Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lake McMurtry Preview

[Not to lure anyone away from their prescribed Saturday LSD, but if ya want another dose of trail running, read on.]

This Saturday marks the 12th running of the Lake McMurtry Trail Run. This is the race that started it all for me. In 2003 I signed up and ventured over to Stillwater to run a 25K, which at that time was my longest race to date. I remember seeing a handful of 50Kers head off, and I was dumbfounded at how it was even possible for one to run 31 miles. These guys (and gals) amazed me!!
I lined up and raced the 25K, finishing in the middle of the pack, and was disgusted with my slow time (2:33), but now I can't even DREAM of being that fast. Nor do I want to be! It hurts too bad!
The next year, I ran the 50K, and finished in 7:05, I think. I have never missed this race since, and have progressively gotten slower.
In 2006, a contingent of trail runners from Tulsa invaded Stillwater. At that time, TATUR was merely an idea tossed around by Brian Hoover and Dan Threlkeld, and a good idea it was. Many of these Tulsa Area Trail/Ultra Runners have since became closer than family.

I DNFd at McMurtry that year. It was a year that the temps were in the 90s for those still running in the afternoon. I had prided myself in having never getting lost, and that streak came to an end. I dropped at the half was point, but I had ran about 4 extra miles due to my own stupidity. But, I had dibs on the burgers, Chuck's jambalaya, and a few cold beers. Life was very good!

I met Mike Snyder, a guy from Tulsa who ran with the RunnersWorld gang. (Believe it or not, I was not a RunnersWorld runner at that time.) Mike seemed like a friendly guy, and he thought it might be fun to go out to the Leap O' Doom to take a few pictures. I was not a camera person at that time, but I did have a disposable camera and grabbed it....and a bottle of ketchup. Mike later wrote a report of our adventure that I call The Legend of the Leap O' Doom! (Please click on this link to read Mike's account!) Mike and Diana became some of our best friends, and despite their moving away, we still think of them as family.

Mike's artwork should have been last years shirt....I just did not think of it until I had already ordered the shirts from last year. While the reworking of the artwork into a format that would show up on the shirt changed some of the details, I still like the finished shirt design.

Heaps of props are due to Earl Blewett for his 10 years as RD of this race.(Might not have been the pic Earl would have selected, but I like it!) Earl along with Chuck (the chef of the awesome jambalaya you'll get to eat on Saturday) cut some of the trails that we we will be treated to, and McMurtry is an awesome bunch of trails. Truly....no fibbing here--there are very few rocks, no bad hills, and miles and miles of scenic single track. This course is far easier than Turkey and Taturs, or FlatRock. It's a little harder than AOK or Sunmart. I spent Sunday afternoon covering the north leg of the course, and it was a trail runner's paradise.Bright blue skies, crunchy leaves, wind rustling through the boughs of budding trees, while the waves lap at the lake shores.Not all is single track....there are a few short sections on primitive dirt roads. But the view is more often than not, breath-taking.It's not impossible to get lost, but we've marked all the intersections so if you're paying attention, you'll be just fine.There's a few short little uphills here and there. A few downhills too!

And of course, the....

It is not too late to sign up for this race. We will probably run out of shirts, so sign up soon! Wanna just come hang out? We could sure use a few volunteers at the aid stations and start/finish area. You will have the gratitude of TZ, which is a very good thing! :-) Or, do both! Run the 12K, and then grab a cup of jambalaya or a burger, and give the crazy 25 and 50Kers a cup of Gatorade and some some psychiatric advice!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Larry Shows Reverence for the Magic of Turkey Mountain

When: Saturday, March 27, 2010 6:45 AM-10:45 AM (GMT-06:00) Central Time (US & Canada).
Where: Veteran's Park (21st & Boulder)


UPDATE: This week’s Invite unintentionally must have resulted in Coach K feeling just a wee bit guilty about having us repeat a long run and having to spend half the day meeting our mileage target. Being the sage one, she has reconsidered and came up with the brilliant solution of having us start an hour earlier (6:45 AM versus 7:45 AM – Note: the “-ish” part is still applicable). While not fully in tune with the higher algebraic compilations, it seems intuitive that since we will finish earlier then this approach must be a whole lot faster, meaning that it’s a great way to increase our running pace without having to endure a lot of tortuous speed work and interval training. Way to go Coach K! Brilliant! And a heartfelt thank you from the bottoms of our collective soles.

