Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Fixin' It Okie Style

I'm pretty sure I saw the last guy at a TATUR event.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Book Review: Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, & The Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

I just finished up reading the new book by Christopher McDougall called Born to Run. This book has several different facets to it, but the main thread throughout it is about the Tarahumara Indians of the Copper Canyons in Mexico. They are famously known for being great long distance runners on nothing more than a homemade sandal for support and chia seeds and pinole for food. The book covers Chris's quest to find out if he is made for long distance running and how the Tarahumara manage to run so long even when they are older.
The book goes behind the scenes of the some country's best Ultrarunners and delves into the closed culture of the Tarahumara. It was great to read about what some of the runners are really like as the magazine articles tend to build them up as superheroes and in reality they are normal people like everyone else. I really appreciated the amount of depth he went into to talk about how we are built for running and the effects shoes have had on our running injuries. I am a big minimalist when it comes to running shoes.

The book covers a lot of history going back to when the Tarahumara ran the Leadville 100 and follows this mysterious character who turned his back on society and followed the Tarahumara into the wilds of the Copper Canyons. This white ghost travels the secluded trails of the Mexican wild in search of his purpose in life and seeks out the ways of the Tarahumara. After he gains the trust of them, he comes up with an idea of having an ultra race on their turf with some of the USA's best runners. The race does come to fruition and even brought in the great Scott Jurek. For how the race went down and the details of the planning, you will have to read the book.

Overall this was a great book and I give it 3***. This is one of those books that I did not want to put down and I did not want it to end. If you are into running, ultrarunning, or just curious about why people challenge themselves to extremes, this book is for you. You will be glad you read it.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Tulsa Chris Brown Duathlon Race Report

Today was the Tulsa Chris Brown Duathlon, a 5K run, 30K bike, and another 5K run, all based over at the Westside parks and trails. I had pretty good expectations going into this race other than I haven't done a lot of speed work lately. I am just two weeks off of doing the Leadville Marathon and have been in a recovery phase. I felt as though my speed would still be good and that I could easily do a sub 20 5K on the first leg and maybe a sub 21 5K on the second leg. I was not for sure about the bike as that is something I feel like I am still working on. Weather was typical for late July in Oklahoma, hot and miserable. When I woke up this morning at 5:21 am it as already 76 degrees. About the same as last year.
Here we are lining up on West Jackson before we head out on the trails. I was standing next to and talking to Trani Matthews who was doing the run portion as a relay. He is a real good runner and I knew if I could keep up with him, I would have a good starting pace. I am in the dark blue suit up front towards the left.
And we are off! Kyle Brady sprinted out to the lead, but was followed closely by Tom Brennan. Tom is 2X winner of the Arkansas Traveller 100 mile trail race and he is a great friend. I felt good going out and was on pace for a sub 20 first leg. I felt good through the first 2K, but reality started to set in and I knew it was going to be rougher than expected. I knew Rob James was in my age group and I kept him in my sights. At this point I was still in the top 15.
Here I am finishing up the first 5K and headed towards transition. I ended up with a 20:23 5K, not bad, but I wanted to be a little faster than that. Some of my competition was close on my tail and they ended up in transition not too far behind me.
Here we are heading out of the first transition with me on the far left. The two guys in front of me were behind me on the run, but passed me out of transition. I felt pretty good on the bike and ended up passing several people and just bided my time around a few others. One by one I started passing some pretty good athletes, Tom Brennan, Kara Cassel, Steve Lee, and some others. I stayed well hydrated and did not feel as though I was pushing myself too hard. I passed some people on the bike and they were breathing pretty hard, but I felt in control. I am still not for sure how hard to push myself on the bike in order to save some for the run. I ended up averaging 22.4 on the bike, my best average time and by far the best in how I felt. I still need an aero helmet.
It was time for the second run. I knew I was ahead of Tom Brennan, but I did not know how far. He is faster than me on the run and I knew I had to go hard. I went out in the first 5K in about 4:12, but I knew I wouldn't be able to maintain it. We had a turnaround at halfway so you could see your competition and I saw Tom coming. He ended up passing me in between 3 and 4K. I still passed some more people and managed a 21:53 5K. Not bad, but not where I wanted. This put me in 11th place overall with a time of 1:33:53. I thought I had a great chance at 1:30, but with the heat and my speed legs not being there, it didn't happen. This is me with Tom after we did some cool down running.
I ended up with an award for 2nd place in my age group and an overall great day. I have struggled with the bike in the past, but today I really enjoyed the bike and the run was a struggle. Kyle Brady took the men's overall with a time of 1:24:35 and Kara Cassell took the ladies overall with 1:35:53. I still have some work to do, but I had fun and I love going out and competing hard early in the morning, enjoying the fellowship afterwards, and then spending the rest of the day with the family relaxing watching movies. It was a good day! Results can be found here.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Tulsa Kids Triathlon Race Report

