Monday, August 31, 2009

"Run with Scissors" Training run...

Yesterday was the first familiarization run for the "Run with Scissors" double marathon. This is the 3rd year for the race and it will be held October 25th. Twenty-four runners met in the Ledges Shelter parking lot where Roy passed out route descriptions and explained the course a bit for us. Shortly after 8am, we started running.

The morning was nice and cool, more like late september rather than the end of August, but I was not complaining. A short road section to Kendall Lake and then the trails begin. We stopped at Pine Hollow for a refill of water and then off to the Wetmore trails! I have only run on the western part of this area and the route covered the eastern section. Very nice trails and the mud was not too bad. Roy would periodically run ahead and do his best Scarecrow imitation to help show us where to turn.

Before long, we arrived at the Hunt Farm visitor's center on Bolanz road. This is the 9.9 mile mark of the loop and started the 5.5 mile slog on the towpath to Boston Store. Most people love the towpath for its even surface and flat terrain. Exactly the reasons that most trail runners dislike the towpath. Denise and I had just recently run 20 miles down here and it was all too familiar to me. However, the miles passed quickly as our group headed north towards Boston Store. I left the lock 29 area before the group and ran with Roy for a bit to Boston. That guy can move!

Back to the trails at Boston Store. I left Boston Store with Dave and we headed to Pine Lane on the Buckeye Trail. Once again, the conversations help the miles to pass quickly and as we entered the pine root section, there was Roy pointing the way for us! We left him at Boston Store, how did he get here so fast? Dave and I had a nice pace going and arrived at Pine Lane to be greeted by, you guessed it, Roy again!!! This time he had food! Some pretzel sticks and chips-ahoy cookies really hit the spot! Thanks Roy!

By now, Dave and I were wondering where Roy was going to show up next and made our way towards the Salt Run trail. Here is where I misunderstood Roy's directions and we ran on the road from the Golf course to the trail-head instead of taking the Bridle trail and back-tracking a bit to the trail-head. This shortened our day a little, but neither Dave nor I complained.

We headed back towards the Ledges after a quick stop at Kendall Shelter. Brandon caught up with us along this section and the three of us caught up with Suzanne and Sharon as they were climbing up to the Overlook. A nice run across the field to the parking lot ended lap #1. (26 miles) Race day will see us running this loop again... Oh yeah, Roy met us here too!

It was a great day: The trails were fantastic (as usual), the rain held off, and lots of good conversations! Just a bit over 5 hours elapsed time, 4:48 running time.

Just think, that was only 1/2 way...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Just about as good as it gets...

Nice 4.5 mile run this morning in the cool fall-like conditions. However, the woods were very dark and there were lots of 'strange' noises! Some deer eyes were reflected by my headlamp along with a raccoon in a tree. There was something else off in the distance that I could not recognize and I just kept running, with an elevated heart rate!!!

I had a great run sunday afternoon with JP to close out a 45 mile week! I am looking forward to a lap of the "Run With Scissors" course this weekend. I am feeling good and the miles are ramping up well. I just want to keep it that way!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

"BOOMING" on the towpath

I took friday as a vacation day from work and went with Denise down to the towpath for a run. Her training for the Columbus Marathon had her doing 18 miles this weekend and she decided that 20 was better. Humid start to the morning and we started heading north from Boston Store towards Station Road. The towpath was empty and quiet and peaceful and before we knew it, Station road was here. Quick break to refill water bottles and we start the return trip back to Boston Store.

A few more people had started to venture out and the sun was trying to poke through the clouds. I was hoping that it would stay cloudy to keep the temperatures down a bit, but the humidity was more than making up for it.

Stopped at Boston Store to refill water and kept going south. The plan was to turn around at Bolanz Road to make the 20 mile distance. There are several sweet corn fields along the towpath and the farmer has placed noise-makers in them to keep the birds/deer at bay. These sound like shot-guns going off randomly and needless to say, kept Denise on her toes!