Last Saturday marked the 1st Day of Spring, 2010, and it left me uttering the following prayer to the Keepers of the Trails: Oh Please, your ever kind Sirs/Sirettes, Please let it be that when I fall down face first (note for the record: Not “if” I fall, but “when” I fall) that I fall in the slimy mud or in the pools of 32.00001 degree F water (smidge above freezing) and not on the hidden snow-covered rocks and incognito boulders. Please, please, please, let it be your will, allow it to happen, and I vow to never again pass judgment on your placement of poison ivy, surfacing roots, or low hanging branches conveniently hidden beyond the next blind turn.
Such is my memory of last weekend’s attempted running of “That Fang Thang”, otherwise known to all runnerkind as the TATUR Snake Run. Oh, did I happen to mention the freakin’ BLIZZARD, and I don’t mean the DQ variety? Folks from both within and outside the Tulsa area are quick to snicker, and I don’t mean the Mars variety, when you utter “Turkey Mountain”, as in seriously, Tulsa has a mountain? Well, less than a week ago, I was also a member of that “never seen it, don’t believe it” doubting community. But that was before Saturday’s sojourn up to the top of TM. Based on the weather conditions encountered, I am now an unwavering believer that the “mountain” guards a secret turk-worm hole that whisks the unsuspecting to elevations exceeding 10,000 feet – Matterhorn like territory. We doubting Tulsanians have obviously never seen this from the base because the magical Turkey Mountain comes equipped with its own cloaking device – a mirroring vaporous atmosphere that masks the Mountain’s true elevation and reflects back an image that seems merely “hill like” to the unsuspecting, and thereby preserving the sanctity and privacy of the Top. Except of course, to those wily cloak-busting TATUR Snake Run organizers who somehow managed to wrestle away the key to the secret passageway. This indisputable theory is the only logical explanation for last Saturday’s Blizzard, on the 1st day of Spring, no less. It also explains why no snakes were actually encountered (other than the afore-mentioned 2-legged kind disguised as TATUR Snake Run organizers) – snakes simply require more oxygen than can be attained near the crest of Turkey Mountain.
Which brings us to this Saturday’s Runners World Marathon Training Run, to be originated at the more accommodating river bottom land elevation known as Veteran’s Park. Since last week’s weather provided us with a viable excuse for either cutting our training session short, or even avoiding it entirely, it was refreshing to learn that our revered task master Coach K was understanding of many of our short circuit decisions. Understanding yes, but sympathetic? Er, not so much, in fact, not at all. You see, “real” runners/runnerettes aren’t allowed to make excuses – rather, they get to make up for lost miles.
So, Coach K dutifully surveyed the land, sought the opinions of many, pretended like she even took these opinions under consideration, and has decreed that our just “reward” for this weekend is to re-run (after all, if you missed it the first time, it’ll feel like it’s brand new) last week’s scheduled run. So, for the Dom-N-8rz 9:51 group, we have earned the right, and have the obligation, to sacrifice a 22 miles offering of Arkansas River Trail running. Normal New start time of 7:45 6:45 AM’ish, and remember, no yak trax or blizzard gear required. Remember #2: Be ready, practice your prayers – Spring Forward but DON’T FALL DOWN!


Thursday, March 18, 2010

more wisdom (???) from Larry

When: Saturday, March 20, 2010 7:45 AM-12:15 PM. Central Standard Time
Where: Veteran's Park (21st & Boulder)


I really hate to come across as pithy, but I feel the need to hiss at the now nearly infamous Dom-N-8rz 8:51 group (think scaly “tough love”). For many, many weeks now, we’ve been challenged with more than our fair share of inclement weather for our Saturday morning training runs, which provided all sorts of “excuses” for folks/folkettes to phone it in, stay under the covers, work on shedding that skin – anything other than to hit the trails and slither around with your trailmates. Now with only a few weeks to go, I fear with all my rattles that I inadvertently sold you a bill of goods, snake oil if you will, in promising that we would make sure that you would be ready for the OK City Marathon. Unfortunately, these training runs won’t run for themselves. The “Think System” is not a sustainable run training program, so we must wrap ourselves around the jogging branch, and vow to make up for lost miles. Not to poison the nest or cause undue rigor mortis, but this week’s training run is a scheduled 22-mile serpentine route--coiling, straightening, and then re-coiling around the Arkansas River, home of the Tulsa urban legend Ark-Py-Moc-Rat River Serpent. Be on your watch, as mid-March marks the time of heightened snakeular activity. The “APMR Serp” feeds on raw sewage and river debris, migrates from the Jenks River Walk to the R66 Mother Road, with extended stops near the sewage treatment plant. Frequently spotted near the PSO Power Plant canoe rapids during afternoon feeding sprees, the APMR recesses to the nearby Turkey Mountains for winter hibernation and reproduction, and is reported to occasionally snack on lonely, isolated, and downtrodden trail runners.

