Sunday, June 29, 2008

Back from the Adirondacks

Oh what a week we had...

We rented a cabin in Keene, NY off of O'Toole Road. The cabin could be accessed after a 3.5 mile drive UP Hurricane Road, and then another 1/2 mile UP a gravel road. The view from the deck was well worth the drive. This cabin had no TV, the phone was not connected, no cell coverage, no Wi-Fi, in other words, PERFECT! Lots of books and a cassette and 8-track tape player for music!

We managed to hike close to 20 miles and I was also able to get a bit over 20 miles of additional trail running. I typically would wake up around 7am and leave Denise and the girls sleeping as I went exploring for 1 to 2 hours in the woods. By the time I returned, they were awake and ready for the day's activities. The girls were much stronger and able to handle some longer and more challenging hikes this year.

51 minute run from the cabin to the top of Big Crow Mountain
1.4 mile hike with the family on the same trail. We drove to the trail head instead of hiking from the cabin.

8 mile hike on the West/East River Trail. We got caught in a passing thunderstorm which made for lots of slipping and squealing as we scrambled over the wet rocks and roots.

1 hour trail run towards Lost Pond
Walking around the town of Lake Placid for the annual 'Hoodie Hunt'. This is where we dart into and out of EVERY store on Main Street looking for the 'perfect' sweatshirt.

6 mile hike to the Hurricane Mountain Fire Tower. 1600 ft vertical elevation change and an incredible view at the summit! Lots of black flies and one incredible wipe-out by Denise on the descent.

1 hour 36 minute trail run from the cabin to Weston Mountain via Lost Pond. Saw a black bear less than 1 mile into the run. I am not sure who was scared the most, him or me! I never thought a bear could run so fast! I gave him a minute or two and then continued on my way, making as much noise as I could. He had run down the trail for ~200 yds before his tracks disappeared into the woods. That was pretty exciting to say the least. The view from Westin Mountain was awesome and well worth the fright of the bear sighting!
Back to Lake Placid for "Hoodie Hunt II" and an aborted swim in Mirror Lake. Too cold!

2.4 mile hike to the summit of Baxter Mountain. This was nearly stopped short due to tummy distress by both Gina and Abby. Fortunately they felt better as we descended from a brief stop at the summit, where once again, we were greeted by lots of black flies. Abby won 'best blood' award for this hike with a nice bleeding bug bite behind her ear.
Back to Lake Placid again to find the beach packed on this 80 degree afternoon. The girls were not denied the swim this time...

Packed up and we drove back to Forestville to spend the night with Denise's parents.

Made the final drive back to Twinsburg to be welcomed home by Mia, Cassie, and Forrest. It was nice to get away from the pets, but much nicer to be back!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Catch up

This week is flying by! We are getting ready to leave for another week in the Adirondacks. We have a nice cabin rented and will spend the week just hiking and relaxing in the mountains of upstate New York.

The best part of next week will be no cell phone coverage and no internet! We may venture into the Starbucks in Lake Placid and check in, maybe... Our cabin is half-way up Hurricane Mountain and there looks to be some awesome trails around. I am anxious to get into some larger hills for training and hiking.

We had an interesting phone message waiting for us last night. A lady from Florida has the sister of our rescue Bernese Mountain dog "Forrest". She has been doing some research and has found that Forrest was one of 3 puppies, 2 male and a female. The other male is in Illinois. It was pretty interesting to find this out because we have always wondered...

Denise and I just finished a 2 hour hike in the valley while the girls were at Edge. Good workout. We can't wait for next week!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Black flies and Bats

Yesterday had me running another 2-a-day. 10 miles in the morning and another evening run. Saturday morning was warm and it felt like rain was near. I started and felt really sluggish for the first half. The bugs were out in force and I felt like I was constantly swatting them away. A couple of black flies tried to use me for breakfast but they were unsuccessful. Eventually, an easy rain started to fall and cooled things off a bit. It seemed to chase the bugs away also.

My sister was here for a visit and we went over to Sam's Club to look at trampolines and I ended up getting one for the girls. Denise and I had been talking about it for some time and it was time. Oh yeah, I also bought myself a power washer. Something else that I have talked about getting for some time. Now I have no excuse not to redo the deck...

