Post Oak Lodge main buildingThe Lodge itself was very nice. There was a main building that housed the dining hall and the check-in services and a bar. Then there were many rooming lodges around the property. The first lodge they put us in was odd. It was a little house with 4 locking "bedrooms" with private baths and a central living area. We went in and unpacked our things. Then a little yip dog in another room started barking and wouldn't shut the hell up. It just went on and on and on. I went straight to the front desk and requested another room. I love dogs. I have two. I do not appreciate having a tiny yip dog barking non-stop on what is supposed to be a relaxing weekend of racing. Grrr...
Luckily they put us up in another (much bigger lodge) in a room that was much quieter (and it was a little cheaper, too).
our lodge building for the weekendThe pre-race pasta dinner was very elegant. Not your typical cheap spaghetti dinner. It was set up as a buffet, but there were waiters constantly walking around and taking plates or filling drinks. The food was super delicious and there was plenty to eat. They even had a vegetarian option, which I very much appreciated!!
Race Day #1: 25K
I had originally signed up for the 50K/marathon option back in November. In early February I came to my senses and realized that was a bit ambitious for the training I had put in, so I dropped down to the 25K/half option.
The morning air was pretty cool. Temps were in the 30's and the wind was still. It was a beautiful morning. Sun shining, cloudless sky- the whole deal. The 25K started at 8:30, so we gathered quickly and then took off.
I somehow got put near the front of the group, which panicked me a little. I knew we had some pavement and then some gravel road to run on before we got onto the singletrack, so I hoped it would thin out enough that I wouldn't still be near the front.
I was wrong.
My first half mile was sub 10 min/miles. Yeah, I'm NOT that fast. Not even on pavement. Not even when I'm only running 1 mile, let alone 16. I knew I had to slow it down significantly. I let some people pass (OK, a LOT of people), but I was still caught up in too fast a group. My first couple miles were in the 11's. That's still too fast for me on trails for this distance. I was running so fast I'm sure I looked like I was about to stroke out.
me looking like I'm about to stroke out from running too fast
About mile 3 it finally opened up a bit and I was able to settle into a more comfortable pace (13's). The first 7 miles was fairly flat. I mean, it was a lot of ups and downs, but nothing too big. The second half of the race was when the hills really became an issue and I was struggling. I'm sure a lot of it was going out WAY too fast those first 3 miles, but part of it was also that I haven't been running trails as much, and most definitely NOT hills. Sigh... I'm never prepared enough it seems.
view of downtown Tulsa from the top of the tallest hill on the course
my friend Julie who I got to run a few miles with- and then who I chased the rest of the race
The last half of the race was tough. I just put the headphones in, put my head down and kept going. Up a steep incline, down a steep incline, through the muddy fields, slipping in the muddy grass, dodging face-planting rocks, etc. It was just a matter of slogging through. I know I'm having a tough day when I contemplate cheating on a course. I've only ever considered doing it 3 times in all of my past 8 years of racing. This day was the 3rd time I considered it. I would dream about how I could cut the course short and get it over with. In all honesty, I would NEVER do it, and wouldn't be able to look myself in the mirror if I did, but when I start thinking about it and playing it out mentally, I know I'm in a bad spot. I would DNF before I cheated a course, but at the time it was just another mental game to get me through the miles.
I didn't know the Flintstones lived out hereI finally got to the last 2K of the race: The Hill from Hell. And that, it was! My groin seized up at the bottom and it took a good 5 min. before I could stand upright and keep moving. At least a dozen people passed me here. I just let them all go on, hoping I could continue. With 2K left, there was no way in Hell (on the Hill from Hell) that I was going to give up now. 1K up the hill was the beer tent, and I happily sucked down 2 cups of brew in hopes it would help dull the pain a little (mentally and physically). I finally reached the finish line in 4:20. I was on pace to do about 20 minutes faster, but I kept having that crazy groin issue. It really doesn't matter, tho. I finished and for that I'm grateful.
Race Day #2: Quarter Marathon
Sunday was supposed to be the half marathon. After my ass-kicking on Saturday, I went to the registration table and dropped down to the quarter marathon instead. I knew I didn't have it in me to do 13 miles on those same trails, yet I still wanted the doubler trophy and a finish. I'm glad I did because I woke up on Sunday with a terribly sore back. My legs felt great, but my back was in knots. It made running a struggle, but it was doable for 6.6 miles.
The course was different, which was a nice change. A lot of it was run in reverse of what we did on Saturday. The 6.6 miles flew by pretty quickly and I didn't even have to play any mental games. I didn't bring my music on purpose, so I could focus on the beauty around me. There were still some KILLER hills, but since I knew it was such a short race, they didn't bother me as much. The course on Sunday was a loop with about 3.5 miles of trails and 3 miles of road. It was a nice mix of surfaces (trails first, then road at the end when you're tired). At the bottom of the final climb (the Hill from Hell- road version) there was an aid station. They had a Mexican theme, and I noticed some cups of salsa sitting on the rock wall. Truthfully I just wanted some chips and salsa so I asked them about it. They started hollering about the "Salsa Challenge." If I downed a cup of salsa, I would get a really awesome teeny sombrero and of course, some bragging rights. How could I refuse THAT? I downed the salsa to great cheers from the aid station volunteers, got my hat, and then promptly screamed and threw three cups of gatorade and 2 potatoes down my throat (that salsa was HOT).
the last couple miles
finishing up the quarter marathon
About .2/mile up the final hill, there was the beer tent. Again, I downed 2 cups of beer and proceeded to the finish line. Race day #2 was much easier, and my pace was much better. This was also the first time I've ever had beer during a run. I kinda liked it. As long as it's near the end, I will most definitely do it again!!
at the finish line with my doubler trophy. What a fun weekend!
Overall, this was a FANTASTIC race. I would highly recommend it if you're in the Tulsa area. The race was VERY well organized, INCREDIBLY well-marked, and a great variety of terrain that never bored you. I will do it again next year.