Saturday, December 11, 2010

Snow run

What a beautiful sunny morning! The snow has stopped falling, at least for a day, and I needed to get outside for a few miles of running. I was not sure how deep the snow would be in the woods and not sure if anyone had ventured out this week to pack the trails down. Much to my surprise, the trail was mostly packed with only the Old Hickory trail covered with virgin snow.

I love being the first to track through a snow-covered trail! Yes, it is a lot of work, and you do not move too fast, but the return trip is easier! I did stop short at the last of the two long bridges at the gardens however. The knee-deep snow was getting the best of me! It was a great high-stepping session though...

They are forecasting the arrival of a large storm tomorrow with more snow on the way! I am really happy that I like running in the snow, unless I want to use the treadmill, that will be my only other option.

I am just thankful that I can get outside...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Night Run Haiku

Running in the dark

Feels like I am very fast

My watch does not lie...


Nice run in the dark and snow after work tonight. Sloppy trails but it was nice to clear my head. Funny how the night time makes the run feel so fast, but actually it is a lot slower. I also noticed that no one else was out tonight! hmmm....

I am over my cold, finally, and it feels good to not be coughing so much. Now, it is time to get a race scheduled for next summer. So far, Laurel Highlands for early summer and Run with Scissors for the fall are the leading candidates...


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Consistency? What is that?

We all know that consistent training will allow for the best improvement verses haphazard activity. Unfortunately, trying to get life to cooperate to allow for the consistency is the biggest obstacle. Another common tidbit of information is that we always seem to be able to squeeze the activities that we *really* want to do into our schedule, no matter what... So what am I saying?

I guess that it took a crazy week at work to make me realize how much I have missed the consistent running that training for an event provides. (or forces you to do) I was feeling very very stressed and needed that release that running provides. Now that daylight savings time has ended, I and my headlamp will become one again... I have managed to actually run back-to-back days this weekend! It has been a while since that has happened!

I am struggling with trying to choose an event to train for for next summer. I always do better when I have a target to aim for. It is harder for me to 'just go run' and the motivation, or fear, of a looming event helps to get me out the door, especially now that winter is fast approaching!

I am on the fence regarding Burning River for 2011. Advantages are: is it is local, I know the course, logistics are easy for my crew. Disadvantages are: I know the course. A 100-mile race is never easy and I feel myself wanting to try a different venue. More importantly, I am not sure if I want to commit to the training for a 100 mile race. A spring and fall 50-mile race is sounding pretty good right now. (Two 50s make for a 100 right?? Ha!)

Options I am considering are: Glacier Ridge Trail 50K or 50 mile (April 9)
Nite-owl 50 mile (FA race late May)
Mohican 50 miles (if they have it) (June)
Run with Scissors double marathon (October)

Or do I choose a marathon and try to run faster? That means training on asphalt.... yuk!

I have time to get this figured out. For now, I will work on getting back to at least 4 runs a week and start to build my long run back up to 20 miles. This will get me through the early winter until I choose a race or two.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sorry, it has been a while...

Wow! Time flies when, well, you know the rest...

I have been busy trying to catch up on all of the "projects" that were neglected while I was training for the Burning River 100 race. So far the deck has been stained, window trim painted, shutters painted, and office closet cleaned out. There are still lots of things on the list remaining and we are slowly getting them checked off.

Fall has arrived with the flurry of school activities. Abby's XC season will complete next week and since the football team is doing well, Marching Band will probably stretch long into the post-season. Denise will participate in her 5th Columbus Marathon this weekend and we are all looking forward to cheering her on and to see how the day unfolds for her.

I am in a maintenance-mode of running with a few random bouts of 'stress-relief' running thrown in. Speaking of stress relief, the company that I work for has been acquired and the close of the deal should occur in December. Merry Christmas... I think it is a good thing. At least the indications and statements made so far seem positive for our engineering group. But of course, the devil is in the details... I just have to keep remembering the end section of my last post regarding things I can control, and things that I cannot control... It seems that I have to keep relearning this lesson...

Monday, August 30, 2010

Life Changing Events




This photo was taken in late June, 1987. I had just spent the last 3.5 hours pedaling the 22-miles up "Going to the Sun Highway" in Glacier National Park. Logan Pass was the highest point I would reach on my 4155-mile bicycle trip across America. I was almost 25-years old and had a list of questions that I was hoping to find answers to over the next 3000 or so miles. Questions like, "What am I going to do with my life?", "What about relationships?", "Is there life outside of my hometown?". Normal stuff, I thought...

As I traveled east across the back-roads of America, I was watching for and soaking in all that I could in an attempt to learn and find answers. I finished my trip with eyes wide-open and realized that there was another world outside of my little hometown and I needed to get out.

I changed jobs and moved to Cleveland where I started to date the "hot" new aerobics instructor. We shared lots of hikes and walks in the metro parks and I eventually asked her to marry me! Thankfully she said 'yes'!

Tomorrow marks 19 years since Denise and exchanged our promises to each other. It only seems like 19 weeks since time has passed so quickly. It has been an adventure to say the least and I am so excited to think about the next 19 years!

The photo below is of Denise taken during our honeymoon at Glacier National Park! No, we did not ride our bikes there, but we had some fantastic day-hikes.

Denise, thank you for the best 19 years of my life! I love you...


Oh, by the way, I never did find any answers to those questions. What I did find however was more valuable: I had an attitude change. I realized that God has it all under control. All I have to do is to trust and relax and let His plan unfold. Easy? No. But does it provide peace? You betcha!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

100-Mile recovery...

...is taking me a long time! I have been able to complete some 4 and 5-mile runs these past couple of weeks. My feet feel much better however my left index toenail is hanging on by a thread. I wish it would just hurry up and fall off already...

Running feels good, I just get tired after 4 miles. The same kind of tired that 20 miles felt like. I am hopeful that at least I want to run, unlike 2 years ago where I did not even want to lace up the shoes.

I am also pleased with my nutrition post-race. I have not really changed anything from our normal vegetarian diet and I am pleased that I did not gain 10 pounds like last time. It is all good.

We took a hike today on the Salt Run trail at Kendall Hills to celebrate Denise's birthday and it was nice to get back onto the valley trails again, even if it was not for a run. We packed a lunch for after wards and was just hanging out when I looked in the sky behind us and saw nothing but big black clouds. We gathered our things and headed towards the car. Once inside, the sky opened up and the rain fell. Hard! It only lasted a few minutes, but I am glad that we were not caught out in it.

The girls are adjusting to the school routine. Hopefully, Denise and I will also...

Saturday, August 7, 2010

2010 Burning River Race Report


"8 minutes to spare"


I could tell that I was nearing the Shadow Lake Aid station by the sounds of the volunteers cheering in the runners. As I approached the area, two guys in red shirts asked what I needed. I handed my two bottles to them and followed the shouts of my crew, “Jerry! We’re over here!” I went over to them and asked Denise for pretzels and two power bars. By this time the volunteers had filled my bottles and returned them to me. I shouted “THANKS VOLUNTEERS” and headed out towards the next aid station! My crew just stood there shaking their heads, wondering what in the world just happened?

This was my second entry into the world of 100-Mile ultra running. I completed my first Burning River 100 in 2008 and was hoping to better my time of 26:28 with a target goal of 24 hours or less. The number one goal however was to finish, which is never guaranteed… My race plan this year was pretty simple: 10-minute run/2-minute walk. Walk any up-hills. Get in and out of the aid stations as fast as possible.

The Burning River 100 was the 2010 USATF 100-Mile Championship race and as a result, a record number of participants started the race at 5am. The starting area was awash with runners and their crew/family. I was not able to find Kirk, JP, or Greg, but I did see Mark, Suzanne, and Maria! Before long, “Happy Birthday” and the National Anthem were performed and Joe said “Go!” So go we did…

My nutrition plan was to eat small amounts of food during my 2-minute walk breaks instead of waiting until an aid station to shove a lot of food into my stomach. I was hoping that this would help minimize the energy swings and help keep my stomach in line. In addition, I was using chia seed gel as a calorie source and to help even out my energy level.

My crew was going to wait along the course somewhere in South Chagrin Metro Park to cheer the runners and Denise had mentioned a possible location of somewhere after the stream crossing. As I crossed the creek, I let out a little “Hoo-eee” call and I heard a return call from Denise. The guy running next to me was pretty impressed… It was nice to see my crew and to let them know that things were going well. Before long, I was arriving at the Shadow Lake aid station for the first real meeting as I described above. Denise told me later that their heads were spinning. There was no banter, no joking, I had my ‘game face’ on!