Last night I drove over to Bedford reservation and ran a section of the Burning River 100 course. I took the course backwards to Shadow lake since I have never been on this part of the trail before. Very nice section of trail that followed Tinkers Creek. Lots of large trees in this area along with some fresh blow-downs that I had to scramble over. I returned to the car and then followed the course to Alexander road. I have run this segment several times earlier and since I was running alone, I wanted some familiar trails for this dusk/night run.

I thought that since I would be finishing my run just around sunset, that I would not need my headlamp. I packed it anyways, just in case, and I am so glad that I did. I 'forgot' that it gets dark in the woods a lot earlier! When I could see sky through the trees, it was light, but the trail was pretty dark.

At one point I ran through a swarm of those gnats that always seem to be everywhere when suddenly something swooped past me about 3 ft in front of me. Swoosh, swoosh, two more of them went by. I then realized that they were bats!! It was actually pretty cool how fast they were going and how well their sonar works! Denise would have freaked out! She cowers when she sees a bat anywhere, yet alone that close! She has already said that she will NOT be pacing with me at night...

Father's Day today was a blast! Blueberry pancakes for breakfast, then off to Church. I mowed the grass while the girls made a wonderful vegetable lasagna for a late lunch. Denise and I had told the girls that we would wait to set up the trampoline until we got back from Lake Placid. I suprised them after lunch and said that they had to help me set the trampoline up TODAY! They were very very excited and will sleep very well tonight after jumping all evening.

52 total miles this week. Feeling pretty good and am planning my 50+ mile run for July 6. Anyone want to join me for some or all?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Best 30 minutes

I started today with a 4 mile run on the bike path. I felt ok and was suprised at how fast I was running. My legs are sore from the hills in South Chagrin and that actually feels nice. It means that I worked them a bit...

Gina suprised me tonight by asking me if I wanted to run with her. Of course I said yes and off we went into the woods. It was the best 30 minutes of my day! We just ran, chatting about our day, and laughing about the silly things that happened. Gina has really improved in her running and is really excited about Cross-country this fall. She stated a goal of hers to me for this fall and I think that she will make it! It is hard to believe that she is almost 13 years old!!! What am amazing experience this has been.

Abby decided that we will ride the 25 mile loop for the Ice Cream Odyssey ride in July. We have not been riding enough for the 42 miles. We will still get ice cream, that is all that matters. She thinks that we need to ride to the Ben and Jerry's store in Chagrin Falls to train for this ride. I have to agree witb her. You just can't jump right into bicycling and eating ice cream!! This takes practice! :)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

8 and 2

It was still hot yesterday for my 4 mile run. I wanted to try a run/walk strategy for Burning River and thought that a 8 minute run 2 minute walk pattern would be good. JP was asking questions about my plans and I realized that I had none... There is no way a 'normal' person can run an entire 100 miles, so some walking will be involved. The question is how much and when...

We did a lot of run/walk sets saturday night and I felt pretty good. So, I set my interval timers on my watch for 8 and 2 minutes. At the end of the run, my time was comperable with my other runs on the same course and I felt great, even with the heat! So I think that I am on to a plan regarding pacing. Run for 8 minutes, walk any and all uphill sections, and walk for 2 minutes.

I went to South Chagrin metro park after work today and ran the 7 mile loop from Harper Ridge to Miles road and back. There is a great hill here and it felt good to run this section again. I was able to "even split" the run, which is pretty good considering that the first half is downhill. (Even split is where the second half of the run takes the same amount of time as the first half.)

Great day overall. Muddy trails tomorrow morning!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Daily Double

I wanted to get a big run in yesterday and decided to split it into two parts: 10 miles in the morning and 3-4 hours at night. The 10 in the morning went well and I was soaked from sweat with the heat and humidity. At least I am starting to get aclimated to the heat! I just wanted to keep moving and keep hydrated. I slowed my pace a bit to compensate for the heat and the run went very well.

I changed clothes and then the day that we have all dreaded arrived; I dismantled the play set! The girls have outgrown it and it has weathered pretty badly, making it less than safe. After a couple of hours of sawing, I now have a stack of wood to haul out to the trash tuesday morning. The back yard just does not look quite the same, but there are plans already to fill it up. Gina has requested a trampoline...hmmm...

One, of many areas, that I do not have a lot of experience with is night running. So, I planned to meet JP at Happy Days at 8pm for a 3-4 hour run. He was running a bit late and we started around 8:30pm. As we made our way over to the Ledges Overlook, the sun was just setting making for some nice colors. It was still hot, and a nice breeze was blowing, but we never really felt the wind down in the woods.

