Sunday, October 9, 2011

ahhh. That was nice!

It has been a long while since I have posted anything and I have to say it has been a nice break. Not much to post: Work was crazy busy and we just completed the project last week. It will be nice to think that this project should provide a million or two of increased sales. However I still get miffed about why we had to do this project in the first place...sigh...

Started running again this week after I was 'persuaded' by my family to register for the Winter Run for Regis in January. I have been running a couple of times a week over the summer, nothing structured, nothing long; just some "Sanity" runs. I have to admit that it feels good to have an event on the horizon to get me out the door.

The weather has been fantastic this week! It will change, but it has been a glorious fall week. Denise and I went out this morning for a fall hike and enjoyed the colors and the smells of autumn. We then took the girls out this afternoon to Bedford Reservation to look at the Gorge Overlook. Not peak colors yet, but nice nonetheless.

Cross country has been going well for Abby. She PR'd again this week at Stow and the conference Championship race is this weekend. It is safe to say that her freshman year has exceed expectations and she has had a blast too!

Life is pretty good, and I am very very grateful...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Fence project completed.

After a huge couple of week's worth of work, the fence is complete. Denise and the girls were a huge help and took lots of photos along the way. We compiled a slide-show for our enjoyment and maybe you will enjoy it too.

I am actually thinking about running again... It has been a nice break since Laurel and it is time to plan for a fall event. Many choices: Yut-c 50K, Run with Scissors, Wild Bill's FA. Hmmm, what to do? what to do? what to do?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Real Power Tools

So, now that my Laurel Highlands race has been completed, what is next? Well, Denise and I have been discussing the idea of a wooden fence for the backyard ever since we moved in here almost 9 years ago! The time has arrived...

I plotted out where we thought we wanted the fence to go and calculated the amount of materials we would need. 285 feet of fence, 40 posts, and around 610 pickets... I also got a quote for someone to install the fence for me... Needless to say, I am doing this myself and saving some serious money.

Anyways, with 40 holes to dig, I was NOT going to attempt that by hand, so I went to the Solon Hardware Rental Counter and asked what kind of tools I could use. They recommended the Toro Dingo with a 12" auger attachment. This was an awesome piece of equipment to say the least! Here is a picture of me just after I unloaded the machine and was headed into the woods to dig a practice hole.

There was a certain technique involved to get the holes straight, and I got pretty good at it after 30 holes. The back section of our property has several small trees with some beech trees mixed in. Lots and lots of roots to work through. I was able to dig a bit and then have to clean the roots from the auger, or worse, cut the roots out of the way. That was not too fun but a saw-saw, shovel, pick, and spud-bar helped a lot.

Here is another in-action photo as I was in the 'easy' grassy part near the end.

40 holes in 6 hours! I had estimated that I would use as much of the 24-hour rental time as I could in order to get all of the holes completed. I was very pleasantly surprised with how well the dingo performed.

This last photo is of me as I moved the dingo back to start the first 'real' hole. It shows the pile of lumber that is soon to become a nice red-cedar picket fence!

Tomorrow is the hole inspection. That's right, Twinsburg requires that the post holes be inspected before you set the posts... Then I get to do a little concrete mixing for the poles. This will be time-consuming since getting the poles set straight and level is crucial for a good-looking fence. I will start in the back for practice...

More updates later as the project progresses. I am enjoying the opportunity to use some other muscles for a change instead of just running.

Monday, June 13, 2011

2011 Laurel Highlands Race Report


I drove down to Johnstown, PA Friday afternoon and arrived at the pasta dinner at 5:45pm. I checked in and received my bib number and shirt. The race directors started covering the necessary information while we were eating our meal. The course description was a bit confusing and I stopped listening around halfway through. My biggest fear was getting lost during this race and the description was doing nothing to reduce this fear.

Eventually, the meeting was over and I drove back up to the finish line where I found a parking place and proceeded to get my stuff ready for the early 3:30am departure. I had decided to sleep in my car and catch the shuttle bus to the starting line. I was by myself for this race, no crew or pacer, and I wanted to keep it simple. I fell asleep fairly fast and only woke up to close my window when a brief rainstorm passed by.

