Sunday, December 18, 2016

TATUR Christmas Party Recap

The 11th year of TATUR brought the 11th TATUR Christmas party. This year we had it at the Westside YMCA--why didn't we think of that before??

Dana supplied slice ham, Turkey, and rolls. Everyone else brought potluck offerings, and it was good eating. I sampled a couple of vegan dishes that were outstanding. But I canceled that with seconds and thirds of ham and pecan pie. (The pie has eggs--I saw it being cooked.)

Thanks to Laurie Biby for the majority of these  * TATUR * Christmas * Party * 2016 * pictures
TATUR rented tables and chairs soIknow there were 96 chairs, and the Y had 15. Nearly every chair was taken, so it's safe to say we had over 100 people--a big crowd for a Christmas party.

Our usual crew of emcees was 3/4 absent, so I got more than my share of microphone time. We really missed Brian Hoover, Stormy Phillips, and Edward Snow. Kathy and Victor chimed in though so no one had to listen to my melodic voice for a solid hour.  

The first presentation was to the Oklahoma Dirt Trail Series winners. Victor Brown won the men's side, passing season long leader Clay Mayes in the last two races. Clay was nursing an injury, but still took a close second, and vows to be back strong next year. I was third--competing in 6 of the 13 races, volunteering in 6 other races on the list, and missing one.

Jennifer Dennis from Edmond led for most of the year, sneaking in a top 10 every now and then. Christine Fisher was a close second. Christine had a 100-mile finish at Pumpkin Holler to her credit. Johnna Ellison was only 10 points behind for third place. Johnna ran or volunteered in every race in the series. The top 5 ladies were so close--only 85 points separated first and fifth place.

The top three men and women received a book I have had for years--How To stay Alive In The Woods. It's a good bathroom read--just a few pages at a time, but it had a wealth of sensible information on how to make fires out of wet wood, what plants you can and shouldn't eat, how to build a shelter out of tree branches and mud, and how to hopefully find your way out when you are completely lost.  But the one thing the book did not cover was the important issue of how to poop in the woods--but it just so happens there is a book that addresses that dilemma. So I included that in their prize package. The top three also receive permanent discounts for all TZ Trail Runs, and a year's subscription to TrailRunner Magazine.

And then we presented the Silver Spuds. A survey was put out on facebook to gather nominees for the nine categories. Then an unbiased panel discussed and voted to determine the winners. 

Rookie of the Year went to Amanda Lynch. Amanda has stepped up her game this year contending in every trail race she's entered. I look for her to be an ODTS contender next year.

Victor Brown won Most Inspirational TATUR. Victor is the trail Jesus on Tuesday night with the TOTs. Victor is a wealth of knowledge on veganism, training, injury prevention, short shorts, long beards, and speed. It's actually kind of weird seeing him with clothes.

Chris Schnell was Most Improved TATUR. Both Hr and Amanda had similar qualifications, and I see Chris finishing on the podium a few times next year.

Stormy Phillips received the award for Best Performance in a Race. It's hard to decide what his best race was. Western States, where he ran like a champ, hit a bad spell, and toughed it out and finally finished strong for the most coveted belt buckle in the world. Or was it for his easy win at the land Run 50K? Or maybe for his race last weekend where he came in second in the Daytona 100 finishing 1n 15:50?!?!? either way, he won this spud fair and square.

Arnold Begay won Most Beat Up Feet. This award can go to a trail runner who had mangled his feet, and Arnold has owned that qualification in the past. The award can also go to a trail runner who has had a workman-like year running a ton of races, especially back to back runs. Arnold ran four4 100-milers in four consecutive weeks. WOW. (Kathy Bratton duplicated the feat with him, and she was also nominated.) However, Arnold has won this award before and presented this award to another nominee--Polly Chate, who has racked up a lot of racing miles this year including a couple of 100-mile finishes.

TATUR MVP Volunteer went to MikeRives this year. A lot of good and qualified people were nominated, and Mike earned the nod. Mike, along with his alter-ego Meego have been a fixture at our aid stations this year. Meego also has a way or roping more volunteers, and has a knack of making people sign up for races late at night without even realizing what they are doing.