We kept a nice pace alternating running and walking. The combination of our two headlamps illuminated the trail quite well. We expected to see lots of wildlife and hear some other night sounds but the woods were pretty quiet. We saw a few deer, heard a few frogs, and a snapping turtle startled us pretty good at Kendall Lake! The best sight however was at Kendall Hills! The meadow and tree-line was filled with the flashing lights of thousands of lighting bugs!. I have not seen that many lightning bugs since I was much much younger.

4 hours later found us back to our cars with 17-18 miles covered. It was a great night and good end to the week.

52 miles total for the week with 27-28 miles yesterday. I am going to try for a big run sometime during the July 4th weekend. I would really like to cover 50 miles, just for the peace-of-mind. Yes, I know, this is only half-way, but it is a significant distance to tackle before race day.


Well, we made it back home from San Diego and things have been very crazy. I am finally able to post an update.

While we were eating breakfast tuesday morning, the USS Nimitz Carrier Strike group arrived in Port! We missed the Nimitz but saw a smaller carrier and a couple of other support ships. The picture above is of the carrier.

We toured the USS Midway and then then headed north to LAX. We managed to hit LA at 5pm and was thankful that we could use the car-pool lane. We were moving at 45-50 mph while the other 7! Northbound lanes were parked! I am so glad that I do not have THAT commute...

We returned the rental car and waited for our flight. It was late departing, as expected, and we managed a couple of hours of sleep during the flight home. A traffic jam on I480 slowed our trip to Twinsburg a bit, but this was nothing like the I405 mess in LA...

The weather is now hot and humid, a far cry from the 60-65 degrees in San Diego...

Great trip! It is good to be home.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Busy in San Diego

We started Saturday with a dry run of how to locate the marathon start drop-off location, parking lot, finish area etc. We then struggled a bit to find the bridge to Coronado Island and eventually succeeded. What a beautiful place! We had read that it was a great family beach and we were not disappointed. Although it was somewhat cool and breezy, we all enjoyed the sand and sound of the ocean surf. The girls eventually ended up getting totally soaked and were giddy from the sheer pleasure of jumping waves and being in the ocean. The Hotel del Coronado was an amazing site to see and since there is a naval base on the island we were treated to the sight of some fighter jets taking off and landing.

We had pizza for dinner and planned the logistics of marathon morning. We had a 4 am alarm set and since we have not totally adjusted to pacific time we were in bed by 8:30 pm. I awoke in the night and looked at my watch. It read 5:22! I jumped out of bed and shouted, "It's 5:22, !@#$%!" Denise bolted upright and looked at the clock. It said 2:22. Oops! I had mistakingly reset my watch back to Eastern standard. The rest of the night was sort of restless.............

We made it to the marathon with no problems. Denise will write up her full report but the short story would be a 4:14 finish, slower than hoped for, but the best that the day had in store. Denise thinks the race was probably more fun to watch than to actually run. The 150 Elvi dressed in lycra Elvis suits were the highlight of the day. You can see one of the Elvi in the background of this photo.

We retrieved Denise from the finish area and made the 3/4 of a mile trek to the parking lot. She was hurting but walked along as best as possible.

We had a quick stop for snacks and showers at the hotel and then took the trolley to Tijuana, Mexico. The idea was to expose the girls to a different culture and we got exactly what we bargained for. We stayed in Mexico long enough to be thankful for the kind of city that we live in. We grabbed some delicious homemade frozen fruit bars and chatted a bit with the owner. Then we got out of there as fast as Denise could walk. I figure in total the girls walked a good 10K that day.

Today was the much anticipated trip to Sea World! It was so great to get back to see Shamu, the dolphins, and all the other animals that we loved seeing at Sea World in Aurora. It was quite a melancholy moment when we left the park at the end of the day. Gina and Abby both wanted stuffed animals as momentos from this vacation. Gina chose a hippo and Abby chose a polar bear. They are growing up so fast and this vacation was a good reminder that we don't have little kids anymore. I am more than happy to buy another stuffed animal because I know that in a few more years they will be asking for much bigger things like cars and college!

I have managed some really great morning runs. Saturday morning I ran towards downtown San Diego for an hour. This morning I went a bit further and made it to the USS Midway and back in an hour and a half.

Tomorrow we will visit the Midway and make the trek back to LA for our late night flight.