I woke up before my alarm went off and got ready for the day. The bus departed on time for the trip to the start at Ohiopyle. While I was waiting for the start, it felt like I had sandpaper in my left sock. I removed my shoe and leftover grit from my last muddy trail run was still in my shoe… Not a good thing… I was starting to panic a bit but then used my extra water to wash my foot off, re-lubed with Vaseline, and hoped for the best. My right foot felt fine. First lesson: Make sure your shoes and socks are clean!!!

The race director prayed a short prayer and then said “10 seconds to the start”… then a simple “Go” and we were off.


The trail is simply beautiful! Yes, the first 12 miles are tough with the rocks and climbs, but overall, it is an amazing trail. There were several maze-like sections through large rocks, similar to the Ledges area in the CVNP. The mountain laurel was blooming, but I think that we were a bit late for peak. There were several sections of the trail that went through what seemed like an endless sea of ferns. Very nice to see and they did not completely cover the trail like people said they have in years past.

The trail was marked with yellow blazes on trees and rocks where appropriate. As I mentioned earlier, my biggest fear was getting lost. This fear was unfounded. There was only one section that went through a grove of hemlock trees. The trail was almost non-existent since the needles made the ground all look the same. The blazes were on the trees, but with some blow-downs mixed in, it was a challenge. I was glad that I hit this section before nightfall.

The detour was not real fun since we had to leave the trail and go on the roads around the closed bridge. The sun was out, it was hot, but I could see storm clouds coming our way. I have never wished for rain during a run until now… It did start to rain as I neared the end of the detour and it indeed felt very nice to cool off a bit.

The soft trail felt so good again under my feet. Despite my best efforts at blister prevention, I could feel some hot spots forming. I stopped at the 44-mile aid station and applied more Vaseline to my left heel in an effort to slow down the formation of the blister. I knew that I would not stop it and would just have to manage. My right foot decided to also join the “blister party” and I knew that it was going to be an interesting night.

I still felt pretty good mentally and my legs felt good too so I kept running. It was getting dark so I turned on my headlamp and kept going through the ferns. I looked ahead and I saw something in the trail. I first thought it was a possum, but it was larger. Raccoon? Wrong color. Wow it was a porcupine! It was trying to run down the trail away from me as fast as its little stubby legs would go. I was running slowly behind it clapping my hands and making all kinds of noise in an effort to “encourage” it to move off of the trail. It finally turned left into the ferns and then stopped about 1 foot off of the trail.

I thought that was weird. Why would it stop? I could see the top of the porcupine sticking up over the ferns. It was not far enough off of the trail for me to pass safely. I did NOT want to get stuck by quills. I was shouting and making all sorts of noise…not a movement! I grabbed a rock and tossed it at the porcupine and nothing!!! I slowly moved closer to it and peered around and it was a stupid tree stump!!! Boy did I feel silly. I immediately recalled a hallucination story I heard a guy tell during Burning River about, of all things, a porcupine that blocked his path. I knew that I was NOT hallucinating but was just happy that the critter had moved on… I was laughing at myself pretty hard as I started running down the trail again.

Not 10 yards later, my “friend” was back to running down the trail away me again! It tried to climb a tree and got up around 3-feet before it peered around and saw me coming at it. Its eyes got big and it dropped back to the ground and kept going! By now I was laughing and screaming, “Just go right or go left! Get outta the way!!!” Eventually, it went right and climbed up a tree around 10 feet off of the trail. Finally, I could pass by.

The night was quiet with a clear sky and near-full moon. The fireflies were out and it was a very peaceful time. I did not see nor hear anyone for most of the night except for the aid stations.

My feet were becoming more and more uncomfortable and I knew that I would make the cutoffs for a finish, barring an injury. It was now just matter of if I would make 21 or 22 hours. I was able to run the flats and power hike the uphills, but the downhills just killed me. My pace was getting slower and slower but I tried to keep positive and keep moving.

The last two aid stations had soup! Boy did that ever taste good and helped to lift my mood. It was tempting to stay a bit longer and enjoy the food, but I wanted to get to the finish line. I still did not see anyone on the trail until mile 75, when a group of 3 passed me on the 3-mile downhill section… I tried to hang with them but my feet did not want any of it…

I could hear and see lights of the finish line ahead and I crossed the line after completing the 77 miles in 21 hours and 28 minutes.

