|About 1 mile to go and feelin' strong ... but REALLY ready to be done!!!|
1st Ultra Marathon Completed
Runners: 62 Six-Hour, 189 Three-Hour
Course: 2.1 mile out & back totaling 4.2 loop trail on Turkey Mountain
Temp: 41 Degrees
Wind: 10-15 NNE
SWAG: Short Sleeve Tech T-Shirt
Food: Variety of trail race food, chips, pretzels, chocolate, candy, fruit, barbecue pork after the race
Volunteer Support: Great, very helpful and friendly!
Water Stops: Basically a stop every mile
Crowd Support: Almost none
Miles Completed: 36.6
Overall Pace: 9:52/mile
Place: 7th/62 Overall, 1st/40-49 Age Group
Total Experience 1 2 3 4 5
|Race shirt - short sleeve New Balance technical tee,|
the actual 2013 shirt was green, but I traded mine for white
completed to date
- Ran 4.2 mile loop 8 times, and 1/2 mile finishing loop
6 times for a total of 36.6 miles
- Nice mostly flat course around the ridge of Turkey
Mountain Urban Wilderness Area overlooking downtown
- Small, but really well organized race with great volunteers
at the rest stops and helping with timing
- Started cramping at about mile 28, really affected pace
- Carried "The Stick" for rolling out muscles for about
8 miles, and got a rub down from one of the volunteers
- Fell twice toward the end of the race
- Passed Michael about 5 times during her 3 hour race,
and then several times at the end with her taking pictures
- Actual running pace was about 8:45, but spent way too
much time taking breaks and rolling out cramps
- Used bananas and Lay's potato chips as fuel, also
consumed three gels
- All of the runners were incredibly friendly and courteous
- Great experience! Glad I did it!
|2013 Tatur's 6-Hour Snake Race Finisher Medal (left), medal for 1st Place in 40-50 Age Group (right)|
Michael and I arrived in Tulsa, OK on Friday night, unfortunately after attending my grandmother's funeral. The town I was raised in is almost halfway between KC and Tulsa, so we just headed to Tulsa a day earlier than planned after the services.
|World Famous Pre Race Dance ... Michael gettin' down!!!|
Jim shaking & shivering just thinking about the impending race conditions!!!
But having 24 extra hours to kill in Tulsa wasn't the end of the world. It gave us time to run by the race site and take in a little of the Riverside Trail. We also picked up our packets at RunnersWorld of Tulsa as their local 5K St. Patty's Day Race was wrapping up. We had great meal at regional favorite Hideaway Pizza. And we even had time to catch a movie ... "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" (which I do not recommend).
For my pre-race meals, I usually try to eat as much chicken and rice as possible. I'm sure there are armchair nutritionists out there who will let me know why it's poor race fuel, but it's always worked for me. After finding the combination for both lunch and dinner, I felt adequately prepared for my 6 hours of running.
Michael and I both kept one eye on the ominous weather forecast throughout the weekend. When we arrived in Tulsa, it was pretty much perfect ... highs of 65, light wind, sunny & beautiful. But race day was projected to be 35 degrees, 20-25 mph winds, and rain, thunderstorms, and more rain!!! So when I woke up on Sunday morning, the first thing I did, even before visiting the men's room, was peek outside the Hampton Inn room window to find out what was in store.
After we gathered our food and extra clothing, we hit up the ol' World Famous Pre-Race Dance, and then headed over to the race, which was only about a mile from where we were staying.
As we made our way to the starting line to check things out, we immediately noticed the wind was FREEZING!!! It wasn't raining, but there was a ton of moisture in the air, about 95% humidity, like it could start pouring any minute. But it didn't rain all day. I had hoped that the trees that lined the course would act as wind barriers, which I later found out they would. Once we started running it wasn't too bad, but milling around before the race got pretty chilly.
We also arrived at the course about an hour early in hopes of getting a premium parking spot a few feet from the starting line. But even 60 minutes prior proved to be too late. Vehicles already lined the narrow road leading to the start and we had to settle for a spot about 250 yards from the starting line, which wasn't as bad as some races ... but did I mention it was FREEZING!!! It was probably a 3-4 minute walk.
Before the race, I took a few minutes to visit with some of the experienced trail runners, mostly asking questions about where to place my drop bag, pacing, and passing etiquette This particular race had a turn around and rest area at the start/finish line, so it made it really convenient to drop my bag of race junk at an easily accessible location.
|Parked about a quarter mile from the start - we couldn't even see the starting line from here|
|Start/Finish area with one of three aid stations, me in the center crossing the 1/2 mile loop mat wrapping up the race|
Tulsa has a few different publicly maintained nature walks and wilderness trails. The Snake Race was held at one of them, Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Area. It's a series of very well maintained bike and Jeep, dirt and rock trails Southwest of downtown Tulsa that provided a relatively flat and smooth 6-hour trail race.
The course was almost completely dirt, with a few smoothed over rocked formations that had surfaced to the top. For a trail race, it made for a relatively smooth 6-hours of running.
