Tuesday, January 29, 2008

And the song is...

After several requests for the song, I have decided to come clean...

I am so ashamed to admit this, but the song that was in my head for most of the 50K was:

Jordin Sparks, "Tattoo"

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Buckeye Trail 50K Race report

This is a picture of our cat as I was preparing my clothing for the race. I think that she is the smart one and was trying to tell me to stay home and snuggle in the warmth of the indoors; I didn't listen...
Winter Buckeye Trail 50K
26 Jan 08

I have run this race the last 2 years. The first year was 35 –40 degrees and very muddy. It was my first trail race and I managed to eek out 18 miles, per my plan. Last year, the weather was a bit cooler, starting in the upper 20s and rising to the mid 30s. The trail started off frozen, then transitioned to slippery mud again. I wanted to go the full 50K, but stopped after 5.5 hours at 26 miles.

This year, I wanted to complete the entire 50k. I wanted to use this race to kick-start my training for next summer’s Burning River 100. The weather forecast for the day was the complete opposite of what we can expect next summer with 15-25 degrees and some wind. There was a couple of inches of fresh snow, making the landscape milky white and clean.

This year’s race had a record 225 people sign up. I retrieved my bib number and then prepared for the 7am start. The night before I had purchased a facemask and some thicker fleece gloves for the day due to the cold forecast. This was good decision #1.

Due to the high number of people, they split the field into two groups: The 50K and marathon group would run the 5-mile Brandywine Falls loop first, while the ½ marathon group would run the 8-mile Pine Lane loop first. This was a great idea and the trail was not congested at all.

My plan for the day was to be consistent; start off at a nice conservative pace and hold it all day. I also wanted to keep my nutrition on track. I have experienced some significant mood swings during my long training runs that I can attribute to inadequate nutrition.

Shortly after the race started, I fell into step with a guy from Indianapolis. Chris and his training partner heard about this race from reading someone’s blog and decided to come out and run it. We had similar goals for the day and a compatible pace, so we decided to stick together. This was good decision #2.

We completed the first Brandywine loop in 50 minutes, a bit fast, but we did not push the pace at all. I told Chris, now the fun loop begins. The Pine Lane section is a bit more challenging but a very nice area to run through. Chris could not believe how beautiful the area was and how nice the trails were. There were a few frozen mud ruts, but it was much better than the thawed version.

47 minutes to Pine lane and 46 minutes back to Boston Store. It seemed to be easier running back to Boston Store since the net elevation change is downhill. The people around me did not really buy my story about this since I was telling it as we climbed a major hill to a ridgeline…bad timing I guess…

We stopped at Boston Store to eat and get more fluids. The aid stations at Ultra runs are great! They typically have PBJ, m&ms, nuts, water, Gatorade, cookies, muffins, etc. The aid station at Pine lane even had chicken noodle soup for the second lap.

Brandywine loop #2 went well also. The crowds had really thinned out by now and Chris and I kept running the flats/downhills and walking the hills. We joked at times that we were starting to look forward to a hill so that we could take a walk break. I learned from Bob Combs that walking is ok as long as you walk with a purpose, not the death-march shuffle. This loop took us 51 minutes to complete. Pretty consistent with the first loop; so far so good.

The second Pine Lane loop was interesting. Some strange geological phenomena occurred to cause the hills to become higher and steeper. At least it seemed so…

Chris started to fight some cramping issues and I realized that I had not been keeping up w/my food intake. I broke out the secret weapon: Gummy bears! Although they were almost frozen, they tasted really good and kept my mind occupied for a mile or two. Around this time, two guys caught up with us. One of them, Brian, stayed with Chris and I since the other one was going “just a little too fast for me”, per Brian. I had a dumb song (so dumb that I cannot even admit it to myself) in my head and could not shake it. I mentioned this to Chris and Brian; big mistake. This started a very bad Karaoke session with Chris and Brian belting out bad song after bad song. It was however pretty amusing and it did purge that awful song from my head!

