Thursday, April 19, 2018

Do-overs' for sale!!!!

I posted a month or so ago on Facebook, "IF--you could have one do-over in life--would you take it?" It had 68 comments, and 40 answered yes, definitely, absolutely, etc. Nine were no. Twelve were maybes, no but maybe yes, and undecided. The remaining responses were to other comments, goofy comments, and spellcheck-type corrections.

I suppose it is fair to say that there are different types of do-overs. If one makes a stupid mistake, and their spouse, employer, parent, friend, sibling decides to show grace and give that person second chance, a wrong can essentially be corrected thus changing the following chain of events, relationships, and well-being. However, a do-over that requires going back in time to handle a situation differently, saying something instead of being quiet, shutting your pie hole instead of spewing off in a fit of anger, giving up when you should have been tough, stealing when you should have been buying, taking time for others when you were only thinking of yourself, betting on the Mets when you lost a whole paycheck because the Red Sox choked.

If do-overs that involve time travel ever come into existence, I kind think the Star Trek Prime Directive should come into play. One should not be able to do something that greatly alters history. Some joker would be picking every lottery pick, and then would buy out Microsoft, Apple, and the coffee cartel and take over the world. An example of that is Back To The Future 2 when Biff snagged Marty’s sports record book and made a bazillion dollars from sports bets. The whole town of Hill Valley was taken over by the mob. Also, making different relationship changes would result in children not being born, and there would be no end to how the changes in people’s lives generations down the line. Even changing that one time that you were a real jerk to your spouse—undone—could have multiple changes (some good, maybe some bad) down the line as well. A do-over early in life could correct a long series of bad decisions. That same change in the course of events could introduce a new strain of bad luck as well.

Where am I going with all of this? Well, I tried for about a week to be a runner when I was 18. I ran 3-4 times. The second time I ran, my mom ran with me. Now I thought I had to RUN every step, and sort of made mom run every step as well. She was 34-35 at the time and kept up, but after two miles, she was sore beyond belief. Of course, she never wanted to try running again. Had I been patient, maybe she would have liked it—she really WANTED to like it, but I ruined the chance of her becoming more active and healthy. Years later, I regretted that. Today, I have many friends who get into running in their 30s and 40s, and starting out slow, they are running10Ks, marathons, and even ultras within a year or so. My mom could have had that. As for me, I burned out on my fourth run when I tried to run 6 miles non-stop. My legs were so trashed by ridiculously going from 2 to 4 to 6 miles in a weeks’ time. Now, I can belt out 20 miler just for fun. Of course, I don’t give a flip about whether I go slow or fast, walk some or walk all. Had I not quit, I could have been one of the few to run a marathon back in the 70s, and who knows—I might have been one of the young guns in the JFK 5 mile, or Western States when you could just sign up and do it. Do-overs in the running department might not have made any drastic changes in history. No distortion in the time/space continuum.

I was a high school writer—well while in high school, I wrote. Looking back, it was 90% sick awful crap, but the other 10% showed promise. I was objective enough back then to know what was good, and what was not, although I would probably have rated it 70% crap. It was mostly non-rhyming verse, and short essays and ramblings. I was toying with an idea for a book that centered around an Italian family meshing with an all-American kid (me.) I had a lot of this recorded in my head but never followed through with it. But, after I got married, the writing stopped. Wife #1 was a critic, and I did not handle criticism well. I became more private with what I wrote, and that led to more dissent, so I gave it up. I wish I had stayed with it and I may have grown as a writer and would have certainly read more. On the other hand, I had two great sons, and they have grown up to be fine young men and between the two, I have 4 awesome grandkids.

When my boys were 10 and 12, I started playing golf and introduced the game to them. In a year, they were both better than me, although as much as we played, I was a halfway decent golfer. We played every Saturday and Sunday, and sometimes once or twice during the week. It was a great way to bond with the boys. At first, the wife/mom was good with it. But after a year or so of being at home alone for part of the days every weekend, it began to be a problem. I am a guy who is all-in, gung-ho, obsessed with any hobby or sport that I fancy, and was blind to her needs. I argued that we went out to eat once or twice on the weekends, and went to the movies. And it was good to spend time with the boys. This was the beginning of the end of our marriage. In a few years, we grew apart and eventually divorced in 1998. Now you might think that I would ask for a couple do-overs here, but all that is passed, and while I do remember the good times, I was so hurt from the way things ended that it was fine closing the book.

