh and makes geocaching fun albeit silly at times. I make a rule to not give to much away when blogging about geocaching, but suffice to say that no creatures were hurt or were suffering in my journey. Except maybe my legs. I signed the log and entered my find on my iPhone Geocache app.

The second cache I hunted was called Squirrel Poop. The description of the cache warned that hunters might indeed find some squirrel poop in their search, which was a good hint in a way. I was about .3 of a mile away, and I shuffled my way over that direction. I know all the shortcuts from point A to point B, and we were there and very close in about 5 minutes.
It sure seemed like the hide was somewhere in this tree. As I got closer, I was a long hollowed out log, and I peeked in--nothing. There was supposed to be a silver pill bottle in there somewhere. I reached in, and shuffled through the rotted wood, squirrel poop, and then thought of those 4 inch centipedes, and those 18" copperheads, and scorpions, and then flesh eating bacteria. SO, I reverted back to peeking in wherever I could. I did manage to pick up three ticks while searching. L looked all over, and was about to give up. You don't find them all. Then, I remembered the HINT in the description. The words "Yes we did!" made me look somewhere else, and required me to muster up all the dare-devilish behavior I could to get to a place where the cache could be accessed.  With the help of a keen eye, I spotted the cache. It was a good find. Yes, I did have dirt and/or squirrel poop under my fingernails. 

It was time to head home, and as I neared the parking lot, I told Jake to SIT so I could hook him up to his leash. Oops! I had lost his leash. Then I reasoned that I must have set it down when I wrote in the log at the first cache. I certainly did not remember folding it back up--so we headed back. I found it easily, and plowed in to get it. Yep--the leash was there and I zombie-vaulted over a log to get it--but laying in wait was a green rope saw brier waiting there since it was a sprout to shred my leg. Two short punctures, a 2 inch scratch, and a 4 inch gash made for a colorful display of blood. Was this "karma"? Maybe, maybe not. One of my FB friends called it "trail runner medals", and I like that. SO, after taking a leg selfie--nope that one was not good, and after taking three, and then Facebooking the best one, Jake and I headed home. As I stated on FB, Jake does not understand geocaching. Or selfies. But if it involves a little running, he tolerates it.

SO, now I have sort of explained my riddle/crazy FB post, and have not given away to much as to the secrets of the hides.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

3-Days to 100K--the report

3-Days to 100K. A Three Day stage race that is easy compared to a lot of stage races. In this race, a 25K is held on Friday night on an easy paved bike trail--a point to point course from the campus of NSU in east Broken Arrow to Jenks. Day Two is a 50K including 1/3 on gravel roads as an out and back, and then two 10ish mile loops on trails that went up and down creek ravines and over some pretty tough hills NE of Skiatook.  Day Three was a 25K--a double loop course at Walnut Creek State Park on Lake Keystone. It was a very easy course, but was still a challenge on tired legs.

On a personal note--this was to be my comeback run. My first race of any length since my knee surgery.

The excitement was high before go-time. We all met at the finish line in Jenks, and after a pre-race meeting boarded a bus to the starting line.

A school bus can seat 74 kids--with three sitting in each 39" seat. But adults typically have butts that are wider so two to a seat was the max. Suffice to say--there was standing room only.

Still--the party atmosphere was high. One of the members of ZZ Top joined us for the run!! Actually, this was Jason Bement--who was running the whole 3-Day event with his bride as they celebrated their wedding anniversary!

After we unloaded at NSU, and without a whole lot of fanfare, we lit out on the word GO.

My job for the race was to run sweep. A sweeper keeps an eye on the back runners, gives the race officials an idea of where the final runners are, and I relished this responsibility as it made sure I did not go too fast or too hard on my semi-untested knee. Plus--I could goof around and take pictures and stuff. Mark Plate was teaming up with me as course sweep. Both of us accompanied Jim and Tammy for the 15.5 mile journey.

Pic courtesy of Meg Jennings
We had a couple of water drops along the way and one manned full service aid station at the half way point. Cindy, Terersa, and Meg manned the aid stop. At this point, we were in great spirits, and moving quite well.

Our pace did slow a little. Tammy was beginning to have some blister issues, and I was not enjoying the pavement. I did walk and shuffle in the grass as much as I could. That, with the help of my Hokas, kept my feet, legs, and knees happy.

We finished Day One in 4:25 just as it started to rain. The timing could not have been better--except that the RDs and volunteers had to break down the tents and stuff, and ended up getting soaked.


Day Two was on private land on a huge acreage where there were miles and miles of ATV trailz. I had been on the course, and knew the going would be easy at times and insanely tough in sections.

