Last week I was running the trails in an on again/off again rain on Turkey Mountain with a few people including one who like me just has to stop to take a photo every now and then. She noticed this rainbow off to the east and I used my cell phone to take a pic but the colors were not as bright in the image as what I could see right in front of me. So I’ve used Topaz Glow to pull out the color some to make it more like what that evening.
The TATUR Snake Run was run today. The race is a little different in that who ever runs the longest in a given time wins. There is a three hour race and a six hour race on the same course. The course has two routes, a big loop of 3.75 miles and a small loop of 0.5 miles. You run as many big loops as you can within the allotted time and if you don’t think you can run another big loop before the time ends, you run the little loop as many times as you can. Partial loops don’t count.
The Godfather of Tulsa Trail and Ultra Running, and Race Director, Ken (Trail Zombie) giving pre-race instructions on a chilly Saturday morning. I had three layers on and running pants and gloves. Others just had shorts and a tee shirt. That is because they are tougher than I am. In addition to being a lot faster.
There is no crowding at the start line on a run like this. They have six hours to get dispersed. I always start at the very back.
This is the six hour guys and gals taking off. Ironically enough, they run faster than the three hour crowd, in general. Mainly because they are in great shape. Imagine ripping along at seven to eight minute miles for six hours? I can imagine it for one mile.
We ran this section but I actually took the photo on the Thursday before the race. True Confessions.
The race starts and stays on the upper level of Turkey Mountain and is relatively flat. There were a few boggy spots but overall the course wasn’t bad. The thing about trail races is how polite everybody is. People kind of move out of each others way, the slow runners yield to the faster runners overtaking them. I’ve never heard a cross word exchanged between runners.
I got into a pretty comfortable pace of running a half mile and walking a minute throughout the race. I stopped at every aid station and had a cup of water and a cup of gatorade. I had two nutter butter cookies on every lap. I don’t know why, it was working for me and I just went with it. I also had a few pickles for the sodium and a couple of banana segments for the potassium. I never did feel depleted out on the course.
I didn’t drink beer on the course this time. I wanted to get three big loops in and didn’t want any distractions.
I ran the three hour event and did three of the big loops and one of the little loops. I milled around a bit, had a beer and a half, a hot dog and a chocolate chip cookie. It was very breezy and cold at the end of the race so I didn’t linger for long.
I watched some of the six hour races come in and head back out. I was done at three hours. I couldn’t have done one more lap.
So I put on my finisher’s medal and went home. Thank you to the race organizers, the many volunteers and my fellow contestants for making this race so much fun. By my Garmin, I did about 11.5 miles. This has given me confidence to start looking around for a half marathon, which is 13.1 miles to do. My goal is to run the Route 66 Half Marathon in Tulsa next November. I would like to do maybe two others between now and then. Got any ideas?
I think there used to be small farms in the area. There are remnants of old roads and residential power lines.
Wednesday night for a little change of pace I headed back to the wilds of Chandler Park. The privately owned, not posted land, west of the park in west Tulsa. Turkey Mountain gets kind of crowded this time of year. Not so at Chandler.
The area is up high on a hill and there are lots of natural rock formations. It looks almost like it was built that way. Many people call the area “the lost city.” I think it would be a great place to hide some geocaches. Plus if I were a snake I think this would be like a snake resort area.
Chandler has lots of trails but there are no armies of volunteers out picking up trash. The trails are utility rights of way and ATV trails.
Sometimes I think I take too many photographs. Especially when I’m on an unfamiliar trail and the sun is going down. That is what I do though, take photographs.
It sure is nice though. I never see deer on Turkey Mountain any longer. I saw three Wednesday. I didn’t get photos of them though.
I’ve been down there before!! From the other direction. Connecting segments, learning the area.
The wilds are huge and a little intimidating. This is my third outing and I’m learning the area as I go. I am doing it by piecing together loops including new routes and old routes. So doing it after work is a little intimidating because I am just kind of guessing what turns to take. I would sure hate to be out here after dark on a trail I haven’t been on before.
I’m a sucker for reflections of trees.
There are all sorts of creeks and sloughs with water that have to be navigated.
So what was it? A horse maybe? A mutant critter from the nearby Compass Point Landfill Superfund site?
And you see sights that you would never see on Turkey mountain. I am not sure what kind of critter this is but he has been picked clean.
Getting dark and I’m a ways from the car, but hey, lets take another photo, and another, and one more.
