Sunday, June 29, 2008

More Trails...More Mud

It was another weekend of muddy trail running...evidenced by the now requisite 'muddy legs' photo. Northeast Ohio is the place to be if you enjoy cold, wet Springs followed by slightly warmer, wet Summers. Is there an export market for mud? With the weak dollar, the economically depressed Rust Belt area could be revitalized as the Mud Belt.
At least, should the rains continue into July, I will be well prepared for a very mucky Buckeye Trail 50k. Most veterans of the race have said that is unlikely. Although there is a chance it will be wet, it is more likely that by the third week of July, the weather will be less wet. I frankly don't see how it could get much more wet.

On Saturday, we met at Lock 29 as usual. We ran a loop starting south on Akron Peninsula Road, then east on the trail that runs parallel to Quick Road. Again, there were fewer runners than typical, since only a few who ran the Mohican 100 Mile showed, and even though the Western States 100 Mile was called-off due to the wild fires, those who went to run or crew had not made it back. Steve G. led the way, and took us on some interesting 'nearly' trails. At one point, he claimed to be avoiding the poison ivy by taking bush-whacking through the woods, only to run us right through a huge patch guessed it...poison ivy. I rinsed my legs at the nearest creek, and I think it helped.

Sunday was an interesting run, basically covering half of the Buckeye Trail 50k route. More thunderstorms and very heavy rain on Saturday afternoon and evening made Sunday a pig-slopping good time. We ran a 15.2 mile point to point from Oak Grove in Brecksville, to Pine Lane in Peninsula. We all met at the Pine Lane trail head parking lot, consolidated and car pooled north to the start. I rode with e-speed and Daisy Duc and started the run with them as well. I decided to push the pace a little, so I caught up with Shaun, Aron, and George (Doctor T) from Vertical Runner.

We kept an aggressive pace through-out the 15 miles, despite the mud which was recharge by heavy thunderstorms on Saturday. George, who was our alleged 'guide' took us on a wrong turn after only four miles or so, and we had to stop and back track. Shaun and Aron kept up the good pace and eventually, at around ten miles, I noticed that we had left George behind. Not too much farther than that, I heard footsteps behind me which I though might be him, catching up, but it was not. It was Beth, a very good runner who I have seen on a few of the BT50k familiarization runs. She ran with us the rest of the way. I think she will have a good shot at a first place finish among the women but e-speed will be right there, so it could be interesting.

Again this week, I tried my new fuel belt, and it worked out well enough. I snugged it up as tight as possible, but it still flopped around a bit. Also, despite the Sports Shield I smeared on at all friction points, in the first three miles, I felt my shirt abrading my nipples. The fuel belt apparently tugged just enough on my shirt to draw the fabric down across my nipples and increase the friction. I took off my shirt, tucked in into the belt, and the problem was solved.

This might be the last of my Sunday BT50k preparation trail runs, as I will be in New York next weekend, and then tapering the weekend after that.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

More Buckeye Trail, and Swollen Feet

How do you like the new layout? I wanted to try something simpler, less cluttered, easier on the eyes. Also, I added a beautiful countdown clock for the Buckeye Trail. Now, aren't you glad you stopped by today? ;-)

I'm probably irritating those of you with RSS feeds, because I keep updating the same post, but I reread this one and frankly, I found it boring. For your convenience if you had already read the first version, I'll put my revisions in italics.

On Sunday, I met up with the group from Vertical Runner for another of the Buckeye Trail familiarization runs. I looked around at the start and didn't see a single SERC runner buddy. Where is everyone? And I was looking forward to showing off my new fuel belt, all loaded up with my newest fluid experiment: 3/5 Gatorade + 2/5 water + 2 teaspoons of salt per 20 ounces.
I decided to run with the leader-type guy from Vertical Runner.
We started at Boston Mill store and ran the Pine Lane trail out and back, about 8.5 miles. To get the majority of my planned 22 miles in, I had planned to repeat that run to get to 17 miles, then add 5 more along the tow path. Just as I was about to head out again, Kurt and Christina from SERC finished the run. I don't know how I missed them at the start, but I think they arrived just as we were heading out. I told them that I wanted to rerun it, but they wanted to run north on the tow path rather than repeat the Pine Lane trail, so we did. Kurt is training for an Iron Man in n July. Christina did about three miles out, then turned back. Kurt and I continued and ran the Old Carriage trail, just to add some more climbing and trail running to the day. I was really glad to have someone to run with, and it gave me a chance to catch up with Kurt who I have not seen much of since Boston. After that, Kurt turned back, and I continued north to Brecksville station, then turned back. I was back at Boston Mill at 20,5 miles, so I did another mile and a half out and back to make it to 22 miles.

Om Monday, I did an easy recovery run of about 6 miles. I was feeling OK, but not exactly energetic. I biked 26 miles to work and back on Tuesday, but after the ride home, I didn't feel up to the track workout. My legs had been feeling tight since the weekend, and I was worried about overdoing it and reaggravating the knee and Achilles. On Wednesday, the guilt of skipping the speed work on Tuesday got to me. I did an 8 mile tempo run, averaging 6:40 per mile, despite the fact that my legs were still stiff, and I my head was saying, 'Don't do it.' After the run, in the shower, I noticed my feet and ankles looked swollen. On Thursday, I biked to work, and did six slow miles at lunch. They were slow miles, because I really could barely run. Initially, I blamed it on running too soon after eating, but when I finished I noticed my lower legs and feet were swollen again. I kept them elivated whenever possible for the rest of the day, and decided to take Friday off.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

On the Trails with the Flirty Old Ladies

As I write, the Mohican 100 Mile runners are into their 7th hour. With so many of a Saturday group either running or assisting, only three of us showed up at Lock 29 this morning, Andy R., Dustin (a 17 year old who is new to the group), and I. We started by running Pine Lane trail, connecting to the tow path near Boston Mills. We ran north on the tow path to the Carriage Trail, then ran around Brandywine Falls, and back, about 12 miles at a very easy pace. That was just about right since I don't want to dragging for the 22 miles I plan for tomorrow.