The Comeback Kid award goes to a trail runner who has been out of the running/racing scene for a while nd then has come back with a vengeance. There were a few good nominees, and I was one of them. The panel voted, and I was selected. I was flattered and appreciative but was torn on receiving the award. I really thought someone else deserved this award more than I did. So in my acceptance speech, I made my case. 

Chrissy Whitten has been practically 100% out of the running scene for quite a few years. She lost her first child a few years ago, and then organized a trail run for 4-5 years in her honor. Chrissy then had a brain tumor and had it successfully removed. I really wondered if she'd ever run again, or would even want to. 

But A year ago, she began her way back, setting her sights on running 103 miles at Pumpkin Holler to honor the 103 days that her daughter lived. I mentored her along the way, and she put together a series of races as part of her training schedule that was so grueling, I doubted that she could do it. But she did. She ran marathons, 50Ks, 50-milers, night runs, heat runs, and completed every one. Then two weeks before Pumpkin Holler she came down with pneumonia, and it looked like her journey was over. But through prayer and a good doctor's care, she was released to run just days before her goal race. She waltzed around the long lap and two subsequent shorter laps at Pumpkin like a pro. Her crew was very organized, and she was dialed in. She earned her Pumpkin Holler belt buckle with confidence. 

But that was not the end of this presentation! Kathy grabbed the mike and I thought she was going to give away the next Silver Spud--but I sensed something fishy was coming up. She began a story about the sadness of seeing a friend kinda fall out of the running routine due to injury, and I felt my ears turning red. She then told of a runner who dug deep and faced his dilemma and dug his way back, running a little at first, then a little more, then a couple of 100s, and now he's back and doing great things again. Ok, I was blushing. She then ducked down under a table and started digging something out of a box.

And OMG! I was handed the most awesome award I have ever dreamed of. A Nickle spud lamp, with a Trail Zombie lamp shade!! 

Justin was nominated in a few categories but was best suited for male TaTUR of the Year. Justin competed hard in every race he entered and finished Wasatch 100--one of the 5 or 6 hardest 100s in the nation. Justin works at RunnersWorld, and does a lot of work with runners on their form, and running routines. He is the first man I ever saw wearing a man-bun, but I don't think that had any bearing on him winning the Silver Spud.

My running buddy Johnna won female TATUR of the Year. I think she was surprised and elated. Johnna is a back of the packer who never DNFs. She always has an incredible smile and is cheerful and chatty which makes her a good running buddy and pacer. Her being involved with every trail race in the dirt series carried some weight in the voting, but especially how much she volunteered. This award was well deserved.

Each year, TATUR and RunnersWorld have donated proceeds from Turkey and TATURs to the Westside YMCA. This year they doubled last year's gift, which sends a half a dozen kids to summer camp. I did not have much to do with T&T this year, and deserve no pats on the back, but RDs Kathy Bratton and Mitch Drummond deserve some love for their hard work and generosity, as does the YMCA for graciously letting us use their facilities each year.

From a Facebook post:
A day later and I'm still just giggly about the TATUR Christmas party. My friends--people who love me, people who understand me--gave me a special award: the Comeback TATUR of the Year. 2016 marked the return from a nagging injury--a knee that kept me out of the running scene for well over a year. The knee still nags but lets me run. I seem to be .001% better every day, and 14 races later including two 100 milers and no DNFs, I think I'm on the mend.

Friends like the ones I'm blessed with keep me so focused and encouraged. Thank you, Bryan Carpenter for creating my most prized award. Thank you, Kathy Bratton for never giving up on me. Thank you, Dana Childress for loving me and putting up with my trail addiction. And thanks to all of my trail running friends who seem to follow me up and down (mostly up) every treacherous path I explore.

I truly am blessed.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Two halves make a whole

I did the Half and Half Marathon last Sunday. This was the 5th running of this event, and I've trudged through it all five years. Half is on the trailz at Turkey Mountain, and the other half is on the paved RiverParks trailz.  I ran the full (double half) in the inaugural year, and then only the trail half after that until this year. I really am not a huge fan of running on pavement, but this year I sucked it up and did the pavement for a full marathon.