Finally when it got dark I found that I had guessed right and got on a trail I had been on before. A successful loop guess!
I just simply cannot resist a smooth single track trail winding through the woods.
I just love finding new trails.
I headed back to my car and passed Tulsa’s world class superfund site. The long forgotten Compass Point Landfill. An area where way back when the owners let everybody pretty much dump anything they wanted into a former rock quarry. Refinery wastes, tires, chemicals. Just chuck it in and don’t worry about it.
I got back to the ball fields at Chandler Park. They weren’t playing baseball, there was a group of people working with their dogs.
Miller time!! Or Hoptometrest Double IPA time. After I get home of course.
Anyways, I was one happy camper. Learning Chandler Park bit by bit.
This week instead of doing my weekly run on Wednesday, I did it on Thursday and I did it earlier on Thursday than what I normally run. The wind was howling and the air was full of smoke from all the wild fires due to the dry conditions. You can see how hazy the air is. I decided to run on Turkey Mountain. The trees stop the wind cold up there. I ran into Ken (aka Trail Zombie) and Clint, a facebook friend who I have never met before, Ken asked if I wanted to go do some hill repeats, so I said sure and so we three along with a lady named Lea went off to do hill repeats.
TZ, Lea, and Clint headed toward the lower yellow trail.
After a warmup loop on the red trail we went up what TZ calls Leadville. It is about 300 feet in a quarter mile and it is brutal. I’d like to say I ran up all the way. I didn’t run any of the way but my heart was pounding by the time we got up on top.
TZ and Lea headed down “I Want My Mommy” Clint is already out of sight and I was carefully picking my way down.
I Want My Mommy is pretty darn steep. You can see TZ and Lea way ahead of me. Then we went a few feet and came back up to the top of the mountain on another trail. Clint and TZ are both on a Strava climbing challenge and they hitting the hills hard and they are good at it.
Finally we headed back to the parking lot. Running hills is hard work but fun with you are doing it with people. I had an excellent workout.
Saturday I ran on Turkey Mountain for the first time since I messed my knee up there back on Labor Day. You can bet I was watching where I was putting my feet this time! It was a cold, breezy day in Tulsa and so running up on the mountain is better than plodding it out on the trail fighting the wind.
Anyways, I didn’t set any speed records. But I had a great time, and then drove back to pick up the kid.
The sun was just coming up when I got there but the place with abuzz with activity. On a race like this the organizers and volunteers have already been out since dark thirty marking the course, putting up the various tents and starting gate, cooling the beer down and getting the food ready.
The local Fleet Feet Sports franchise sponsored the race. Tulsa is lucky because we have three really good running stores who not only sell shoes and running clothing but also give back to the community in various ways. They all have training runs and various programs to help runners of all experience levels. Fleet Feet though has the best decorated vehicle though.
At 7:15 the hamburgers were already cooking.
The beer was iced down. It was provided by Marshall Brewing. I love craft beers have I ever told you.
And off we went. The race was jammed up right at first because we were running on trails but after a while we spaced out. I guess that I spaced out too much and at about the 1.6 mile point tripped on a rock and fell on another rock with my knee. It was like ouch. I got up and my knee felt pretty bad so I started hobbling back to the parking lot, dreading the 1.6 miles back but then the knee started feeling better so I turned around after a short while thinking that I could walk it out but I had to climb up a few rocks and the knee started barking at me again so I turned back to the parking lot and got about a tenth or two down the trail and the knee started feeling better so I said what the heck, I have a long walk either way. So I turned around and walked the rest of the race except for a one mail segment where I ran. Fortunately there is not that much difference between my walking speed and running speed (sad to say). So I was able to finish and get some bling and a couple beers or three and a hamburger.
I think I finished near the last. I generally do. Last year I finished 94th out of 96 men. Believe it or not I finished ahead of some people this year. This year I finished 185th out of 204. Which means that nineteen people entered Yogi’s Hall of Shame except two of them were older than me so a net 17 people finished behind me that were younger than me.
Wednesday nights are my night to go running after work. I have a little routine. I leave work and go to a liquor store and pick up some craft beer and then I head out either to the Arkansas River trails or Turkey Mountain. Last Wednesday it started a downpour just as I was leaving downtown but my good ole Accuweather app on the phone said it was not going to rain for at least two hours so I’m good right?
So started out on the Yellow Trail taking pics with my Ipod Touch using the Hipstamatic App. I just love blurry photos. My intention was to try and do six miles or so.
