Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Tatur's Osage Hills State Park Relatively Flat Trail Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K, 5K

July 17 you can be part of a unique race that has the distinction of having the longest name in trail racing history.
TATUR's Osage Hills State Park Relatively Flat Trail Marathon/Half Marathon/10K/5k.
The name is so long that you'll have to order Large or Extra Large shirts to get the whole name on it. 

The course may look confusing looking at this map, but it's really not to bad. Last year there was a little snafu on the blue and red trailz when a sign fell over, and as a result the course was a little short. Those who know me know that I NEVER have a SHORT course. So this year, I will make sure you all get your full mileage plus a little extra to make up for last year. (Kidding of course, but by correcting the boo boo from last year, the full circuit should be exactly 13.1 miles. You marathoners get to do it twice.

We had a good crowd last year, and I expect even more this year--but folks have been holding back on signing up. Come on guys--let's toss those hats in the ring.

You don't go much more than a half mile 'til you see Sand Creek Falls. This is the most photographed water fall in 5 counties. This is also a great place to soak your see after the race. On old indian legend says the water has magic healing powers, and can even turn a black toenail pink.

The sign say bluffs--and it ain't bluffing. You cross over the tops of bluffs twice in the first couple of miles. Get a picture, but don't stand too close to the edge.

Ok--the course is advertised as "relatively flat", and a runner asked me WHY WAS THERE A LOOKOUT TOWER? To which I answered What part of relatively do you not understand? "Relatively" is a blanket that covers up all the bumps in the roads, and those little 200 foot climbs. I'm considering putting an aid station either in or right near the tower, if I get the man power (or girl power) to have it staffed.

There's also a little crowd support here. Squirrels, Armadillos, Deer, Possum, Raccoon, and an occasional Slithersaurus will keep it interesting. I will try to collect all the ticks and chiggers from the trailz, but you might consider some buggie spray just in case.

This old bridge is 90 years old, and a work of art. They don't build 'em like that anymore.

So somebody sent me this course elevation. I like it. See--other than a couple little bumps in the road, it's a pancake.

Looks a lot like this elevation profile don't you think?

Osage Hills State Park is around 60 miles north and west of Tulsa--between Bartlesville and Pawhuska on HWY 60. 

There'll be tri-blend shirt for all runners and volunteers, medals for all finishers, trophies for the top 3 men and women in each race, and age group awards. 

PLUS: this may end up being a small race which means you Oklahoma Dirt Trail Series peeps have a good chance of racking up some BONUS POINTS!!

CLICK HERE to sign up. Don't you even think of missing it!!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

A tribute to our Sassycat

The fall of 1998 when Dana and I got married, we got our first fur baby--Sassy. She was maybe 5-6 weeks old when wee got her. My had niece rescued her from a busy intersection in Tulsa and needed to find a home for her. 

We picked her up on our way home from Eureka Springs, where we spent our honeymoon. Sassy immediately took up with me, and was constantly under my feet, sleeping on my pillow, and riding on my shoulders. I was her security, and she lover riding around on her perch.

This is not a staged picture. I read whilst on the throne, and we actually have pictures of that too--however I chose to not post them. You are welcome.

She grew into a beautiful lady cat, and was queen of the house. Nothing but the best cat food for her, and her diet eventually evolved to fresh rotisserie chicken. Wal-Mart and Sam's made a killing on all the chickens sold to satisfy Sassy's addiction.

Eventually she got to big to ride on top of my head.

"WHERE'S MY CHICKEN?!?!?" She would actually screech out at us morning and night--and we nearly always obliged her. She and I had her language. She had a variety of different meows, and I'd mimic her and the conversation went on and on. There's no telling WHAT I was actually telling her, but she enjoyed the exchange. Dana always called her my other wife--and said that if she were a woman, she'd be wearing leather and cracking whips.

When she was not getting lap time, she was content to lay on my clothes--clean or dirty. She thought that no outfit was complete without being accessorized with cat hair.

She also had such expressive ears. When her ears were back, she was definitely irritated. 

She slowed down a lot in the past year. I first noticed she was not able to jump up on the bathroom counter to get her morning drink from the sink. She had a few efforts that came short, and I began lifting her up so she could drink her fresh water. (She HAD to SEE water come out of the faucet. No stale water for her!) Still--she was playful even though she was 17 years old. 