The first part of the race went very well. I would run/walk/eat and get in and out of the aid stations as fast as possible. I had printed out a pace chart to use for reference and was running just under a 21-hour pace. Fast, I know, but I also knew that I would slow down later on the course once the hills started and at night. My crew surprised me by waiting at Bridal Veil Falls in Bedford Reservation for another cheering session before going on to Station Road. But, before I could get to Station Road, I had to traverse 2.5 miles of exposed Tow Path trail. I really dread this section of the course and could not wait to complete it. Like 2008, I walked most of this section to conserve energy and I was so happy to get to Station Road.

Denise had a chair set up on the other side of the railroad tracks for me to use for my first of two planned shoe changes. As I cleaned my feet, I heard the train approaching the station. Oh no! The aid station exit was on the other side and I did not have my shoes on yet! I completed a “now leisurely” shoe change since I could not leave if I wanted to. However, the extra couple of minutes was nice and really did not hurt anything. My friend Scott was there at the aid station taking video of the whole exchange.

I left the aid station and headed into Brecksville Reservation. I looked ahead and a co-worker, George, was there with his two daughters. I had joked with him earlier in the week that I would give a shout as I ran by his house. Instead, he met me along the path with a sign that his girls made! It was really sweet and I am sure that his girls did not know what to make of me or of any of the other runners going by! Scott met me again along the trail at a stream crossing, video camera running as I stepped across the stream on the rocks.

The Ottawa Point aid station was crazy! Lots of cars parked along the road, lots of people, lots of food! I grabbed fluids, a banana, fig bars, and out I went towards Snowville Road. I was starting to feel a bit tired now and consumed a hammer gel for a quick pick-me-up. Was not working…hmmm. How about some power-bar? Still not working and feeling worse… I was expecting to have a ‘bad’ section at some point and I think this was it…

I managed to get to the aid station at Snowville, refilled my bottles, and was still feeling pretty bad. I almost threw up there but managed to hold it together. I left the aid station and started walking up the stairs to the top of the ridge. I realized that all of the food that I had taken in from Ottawa point was just sitting in my gut. I also then realized that I had cinched my waist pack belt too tight in an effort to keep my bottles from bouncing, which prevented the food in my stomach from moving through. So, loosen the belt, keep walking to help my body process the calories, and wait until things stabilize. Fortunately, that was the right call and by the time I hit Columbia Road, I was feeling much, much better. Lesson learned: Stick to the plan of frequent, small amounts of food!

Boston Store #1 was another fast in-and-out after a bathroom break and I managed to get past the Stanford Road section without too much grief. It seemed as if the hill had grown a LOT since my last training run down there! I picked up my first pacer, Andy, at Boston Store #2 and we made reasonable time towards Pine Lane. My feet were starting to feel the effects of 55 miles of running and they were starting to talk back to me a bit. Andy was doing exactly what I had asked him to do: Keep me moving! After the Pine Lane aid station, I caught a root and went down! Fortunately, the fig Newton that I had in my hand helped to break the fall a bit. However the cookie did not survive the impact…


We caught up with Mike George and chatted with him a bit as we traveled along the road. My feet did not like the hard surface at all and I could not wait until we got back onto the trails. Andy and I discussed the idea of me changing shoes earlier at Pine Hollow instead of waiting until Covered Bridge. My feet were really uncomfortable and it was becoming more and more difficult to run.

Meanwhile, my crew was having fun with our neighbor’s and pacer’s families and gave Andy and I a rousing greeting at Pine Hollow #1. We stopped briefly to say hello and then off for the Salt Run loop. Andy and I had caught up with Dave, Bob, and Greg on the backside of the Salt Run loop and I was happy to see some familiar faces on the trail. They pulled ahead on one of the uphill sections and I told Andy to let them go. Maybe we’ll see them again…

Back to Pine Hollow #2 for a pacer change and a shoe change. What a difference a pair of shoes can make! My feet still hurt, but not nearly as much and I was able to run again.

Mike, my second pacer, and I kept running, walking when necessary, eating, and enjoying the fantastic evening. We made it through the Wetmore and Perkins Trail and back to Covered Bridge #2. After a short pit-stop, Denise told me as we left that we had an 8-minute cushion for a 24-hour finish! Not a lot of time, especially with how I was feeling…

As we progressed down the road toward Hale Farm, I was talking with Mike and saying that I thought it would be close one way or the other and that I was ok with going a bit over 24 hours. Then not a minute later, I realized that I did want 24-hours, and I wanted it pretty bad! I did not train all winter and spring to miss my goal by a couple of minutes! I told Mike that it was time to get our game on!

The next 15 miles was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. I had a single focus: Get to the finish line as fast as I could! We would run as much as I could, then walk for 30-seconds, then run. Mike would let me know if we were making up time or losing time. We kept making up time! The O’Neil Woods and Meriman road aid stations were a blur as we barely slowed down and we were passing other runners the entire way. One guy stated that we had the strongest pace of anyone that had passed him in the last 2 hours! I kept thinking about how good it would feel to stop running! I was sleepy and kept eyeing the benches along the towpath and thinking that they would feel pretty good to lie down on. I did stop a couple of times for 30-second sitting break to take the weight off of my feet. I was amazed how good those short breaks felt!

We arrived at the Memorial Road aid station for the police escort across the bridge since there really was no extra room between the car lane and the edge of the bridge. The police car made a VERY effective blockade for us! We thanked the officer as we turned left to go up the brick street towards the last Metro Park. I knew that one major obstacle existed for us to overcome: The stairs! There are several sections of stone steps used to climb out of the valley. I was using both arms on the railings and pulling myself up these stairs as fast as I could possibly move! I was not thinking of anything else except just keep moving towards the finish line!

We exited the trail and ran across the bridge with just a bit over a mile to go for the finish! Mike and I kept running/walking/running until I could see the Sheraton sign and then it was run only! Two guys on bicycles came riding towards us to get my bib number and radio it back to the finish area. Annika and Jim were volunteering at the street crossing to stop traffic as we ran across! 100 yards to go and I could hear the announcer calling my name and I could see the time on the clock: 23:31!!!!! We had made up 23 minutes in the last 15 miles!!! I crossed the line and stopped when Joe handed me my buckle. I asked him one question: “Can I stop running now?”




Post race:
I drank a couple of Muscle Milks as I finally relaxed in a chair.

I watched a few other people finish as I sat in the chair and dozed off. I woke up shivering and I managed to change into some dry clothes. My crew then called it a day and went home. I went to my car for an hour nap and back out to the finish line to watch the others come in. My friend JP was still out there, seeking redemption from last years DNF. He was on track and at 10:24am, he came flying across the finish line! All is good!

Damage report:
I only had two small pea-sized blisters! However, my feet feel pretty beat up from the pounding. Changing shoes earlier may have helped to minimize this a bit.

Nutrition:
Gu, power bars, chia-seed gel, bananas, pretzel bites, PBJ, and ginger snaps were my calorie sources. In addition, I had one half of a grilled cheese sandwich at Happy Days. Beverages consisted of HEED, water, and some Coke.

Things to change for next time: Stick to the eating plan. Choose shoes carefully and don’t be afraid to change sooner if needed. Don’t be afraid to push a little harder during the night.

Thank you to my crew/family: Denise, Gina, and Abby. Thanks for tolerating this strange hobby of mine and for your unending support!
Thank you to my Pacers: Andy and Mike for taking time out of your weekend to run through the woods with me.
Thank you to my friends who met me along the course: Scott, George, the Vargo Family, the Bushey Family, and the Hedrick Family. Seeing familiar faces out there helps more than you will ever know.

Thank you to the race committee and to all of the volunteers! Fantastic course markings, food, and support!

video

Thursday, July 29, 2010

It is time....

Time to run the 2010 Burning River 100 Trail race.

July 31 seemed so far away last December when I registered. My how time flies...

Drop bags are packed. Clothing laid out. Race plan is ready to execute. Goals for the day are:
1) FINISH
2) Finish faster than my 2008 finish time of 26 hours 28 minutes.
3) A 24 hour finish would be very very nice... :)

Race plan is pretty simple: Keep moving, get in and out of the aid stations as fast as possible, and to keep smiling the entire day and night!

There will be a webcast that you can view to follow me around the course. I am bib #90. The Burning River 100 web site has course info and maps if you want to see where we will be running.

Time to get some sleep. I know that I will probably not sleep much tomorrow evening...