In years past, we've had unseasonably warm weather, frigid freezing weather, monsoon rains; and this year while it was a bit nippy at the start, it turned out to be a perfect day for running in the woods. I ran from the house and picked up my packet (number, safety pins, and shirt) and did not have time to run back home to drop off my shirt, so I carried it on the run with me. I intended to leave it at Meego's Cantina with friends and get it back after the race. I only ran with one hand-held and had almost no pocket in my running tights. (1st world problems!)

The start/finish was at the main Turkey Mountain Parking lot and starts out with 136 feet of ascent in the first half mile. This little warm-up was the toughest climb in the race, although there were a couple of other climbs that look evil on an elevation profile--but actually are much more gradual. The first section of tight single track about a quarter mile into the race shut things down to a single-file crawl, so I stopped to take pictures and found myself at the back of the pack with only one good picture to show for it.

Once I reached the top, I picked up the pace a little and started passing a few folks and after a little over a mile of running, I realized I was severely overdressed. So, I stopped and shed my Zombie runner vest, Patagonia Capilene shirt, then put on my cotton blend race shirt and the vest over that. I then tied my long sleeve shirt around my waist and was good to go. Hey--sometimes things just work out right.

Picture by Misty
I finally caught up with Johnna and Misty and ran about a mile with them until the Pepsi Bridge. Kevin Lemaster and family (the Mad Dog aid station peeps) worked here and had warm crispy french toast sticks. Delicious! I had seconds. As you can see, by now I had taken a tumble and had the dirt to show for it.

Picture by Lynna
I took off from the with the purpose of putting a little time in the bank. I was having a great run (by my slowish standards) with a 12-15 minute pace which included aid station stops, pee stops, and chatting with friends.  Trying to shave minutes, I decided to not take pictures since that usually adds an houror so to my time. My friend Lynna worked the crazy intersection (the crossroads of a figure 8) and she took pics almost nonstop while making sure runners always turned left going out and always turned right coming back.

Picture by Lynna
I might not look like it, but I was absolutely loving life at this moment. It's always so awesome to have things click on a run.

Picture by Laurie
My partner in crime William had cooked up some brisket, and the mixed drinks were free flowing at Meego's Cantina. I grabbed a Piehole shot on the way out along with a chunk of pecan pie courtesy of Abby. Pecan pie has to be the most perfect aid station food EVER.

I ran the next 1.6 miles well and in good time hit the turnaround, ate some chips, and threw back a cup of Gatorade, then trotted back out and up a hill to the HWY 75 trail. Upon getting to Meego's again, I remembered talk of street tacos. (Key in an angelic choir singing Hallelujah! They were that good.) Jana fixed me up with one, and then Jessy talked me into taking a meat shot. This was a concoction of some brisket in a dixie cup and then covered with Fireball. Well why not? Actually, it was good--wished I'd taken another.

Picture by Lynna
Back at the crazy intersection (which you hit twice going out and twice coming back) Lynna and her friend David were bundled up and directing traffic. The Plate boys were so far ahead of me by this time, I'd need some major cheating or a helicopter in just the right place to catch them. I did pass their dad Mark, but he slipped by me while I dawdled at an aid station. (I was gonna try to keep those short--remember?)

Picture by Lynna
Clint Green was way ahead of me--no chance of catching him. Clint had run 20 miles in Arkansas the day before and was doing a marathon this day. He is running a 24-hour race in Arizona over New Years, so this weekend was just training runs.

I finished the trail half in 3:26. I was happy with that. Truly, I could have managed my clothes and aid station times better and gotten close to 3 hours. Woulda coulda shoulda.

I resisted the temptation of quitting after the trail half by basically skipping through the start/finish. I had my eye on a negative split, but when I hit the Arkansas River bridge, I was put in my place. A strong south crosswind demoralized me. Not sure why, other than I had to grab my hat from blowing off several times. My mile splits for 14, 15, 16, and 17 were ok, but should have been faster since they were flat and there was no need to worry about foot placement. (I had mildly rolled my left ankle a couple of times earlier on the trail.) but But now, the wheels were not rolling. I walked a little but mostly did the zombie shuffle--and at a slow pace.

