Sunday, May 10, 2015

One Night to 50K

Friday night, I used a race put on by friends Kathy Hoover, and Derk and Barbara Pinkerton as a comeback race pf sorts. 3 Days to 100K is a stage race consisting of a 25K Friday night, a 50K on Saturday, and another 25K on Sunday. This was the third year for this race, but the weather was anything but friendly in the last few days, and in fact in the last few months.The past winter was unseasonably warm, and we had an early spring, making the courses on private land very much overgrown, and thoroughly infested with blood sucking ticks. It was with much regret that day 2 and day 3 had to be cancelled. 

The last week or so also had delivered several inches of rain. As it turned out, Saturday and Sunday both had an inch or so of often heavy rain, which would have made especially the ultra-steep hills on day 2 impossible to run, and aid stations undeliverable.

So, a 50K option was added for Day one--all on paved bike paths from Jenks to NSU in Broken Arrow and back.

At 6:45 pm, we had a pre-race meeting--aid stations every 3-4 miles, something about making TWO loops around the NSU campus before returning. But the big question was the weather for the evening. Every weather station and smart phone weather app was calling for severe thunderstorms, high winds, and possibly hail moving in at 10:00 pm. I figured I could get at least half of the run out of the way, and worse scenario, hole up under an overpass if it got too bad.

I quickly found my place at the back of the pack. My gimpy knee was gonna be put to the test this evening. I had scrubbed, shaved, and taped with Rock Tape, and it seemed like things were all go. I had gooed up my toes, lubed up my chafing areas, band-aided my nipples, Gatoraded, chugged a 5-Hour Energy, and popped a couple of Ibuprophens. My plan was to walk most of the hills and shuffle all I could on the flats and downhills. 

 Lucky me--for a while early on I was in a pack of friends, including SueAnn and Jeremy. They got ahead when I took a pee stop, and I never caught back up.

Shorty--always the first to volunteer at a race--was manning the first aid stop at the switchback just west of Sheridan. I grabbed a cookie and marched on.

Picture by Bryan Carpenter
 Aid station two at 101/Garnett was ran by Bryan Carpenter and family. On the way out, I didn't need any food, so I just said hi and bye. 

By now, Mitch and I along with Betsy had teamed up, and Betsy had a planned beer cache near the turnpike tollgate. It ended up being about a quarter mile off the paved path, but there was BEER. This set us back maybe 20 minutes, but in a race with no time limit, and me only wanting a finish--it was worth it.

From there, we were treated to a lightning show. There never was a real close strike, and it never bothered me. but several runners decided to drop at the turnaround. The three of us reached the turnaround in a heavy rain, which escalated into a monsoon with 50 mph winds before we made the loop around the campus. Besty dropped at this point.

The aid station there was being held down by Roman and Johnna, who were literally holding on to the pop-up tent so it would not fly away to Kansas. Going on from there seemed insane, so we huddled under the lowered tent hanging on like human anchors. I ate a couple of soggy chips, refilled my water bottle, and took a couple more Ibuprophens. 

Finally, the rain lessened, and we took off looping around the campus again. This loop sucked, but Mitch and I caught up with a brother and sister Steve and Becky. They were doing their first 50K and using this to go with a marathon finish at OKC a couple of weeks ago for Marathon Maniac status. Both were worried about the cutoffs, but Mitch and I assured them that any kind of finish was fine since there was no official time limit. They were serious about finishing, and we agreed to hang out together and walk it in. I guess after a while Mitch and I walked too fast, or they slowed for a bathroom break, but we got ahead by a quarter mile or so by the time we reached the unmanned aid station at Elm. It turned out that Becky had called for a pickup at Elm, so we waited and teamed up with Steve for the remaining 10 miles.

 There was lots of standing water after that. A couple of spots had water shin deep, and I heard it was even deeper for runners who were ahead of us. 

 My new Hokas are not good water shoes. My feet sit deep in the over-padded shoes, and the spongy soles are--well--sponges. Every step was a squish. I had put in a call earlier to Dana to being me ANY shoe that would drain, and she tried to bring them--but the rain was so heavy at Turkey Mountain that there was water over Elwood, and the rain was so bad on HWY 75 that she could not see more than a couple of car-lengths, and she wisely decided to abandon the shoe drop.

Picture by Bryan Carpenter
Bryan's aid station  was also in lock-down mode. All the cookies and chips were soup--except the chocolate covered Graham crackers, because the heavy chocolate coating basically waterproofed the cookie. Imagine what that does to your arteries.

From there on. Mitch and I could smell the barn. We ran all of the flats and even some of the uphills. While it seemed like maybe 10 minute miles, it was probably more like 13s.

Picture by Russell Bennett
I don't know who this is finishing up--I thought it was a great picture. The finish line was winding things down by the time we rolled in. All of the aid station workers had really toughed it out to be there for us. Mitch told me when we were about a tenth of a mile out that we had 4 minutes to make it in under 9 hours, so we kicked up out loping a notch and crossed the line looking like a starving horse heading for the hay. What a night!

I was thrilled with my finish--not really knowing I had a prayer of finishing. I had not trained at all, running maybe once a week 3 miles here 4 miles there, with a few short mountain bike rides thrown in. But now, two days later, my knee feels better than ever. Maybe I should have not been laying off. The Hokas were great, and though I loath running on pavement, the cushion kept my feet and joints happy. (Thank you RunnersWorld and Kathy Hoover!) I feel hope for finishing the 100 miler I have on the calendar in June.


  1. Great post! I hope you don't mind if I share. :-)

  2. Nice work Ken! Way to go on getting it done!