Monday, July 19, 2010

My Strange Addiction

There is a show on TLC called "My Strange Addiction" where they document and describe various behaviors of people. The listing for last night's show is as follows:

"First-hand accounts of individuals battling obsessive behaviors on the verge of taking over their lives, including: a woman who eats chalk, a fanatical runner, a compulsive shopper, and an excessive tanner."

My take on this is the old Sesame Street song "One of these things is not like the other..."

Anyways, the "fanatical runner" was a guy who was running the Javalina 100 mile ultra. TLC was interviewing him at the race with his girlfriend/crew Jen. Jen could not understand why anyone would want to run that far, a couple of 'medical' folks were saying that these people run and feel weak, nauseous, get nasty blisters, etc. and that the body is not designed to do these things. Oh and the other thing is that the runner was wearing some "strange" cave-man clothing over his running shorts and shirt. What TCL did not say is that part of the fun of the Javalina 100 race is that the runners wear costumes. TLC just helped to make this guy look fanatical...

So, of course they show him coming into the aid station around 36 miles into the race, feeling pretty crappy. This is a pretty common time to feel bad and he was. Jen was worried, more medical folks saying that people can die doing these things, blah, blah, blah... Off he goes into the night. He does finish in a very respectable 26 hours and 26 minutes and is ok. Jen hits him when he says that he wants to run another one.

The rest of the show covered the three women with 'real' problems...(lol) The show concludes with an update of the 4 people and they state that the runner is still going and that he completed 4 marathons in 4 days...

Other stuff
Taper is going great! I am alternating between feeling confident and being scared-to-death! (This is all normal for me). I am getting drop bags and other logistics mapped out and having fun with the shorter runs.

Abby and I ran tonight after work on the Buckeye Trail from Alexander Road to Fraizee House and back. The blackberries along the trail tasted pretty good and there should still be lots of them for the race. I will grab a few as I run by next weekend!

When we arrived back on the bike-n-hike path, Abby picked up the pace a bit and I also. We kept going faster and faster and I started to quickly realize that this was going to be the night that I would be 'spanked' by my youngest daughter! I helplessly watched her pull away and then slow down just a wee bit. I surged with what little I had left and managed to barely pull even as we arrived at the end of the trail.

Abby asked me how I felt getting "spanked". My response was a simple "Pretty darn proud!"

Sunday, July 4, 2010

How much is enough Funny Bunny?

I took a trip to the valley friday morning for a long training run on the Buckeye Trail. I parked at Snowville road and headed south towards Boston Store. The start of my run started with a huge chuckle as I passed under the power lines near Snowville. There were two very young rabbits in the trail in front of me and they started to run away, as rabbits tend to do. They quickly darted left into the grass. I was running in the right-hand side of the truck tracks and jumped into the left-hand track in an effort to avoid some overgrowth. Those two bunnies were right in front of me again and none of us expected to see each other so soon! Their eyes were huge as they tried as fast as they could to get out and away from this strange thing chasing them! This was the start of a fantastic run.

My goal for this run was to get a solid 25 miles and to keep my "head in the game". I wanted to use my 10/2 minute run/walk strategy and to keep on top of my nutrition. I made it to Boston Store in good time and refilled my water bottle before I left towards Brandywine Falls. With the exception of Vince and his posse near Blue Hen falls, the trails were empty. I was glad to see that there were log steps on the reworked trail near the falls. The last time I was through there, it was like crisco!

Back to Boston Store and then back to Snowville. I refilled bottles again and headed off towards Ottawa Point. This 4.2 mile section of trail always seems to kick my fanny but I decided that today was going to be different! I arrived at Ottawa Point still feeling good and was enjoying the day. I ran into Wild Bill on my way back to Snowville. It was good to see a smile on his face and he was working on completing 100 miles for the week!

I completed my 25 miles in 5:01:34. Last week's 25 miles on a completely different route was 5:01:42! ....strange....

When I arrived home, Denise and Abby were going out for a 4 mile run. So, why not? I went along! I was able to complete 29 miles for the day and felt great! (Especially after a nap in the hammock!)

I followed the 29 miles with another 16 yesterday and 6.5 this morning. I have 70 miles for the week, which is a record for me! I feel good, legs feel good, confidence is building...

So the question in my title: "How much is enough?" Training for these endurance events is an exercise in balance. You need to stress the body in order for it to adapt, but you don't want to break it either! Each person has their own breaking point. I have been building my mileage slowly all year and this will be the peak. Next week will a bit lower, then taper will begin. Time to rest, get the mental game tuned, and get organized for race day. This is also the important time to keep on top of my nutrition so my body can rebuild.

July 31 is coming fast. I can't wait!!!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Must...remember...bug...spray!!

Great weekend! It started with running a loop at Salt Run with Abby friday evening. The storms that blew through last week wreaked havoc on the trail. There were lots of limbs and trees blown down, making for some interesting running. It was warm and humid, just like the end of June in Ohio should be!

Saturday morning I drove back down to Happy Days and ran 25 miles of the BR100 course. It was warm, humid, and the bugs were out in full force! At one point I swatted 4 deer flies off at once! I tried to run faster, but that did not help much... :)

I followed the course from Happy Days to Pine Hollow. I skipped the Salt run trail and headed over towards the Covered Bridge. My plan was to turn around at the visitors center on Bolanz Road and retrace my route back.

I was following a 10-minute run/2-minute walk strategy since 1) it was hot, and 2) it is what I think I will be using for the race. Nutrition: I was using power bars and Chia gel. Also, I stopped at the occasional raspberry patch for extra goodies!

The run went well. I kept to the 10/2 plan as much as possible and I think it will be a good pace. I have said it before and I will say it again, the chia seed gel works really well for me and helps to keep my energy level constant. I did not have any 'swings' in mood like I typically do and I felt pretty good throughout the morning.

I was starting to get a bit bored on the return trip until I ran into Wild Bill just before Robinson Field. We spent a few minutes catching up and it helped to break the solitude. The bugs kept me occupied and gave me something to do while I was running!

Today, I followed up with an 8-mile 'heat-acclimation' run in the 90-degree afternoon. I really did not want to go out and sweat again, but I am glad that I did. After the first 3 miles, I felt pretty good and completed the run faster than I thought I would. Confidence is growing for July 31!!!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Nice and Hot...


Whew! It was a hot and humid weekend here in NE Ohio! Hats off to the folks running the Mohican 100 race. I was glad that I only had a 23 mile training run to complete, not 100 miles. I know that July 31 could show the same type of weather so I did not mind getting out there yesterday.

I met Andy and Mike at Pine Hollow and we ran the BR100 course to Covered Bridge, completed the Perkins Trail loop and then started off towards Hale Farm. We turned around and headed back to the Covered Bridge to watch the Jim Klett 10K runners come by. Denise and Abby were running this event today and I wanted to see if we could offer some encouragement.

Abby completed her first 10K but had quite a time of it. She is fast on her way of becoming an Ultra-runner by mastering the knack of puking and running! Denise has a race report here. I am very proud of Abby in that she did not quit and that she kept on moving! The perfect mantra for a lot of things in life...

The temps kept climbing as Mike, Andy, and I retraced our path back and before we knew it we had returned to Pine Hollow. Andy had to get home and called it a day with 20 miles. Mike and I then headed out onto the Salt Run trail for another 3.3 miles. We had followed a 10 minute run/2 minute walk pace for the entire day and it was working. We felt pretty good and were careful to keep up with our nutrition as we went. I used Chia seed gel again and I really like it!

I felt pretty wrung out yesterday, but I have felt worse... I am pleased with how my training is going and I know that more heat training in my future.

Abby and I took today as a non-running day and went kayaking on the Upper Cuyahoga river. It was a nice change-of-pace and we had a great time laughing and soaking up the sunshine.



Time to get back to running tomorrow...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Run Up Whiteface Race report

We have vacationed in the Adirondack Mountains for the past several years and enjoy the clear air and great hiking that area provides. Denise and I fell in love with that region when we passed through on our way to Bar Harbor Maine on our tandem bicycle. Then, a couple of Ironman Triathlon races at Lake Placid sealed the deal. We are hooked!

This year, our vacation coincided with the annual Whiteface Mountain road race. 8 miles, 8% grade, 3600 ft elevation gain. Denise 'suggested' that I enter this for a fun thing to do. There is a road that goes up to almost the summit of Whiteface mountain. The course simply follows the road up, and up, and up... Did I mention that the race is 8 miles?

We have driven to the summit a couple of times ourselves and I know that the views are specatular and that the mountain is pretty big. I was looking forward to the day.