The one concern I had going into this race was starting too fast. And wouldn't you know it ... with adrenaline pumping, the leaders well within reach, and my testosterone peaking, I shot out of the gates way too fast! It was a rookie mistake, and by now I should know better. But I fell into the trap of trying to keep up with the leaders.
I had spent most of my training miles around 8:50-9:15/pace. And I had promised myself that I wouldn't go under 8:30 ... for the whole race. I quickly broke that promise with a series of 8:15-8:20's over the first 10 miles ... which was a little too fast at that point. I felt good because I was in 5th place and I could see 3rd & 4th up ahead, and my breathing was smooth and controlled. I really wasn't laboring at all. But the trail, even though flat, was slowly taking it's toll on my legs. As I lifted my stride ever so slightly higher than normal to avoid the small roots, rocks, and dirt formations on the trail, I noticed my hip flexors were really getting a workout. It wasn't a problem at that point, but I began to feel them get a little tighter than normal.
|Lay's potato chips ... fuel of champions?|
Even though I had gone out a little fast, my real concern was not getting enough to eat with each stop. I had brought mostly bananas, Lay's potato chips, and Gu Gels, which worked in training. Each time I got back to the start/finish area, I took some time and chowed down ... but it was a little too much time. I watched as runners would pass me, and then I would gradually overtake them again somewhere later on the trail once I resumed running. It was like a game of trail "Leap Frog".
Michael was running the 3-hour race and I kept seeing her smiling face on the out & back which gave me a huge boost. I made it fairly easily to the half-way point, and then the ol' trail started to get a little lonely and little boring as the 3-hour folks all vanished. I had brought my iPod for the second half of the race, but when I fired it up as a little mid-race reward to myself, it was completely dead, which really bummed me out a little. I don't "need" music when I run, but it makes the same old cold & lonely trail loop a little more tolerable.
|Rolling out lower quad muscle cramps with "The Stick" over the last hour of the race|
This was the first time I had ever been over 26.2 miles in a race, and for the most part, my first pseudo-ultra marathon experience was very positive. I maintained a good pace without any trouble. I didn't have any stomach related accidents. And most importantly, I finished. However, the one issue I had to deal with was continuous cramping ... which rarely ever bothers me when running. In the last hour of the race, I had to consistently stop and roll out my lower quads with "The Stick". I actually even carried it with me for the last couple of loops, stopping to roll out every so often when things tightened up. And at my last stop on the 4.2 mile loop, one of the volunteer girls actually rolled my quads out for me while I enjoyed some fruit. (I think one of her friends might have taken a staged "incriminating" photo while she was on her knees in front of me, but I was too tired to care at that point.) I don't know what I would have done without having "The Stick" with me, but I was so glad that I had packed it in my drop bag! I was probably the single thing that helped me finish as well as I did.
At mile 31.5 ... I fell for the first time. It sucked! I had seen 7 or 8 other runners fall throughout the race, and while I had stumbled a couple of times myself, I managed to stay upright. But my legs were getting really heavy and I honestly don't even know what I tripped on, but down I went. And then, about a half mile later ... I fell again! This one wasn't good. I rolled completely over, almost doing a somersault down an incline. I didn't get skinned up, which is amazing, but I was covered in dirt and it hurt. I was really ready to be done at that point!
When we crossed the 4.2 mile loop mat near the end of the race, if you couldn't make out and back on another full loop, you began circling a half-mile loop as many times as possible for the remainder of the race. The half-mile circuit was much rockier, steeper, and tougher than the full loop. I really had to focus because I didn't want to hit the ground again on those rocks, plus ... well, that's just about it!
|Michael & me after our races, with REALLY tired legs!|
To be honest, I had pretty lofty goals for my first long trail race. The Snake Race had these really awesome snake trophies for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd overall. I really wanted one, and thought they were possibly in reach. If I would have managed my race a little better at the outset and not wasted so much time, I might have been close, but I ended up with 7th place overall, and 1st in my age group. No one older than me beat me in my first 6-hour ultra marathon, which was pretty cool!
After the race Michael and I grabbed a recovery meal at The Cheesecake Factory, but my stomach was pretty uneasy. I also began wondering just how bad my legs would hurt the next two days. Pretty much worse than any other race! But it was a great experience that I'm glad I took advantage of it.
I can't say that I "fell in love" with trail running or ultra marathons during this process. I proved to myself that I can easily complete a distance longer than a marathon. I really don't thing a 50 or 60 miler will be any trouble at all. I'll probably steer clear of the 100 miler. But I'm going to put them all on hold for now. I just really don't enjoy the training. It's much slower than I enjoy running, and it's a lot of lonely back-to-back runs on the weekend. Plus, I still have a lot of speed goals that I want to accomplish. But in the future, I can see ultra marathons possibly becoming a part of my running. And if they do, I would definitely do the Snake Race in Tulsa again. We had a great time!
... be great today!