The race director handed me my finisher’s award, which is a wooden replica of the trail mileposts. There was a 77 etched in the front. We will receive a plate with our name and finishing time engraved on it to complete the trophy! Pretty cool! The best part is that the 77-mile is a limited edition, 2010 and 2011, since the race will revert back to the 70.5 mile distance next year!

More soup at the finish line! I also had a bowl of beans and rice, which also tasted really good. I chatted with Jim for while and felt my exercise-induced coma approaching. I said goodnight and headed to my car. Changed clothes and tried to wash the worst of the grim off of me and quickly fell asleep. I woke up at 5:40am and they were tearing down the finish area. Fell back asleep and woke up again at 7am. I was the only one left in the parking lot…

Lessons learned:

1) Go a little easier at the start. I knew better and thought that I was going pretty conservatively. I backed off a bit once I realized what I had done but…

2) Blisters. Wash my shoes completely before a race.

3) This is “only” a 77-mile race. Treat it like a 100-mile race. It will punish you if you don’t… trust me…

I am pretty pleased with how things went since it could have been a lot worse. I hope to find out next year how it can be better!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Laurel Highlands pre-race prep complete

I just finished packing my drop bag and gear for the Laurel Highlands Trail Ultra. I will leave tomorrow afternoon to drive down to the finish line, take the shuttle bus at 3:30am saturday morning to the starting line, and then at 5:30am, start running back to my car!

This is my extra incentive to complete the race: My ride home is at the finish line... :)

Weather looks like it could be rainy, but hey, it is not like I did not do any training this spring in the rain... I knew those runs would come in handy.

Taper is going well since I am about to jump out of my skin. I like this feeling of excitement, fear, and anticipation of a wonderful experience on a fantastic least everyone says that the trail is fantastic. I...can't...wait!!!!

Race report will appear next week...

Sunday, May 29, 2011

"I like the mud, really I do!"

I keep say that to myself thinking that I might actually start to believe it! It is almost working which is good, because I really don't have much of a choice. It has been really really rainy this spring, but, everything is really really green!

The past couple of weeks have gone well, training-wise. I had a great run last weekend in the mud to break in my new shoes. At one point near the goat farm, I ran out of my left shoe! I stood there for a moment and then started to laugh to myself.

Yesterday I ventured back down to the CVNP and participated in the "No Frills, Just Hills" FA run at Kendall Hills. A 2-mile loop around Kendall Lake that went up and down the hills. The idea is to see how many laps you can complete in 6 hours. I decided to just go down and complete 10 laps. I started early since I had a long "to-do" list for the day. Lots of wet grass that quickly turned to muddy grass. The section of the trail that ventured into the woods was also muddy. The only non-muddy part was the parking lot at Kendall Lake! It was nice to catch up with some old friends and meet some new ones too! All in all, a very fun run!

Today I was able to do some heat-training since summer has decided to arrive. Hot, sweaty 8 miles on the trails here near home. The turkeys were out gobbling like crazy and box turtle blocked my way on a bridge, well, actually he didn't block my way, but it was pretty cool to see.

My training for Laurel is now complete and taper begins tomorrow. I need to get my pace chart created and get my drop bag(s) planned. The mental game really begins now...

Oh yeah, here is what I found yesterday morning before I left for my 20-mile run:

Gina had left a note for me before she went to bed Friday night! Needless to say it was a awesome way to start my day. She is leaving tomorrow afternoon for a three-week trip to Italy! She is very excited to say the least and it is going to be very very quiet around here...

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Another good week in the mud

Another rainy week here in NE Ohio which meant the trails were M-U-D-D-Y!!! I ventured into the CVNP again yesterday and parked at Snowville road. My plan was to run the BT50K course for a nice long run. I started off towards Oak Grove and quickly found myself in the mud. There was no place to hide or ways to avoid it. It was pretty sloppy. I was running with my new Nathan hydration vest since I plan on using it for the Laurel Highlands race. As I left the car, I placed my key in my pocket on my running shorts since I had already put the pack on my back and was too lazy to undo everything and put the key in a pouch.