I woke up sunday morning to the sound of a torrential downpour of rain! I was worried about Denise having to drive up to the summit to pick me up and was wondering if they were going to cancel the race. I drove to packet pickup and heard people talking about a couple of years ago when there were thunderstorms and the year before that where there was sleet and snow at the summit! No, they were not going to cancel the race because of a 'little' rain shower...

I went back to the cabin to get my family and we drove to the starting line. I grabbed a poncho and said goodbye to Denise and she drove up the road to meet me at the summit. Before long, I was shedding the poncho and the Race Director said "GO!"

The course passed by the trailhead for the Whiteface Summit trail and I commented to the guy next to me that we should take the trail since it is only 5.2 miles to the summit. His comment was "Yeah, but it is a whole lot steeper!" Good point.

I was feeling good until mile 4 when the wind and rain shifted into our faces! It was pretty wet, visibility was pretty poor, and I was not feeling so perky anymore. I kept telling myself that this is only 8 miles, it is a great training run, and that it will be over soon!

I finally saw the sign for mile 7 and knew that I only had one more to go. The rain was still coming down, I still could not see anything, but I was starting to smile again... I could hear cheering ahead in the fog/mist and could just make out Denise, Gina, and Abby standing at the side of the road. I handed them the poncho that I carried up and looked for the finish line. I did not actually see a line, but I stopped running at the end of the road.

I noticed that the path to the summit was closed....bummer.... :)

Good experience, not sure if I would do it again. I think that we will hike to the summit next time! Oh yeah, 1:32 mintes. 8th out of 12 in my age group. There was a 71 year-old man who completed the race in 1:37!!!! I want to be him...


Here is a photo of my dedicated crew waiting for me! The next one is of me appearing out of the mist. The last one is afterwards! I have not been this wet in a long time!


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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Nite-Owl run report

I wanted to complete a 50-mile run as part of my Burning River 100 training. I looked at our family schedule and determined that this weekend would be the time. I also decided to do this at night. I did not want to run this alone so I posted a note on the Burning river news group about the Nite Owl 50 mile FA run. All I wanted/needed was one other crazy person to join me. Thankfully, 7 other people decided to join me for part and 3 of them joined me for the entire distance.

We departed Happy Days parking lot with a simple route: Follow the BR100 course until ONeil Woods. Then turn around and run back. The early pace was fast, too fast. But it felt good. The trails were in good condition and the sun started to set. Headlamps were turn on and we continued onto the Salt Run trail. When we exited the woods again at Pine Hollow, the full moon was just rising over the trees, providing an incredible view. Onto the Wetmore trail.

Yes, it was muddy, yes it was technical, and yes, we were still running too fast, but boy oh boy was it fun! We listened to the owls hooting back and forth to each other and as we passed by the goat farm, a "Baaaa" sound joined the owls! Pretty funny.

3 members of our group decided to call it a night at the Covered Bridge while the rest of us ventured onto the Perkins Trail. Again, muddy, technical, however the pace finally slowed down. The 'fun factor' dropped a bit too... Back to Covered Bridge where 3 more of our group called it a night.

Greg, JP, Kurt, and I then headed down Ira Road to ONeil Woods. We listened to the chorus of bull frogs at the pond near Hale Farm. They were very loud had quite the songs going. As we climbed the hill into ONeil Woods, the coyotes joined in with the night chorus. Pretty cool. We stopped at the top of the hill before we entered the 'real' park. We did not want to risk the wrath of the park ranger since the park closes at 11pm.

We decided to do an out and back on the tow path instead of another lap around the Perkins Trail. JP's wife, Maria, met us at the Covered Bridge with pizza! It was a great break and treat and really hit the spot. We were starting to feel the effects of our poor pacing choice earlier but continued on. Before we knew it, we were back at Pine Hollow and the sun was up! Greg was chomping at the bit and took off at his faster pace since the sun was up. JP, Kurt, and I continued to complete Salt Run again and headed back.

I arrived back at my car after 12 hours and 21 minutes of moving through the night. I felt good most of the night. My nutrition worked and I was happy that the Chia seed gel worked really well. I will certainly use this for the race in July. I only have two small blisters on my left heel. This is mainly due, I think, to my old socks that I wore. I had a small rock embed itself in my sock and I have a sore spot on my right heel. Gaiters are on order...

Great night, great trails, great friends! It does not get much better than this! Thanks JP, Kurt, and Greg for the company and support. Andy and Mike, get ready to rock on July 31st!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Pre-Nite-Owl thoughts (and fears)

Oh boy...

This sounded like such a good idea a few weeks ago: Start running friday evening after work and stop when you complete 50 miles. Well, tonight is the night! Myself and a few friends are leaving from Happy Days parking lot and following the Burning River 100 course to just outside of ONeil Woods metro park. Then we will return. The moon is nearly full and the sky will be clear. Should be a near-perfect evening with temps in the mid 60s.

Fears: The ever-present "Can I make the distance?" Will my food choices be correct and sufficient? Will my legs and feet hold up? Answers: To be discovered tonight...

This is why we do these training runs. To build up confidence, experiment with food and equipment choices, and to just have an excuse to get outside and move! Yes, mistakes will be made, but better to make them now than to make them on race day.

Being able to share this experience with others will be an added bonus...

Run report later...(Tomorrow after I wake up)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

More Paul Simon...

More mud... :)

Yesterday morning was spent 'slip-slidin' away' again on the muddy trails in the valley. I started at Boston store for an out-and-back on the Buckeye Trail to Snowville road. Then I followed the Brandywine Falls section of the BR100 course. The falls had lots and lots of water flowing over due to the rainfall this past week! I have never been there with so much water flowing and it was very nice to see (and hear!)

Followed up today with a nice run with Abby on the Boston Run trail from happy days. I needed to get a new pair of shoes since my Saucony's ripped out AGAIN! This is the second pair that have failed this way. I like the fit and feel of these shoes but the quality stinks! My new Columbia shoes felt great today. I will take them out for a couple of 4 mile runs this week before the Nite Owl 50-miler this friday. That should break them in... :)

This is the last week of school and then the summer frenzy begins. A nice trip the ADK will start things off well. While there I am going for a little 8 mile run up Whiteface mountain. Details can be found here if you are interested. It should be an interesting experience. We have driven up to the summit two times and I would really like to hike to the summit too. I guess I will run there first...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Spider!

Up at 5am, left the house at 5:35am, heading towards Cleveland where Denise was going to run the 1/2 Marathon. We managed to find our way to the Muni parking lot after navigating around the road closures. As we were walking towards the starting area, Gina and Abby squealed, "Spider!" I looked up and there was a HUGE spider (ok, about the size of a nickle) hanging in front of us about 2 feet off of the ground. I moved the sign that I was holding towards the spider to knock it out of the way and of course, the web filament that the spider was hanging from, stuck to the sign! Then to my horror, the spider starting swinging towards me!

Now there are very few things that scare me. Spiders, however, are one of those things! I jumped, trying to get out of the way, scraped my hand against a light post as I tried to keep from falling, providing much amusement for my family and several others walking near us! The spider was now on the ground, still attached to the sign, following me! Gina, thankfully, stepped on the creature and spared me the additional trauma...

Thankfully, that was the worst thing that happened today....

Denise ran well and surprised herself with a great time of 1:51:13. We met her at the finish line and we then walked towards mile 25 on the course to cheer in the marathon finishers. It was great to see the runners at that point of the marathon. We have all been there, sometimes you feel good, other times you wish you were dead. Today was no different for the runners. But, the best part is that once you cross the finish line, the pain evaporates! All of the training and the emotions of the day provide a wealth of experience to draw from later in life.

We had invited one of Gina's swim-team friends to join us today so she could experience a larger running event that was not High School track or Cross-country related. I think she liked it. I hope that the shock of spending a morning with us does not scar her too badly.

I completed a solid week of 53 miles. I had a 21 mile "Paul Simon" run yesterday on the muddy trails. (Slip-slidin'-away) I ran from Snowville Road to Station Road, following the new BR100 section. I was only 'navigationally-challenged' a couple of times and I think that I went on the wrong bridle trail for a while, but it was a good run never the less. Followed up with 10 miles today. My feet were wet/muddy for most of the day yesterday and I have a small blister. This is my first blister in a long while so I am not too concerned. I will use a different pair of socks for the race if wet weather is in the forecast. I was experimenting with some hiking socks yesterday. They are great for dry conditions, not so great for wet. "Note to self"...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

Sorry about the "blog-slacking"... It has been crazy around here!