I met Dana during the end of a year of endless dating. I was not the savage womanizing bachelor that a few of my friends were during their single years, but I certainly made some bad choices here and there. One good choice I made was meeting Dana. We were compatible from the start. She brought some stability that I needed, settling me down from the wild partying that I seemed to be gravitating to. Her son Jason is like a son to me, and his family has added two grandkids to the tribe. That makes six, and in that regard, I am blessed.

Still, I have made some bad decisions during our marriage, some financially (a do-over please!) and some within our relationship. I have a tendency to try to soften the truth rather than take the whole brunt of the consequences. I dislike liars. I also hate that I have lied about things to lessen the due response to my actions. If we ever get do-overs, I am going for the bundle package.

Okay, I admit the preceding paragraphs are frivolous because I doubt we see do-overs that require time travel in our lifetime. I also bet we won’t to drive a DeLorean 88 MPH to go back in time. While it may seem like I’ve really bared my soul, there are a handful or do-overs that I won’t mention here. Who knows—some of them might involve YOU!

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Scenes from a one-mile hike.

Pictures from a one-mile hike. The picture above was was taken a few years ago on this very date. 
Today, all the trees on the right side are bulldozed down due to a ginormous metal building recently erected. Can't have trees too close to the parking lot, you know.  

I decided to take a walk down the trail that that once was so inviting and enchanted. It dead-ends after a half mile, but was a virtual tunnel of trees.
Because the leaves were not as thick due to our winter that just will not stop, I saw an old dilapidated bard than merited some investigation.

This IS Oklahoma. The crowd I call my own would never throw a gum wrapper or Gu tab down, but too many Okies are just trashy.

 This mighta been a decent boat in it's day.

 Probably beyond the fixer-upper stage now.

A nice hanger collection.

I got nothing here. Why was the teddy wrapped and tied in a trash bag? All I could see was the nose and one eye, so I took a stick and pulled the trash bag back for a better look.

Not as disturbing, but pretty random. You just don't see a Santa Claus head in the woods all that often.

This short trail was never a running destination, but was a good place for a picture or two. That means nothing to most people though.

2018 Snake Run

This year--for the first time--I ran the Snake Run. I have been the RD for 10 years, and now Bryan formerly known as Mitch Drummond (now referred to as BfkaM) took over the RD duties for me. So now on Snake Run day, I was FREE!! But rather than trying to bust out a marathon, I took it easy. Some people are pretty sure that's all I can do since it's all I usually do. I may up my efforts in the coming months. I'm a work in progress--but that's not what this post is about.

It was a wee bit chilly to start the race. Some of the runners and volunteers had participated at Land Run the day before. Some took the second day of racing as an easy cool-down shake out the legs thing, but some of the doublers came to compete.

BfkaM did a great job in rounding up volunteers for the race. We are lucky to have so many friends eager to spend a weekend setting things up, serving drinks and snacks, helping with course marking and unmarking, and packing things up after the race. Two Al(ie)cias--one with an i and one with an e--worked the start/finish aid station, registration, and packet pickup. Then also with lap counting.

The highly coveted Snake Trophies are what keeps the fast trail runners coming back. It takes 100% effort for the whole duration (3-hours or 6-hours) to finish in the top three. 

BfkaM goes over race instructions--yada yada blah blah. I've rattled through the speech many times. Fortunately, it's quite difficult to get lost on this course, but it sometimes happens.

Clint Green had marked the course this year. The course is a long out and back that actually has a one mile loop. When you reach the complete revolution of the loop, you hit an aid station, and turn around and run the course in reverse.

Daniel Jennings was among the leaders for a few laps when Boy decided to take it easy for the rest of the race. 

Ok--aid stations. There's one at the start/finish. A little less than a mile, you hit another aid station. Continue on and you hit the one at the turn-around which is merely the other side of the last one you passed. Then--a BANDIT aid station popped up. It was fully stocked with beers and mixed drinks and shots. And shady characters.

I ran the first lap with Lyda, who just the day before ran her first ever 50K at Land Run. We chatted it up and critiqued the race the day before. Lyda finished with two laps, I believe.

Ample goodies at the start/finish.In the past three event I have been involved with either running or RD-ing, it seems like less and less food stuff is being consumed. I think that partly because so many trail runners wear hydration packs and stuff a few of their favorite gels and snacks and end up using less aid station food. Just a theory.

But hey--how can you pass up a Gatorade from these smiling faces? Thanks, K2, Leah-haha, and Cheryl.

