It was Friday morning and the sun was just beginning to rise. By mid-morning the entire family would be on the road into TATUR country for the inaugural Pumpkin Holler 50 km followed by a couple days at Beaver’s Bend State Park. I looked over at my four year old son who was snuggled between mommy and daddy, “Is that puke?!?”.
Well, this adds a wrinkle to things…
So for the next couple hours Griffin vomited what looked like mucus and water every 15 minutes or so. It didn’t take long to determine G-man, Wendy, and Ainsley were not heading up for the race. If Griffin’s condition didn’t improve dramatically throughout the morning, I would be staying home as well. The Go, No-Go time was pushed back to noon.
After a couple hours of concern, Griffin was feeling close to normal by 10 AM. No longer vegetating on the couch. Wanting to play. Wanting to eat…a lot. My little bro was basically back to himself by 11 AM. The Pumpkin Holler adventure was ON but Wendy, Griffin, and Ainsley would stay home…just to be safe. After the race we would hopefully all be healthy for the State Park adventure. Fingers crossed.
First, this race was extra special to me because I would finally be able to meet Ken Childress and Brian Hoover from the TATUR crew up in Tulsa. These guys have been a huge supporter of Endurance Buzz since the early, early days of this little site that had the big idea of being a resource that connects the amazing trail/ultra people and races within a five state area. It was so great to meet you both…and Thank You for all the support!
Now let’s get ready to race…
After an OK night sleep, race morning shared with us some crisp, cool, windless air as the sun rose into the cloudless sky. It was a utopic morning. After quickly getting my timing chip I headed back to the car in hopes of getting the USB modem working on my laptop to provide some race coverage after my 50 km adventure. It worked! Time to run!
A brief chat with some good friends Tim and Stephanie Jagoda, the gun was shot (literally) and we started as all ultras do – a slow shuffle out of the gates intermixed with lots of chatter between runners.
The course was simple – a 50 km clock-wise loop with 3,000 feet of climbing on rolling dirt roads within the J.T. Nickel Preserve that included one short out-and-back section. Nearly everywhere you looked a deep, vibrant color of green was on display with periodic hints of Fall approaching. You couldn’t help but feel a sense of peace throughout the run. A few dog barks would turn on the spidey senses for a while but then you would blend back into the natural surroundings. Flowing with the terrain.
While I am a huge fan of technically challenging courses, there was something special about not having to be on high alert to prevent the foot from hitting the next root or boulder. You actually could look around…while running…and enjoy the landscape portrait environment you were running in.
I kept the effort very easy throughout the first seven miles. Chatted with Stephanie and other runners through mile six or so and then many began to dial into their own race pace.
Mile 7-10 contained the only out-and-back segment for the 50km runners, and you couldn’t help but feel a little spunky as runners were coming back and you were heading out. I was running nearly two minutes per mile faster in this section than the earlier miles. You couldn’t help it. The feedback from the other runners felt like a giant wave of running mojo was carrying you along the trail. Of course, the wave does eventually recede and it becomes you and the road/trail once again.
I passed through the first 10 miles in around 1:42.
The next 10 miles include a couple more nice climbs and plenty of nature to enjoy. I really felt good through this section and really just let the body run. The temps were starting to go up as the sun reached its mid-day location in the sky. These middle miles seemed to have the most exposure to the sun and I was starting to feel a bit dehydrated.
I scampered through mile 10-20 in 1:36. Twenty miles completed in 3:18.
Cruising into mile 22.2 aid-station, Hard Up Ahead, I was starting to feel the miles. I filled up my handheld, grabbed a high-octane caffeinated gel, and marched out onto the only brief pavement segment of the course.
The remaining nine miles to the finish were a run/walk, keep it movin’ kind of effort. I passed through the marathon mark in 4:31 while hiking up one of the remaining hills.
Mile 20-30 took 2:04. Yes, the pace was slowing and the discomfort continued to rise, but man, this was exactly where I wanted to be.
Running back across the river into the park and heading down the finish chute I see and hear my buddy Tim (who finished second male in the 50k!) cheering at the finish. It felt great to cross that line in 5:36:33!
Then Tim looks back and sees his wife, Stephanie smiling her way to the finish line. This was her first 50k attempt and finish! A big congrats to her. She said she saw me over the last mile or so and was trying to catch me. I had no idea and would have been caught if the race was 31.5 miles.
Really, really a great race! Thank you Ken, Brian, and all the amazing volunteers!
Post Race Reflections
- Course – Due to its non-technical nature, a fast course. The many opportunities to open-it-up requires even more attention to pacing so as not to burn too many matches early on. Beautiful area!
- Gear – Nathan Quickdraw Plus Handheld and INOV-8 X-TALON 212 shoes – I would use them both again! Although the X-TALON’s have some beefy lugs, they integrated with the dirt roads without any issues. No blisters.
- Race execution – A little too much spice during the middle miles. May have burnt a few more matches than I realized.
- Training – I ran between 12-23 quality miles/week (avg 19 miles) in the eight weeks leading up to the race and included 3-4 days of strength training per week. Do you need to run high mileage to finish an ultra – I don’t think so! With this low training mileage, I do need to be extra sensitive to pacing throughout the first 3/4 of the race. Still workin’ on that.
After a bite to eat, chat with fellow runners, and a quick shower in the park, I pulled out the laptop, struggled with internet connectivity for a while, and finally started providing beta live coverage of the remainder of the 100 mile and 100 km race through Twitter and the EB Live! page. I also periodically got involved with timing and aid-station support. What a great day and night!
By 6AM on Sunday morning, I was unable to keep my eyes open any longer and jumped in my car and fell asleep for a couple hours. Woke up shortly before 8am, talked to Brian about the female 100 mile winners and posted that before closing the coverage and starting the 4.5 hour drive back home.
Candy and Beavers
Strangest experience on the drive home. While at a gas station filling my tank, a recording says something along the lines of, “Harvard says people that regularly eat candy, live longer”. What?!?
I arrived home around 12:30 pm. We packed up and were on our way to Beaver’s Bend State Park in south east Oklahoma by 1:45 pm. 3.5 hours later, we enjoyed a couple days of this…
What a trip!
Be active – Feel the buzz!
David – EnduranceBuzz.com