This is my favorite spot on the Yellow Trail. I just tell people to follow the arrow. Nobody listens to me but I say it anyway. I repeat myself a lot that way.
This is my favorite new landmark on the Yellow Trail. It reminds me of something new I’m reading a little about lately Trail Marker Trees. Trees that Native Americans shaped as trail markers or other uses. Check the link. I’d love to see a few live. I’m a little skeptical about them personally.
I stopped a smelled a few roses. Metaphorically.
And check out some color.
Just as I got to the north end of the Yellow Trail it started raining, hard. I put away my Ipod and got out my waterproof Nikon. People tell me about how much they love raining in the rain. I don’t like it too much but if you are out in it and wearing tech clothes then it is not so bad. I decided to cut my run short and run the upper Yellow trail back.
The mud sticks to your shoes and things get a lot slipperier but I eventually got back to my car.
The only thing worse than running in the rain would be riding a bike. The thunder and lightening was getting pretty bad also. That can ruin your whole day.
If I had it to do over again, I’d do it over again. And no, I didn’t go home and drink the beer I bought earlier. You see we are much more godly people in Oklahoma than where you live because our laws don’t allow us to purchase cold full strength beer. So I drank some of the beer I bought last week!! That is called pre-planning.
I celebrated the news of Simon Property Group abandoning their “Premium Outlet Mall” on Turkey Mountain by going for a run on the mountain. (What the heck is a Premium Outlet Mall anyway?)
We’ve had lots of rain here in Oklahoma and although we had two dry days there were patches of soggy trails here and there that slowed me down. It wasn’t too bad though. I started out on the blue trail, then did some of the pink trail, then just did my own thing, and then the yellow for a good distance and then did some more of my own thing.
I made it over to Pepsi Lake and it was great to see it full of water again. It was about to turn into a meadow a few months ago but it is full to the brim now.
There was even some water running over the spillway. It has been a long time since I have seen running water on the mountain.
This is the route I took. For some reason my watch didn’t start when I wanted it to but that’s okay. Life is good up on the mountain. I am very glad they outlet mall threat is gone.
Saturday morning I got up at dark thirty and headed out to western Oklahoma to Lake McMurtry to run the 12K portion of the Lake McMurtry Trail Run. They also had 25K and 50K events. The people who run these trail runs are hard core and they consider the 12K to be kind of like a fun run or something.
The Race Director, Trail Zombie got us all organized and everything with a few simple directions. Mainly don’t get lost and don’t cheat. TZ as we call him directs several races during the year, leads weekly runs on Turkey Mountain, volunteers a lot and has his own full time business. He is one of the world’s really nice guys.
And here is the start. I started out last place and stayed last place for a long time. 12K is about 7 miles and I finally passed a few at about mile four. I say a few because I think I finished 46th out of 50 or something like that.
The course was an out and back which means that we run back on the same trail we run out on. Plus the other races used this route as part of the route of their races. This means that people have to be aware of what is going on and let people pass by. I’ve run lots of trail races and I have never seen any conflict on the matter. People just pull off and let others pass and everything is cool. The whole ethic of trail racing is cool and laid back and that is why I like it. Don’t get me wrong, people run the race hard.
The race was almost entirely in the woods but we broke out into grassland just briefly a couple times.
And here is the beer stop. One stop but we hit it twice. How many races do you know provide craft beer at the water stops. I had a Coop Brewing DNR the second time, I forget what it was I had the first stop, but it was good.
And right close to the beer tent is the regular stuff, water, gatorade, pickle juice (yep, I’ve learned to have a shot of it when I can), baked potato quarters rolled in salt, bananas, cookies, nuts, m&ms. No wonder I can’t lose weight and no wonder I don’t finish any better than what I do.
I actually buckled down and ran the the last few miles to the finish and didn’t take any photographs. My average miles split was 13:30 which is not too impressive but is at least a minute faster than most trail runs I run in so I am pretty happy.
At the finish TZ told me where to find the “Leap of Doom.” It is a feature of the 25K and 50K races but they don’t let us 12K baby runners on it out of fear for our lives. But, I fortified my courage with a beer and headed out to check it out.
I could tell I was getting close. One thing about TZ is he is good at warning people. I couldn’t turn back even though I wanted to so I ventured on ahead.
And the warnings kept coming. But I was intrigued, I mean who doesn’t want to see the 72nd wonder of the world.
Here are the instructions. I don’t know how to breathe and scream at the same time, do you?