On Thursday, I noticed she was laying around and not following me around as much as normal. I lifted her up for her morning drink, and she drank to her fill, and then jumped down. I had a half day of work, and felt the need to come home to check on her. Once home, she was parked in one place, and did not want to move. I got her water again, but this time in a bowl on the floor. She again drank quite a bit. Dana said she had her morning chicken, and as it turned out, that was her last meal.

I knew her time was coming to an end. I found some stuff to watch on TV and gave her a couple hours of lap time. The faintly purrred, but her breathing was very light.

This picture was taken last December--and was one of her favorite places. Dana and I were gonna go out to eat, but we both decided we didn't feel much like eating. She laid in our laps for most of the evening, and finally around midnight we put her in her bed in the sunroom. She sprawled out and looked comfortable. Dana lay down beside her for an hour and then I took over and lay by her side and occasionally petted her. I noticed her eyes had glassed over, and she seemed to have lost her sight. She would meow every now and then--it sounded like a cry of fear. I'd pet her and tell her it was ok--I was there. I had waves of tears--it hurt so--losing another beloved pet. At 1:30, I went on to bed, and got up to check on her at 7:15. She had passed during the night. It was clear she had left us a few hours earlier.

I had work scheduled Friday, but we made time to fix a nice box up for her with her favorite cat bed and a artsy cat coffee cup which was HER water dish. We buried her in the back yard next to where we buried Scooter a couple of years ago. Sadness. But somehow, the sadness is not overwhelming. We had 17 1/2 awesome years with her. She never wanted for anything, other than a brief wait for her chicken. She lived a great life, and was a blessing to be in our lives. We miss her, and will never forget.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Wichita Wildlife Refuge

A group of six did some exploring at the Wichita Wildlife Refuge last Sunday. I tossed the idea out on Facebook, and a dozen or more chimed in wanting to go--but life's goings-on got in the way for some, and the Plate family and I met the Trosper household at the visitor center there.

We decided to do the Bison Loop--a trail that Clint Green and I had ran a few months ago. I knew this route, and knew it was picturesque. The loop would get us close to 7 miles, and we could always get in more miles later if we wanted.

Left to right--Brandon, Cameron, Mark, Lisa, Eric, and me. This pic was taken after our run, but it seemed more appropriate to put the picture at the start of this post.

We were treated to narrow single track for most of the way. At times we had grass sweeping our legs. I was concerned about ticks, and in fact did pick up one. But at 58 degrees, the ticks and chiggers were a bit more dormant.

There were wild flowers galore. I ran well, but also stopped for pictures several times. Lisa is a camera bug too. Our pace was very casual, and I ended up with over 50 pictures.

Any rock outcroppings were fair game for Cameron and Brandon. They jumped around like billy goats for most of the run.

Lisa and Eric are from the OKC area, and have done a few of our races. When I sent out the invites for the field trip, I tried to include a lot of friends we have made in our trail series events. They really loved the area, and are already planning another trip.

Trail Goat and Thing Two scramble down to the water.

One river/creek/stream cuts across the prairie, through canyons and is jaw-droppingly beautiful. 

Get the right camera angle, and you can see that this is Oklahoma's mini Grand Canyon.

I'm not sure if water flows all year round. I was here last year over the Labor Day weekend. It was over 100 degrees, and water was flowing--creating several water falls.

I lost count of the dams along the way. On the eastern side of the loop, we passed 5-6 dams--each making  small lakes of seemingly deep black water.

My original plan was to park at the Kite Trailhead, and cross this dam to the Bison Loop. I missed the turn, and went on to the Dog Run Hollow Trailhead--which was a good thing because there was enough water rushing over the top of the dam to prevent a safe crossing.

More rock scrambling. With my grippy shoes, I made it right up the face of these boulders--actually much quicker than the Plate boys. I stayed on the parts of the boulders that had no green growth as it seemed like a responsible thing to do.

More flower pics. Most of the trail was dirt or crushed rock and very runnable, but parts were boulder fields which I walked through. I ran a few technical segments, but prospects jacking up an ankle kept me at a cautious pace.

Couldn't pass up the scary tree pic.