All that Denise ever wants for Mother's Day is to not have to do anything in the kitchen. Gina, Abby, and I enjoy planning the menu and preparing the meals for the day. This year we had french toast with a fresh fruit salad for breakfast. Lunch was peanut-butter with home-made strawberry jam sandwiches that we ate during our hike in the valley. Dinner was Thai vegetable stir fry with chocolate lava cake for dessert! It was another great day!

I was really really tired this week! I think that last week's 56.5 miles took their toll and I needed to regroup and recover. I caught myself in the 'numbers game' where the 'scheduled' amount of miles is all that matters. No it is not! You cannot train a tired body. My primary goals for Burning River this year are (1) Get to the starting line healthy and (2) to finish the distance. Although this week's miles were not huge, standing last night on the concrete floor at the House of Blues for 6 hours counts for something. Also, today's hike from the Wetmore Trailhead to the Goat farm and back was a great active recovery session.

The "Nite-Owl" 50-mile training run is scheduled and planned. Should be a great time with my pacers and trail running friends. All we can ask for will be clear skies. Even if the weather is bad, it is a training run. It could rain on race day, right? These long events require just as much mental endurance as physical...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Which task is more difficult?

Choices: Running 50K or cutting up two trees?

Answer: Cutting up two trees!

We traveled to NY this weekend so that I could help my father-in-law, Dick, cut up a couple of trees. I was looking forward to this for since I don't get a lot of chances to use a chain-saw, and it is always good to be able to help Dick with his endless source of projects.

We arrived saturday early afternoon to find him already cutting off the smaller branches. I got out of the car, grabbed a pair of gloves and started in with loading the trailer with the brush. Dick told me where to dump branches and off I went with the tractor to unload while he continued to cut. When I returned, he had started to cut up the larger limbs and soon handed over the chainsaw after he stumbled a couple of times! Did I mention that Dick is almost 82 years young? I think he should have given me the saw much sooner but you can't tell an old Italian anything! Ha!



So we worked together to cut up the limbs and trunks. It took a little longer since we would have to prop up the trunk every so often in order to keep the saw blade out of the dirt. I was feeling pretty good after that last cut! Now, the real work begins: Hauling the wood away.

Dick took on the task of loading the smaller pieces onto the lawnmower trailer. I loaded the larger chunks to take over for splitting. This is the part that was work! Running does not do much to build your upper-body strength. I used some muscles that I forgot I had! By late afternoon, we had cleared all of the brush, moved the wood, and put away all of the tools. We were both ready for a nap!

It was a great weekend visit. It is not everyday that people let me use power tools! As an extra bonus, I got to drive the tractor too!


Although this tractor was not quite like the one that I used to drive!




One of the benefits of growing up on a farm!

Recovery from last weekend's race is going well! Time to start another build phase towards Memorial Day weekend!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

2010 "Forget the PR" 50K Race Report

"Run for your Ride"

I had so much fun at last year's inaugural event, I just had to do it again this year. Contrary to the race name, I also wanted to better last year's time of 6:33. My stretch goal was to actually set a 50K PR. (6:05)

Denise, Gina, and Abby accompanied me to the race this year. We spent saturday evening in the Mohican Resort Lodge after taking a side trip to Kenyon College where Gina will be attending a swim camp this summer. The weather was very cool and breezy which squashed anyone's enthusiasm for a hike. We instead relaxed and caught up on some reading.

I went to packet pickup at the starting line, setting way-points on the TomTom for Denise in the morning. She was going to drop me off for the start of the race and then go back to the lodge where her and the girls would have a nice breakfast and wait for me to pass by. Then they would travel to the finish line and wait for me there. Denise told me that they were leaving for home at 2pm, giving me 6 hours to finish the race or I would just have to keep running to get home! I hoped that she was joking but I did not want to take a chance...

Hence the subtitle of my race report: "Run for your Ride!"

Rob Powell, the race director, gave some last minute instructions and before long, we were off and running. My goal for the race was to not kill myself in the first 2 miles of climbing, and then settle down into a nice solid steady pace. I found myself in a conga-line of around 15-20 people moving at a 9-11 minute/mile clip. Just where I wanted to be.

A quick refill of my water bottle at the Hickory Ridge aid station and off I went towards the Covered Bridge. The crowd started to thin out a bit after the aid station making the running a bit easier since the roots and rocks were easier to see. The hills at Mohican are larger than what I am used to running on but the scenery more than makes up for it. I was feeling fine and enjoying the day.

I refilled water/heed and grabbed a stack of pringles at the Covered Bridge aid station before I started towards Little Lyons Falls. This has to be the coolest trail ever! You follow a small valley upstream, crossing the water several times over rocks, trees, sometimes through the stream itself, until you arrive at the water fall. A turn to the left provides you a hand-over-hand climb up some tree roots to get up and out of the ravine! It is really really fun. After the fun of the trail, we were dumped onto the 'dam road' to climb up out of the river valley towards the lodge.

Back into the woods again to make the out-and-back loop to the lodge. The leaders of the race were now coming back towards me and I was surprised that there were not too many people ahead of me. The trail takes a tour of the shoreline of the lake before we pass by the lodge. I stopped to say hello to my family at the lodge before I was reminded that the clock was running and that I had better get running! I had been running for 2:51 so far and my 6 hour goal was close! The lodge was half-way so things were looking good.

Back through the out-and-back section and onward to Big Lyons Falls. The trail here goes DOWN a steep pitch without the aid of the roots like little Lyons. Last year, it was really muddy and my descent was more of a controlled crash than anything else. This year was much dryer, but not much more control... Back to the covered bridge again and off for the hardest section of the race: The fire tower. This leg is only 2.5 miles, but almost all of it is up, up, and more up. Here is where my fast aid station stops caught up with me. I had not been eating nearly enough food. I had food with me, but I forgot that I needed to eat it!

I was feeling apathetic, tired, and I really did not want to run anymore. I was in a group of 4 at the start of the climb and before long I was in a group of one. Not where I wanted to be... I started to eat some powerbar and ginger snaps. I was looking forward to the potato soup at the aid station; I just had to get there.

Finally, I could see the tower through the trees and I refilled my bottles, ate some soup, and took a couple of fig bars with me as I started back towards the covered bridge for the last time. Again, I was alone and started to panic a bit as I did not see any course markings. I almost turned back to make sure that I was not lost but then saw a flag! Good, I really did not want to climb back up that hill. The course was now back on the mountain bike trail and I was able to clock my slow pace...12 minute mile! Hey, that is not bad. It felt more like a 25 minute mile. Maybe things are not so bad after all. I caught up with a couple of people who looked as bad as I had felt and my energy levels were coming back.

Once again, refill bottles, grabbed a couple of cookies, and off I went for the finish. I had 49 minutes to go 4.25 miles to make my 6 hour cut off. I realized that indeed a PR was possible!!! I quickly flashed back to a memory of setting a PR at the Spring Classic 1/2 Marathon with my friend Andy. We were both tired but we pushed each other to a strong fast finish! No one in the group was willing to back off the pace and we kept building until the end. Today was different in that I was alone, but I could feel Andy there beside me. The last section of trail follows the river and Rob took us as close to the river as possible. In fact, I think that if there had been anymore rain that week, we would have been IN the river! I knew from last year that one monster hill remained and I was not going to let it demoralize me this year. I kept running and managed to catch a couple of people before I allowed myself to realize that I had a PR. As I rounded the corner towards the finish line, I saw the clock at 5:59:55 and tried to make it. I crossed at 6:00:11... Whoohooo!!! A PR by 5 minutes over a much much harder course. It was a great day!



Many thanks to the volunteers and to Rob Powell for putting on yet another fantastic event! That course is tough, but oh so nice to run! Thanks to Denise, Gina, and Abby for once again tolerating my strange hobby.

Lessons learned:
1) EAT! I had gu and powerbars with me. I guess I need to actually ingest them for the calories to help.
2) I need to run some more hills!
3) Never give up. Bad patches happen, and then they go away. Keep moving!


Denise, Thanks for not making me run home...

Oh yeah, Mark C. asked me how I was going to recover. This photo is a start...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Taper

I love to taper! The aches and pains diminish, energy levels rise, and life is good. I am tapering for the "Forget the PR50K" race at Mohican State Park.

Last year's race report can be found here for your amusement. I am hoping to beat last year's time and to enjoy myself immensely in the process. Denise, Gina, and Abby will be there too cheering everyone on.

Weather looks to be great and I cannot wait to climb Little Lyons Falls again! Race report to follow next week.

Good luck to everyone running Boston monday. I'll be following alone on-line...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Best race yet!!!