After finishing lap one, and making sure my lap was counted, I DROVE home (only a half mile to my house) and picked up Roxie so she could do a lap. She is all about the trailz, but has not been around that many runners. She wanted to greet them all at first but quickly figured it out that they were not gonna stop and pet her. Then, she decided it would be fun to keep up with the fast runners,  and away she went with me in tow. My strides were probably 7-8 feet long, and I kept right up with a couple of speedsters for quite a while. Then, I kicked a little stump and was on the ground in a split second. I instinctively rolled out of it end over end and finally slid into home plate. SAFE!! Only a skinned knee to show for it, and the dust clogged the blood up nicely.

Clint Green and Justin Walker jog along together at basically a zombie speed. Justin would have been a real threat to win this race, but he was tapering for his big run--the Trans Okie--511 miles across the state from New Mexico to Arkansas. A real Forrest Gump-like endeavor.

Speaking of Forrest Gump--it's Arnold Begay.

So on my second lap and second passing of the Bandit aid station, I had a couple of Fireball shots, and some apple pie moonshine.  like a swig or two on a trail run. Never enough to get loopy, but a long smooth nip is better than a Gu--any day!

I took Roxie home and brought Zeke back for the third lap. Now Zeke loves being out on the trailz, but he mainly likes to just sniff things. Any king of poop--and we're talking long analytical sniffs. And tree or plant that sometime in the history of the world might have been peed on  by any creature. Zeke has a good trot. His actual runs are spirited but short. I knew that a 3.75 mile loop was about two more than he bargained for, but we just walked. So many people commented on how big he was. He is actually a little smaller in shoulder height than the average Lab. Some people commented on his healthy appetite. Others complemented my=e on not forgetting any of his meals. And there were a couple of "OH MY GOD YOU DOG IS SO FAT!!" One friend cracked me up saying he saw me running with a dog and then with a dog who apparently had eaten the other dog. A little FYI--we do have him on a reduced diet. We have stopped with the table scrap snacks. Male labs just like to eat. We have some good eating habits that we are working on. As of this writing, Zeke has slimmed down a little. He's my boy, and I love him.

I didn't get pics of the 3-Hour winners, and swiped most of the pictures in this post. Thanks to Clint Green and JC Runner for most of these. The 6-Hour men's top three were a couple of dudes from Nebraska who put on the Dizzy Goat--a 3-Hour, 6-Hour, and 12-Hour in Omaha. I did this race the first two years and highly recommend it. Jeff Greg on the left was first. Mathew Randle in the middle was 2nd. Kenney Alexander from Mounds, OK was 3rd.

The top three female Snake Runners are also the top three in the Oklahoma Dirt Trail Series. Kait Bykowicz on the left was 1st. Susan Roets on the right was 2nd. Tiffany Fiedler in the middle was 3rd, and was/is so terrified of the trophy that she could not hold it or even look at it.

I was impressed with BfkaM and crew in coming up with a great beer sponsor. The name is truth in advertising. It was smooth and drinkable--much better than Bud Light.

Hats off to a man from Bugtussle, OK who at 75 years of age, ran 16.5 miles in the 6-Hour event.

To BfkaM--great job running the show. It was a seamless transition.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Land Run 50K 2018

I have toed the line and ran all three LandRun 50Ks, and this year it was DRY!!! The bikers just blazed by on roads that are actually BETTER than most streets in Tulsa. GONE was the endless miles of shoe sucking mud, the clay pancakes on the feet, and the 50 lbs of gunk on all the poor bikers spokes and gears.
OK, I'm a thief. I prefer to call myself a borrower though. This pic was borrowed from the LR100 FB page
This year Johnna, Lynna and I were chauffeured by BfkaM (Bryan formerly known as Mitch) over to Stillwater and back to do this race. Carpooling is the best. Especially with friends.

Picture by Lyda McWilliams
Lyda met us at the starting line all geared up and decked out for her first 50K. I believe she picked an easy one for her debut, although some people would disagree since there are (heaven forbid) HILLS. But none are ridiculously steep, and only a few are long. I am sure that the front runners run every step of them. And I think I could do the same, although I have yet to prove that theory.

Picture by JC Runner
Running her 2nd 50K was none other that Tiffany Fielder--the current leader of the Oklahoma Dirt Trail Series (which I have yet to update since I am still waiting for official results from AOK a few weeks back.)

Picture by JC Runner
After a reported 1200 bikers were sent off at 8:00 am, us runners took off at 8:10. I had my Salomon S-LAB 15 full of snacks, gels, a filled bladder, and other necessities one might need in a long run with minimal aid.