Selfie by Bryan
I saw my friend Bryan as he was on the way back. Simple math indicated he was two miles ahead of me. Doesn't he look like an early Steve Martin here?

Selfie by Gina
I saw the trio of Jodee, Candy, and Gina about a mile from the turn-around on the east side of the river. I thought about just sitting down and waiting for them to hit the turn and catch up with me, but I was afraid rigor mortis would set in.

I was getting so bummed and discouraged that eventually I turned around and walked back on the course to let Johnna catch up with me so I could at least enjoy some conversation. That really helped. Coming back up across the Arkansas River bridge seemed easier than going down it.

Picture by Carrie 
So Johnna and I ran the last 7 miles together. We didn't catch and pass anyone, and actually got passed by a few people. Jodee and friends passed us and never looked back. But at least the suck-factor was not at an all-time high.

Picture by Carrie
This is the start of the last out and back. This climb was what the last quarter mile of the marathon had in store for us. But I own this hill. This is my dog walk route, and I rarely walk it. Johnna and I ran the last .4 miles of the race--all uphill. Brian Hoover tried to dump a trash can right in front of me in the finisher's chute, but his trick backfired as I did an air-Jordan leap over it--and he had to clean up a bunch of sticky cups and cans. HAHA!

No negative split. I finished in 7:51--a whole 5 minutes faster than my time in 2012. I was wiped out, and instead of hanging around, eating and drinking, I walked home. (Such a party pooper--I know.)

The trail portion is a great route. It's all the easy trailz on Turkey Mountain all strung together. I mapped it out, and it's maybe the best race route I've ever come up with.

Thanks Johnna for the pic
The shirts were awesome this year. And the new medal design was super cool. I'm not a medal hound, but I HAD to have this one. You get a road medal for the road half, and a trail medal for the trail half. Then they fit together for a full medal. Pretty cool, huh?

RunnersWorld-Tulsa, Kathy Bratton, Derk and Barbara Pinkerton, and Mitch Drummond did a flawless job this year with this race. It's my favorite half marathon!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Pumpkin Holler 2016 Recap

I'm pretty late in getting my race recap wrote. Sorry. This year brought another record crowd out to Eagle Bluff Resort to our SIXTH RUNNING of the Pumpkin Holler Hunnerd. our numbers increased in the 25K, 50K, and 135-mile events. The 100K and 100-Mile attendees were off a little, but a lot of 135ers stopped at 100 miles or 100K. The 10K was set aside in lieu of a 10 Mile, which is a better fit for the course.

10:00 p was the start for the 135ers, 29 runners toed the line, for a 16-mile jaunt across the Nature Preserve under the light of a full moon, and then had four 29.7-mile loops to get their hard earned 135-mile buckle and trophy. 

Mike Rives (pictured above) and Ken Saveth drove mobile aid stations, one keeping u with the faster runners and one staying back for the slower starters. This worked fairly well, and by daybreak, the aid stations were up and running on the loop. Mad Dog and Dem Idiots even stayed up for the super ultra runners. This adds up to close to 40 hours of aid station duties for these two aid stops. They have my utmost gratitude!!

8:00 am was the start for the 50K, 100K, and 100-Mile races. There was a huge thundering crowd that roared through the campground and out the gate. 

Unlike the past 5 years, we had to run for about a quarter mile down HWY 10 to the new concrete bridge that replaced the old charming steel bridge. Progress just sucks sometimes. 

I swiped pictures from Deanna Thornton, Johnna Ellison, Misty Roland, Brian Lamb, Ken Saveth, and master photographer Laurie Biby. I saved the ones I liked but did not mark down which belonged to whom. I expect to pay royalties.
Dirty Sanchez takes a break after the huge incline up to Mad Dog. Breakfast was being served. Kevin Lemaster has manned this aid stop about mile 5 in the loop, and he also made the finishers bandanas. Kevin also is the brains and owner of Ultra Gator--one of our sponsors. He is a good person to call for personalized individual race shirts, hats, or jackets.