As I was sloshing my way through the muddy trails I was trying to enjoy the sunny morning. It was nice to hear the birds singing and to see blue sky for a change. I soon found myself at Ottawa point and reached around behind me to make sure my key was still there in my pocket... it was not! I almost panicked, ok I did panic for a short moment. I checked again and sure enough, no key. I thought maybe the key fell out when I put it in my pocket and it is on the pavement near my car. Sure, that is what happened... I continued on towards Oak Grove and I checked the pocket again, and found a hole...bummer... That key is surely lost somewhere in the 4 miles between Snowville road and Ottawa point. I turned around and started heading back, with my eyes scanning the trail fruitlessly for a key. I knew that chances were very very slim for finding it but I had to at least try. I saw a couple of runners and asked them to keep an eye out for a key, thinking, maybe, maybe we would get lucky. Got back to my car to check the parking lot and then retraced my trail back towards Ottawa point for a bit, just to see... nothing...

I called Denise to explain my situation and as I ran on towards Boston Store, she brought down an extra key and left it at the car. I was now able to run again w/o trying to look for a key... I made it to Boston Store and then on to Pine Lane. The trail from Boston to Pine lane was not as muddy as I thought it would be. The section from Snowville to Boston however more than made up for it.

Ended the day with close to 30 miles of sloppy running and ran another 15 today on pavement... Denise ran with me for 10 miles so that meant no mud! (which suited me just fine!) Another solid week of training in the books and one week closer to race day. My confidence is building and I am starting to form my race-day plan.

I will take a recovery-week this week, giving me time to get Mother's Day activities planned, and then start the last build period. Taper will start May 30!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Wet Feet

Another good weekend of running! I ventured into the CVNP for a very muddy 24 miles. I felt pretty good during the entire time and just tried to keep moving. It was much easier to just plow down the middle of the trail rather than try to find an easier path around the edges. There was not an easier path...

Sunday I went back to South Chagrin Reservation and ran another 16 miles on the muddy bridle trails. I headed downhill from Harper Ridge towards Richmond road. This section of the trail is pretty grassy, but was very wet and soggy. I was a muddy mess when I arrived back at my car to refill my water bottles.

A Land Rover SUV (redundant, I know) pulled into the parking space next to my car. "Barbie and Ken" along with their little "foo-foo" white dog which was smaller than our cat, climbed out. These two people were immaculately coiffed and stared at me and my mud-covered shoes and legs with an incredulous look... It was priceless as I nodded my head and asked "Hey, How are you doing?"

I grabbed a banana, closed the trunk, and headed back out onto the trail towards Miles Road. This section has three stream crossings and I have in the past used rocks, or fallen trees to avoid getting wet. I admit, I am a bit of a wuss when it comes to wet feet. Today, I decided that since I was already muddy and my feet were already wet, what harm could a little water do? So when the stream crossings arrived, I simply went straight through them. Big fun! I felt like a kid again. AND, it washed some of the mud off of my shoes. Sure, I had some squishy shoes for a couple of minutes, but they drained pretty fast and my feet really were not any wetter than they already were. It was also a lot easier to run through the water rather than trying to pick a path around it.

My new race plan: Flow with the trail, don't fight it. It is much more fun!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A win!

The weather forecast for the weekend said rain/snow mix and mid thirties for the temperature. I needed to get a long run in and decided that 40 and dark was better than mid-30s and wet. So I started running friday night after work and completed the Inaugural Twinsburg Marathon! I won the race outright for my first win ever! Of course, I was the only one running, but that is a minor point...

Getting the run out of the way friday evening allowed me to nearly complete the bathroom remodel project yesterday! Denise and Abby cleaned the excess grout from the tile friday, allowing me to set the granite vanity and reset the toilet. I added all of the necessary caulking around the tub and back-splash, and this afternoon I remounted the mirror and replaced the light fixture. Project is now complete! I will post some before and after pictures later this week.