C-RDs Kathy Hoover, and Derk and Barbara Pinkerton seem relaxed knowing that all the prep work is done. Maybe though--it was merely an expression of delirium?

It seemed like a good crowd for a 50K. Around 65 runners toed the line. We would do an out and back to start, and then the two loops would be ran in opposite directions meaning we would see a lot of runners coming and going. 

It was actually a bit on the chilly side, so I started out on the first leg in a long sleeve shirt.

I spent a but of time socializing and taking pictures, and did not get my morning ritual/porta-pot stop taken care of. So--I gave the whole field a 7 minute head start. Running course sweep allows for such privileges. 

The out and back included a short section of pavement, and then a beautiful stretch of gravel across rolling hills. 

I caught up with Tammy after a couple of miles. She was moving well which was good news since she had blistered the night before.

Tammy is a strong walker. My zombie shuffle was almost the same pace as her power walk. We hit the turnaround averaging right at 16 minute miles.

The unmanned aid station was atop a decent hill with a brilliant panoramic view. We could actually see downtown Tulsa from here.

With the first section nearly done--things were looking good--but I knew there were huge hills ahead.

Ladies and gentlemen--I present to you the most awesome ultra food EVER!! Step one--take an Oreo cookie and hold it in a horizontal position. Step two--place a dill pickle slice atop the cookie. Step Three--insert creation into your mouth and chomp down. Enjoy the burst of flavor and feel the Superman powers flow through your veins. This has everything you need in an ultra. Quick carbs via the super sugary creme filling of the Oreo. A good dose of sodium from the pickle. People have been taking hits of pickle juice in ultras for years. A decent amount of calories to get you to the next aid station. For better results, eat two or three of said creations.

The first few miles in the trail section was relatively flat. There were LOTS of creek crossings with short ups and downs. A cool breeze found its way through the trees, and all in all, it was a perfect day for running.

The course was a series of switchbacks--run along a creek, drop down into the creek and then go the other way, pop out of the creek and reverse direction again, cross a filed, and hit the creek further on up. It did seem like I had no idea where I was--but by following the pink ribbons and avoiding the caution tape, we navigated the course with zero problems. As always is the case in trail runs--super fast runners can miss marked turns, and a few did just that. I never did find a place that confused me--but I was not trying to run 7 minute miles either.

Cindy and Kate worked the aid station on the course, which we hit twice per loop. (more pickles and Oreos please.)

An example of the stellar course marking.

An example of on-the-course crowd support.

Yeah--maybe we were going slow. These two fans had waited a long time to cheer for us. :-)

All of the creek crossings were dry, but if it had rained--it would have been a wade-fest.

Tammy wanted so bad to get this race under her belt. This was her first back-to-back long run. She had a 50K under her belt, but not one with hills such as these.
An actual profile of an actual course

As I said, part of the course was not super bad--just a lot of creek crossings. But there was a four-ish mile section that was up up up and down down down. The descents were so steep that I did not dare try to run them. Some of the climbs almost required using your hands and feet--including finger and toenails.

Tammy decided to drop after 20 miles. I knew she could have made it--but I also knew her feet had to be killing her. I do not think we would have finished before dark. I do know this--she is determined and will come back next year and kick this courses butt.

I was in a bit of a hole as well. I felt I could pick up the pace--but could I beat nightfall? My strategy: run--and forget the headlamp--that forced me to run as much as possible.

Hitting the aid stop the first time in the reverse direction meant almost all of the cad hills were out of the way!!! I told Cindy she could pack things up and go--and to not wait for me. I was running with two 24 ounce water bottles and was feeling great. But--she waited for me to hit the aid station the second time anyway. We have the BEST aid station workers EVER.

I was eyeing my garmin and saw that I could shave my overall pace to under 20 minutes per mile on this last lap if I hurried. A little quicker would insure a last lap time under three hours. So--I pounded it (a slow pounding compared to most) and finished the last loop in 2:54. It was way before dark, and I felt great.

Day Three was a walk in the park compared to Day Two. I relinquished my course sweep duties, and wanted to test the knee this day.

I took a few pics of the race start, and settled in near the back of the line.

The plan was to not get caught up in the group, and find my own pace. If that meant I hooked up with a friend along the way--then BONUS!

These are equestrian trailz. Wider than single track for most of the way, soft dirt, not too hilly at all, and very runnable.

It took less than a mile, and I caught up with Mitch. I have not ran with him in a while, and it was cool to hook up. We ran the rest of the race together, and caught up on everything, solved the world's problems, and even talked about YOU!