The gravel roads were the best they've ever been. The area had a spattering of rain the past two days, and the dust was minimal, the normally had surfaces were a tad softer, and the dime sized gravel was hardly a problem. I wish the leaves had turned a bit more. We have had a summer that has hung on too long!

Johnny Spriggs and Frank Muller headed up the next aid station on the course. These two crazies are the brains behind the Post Oak Challenge--which has three days of running next year.

Their name was self-imposed, and I appreciate their honesty. They had a huge variety of finger foods. Their possum belly roll-ups were yummy. Beer was their drink of choice, but sodas, H20, and Heed were also in abundant supply.

I drove the course a tie or two and made a couple of emergency trips to pick up overheated runners. I do feel the need to go back and run myself a loop or three.

Savanah Corner was the next aid stop, and John, Jeno, and JFrank held down the fort here.This was the second possible crew stop, and a lot of crews took advantage of this. This wide T intersection was barely passable for much of the race.

Savannah  Corner--home of the holy crop tops, complete with hairy bellies.

Mr. Arnold Begay--100-mile finisher. Arnold finished Pumpkin Holler--but only after finishing Urban Adventure 100, Arkansas Traveller 100, and Heartland 100 in the three preceding weeks. Four 100-milers in four weeks. 

A new aid station on a new route on the course. We did away with the old out and back, and added an out and back by the Nature Center. Since the loop around the Nickel Nature Preserve was 29.7 miles, we added 1.5 miles here for the 50K, 3 miles for the 100K, and 11 miles for the 100 Mile. All distances got their out and back miles on the FIRST LOOP. This was a risky change, but the runners loved it. Susan Melon Westmoreland made big bold yellow signs noting the specific turn around points. No one messed up to my knowledge.

The Waffle Stop--a crowd favorite, for those who like waffles, was manned by none other than Mitch Drummond and his partner in crime Roman Broyles.

They risked being shot by clown-o-phobes, but had fun scaring the crud out of the squeamish.

On to East of Eden. This aid station is famous for RockStar Eddie Carden, and my favorite hippie chick Kate Ellisor. It' also famous for their beans and cornbread, and for camp fires that set bears on fire.

At East of Eden, runners have a choice of adding an extra mile to their race--a mile that involves a 236' climb. That doesn't seem all that bad on paper, but considering the 236' is crammed into 1/4 mile of road, it's a real doozy of a climb--and the descent is a real quad killer. WHY would anyone WANT to do this extra mile--one that easily adds 20 minutes to their race time?? Well, for bragging rights, and for the goodies that await the at the top. Susan Melon Westmoreland greeted the runners and presented them with their commemorative Pumpkin Holler Melon Wrap--sort of like a Buff--but we can't call them a Buff. I managed to snag an extra for myself, and they look good on my melon. Susan, owner of Mile Junkie (one of our sponsors) has consistently pulled off real works of genius for these awards at the top of the hill.

This is Pumpkin Holler Road. It's scenic, but at this stage of the race, runners are scenicked out. This section is about 4.3 miles, but it seems to just drag on and on. Hard Up Ahead i--well--just up ahead.

Here, Chuck Streit and Earl Blewett greet their runners with potato soup, barley and mushroom soup, and a wealth of ultra knowledge. They have been a staple at this aid and crew stop for all six years.

Three miles of old asphalt later, and you have reached Bathtub Rocks. This is later in  the loop,and many runners especially n the longer distances feel like the walking dead--and the course decorations pointed to this.

this natural water crossing brings tourists in from all over the world. This stream that runs across the road cascades down a rock formation and has several  holes deep enough bathe in, and one big enough to swallow a Volkswagen. I have always said I needed to jump in the deep hole, but I've yet to do it.

These guys decorated my office. Fortunately I made it out after catching a nap.

Shorty ran the show at last Gasp again. She is famous for fierce pep talks, hard massages, and not taking crap.