We turned around at Bolanz and started back. We knew that this last 5 miles would where the real training would occur for today. Once again, we were running past the corn fields when all of a sudden BOOM! one of those guns went off right next to us! I jumped, the two guys on bikes that we approaching us jumped, and Denise let out a scream! We kind-of chuckled a bit after this and I asked Denise if she wanted to walk a bit to settle her nerves. She stated that she did not want to waste the adrenaline and to keep running!

Once back to Boston Store, we changed clothes and noticed that the "Trail Mix" store was open. All of a sudden ice cream sounded good and we each had a Starbucks icecream bar! By far the best treat that I have had in a long time!

We are going back to the valley today for a family hike around the Ledges and then a Birthday Celebration for Denise! I am meeting JP for a run tomorrow afternoon which will wrap up a pretty good week!

Monday, August 17, 2009

20 miles in the valley

I managed to get back to the Buckeye Trail for 20 miles saturday morning. It felt really good to get back onto the section between Boston Store and Ottawa Point. I have not run that section yet this summer! I know, slacker...

The trail was pretty quiet and saw only a couple of hikers and Paul L. who was running the opposite direction. I had dropped water at Snowville road and was glad that I did since the temperatures climbed quickly. I arrived at Boston Store with 19 miles and took a short out-and-back on the towpath for the 20th mile. I thought 20 sounded better than 19, and I felt good in spite of the heat.

Good run and I am looking forward to the first group training run for the Run with Scissors race on August 30th. Should be a good time!!!

The basement project is in the sanding phase. Lots of drywall dust and I think that I am finished with the first half. Now it is time to move everything over to the other side so that I can continue the spackling process. Maybe I'll be done by thanksgiving...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Its Hot Outside: Finally!

Wow! The august heat arrived overnight and my run this morning felt like a sauna! We have had a very cool summer so far and it is good to finally have the heat! It actually felt good to sweat so much that my clothes clinged to my skin. I also have to admit that after 2 hours, I started to get tired of it!

I ran over towards Liberty Park again this morning. The woods were steamy and there were peaks of the morning sun piercing through the trees, making for some very cool looking beams of light. I scared out 7 very large wild turkeys and a few deer. The woods were actually pretty quiet and it was nice to be able to just run and clear my head of the daily noise that seems to get louder and louder. 3 hours of running this morning was a good start...

I filled out my application for the "Run with Scissors Double Marathon" today and can't wait to spend another day running in the valley. I want to use this race to start my training for next year's Burning River 100.

One more week of summer vacation for the girls before school starts. The tension level has gone up a notch this weekend. Gina started band camp last week and Abby will start cross-country this week. Both girls are excited about school, but the first couple of weeks are always a huge adjustment.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

2009 Burning River 100 Crew/Pacer Race Report

Our family had decided to help Maria crew and I would help pace JP for this year's Burning River 100 race. JP had paced me the last 30 miles of last years race and this was my turn to reciprocate. His training went well and he was optimistic for an expected 27 hour finish time. The weather was a bit warmer than what we had been used to with temperatures in the mid-80s and a chance of rain overnight.

I went to the Shadow Lake aid station to see how he was doing. He was right on pace for 26-27 hours and feeling good. His shoes got wet in the earlier stream crossings and he already had some blisters forming. A quick lube of the feet along with a shoe/sock change and he was off. So far so good.

Denise, Gina, Abby, and I then went to the Station Road aid station where the runners would come through twice, giving us a good perspective on their condition. Again, JP was on track for 27 hours and was starting to feel the heat a bit. His feet were not getting worse, but not getting better either. But, he was moving well and still on track.

We went home for a nap and would see him at Boston Store. As we were leaving home, Maria texted to say that JP just left Boston Store the first time. We arrived and setup camp to await his return. Still on pace, still looking good, and still confident. I was getting anxious to run with him and asked if he wanted me to start pacing now instead of waiting until Happy Days. He said he felt fine and would wait until Happy Days, per the original plan.