Of course I had to record the event for posterity. This is first attempt.
This is the second attempt. Do you like my shoes? Do you think I should put movie ambitions on hold for a while?
And so I survived the famous Leap of Doom. Well the other thing I needed to do was go find a geocache.
The nearest one was about a kilometer away so I walked to it. Turns out that the location was right on the the trails used in the other races. While I was looking for it several runners stopped and asked if I was okay.
I turned my Garmin watch on for the hike. I get amused at myself when I run on a geocaching hunt cause it shows me going around and around, and I did go around and around. I finally found it though.
And here is the location. I loved the old car. The amazing car geeks at Car Spotting Tulsa think it is a late 40’s Chevy. I love all the bullet holes. And yes I did find the cache.
So, I was done. Got a lot done over there in Lake McMurtry is what I think, ran a race, jumped the leap of doom a couple times and found a geocache and a neat car. So I gathered my stinky self up and drove back to Tulsa. On the way I stopped in the little oil field of Yale, Oklahoma and toured Jim Thorpe’s house. Fascinating story about the greatest athlete of all time who lived in a small town in Oklahoma. That will be on the next post.
It was a great day for a trail race on Saturday morning. Cool, humid, and very little wind. It was very early spring like.
The sun was trying to burn through the clouds and never did quite make it.
Here is a mini video of the walk from the parking lot to the race start.
I got up to the old parking lot and checked out all the mud.
And checked out the race bling. This is as close as I’ll ever get.
And inspected this bad boy. I think I need one of these to mow my yard. I think it would do a pretty decent job. Anybody want to float me a loan?
The Race Director, Ken, aka Trail Zombie gave the runners some instructions. Follow the pink ribbons, don’t cross the yellow ribbons. Have a good time.
And the Six Hour Runners were off.
And then the Three Hour Runners, including moi. The races are a little different. Most races are a fixed length and whoever has the least time wins. In the Snake Races, the time is constant and whoever runs the longest wins. So there were two loops. A big loop of about 3.7 miles. We run that over and over, and if you don’t think you can finish another big loop before the time is up then there is another half mile loop that you can run over and over until the time is up. It is really very clever. I like it because I can always tell people that I had the same time as the winner.
Even though it was spring there wasn’t much color out on the mountain. The whitebuds blooming was about it.
There was one aid station out on the course that we hit twice each loop because of the way that the route folds in on itself. It was full service though, water, gatorade, baked potatoes rolled in salt, cookies, pickles, bananas, oranges, beer.
Nope, not for me. Actually I think it was a joke. I think. Although if you had an urgent need it may not be much of a joke.
And the course had a beer stop. This was my favorite. I hit it twice each loop. Going and coming. This guy had everything: All sorts of nice craft beers, and shots of various liquors including some home brew. Soft drinks for the kiddies.
I fell twice during the race. About six weeks ago I fell during a night run on the mountain and had a pain that still endures. That was on my left side. I was carrying my camera in left hand today and so I made sure that I fell on my right side. We bloggers know that ribs will heal but cameras won’t. I was telling that story to somebody at the end of the race and she said “You fell twice? You must have been one of those people hitting the beer stop pretty hard.” She had that “I got you look.” She must have been a school principal. The truth hurts sometimes. Now my left and my right sides hurt besides.
I wish that I had read this sign earlier. Maybe I would do better if I ran faster. I’ll have to check into the math and physics of that concept.
Here is the beer tent again on another stop. Lots of good stuff here. And no I didn’t stagger into the table to get this shot. Well, I didn’t mean to anyway.
And here is Brian Hoover, the force behind Tatur Racing and Chip Timing. I think that I had asked him if I run the race or something.
Brian and Ken started handing out the awards after the Three Hour Race.
No, I didn’t place. I don’t think that any of the people that placed took any pics out on the course or sampled any of the beer. You know beer doesn’t drink itself. I might have won the race if I hadn’t been fulfilling my journalistic duties. Hey you don’t know.
Or maybe I need a cool headband. I think it cuts the wind resistance or something. Or maybe it diverts blood supply to the legs. Something like that I’m sure.
And here is a guy taking a selfie. Sorry, if I see you taking a selfie, I’m going to get a pic of you.
And here is the record of my race. My strategy was to run for a quarter mile and walk for a minute. I did that through the whole race and it worked. Plus I drank lots of water and some Gatorade at the food stops along with the salted baked potato segments. I got pretty sore still which is not surprising because the longest distance I have run in the last several months is only six miles.