Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Blast from the Past

So, after deciding to NOT run the marathon from finish to start all through the night on a gimpy ankle, I boarded a bus in Joplin, Missouri, and rode to Commerce, Oklahoma the the start line. We were treated to an awesome sunrise and temperatures chilly enough to make a jacket or long sleeve tee sound good, but not cold enough to warrant carrying one along for the race. Sunglasses were a needed item, and moi, who seldom wears cool shades, was styling in my Oakley wanna-bees aka Target 16.99 specials. But in the pic below, I was on the operating end of my Olympus.An army of friends from RunnersWorld made the trip northward to run in the inaugural running of the Mother Road Marathon, an event that topped out at over 200 runners between the three offered distances (5K, half, and full marathon.)Bobby focuses on the task at hand, while Linda and Sloan smile for the paparazzi. A sad day for me--Sloan announced that this was going to be her last marathon, as she was gonna only run half's from now on. I guess I won't get to run a full with her now. :-(

This time, I was running with my friend Susan, who was running her first marathon. She was nervous about getting it done, having missed her last couple of long runs.I assured her I could get her to the finish line (and helping her would help me, since I had figured I would be recuperating from the Arkansas Traveller from last weekend. Of course, my 100 miler stopped after 17 miles, but that's last week's story. 

There were lots of inspirational signs along the way, and some with nerdy trivia such as the one above.

I imagine Bonnie and Clyde traveled many many times on Route 66, as did Elvis, Madonna, Mickey Roarke, and Steve Urkel. _____________________________________________________
Each mile was marked with these tall markers, which could be seen from a half mile away. It helped a lot to see them, and to me, made the miles seem to go by faster. Nice to get mile one out of the way. It usually takes me a mile or two--sometimes 4 or 5--to get into a groove. This time, I felt pretty good from the start, but Susan was a bundle of nerves. I talked to her and assured her we would get to the finish--to just enjoy the moment and move the left foot and then the right foot. First marathon jitters---yup, she had that.Lotsa nifty signs. I forgot to take pix of all of them. No biggie, right?
I know people who would love to swipe this sign!

The sun was kind in the early miles, but turned on us later in the race.
We played leap frog with Dena and Linda early on in the race.
Quapaw, the last Oklahoma town we'd run through. Quapaw will be the first Oklahoma town we run through in the Mother Road 100 next month. I was impressed with all the crowd support along the way. Not huge crowds, but in every little town we ran through, there were folks out sitting in their yards or in lawn chairs on the town sidewalks cheering us on. They seemed genuine too. Of course, I heard we were almost there long before the halfway point.Out of one state, and into another. How cool to just run from state to state.
It was good to see this sign. Susan was doing great--in good spirits. We were moving steadily--not fast, but we employed the RFM concept (Relentless Forward Motion) and I kept a careful eye on our pace. All was well.
The nice thing about running through these little towns was that the quickie stores were convenient aid stops. I hit one up for Fritos and Advil. Another for Red Bull and a huge cup of ice.The best call of the day was this stop at McDonald's. Each time I made a pit stop, I had Susan keep moving, and I ran hard to catch her. This worked well, and kept us on pace for our finish.
Best tree of the day goes to this one in Baxter Springs, Kansas.

Here, we are approaching Galena, Kansas. It was really heating up--I am guessing into the low 80s at this point. We had just endured a mile long hill. It was a little too much to run, and we power-walked it. It seemed like the course was all either flat or uphill. I really don't remember many downhill stretches at all.
The original Wrecker Tater, from the movie "Cars." I have not seen this animated flick, but maybe I should.

