Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Electric Peach and other recent runs

What's been going on lately with my running? Well, this past weekend had a couple of medium long runs only a week after the Meego Bingo outing where I managed 19 miles.
Friday night, I strapped on my road running shoes and ran with the Friday Night Road Dawgs. The plan was 20 miles. I was uninformed as to the route but knew there would be several Quik Trip stops, so I ran with only a water bottle. Everyone else had their Salomon and Nathan packs, and extra layers to put on. I had only shorts and a tri-blend t-shirt. It was a bit nippy running 5-6 miles south into a stiff wind, but after that, it was cool but the wind was not a factor. My 24 oz bottle lasted from on QT stop to the next. I ended up having a perfect run--many miles in the 11-12 minute range. I was not really all that wiped out the next morning and managed a short dog sniff-run. 

Sunday morning I met up with a bunch of friends on top of Turkey Mountain to run the Electric Peach Half Marathon. This was a creation of the JV Collective. (Not Junior Varsity--Justin/Victor) These guys are getting their feet in the race directing pool. This race was a "Fatass" event. What the heck is that you ask? Well, let me tell you. Don't google it. Fatass events are races that are no fee, no frills, no t-shirt, no medals, and no whining. Originally they were races just after the new year to rub a few pounds off the---well----ass. Justin and Victor have another couple of races up their sleeve later in the year, so stay tuned.

The name Electric Peach was chosen because the course included the pink and the yellow trails, with a Powerline out and back after each loop. Forty-two runners toed the line, with a few of the planning to only run the first loop of the race. I had my sights set on the total distance, which turned out to be 13.8 miles--but who's counting.

My buddy Clint Green helped mark and check the course, and then roamed the mountain taking pictures. All of the race pictures I borrowed from him.

At least four runners ran with their dogs. Kate was being towed by Miss Taylor, who was also spotted dragging Brandon Plate up and down the Powerline Trail. I need to run my Roxie solo and I believe she could be a good racing dog.

Clint waited around for me. At this point, I was the last--but to make excuses, I started a couple of minutes late.

Mike  Rives ran well helped by his trekking poles. I got a pair of these for Christmas, and have yet to use them. He swears they make life easier.

One hour and 47 minutes after the starting nod, Justin Franklin broke the strand of toilet paper. This dude was just flying. At this point in the race, I had covered 5.5 miles.

Here's the top three men and women flanked by the race directors. 

I caught up with Laura after about three miles. My shuffle was faster than her walk. Her run was faster than my shuffle. She eventually pulled ahead but I caught her somewhere during the first Powerline jaunt. After Powerline we had a loop on the Yellow Trail. The first half is non-technical and a gradual downhill--so I decided to see if I had any added speed I could muster, and stretched out my stride and concentrated on a slightly faster foot turnover. After a mile or so of this, I caught Johnna and Misty. I walked for a bit talking to Johnna, but Misty took off concerned about making the 4-hour cutoff. I actually thought we had it in the bag, but I was wrong. Time expired with just under a ha;f mile and two steep hills to go. I finished in 4:08 and was pretty happy with that.

A few gag awards were passed out. Brandon won the Ugliest Attitude award. HAHA. He must have had gas and a pained look on his face or something because every time I see him he has this goofy grin.

This was a challenging route; some easy stuff, some technical sections. Having Lipbuster and Powerline as the final two miles of the race was a nice touch.  

And the course elevation is an accurate picture.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Cantina Classic--MEEGO BINGO!!!

Yesterday my buddy Mike Rives and his nasty little sidekick Meego put on a little bingo game out in the woods up by Skiatook near their house. Meego Bingo they called it.

About 40 trail running friends showed up to play. Each received a race number and a bingo card and even got to blot TWO spaces as a gratuitous head start. But there was a catch: You had to run a little loop in the woods to get another bingo number. The loop: 1.75 miles. No biggie, right? But in that mile, you had a 175' hill to climb. Total elevation was 250' per loop, according to my Suunto. Strava disagreed and said it was 300' per loop. Gotta love that Strava app!!

The whole crowd had big goofy grins on their mugs before the start of the contest. Mikes place was just cool. We had a nice big start/finish area with four tents, music blaring, and all the aid station goodies including some brisket, taco fixings, water/Gatorade, and more beer than you could shake a stick at.