Chris’s cramping had been getting worse and then during one of his singing episodes, he took off like a mad-man. I told Brian, “I think Chris has caught his second wind, we may have created a monster! He agreed as we tried to catch up with Chris.

We made it back to Boston Store with a round-trip time of 1:55:00 since neither Chris nor I remembered to hit our splits at Pine Lane. We had covered 26 miles so far. Now, off for Brandywine loop #3, the last 5 miles! Brian took an extended break at Boston Store as Chris and I departed, just wanting to finish this day. I realized that as long as we kept moving, I would PR today. Chris realized that he could crawl the rest of the day and still PR! This was turning out to be a very good scenario. We proceed to run when we could and walk when we could not run. Our mantra was “Just keep moving!” There was a guy in front of us that was having a rough time and we were slowly reeling him in. As we climbed the ridge, we heard Brian behind us still singing…badly!

We made it to the aid station and it was only 2.5 miles to the finish. Chris was able to run downhill faster than me and I told him to take off if he wanted to. His reply was that I had gotten him through the first 28 miles; he was not leaving me now. Our highs and lows had been opposite each other so that when one was down, the other one could help bring him up. It was working out well for us, and I would not have had such a great day had I been running alone for that long.
My calves were starting to feel the ‘tickle fingers’ of an impending cramp but thankfully, the cramps stayed away. We exited the woods and onto the towpath for the last bit to Boston. We crossed the line with each of us setting a PR for the 50k distance! I had a 6:05 for the day where my previous time was 6:23 from last summer. Great day!

Post race damage report:
I am happy to say that I have no blisters from this race. Just a bit of chaffing and some sore legs.

Oh yeah, I still have a smile on my face…

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The power of the taper

Ah, I love tapering! All of the energy that typically goes into training is available for other things; working, finishing household projects, working, and oh yeah, working.

I feel like I want to jump out of my skin, which from past experience means that I am ready for saturday. The 2008 Winter Buckeye Trail 50K starts saturday at 7am. The weather this week has been cold and we have had some snowfall to decorate the landscape. The temperature forecast for Saturday is upper 20s with wind, so the wind-chill will be in the low to mid teens. brrr. Fortunately, most of the course is in the woods, which provides some protection from the wind.

Abby and I went out tonight and I purchased one of those face-mask/hat/neck-warmer things to wear saturday. I usually just wear a fleece headband, but for the 6-7 hours that I plan on being outside saturday in the wind, I think that I'll want a bit of coverage for my face. I can always take it off if I get too hot.

My plan for saturday:
Keep moving! Denise told me last night, "Don't come home until you've run 50K!" I want to keep on top of my nutrition for this race and see if my energy/mood stays level. This means to eat/drink whenever I start to feel bad. I will take some "secret weapon" gummy bears and I bought a couple of "Espresso Love" GU packs for later in the run.

It will be a fun day with 225 people out enjoying the Northeast Ohio winter playland!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

In search of Wii

Denise and I thought that a Wii would be a great Christmas gift for our daughters this year and by the time we decided this, several million other people had the same idea. I went to Circuit City at 8am the sunday before thanksgiving and was #80 in line... I had better things to do with my time so we decided to wait until after the new year.

When I read through the sale ads in this morning's Plain Dealer, I saw that Circuit City was advertising the Wii. At 6:30am, I decided that I would go over at 8am, wait the two hours until they open at 10am, and try my luck. Oh yeah, it was 5 degrees this morning with -10 degree wind chill...

I arrived to a partially filled parking lot. I parked and a man greeted me. He was the "unofficial" number passer-outer. I was number 13! It felt lucky today. He was passing numbers out so that we would not have to wait outside.

The manager arrived a little past 8am. We went inside the foyer of the store and queued up. At 8:30, he came out and said, "We have 10 units"... Suddenly 13 was not feeling so good. The first people in line arrived at 4am... Crazy...