My training for the Laurel Highlands race is going ok. My mileage is not as high as I would like since I have not been getting all of my mid-week runs completed. This crazy thing called "life" keeps getting in the way. However, I have had some great weekend runs and those are the ones that really matter. Friday night's marathon was a good confidence booster and mental test. The next two months is when the real training starts; the prior work has been 'training to train'.

I will start heading to the CVNP for some hills and start to get my nutrition plan in place. The aid stations are farther apart at Laurel and I will need to carry more stuff with me. Choosing the right food(s) and packing it for easy access will be important.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

"Goosed" on the "Fool's" Course

First of all, I want to wish everyone running the Fool's 50K tomorrow a safe and fun run! I ventured out this morning and ran one lap of the course and threw on an extra loop of the Boston Run for a nice 18-19ish miles.

I was happy that it was cold this morning since the trail was nice and frozen. There were lots of shoe/boot prints in the frozen mud and tomorrow's cold temps should provide a fast course. I started at Happy Days and eventually made my way over to Ledges and Pine Grove. Nice quiet morning with the sun shining strong. I crossed over to Kendall Lake and was running across the dam when I noticed two canadian geese on the trail ahead of me. I started making noise in an effort to get them to wander over to the side of the trail. One goose cooperated, the other one however wanted to be difficult. It started hissing and spread its wings and started to charge at me! The goose made a lunge at me but missed as I ran by it. I had a couple of chuckles as I started up the hill on the Salt Run Trail.

As I passed by the short-loop connector, my right foot caught a root and I started to fall. I almost caught myself but started down. As I felt the gravel start to embed into my gloved hand, things started to move in slow motion. I realized that I really need to learn how to tuck and roll when I fall. I then relaxed my arms and started to roll onto my right shoulder. That worked and I found myself flat on my back with my waist propped up on my water bottles. The slow-motion mode stopped as I wondered "How did I get here?" I picked myself up and brushed off the dirt and had another laugh to myself...

The rest of the run was uneventful. Nice morning, great route, good hills! It does not get much better than the CVNP on an early saturday morning!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Watching the snow melt,,,

The past couple of weeks has provided a wild mix of weather here in NE Ohio. My training through the week has been pretty spotty, but I have managed to get my long runs in on the weekends. Last weekend I went 10 saturday and 20 sunday. Yesterday I managed 12 miles in the slush and another 20 miles today.

Yesterday was sunny and mid-40s. The snow was literally melting as I ran laps on the Old Hickory Trail. My foot-prints became larger and larger as the snow melted and by the last lap, the trail surface was visible. I decided early on in the run to simply run through any water/slush/snow/whatever since it would be impossible to stay out of it. My feet were cold and wet for most of the day, but it was very very fun to splash around through the muck.

Today's run provided a good mental challenge and victory since I was letting the gray sky and the thought of running another 20 miles around Twinsburg get me down. I realized that I should stop thinking about the entire distance; break it into manageable chunks, just like an ultra! Also, I need to get my attitude adjusted back and be thankful that I am able to run, yet alone be able to run long... I finished the day tired, but with a smile on my face.

Laurel Highlands is coming up fast! With the winter that we have had, I am sure that race day will be hot and humid! But you know what? I am ready to sweat...

Monday, February 21, 2011

Boot Camp: Day #1

I needed a boost, or a swift kick in the pants, in order to start to get some strength back into my core and upper body. Denise found a 'deal' on Living Social for a boot camp package. Today was my first day...

I used muscles that I forgot that I had...

It was a lot of fun and as someone in the class commented, "The hardest 45-minutes of the day!" I will go again Thursday and then start a Tue-Thur set for the remaining sessions. I think that it will be a good thing. I expect to be a bit sore tomorrow and really sore on Wednesday... The ole 48-hour DOMS will be in full force!

