The hypnotic flame from burning wood warming my body and soul.
The brief conversations with the trail running family as we each come and go during our pre-race preparation.
The rising sun penetrating through the majestic trees and enhancing the nearby rocks, pine needles, and small tranquil pond.
This was the Hanenburg tribe’s first visit to the low-key and intimate A-OK Trail Run put on by Mary Ann Miller up in the beautiful varied terrain of south central Oklahoma. Upon arriving at the race site, it was clear – today was going to be a great day to trail run.
This was my first race since Pumpkin Holler 50 km (race report) last Fall so I was a bit unsure on my fitness level. Since the new year I have been putting in mid-20, along with a couple 30 mile weeks. My basic approach for the run was to run comfortably through the halfway point, and then hopefully be able to dial it up during the back half.
I also tried a different hydration approach for this distance. Typically I would carry a handheld but this time I decided to use my Nathan Endurance Vest with the purpose of not having to stop at any of the aid stations. Basic thought – Carry a little extra weight, Spend no time at the aid stations, Finish sooner. Might be a flawed theory but I was willing to try it.
The race start was poetry in motion and created this huge grin within the first strides of the adventure.
Mary walked to the start line while lightly blowing her whistle and told us to come over. It felt like first grade gym class – loved it!
Mary read a few instructions and then said, “go”.
Early Miles – Consistent Effort
The first three miles contained this wonderfully varied single track and the most amount of climbing for the course (~1000 feet total when using elevation correction). The trail was technical in sections as you had to negotiate a variety of rock…that weren’t moving if you kicked them. Downed leaves covered some of the rock monsters which added to the light-footed excitement especially when running downhill. Lush pine needles covered the remaining trail surface as you ran within the majestic trees and fresh air.
Since the course contains various out-and-back segments, it was easy to cheer on everyone and watch the scamper at the pointy-end of the 25k and 50k race.
Besides a couple miles of slightly technical climbs and descents between mile 4.5 and 6.5, most of the remaining miles to the midway point were on nicely groomed fire roads / dirt roads.
I reached the midway point ~mile 7.5 in 1:14 feeling like I still had a gear or two in reserve. I had been knocking down water, a couple Endurolytes, Hammer Gel (Huckleberry), and Perpetuem Solids. Stomach and energy levels felt good.
To the Finish – Gradually Press the Throttle
Over the next 5.5 miles I gradually increased effort into the “push” zone. This section was also easy run-able dirt roads so I had to stay alert not to push too hard and blow up. It felt like I sat right at the edge of a tempo type effort.
The final two miles put us back on the sweet and moderately technical single track. Some fun downhills as long as you don’t catch a toe, and a nice little climb leads you back down to the pond near the finish. With the finish in sight, we are led back up some small grade and extra technical trail (due to the leaves hiding the rocks) before returning back to the edge of the pond leading to the finish line. Nice.
I cruised across the line in 2:15:25-ish with Griffin and Wendy cheering me into the finish. Good times!
Post Race Thoughts:
- Beautiful venue and a special low-key event. If you haven’t ran – you should.
- Really happy with pacing and nutrition.
- I liked wearing the Nathan pack and not having to stop at any of the aid stations. I should have put about 50 ounces in the bladder instead of filling it up. Oops!
- The Altra Lone Peak were great tread on this trail. They handle the groomed and technical extremely well.
Thank you Mary and the A-OK team! We will be back for this one.
The Weekend Adventure Continues
After a few hours of hanging out and chatting with the trail running tribe, we cruised over to Lake Murray State Park and enjoyed a couple days of family time. A beautiful lake and great park system that included some…
Now time to catch up on all the race action in the region!
Be active – Feel the buzz!
David – EnduranceBuzz.com