Sunday, April 29, 2018

Living the dream

My good friend Clint Green is moving to Phoenix. He has had the odd notion of living there and feeds that desire by numerous visits back to the arid, hot, waterless wasteland to run on trailz with no rocks, grass with no ticks, and with friends with no beer. (Ok, I might have made that last part up.)

Clint is a beer connoisseur. He drinks all kinds of beer--you name it--as long as it's PBR. He drinks them chilled, frozen, lukewarm, and even ones that have been rattling around in the floorboard of the back seat during the summer. He is equally skilled chugging PBRs with his left AND right hand. And talk about being a fashion trendsetter--notice how his beer can matches his hat!!

Sometimes though, Clint feels a need to get in touch with his feminine side and he'll kill a sixpack of Angry Orchard--usually with PBR chasers.

Truthfully (a word rarely associated with anything I say) Clint had a ton of friends. He just seemed like everyone's brother. Dude was easy to talk to, and he was a perfect running buddy for anyone regardless of their speed. Somehow, he could stay up with the skinny bearded shirtless wonders (SBSWs.) He was a great leader of the slow group, and half of the time he'd cop out saying he was not running until his hip, or knee or, ankle, or sore vajayjay was not hurting--but then he'd still belt out a speedy 8 miles on the trailz complete with 1900 feet of elevation gain. 

Well, it was decided by the TOTs/Dirtbags that Clint owed us a 50K at the Chandler Wilds--the FU50K. This area in west Tulsa is some of the toughest terrains in the area, and only the tough and fearless ever ventured out into the virtually unexplored wilderness. I have occasionally run out there and know the area well enough that I can usually find my way back out on the same calendar day. True to form, Clint pointed the blame to the "injury of the day" and admitted that there was no way he could do 31 miles out there, so the CAB25K was conceived. (CAB = Clint's A Bitch.) The picture above was a sampling of the 20 +/- friends who came out to the CAB Good Riddance Run.

Only a few of the SBSWs knew the wilds well enough to create a loop that could be navigated for a 25K completion, and they marked the turns with pink ribbon slivers and old beer cans as they drank them along the way, with a start and hopeful finish in the TCC parking lot.

With a 7:09 sharp start, we took off into the thicket. Kathy was gonna run with me and I called her right at 7:00 to see if she was on her way, and she had overslept. Kathy is someone who can wake up and be ready to run in minutes, and 40 minutes later, she was up, dressed, and had driven the 17 miles to where we were. I ran a little on the course with the starters, and then came back to meet her.

We ran along at an easy pace, sometimes bombing the downhills, and shuffling up the climbs. We also did a fair share of walking. About 3 miles into the route, we saw runners coming the other way, and I knew something was amiss. Of course, I thought they had made a wrong turn, but eventually, it sunk in that I had missed a turn.

So, using my keen navigational expertise, I found a way to correct our dilemma--CHEATING. Climbing up this slot passage put us atop a bluff, and we could access the trail that put us back on course. We also managed to lop off a mile and a half of our journey. We did get to enjoy some glorious trailz, some good running, some mud, some trailz that were actually a creek, and some more mud.

Looking at the map, which looks like a running turkey, we bypassed the back leg and one of the back tail feathers. When we finally hit the Powerline, we traversed and lopped off the front tail feather and the head.

Looking back to the west after having climbed over 200 feet in less than .2 of a mile, I felt energized and considered running back and doing it all over again. Yeah right!!

Instead, we did a selfie where we look like giants and went on to the finish. Kathy and I had 8.3 miles and 1100 feet of elevation gain. Congrats to all who started and finished. You are better people than me.

Clint was sitting around, enjoying a beer. and reading his going away card, and a couple of other parting gifts bought for him.

Jwalk had arranged the collection of funds and had bought this  Big Agnes C Bar tent. A lot of us signed the tent so he won't completely forget all his friends who love him and are sad that he's gone.

I found this Clint Green quote on his Facebook page. It sums his pathetic life up pretty well.  

Road trips to trails leading to amazing scenery. That's all I want in life.
So next week--he is leaving out on Monday--Clint will be living his dream in Aridzona. (I miss you already, my brother.)

Friday, April 27, 2018

Stumbling through a malfunctioning time portal (barely running related)

In reminiscing about my early start as a runner wannabe, I decided to go back and run the route that made me decide to give it all up after I had barely started. I grew up in Turley, or at least on the outskirts of the old rural town that was eventually annexed by Tulsa. I headed up there a little later than I had planned, and it was certainly going to be dark before I finished my run. I had bought two headlamps just in case the batteries were low in one, but the more I thought about running up and over Turley Hill after dark on the narrow winding road with no shoulder, I decided to just check out my old stomping grounds, and then run later a little closer to home.

Driving around through Turley and seeing what was still there and what had changed was really strange and unique experience. I felt a though I was driving through a deep fog—so dense you could just feel the air rushing by you although the windows in the car were up. The hair was sticking up on my arms, my face tingled, I had hot flashes and then chills. I drove the house I grew up in,  and houses of old friends and by places that I’ve been before many times as a kid and I could feel an almost magnetic pull from those places—like a vacuum. I heard the horn of a distant train--not an uncommon thing at all back in the day--but that railroad track has been replaced by a pedestrian trail over ten years ago. I was tossed back into a time capsule, seemingly transported back to 1976 or so. I recognized every bump in the roads, even though most of the roads have been repaved. Some of the houses of old friends that dilapidated or not even there. Between the remains of a line of abandoned and decaying dwellings, I’d see new replacement houses that oddly stuck out like an avocado in an egg carton. Almost instinctively, I intended to stop at Smith's Grocery to buy a Dr. Pepper from the machine. Except-- Smith's Grocery is gone--been gone for 30 years or so. And I don't drink Dr. Pepper anymore. My old house and my grandparents’ house next door were hardly visible from the road through all the overgrown and unruly trees. The old barn between the houses that my grandfather built 75 years ago laid on the ground in ruins. My grandfather and grandmother would have been 100 and 99 years old this year.

I thought about all the school friends I used to have and how I have almost no contact with any of them. Most of my schoolmates are old. Yes, they are my age but they seem so much older. I don’t mean that in an insulting way—maybe it sounds like I do. It’s just that I still feel like a guy in his early 20s. Tell me its because I’ve never matured, and I won’t disagree with you.

I drove slowly south out of Turley. My mind, so cloudy feeling like I was in the 1960s or 70s, began to clear as I drove south on Lewis Avenue. At the T-intersection of 46st Street North and Lewis were three Quik Trips. One that was replaced in the early 80s by a new slightly larger one across the street. Then that one was closed and a new one built across the street by one that now is outdated as well. I have no memories of visiting the newer two, but tonight, the newest one had coffee and I needed it. Coffee, like it usually does every morning, pulled me out of the fog that I was in.

I stopped several times on the way home to speak my thoughts and feelings into the notes app on my phone. There’s no way I could have put this recounting up my trip without doing that. Strangely enough, my mind feels crisp and clear right now. Nostalgia really played with my mind--I’m not sure what to think about that. I don’t necessarily feel the need to to go back again, although I’d like to run the Turley Hill route again. I’m not sure how unpleasant the run would have been at night on the narrow unlit road with surreal flashbacks.  I don’t know that I could’ve handled that too well.

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.