Today was the 12th annual Tulsa Parks kids triathlon and our young gun, Wyatt, entered into the short course version. Last year he did the long course, but he still struggles with the swim and did not want to wear a life jacket, so he entered the short course version. The swim is 25 meters, bike 1/2 mile, and 1/4 mile run. He was really overqualified for the bike and run portions, but that is what he wanted to do.
They did not start the short coursers until the last long course person was off the course, which took about an hour. Here he is waiting in eager anticipation. I asked him if he was excited or nervous and he said, "Why would I be?" Nuff said.
They line up the kids one by one and start them 10 seconds apart. He needs to get some more sun.
After exiting the swim area he could take off running. He kind of looks like an Ethiopian. He will be a great runner, very light.
Coming in off the bike, too fast for the camera.
Coming into the finish chute.
Glad to be done. Great job, way to go Wyatt!
They make sure and give every kid a medal and do not award places. It is very non-competitive, but a lot of fun to watch and cheer them on. Hopefully, he will do the Ironkids next month in OKC.

Next up tomorrow is the Chris Brown Duathlon. I should be able to improve my time from last year as I have a real tri-bike this year and my runs last year were horrible from having a cold. My goal is to be around 1:30. Full report tomorrow.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Tour Time

I can honestly say this year's Tour De France is one of the best. I have been watching with eager anticipation as to when Lance was going to attack and how he was going to perform. I have literally been yelling at the TV for Lance to breakaway or to give a raspberry to Contador.
Contador is one heck of a rider and he will repeat as the Tour De France champion this year. He smoked the competition in the Time Trial today and has proven he is for real, but the bottom line is, I cannot stand him. His tactics in yesterday's stage were all about him and not about the team. He dropped his teammate like a hot rock and helped the Schleck brothers gain some spots. Even they were shocked.
There has been no secret that once the Tour is over Contador, Johan, and Lance are parting ways. They just cannot wait long enough for it to happen. The situation has been doomed from the beginning as you have two big egos on the same team and one is not going to lie down for the other. It is too bad, but it also great to see what Lance is doing and shows that even some of us old guys can still hang. He has definitely proven himself better than what Greg Lemond did. Greg, you can leave Lance alone now!

Also, this weekend is the White River 50 miler. Big name guys like Krupicka, Crowther, Koerner, and Wardian and going to go head to head in the state of Washington. The line up is incredible and the competition fierce. I cannot wait to see the results. This should be good race training for Tony in his bid to re-take the Leadville 100 title this year. The line up for the race can be found here.

Also, a shout out goes to fellow TATUR Arnold Begay who just completed the Badwater 135 in just over 58 hours. Way to go! That is quite the accomplishment and one I am not for sure I want to do. I hate the heat, but you are a stud. Way to represent!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

In Defense Of Food

I just finished reading Michael Pollan's book, "In Defense of Food, an Eater's Manifesto". I am not for sure what I was expecting from this book, but I was looking for something to read at the Book Mine in Leadville and ran across it. I was already aware of it and had it reserved it at our library for when we got back. I went ahead and bought it to pass some time while in Leadville.
The book is very hard to follow and he spends over half the book trying to explain what has happened to the Amercian food culture. He coins a term, "Nutritionism", and spends a lot of time trying to explain it. After awhile you are like, "I get it", enough!" He spends the next half of the book giving ideas on how to eat better and to get healthier. Nothing earth shattering here either. His tips are pretty much common sense stuff, but maybe in our rush around society, we need reminders on what we are supposed to do. His main motto is, "Eat food, Not too Much, and Mostly Plants". By food he means things that are actually food and not reprocessed to resemble food. I understand and agree on where he is coming from and I do eat that way most of the time, but to be 100% , all time is pretty tough. I guarantee he does not have any kids. I felt like I did not gain anything by reading it and pretty well wasted my time. I give it a 1 * for at least a catchy motto.
I signed up yesterday for the Chris Brown Memorial Duathlon. 5K run, 30K bike, and 5K run. I did it last year feeling sick with a cold and just having a bike for a few months. I did end up making the roll down list for the US duathlon team to represent the US in Italy. It felt pretty good to get an e-mail from the USA Olympic center committee inviting me to do it. The only problem is that you have to pay your own way. Maybe next time.

