Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Greenleaf 20K, and some other ramblings

Last year I had signed up for the inaugural Greenleaf 30K at Greenleaf Lake east of Braggs Oklahoma. I also was supposed to board a cruise ship early the next morning in Galveston--so I skipped the run. Now I have run these trailz three times prior and I was well aware that the upper route was quite hilly and technical in places, and was eager this year to plow right through the course. 

I had Brandon and Cameron Plate riding with me and they were both signed up for the 30K. They are both 40 years younger than me and 40 times faster than me, so my questionable math skills directed me to do the 20K so I could beat them to the finish line. Haha. I even took a 30-minute early start, leaving out with the 30Kers.

It was a coldish start, but with bright blue skies and no wind, it was a perfect day for a nice long run.

Most of the route was on single track with a little bit of jeep road every now and then. We also had to run a highway bridge across the lake, running on an asphalt shoulder and a narrow concrete shoulder on the actual bridge. The state park people had coned off the road funneling both directions into one lane taking turns to pass through.   I bet we got a lot of dirty snarling looks from non-runners who had to wait.

This short stretch of trail was the old abandoned highway. This section of hit and miss decaying overlays led us from one single track to another.

A mile or so in, this trail sloped precariously close to the edge where one slip of the shoe might send you rolling down the embankment into the lake. Trekking poles--I'm glad I brought them today.

After 2.7 miles we came to Lynna's aid station. Travis Owen was also there peddling Fireball--and I graciously accepted a half a shot.

For me, the highlight of the trip is the swinging bridge. It's hard to run across it. The bridge bounces unpredictably and you can't get a rhythm going. It's fun. I ran once here with my lab, and he would have NO PART of this bridge. I had to carry his 100 lb ass across.

The outbound trail stays close to the shore and has a few little ups and owns, but is way flat compared to what comes later. This cove was beautiful, but I could not get a good snap that captured the beauty and serenity. Bushwhacking to the shore a little further back might have been the ticket, but hey--I ws in a race. 

 Travis Owen must have been hiding in the woods to sneak this picture. See--I'm all business.

The aid station at Mary's Cove was the turning point for the 20 and 30Kers. From here, we headed eastward up a steep hill and then turned back south, but the 30Kers went north onto some of the more remote areas. I heard multiple moanings about the hills on the north loop being terrible.

It was at this aid station where Brandon dropped. He took a fall and bruised up his shin, and decided to be smart and call it a day. The only way they could get the aid station supplies here was by boat, and a boat ride was the only way for Brandon to get back to the start/finish. He finished 1st in the Greenleaf Du--10K trail run and a 1K boat ride.

For the 20K  things got rough for the next few miles--even more so for the 30Kers. You had rocks. All sizes. Some loose, some slick, some sharp and sticking up to trip you. Best of all--they were heavily leaf covered. It was trail by braille. I put the trekking poles to non-stop use for the next 5 miles. Not surprising, climbing was easier than descending.

Instead of having mud cake up on my shoes, I had wads of leaves stuck to my poles. Not really a problem, but a minor annoyance.

The always expected--sun-peaking-through-the-trees shot. Yep--I know there was already one posted earlier.

Cameron caught up with me during this section. He was running with a broken toe, or so he said. Yes, he was moving a little slower than normal. But where he passed me with 5 miles to go, he had run 13 miles while I managed only 8. 

 AHA!! A clearing. This was after 6 bad climbs, and behold--it was nearly flat 

A couple of old friends caught up with me. Susan and Caroline have run 100s with me--as well as a few 50Ks and road marathons. This day, they were 30 minutes faster than me. But did they stop to take pictures (other than this one?) Did they lollygag around at the aid stations?

Back at Lynna's aid station--the Fireball was gone. I hear newer trail runners say they would NEVER drink on a run, but Fireball has become a staple at trail run aid stations. Notice the large empty bottle. My buddy Travis had saved one shot just for me!!!

The route back from Lynna's bypassed the treacherous trail sloping to an icy drowning death, and instead took us up a long gradual uphill jeep road. Good call.

2280 feet of gain--about half of what Switchbacks had, but mile for mile, it's actually close.

What did I learn from this run? Hmmm. Umm....if you keep going, you will eventually finish.? I guess I can claim that. Most encouraging was what happened later that evening. I met with acquaintances from a sacred secret society and spent 4 more hours on treacherous trails in the deep of night to find things that needed to be found. Somehow my worn-out body rose to the occasion and 7.8 miles and 1280 vertical feet later, I accomplished my mission. Both endeavors equaled a good double.

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