Sunday, December 30, 2012

Twelve days of Christmas: 3,4,5,6

12/27/12, day three
3 miles

In Westport visiting the family. I peeled out for a quick run in the damp, foggy weather up Charlotte White road. Its good to be back, even under less than ideal circumstances (death in the family). Everything is wet. Moss covers the trees, the ground on the roadside is spongy, the brook I pass over is swollen above its banks and my jacket is soon covered with condensation.

12/28/12, day four
6 miles

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view." Edward Abbey. I love the winding roads of this old town, and one of the most crooked of them is Drift road. You have to be on the alert running here, for there are no shoulders and quite a few blind turns. I run down to Hix Bridge and take in the sweeping views of the Westport River, watching the tide roll back to the sea.

12/29/12, day five
2 miles

Actually ran five on the trails at Weetamoo Woods, but I used up my five mile day already. I should rename this Yatzee running. Sleet forced me into a early retreat when I realized I had forgotten my hat at the house.

12/30/12, day six
7 miles

Snow! At least five inches, the heavy kind that clings to every branch. Ran past Hix Bridge to the the vineyards and back in my trusty Yak tracks. On my way back, a plow truck stopped alongside me, the window rolls down and a man with a long white beard and a giant pirate earring eyes me over. "There aint no school bus today, sunny, its Sunday" "Oh, I'm running" I say "What? G-d dammit, why? Who are you running from?"Awkward grin and forced chuckle from me. "Well, don't eat the yellow snow" he yells as he pulls away. Ah, thus speaks ancient Yankee wisdom.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The twelve days of Christmas: 1,2

12/25/12, day one
four miles

Ran out to the Brridge on Christmas morning. A cold biting wind from the North and heavy clouds threatened a storm that never came. No traffic on Riverside, one other runner. Solitude in the city.

12/26/12, day two
five miles

A big loop mostly via Turkey's yellow trail. The air was cold, but still. Everything is so bright on the mountain in winter. Patches of ice out in the Arkansas. A thin coating over the ponds.

I recently cracked open Brandy's Imperial Sundae from Oklahoma's Mustang Brewing. This imperial porter tastes like a root beer float with a kick, a 9.2 abv kind of kick. It's a fairly sweet beer, but not sickeningly so. Good as a dessert drink.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Running the 12 days of Christmas

While my knee healed faster than expected after Pumpkin Holler, motivation has dropped of the charts.  I hate to admit it lace up and head out the door is a bit of a chore these days. I've become adept at generating compelling reasons to stay inside in the morning. Not doing much of the epic riding that I envisioned either. I get out to Turkey for a trail run now and then, and ride an occasional loop around the Arkansas on lunch breaks. Yup.

But that's about to change, because I have a plan. The idea is simple: twelve days, start on Christmas with one mile and add one for each following day. You know, like the song. That's 78 miles total. Since we're traveling, I tweaked the rules a bit (cause I'm the boss) and can do the daily mileage out of order. For example I can run twelve miles on day three and one mile on day get the idea.

Ridiculous, I know, but maybe its exactly what I need to get out of this funk. And 78 miles should make up for all the extra liquid bread I'll be consuming over the Holidays.

Speaking of brews, Boulevard's Long Strange Tripel is a trip indeed! Sweet upfront, bitter and dry on the finish, with lots of complexity coming out as it warms.


Monday, December 17, 2012

My 12 favorite pics of 2012

Well its that time of year to look back and give thanks for an epic year, lest I forget. I limited myself to twelve pics (brb related) that seemed to best encapsulate the awesomeness that was 2012.
Castle Rock, Golden

Golden Gate Canyon Park, CO

Westport Harbor
Pumpkin Holler 50k, Tahlequah
Can't leave out the Brridge
Midsummer on Turkey; TATUR run

Sunset, downtown Tulsa.
Sunrise, Cocoa Beach
Running water on Turkey Mountain; a miracle!
Early Fall on Turkey Mountain
Oatmeal Stout in Nederland
My new running partner

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Heroes on wheels

Not this guy.

We'll have to go back a bit; to direct drive, suit jackets and dirt roads.


Let's take a closer look at what these pioneers were doing on their Penny-farthings. 


From David Herlihy's Bicycle: The History, Yale University Press.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

What I've been drinking

First off, happy International Stout Day!

Here's what's been holding me over as we transition into a season of porters, stouts, dark ales, spiced beers, and imperial fill- in- the- blanks:

New Belgium's Trippel is a nice looking beer, and has the smooth mouthfeel of the style. It starts off sweet and fruity and has a spicy finish with a hint of hops. There is a bit of heat from the alcohol. Totally quaffable, but be careful. The 7.8 abv will catch up with you quickly.

New Belgium's Ranger IPA is good, but unremarkable. Plenty of citrus and pine flavors and light on the malt. Very drinkable; a perfect BBQ beer. It's a summer IPA, if that makes any sense.

And then there was Sam Adam's Octoberfest. Meh. It doesn't help that I've never been a huge fan of the style, but this brew was just a little too sweet even for a Marzen. It went down well enough with these sausages though.

Their Scwarzbier, on the other hand, is phenomenal. It has the flavors of a good porter without the heaviness of a porter. I will be picking this up again.