Today was the Spring Classic 1/2 Marathon and 5K race in Strongsville. We decided to run this as a family event with Denise running the 1/2 marathon and Gina, Abby, and I running the 5K. Denise was gunning for anything under 2 hours, Abby was gunning for a fast run, and my job was to get Gina across the finish line in one piece.

Gina's run training is not going too well this spring with her allergies and asthma kicking in full force. She would usually end up wheezing and walking on the bike path during the few times she ventured out. Denise and I decided that I would stay with Gina and help do whatever I could to get her through. We knew we had at least an hour and a half to do the 5K before Denise finished her 1/2 marathon.

The morning was near perfect conditions with lots of sunshine and a crisp 38 degrees. We checked in, got our t-shirts, and before long, Denise started her race. 15 minutes later, the 5K started. Abby took off on her own with Gina and I following behind. I kept talking to her telling her to stay calm, breath deep, and have fun. I asked her if she wanted to take a walk break at the turn around and she declined. She told me "If I want a walk break, I'll ask for one. Don't offer it to me." Ok, game on....

We saw Abby running strong after the turn around and she was 8th female at that point! Gina said something about Abby being a running beast and I agreed! Abby is really enjoying the running experience and it shows on her face.

Gina and I made it to the 2 mile mark, still running strong and no walk breaks!! As we neared the shelter area, Gina said "Hey! I am doing this!" Darn right she's doing this, she is crushing this!!

We crossed the finish line in 28:5x and that was enough for Gina to get 2nd place in her age group! The funny thing was, it was also good enough for ME to get second place in my age group!!! I was floored. I never place in a race, yet alone in a 5K. I guess no one else in my age group showed up! Ha! Abby won her age group.

We waited for Denise to complete lap number 1 and showed off our hardware as we cheered her on her way for lap 2. A trip to the food line was next and as we ate, the winners of the 1/2 marathon came through in 1:09!!!! I would like to run ONE mile that fast, yet alone string several of them together.

Denise completed lap 2 with a total time of 1:54 which gave her 2nd in her age group! We were 4 for 4 as a family for hardware!! An awesome day.

Two things stand out from the morning:
1) Gina saying "I'm doing it!"
2) As I went to get our drop bags, an older gentleman asked me if those two girls were my daughters and if so I should be very proud of them. I responded that they were and that I am very proud of them!

He said he was following Abby for a little over a mile, thinking that she would eventually slow down, but she never did!

The smile on Gina's face as we crossed the finish line was priceless... I think the smile on my face was too, at least it felt that way!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Build complete

I was fortunate to have both last friday and today as holidays from work. I took advantage of the summer weather friday to complete a 4.5 hour run on the local trails. I ventured over to Liberty Park to see the progress on the new trails. There was not much activity other than a few streamers hanging from some branches. I wandered down the grassy section under the power lines toward Route 82, looking for a way to connect the two sections of the park. All I found was lots of deer paths and lots of brambles. My legs will be scratched up for a while...

It was quite warm friday and it was nice to sweat for a change. I met Denise and Abby on the bike path as I returned and shared my remaining water with them. They had the same love/hate relationship with the heat: It felt good, but too warm too fast. Another 10 miles saturday morning completed my build for the "Forget the PR" race.

I completed 10 miles this morning, 5 of which were with Abby! Track practice has started and their first meet is coming up next week. She enjoys running and it has been showing on her face these past couple of weeks! She has the 'glow' about her again.

We attended a fantastic Easter service yesterday morning and then took a great family hike up in South Chagrin park. There are a few challenging hills there that we want to get back to often before our ADK trip. We need to train a bit for our assault on Algonquin Peak.

Spring Classic 1/2 Marathon this weekend for Denise with Gina, Abby, and I running the 5K. We will then cheer Denise in for her finish! Should be a great weekend. I will taper a bit for the 50k these next two weeks and then ramp up again for my 50+ mile run memorial day weekend. I need to get some details worked out about this one. I really don't want to run this alone, especially since it will probably be a night run...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Things you see....

Another crazy weekend schedule had me completing my long run last night after work. The plan called for 22 miles and I decided that 2 laps of Bedford Reservation would be just right. The training of running after a long day and then running into the night would be good. I started at Egbert shelter and after completing the short out-and-back to the park entrance, followed the Burning River 100 course through the park, across Alexander road, and down to the Frazee house on the towpath. Back tracking to the car completed the first 14 miles.

I refilled my water bottles, grabbed my headlamp, and started the second loop. This time I skipped the out-and-back and headed towards Alexander. As I neared Bridal Veil Falls, the sunset was turning the sky into a brilliant shade of orange and the almost-full moon was out shining bright. I paused to look up at a couple of Canadian geese that were flying overhead and they were a bright orange color from the sun and right in front of the moon! It was one of those perfect photos but, no camera. I will just have to remember that moment...

I had to turn on the headlamp shortly after-wards and completed my run through the woods. I was able to spot a couple of raccoons and several deer. Before long I was back at my car and heading home after completing my 22 miles.

I had almost arrived home when the car in front of me suddenly slowed down. I assumed a deer but there was something scurrying across the road. It was an opossum and he was running as fast as his little legs could carry him. Opossums are not known for their intelligence and sure enough, this one ran full speed into the curb! He hit so hard that his back-end lifted clear off of the ground and almost landed on top of the curb! He picked himself up and scrambled over the curb into the brush, acting as if that was all planned.... They are stupid, but pretty funny!

I ran another 10 miles this morning as a 'recovery' run. My legs felt pretty tired at first but warmed up and I felt ok. As I was nearing a turnaround point on the trail, I looked ahead and saw a woman walking. I was surprised since I usually don't see many people on this section of the trail. I was just about to say "good morning" when all of a sudden she dropped her pants, squatted, and started to relieve herself! She obviously did not expect to see anyone popping out of the woods behind her and even if she did check first, I wasn't there yet... I was nice and quietly turned around and headed back into the woods. I did not need to startle her or worse.... Hey, if you have to go, you have to go. Pretty funny though...

So, 32 miles completed in less than 24 hours. Just some perspective: In three weeks, I will complete the "Forget the PR 50K" (31 miles) in hopefully 6.5 hours and in August, complete 100 miles in 30 hours (or less, much less). These training runs are all stepping stones towards that end goal. It is, and has been, quite a journey.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Big week!

52.6 miles total! 25 mile run w/JP yesterday in the valley! Still feeling good!

That about sums up the week! I was able to meet JP yesterday and share 25 miles of trails in the CVNP. It was nice to get caught up with him and hear his stories about the Old Pueblo 50 miler he completed! This was my longest run and my biggest week, so far for the year. I know more is to come and I am excited/anxious about "Forget the PR" and "Burning River". My main goal is to keep healthy and keep moving!

We took our annual trip to Burton for the pancake breakfast this morning and enjoyed walking around the Century village after-wards. There were some horses in a pen acting a bit frisky, and then we found some turkeys in another pen, acting very noisy! It was pretty funny hearing the two toms gobble away with their tail feathers in a big fan! The two hens in the pen did not seem too impressed however...

This weather is really helping to brighten everyone's mood... The extra daylight in the evening helps too.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Daddy/Daughter date(s)

Denise and Gina were at CSU all morning yesterday, leaving Abby and I to hang out and run some errands. We traveled to the Lush store in Beachwood to restock on bath stuff for Denise, Gina, and Abby. It was lunch-time so Abby and I enjoyed a fine meal at the Bistro in the Joseph-Beth bookstore. It was fun to get totally caught up with her school activities, books that she is reading, and life in general (from her perspective). I have not sat down with her to "just talk" in an embarrassing long time. We have, and have had shorter chats, but nothing like yesterday! It was very, very nice.

Abby was then off to a sleep-over, Denise was working, leaving Gina and I together. We headed to Panera for dinner, where again, I listened as she shared scheduling of classes for next year, swimming, ADK plans, and mother's day options for this year. After all, it is never to early to start planning...( I know that Denise will read this! lol ) We then came back home and watched the first half of the "Phantom of the Opera". It was a perfect way to unwind from a crazy week.

We seem to always be doing things as a family and I don't get many chances to spend one-on-one time with each of my girls. As they get older, it becomes more and more difficult, but more and more important. Boys are starting to appear on the 'radar' and I am terrified and ecstatic at the same time. I love my girls and I want only the best for them.

I think they know that but I will keep telling them and showing them for as long as I live...

Didn't feel like a recovery week...

This past week was the first week in a long while where all of my miles were on the road! With the snow melting and ground thawing, I knew the trails would be a sloppy mess. I am going to wait a few more days before I venture back.