All of the course was marked so well, that it would have been impossible to get lost. 

This is definitely someplace I will come back to.  I ran here 10 years ago, and either these trailz were not here, or at least I never found them. There ARE a few ticks here. Ten years ago, I picker up a few--hundred. But today, everybody sprayed down with bug spray, and it was not all that bad.

Mitch was trying to get out of the frame. One of many lake view sections of the trail.

Mini-Mitch descends into a creek.

Good course markings. I would have tripped on that root.

Follow the pink

Who else but Cindy and Kate. These girls worked all three days!!!

A swim seemed like a good idea. But the trail turned just before the water.

Mitch Drummond--faster than a horse on a sign.

I finished in 3:27:40. No PR, but I ran strong and had a negative split. The usual soreness the days after have not been all that bad. The knee was pain and symptom free. I got to where I could run even technical sections with confidence. I now feel ready to move on to bigger things. :-)

The first place man for the three day total was Chris Corbin.

The ladies winner and also OVERALL winner was Gia Dawn Madole. All the guys got CHICKED BIGTIME!!!  

Congratulations to all who ran. Finishing three days of racing like this is an amazing accomplishment. Thanks so much to Kathy Hoover, and Derk and Barbara Pinkerton. Putting on a race is a lot of work. Doing THREE in one weekend is just crazy! You guys are amazing!!!

Monday, May 12, 2014

3-Days to 100K Preview

The second annual 3-Days to 100K is this weekend. What is 3-Days to 100K and what the heck is 100K you ask? Well, for a start--it's a stage race that is held over 3 days. 100K is 62 miles. The distances each day are 25K (Friday night) 50K (all day Saturday, and then 25K on Sunday morning. Stage one is the same as last year--a fast paved track from NSU in Broken Arrow on the Creek Turnpike trail. It is hilly, but going east to west it's a little more downhill than up, with the last 2 miles being nearly all downhill. A lot of strategy is involved in doing a three day event. Do you run balls to the wall the first day and risk being wiped out for day two? A logical mind would say no. But a gutsy runner would take away a win by gunning it on Friday night.

Day two is on some private land north and east of Skiatook. Kathy and I spent Monday pre-marking the course, and it is a gem. I took a few pictures along the way. I refrained from taking any pix of the devilish hills--I wanted everyone to meet them head on and enjoy the lumbering climbs as much as I did. I love me sum hills, and I am lovestruck! The course is ORV trailz, and most are well maintained and will be impeccably marked.

There are lots of little ups and downs. Yes, you will have do duck under a few low lying trees.

You'll run by three beautiful ponds. There should be snakes on the course--but we did not see any.

I did collect a few ticks. TZ logic says ticks are more likely to hitch a ride on hairy legs, and as they lay waiting for a meal to run by, most of the fast runners will knock them from their perch so us mid-pack and back-of-the packers should be less likely to get ticks. Bug spray would be a good idea.

The Day-2 leg could be called the Creek Crossing 50K. We crossed a meandering creek several times. Only once did I get my feet wet, and it was more because I am clumsy. But if it happened to rain on race day, there would be a lot of wet feet.

There will be aid stations as mile 4 (on the trail loop), and mile 6.5, and at mile 10. There is also a gravel road out-and-back which will have aid stations as well.

This pic is from last year. Day-2 had cows. This year is no different. They are sometimes nosey, but they kept to themselves. I actually think they are entertained by us crazy runners. Today, one bull followed me around at a distance, moaning what sounded like a mating ritual. I think he loved me. Could have been my bright red Snake Run shirt.

This is the creek that we'll see all day long--but we don't have to wade through stuff like this--unless it rains a LOT. As always, follow the pink ribbons, pay attention to the signs and arrows, and don't cross caution tape.

I have the dubious honor of being the course sweeper. This is a very fitting position for me, since I am on the comeback trail. I will be the last runner, and will keep an eye on the fellow back-of-the-packers, and will be pulling course markings on the last loop. I am gonna have so much fun, and if you're hanging back with me, it's gonna be a party.

Day-3 will be at Walnut Creek State Park on Lake Keystone. These are mostly equestrian trailz, with a little single track thrown in. I visited these trailz about 10 years ago when I was a new trail runner, and have never been back. :-( I am stoked to see what all there is here, and will add this trail system to

If it's warm/hot on Sunday, bring your swim suit and take a dip. No nekkid swimming, although I won't tell. From what I hear, there are showers there as well.

There will be a BIG cookout after the race, and some awesome awards given after the last finisher (me) comes in. After three days of running--if you're not already--I bet you're gonna be hooked on this trail running thing.