Friends came from far and wide. The Trospers made the trip from the OKC area. RJ Chiles and his kid sister Abby drove up from Coalgate, and I heard there were some Kansas folks here too.

Chrissy, the TATUR Comeback Kid, was raring to go. This girl just does all the races these days.

Mike went over all the course directions, explaining that we could not get lost--but if we did....
Personally, I doubt that anyone could get lost here. The course was well marked, and at every possible intersection, there was a Meego sign pointing the way. So at exactly 8:22 am, Mike sent us off into Bingo-Land. 

Mike has a maze of trailz on his property, but he created a loop that seemed to skirt the outer perimeter of his land. Some of the trailz appeared to have been recently cut, or at least they had been recently raked. By the end of the day, they were tromped down well.

Here is the beginning of the first climb. This hill was runnable, and I actually did run all of it on my third loop.

After climbing for about half a mile, we were treated to a section of flat trail along the ridge, then a steep descent followed by an equally steep climb. From there, it was a gradual downhill all the way to the finish line. This pond was a welcome stretch--flat smooth trail with no rocks or roots to trip you up. This was a good place to stretch it out, which I did on most laps.

Another landmark on the course. I'm guessing a family of coyotes has a goose dinner a couple of nights ago. This was what remained. There were other theories, though. It was suggested that the goose thought it was about to be attacked, and plucked the feathers out of his wings and tails so he could run faster to escape. Some thought it might have been hit by an airplane, or UFO. It also could have been where Meego caught the goose and plucked the feathers of orneriness because...well, he IS Meego.

Picture by Eva McCarthy
I asked a few people who passed me on the first loop (if they passed me on the first loop, that meant they were on their second loop and were going over twice as fast as I was--but I purposely walked the first loop) if the got a number. To my slight surprise, they all had. When I got to the bingo card table, lo and behold, I too got a number and my card blotted. It was after my 3rd or 4th loop that I realized that for each runner, they kept pulling bingo balls until you got a blotch, Otherwise, it might be days or even weeks before you bingoed.

Picture by Eva McCarthy
After a few loops, I started grazing at the aid station. First, it was a few pretzels. Then a couple of peanut M&Ms. Then I had a bite-size piece of chocolate cake. Then a cupcake (one or both of these were rum-infused.) Then William aka Dirty Sanchez offered a shot of Piehole--a great sipping liquor that tastes like a spirited pecan pie. At one point I walked out with a margarita. another time, a street taco and a half a can of beer. there really was no need for a hydration pack or water bottle with a full-service aid station every 1.75 miles.

Justin Franklin was lapping me on every lap. I think he ended up with 15 laps, and he cut out way before I did. He surely went beyond marathon distance, and he did bingo, but it was a hard-earned one.

RJ Chiles was the first to bingo. Then, he got a second bingo card and bingoed again, this time with only SIX blots on the card. Talk about luck. RJ took home the Top Dawg award.

Picture by Mark Plate
The Plate family went home with three bingos--one each. Brandon got his bingo in 12 laps. Cameron took 15 laps to get his. It was funny seeing heir frustration, but neither of them was going home until the job was done, and truly they could have run 30 laps if need be. It was debated during and after the race as to HOW MANY laps could you run and not have a bingo. Considering you got two free blots to start the game, you could run up to 17 laps without bingoing.

Picture by Carrie Rives
And HEY!! There was actually a prize for most laps run without a bingo. I had given up on running anymore and then heard that Cameron was not stopping until he bingoed, and my crappy card was s bad that I needed TWO on anyone to finish out. Each loop ended with more disappointment. I was through, but hearing that I could go another time around and win the prize, I did just that. There was no chance at all of a bingo, fo it was just a formality. Ten laps and 19 miles for me. I left the watch running on a couple of trips to my truck. It's a mileage whore thing.)

Thank you so much, Mike and family, for having this fun event at your place. Kye Rives--the Meego plaques were amazing! I love mine!!! Kudos to Brian Hoover for loaning the sound system and Brian's personal porta-potty. Thanks to Dirty Sanches for bringing the meat, serving meat shots, and keeping the festivity level high. Thanks to RunnersWorld for supplying trophies and shirts. Very cool!! A big salute to volunteers Alicia Bell, Summer Chiles, Michelle Bates and whoever else I missed. 

