Monday, November 7, 2011

Turkey & TATURS Race Report

Yesterday a group of Rush Runners convened on Turkey Mountain in the pre dawn darkness to take on the TATUR (Tulsa Area Trail and Ultra Runners) sponsored Turkey & TATURS events. There were two entrants each from our group for the 10k and 25k races and three signed up for the 50k, including me. It was more or less an impromptu group effort I dubbed Team Rush/(479). Turkey Mountain is a great expanse of urban wilderness south of downtown Tulsa that runs along the west side of the Arkansas River. Miles and miles of trails are available and open to hikers, runners, bikers and walkers. The start finish line was at the back of the West Side YMCA parking lot. Not an easy place to find even for folks from Tulsa, like my cab driver. Or Drew, who got lost and showed up as the 50k racers took off down the trail. He still had to check in, get a bib and chip. More on that later...
Jenny Scott celebrating her victory like a champ.
Christian Moore with a $100 smile.

First the story of the 10k. Christian Moore and Jenny Scott boldly through down the gauntlet of announcing their intentions of not merely winning but setting course records in the process. Jenny was a bit reluctant to join us at first so the pot of enticement was sweetened. As if it is not enough to hang out with us for the day? So Drew made an offer to cover the entry fee in return for half the winning pot if she claimed victory. I added a dozen farm fresh eggs delivered weekly for the rest of the year if she won and set a new CR. She took the bait. So all Jenny did was go out and win the the women's division (beating the second place gal by 8 seconds) and in doing so set a new CR, eclipsing the existing record by just under a minute. Christian blazed to glory crushing the men's CR and his competition. Eleven minutes before the next guy crossed the line. Are you serious? And it was the first time either won a cash prize. Congrats to you both on a dominating duo. Here is the newly posted current CR times from the TATUR website:
10K Men's - 42:32 (6:51 pace)  - Christian Moore- 2011
10K Women's - 56:03 (9:02 pace) -  Jenny Scott- 2011

David enjoying the post race prize.

On to the 25k event with David Smith and Michael Harris representing the (479). Both David and Michael were out there to have fun and enjoy the adventure. Michael ran a super solid race finishing top ten overall and second in his division with a sub 3 hour effort. When I passed him going out for my second circuit he looked like he was having a good time. David Newman also ran a sub 3 hour time placing him in the top fifteen overall and fourth in his age group. David is training for a marathon next month back in Alabama and was convinced to run the 25k trail race in place of a scheduled long road run. Glad he made the trip over the Tulsa with us. 