I needed some more paint for Abby's room so off to Home Depot I go. While I was there, I thought that I would suprise Denise with a new kitchen sink! I returned home and Abby and I started in with the sink replacement. 2 more trips to Home Depot later, and we have a new sink installed. Denise was thrilled.

I taped off the trim and completed the stripes in Abby's room. All that remains is to apply the border.

This past weekend was a classic case of "needing to go back to work to recover."

12 mile run. 1:35:50 ( See the earlier trash talk post )
painted Abby's bedroom
Replaced the kitchen sink

Top that Joe!! :)

Weekly run total: 30 miles.

Next saturday: Buckeye Trail 50K.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Trash Talk

I usually send an email out on thursdays in an effort to recruit running partners for saturday's long run. Since I have a shorter run this weekend, I thought that I would mess with Joe a bit.

Marty and I work with Joe. He is a great guy and Marty and I both agree that he would be the last person on our team that would actually go for a run. So below are some emails that were flying around today:

My original email:

Since Joe refuses to run with me and I am in taper mode, there will be no trail run this weekend...Send all replies/complaints to Joe. ( email address above!! )

Actually I have a 'short' 12 miles planned early saturday morning. I will run two laps of a street/bike path course in my neighborhood in Twinsburg. I will start early ( ~6am) so that I can get Abby's bedroom painted afterwards... I also want to push the pace a bit since it is a shorter run. ( <=8 min/mile pace ) Anyone is welcome to join me. Let me know and I can give you directions and more info... Oh yeah, the weather looks to be 'interesting'... :)

Then Joe replied with this:

Don't let Jerry fool you, this weekend I'm planning to run 20 miles, paint 3 bedrooms, build an addition on the house, audition for American Idol, and write a novel.

Anyone is welcome to join me.


To which Marty replied:

You're both slackers. While you're "resting" this weekend I'll be out doing a 50 mile sprint to train for the upcoming run-around-lake-erie and then building a house. Since that leaves Sunday wide open, I'm planning on running some errands for the UN; I guess there is some Isreal/Palistine issue they need some help with.


This made for some fun hallway conversations today and helped to brighten at least my day!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

No headlamp required

The snow falling down and the city lights reflecting off of the low clouds allowed me to keep my headlamp turned off during this morning's run. I had a headwind for the first 2 miles and then I turned back for a very pleasant cruise down the bikeway. The snow was falling and swirling around me and it was one of those very quiet and peaceful moments. I ventured up Glenwood hill to CVS and then returned home after completing 5.4 miles.

I just completed some cross-training via shoveling the driveway. All is well...

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Running in a snow globe

I followed up yesterday's 24 miles run with a wet and soggy 7.1 miles. The weather here in NE Ohio has reverted back to the normal "if you don't like the weather, wait a minute because it will change" mode. There was a mix of rain, then sleet, then wet snow, then rain/snow mix; all within my hour long run!

I had a total of 47 miles this week and I will start to taper a bit for the Winter BT50K race on the 26th of January. I hope that the ground freezes by then so that we do not have to run/slide in the mud. The other extreme would be 10 degress and a foot or two of snow. I guess we do not have any control over the weather, we can only control our responses/attitudes toward it. Regardless of the weather a day may bring, it is a great experience to be outdoors, breathing deep the fresh air, and enjoying the feeling of a run completed.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Long run through Bedford Reservation

Today's 24 mile run consisted of two laps of Bedford Reservation, one of the many Metro Parks in the Cleveland Area. Marty, a coworker, and Andy, a long-time friend, joined me for the first 10 mile lap. It was a beautiful morning with temperatures in the upper 20s to low 30s, making it ideal for a run. We started at Egbert shelter and followed the Bridle path to Alexander road. There we retraced our path for the return. We added the little spur from Egbert Shelter to Egbert road to make it an even 10 miles.