Had a good week of running. 42.5 miles total. Yesterday's 20-miles in Bedford Reservation went well. I managed to finish just before the snow/sleet/freezing rain started! I saw my friend Andy on the trail near the end of my run and it was good to catch up a bit with him. Last week's warmer weather was great change and it allowed almost all of the snow to melt from the trails. I am getting anxious for spring even though I know that there is a lot of winter left.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Busy Beavers

Completed a good week with a total of 35 miles! Yesterday's 12.5 miles were tough on the snowy trails. I was going to do a few laps of the Old Hickory trail but there was only one other set of tracks through the snow. (Probably mine from last week!) I was not looking forward to 4 laps of this until I completed my first lap and saw the Twinsburg Hiking club gathered at the top of the hill. Great! They would pack down the snow for me! I completed a loop down in the park and then headed back up to Old Hickory. Yes indeed, the snow was knocked down, but packed? Not really... It was like mashed potatoes and each footstep was more of a foot-slip! I just kept moving the best that I could and ended up with a great 2.5 hours on the trails. Slow moving, but moving...

Today's 8 miles went much better! The snow had a chance to solidify overnight and the Old Hickory trail was in much better shape. Still a bit sloppy in places but over-all pretty good. I will take it.

As I left our garage at the start of my run, a hawk let out a screech that nearly made me jump out of my skin. It was about 20 feet up in the tree next to the house... Good thing I was not a mouse! Down by the creek, the local beaver family had chewed through a tree last night and it had fallen across the trail. It was pretty neat to see the pile of wood-chips at the base of the tree and to see the tracks of the beavers as they removed branches and pulled them down to the creek. They were pretty busy...

Looks like another week of winter weather ahead. Snow early in the week and then cold for the weekend. At least the snow should be hard for the weekend long run...

Spring is coming...right?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Not the sharpest tool in the shed...

Last friday I was feeling a cold coming on and decided saturday morning that I would skip my planned run for the day since I was feeling pretty crappy. I thought that common sense should prevail for a change and I would rest in an effort to reduce the effects of the cold. Then my friend Paul called and asked "Do you want to run this afternoon?" Of course, I said "Yes!" So much for common sense...

We left from Shelter House in South Chagrin metro park and headed towards the Polo Fields. The snow was anywhere from 6-12 inches deep and there was 'mostly' a path formed in the snow from hikers, XC skiers, and show-shoes. The temperature was warm enough to keep the snow soft, but the wind kept the chill factor low. It was a slow go but a great chance to catch up with Paul and enjoy the day. I was feeling pretty beat but started to feel a bit better after an hour of slogging. We managed to get 1.5 hours of movement in. (It was sort-of running, but movement may be a better description.) A stop at Caribou for coffee on the way home and it was a good day!

I crashed early saturday evening and woke up at 10:30pm in a crazy wet sweat! My shirt was totally soaked through but I felt much better... I am feeling better each day and now, I just need to rid of this lingering cough. I hate being sick, but now maybe I am done with the colds for the winter??

I am now off a week for my Laurel Highlands training, but at this early stage, one week is not really going to matter much. I have to always keep the big picture in mind. Don't worry about numbers on a printout or schedule, those are just guidelines. Listen to your body and keep healthy.

I need to keep working on that "keep healthy" part...

Monday, January 3, 2011


2010 went by much too fast! However I have lots of things to be thankful for. First, my Dad's Multiple Myeloma is in remission after 5 of 8 chemo treatments. The doctors evidently had the wrong dosage and 5 treatments instead of the 8 scheduled cleared things up. However, the side-effects were pretty harsh to Dad. Next, the sale of the Keithley Instruments to Danaher is complete and we are now part of the Tektronics group. There was much speculation about what would happen but things appear to be good and 2011 will be an interesting year for sure.

I completed my second Burning River 100-Mile run in July with my goal finish time of sub 24-hours achieved! (23 hours and 31 minutes) It was an incredible experience and one of those days were almost everything went as planned. I tallied my miles for the year and ended up with 1495 miles! Too bad I did not do this a couple of days sooner since I am sure that I would have managed to get another 5 miles....

Goals for this year? Complete the Laurel Highlands Ultra. (77-miles) This race contains a lot more hills and will be a great challenge to complete. Someone said that it is a 100-mile race disguised as a 77-miler... Should be "fun"... I also want to complete the "Run with Scissors" double marathon in the fall again.

My parents will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary this summer along with Denise and I having our 20th! Should be lots of reasons to celebrate! Denise and I hope to get the family back to the ADK again for some great hiking! Mt Marcy is calling our name this summer...