The course was the same as last year, and I pretty much knew every turn and what to expect. The first aid station was right at 10.5 miles, the second was 20.5 miles. The crew at aid station one also set up at mile 22.5. This came in handy for Lyda, and I'll elaborate later on that.

Picture by Lyda McWilliams
Look at that stinker go!!
This motley crew stayed together for about the first half of the race. Johnna and I have a light hearted grudge match in races. Sometimes I whup her butt. Sometimes, however, she makes me eat her dust. Occasionally we act like civilized runners and run together. Shortly after leaving this aid station, either I slowed down or she sped up. Twice I pushed the pace and caught her, but after the second run-down, she took off and put a sizable distance between us. When I could no longer see her in the distance, the "reel it in" affect was gone.  I'd accuse her of cutting the course, but there is no way possible to do that. In fact, she did miss a turn and added a little over a mile to her race and still beat me by over an hour.

We had received an email about drop bags for the race. I rarely use one, and with my stuffed pack and aid stations with the basics every 10 miles, I was good. Lyda was doing her first ultra, and being vegan, she was concerned that there would not be anything she could eat at the stops. She paid the $20 to have a drop bag delivered, and it was unclear to her where it would be. Someone told her it was halfway on the course. At mile 15-16--no drop bag. She made a phone call to someone with the race and was told it would be at the next aid station, but the aid station folks knew nothing about it. Then someone told her it was only for the 100 mile bikers. Funny, they had no problem taking her $20 for transport. She did get a small bag of pretzels and some fruit at the second aid station, and probably had more stuff she could eat at the impromptu station two miles later. Despite this issue, Lyda kept up a good pace and finished around 45 minutes ahead of me. Not sure if they ever found her drop bag or refunded her $20.

BfkaM was also told upon picking up his packet that he had paid for drop bag service when signing up online, but he did not remember doing that. Like me, he had no intention of using one anyway.

Picture by JC Runner
Last year the mud through this stretch was so bad, Johnna stepped in a hole and sunk up to her chin! After a drought year, the roads were dry and dusty, but this spot STILL had mud a year later. With a little tiptoeing, bush-whacking, and scrambling, we were able to get around it with our pretty trail shoes still dusty. It was also around here that Lynna found her rocket fuel and left BfkaM and I behind.

BfkaM and I were content to be the two middle-aged fat guys in last place. We even had a Jeep escort tailing us. If they would have had a cattle prod handy, I am sure they would have used it on us. About 1.5 miles from the finish line, we both ran out of water--within a few steps of each other. But being the resourceful trail runner that I am, I remembered a quickie store a mile ahead, and decided we should stop there and get a beer to get us to the finish line. For whatever reason, the only singles they had were the 25 oz Ultras and Bud Lights. I went with the Ultra, and a mile later, I had downed almost all of it and raised it high as we crossed the amazing finish line.

Pic borrowed from the Land Run 100 FB page

The finish line at Land Run is like no other. Now remember, this is really a gravel bike event. As slow as BfkaM and I were, there were still a lot of 100 mile bikers behind us. (The coolest thing about all the bikers passing us was that they nearly all shouted out and cheered us on. It was uplifting!) When these bikers finish, they all partake of the free beer, and just hang around to party and cheer everyone on. That includes us runners. We are treated like celebrities when we trot across the line.

Picture by Belle Vie
Johnna and Lyda collected their patches and waited around for us. I felt great for having shuffled around the countryside for almost nine hours.

Not sure who took this picture. Probably because of the green beer.
Mike had found some green wheat beer, and that just sounded wonderful to me after drinking 25 ounces of watered down beer. Everyone was in, everyone felt good, and we were hungry!!

Lynna had lost her Patagonia jacket she had bungeed to her hydration pack when she took a diversion into the woods. BfkaM drove us back to the spot, and found it easily. We were the last runners on a seldom driven road. 

I said it last year, and I'll probably kick the idea around some more. I think this would make a good 100 mile ultra. They make a provision for anyone wanting to do a run/bike double to run Friday and bike Saturday. What if maybe me and a friend show up and just run the 100 mile bike course self sufficient. Leaving out Friday at 6:00 am should get us to the finish line by noon or so Saturday. Hmmm....

