Tatur’s Midnight Madness: The 50-miler That Wasn’t

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4th of July feels like forever ago! There are definitely NOT enough 3-day weekends on the calendar! This year Paul and I drove down to Tulsa after work on Thursday and met up with our friend Ferg and his new girlfriend! I’ve been to Tulsa multiple times now to see Ferg and for work, and I’m surprised how much I absolutely love this city. What sounds like a boring place actually has a really funky downtown area with tons of unique bars and fun restaurants.

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Paul and I in the “Center of the Universe” in Tulsa!

Thursday night we met up at The Max which is a retro pub and arcade that is all 80s themed. They have skee-ball (WHICH I LOVE) and play 80s music and have tons of arcade games. Afterwards we went to the Dust Bowl and while we didn’t bowl, we played Buck Hunter and sat outside on the patio.

Friday, the 4th, was dedicated to RESTING for the 50 miler. I’m not sure WHAT we were thinking by not sleeping all day. We ate breakfast, and then went out for some AWESOME pizza at Andolini’s.

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Then we spent the rest of the day watching House of Cards on Netflix (which is awesome by the way). Our race started at midnight, so we had the right idea, but in reality we really should have gotten some sleep… simply being off our feet wasn’t enough.

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Lazy Day in bed

At 10pm, we left the hotel to head over to the race start. The fireworks had just ended, so the traffic was awful with everyone trying to get home. TONS of roads were closed and it took us forever to find a parking spot, but we made it.

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The race itself was 50 miles: 5 10.3 mile loops on the River Parks Trail System. The “trail” was actually a paved sidewalk the entire way, which was perfect and much easier than a real trail, so this is a great first 50 miler for newbies. It ran along the Arkansas River and crossed over it twice in the loop. The bathrooms were also actual public restrooms. They weren’t THAT much nicer than port-o-potties, but still a nice perk!

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We were allowed 2 gear bags: 1 at the Start/Finish and 1 at Turkey Mountain (which was about 6 miles in on the odd loops and 4 miles in on the even loops since you alternate direction with each loop).

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The aid station at the start/finish

In my first gear bag: 2nd pair of shoes, pair of socks, visor for when the sun came out, my shrug to prevent sunburn, bug spray, sunscreen, 10 Gus of a bunch different flavors, toilet paper, Jolly Ranchers, a Gatorade, wet wipes, and my phone. The 2nd gear bag at Turkey Mountain also had a pair of socks, Jolly Ranchers, and a couple more Gus.

The race had about 100 people and it started right at midnight. It was weird at first running in the dark, but the trail was mostly lit. I did carry a flashlight and clipped a flashing red light on my Orange Mud HydraQuiver. The HydraQuiver carried a single water bottle, but had a great pocket with extra batteries for my flashlight, my iPod (which I never used), and my Gu for each loop (I take 1 Gu each 5 miles).

My first loop went great! Running on the paved trail was fun and everyone quickly spread out. It was hard to really see any scenery since it was dark and I definitely got freaked out a couple times running by myself when something would rustle in the bushes. The aid station at mile 6 was a welcomed relief to see other people and I just wanted to linger and eat all the great food they had all day!

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I reached the end of loop 1 and used the bathroom, filled up my water bottle, and drank some soda. I was feeling tired, but overall felt really good. As soon as I started loop 2, someone not in the race started running with me and chatting. At first I was kind of nervous since I thought this was some drunk 4th of July partier (it was like 2:30 am after all), but he quickly turned the topic to Jesus and how I need to channel him for the courage on this journey. Sigh. I have to give him credit though: He ran with me for almost 2 miles in Birkenstocks and cargo shorts. I was annoyed with him in the beginning, but of course, I felt too bad to tell him to leave me alone.. and it was kind of nice to have some company. He finally left me and I kept going until Turkey Mountain at about mile marker 14.

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I hadn’t been walking at all at this point which I was really happy with. I was going pretty slow since I was pacing to keep running for 8 more hours, but when I got to Turkey Mountain I started feeling tired. I ate some jerky (MY NEW FAVORITE MARATHON FOOD) and a rice ball. I still hadn’t brought out the iPod either, which I was saving for a low point.

Paul was running the race as well, but not with me since he is faster, so I was expecting to see him pretty soon. I ended up seeing him around his own mile 33 and he was looking pretty rough. His feet had blistered on the back of his heels (pre-existing condition which he patched up with duct tape), but they were rubbing badly.