This sign made by her buddy Melon is more than fitting

It was a hot year--maybe the hottest, but the heat with the humidity and the allergens in the air made for tough conditions for many of our runners. We had one drop--like pass out--just .2 mile from the finish line. Dana, Ken Saveth,  Edward Lebowski, and I worked on him for 30 minutes and finally got him up into a chair, got dome fluids in him, and got him a ride on to the finish. Sherry Meador, a friend who runs Lots and Lots of 100s stopped her race and selflessly helped with this runner. I was impressed with her. 

Another guy--a pacer--had to stop due to heat exhaustion on the far side of the course. His runner had to leave him and let him walk back to the aid station they had just left. Savannah Corner took good care of him, and by the time we picked him up, he was in much better shape.

What do we have here?? A BANDIT aid station cropped up 1.5 miles from the finish line! Meego, Mike Rives, and a huge group of cronies server various beverages from mid afternoon until the next day. Nothing like a shot of Fireball to make you forget the pain for a few minutes.

The start/finish had a steady stream of runners all through the night. Stormy Philips, Shannon McFarland, and Jody Lingbeck stayed awake for them and handed them their hard earned medals, trophies, finishers bandanas, and served the hot food. 

My sweet wife Dana worked her tail off--first going almost four days with no sleep shopping for aid station supplies, organizing them, helping me pack the big truck, setting up all the  food for the pre-race dinner, setting up the aid station food at the start/finish, setting up the post race food, then heading up the loading of all the race stuff late in the day Sunday. Oh--and throw in filling water jugs and ice off and on during the day. But it's not over then either. The big truck has to be unloaded, all the stuff re-organized, keep what can be saved, throwing away what won't keep--she's the MVP. Plus she puts up with all my crap.

And thanks to Ken Saveth who did the roving aid station thing and then did gopher work for most of the rest of the race. And then there's Eldon Galeno who fresh off a busy week RDing the Heartland 100 miler the previous weekend came down and drove stuff out to the aid stations all day and all night and mot of the next day. Valuable stuff.

I spent most of the report talking about aid stations and volunteers, but these people are the lifeblood of the race. Without great help like we have, it would not be possible to have an event such as this. 

I mentioned Arnold running four 100s in four weeks. Kathy Bratton also ran four in four--and seemed to run each one a bit faster. I need to see a list of who all has done streaks like this. Kathy said she thinks the record is six in six weeks. I bet that Kathy is in the top 20 for most 100-mile finishes for women, Some research will bear that out. Russell Bennett also has a lot to be proud of, Russell WON the 100-miler, And this was after doing two 100-milers in the previous two weeks. They call him the Iron Horse. Rightly so.

Chris Dial paced Johnna on her last loop of the 100K--her first. She is poised and ready for the next step--the hundo.

Another couple of 100kers. Jodee and Candy have accomplished everything they have set out to do. I'm impressed with them, although they do seem to think I stretch the truth a little--or maybe I flatten out the truth a little. They should make up a bunch of these head wraps. i could use them on a long trail run--might keep me from losing a sock. ;-)

Chrissy whitten had a great story. Her first daughter had a chromosome disorder and lived 103 days before getting her angel wings. Chrissy had talked to me for a few years about running 103 miles to honor the memory of her daughter I was thrilled she chose to complete that goal at Pumpkin Holler. She wisely chose to sign up for the 135-miler which in effect gave her 40 hours to reach her desired total. She ran the 16 miles out and back--then 4 29.7 mile loops, and also ran the Great Gourd Challenge for a total of 106 miles. She was always upbeat, and after the race, she said she was one and done--but as is usually the case--she has her sights set on Prairie Spirit for her next 100 on April 2017.

Full race results can be found here.

There will be a few changes for next year. First off--a possible change of venue for the pre-race dinner. More details to come. Second--a change of location for the start/finish. We have found at Eagle Bluff a more scenic place where you can see the runners as they cross the bridge and the runners can see the finish line about a quarter mile before the get there. We will add one more manned aid station at the 100 mile turn around. There may be a couple of other changes in the works as well.

Registration will be open for 2017 by December 1. Look for it!!