Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My First Ultramarathon, The Post Oak 50k

So, i'm now a ultramarathoner, one of my goals for 2012 was to run my first ultramarathon, I got it done on 2/25. It was a trail ultramarathon, a very challenging course, it had combination of it all, cold starting temps, rugged curvy rocky paths. Small muddy areas along the paths, thorns, small almost like streams where you'd have to jump or walk over. The rocks in the path were just rough, also thick grassy areas as well. And, HILLS, big HILLS where just about every runner had to walk up them. But I loved it, this is the kind of course I would prefer to run to become a ultramarathoner, a hard earned title for sure.

The start was from the Lodge itself, first 1/4 mile was on a paved road, then on a dirt road for another 1/4 mile or so before we turned into the start of the rough areas, rocks, narrow paths, sharp turns, etc. This would be like this the next 2 miles or so. I took my first fall bout the 2.5 mile mark, in a thick grassy path, that had rocks you couldn't see due to the thick grass.

From mile 3 to 6, we got out of those heavily wooded rough areas and into straight grassy paths, with a few muddy areas, but nothing too bad. It was here we seemed to be running uphill gradually, often. I took a couple of endurolyte caps bout the 6 mile mark. Stopped at a aid station bout mile 6, the 3rd one up to that point. I always down at least a half cup of water as well as a half cup of gatorade at each station, and refilled my one hydration bottle with water. Btw, i lost my other hydration bottle on my first of two falls, now i'm down to one bottle.

Miles 7 & 8 i believe was back into one of those rough areas, with alot of rocks in the path, up and down areas, where i had to just walk a few steps or risk tripping over a jagged rock in the path. I ran with a small group of about 4 runners. I basically just followed them, we all ran bout a pace slightly faster than a jog, more like a good trot.

Another aid station stop for a few seconds, refueled my bottle, water/gatorade, and off i ran again, this time with 2 other runners, i followed behind, actually chatted to them, one came from OHIO, his first time in OK, other from Dallas, they were friends to each other. I would run close to them for nearly the first loop, 25k, this was a 2 loop course, had to run it twice.

From mile 9 to 12 i would say where it got fun, lol, and i wish i was part mountain goat, :). And by now, the temps had started to rise, i could start feeling the heat, and i was sweating alot. We started by running around a lil lake, on a graveled road, before we headed off back into those trails, yes, those rugged trails again, with alot of rocks in the path. It was here, a few runners came upon us, one was a young girl. As we were going down a small hill on this tough area, all i heard was a slight scream from behind me, bout 10 feet or so. I then heard body weight just slam into the ground, that had to hurt, I turned and seen that girl laying face down, I went back to assist her, and a couple of other runners came from behind and stopped too. She didnt move for a few seconds before she turned over and sat up, saying she was ok, but she did looked dazed from her fall. Luckily a few of the race workers were just ahead and came to assist her, by then i went ahead and continued on running(Just hope she ended up being ok).

OK, i'm assuming here, bout the 12 mile mark is where I ran up from the West side of Holmes Peak(HP), one steep climb, everyone I seen was walking, and i did just that too. We got half way up, and turned North and ran bout half mile or so, stopped and refueled at a aid station, before running up and around to the East side of this HP again. So from the East side, again, we all just simply had to walk up, it was just simply too steep to run up. Once we got up to the top, u could see all over, lol, felt like i was looking down at the skyline of Tulsa. From what i was told, Holmes peak is the highest point in the 4 county area, so, it was a high area as u can tell. Going down was no piece of cake either, u had to run slowly down, watch your step at the same time, a person could tumble foward and roll down lol.

Once we got near the base of HP, we ran into more rugged terrain, the same ole rocks in the path, jumping over lil stream like areas, mud areas. OK, bout the 13k point(whatever miles that is), we hit a aid station, did my same ole, and started up the next hill, known as the HILL from HELL, :). Again, lots of rocks, heavily wooded, lots of walking, it was to the point i was grabbing tree limbs to pull myself up in some of those areas. The highlight of the Hill from Hell was the one aid station in the middle of all that, they would say "good job!! Water or BEER??" lol. I'd take water the first pass, then do more climbing, and then come back by this aid station and grab some beer, so good at this point. I continued my run, through more rugged spots, with some walking before finally get onto a path, and walking up to the final hill and then turned around for 1k or so, before reaching the half way point(25k). Did the first loop sound fun? lol. It was, and now i have to run/walk it all over again, :).

At the turnaround point, i stopped at the aid station did my usual refillling, i must've down bout 3 gu gels by now, twice as many endurolyte caps on this first 25k, my biggest fear as the heat started to rise, was cramping issues that i've had in past races, where heat was a factor, due to my sweating. But for the most part, nothing ever developed and i only had very slight cramp feelings in my right calf or right hamstring, but thank god i never really got any cramps that would force me to stop and walk.