Susan was waning a little during the next few miles. She stopped to stretch, and I have to say it did her some good. Each time after a minute or two of stretching, she would pick up her pace and we were staying just ahead of the pace we needed to finish in the time limit.After Galena, we got onto a some of the OLD Highway. It was two-laned, and had not been resurfaced in many many years. (It was, however, in better condition than most of the streets in Tulsa.) This section seemed surreal--I'm not sure why. maybe it was because the road was old, there were no modern signs, no houses to be seen, the vegetation looked old and dry, the sky was a little grayer. I liked it.
Somewhere along the stretch of the old road, we passed into Missouri. There was not a "Welcome to Missouri" sign, but soon after getting into a more populated area, I saw this road sign.From here, Susan was fading fast. I knew she wanted badly to finish, but she had really hit the wall. I had given her electrolytes, she had taken several Gu's, ate Fritos, drank a smoothie, had some ice water, Gatorade, and despite being only three miles away, was thinking of tossing in the towel. The continual hills were taking a toll, and any hint of a breeze was gone. It had clouded over a little, but the humidity seemed to soar. Then, she had a dizzy spell, and became a little nauseated. I had some sea salt, and I wish I had given here a dose of it earlier. I had her take a couple of pinches, and at her urging, I ran on to the finish line. I made her PROMISE to NOT STOP, and to NOT TAKE A RIDE to the finish. I ran as fast as I could to make the cut-off. I had my reasons. The cut-off was seven hours. I knew I could make it in by then, and I intended to claim my finishers medal and give it to Susan if they did not count her finish as official and not give her a metal. As soon as I crossed the line and they dechipped my shoe, I ran back out to meet her and run her in. The last half a mile was a gradual downhill, and by the time I made it to the top of the hill and turned westward, I saw her jogging up the hill. WOW! She had came back to life, and dug deep to get her marathon done. As we turned the corner, several of our friends came out to run us in. Celebration was in the air!!She had finished, and only 3 or 4 minutes over the time limit. The folks at the finish line hung a medal around her neck, and it was a great moment for her and all her friends.

And an ankle report--all went well. I did not tape it or wear my brace. I seem to be on the mend, but I am still reluctant to go out on the trails, but of course that won't last long. Prognosis for the Mother Road 100 looks good.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Meego Bingo

Picture by Michelle Bates
I spent my morning with friends again--this time playing Bingo in the woods. No, there were no banjos, but there was a lot of food, running, beer, fireball, and awards for Bingo-ing, and for not Bingo-ing. How can you possible lose with a deal like this?

Mike Rives puts this event on at his property near Skiatook. Here's the deal. Each participant is assigned a Meego Bingo card. As always--the free space is blotted. Then the runner gets two more free spaces and they have the choice if blotting any two spots. Smart blotters will choose two numbers that line up with the free space--leaving only two more numbers to Bingo. Easy--right? Wrong. You have to run a lap to earn another blot. These "laps" are 1.85-ish miles long and on nice single track trailz. (LOVE!!!!!) Fortunately, the bingo balls are sifted through for each runner to make sure they get a blot on their card each time they pass through  the start/finish table--otherwise this might be a 2-3 day event.

As much as I enjoy describing trailz here and there as Relatively Flat, I cannot use these words to describe this course. I did only 4 laps* this year, and made practically zero-progress in getting a Bingo--I obviously had the Bingo card from Hell. Each spike is a lap, and you climb 170' in the first .7 of a mile. Then you have a little over a mile of much more gradual downhill. Each side looks brutal, but the downside is much milder. Runners can, if they choose, run the course in reverse. I did that once, but the steep decline that you have at the end of the lap was a bit more uncomfortable that I preferred.

*Justin Walker ran 15 of these laps!!!

Mike's evil alter-ego is the real one to blame on this sinister hilly course. Meego is to blame for a lot of crazy ideas in running in this part of the world.  Mike describes Meego in great detail HERE.

Everyone got a finishers trophy! I forgot to bring mine home:-( 
Oh, by the way--nice vest Rock Star.
Great awards were given to the first bingo, and to the place where every competitive runner hates to be--4th place. (In most races, 2nd and 3rd place walk away with trophies or medals, and 4th goes home empty handed. Well, the tables are turned at this event.) And for those who had unlimited energy, there was an award for multiple bingos. And my favorite--an award for most laps ran without getting a bingo. (I won this one last year--kind of a Biggest Loser award.)

My race went slow. That first mile that sucks until you get it out of the way--well it hung on and sucked all day. I didn't whine. I love hills. I kept a shuffle or a power-walk all the way to the top, and then shuffled carefully the downhills. I just could not get comfortable stretching it out and increasing my leg turnover. And that's ok. I had fun, took a lot of pictures, and hung out with friends.

Here's another incline snuck in on the downhill part. Well played, Meego--well played.

By the time you reach this pond, it is all flat and/or downhill to the finish line.

Picture by Michelle Bates
Michelle Bates was the card blotter. I tried to bribe her for an extra spot or two on my card, but she's a tough cookie. She did mention that $100 would guarantee a winning card. And would you believe it--I only had 70 bucks on me.

Leaha showed up to just to hang out and catch up with friends, and I talked her into walking a lap with me. I was about to call it a day anyway, but my 4th lap gave me close to eight miles which sounded a lot better than six.

Did I mention I stopped to take a few pictures? I love old abandoned houses, old bridges, and old barns. Torn-up scary dolls are on my list, too.