This was also a recovery week in my training plan with only 34 total miles. I am glad because my legs have taken a beating from the hard asphalt surfaces. Trails are much more forgiving, even with the uneven surface and obstacles. Or, maybe I am just getting old...??? I know that the purpose of training is to stress the body just to the point of breaking, but not go over. Recover and do it again... The trick is to know where that breaking point lies.

I am straying a bit from the vegetarian diet in order to get some additional protein. My legs will thank me later. I also need to get more diligent about the late night snacking. I want to get down closer to race-weight for my 50 mile run at the end of May. I want to run the "Run with Scissors" course as a long shake-down training session. I need to decide if I will run it all in daylight, or start early/late for some night running. I think it will be weather dependent. I have to think about this...

Spring fever is in full force around here! The girls are in their last quarter of school and before long, we will be in the ADK, hiking up another mountain or two!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The weekend we waited all winter for...

Sunshine, temperatures above 40 degrees, Whoo hoo!!!! Spring is getting close. I know that there is still a lot of winter weather left, but boy oh boy, it sure felt good to be outside these past two days!

I had a great 18 mile run early yesterday morning while the snow was still solid. I followed up this afternoon with 10 miles on the asphalt! The bike path was very crowded but I did not mind. It felt too good to be running with the sun beating down!

I finished the week with a total of 48 miles, my biggest week so far for the year! My ramp-up is going well and I am feeling good. Tired, but good. Next weekend will be busy with activities for Gina and Abby, which will make it challenging for me to squeeze in a 20 mile run. Maybe it is time for a night run???

This is probably the hardest part of training for endurance events: scheduling the workouts around 'life'. A supportive family, some creative scheduling, and lots of flexibility, helps. I have to give a shout-out to Denise, Gina, and Abby for tolerating my endorphin habit. Without your support, I would not be able to do this!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Thanks 'deer'....

I am really pleased with how my training has progressed this winter; until this past weekend... My mileage was building and I was planning an 18 mile run for Saturday. Then yet another winter storm dumped more snow on us and I was not liking the thought of slogging through the wet snow for 3 hours...

I shoveled the driveway, assembled a desk/vanity for Abby's room, and then finally decided to suck it up and get outside for a run. I thought that I would try the trails and then could always bail out onto the bike path if it was as crappy as I thought it would be. My goal was at least 6 miles. Mentally, I was already beat... not a good place to be.

Surprise, the trail was not too bad! A couple of walkers and dogs had been through and the packed snow trail was visible as a rut in the new snow. As long as I stayed on the 'packed path', it was ok. If I wandered an inch or two to the side, it was deep slop. Focus was the word.

Ventured up to Old Hickory trail where I had the pleasure of blazing through the fresh snow. I was out of my 'funk' and was enjoying the run. The hardest part of any run is the first 15 minutes...I seem to keep having to learn this over and over again... Completed the out and back and kept going through the park. I ended up completing 9.5 miles, far short of the 18 that I had originally planned, but good miles nonetheless.

I was hoping to complete the same route on Sunday, but my stomach had other plans. We went to IHOP for lunch after church and something did not sit well at all... I was pretty wiped-out for the afternoon. Oh well, I guess my recovery week arrived a bit early...It is all good.

Tonight, I ventured out after work and repeated the route from Saturday. No one else had ventured onto Old Hickory trail since Saturday except for several deer. They had followed my tracks through the woods, helping to pack the snow. Unfortunately, their tiny hooves do not do a lot of packing, but it was fun to see my tracked mixed with theirs. I heard my friend the Owl hooting off in the distance but was unable to see him. It was still light enough to run w/o my headlamp, which is a good sign that Spring is close. Daylight-savings time starts in two weeks, which will allow for some longer evening routes.

I am ready for spring. The snow has been nice, but I am ready to see some grass. I know that we first have to get through some mud, but that will be a small price to pay.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Pre-race nightmare...

They have started already!!!! I typically start having some 'strange' dreams about 3 weeks out from a major event. Well, last night I had my first Burning river 100 nightmare. ( early I hope!!!)

I was running in the race and had caught up with a small group of people on the trail, which is good, because I was lost! Then suddenly it was dark and my headlamp was not working! And we were inside some building where there were lots of yoga classes going on. Each of the classes had some chant or eerie sounds coming from them. I was running as fast as I could w/o tripping over people, clicking the switch on my headlamp, praying for light!

Thankfully my alarm sounded and that nightmare ended... I may need to find another hobby... :)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

More motivation...

Wow! We watched the recap of the 1980 USA Olympic Hockey Team this afternoon!!! Two things: 1) Lake Placid. What a beautiful area and it was fun to say "We have been there" as the coverage showed the area. 2) What a game and time in history!

I had a great week of running with 43.6 miles; highest weekly volume for the year so far! There will be much much more to come... :) The 16 miles yesterday went very well and the snow was nice and firm until the last 30 minutes. Today, I ran 8 miles with Denise on the asphalt since I knew the snow would be very mushy in the 40+ degrees. The sun shine both days was wonderful and I have the 'glow' in my face to show for it! (Honest, I did use sun screen! I would hate to see what I would look like if I had not!)

My build up of running volume is going well. This coming weekend's long run is 18 miles and next week's will be 20. I know, low miles compared to some of you, but I want to take the ramp up slow and keep healthy. My goals are to have a solid race for the "Forget the PR 50K" in April, and then complete a 50 mile training run Memorial day weekend. I am thinking of the Run with Scissors course since it is pretty hilly and has some good spots for aid drops. Another 50K or two late June, early July and taper can begin. I like to taper... :)

More winter weather coming this way tonight. There is still a lot of winter left, but the past two days of sunshine helped to remind me that Spring is coming...

Monday, February 15, 2010

Inspiration

The Olympics have always been a good source of drama and inspiring stories. I watched Apolo Ohno and JR Celski win the silver and bronze medals in the short track speed skating saturday evening. The little feature about Apolo showed some of his training where he was running up a steep hill as hard as he could go. This was not too bad until you noticed that the hill consisted of loose dirt and he was barely moving up it. I took notice of this since it reminded me of my attempts at running up the snow-covered hills lately. Sunday's run I found new motivation and shaved almost 10 minutes off of my time for the same 10 mile loop from saturday!

Today was the 15Km cross-country race and those men are complete animals! Incredible aerobic strength and they leave it all on the course. Almost everyone collapses as they cross the finish line, chests heaving for oxygen. Gutsy efforts by everyone of them.

The mens' mogul skiing makes my knees hurt just to watch!

Great week of running capped off with a back-to-back 10-miles in the sloppy snow saturday and sunday. Not huge miles but I feel good given the conditions and am working on getting my base established. That is good because August is coming fast...

Monday, February 8, 2010

Snow, snow, and snow...

This past weekend was a bit disappointing from a milage standpoint but a great success from an aerobic standpoint. The snow storm that the weather folks were predicting actually arrived and we caught the edge of it for approx 8-10 inches. It was a heavy snow, unlike the fluffy lake-effect snow we had a few weeks ago. I headed out Saturday morning to see if anyone had ventured onto the trails ahead of me.

There were two sets of foot-prints, human and canine, that had broken a path through the snow. Unfortunately, the only benefit was that my shoes did not fill with snow as quickly. The footing was pretty poor and it felt as if I was running in sand. I decided to stay out at least an hour, and get a good anaerobic workout. I sure was not going to cover many miles in this slippery stuff.

The loop took me right at 1:17 to complete and I returned home to shovel the driveway. One hour later, I had finished and the sun had already started to melt the remaining snow from the drive and streets. The rest of the ground had a milk-white covering of snow! It was a very pretty sight! 30 minutes of yoga completed the morning.

Sunday, the girls all had places to go and I took advantage of it for 1:45 more in the snow. The snow had settled a bit and a few more people had been out on the trails. The footing was still poor, but not quite as bad. I ventured onto the Old Hickory trail and followed a set of foot-prints. It was slow going and eventually caught up with the walkers. I jokingly suggested that they lengthen their stride a bit to make my run easier and they responded with "Now, we'll follow YOU!". I have always enjoyed seeing a single set of tracks through fresh snow. It was hard work creating the tracks, but well worth it. The sky was bright blue and the sun was shining, making it look much warmer than the thermometer reported.

More snow is coming. I will run tomorrow morning before work and then maybe I'll be forced to the dreadmill for a day or so...

Think spring!!!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Cold weather running

I ventured out this morning for 16 miles in 7 degree temps. Wind chill was -2 and it actually did not feel that bad. I was originally going to join some hearty souls at 7am to run the summer BT50K course. I would turn back at Columbia road since I am no where near ready for 50k. Instead, I chose to stay at home and run loops in the park near our house.