Andy and Marty called it a day and I refilled my bottles and started lap 2. I started with the spur section first because I knew that if I did not, the temptation would be too great at the end of the next lap to not run it. After I stopped by my car again for another clif bar, I started back on the bridle trail towards Alexander road.

This lap however, I continued on the Buckeye Trail to Fraizee House on the Tow Path. This added the extra 4 miles for lap two. The little water falls on this section of the trail were flowing well from the recent rains and looked/sounded very nice. Bridal Veil falls in Bedford park was also flowing well. It is too bad that most of Cleveland does not even know these sights exist!

The return up the hill from the Tow Path was not as bad as I thought it would be. However, my feet were starting to rebel a bit from the gravel of the bridle trail. At least I am blaming the gravel; it surely would not be the 20 previous miles could it??

I passed a large group of hikers as I neared the parking lot, and completed my run in just a bit over 4 hours. I felt pretty tired but content. I need to carry more food with me for these long training runs. I learned from my Ironman training that whenever I start to feel the least bit tired or negative thoughts start over-powering the positive ones, I need to eat/drink something to get my energy levels back up. I need to apply this same rule to my running...

Abby and I just took the dogs for a walk around the neighborhood. That felt good to be out again in the sunshine and to work some kinks out of my legs.

Great day!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Lunch-time running

I chose a great day yesterday to take a break from running. We had some very high winds and storms blow through tuesday evening, making for a very poor night of rest. Also the wind was still howling wednesday morning. My legs needed a break and that is what I did.

I took a lunch break today, instead of working through as usual, and completed 6 miles through the metro park. It was sunny, cool, a slight breeze, about as good as it gets. I brought my wind pants to wear but decided to just go with shorts, long sleeve polypro, and a fleece vest. It felt very good to get out of the office a burn off some stress. (I should have kept running...)

The return trip against the wind was a bit chilly, but my legs were warmed up and it felt really good to be outside.

The last long training run this weekend before the Winter BT50K. As usual, I am stymied on where to run. Bedford reservation seems to be calling my name. Maybe a couple of laps on the bridle trails are in order. They will not be as muddy...

One more day closer to spring...

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Still great weather

I decided to run 6 miles this morning to take advantage of this great weather we are having! I will take tomorrow as a recovery day instead. I hated to waste 65 degrees and the chance to run in shorts in early January.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Jan 7th???

Are we in the southern hemisphere? We have 60 degrees today which made this morning's 4 mile run very warm and enjoyable. My legs are feeling the effects of this past weekend's efforts and I am looking forward to a rest day tomorrow to recover a bit.

I feel pretty good about my training for the Winter Buckeye Trail 50K and as always, the weather will be the wild-card. I will do the entire 50K this year and have fun doing it! I am considering leaving my watch in the car or at home, and just enjoy the day. We will see. I have a feeling the engineer in me will win and want the numbers from the watch to use for some future purpose! I can use the watch to ensure that I do not go out too fast!

The 100 mile distance is hitting me like the Ironman distance. It scares the hooey out of me! Even after completing two Ironman events, I still cannot think of the entire event in one piece. I have to break it up into smaller chucks. This is what I am going to do for the Burning River. I will run from one aid station to the next, until I run out of aid stations! Like the classic question of "How do you eat an elephant?". My version is:

"How do you run 100 miles?" "One step at a time..."

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Foggy Bottom 8.5

I chose today's title not because we had Mexican last night, but because the warmer temperatures make for some foggy areas along the bike path as the snow was melting. Nice 8.5 mile run early this morning after yesterday's 22 miles. My legs are really tired now and I am going to run again tomorrow to take advantage of these warm temperatures!

We had Denise's family in today from Buffalo for a late Christmas celebration since we were sick for the originally-planned time. I asked my parents to also come up from Dayton to visit since they have not seen my mother and father in-law for some time. I think everyone enjoyed seeing each other again and there was lots of laughing as Forrest kept us entertained with his moaning and other shenanigans!