Picture by Michelle Bates
 Ah the awards. Brandon Plate had the first Bingo. He ran over 15 miles to get it though.
Picture by Michelle Bates
 Jfrank took home the Tough Luck award. I could swear there were two of him running out there. He was knocking out over two laps to my one. And if I am right--I got as many Bingos as he did.

Picture by Michelle Bates
Jwalk scored the Bound and Determined award for those who got more than one Bingo.

Picture by Michelle Bates
Will and Carrie got the team award. Will cooked up a bunch of pulled pork and brisket. The street tacos were superb, and the pulled pork went down well with me in the form of meat shots--a nice pinch of pulled pork in a shot glass of Fireball. For some reason, this grosses people out--but it is awesome. I think if a restaurant offered these as appetizers, they could make a killing.

It was a great day for dogs too. Luna and Taylor were playing and it took 8 quick pics to get one good one. I wish I had brought mine. Roxie would have been good for a couple of laps, and Zeke could have done one.

Everyone had fun. No one got hurt. It seems like the Bingos were a little bit harder to come by this year. Thank you, Mike Rives, for having our friends out to play for a day at your place. If this event happens again, I won't miss it.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Pryor Creek

A group of five journeyed to Pryor this morning to check out some newish trailz. I say "ish" cuz I've run here twice before and have wanted to share the fun playground in this low-lying area along Pryor Creek.

We met at the Elliot trailhead--probably named after a nearby landowner who may have allowed access to the lushly wooded tract. (I'm guessing here.)

It had rained during the night. How bad? Weather apps had varying opinions on the coverage area and amounts. My app showed the edge of the rain was right over where we would be running. When we started out, there was a steady mist, and I had taken off my windbreaker but put it right back on. It was actually great for running though, and the precip let up within the first mile. Only in a few spots was there any standing water or unmanagable mud.

These are nice soft single track trailz with very little in the way of hills and after I had my first mile that sucks out of the way, I settled into a semi-fast (for me) pace that felt wonderful. If I had longer hair, it would have been flapping in the wind.

Now I thought I had heard these trailz were only a couple of years old, but there were several of these nice park benches along the way that looked older--but who knows?

Oops--I forgot to mention the members of our tribe. Pictured above are Lynna and Mishelle. Pictured below are Kate and Taylor--aka Tay Tay.
Kate ventured down a steep embankment so Tay Tay could get a drink. The climb back out involved a lot of slipping and sliding and 4-legs towing 2-legs to level ground.

I am not a good selfy taker--my arms are too short. Lynna manged here without getting her finger in the frame.

This HUGE fallen tree has been laying here for over a year and a half. It's getting lower and lower as time passes. Some of our group climbed under. Kate and Taylor went over. I took a path down a steep embankment and did my slip and slide act basically paving my backside with slick sticky mud.

There were lots of fallen trees. Lynna dared, begged, and pleaded with me to walk across this one, It was wet, slimy, and not only guaranteed sending me to a cold baptism but also my untimely death. Everyone knows TZ no swimmy. If I were a fish, I'd be a bottom dweller.

Make no mistake--this is a fake picture. I was nervous even being that close to the edge.

Right after crossing Troll Bridge, a bridge that seemed way different the last time I crossed it, we met this tree standing menacingly overseeing our passage. A brief fog swirled in adding to the mystique. I remembered more of a steel bridge. Maybe it had simply been redecked with CCA treated wood planks.

Here are the remnants of another passage over the river. I had crossed the stream and climbed out the other side on these odd concrete steps last time here, but with the mud and the flow of the river, we decided to bypass this adventure.

Connecting the north trailz with the south, we ran along the edge of what was once a hayfield. We were about five miles in at this point, and I was still enjoying a great run.

It was somewhere along this stretch that food was mentioned. Instantly, my stomach growled. All I could think about was pancakes.

Here we are crossing the fallen tree. Youth and canine fly over the top. Lynna had my phone and took pics. 

Here you have the horror of my huge butt crawling under the trunk. Unflattering, and being the gentleman that I am, I'm not posting the other limbo pix.

We ended u with 6.1 miles. Would have been 6.2 had we not taken a shortcut on the way back. Everyone enjoyed the trailz, and we will possibly return later in the year--but not when the ticks are bad. Yes, I got my pancakes. We hit the Denny's out on HWY 69.

Next trip--in 2-3 weeks. I'm open to suggestions as to a locale. If you'd like to jump in and explore trailz with us, visit TZ'z Trail Trips on Facebook.