A flock of geese were patrolling this dam. I crept up carefully and quietly to get a good picture. A few took a leisurely escape and paddled a few feet out in the water. (Like I would try to follow. LOL!)

This was a spillway from the dam. It looked like a stairway. I tested the water, and it was much colder than I expected.

We were nearing the end of the loop. Lisa had marked our turn with a small cairn. It seemed like we were heading away from our cars the last half mile--and I guess we were, but that's just how the trail runs.

Yes--we did see bison on the Bison Trail. Lots. I'd say there was 50 in the herd. Lots of babies too. We kept our distance--unlike the Yellowstone tourists who took a baby bison to the ranger station because they thought it was cold.

We decided to call it a day after the loop. I had 6.8 miles on my Strava, but most everyone else had 6.3 to 6.5. I guess I got a little extra on the dam? Eric and Lisa headed home to check on their baby chickens and ducks, Mark and the boys and I had Meers Burgers on our minds.

I have a group of OKC friends who run here a lot. They usually run Mt Scott first--early to get up and down before a lot of car traffic makes is hazardous. It's about 1000 feet of climb in 2.7 miles--steep and relentless the whole way. We did see a couple of walkers going up, and a couple of bikers as well. Next time, I will run it for sure.

 It's hard to get a picture that conveys how high up you are. The selfie did not help much either.

This is about a 90 degree panorama. t was cold up here. I'd say upper 40s, with a stiff wind--and it started raining. Otherwise I would have continued my search for a camera angle that illustrated how high up we were. Another time.

There was not a long line spilling out of the front door like there are at times, but still we had to wait 30 minutes for a table, and then another 30 minutes to get our food. But Meers Burgers were worth the wait. These are grass fed longhorn cattle, and are very lean. They cook them all medium well, which is well done in my books. The flavor is great, and I'll always eat one when I come to the Wichitas--but if they were just a bit juicer, I'd give them a 10. We also had peach cobbler and home made ice cream. One bowl would have fed us all. And it was amazing. I gained 5 pounds on this trip.

TATUR, and I like to do these trail trips around once a month. Next time, I will create an Event on Facebook instead of the huge group message which was a bit irritating to some when the chatter commenced. If you'd like an invite, send me a a FB or text message.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Cavanal Killer

Just on a whim last Saturday I ran the Cavanal Killer 8K. I was cutting it real close getting there on time, and followed my GPS to the address listed on Facebook. No runners at the Poteau Chamber of Commerce?!?!? So I made a phone call top a friend who told me which elementary school it started from, and made it to the starting line 5 minutes after the race started. 

They were packing things up, but they found me a number and sent me on the way. I stopped to take a picture just after crossing the start line. This was the hill--the World's Tallest Hill, or so they say. It supposedly is 1999 feet from the bottom to the top, but my Strava disagreed. Still, a lot of climbing was in store.

I ran a decent pace of and on. I did intervals run 200 walk 100 until I started catching people. Then I ran by feel--walking briskly on the steep stuff and a steady shuffle on the less steep stuff.

About 1.5 miles into the race I caught up with Lisa, Alicia, and Carrie. We hung out for about a mile, and I must have kept shuffling while they stopped to pee or something. I ran alone for the remainder of the race.

Pictures of the uphills were not impressive. A camera just cannot capture how steep this road really is. Looking back down at where you've been seemed a little more realistic.

Just over 4 miles, I saw a gravel road turning to the right. AHA! Maybe a trail I thought. I followed fully accepting I'd get some bonus miles, but less than 100 yards in the road became overgrown with weeds (and probably ticks and chiggers) so after a pee break, I turned back. I took this picture just as I neared the paved road. Someone will see this and think I was in a trail race. :-)

I finished in 1:32:06--basically in the middle of the pack. Had I got there on time I might have been in the top 100. It was cold on top, so I took a couple of quick pictures, grabbed a hot dog, and ran back down the hill. There were buses transporting runners down, but I looked forward to letting gravity pay me back for all the hard work I'd done. Some people warned me I would trash my quads running down the steep inclines, but I took it easy on the steeper sections, and let it loose on the more gradual descents. Needles to say, I ran a negative split!!

Next time, I want to do some exploring on top. I have heard there are trailz somewhere in the area, and I want to find them!