Friday, March 16, 2018

Greetings from the 1970s

Greetings from the 1970s. I was going through some old pictures and found one that I forgot about!! This was right before the Yes concert in 1978, I think. That would have put me at 18 or 19.
This was the longest my hair ever was. I had died it because I wanted to look like Jackson Browne--I was a huge fan. Shortly after that I got a perm because I wanted to be Roger Daltrey from the Who. The perm flopped, so I got the perm redone two days later. Then a lot of my hair broke off, or fell out. My hair was never the thick mop that it once was. (Can I get a do-over?)

I also found THIS--an old journal that I used to keep.In my move tears ago from Haskell to Tulsa I lost several spiral notebooks from a journal I started in 1975 my junior year in high school. This one I started sometime after I graduated. I had a brief start as a runner, although then, it was jogger.

This journal entry mentions my first run--a grand total of two miles. I would have been 19 here. I'll post another "jogging" entry or two in a future post.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

A little run at Spavinaw

We had another trail outing Sunday--this time back at the Spavinaw WMA. I have run here several times, and each time I am intrigued at how many miles one could run if he had all day to do it. We met at RunnersWorld at 7:30 and picked up Lynna on the way through Inola. Our crew this time--Lynna and I, Kathy, Russell, and Caroll.

My intent was to try some different trailz than what we've been on before, but I could not resist starting the same way I always go. Not 1/4 of a mile into the first loop, we took a side-spur that turned out to be a dead end--but as is normal for trail runners, it was gladly accepted as bonus miles. At least now I know where that trail went. Very soon after that, we began what was a 213' ascent in .3 of a mile--basically a double Lipbuster. There had been a recent control-burn, and about half of our run we saw charred leaves and underbrush, and old deadwood smoldering. It was oddly beautiful.

The beauty of Spavinaw is everywhere. There is not a 'blah" spot anywhere. Yes, there are great hills, and nice crazy-fast descents, and enough flat sections to give the hill-haters something to feast on.

What I love about running here is the sound of wind whispering through the towering pine trees. That, and running on a carpet of pine needles.

Lynna and I found our happy pace as the the others were one notch faster than we were. But Russ, Caroll, and Kathy waited for us at each intersection. At the top of one such intersection there was a hollow but still standing tree with smoke drifting out of an open knothole near the top. We were just certain we had found the Keebler Elves tree, and cookies were-a-bakin'.

Now I know my way around at Spavinaw fairly well, and to me it looked like we needed to go right. But there was a sign (recently placed?) that said the right turn led to a private group camp which was  down a long dead end road. So, we went left.

The road we took was a long glorious descent and we thundered down it. I was looking for the road to round a hill past a deep ravine to the right where I had previously spotted what looked like caves. But instead, our sweet downhill spilled out into a valley on what I was pretty sure was Ground Hog Hollow Road. It became clear to me that we should have went right at the Keebler Elf intersection.

My legs were agreeing with the running and I caught up with Russ and crew. He was looking at the map he had on his phone and had figured out the same thing I had. No matter, because I wanted to see different stuff anyway.

Lynna decided to take Ground Hog back to where we parked, and the rest of us decided to go south, or west, or somewhere. That's when I looked up and saw what looked like a leprechaun beckoning us to try a mysterious route into the woods. We thought for a second and then--well--why not?

This nice lesser-travelled dirt road led in a southeast direction past a couple of fields that were no doubt planted to fatten up deer for the hunters who like to shoot them in the fall. This IS a Wildlife Management area anyway.

During our whole run, I never saw ANY wildlife. I'm sure they are there, but well hidden.

Our road fizzled to almost nothing resembling a route, but we followed what looked like a rarely used 4-wheeler trail. It eventually turned back into a maintained gravel road, and to a T-intersection where we had the choice of going west and tackling another huge loop, or go right and run into the paved highway where we could pop right back into the woods on another lesser-used road. Since my stomach was growling, I voted for the shorter route back. It was inching past lunchtime.

The next couple of miles were mostly downhill, and we finally spilled onto Ground Hog Hollow, and took what I thought was the final ascent and descent to where we parked. I was wrong, as to took us to the Keebler Elf tree. That's still puzzling. We went left, and it was mostly downhill from there including a super steep loosely-graveled final stretch. 

I ended up with 12 miles. Lynna had got back to the car and did hill repeats while she was waiting on us. Russell being the overachiever that he is, put his Iron Horse signature on the run by repeating the last hill.

We hit the Country Cottage in Locust Grove on the way home, and replaced every calorie we burned on our run. It was a satisfying day to say the least.

Next trip--in a few weeks--maybe McGee Creek.