Sunday, January 22, 2017

The State Games of Oklahoma

I ran in the State Games of Oklahoma Saturday. This year, it was included in the Oklahoma Dirt Trail Series, and that attracted a few of us TATURs to make the trip to Stanley Draper Lake. My friend Peggy Woods RDs this annual event, and the race operated like a well-oiled machine from my perspective. Runners had a choice of a 4-mile, an 8-mile and a 12-mile--all on a well-groomed flattish non-technical mountain bike trail. 

Pictured above Mike Rives ran the 8-mile, Chrissy Whitten in the middle ran the 12-mile, and Jana Graham ran the 8-mile. Michelle Bates and Sue Marolf ran the 4-mile.

I woke up in plenty of time, and my  GPS said I'd arrive at
8:48--12 minutes before the start. I always play Beat The Clock and whittled 15 minutes off, but as I was almost there, stupidly drove straight when Siri told me to turn left. She immediately re-routed and so I carried on only to find a Road Closed sign. So I flipped around and went back to the turn I missed. That only cost me 3 minutes. Then I had to park what turned out to be .33  of a mile from the starting line. A brisk walk there, saying hi to a few friends, and a jog back to the truck to drop off my packet left me 5 minutes to get to the starting line. No problem--except suddenly my morning job announced itself, and the lines to do that said job were long. Oh well--not the first time I've started a race late. then iI heard some runners ahead of me mentioning a staggered start for the shorter distances--makes sense to spread out the runners on the narrow single track trailz. I questioned that and mentioned that I was in the 12-mile, when the 5 people ahead of me ushered me to the front of the line. YAY!! I took the express approach and completed my task in what was probably record time (for me.) 

I then jogged to the back of the starting line just as the gun fired, and all was well. But 1/4 mile into the run, I was wishing I had left my wind shirt, so I walked while holding my water bottle in my teeth and tied my jacket around my waist--and a course photographer caught me in action--I hope to get to see that pic!!

The trailz were awesome! Very few rocks, a few roots here and here, and only a few trenched down channels made me have to concentrate where to put my feet. (The zombie shuffle is characterized by flying flopping feet.) A friend of mine pointed ou to me that these were "Relatively Flat" trailz.

I like a course with landmarks along the way--especially when the loops are repeated. I do not know the story behind this bike, but I bet it is an eerie sight on a night run.

The group maintaining this trail system must be a group of engineers. Several low spots on the trail had these concrete cylinders installed which prevented further erosion and acted as a bridge on wet days.

I was 30 minutes into the race when I started being passed by 8-milers and then 4-milers. When I heard footsteps or voices behind me, I'd step to the left to let them by. Usually, there was plenty of room to do that. The above pic is one of those trenched in channels, and pretty good step up to get out of the way.

This was Bubba's Homestead. It really looked like someone camps out here occasionally. The site was pretty much litter-free--unlike squatters who show up at Turkey Mountain.

I would like to know the origin of this name. A long gradual downhill followed, and one could pick up the pace nicely. It seemed like it would be a mountain bikers dream trail.

The trailz were well marked. I seriously doubt that anyone could have gotten lost here. I did have my head down at one place and briefly turned early where there were two possible left turns--like a three-pronged Y. Umm....I needed a pee-break and maybe this was a sub-conscious move?

Loop one was done in 1:58. Loop two, I took a few more pictures and finished it exactly 2 hours into the race. Heading out on loop three I decided I'd be happy with a sub-three hour, and began to push the pace a little. There were no more runners coming from behind to pass me, and I thought maybe I could catch someone and not finish DFL. At mile 9.34, I kicked a root or something and fell hard in one of those trenches. I lay there for a few seconds, and rolled myself upward and began a brief recovery trot. No harm done. At 9.6ish, I reached an aid station where I had ate a few pretzels on my previous stops and grabbed a few more and shuffled while I munched. Feeling like I had lost grasp of a sub-three, I looked at my Suunto to calculate my plan, and the watch was stopped at 9.34miles!! Now I am not one who is paralyzed be malfunctions like this, but it was aggravating. I wasn't sure how far I had to go, and what I'd need to do to get me home in 2:59ish, so I just jog/shuffled. I'd be there when I got there. GRRR.

On the final half mile, I popped out on a wide open powerline easement, and I saw someone jogging toward me--it was John Hargrove! John is the first person I had actually met (13 years ago) who had run 100 miles. We became good friends, and sometimes ran together when we showed up at the same race. He had finished thinking he was last, and found out another runner was still out, and that it was me--so he came back to run me in. A nice surprise. Also, Jana, Michelle, and Mike were at the end of the powerling cheering me in. Happiness.

I finished in 3:04 and I could have got that sub-three if I had stayed focused. But get this--I got an elegant silver medal for being 2nd in my age group. I had a good time on the trailz, ate a good lunch with friends, and went ghost towning after that. Don't feel bad for me that I was DFL. I've been there many times, and it's not that bad. I'll do this race next year, and I am sure I can shave a few minutes off.


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  2. Love the report! It was a perfect trail for me coming off a week from a sprain!

  3. Good stuff Ken. It was a fun race. I like the trails there. Always clean.

  4. Great race report! I now feel like I was there too.