I think Mike and Meego will make this an annual event. He had better watch out--he might have 200 folks next year wanting in on it.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Trip on the Carnival Breeze

Although I have posted most of our vacation pictures on Facebook, I wanted to post them here with my usual rambling commentary because when I am in my 90s and can't remember much, I can pull this up and relive some of my past. I throw my computers away when they get slow and buy another one, but my blog stays forever in cyberspace--I guess.

Now anyone who knows me well knows my dream vaykay does not involve an ocean, a boat, or a beach. I should live in the mountains, and prefer going there for any vacation time. But Dana loves the beach and was all in favor of a cruise--one that my father and his girlfriend, as well as my younger sister and her hubby were going on. I'm a good sport. The dilemma was that the cruise embarked from Galveston the Sunday before Rocky Raccoon, and got back at 8:00 am Sunday as the RR 100 milers were finishing up. This was disappointing, but Dana suggested we leave a day early and just run the RR traiz for fun the day before boarding the boat.

So we left Friday, drove to Huntsville and got a motel for a couple of days, and spent quite a bit of time Saturday running at Huntsville State Park.

I have three Rocky Raccoon starts, and made it 80 miles the first year and just quit. :-( My second try, I ran a strong race and finished in 28 hours or something like that. Then my last year there, it was a mud fest, and I threw in the towel after 60 miles.

Huntsville State Park is one of my favorite places to run. It's far from hilly, but if you run the 20-mile circuit, you will get in some pretty significant elevation without really noticing. There are almost no rocks on the course, but there are roots that seem like rocks. Stub your toe on one of these, and you're falling down or collecting a black toenail.

Lots and lots of TALL pine trees give a blanket of pine needles to run on, and they sing as the wind blows through the tree tops.

When you're not running on pine needles or jumping over monster roots, you're trotting across wooden bridges. Many of these bridges are used to traverse wetlands during the rainy seasons. In Oklahoma, we call them mud holes and just plow through them.

It was a bit on the warm side. I had brought my Salomon pack, but at the last minute decided to just go with a water bottle since we were only going 4-5 miles--or so I told Dana. As it turned out, we went 10, and we barely had enough water for the run.

Dana really likes running here. She has two 50K finishes here back when the Sunmart 50K was going.

I thought after crossing a long wooden bridge crossing the north finger of the lake that it was only 2-3 miles to the dam. I was wrong. Expected a mutiny, I was happy that Dana never complained, and after going nearly five miles we reached the dam only to find they had the trail closed for some sort of construction. 

Going on around the lake might have gotten us back to the car a little bit sooner, but I counted it a win-win: more miles, and more miles.

I stepped over a trail closed sign to take the two above pictures. Wasn't gonna come all that way and not get them.

The run back seemed to go a little quicker. There were not as many pee stops since I, for one, was conserving water; and since it was an out and back, I didn't need to take as many pictures. Plus, we were getting HUNGRY.

It was a fun day indeed--previewing the course so many of our friends would be running the next week.

Sunday morning, we got up, ate a quick mediocre continental breakfast at the motel, and set a course for Galveston. On the way and not paying attention, we missed stopping at Buc-ee's, but had a rest stop as some quickie store just after crossing the bridge to Galveston Island. There, I entered the location of the port on my phone while waiting for Dana. To do this, I had to take off my uber-cool clip-on sunglasses, and instead of putting them in the case which would have been smart, or putting them on the dash which would have also been ok, I must have put then in my lap. Then, of course, the next place I got out, I must have knocked them out of the car onto the ground. We had stopped at a couple of tourist trap places along the seawall and they were probably crunched in the parking lot of the first place we stopped. I tried to not spazz out, and I give myself a C- grade on that endeavor.

We boarded the Carnival Breeze, and every place you go on this ship or on the excursions, there are "photographers" wanting to take your picture. Then they'll display these pictures on the promenade deck, and sell them for 18.00 a pop. If they are not sold (and most of them aren't) they are destroyed. Suckers that we are, we bought a few. The one above was a good picture, but the colors were awful. It was like they put a blue filter on it, and the colors looked far from natural. So, I photo-shopped it, and I think it made a good black and white.

This is my dad and his girlfriend Rebecca. Dad loves cruises. He has the relaxation routine down pat.