The route for this week’s run starts at Veteran’s Park at our standard 7:45 AM’ish time, and is comprised of several stretches of forward paces, followed by left and right turns, a few timely starts and stops, and then a bunch more steps, with a bump or two thrown in for special effect. See, not too difficult if you commit this to memory.

So really, let’s make a pact – no more lame excuses, it’s time to show, it’s time to go. Let’s collectively make up for lost time, and agree to help each other reach this new milestone. Not to poison the waters, we’ll vow to hold each other accountable for each other’s success.

So, rather than continue with this side winding, I need to confess that I won’t be running with the group this week, as I’ve volunteered my services for the noble cause of helping to sweep Turkey Mountain clean of any remaining snakes, with particular focus on the APMR Serpent. Civic duty and a few “cents” of irresponsibility and abandonment issues dutifully sirens me to the centuries old TATUR Snake Run, led by no other than that dastardly, and unabashedly perty, snake charming duo of Pretty Boy Brian and Trail Zombie Ken. Although they frequently speak with forked tongues, possess those enticing snake eyes, and have photo shop enhanced memories, they generally mean well and more often than not look adorable in the rain. Yes, I’ve been Snake Bit!
Joined by approximately 150 recruited St. Patrick wannabees, we vow to reticulate the upper Turkey Mountain area for hours on end this Saturday to rid the mountain of the dreaded Reptilian monster. We collectively commit that ravines and forests and caves and rock garden boulders alike (Oh My!) will be tepidly scoured via moccasin-adorned trail runners to banish the APMR Serp and all it’s skinfolk back to the bountiful Arkansas river. We take our inspiration from his beloved Greenness from the isle across the great Pond to extract those snakes and return the mountain to the turkeys of wild. We come well prepared, armed with ample doses of antivenin, and we’ve been forewarned that underbellies will be exposed, trails will be splashedly “marked”, and Serpent Soldiers will consistently respond to salutations of “Is that a snake in your pocket or are you just ….” with a robust response of “Exactly”.

Finally, we strike at this opportunity with all the venom we can muster to promise to not overachieve our mission. After all, our goal is to not forever banish those slithering creatures, as professional snake charmers/charmerettes never want to work themselves out of a job. After all, the annual fun and joys of the TATUR Snake Run need to be repeated for future decades and generations. It’s just too legit to quit.

Now SNAP! And remember: Keep those Fangs Up!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Snake is upon us!!

This Saturday we will have the third running of the SIX HOUR SNAKE RUN!!!!
This is a trail race on Turkey Mountain, all on easy trails, very little elevation change, a few rocks, a few roots, but nothing major. The idea is to run for 6 hours and see how far you can go. This year, we have also added a 3 hour competition. There will be awesome trophies for the top 3 male and female finishers in both the 3 and 6 hour divisions. The 1st 150 registrants will get an awesome Adidas tech shirt. (At this posting, the shirts are almost gone.) The course is a windy (snake shaped) trail that goes 2 miles out and back. You'll see runners coming and going all day.
There is an aid station about a mile out--you hit the same station a mile later but from the other side, and then on the way back, the same station again, and then at mile 4, you're at the start/finish where there'll be another aid stop. Turn around and run it again. Boring? Not at all. A lot of peeps who are new to trail running have ran a few loops without realizing they were on the same trail. Many people have swore there were 3-4 aid stations out there, and were amazed that the same people managed to be at all of them.

How far can one go in 6 hours?Mike Adams has won this competition the 1st 2 years, running 41 and 42 miles respectively. Several people have got a marathon distance out of it. (How, you ask, can one get 26.2 miles in 4 mile circuits? Well, near the end of the time limit when you do not have enough time to get another 4 mile out-and-back in before 6 or 3 hours, we'll have 1/2 mile finishing loops on another trail. You can run these 1/2 mile laps--as many as you can squeeze in--and add this mileage to your total.)

Aid stations---there are none better. In years past, there have been brownies, cheesecake, peanutbutter/m&m oreos, hot chocolate, hot soup, chili, burgers, beer, and of course the normal aid station staples.

If you have not signed up, come join us. You can still sign up at RunnersWorld and can also sign up on race day. $25.00 gets you a nice well supported long run on some of the nicest trails in this part of the state.

Oh, and I suppose I need to put out a shameless plea. We are in need of a few more volunteers for the aid station(s). In years past, as the race wore on and people ran what they wanted, a lot of them stayed on and helped out a little. But at the first of the race, we are really in need of a few extra bodies. with 150+ runners hitting the stops in large clusters, it is a little hectic. Once everyone gets spread out a little, it is easier. I will reward my helpers in some way....might be a TATUR shirt or another nice shirt of some sort, but I will take care of ya!
Thanks in advance!