Finally, the Trois Pistoles Unibroue (Quebec). I'm crazy for Belgian beers these days, quite a change from where my tastes were just a year ago. This is a Beligian strong ale, and at 9% abv, its a sipper or you'll be sorry. We have an explosion of flavors here: cherry and other dark fruits, chocolate, cloves, roastiness. Warming alcohol underneath. Sweet as expected, but manages to stay crisp.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Turkey and Taturs

I spent a beautiful Sunday morning working the parking lot aid station at Turkey and Taturs; my first time watching a race unfold from the other side of the pretzels and gatorade. It actually was a pleasure to watch the race and talk to the runners passing through. Daniel Ellis killed it in the 50k race. He set a new course record at 4:15; very impressive to those who know the terrain.

Our spread

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Fire in the Osage Hills

When it comes to Fall foliage, you can't beat New England with its climatic peaks of fiery color.  And yet Eastern Oklahoma offers a certain charm in a unpredictable and haphazard way. You will be surprised by little pockets of bright color in a sea of lingering green and dead brown. Take two Cottonwoods by the Arkansas: one will be deep summer green while her sister turns to gold. From Tulsa, the oak covered Osage hills to the North appear to be a drab maroon, but ride up into them and you will find many of the hidden hollows covered in blood red, yellow and orange.


Monday, October 29, 2012

2012 Tulsa Run

Over nine thousand braved the cold for the 35th annual Tulsa Run on Saturday. Megan signed up for the 5k race, her first since Sophie entered the picture over a year ago.

One of us managed to stay warm while waiting at the finishing chute.


Her goal was to finish, and she goes and sets a PR! Way to go Megan!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pumpkin Holler 50k (10/20/12)

The surrounding hills came into relief against the pale glow of dawn. Wisps of mist hung over the river. Eddie Vedder was on the radio and the adrenaline was flowing. There's nothing like that pre- race feeling, especially when you have no idea what to expect.

I pulled off the highway into the bustling campground. It was a cold, frosty morning. I quickly packed my hydration belt with a few bags of Gu Chomps and the camera. After catching a few photos of the river, I joined a crowd gathering around a campfire. Hundred- milers organized and labeled their gear for the drop bags. Small talk commences:  how far are you running, is this your first time, what an unusual pre- race music selection, what in the world are we doing here, etc. I try to be social but my mind is somewhere on the miles of road that lay ahead.

The starting line was packed with 100- milers, 100- kers and 50kers, all leaving at 8. We ran out of the campground and crossed the old metal bridge. If you've ever been on a float trip on the Illinois East of Tahlequah, chances are you've passed under this one.

Once over the river we began the thirty mile loop of the beautiful Pumpkin Holler course. The roads were not quite what I expected. I had envisioned dirt or fine gravel; these roads were covered with loose nuggets and rocks. Not that I'm complaing; give me rocks over pavement anyday. There were plenty of visual distractions in these early miles: an old wooden clapboard Church and other abandoned structures; views of the river and surrounding bluffs; climbs up into thickly wooded hills. I felt great and kept a steady ten minute pace.

At mile twelve or so I ran and chatted with Marlin from Norman for a bit. He was doing the 50k after completing the Wichita Marathon last weekend! Marlin told me about the Marathon Maniacs, of which he is a member. I might of said something about how the hills weren't so bad, words I would be eating soon enough.

At around thirteen miles the course follows the Pumpkin Holler Road, easily my favorite part of the day. The road follows a long and narrow valley in the hills for miles. The valley floor is hayfield and horse pasture with hills of oak and pine rising like walls on either side. An echanted refuge from modern civilization if there ever was one. Who lives out here, I wondered: well- off hobby farmers from the city, multi- generational families, hobbits?

After snapping a few photos that failed to do the landscape justice, I decided to put the camera away for good. I found it hard to get the shots that I strive for and remained focused on the task at hand. To get a better idea of how beautiful the course is, go here.

Somewhere on the one stretch of paved road (mile 18 or so) I began to experience fatigue in the legs and my left knee flared up. By the time I reached the bathtub rocks crossing it was moving from uncomfortable to painful. I suspect that my knee took a beating when my exhausted quads could no longer absorb the pounding. One of the trade offs for cutting back on training mileage, I guess.

If my legs began to protest around the bathtub rocks, my mind began check out after the last aid station. Those were the longest, toughest three miles I've ever run. The climbs were fine, but anything with at least one degree of downgrade hurt like hell. I walked quite a bit on this stretch and swore every-time I rounded a bend and didn't see that damn bridge.

"That's crazy, I could never do that," is a common response if you share with someone that you ran a 50k. After they ask you how many miles it is, of course. With the metal bridge finally in view, I was passed by a couple of guys who looked like they were out for an easy training run. I greeted them and said "almost there". They looked at me kind of funny and mumbled a vague acknowledgement. Found out later that they were 100- milers. Two more loops for them. "Damn, I thought, that's crazy." I could never do that, or could I?

Not that I'll find out anytime soon. I felt proud of my 5:38 finish,  but I like how there's plenty of room for improvement at this distance. Small things that I can tweak in my training and execution that will probably make a big difference.

I stuck around long enough to chat with some of the other finishers and go for a refreshing dip in the cold Illinois. I wish I could have helped out, but family responsibilities brought me back to Tulsa by mid- afternoon. Props to TZ for putting on a truly exceptional race, one that I will be looking forward to next year.