Off to "Buffalo Wings and Things" for some junk food for dinner. That craving will not be back for a while...

Week summary: 42.5 miles. This next week should be close to 50 miles and then taper for the Buckeye Trail 50K. I enjoy taper!! :)

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Winter trails

Two co-workers, Marty and Mike, agreed to run with me today for a bit. I enjoy company while I am running long to help pass the miles. We started at Boston Store at 7am and headed toward Pine Lane. The morning was a bit warmer than I expected at 30 degrees and the trail was packed snow but not icy. Marty and I both had Yak Traks on our shoes but I really don't think they were necessary.

We made up the first two hills and Mike's lungs were not appreciating the cold air. He decided to turn back before becoming more uncomfortable. Marty and I continued to Pine Lane. It was still dark when we hit the pine trees after the turnpike crossing and then when we exited the trees, suddenly it was light! I turned off the headlamp and we kept running. We did not see anyone else until the return leg back to Boston Store. Everyone must have slept in later today.

Marty stopped at Boston Store and I debated where to run next. Snowville road seemed like a good choice so off I went. The trail was also snow packed, although not as much as the more popular Pine Lane trail.

The cliffs at the stream crossing were very fascinating with the contrast of the clay against the snow and evergreens.

They must have been doing some sort of construction on the trail before Snowville road because it looked as if some heavy equipment had gone through. The trail was heavily rutted and was very uneven and mushy. I hit a low spot here and broke open my emergency rations. Gummy Bears!! They always seem to pick me up when I need a boost. Made it to Snowville and turned back. I noticed that my right yak trak had broken. A short time later I noticed that the left one has also broken. They were sliding back on my shoes so I stopped and took them off. The snow was soft enough and they really were not required. I did however miss them when I had to cross the stream again at the cliffs. The ice-covered log was a bit trickier to traverse w/o the extra grip...

I was starting to get tired and made it back to Boston Store. I needed 3 more miles to hit my 22 mile target. I refilled my bottles and started off to Brandywine Falls. I turned around where the trail forks off for an abreviated loop. Got back to Boston Store before the drizzle turned to rain.

Good run. 22 miles; 4 hours 23 minutes. I started to get frustrated at my 'slow' speed but had decided that for a 100 miles, speed does not matter! "Time on feet" is most important. Just keep moving... That is exactly what I did today. I hope to follow up tomorrow with 8-10 miles to keep the legs loose.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Officially in!

The list of entrants on the Burning River 100 web site now includes my name! (gasp) It somehow feels 'real' now... I think I need to run!

I have a long run scheduled for saturday. I just need to figure out where and see if I can coerce some friends to join me for some of it.

Snow has stopped falling and temperatures are supposed to stay cool for a few days. The mud may remain frozen for saturday! That will be nice for a change...

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


I wish that I had snowshoes for this morning's frigid run! We have around 6-10 inches of snow on the path this morning. I made it 2 miles and decided that some cross-training via show-shoveling was in order. The short run was a great warm up and loosened the legs up a bit from last weeks volume. The driveway is not totally cleared, but at least I was able to get the car out!

The girls said that they would finish it for me today...

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

I am so glad that we went out to Squire's Castle yesterday since today is very windy and snowing! A great day to stay indoors and catch up on all of those things that we never really get a chance to do...

Last year was quite a year. This next year will prove to be even more exciting.

I hope that your year goes well and I wish much happiness and good health to all!

Squires Castle visit

We decided to take a trip yesterday to the starting line of the Burning River 100 at Squire's Castle. This is part of the North Chagrin Metro Park, part of the Cleveland Metro Park system. My wife, Denise, and I used to hike and bike through this park a lot when we lived in Willoughby several years ago and it was fun to revisit the area again.

As part of the documentation process of this journey to 100 miles, we snapped a photo of the castle itself.

(from left to right, Forrest, Abby, myself, Gina, and Mia)

The race actually starts, I think, at the shelter closer to the road, but that makes for a boring photo.