Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Black Tree

So there's this black tree along a secret trail on Turkey Mountain. It looks dead, but some of the upper branches produce leaves. Its bark is a blackened, perhaps from a fire ages ago. It stands out in contrast to the monotonous brown of winter and green of mid-summer. The tree interrupts your experience; it is not what you expect to see around the bend. Each time I visit the trail, I feel compelled to stop, walk around it, and take in the strangeness of this living being. For me, it is an appropriate symbol for my God. God is what you least expect in life. He is the enigma when things in your little world start making sense.

Seeing God in the Works of Creation, A Catholic Photo Challenge.

Mount Magazine Trail Run 2014

Taken from my iphone

I've heard various explanations for how Mount Magazine got its name. One story is that explorers in the area heard a landslide on the mountain and likened the roar to a ammunition magazine exploding. Another version has the French naming it for its resemblance to a storehouse. The mountain is more of a plateau really, with a flat and run-able top, and steep cliffs on the Southern side. On May 17th, I left Tulsa in the wee hours of the morning to run the Magazine Trail Run, an 18 miler fun run across the top, down the side, and back up the mountain.

When I drove into a cloud while ascending to the starting area, I realized that this was not going to be a morning of inspiring vistas. I got over my initial disappointment with the weather quickly enough though, when I realized how cool it is to run along cliffs in heavy fog. We started at the visitors at the top, and ran for several miles along the edge of the mountain. On our left was a thousand foot drop into soupy white nothingness, all very mysterious and unsetttling. When I was on the West side of the mountain, the sun eventually popped out for a brief period, but the temperature stayed cool all morning. We climbed signal hill, the tallest point in Arkansas, and soon after descended down to the base of the mountain on the North side.

This was the first mountain race where my muscles didn't cramp up and stayed strong right until the finish. I credit that to eating more before and during the race. I also started out slow, keeping in mind that most of my energy was needed for that 1000+ foot ascent at mile 11. I climbed feeling fresh and passing many of the people I let pass in the first few miles.

I loved everything was low-key. No entry fee or race bibs and you kept your own time. A big thanks to PT for marking the trails, setting up aid stations and grilling some tasty burgers post- race!

Some hoppy farmhouse goodness for the recovery. Cheers!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Streetcred 2014

I'll spare you all the usual excuses for not posting regularly. Suffice it to say that I'm back, at least for now.

The Mt. Magazine Trail Run is on the 17th and I'm going to give it a go. 18 miles down, up and on the top of the tallest mountain in Arkansas. I needed a lot of miles for the peak weekend in my training, so after 6 miles at Turkey, I headed out again with the family to check out Tulsa Street Cred.

Streetcred is an Open Streets event, modeled after the international Open Streets Project, which seeks to close streets temporarily so people can use them for walking, bicycling, dancing, playing and socializing. Put on by the Tulsa Young Professionals annually, Streetcred challenges us to imagine urban planning for a world less auto-centric.

It was awesome. Imagine an entire mile of a normally busy city avenue in the South downtown area, either entirely closed to pedestrians, or partially closed for generously wide bike lanes. Food trucks, artists, vendors, activities for kids, a mobile library and even a luchador ring scattered along the route. It was funny to observe how many pedestrians stuck to the sidewalks, even with four lanes of open road available to them.

9 miles round trip. It makes a huge difference to have a purpose or destination to my training runs.