Monday, March 4, 2013

Post Oak Challenge Weekend 2013

This weekend I traveled to Tulsa to do the Post Oak Challenge.  It's a two day trail running extravaganza in the hills just northwest of Tulsa on the property of the Post Oak Lodge.  We went ahead and rented a room there and spent the weekend lounging and hanging out with trail runners from around the tri state area.  Staying on-site was also nice, because the start line was a 30 second walk from my room (which is always a nice thing come race morning).  Another bonus for staying at the lodge was dinner and breakfast was included for both days with our room, and if you count the free big post-race lunch, we didn't have to pay for any meals the whole weekend.  Not a bad deal for $300. 
Post Oak Lodge main building
The 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 weekend
The 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.
heading up Holmes Peak (the tallest point).  It's much steeper than it looks.  (photo courtesy of Julie)
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
About mile 9 my groin started cramping up.  I stopped and stretched it, but it was so cramped I couldn't stand up straight and had a hard time getting it to loosen up.  I would wind up stopping 2 more times, crying in pain at that doggone cramping groin.  It only seized up on the steep uphills, so whenever I had to walk uphill, I tried my best to keep my strides short and quick.  Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't.  I've never had my groin cramp before, and have no idea what caused it.  Odd. 
halfway through

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 here
I 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.
I immediately got my medal and headed to the outdoor pool to get in and cool off my legs. I swear by ice baths, and that water was icy cold.  I know it saved my legs.

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.
And I'm damn sure going to train better.


  1. First, I wanted to say congrats again.
    And second, omg, I totally play the "cheat the course" mind game! I was just telling my husband about this after my last 50k. I do it all the time. I think it is just another mind game to occupy my thoughts for awhile. According to my times I do not actually cheat the course though, lol.

    1. YOU TOO??? OK, good, I was afraid that by admitting that I was a horrible person. I thought "who thinks about cheating, Tanya, you're terrible" and then I continued to think about cheating for the next 5 miles. So glad I'm not the only one. I think it's a good mental distraction and gives my mind something to do.
      Yeah, obviously my times do not indicate I'm a cheater either. LOL I mean, who cheats and finishes in almost last place??
      Thanks again!

  2. I nominated you for a Liebster Award! :)

  3. Love your race reports. Congrats! We ran the Route 66 marathon and half marathon two years ago and it was HILLY. We were not prepared for that. I can only imagine the trails around there.