As for the 50k, well, stuff happens. OK, back to Drew. It's maybe 15 minutes before the start and he and Jenny are no where to be seen. Christian got him on the phone and Drew is somewhere in the darkness with no idea of where to go. Like I mentioned, not an easy place to find, even with GPS. So all of us 50k runners line up for the start. Drew comes tearing into the parking lot. Door flies open on the pimpalicious red Beamer and Drew pours out half dressed. As I pass him I yelled out "I'm beating Drew Conner, Muhahahha!" I'm sure that made him feel better. I felt pretty confident heading into this one. After all, I had set a significant marathon PR at Twin Cities last month and won my first race (a two miler) two weeks after that. In the four weeks in between the marathon and 50k I had managed to get some decent trail time in my training. My expectations for TATUR was a huge PR for the distance, place in my age group and possibly a top ten overall finish. I had Hugo Mendez (of Inca Runners) with me and even though we had not discussed and strategy I figured we would be good to go together for most of the race. At the Hobbs Tail Twister 50k this past summer we ran several miles together. Each pushing the other as needed, until I took off about mile 20 or so, only to have Hugo roll by as I sat at the last aid station (mile 28) crapped out. It took me almost an hour to muster enough energy and will power to get up and finish that one. I had picked out a pace time for me I thought I could hold. One that would give me that big PR, a good chance of placing in my age group and a crack at the top ten overall.  In a nutshell the course, in my opinion, was well marked. One of the TATUR members went out a couple of hours before the start, in the dark, to check all of the markings. Also, in my opinion, the course was tougher than I expected. Overall it is a great course due to the diversity of trails. Sections of very runner friendly single track, very little paved stuff, a portion of power line "road" (steep) and some pretty wicked technical sections complicated by the camouflage of recently fallen leaves. It was the technical stuff that threw me off. I found it harder to keep pace in these sections. Duh! I hit every aid station stopping for a moment, chatted with the volunteers, grabbed a couple of fig newtons or pretzels and to refill my handheld before taking off. I used a gel every hour along with a S! Cap and was taking in what I thought was enough fluid. By mile 13 I started to feel my quads and my right foot getting sore. Right under the arch. Brief visions or a grind began to invade my head. At the turnaround I'm pretty sure I entertained the thought of inquiring about switching to the 25k and calling it a day. I loaded a packet of Orbana energy drink into my handheld and began my second circuit of the 25k course (in reverse). The technical section right after the turnaround was tough for me. My legs were feeling pretty dead. I thought if I could slog through it perhaps the pendulum might swing the other way before too long. It didn't. I suffered a sweet wipe out about mile 18, banging my knee and busting my hand, but worst of all, tweaking my back. I was pissed. I pushed through to mile 22 before giving in and taking an extended walk break. I then alternated running and walking for nearly two more miles before a TATUR runner came up behind me. He stopped and chatted with me for a moment to check on me. He said the next aid station was a couple of miles away. I decided then I was done. I didn't care to begin a 10 mile death march. I found a nice, big flat rock and spread out on it flat on my back. Felt good. A few minutes later a fella came walking down the trail He was a volunteer at the next aid station. Only about a quarter mile up the trail. So I walked in with him. Sat down (yes, I know) and explained my situation. I asked for 15 minutes to sit, drink and eat before officially dropping or continuing on. After my break there was no spark so I dropped and was given a ride to the finish. Same old usual suspects, out a bit too fast pace wise, not enough fluids (pretty dehydrated), bonked from too little calories taken in, underestimating the course and perhaps overestimating my readiness. 
Drew, maybe you could have gone faster with shoes?

Hugo, the Iron Man performance of the day.

So back to the finish I went where I was able to see my wife and kids. It was so nice to have them there and get some hugs when needed. I grabbed the cooler of beer and headed over to the gang. Where was Drew? Nobody had seen him finish yet. He passed me about mile 3 or so, prancing up the hill like a deer on his way to chase down the leaders after his late start. Again I saw him a couple miles before my turnaround. He was maybe a quarter mile behind the leader and his pace looked great. While I was at the AS where I dropped I saw Drew about that same distance behind the leader coming up the power line section. That would have been about mile 27 or 28 for them. By the time I got a ride to the finish a couple of guys had already finished the 50k. Long story short, Drew took a wrong turn near the top of the power line section. About three miles into the turn he realized his mistake. Back tracked, found an aid station and ran in with another 50k runner for 7th place overall. Total distance for him was 60k in under 6 hours. Hugo was perhaps a half mile or so ahead of me before I ran into trouble. My son and I went down to the trail head to wait for Hugo to come out of the woods. As he did we cheered him on, passed out some high fives and rejoined our group. Hugo grinded out the last several miles for a PR of thirty minutes. He then swore off ever doing that course again. 

As for me, you can tell I am all tore up about my first DNF. I look at it as a bad day out on the trail. And that beats a good day sitting on your can in front of the TV. I got to hang with some cool people, run some sweet trail, have a cold beer, celebrate some CRs, get dirty and stinky, fall down, have some laughs and enjoy some time with my family. We spent Saturday at the Tulsa Zoo, the kids got to go swimming at the hotel before bedtime and again after breakfast and then had fun on the playground at the YMCA. Oh yeah, around midnight on Saturday we got to experience the largest recorded earthquake in Oklahoma history. 

TATUR put on a good event with fantastic volunteers. I look at them as a big group of folks that just enjoy running and sharing that gift with others. Will I seek redemption next year? Dunno. What I will do is once again file away the lessons learned into my runner's toolbox. Determine what needs to be tweaked and set about to correct those flaws. And I'll be looking for the next adventure for Team Rush/(479). Congrats to everyone and thanks for being a part of the fun. 

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