The snow was perfect, the trail was frozen nicely, and the sun was actually shining a bit! A near perfect run.

My clothing choice was perfect with layers being the key. I started with a short-sleeved shirt covered by a long-sleeved shirt. Shorts and windpants for the legs, and my Gore-Tex shell for the top layer. I wore my fleece headband and my balaclava to cover my face. Besides the advantage of covering my face, the balaclava will moisten the air a bit before it enters my lungs, helping to reduce that dry-raspy feeling from cold air. I alternated between my heavy fleece gloves and my regular cold-weather gloves.

I carried my waist pack with water today and I worried about the bottles freezing. I covered them with my jacket, thinking that my body heat would be enough to keep them from freezing and it worked! However, I cannot say the same about my GU... It was frozen pretty solid at the end of my run.

One of the fun things about cold-weather running is how the frost will form on your clothes as you run! I know, I have a strange idea of fun... Anyways, I had pushed up the sleeves on my jacket and I had frost forming on my long sleeved shirt, gloves, and my balaclava.

I was feeling pretty good for the first 13 miles, which is about right where my training is now. The last 3 miles were harder, but that is what training is intended to do: Push your body just past the comfort zone, recover, repeat. Before long, your comfort zone is increased making today's long run, tomorrow's water stop!

Tomorrow will be a short 6 mile recovery run. Burning River is coming up fast...

Monday, January 25, 2010

The day that wouldn't end...

Yesterday was one of those rare days that seemed to last forever! We attended the Saturday evening service at church, leaving sunday morning available for resting and sleeping in. I woke up at 7:30am, which is sleeping in for me, and wanted to get a quick run completed before the rain started falling. A quick check of the radar map showed that I had a very narrow window so I dressed and started running down the street.

I was not 2 minutes down the street when I looked ahead and saw a wall of rain approaching, fast! It was a short squall-line of showers and it was cold! I was dressed for the 40 degree temperature, but not 40 degrees and WET! I turned around, tucked my tail between my legs, and ran home. Of course, the rain stopped shortly afterwords, but I had already decided to finish my run on the dreadmill.

It was a good interval workout for 6 miles and I treated it like I used to treat my indoor bike workout: Mental training. I was visualizing parts of the Burning River 100 course and how I was (hopefully) going to feel as I ran through them. Any endurance event, whether it be a long hike, Ironman, or a 100-mile trail run, is just as much a mental test as a physical one. The monotonous indoor workouts are a great way to get the 'head-game' straight.

I watched parts of the Flyers/Penguins hockey game, which is another thing that I don't do much of, and then watched football. I now have had my fill of sports TV...

Prepared some stuffed acorn squash for dinner and then help Gina and Abby bake an apple pie! Now that was fun! They had asked me earlier this year to teach them to make a pie and we decided that an apple pie would be a perfect start!

I used my grandmother's "31 1/2" recipe for the crust: 3 cups flour, 1 cup shortening, and 1/2 cup of water. Gina mixed up the crust while Abby and I sliced the apples and mixed the sugar and cinnamon together. Gina rolled out the bottom crust and Abby the top. We put it all together and then waited anxiously for it to bake. It turned out great and tasted wonderful with a scoop of Breyer's Ice cream!!!

Gina has requested that we bake a cherry pie next... I can't wait!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Looking for snow...

Friday morning, I went for a run before work. As I left the garage I immediately knew that I had overdressed since the temperatures were quite mild. I returned to the garage and exchanged my fleece jacket for a vest and started down the driveway. As I walked I heard a Great Horned Owl hooting off in the woods. I returned the call the best that I could and chuckled to myself as I reminisced about reading "Owl Moon" to the girls at bed-time a few years ago. It was one of their favorite books and also one of mine.

I started to run down the street towards the park and had not gotten more than two houses away and suddenly that owl flew across the road in front of me! It was, needless to say, a pretty cool way to start a run! Made it to the bike path and came across several deer just milling about looking for food. They scattered into the woods as I approached and continued their search.

The bike path was starting to clear of the snow but had several icy patches. I decided to just run on the snowy sections since I knew what kind of footing I would have. I did not want to have a chance meeting with some black ice. A good run and I had a smile on my face for most of the day thinking about the owl.

This morning, Denise and I saw two coyotes walking through our back yard! They looked very healthy and warm in their winter coats and quickly made their way down to the creek. I wanted get 8 miles in this morning but cut it short at 5 miles. The bike path had less snow, but much much more ice. Again, I kept running in the snowy sections, but was not enjoying the experience. The snow is melting quickly and I will get back into the woods either tomorrow or monday.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Snow Globe Run

I decided to run early this morning in order to 1)get the run out of the way, and 2)because I have not run early morning in a while. The air was a balmy 20 degrees with a wind-chill in the low teens. The best part however was the light snow that was falling! It was like running inside a snow globe. I had the bike path all to myself and thoroughly enjoyed the 4 miles.

I stayed on the path since the snow was only a couple of inches deep. I then cleared the driveway of the new snow as a cool-down. A great way to start the work-day.

I am feeling better and better each run. It is nice to get some consistency back in my running and the 'official' training starts next week for the "Forget the PR50k" race in April. Actually, this race is just training run for me for the Burning River 100, but I really want to drop time off from last year's event. So, let the training begin!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Snow Run

I needed to get outside for a run and since the snow stopped last night, and there are several people who walk their dogs on the trail to pack the snow down, I thought that I would venture into the woods for a bit.

Well only two people had hit the trail before I had gotten there, making for a slow slog through the snow. It was however a great cardio workout, which was the whole point of the run!

I have two more weeks of "training to train" before the plan kicks in for the Forget the PR 50k race in April. I took the last 6 weeks of 2009 easy, ie not much running at all, and now I need to get myself back into training mode. I am ready to start again.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Cross-Training

One advantage to training for and competing in triathlons, is the built-in cross-training. The mix of swimming, cycling, and running provides that complete body fitness. After my back spasms last year, it became obvious that I had neglected my core. I worked a little on that last year, key word is little, and want to do much better this year.

This past week has provided an excellent opportunity for upper-body and core work via show-shoveling! In fact today alone, I shoveled the driveway three times and it needs it again. (I'll wait until tomorrow morning however) The Lake Erie snow machine was in full force today and we received a nice deep covering of fresh powder.

I decided to run this morning after shovel session #1. A nice 4 mile run through the woods. The snow was deep, but since it was so powdery, it did not seem too bad. The wind was blowing pretty good, making me glad that I wore an extra layer of clothing, and I had the trails all to myself. I ran a simple out-and-back route and my tracks were almost covered with fresh snow near the end. The hot shower felt pretty good after-wards.

We then decided to check out the sledding hill near Shadow Lake. First I had to shovel the drive again! Sledding was a blast! The hill was just long and steep enough to get a good slide and the return back was an even grade, making it not seem as steep. Denise and I went down together on the sled and we hit some fresh powder and ended up completely covered in snow. We have not laughed that hard in a while. We stayed and battled the wind a while and then headed back home.

I moved things around in the garage a bit and was able to move both cars inside! Yeah! I will not have to scrap windows in the morning!

I was itching for some more exercise and cleared the driveway one more time! The shoveling, hill climbing from sledding, and the run this morning, provided a great day.

Back to work tomorrow...

Friday, January 1, 2010

Big fat Goose-egg for 2009

Zero, zilch, nada.... For the first time in several years, I had zero bicycling miles! I had grown tired of the battles with traffic and my tandem partner, Abby, had started running for Cross-country. It is a whole lot easier to lace up the shoes and just run than to get the bike down, gear up, and ride. Besides, you don't have to worry about drivers texting when you are running in the woods... :) I have to admit, I do miss it a little...

2009 was a crazy year, to put it politely... A co-worker summed it up pretty well as "Worst.....Year.....Ever". 2009 was the year of 'change'. My neighbor said "2010 will be the year of POSITIVE change!" Let's go with that...

I sent my application in for the 2010 Burning River 100 race. I need the motivation of a huge event to keep me honest in my training. I will attempt to once again, document the journey here with this blog so if you are really bored, you can follow along.

Denise and I have finally joined the Facebook club. I am not sure why we resisted for so long...

Gina is living the phrase "Eat, sleep, swim"... Swim team is going well for her but is a lot of work with the two-a-day practices during school and the 4-hour practices at 6am during this winter break. Swimming is one of those sports that takes a lot of discipline and dedication in order to execute well. Gina is enjoying the experience but is ready to sleep in once in a while...

Happy New Year everyone and let's make a difference for 2010