Dana and I got on board, went to our room, and then ventured out to get some food only to find ALL of the food joints were closed. We were told once the ship left port that things would open up--so we went back to our room.There was some disembarkment meeting that we were supposed to go to, but we decided to skip it and just hang out in our room until the boat started moving. Bad idea. Someone unlocked the door to our room and told us it was Mandatory and we needed to get up there NOW. They were nice-- but firm. Waiting for the meeting to start, they started announcing absent people over the intercom, and these missing people sheepishly dragged in--we called it the walk of shame. I suppose if the ship were to have a sea accident, there is a certain orderliness desired in getting people off the ship and into the lifeboats. No one wants to be shark food.

So--once the meeting of yada yada blah blah was over, we found a hamburger joint that was just opening and had the best burger and fries ever. After that, we ordered margaritas and spent the rest of the night chillin.

Two days at sea went by oh so slow for me. I worked had on relaxing, but I was bored. 

I brought a couple of books to read, and that helped pass the time. Our daily routine was sleep late, catch a late breakfast, go sit on the deck, eat a late lunch, eat many many soft serve ice cream cones, eat a late dinner, wander around the ship. Each night we'd catch a comedy act, a variety show, listen to some music, and we even got herded into a bar where they were trying to teach the Cupid Shuffle. It's a catchy tune, and I think it's what they call a line dance. 

To the right, to the right, to the right, to the right
To the left, to the left, to the left, to the left
Now kick, say what? Like This? Oh crap!
Now step on someone's feet, now step on someone's feet

Two days later, we woke up on a harbor in Honduras. It must have been quite a party and we slept through it. Our boat sunk, and we had to be put on another one. Just kidding. I am sure this burned out hull has a better story to tell than that.

My little sister Karen and her husband Gary were our travel buddies for the week.

Our shore excursion was to a private beach called Tabyana, We boarded a small air conditioned bus, and took a 45-minute ride through the Isle of Roatan and then along a mountainous (actually just hills) coastline route to the other side of the island.

Nice white sand, thick palm trees, and the sound of crashing waves. Just what the dostor ordered.
We picked a couple of chairs on the second row from the beach and enjoyed the sun and sights.

This was maybe the best Mexican beer I have ever drank. I sent this picture to my friend Arena and she was impressed. I have yet to admit that it was really Barena, and I had my thumb over the B.

All up and down the beach were locals who were selling trinkets, knick knacks, jewelry, and massages--and they wouldn't take no for an answer. On one hand, I felt like I should buy something, but the staff at this resort said to be very careful, and they had extensive security monitoring all the activity on the beach. We relocated a few rows back and had a little more peace.

With much persuasion, Dana got me to venture into the water. It was surprisingly cold for being such a warm day. After spending a while getting all the sand out of my shoes (New Balance Minimus shoes drain water really well but retain the sand) we ate a couple of surprisingly good hot dogs and boarded the bus for the return trip. 

Roatan got a little of our American dollars while we wandered around in the newer updated parts of town. We browsed the souvenir shops where I bought a Piranha Joe t-shirt and would have bought some tequila, but the liquor store there was closed for some reason.

Back on the boat, it was formal night which meant coat and tie required. I had a tie but I hate them, so I went without--rebel that I am.

The next day we were at Belize. The ship could not dock at any port at Belize City due to the water being too shallow for a 1003' long hunk of steel. (The Breeze is 120' longer than the Titantic.) So we boarded a small shuttle boat and jetted over to land.

My guess is we were a couple of miles away, and with the wind at our back, we were there in no time. From there, we loaded up into a van which took us an hour and 15 minutes inland to the edge of some mountains. (Again, not super tall, but there are a couple of peaks in Belize over 2000 feet. I did not know that Belize was an English speaking nation. The people there were super nice, and seemed to embrace the tourists that that visit their attractions.

There were tons of excursions to tackle in Belize--Mayan ruins, a jungle tour, zip lining, and cave tubing--which is what we were doing. I understood (incorrectly) that we would tube through the cave and stay in the river until it ended up at a beach. Now that I think about it, it might have been a zip line here or in Roatan that ended up at a beach. We were outfitted with a life vest (I needed that), a hard hat (bike helmet). head lamp (mine was crap), and huge tubes.

We had a water crossing!! 

The river, which came right out of a rock, was a little cold, but seemed about like the Illinois River--except it came out of a cave.