We drove off to Happy Days and I was able to see Nick depart, Brian storm in and out, and help Lori get her headlamp set before she started to pace Kirk. Kirk was tearing up the course for his first 100 mile run and said he was not very happy with me for getting him involved in this race! He and Lori ran into me last year randomly during the day and the ultra bug bit Kirk pretty hard!

JP arrived at the aid station just before midnight, a bit later than we expected, but still on 27-28 hour pace. He downed some food and off we went towards the ledges trail. JP's stomach had started to go south and he was feeling pretty nauseous. After the climb to the ledges trail, he finally was able to purge his stomach and felt much better. But now of course, his nutrition was gone. Still feeling queasy, we continued towards Pine Hollow. JP's legs were now feeling the effects of 70+ miles and his feet were becoming numb from the blisters.

Maria and Denise met us at the aid station and off we went towards the Covered Bridge. We had a great pace going through the woods and the rain started to gently fall. We could hear the rain hitting the leaves but we were not getting wet. The perfect kind of rain! JP was not able to eat anything due to his nausea and the inevitable "bonk" began. The only food we had with us was some gels/gu, clif bars, and gatorade. None of these would stay down for JP. Even water was causing the dry heaves and it was getting ugly real fast.

I knew that if we could get to the aid station, he would be much much better. The problem was that the aid station was 1.5 miles away! We would walk a bit, pause and regroup, walk a few more steps, regroup, repeat. It was real slow going, but at least we were going! I became more concerned when JP would start to throw in some weaving, shivering, and feeling light-headed. This was a deep bonk... I started to discuss options with JP: Quit now! (Not an option but I had to say it.) Keep doing whatever we had to to get to the aid station and get the nausea under control. Then eat some calories, let his body absorb them, and get outta there. We now had another enemy approaching: The cut-off times...

We finally arrived at the covered bridge and Tanya got some ginger ale and saltines for JP. These were just the ticket. As JP was regrouping, two more people arrived and I overheard a volunteer say that they just made the arrival cutoff by 6 minutes! Oh boy... I knew the next 4.5 miles were some of the toughest of the day even without having the rain falling! We had 1.5 hours to do this loop. I knew that a miracle would be needed in order to pull this off, but we had to at least try. We would not let JP quit, they would have to pull us from the course.

We left the aid station and started the climb up the Perkins Trail. It was raining. It was muddy. It was not very pretty... Without the mud, without the blisters, we had a small chance, but this was not our day. We exited the woods to cross Everett road and decided to just walk down the road to the aid station. We missed the cut-off, so what if we cut the course now... As we were walking, a park ranger pulled up and asked if we needed help. (we must have looked bad...) We told him what happened and he offered a ride back. Of course we took him up on it! He dropped us off and we reported in with Tanya and our day was over.

The good news: JP completed 82 miles and set a PR for the first 50 miles. He is still able to walk and will be able to run again. They say that DNF means, Did Nothing Fatal...

The bad news: JP will probably lose most of his toenails, and he has some unfinished business with this race.

What did I learn from this? No matter how much we prepare and plan, something can always go wrong, and probably will. Keep moving, keep trying to recover, and do what you can. If it turns out that you are not successful, well, at least you did not give up. We now know what to do, or not to do, the next time it happens.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

"...and they're off!"

The third installment of the Burning River 100 mile race is underway! It is a beautiful morning here now with clear sunny skies and temperatures are expected to hit low t0 mid 80's; a bit warmer than what we are used to this summer, but at least it is not 95!

There is a slight chance of rain tonight so maybe I'll get to finally run in the rain, in the dark! I am going to pickup JP at the Happy Days aid station, somewhere between 10:30 and midnight, and pace him for the last 30 miles! He got me to the end last year, it is my turn now! He is targeting a 27-hour finish time and my job is to get him to Cuyahoga Falls by 8am tomorrow morning!

I am going to head over to shadow lake in an hour to watch some runners come through and hopefully see JP and Kirk.