OK, off and went on the 2nd loop, i was now running solo, those others fell off pace. My worry was i'd get lost, lol, take a wrong turn, Now i had to watch where i stepped, and at the same time watch for all the lil tape tied along the course as well as the yellow tape too. Anyways, passed one runner the first mile of the 2nd loop, always tell those i go by, "great job," any support I can offer, i'll do it. But, i did notice i was feeling a lil lightheaded, and had some hunger pains, ugh. Not good for what i was about to endure again. But, so grateful for those aid stations, they were well stocked with food, bacon strips, cookies, chips, grapes, M&M's, fudge brownies, pretzels, boiled chopped potatos, and even burritos, :). I took 2 sodium caps that was offered, down a brown fudge cupcake, several M&Ms and continued on, that sure helped out, my hunger weak feelings were gone, :),.

OK, back out of the rough terrain areas, back onto the grassy paths, i noticed one thing, and wondered to myself, just WTH was everyone? lol. As far as i could see in front of me, and behind me, there was no one to be seen. I remember thinking, "am i that slow, am i that far behind everyone?"

I was into my usual nice trotting, and as i said earlier, i was sweating like crazy, here's where it got to me, my arm pits were chafing, ugh, and even worst, my nipples were stinging!! OUCH!! That's all i needed to worry about, outside of this hilly, rocky rough, tough course. So, i came up to a aid station, did my usual thing, then asked them for some vaseline for my chafing arm pits, no problem, got some. Then, i had to ask them if they had any bandages, a lil embarrassing to tell them what for. But those ladies were cool and helpful, and said, "don't worry, we'll doctor u up," So I just raised up my singlet and let them do their doctoring, they did, and it helped and off i went.

So, back up Holmes Peak i went a few miles later, oh, i did look at my garmin for the first time in that area, where one of the signs read 26.2 miles, the marathon mark, my garmin read 4:57. Believe it or not, i was very satisfied, considering all the walking up in the hilly areas, I'd been happy to see 5:30.

So, finally back to the next to the last aid station, did my thing, cross the road, seen the sign, 48k, only 2k to go, yayyy! Just gotta endure the HILL from HELL one final time, :). I did, and that beer tasted so good again. Finally coming down from Hell's hill again, seeing the lil lake, running on the pavement part one last time, seeing that finish put a smile on my face. And as my Houston running friend Julia Tran said in her Austin half marathon post, seeing that finish line somehow just pumps energy in you, so true. My legs were heavy, both my ankles were sore as heck, my Plantar faciitis was throbbing, but still i manage to finish strong, and cross the finish line with a smile, :). My official chip time was 5:51:44, i'll take it. My overall place was 18th out of 94, and 6th out of 24 in the 40 to 49 Age Group. It was a very satisfying experience.

Anyways, glad to see Tim Bade, fellow Tulsa marathon maniac, as well as quite a few other maniacs there. Nice to see my DM friend Glenn C. out of Tulsa there.

One thing I learned about trail racing, gotta be patient, your pace will be more relaxed, especially in a ultra race. Do your hill workouts, big hills, wear the right trail shoes, and practice your falls lol. The few runner's I talked to, all agreed, our training did not prepare us for this kind of race lol, but we all adjusted and overcame and finished, thanks to our level of fitness. Oh, it was good to see my route66 4 hour pacing friend there, Darryl Stillson, he was one of the Post Oak organizers I beleive, and did a great job, wtg Darryl. Altho i didn't get to see Amy Pannell or Julie Dolph, my other running friends, they ran great, anyone who finished this race, u have say they did a GREAT job, Amy ran the double, wow, wtg Amy. So, onward to the next trail race, whereever that may be, so looking forward to it,:).


  1. Great recap and Congrats once again on stepping into the Ultra world! A good Ultra experience is only aided by great volunteers and sounds like here were some great ones! Glad you had a good time, maybe next year I can do this race.

    1. Thanks Indika, it was a amazing experience, :).

  2. Congratulations on a well deserved finish and GREAT finish time! Wish I would of got to see you out there. You are hooked on ultras now, huh? : )

    Good job, Marlon!

    1. Thanks Julie, it was so funnnn, and yes, i'm hooked, and looking forward to the next trail race adventure, :).

  3. Great race report, Marlon. Congrats on covering that 30K on such a tough course. Next time I hope I can chat with you a bit more before I have to take off. Hope the PF heals up with some rest.

    1. Thanks Glenn my good friend, maybe next year u can give the 50k a try, :). U ran great in ya half tho, congrats. My PF is feeling alot better now, take care.