RJ and Summer Chiles put on this 3-day event each year where you can run 5K, 10K, half marathon, full marathon, or 50k each day of the Labor Day weekend. The race has grown a little each year, and I can see it growing leaps and bounds in the future. This year they added a 24-hour team relay for Saturday, and I was invited to be on a team. So, my plans included a spot on the TZ Zombie Shufflers, and then running some distance the next day depending on how I felt.
I intended to get off work early and bring my camper, but delays at work and not having the camper up and ready made me rethink my plans so I set my alarm for 3:00 am and drove down supa-early for the race. I got there with time to spare, got my water bottle filled, stuffed my pockets with electrolytes and snacks, and headed to the prerace briefing. Our 5-man team included Lynna Gilstrap, Jamey Zuniga, Abby Ivey, and Clint Green. Another group of friends made u the team of Some Like I Thot--or something like that. They had Mike Rives, Leaha Kopp, Steve Zuniga, Alicia Bell, and Jeremy Harrison--a stacked team to say the least.
I chatted it up with friends, took a selfie with Chrissy--who was planning on a half for each day. The race started at 6:00 am--still dark and no signs of sun-up. The course was 3.53 mile loops on trailz through the woods and across some grassy fields. You never ran more than a quarter mile before something changed--in the woods, up a hill, over some rocks, beside a pond, a screaming downhill-it was never boring.
Jamey ran first on our team, and Leaha was first on the stacked team. They stayed together for the first loop. I ran the second loop for our team and took off like a shot. Jumpin Jeremy tracked me down and I ate his dust for a few strides before he was out of sight. That was the last time we led the race against them.
The sun peaked out at me as I ran up the first of many slight inclines (I hesitate to call them hills--I'm like that.) It truly seemed like there were a lot more gradual downhills than ups, and I ran what seemed like a fast loop for me clocking a 42:10--an11:57 pace. That pace would slow as the race went on.
I only took one picture on the first loop as I was trying to do well for our team. I did take a few on the next loop. This is what most of the trailz were like. Mix in a few roots and rocks here and there.
Rocks like this. In case you ever got lost, once you reached this turn, you knew where you were at. (Yes, I ended a sentence with a preposition. Live with it.)
The last turn into the finish line each loop inspired running. There was always hooting and cheering from volunteers and even from opposing teams. I was 58:26 on my second loop. My legs seemed dead for the first mile, then I came around. Each loop I picked up the pace for the last 1.5 miles. Between my loops, I set up my camp--a small tent and a longer-than-expected blow-up mattress. At least I had a chance of catching a nap between loops during the night.
My third loop was 46:19-an improvement-a 46:40. My fourth was 1:01:10. Fatigue was setting in. After this loop, I ate some dinner--absolutely delicious hamburgers and potato salad. There was also some drunken peach cobbler, but I did not go back up to get some. I heard it was amazing. I then decided to take a shower and try to catch a few winks. Between 11:00 and 2:00, I managed to sleep but it wasn't very restful at all. I rolled out of the tent, and somehow the order of the rotation had changed. No biggie, but I didn't know when I'd get to run again but somewhere around 3:00 my turn came up. Steve Zuniga (from the other Tulsa team) and I walked a loop. Then Cint took the next loop and I fell asleep in a chair. When Clint finished his loop, he said we were through there was no way anyone could finish the final loop in the time we had remaining and even if we did, we were not gonna catch the team ahead of us. He mentioned we had an hour and 10 minutes, and I just sat n my chair like a slug. I should have gone out on that last loop. Here I am--supposedly training for Cloudsplitter, a tough 100 miler--and I would not get out of my chair. But we did finish 3rd out of four teams. The Some Like It Hot team took 2nd, running 99.4 miles. I do not know how many loops or miles we did. The results should be finalized tomorrow.
I sat in my chair, kind of beating up on myself. I wanted to sign up and run something, but I also just wanted to go home. Maybe I'd just run a 5K and quietly leave. Then the RD, Mr. RJ Chiles came over to me and asked me if I wanted to get some points. These are big words--perked me right up. The points of which he spoke are Oklahoma Trail Dirt Series points. The Dirt Series includes 23 trail races across Oklahoma. You get points for each race you run or volunteer in, and bonus points for top 10 finishes. I do a lot of races. I RD and volunteer in a lot of races. I will never win the series, but I could crack the top three with a little luck. He told me that the marathon field was weak (like there was only one male signed up, and he had not arrived. It turns out that he did show up and dropped down to the half, and another marathoner took an early start and was not eligible for awards. So--it I ran and finished, I'd get the win-participation points and first place points. Now if someone says that's cheese, I would honor anyone getting points for an official race finish if they were the only finisher. Plus, I had run 17.5 miles the night and day before, and the temperature was gonna reach the mid-90s. Then he said if I won, I'd get The Yeti Cup. Now remember--I was still half asleep with no coffee. I heard Yeti Cup and thought of like The Stanley Cup--a huge monumental trophy coveted by many. I was out of the chair in a flash, getting my water bottle full, tieing on a bandana, plopping my headlamp on my noggin, and pinning on a race number in seconds flat.
Somewhere during the second loop, it hit me that the award was a Yeti Cup--not a trophy, but a stainless steel cup that keeps ice for days. I have several. It's a super nice gift, and yes I wanted another. I felt silly, but hey--the jokes on me and I'm sharing my folly with you.
Five laps Saturday, and now seven laps and an out-and-back. So doable. My attitude turnaround went like this.
- I now had redeemed myself (from my own self-scrutiny) and now felt good about my training.
- I'd get some good points towards my Dirt Series total.
- I'd win a race. (Of course, I would also have another DFL.)
- I NEEDED the miles as preparation for Cloudsplitter. I ended up with 43.85 miles for the two days and ran them sleep-deprived.
While Saturday was mostly cloudy and in the mid-80s, today was sunny and in the mid-90s. When the trail was exposed to the sun, it was rough. Due to nipple chafing, I ditched my shirt-so if you are easily nauseated, you might want to skip the rest of this blog-post.
Here we are crashed out at the start/finish aid station eating a bite and rehydrating We picked u Abby, who decided to jump in on the marathon four hours after the start. She is RJ's sister and even if she finished into the evening, it was ok. She would run with Mike as he finished his 50K.
The three of us leave out after a much-needed aid station stop. I had three more loops to go. Mike had four. Abby had six.
Mike had acquired a healthy coating dirt-sweat. This mixture dries, and then is remoistened by more sweat and then more trail dust. Downside--it generally takes two scrubbings to remove it. Upside--ticks, chiggers, and mosquitos cannot bite through it.
My race went well. I handled the heat just fine. The race never seemed like a drudgery. Maybe it was the good company. Maybe I was just in a good place. I finished in 8:39. Strava gives me a 7:10 moving time. I guess that's their version of auto-pause. It's a slow time, although I was not pushing the ace except the last half of the last loop. That pace is adequate to get me to the finish line at Cloudsplitter, except Cloudspitter has easily 6 TIMES MORE elevation per mile. You will hear more about Cloudsplitter in future blog-posts.
Thank you, Chrissy Whitten, for staying after your race to help at the start/finish and taking such good care of us hot runners, and taking great pictures. Chrissy was second place in her half marathons Saturday and Sunday and got the win on Monday.
Nexxt year, I would like to see more of my friends here. I'd love to have Dana here as she would love these trailzz. And I want to run 50K/50K/Marathon for a total of 88.4 miles. Come with me--camp, run, eat, drink, sleep, repeat.