The weather has been really hot, 100+ degree weather, but we are having a little cool down. We may hit the upper 50's overnight tonight. After being in Leadville for a week, this was a bummer of a week. Had to go back to work, running in extremely hot weather, no mountains surrounding me, and got turned down for a new job. Oh well, today is a new day. Tony keeps posting on his blog about running up Mt. Massive and Mosquito Pass and that is just making it worse. I wish I was there. The old song says, "California Dreaming", but we are Leadville, Colorado dreaming.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Scenes From Colorado

Fire on the mountain. We were privileged to be able to watch the fireworks from the Leadville High School on the 4th of July. It was cool enough that people had stocking caps and coats on. Wow!
On top of Breece Hill overlooking Leadville. Notice we are wearing jackets.
Beautiful view overlooking Turquoise Lake with the Mountains in the background.
At the top of Fremont Pass at the Climax mine. Notice the elevation.
Wyatt in front of the elk on Pearl Street in Boulder. Definitely warmer.
The remnants of Oro City. This was a very prosperous mine and city at one time and this is all that is left.
Rainbow trout at the Leadville fish hatchery. Very cool.
This what the real Arkansas river looks like.
I am sorry this thing that runs through Tulsa, is an impostor.
Last Thursday was my birthday and when you are vacation and have no candles, what else is there to use other than GU.
Storms brewing by Mt. Elbert.
Rainbow after the storm.
Some of the TATUR'S starting the hard day at the Marathon.
Johnny Spriggs, President of the Tulsa Running Club at the finish.
After the awards ceremony with my finisher's mug. Well earned!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Leadville Marathon Race Report

It is sad to say that the race is over and we are back in Tulsa. Tulsa is a great community for outdoor activities, but it does not hold a candle to Leadville. The town is great and the people are super. They remind me so much of the folk that I grew up with in my tiny town of 2,700 in Carthage, IL. I don't think we met anyone who wasn't friendly. We even met and talked to George Gipson on top of Breece Hill, where the first aid station was at while out sightseeing. He was heading to Collinsville, OK in a week and talked to us for at least 20 minutes about Leadville. My family was truly impressed and we will be back, hopefully, very soon.
This was going to be our scenery for the race. I like running at Turkey Mountain, but I am sorry, it does not compare. In a race, everything starts to blur, but you cannot help and stop and enjoy what is around you. No matter how bad a race gets around there, you can always stop and take it all in. I am pretty sure this is where God lives.
The peak of Mt. Elbert was always in our background. The highest point in Colorado, it was named after the former Governor of Colorado. I am sorry I did not get a chance to summit it. The round trip on the trail is only 9 miles, but takes people an average of 9 hours to do it, unless you are Tony.
Right next to it is Mt. Massive. Another 14er and just as impressive.
I thought maybe I was the only TATUR there to run the race, but I was wrong. There ended up being a total of 8 running and 12 if you throw in my family or crew. This is right before the race and you can see the mountains in the back ground. The race starts on 6th street and starts heading straight uphill. From the left are Keith ???, he ended up dropping due to cramping so bad at mile 18. Next is Johnny Spriggs, President of the Tulsa Running Club and 4 time finisher of the Marathon. He is followed by Joel Everett, fellow board member who was conned into running this by Johnny. I might read in the news to where Johnny disappeared after the race. I t may have something to do with Joel after he realized what Johnny had talked him into doing. He was next to Aaron Ochoa and Dee Deathrage. I have ran with Aaron before at the 6 hr. Snake Run. Dee, I had never met before. Bob Lovelace and his daughter also made the trip. He did the Heavy Half and his daughter did the full. She had a rough go, but hung in and completed the journey. My hat goes off to anybody who can tough this one out and finish. Of course next to them is a strange looking guy.
Here we are at the start and I can say that I was not really that nervous. I knew it was going to be a tough course and I wanted to take it all in. I wanted to do my best, but finishing would be just as hard. You can see Tony Krupicka in the front without a shirt. He would have a hard day ahead of him and some challenges.
And we are off. This is Tony again, minus the top of his head. Camera lessons are on the way for the whole family. We head up 6th street, cross over to 5th, and up we go. I was able to make it about the first mile or so before I took a brief walk break. I continued to do that until the first major climb on the trail. At this point, everyone in my group was walking the hill. After this portion we make it to the first time to aid station on Breece Hill and I grab some Powerade and take off. My stomach feels like it has lead weight on it, no pun intended, and I think it would be better if I could just puke. I noticed when I ran up there this week I had the same feeling. Must have something to do with the altitude. Made it in 49 minutes.

From there we head out around Ball Mt. and back to the same aid station. I had summitted Ball Mt. on Thursday and was familiar with it. It is at about 12,000 feet. Somewhere on this portion I started to feel cramping back around my kidneys. One of the things at altitude is that there is less moisture in the air and even though you may be sweating less, you still have to take in plenty of fluids and electrolytes. Back at the aid station to re-fuel, so I pop some electrolyte tablets and take off. In at this aid station in 1:27.