I might be mixed up on the pictures here. Where we waded across the river, water was coming out of the cave. We crossed and walked up and over a "mountain", and entered another cave, and that led us back to where we started. So actually, there was no way you could get lost, unless you forgot to get out after exiting the cave--which I would have like to have done.

This was cool. The cave had the stalactites and stalagmites. (A stalactite hangs tight to the ceiling. A stalagmite might eventually form a column.)

Each group had eight floaters and a guide. All of the tubes were tethered together and we went only as fast as the guide could drag us as he walked and swam. Still--it was enjoyable, and I'm glad we did it. I would not care to to do it again.

The reviews for this excursion were great--most gave it five stars. But there were a lot of complaints of the hike up and over a mountain to get to the cave. Some said it was a strenuous 45 minute hike. Of course I was thinking YES!!! Actually it was a wide trail--almost a jeep road, that climbed only 110 feet (yes I was wearing my Suunto.) It took less than 30 minutes and the distance was right at a half mile. Our guide moved at a very casual pace, but still his pace was enough to pass all the other groups on our tour.

We had some sort of taco-like dinner--or was it nachos? I don't remember. We bought some coconut rum, after tasting several different kinds--maybe that's why I can't remember what we had for lunch. There was some conversation on the way back about the Panty Riper. It's a drink that originated in Belize, and we tasted it--kind of like pineapple juice with a splash of rum.

On the boat ride back, I started my Suunto to see exactly how far away our ship was from the dock. I guessed two miles--no more that three. It was almost SIX miles. The ship is still two miles out in this picture.

We skipped the formal dinner, and ate prime rib at one of the buffets, and then settled in to the Dive In Theater--a movie screen around the pool. The screen could be viewed from three different decks. We has comfy sofas to sit in, but HMMPH!! They did not recline like they do at AMC. The movie: one of the Jason Bourne flicks. It was ok.

For the last shore excursion, we went to a private beach on Cozumel. I have been to Cozumel three times prior, and have enjoyed it each time as long as we stay away from the peddlers/hustlers in the old part of town. For our excursion, we went to Mr Sanchos--a day-all-inclusive resort that just happened to be right next to Iberostar where we stayed a couple of summers ago.

This pair met us at the front door. I took a quick picture, then my sister was told we were not supposed to take pictures of them. But hey--I got mine!! It turns out, a guy carries the parrots all around the resort and charges for you to take their picture. An honest way to make a buck I guess.

The beach here in Cozumel was much like the beach in Roatan, but the water was prettier, and the swimming seemed better. The water did not get deep as quick--a plus for me. We rented snorkel gear, and I saw a few fish. I can also see the same fish at Wal-Mart though without getting salt water up my nose. Mr. Sanchos was an all inclusive which meant unlimited food and drink. We drank quite a lot. Drink not strong enough? They'd pour you all liquor--make it as strong as you like. I had a good buzz, but Gary about put them out of business. He's a hoot when he's drunk. The poor cab driver that took us back to the boat was a nervous wreck. Gary kept kidding around and giving him a hard time. It was hilarious (for us.)

I finished A Walk In The Woods, then started another book. I guess I have to go on a trip to read a book.

No one tried the climbing was or the slides. I think that was an extra cost anyway. I saw a few wiry surfer-dude looking guys trying to climb the balloon rock wall, and no one made it. I am guessing a super white old fat dude would have not done any better.

Some of the games and contests on the ship gave a Boat-On-A-Stick trophy for the prize. I got a picture of a boat on a stick right here.

This has to be the most awesome thing we did on the trip. Someone came by to ask if we wanted a fish pedicure. WHAT??? They explained it, and Dana jumped in. Karen followed. I said well why not? It was 20 bucks, and these little fish went to work on our feet. It was amazing. And it tickled!!!! An American couple of modest income retired and moved to Cozumel, and they live like royalty on the savings they accumulated. This is their life now--having people come in to have these fish nibble at their feet. What a life!!!


We boarded the Breeze for the final time and had two days at sea to reach Galveston. I guess it was relaxing, but I would have appreciated a speed boat.

Our last night out--and we got our pictures made again. This one was fun, and the photographer took her time to get the lighting right, and to make sure Dana's mustache was hanging straight. She did good work and we bought her picture.

And we'll probably do another cruise again someday. But now, it's time to go to the mountains.