At the end of loop 2 I really needed to use the restroom. Here I was SUPER thankful for the nicer public restrooms. I drank more soda (man, I LOVE soda) and topped off my water bottle again. I was 20 miles done and back on my way.

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Bear statues along the trail

Now the sun was starting to come up, so it was much lighter. I was starting to struggle though. I ran the first 5 miles of loop 3 and the whole time I was just so tired. I found myself closing my eyes while I was running to get a rest. ALL I wanted to do was sit down on one of the many benches and just nap for 10 minutes. HOW GLORIOUS that would have felt… but I didn’t because I figured someone would run by and I think I was dead (and even worse, wake me from my nap!). I kept going, but I was starting to walk now. I tried my hardest to stick to a 4 minutes on and 1 minute off running pattern, but it quickly dropped to 2:30 on and 0:30 off.  I saw Paul around my mile 36. We were both struggling and walking a lot. We were exhausted and Paul’s feet were KILLING him. I’ll admit that I was pretty disappointed to see him. I was really hoping he had dropped at mile 30, so that I could drop too 😀

At Turkey Mountain, I fueled up. I ate a bunch of jerky and some more substantial food like PB&J and more rice balls. I also drank a lot more soda and drank some extra water. I walked almost a mile straight after this aid station. I started to perk up from the food and soda, but I was still dying. When I crossed over the bridge to the other side of the Arkansas River, I ran into Natalie. She was just a random Tulsan who was out for a run. She coaxed me into running and even though I really just wanted to stab her or myself, I let her talk at me while I  ran at about a 12 min/mile pace. She was super nice and surprisingly a hardcore runner herself. She finished the 50 state challenge and I asked her about her favorite races. She was a lifesaver. She ran with me about 3.5 miles until the end of loop 3 (mile 30.9) and then she continued on.

At the end of loop 3 as I left Natalie, I found our friend Ferg waiting for us! He even brought with a large sausage pizza and a 6-pack of O’Fallon’s Wheach beer! He had gotten there at 6am to see us, but now it was closer to almost 7:30. This was the greatest. I crossed the timing mat to start loop 4, but stayed at the aid station. I was EXHAUSTED. ALL I wanted to do was sleep. My legs were sore, but felt good for having gone almost 31 miles. It was all mentally that I was defeated and so tired. I ate the pizza, drank a beer, and sat in Ferg’s lawn chair for a while. Paul finally stumbled up having finished his 4th lap (41.2 miles). He took of his shoes and compression socks and his poor feet were a mess. I had thought the pizza might revive me, but no way. I was done. I could have pressed on, but I knew it might not be safe. I needed sleep and I was already thinking crazy things and getting all the math wrong about how many loops/miles I had left. Paul was also determined to finish and was thinking about putting on flip flop and walking the last 10 miles. HA. We decided that we were being crazy. We were done.. and it was okay for us to ‘fail’ together.

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We turned in our bibs so they knew that we were kaput and packed up the car. We headed back to the hotel and at first Paul was sure that we wouldn’t be able to get any sleep from adrenaline. It was only about 8:30 am at this point. FALSE. We crashed and we crashed HARD. The next thing I remember is Ferg texting us wondering if we wanted lunch. It was almost 2pm. Food. YES. NOW.

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Shrimp Tacos at El Guapo

We met up with him at El Guapo, a great Mexican restaurant with GIANT margaritas. We went back to his apartment afterwards for drinking games for a bit and then spent the rest of the night exploring Tulsa. We discovered an awesome new lounge/bar called Valkryie that serves all unique, handcrafted cocktails and house-brewed beers. I also ate the GREATEST macaroni and cheese EVER at Joe Momma’s. We ended up going to bed early around 10, but we definitely needed the sleep.

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Mac and Cheese at Joe Mommas

Did I mention how much I love sleep?

So, we failed at our first 50 mile attempt. I would typically be pretty disappointed, but I’m actually really happy about the race. I played it smart and didn’t push myself into a dangerous situation and I know better next year to get some sleep before the race (well, and run more)!! I also still ran freakin’ 31 miles and had a blast doing it. I am definitely signing up next year and seeking revenge!

My Results (Still 3/4 in my age group! haha):

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And despite the bet I had with Paul that said we could go see the Blue Whale only IF I finished the race, we still stopped on the way home in Catoosa, OK. The Blue Whale is a pretty neat Route 66 stop that we skipped on our road trip to Ironman Arizona last November.

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