To the next aid station is pretty well all downhill, except for a brief couple of small hills. My cramping went away and ran almost of all of this portion. I made to this aid station at 1:52. I had planned to go under 5 hours and thought I had a chance, but that was to be changed.

I started the summit up Mosquito Pass and felt OK, but the legs were starting to go south. I grabbed a GU and kept going up. One step at a time. This was about all I could do. I had to stop several times briefly on the hill and try to catch my breath and keep going. I did not think I was ever going to summit. The trail kept going and going. I met Bob on his way down from the Heavy Half and he said that it was not too much further. I wanted to ask that several times to people on the way down, but did not want to feel like a dork. I finally made it to the top at 3:03. It took me 1:10 to go 3.3 miles. Once on top I felt kind of woozy and I knew I need to get off. After all, Mosquito Pass is only at 13,100 feet. Not bad after coming from elevation 400 ft. in Tulsa. I grabbed some brief drinks and headed back down. The wind was so strong, it was incredible. It felt like an OK storm was sweeping across the prairie.

I did not drink much water on the way up and I knew I needed to drink more on the way down, so I could maintain my bearings. The way down can best be described as pick your spot. People are going both ways, it is full of rocks, and there really is not a path. I forced myself to start running to just get lower, to say like 10,000 feet. Geez! Once I got going I was able to maintain it for awhile. I passed Keith first, then Joel, Aaron, and then Johnny. It looked like Keith was not too far behind me, so I thought maybe I was going to be challenged. I made almost to the bottom and had to start walking again as it was heating up and my back was cramping again. I took another electrolyte tablet and mixed in running and walking. I made it the next aid station and took some time drinking and eating to try and recover. I knew my 5 hours was over, but I still wanted to make it under 6. I think it took me 45 minutes to get down off the pass.

From here, we have a lot of uphill. Remember me saying that it was downhill to the aid station. What goes down, must come up. I spent a lot of time walking this section and it seemed to help my stomach and back. I passed a few people on this stretch, but I did not really care at this point. I made it out of the bottom and this is what I saw in the distance.
Nothing like being stuck out in the open, surrounded by trees, and have a storm blow in off the mountains. I started to hear thunder and I knew we were in for something. The only good thing about these storms is that they blow out just as quickly as they come in, not like the ones in the prairies. Plus, it was not like I could speed up and get done, it was still uphill. I finally made it to the next aid station before it started raining. I re-fueled and took off. Still walking.

I started around Ball Mt. when a huge lightning bolt came down in the near distance. Where I grew up, they say you are supposed to count from when the lightning strikes and when you hear thunder to judge how close it was. It was around 1 to 2 seconds. Oops! Not like I could go any faster. It started to rain and I think sleet briefly, which felt good as it was starting to heat up. I finally made it to a downhill on the back side of the mountain and was able to run. I pretty much had to walk the hills and run the downhills. I was able to make up a lot of time in this portion. Made it to the last aid station at 5:12 and knew I could make it back before 6 hours. I thought it was all downhill from there, but I forgot about a last uphill. Nothing smacks you in the face more than when you think you are almost done and you have to climb another hill.

After the hill, I felt good and ran it all the way in. I turned the corner to 6th street at 5:45 and headed for home. A finish line always looks good, but it felt great that day. I had achieved the goal and conquered the pass. I finished in 5:51, well under 6 hours. I was 102nd out of 266. Not bad for a flatlander.
Here is Tony Krupicka finishing up. He ran a 3:40 on this course and got second. That is insane! He had a hard day with fighting cramps also and you can read about it on his blog.
Here I am coming down the home stretch. I heard the announcer say, "is it going to be a sprint"? I looked back and saw this guy coming and thought, Oh hell no, and took off. I beat him by 3 seconds. When I was done, my family came up to me and said that Wyatt had brought Tony's DVD down to the race and I needed to check it as it may be cracked. Huh? I opened it up and they had Tony autograph it earlier after he had finished. What a great surprise after finishing a tough race.
Here is how they post your results. On a board with your bib tag and your finishing time wrote down on it. You can say a lot for technology, but I like it. Maybe I am old school, but I thought it was great.

The Marathon was worth the trip and Leadville cannot be beat. I did not do enough hill training, but I am still happy with how I did. It challenged me more mentally than physically, as I was not redlining on my heart rate, but I just could not breathe at times. If you are looking for your next challenge, this is one you need to put on your list. Thanks for the memories Leadville you are the bomb!
This is what is all about, mission accomplished! Results can be found here.