The weather was beautiful, which means the trails we busy, at least by trail standards. We encountered more runners and hikers than I ever remember, and many of them were quite chatty. We passed a couple of, how shall I say, senior women, and they were actually flirty. They said some very nice things about Andy and I as we passed, commenting on our legs and other parts. I told Andy, I've always been a hit with the under ten and over sixty females. Its true, kids and old ladies love me. I'll leave it to someone else to analyze that.

Earlier this week, I had a good day at the track on Tuesday, managing mile times of 5:51, 5:58, and 5:53. With warm-up and cool-down, I did about 7 miles total. Wednesday was an easy-paced 8 miles in the valley. On Thursday, I biked the 26 mile round trip to work and back. On Friday, I did an 8 mile tempo run.

Sunday was another Vertical Runner Buckeye Trail familiarization run. The group run was only about 8 and a half miles, from Boston Mill store along the Pine Lane trail to Peninsula, and back. I met-up with Kurt and Christina from SERC, and we ran together for a while after, with Christina doing about three miles with us, then Kurt and I doing the Old Carriage Trail together. Kurt turned back after that, and I continued north to Brecksville Station, then headed back to bring my total to 22 miles.

**27 Days Until the Buckeye Trail 50k **

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Trail Weekend: Part Deux

The Buckeye Trail 50k is organized and sponsored by Vertical Runner, and they hold familiarization runs along different sections of the trail every Sunday for the six weeks before the race. This morning, about twenty-five runners gathered at the Jaite trail head and ran an out-and-back to Boston Mills store, 10.85 miles. It was not as muddy as yesterday, thanks to 24 sunny, rain-free hours. Most of the runners were experienced trail runners, but there was a mix of ability levels, so the group broke into many different little clusters. I ran for a while with Vince and his dog Dex, and Steve Hawthorne. Steve tripped on a root and stumbled (or so he says) and grabbed Vince's butt to keep from falling. Steve then reported that Vince's butt was '...really firm'. Later, at the rest room, Vince asked Steve to '...hold this while I take a pi55'. He claimed to be referring to the leash for Dex the dog. After that, I started running with a different group.

After we finished the BT run, I added another 9 miles on the tow path, on my own, to bring me over 20 miles for the morning. I kept a moderate pace, although the last mile was a bit slow. I was really about done in by then. I got to my car, sucked down an Endurox recovery drink, and drove home. Sue had an asparagus and mushroom quiche ready for me (very nice), which I washed down with a couple glasses of water. Right now, I'm sitting on the patio with my notebook, updating my blog and listening to the Indians game on the radio. I'll be going in the house in a little while to watch the Switzerland v. Portugal and Check Republic V. Turkey Euro 2008 matches. The Portugal v. Switzerland match is meaningless as Portugal is already guaranteed to advance to the next round and Switzerland has already been eliminated, but the Check Rep. v. Turkey match should be good as the winner will advance and the loser will go home.

We ran this section of the Buckeye trail today.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Muck-Romping in the Cuyahoga Valley

Does the phrase, 'wet Saturday morning' sound familiar? Good. Shows you've been paying attention for the last month or so. As usual, a SERC group of about 15 runners left from Lock 29 in Peninsula at around 8:15 AM, in the rain. We followed the tow path north to Boston Mills store, then followed a section of the Buckeye Trail. You know what...the trail was muddy. Yes it was. Again. We were all drenched and covered in muck very quickly.
It was a good run. I mingled, ran with different people at different times, had some interesting conversations, caught up with some people I had not talked with in a while. I ran the last few miles with Paul, e-speed, and Tom. I didn't wear my Garmin, but based on Paul's, I think I did right about 15 miles. I put a towel over the seat of the car and drove home.
When I got home, I took this photo. By then, most of the mud on my legs had dried, but you get the idea.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Better Get Serious About Ultra Training

In 36 days, I'll be running my first ultramarathon, the BT 50k. With all that has been going on over the last few months (a couple of marathons come to mind), I have not really focused on this...but I need to. My longest run since Cleveland has been 15 miles, hardly adequate preparation for a 31 miler. I must get serious about training, I mean starting now. The 'BT' in BT50k does not stand for 'Bad Training', but it might stand for 'Brutal Torture' if I don't start getting some miles in.
As a kick-off to my 'Get Serious About Training' period, on Monday evening I attended a runners' seminar presented by the Cleveland Clinic. The featured speaker was Dr. Jack Andrish, a veteran ultramarathoner who coincidentally happens to be a renowned Orthopaedic Surgeon. He vividly described the ultra experience, focusing on the Western States Endurance Run, and showed photos and short video excerpts from the movie 'Race for the Soul'. It was a very inspiring session. At the end, I asked him what advice he would give me as I approached my first ultra. "Just keep in mind, eventually you'll cross the finish, and you will, and when you do, the feeling will be unlike anything you've felt before." I'll keep that in mind.


Recap of the week so far:

Sunday: I started out with the group, but dropped back to join a runner who was going a bit slower. He said the heat and humidity were affecting his asthma, and so I stayed with him. He seemed to be struggling, so I asked if he wanted to cut the run short. He decided that would be best, so I stayed with him and we ran slowly back to the start. Once I was sure he was OK, I took off to try to catch up with the group, and did eventually at the top of the hill on Route 91. I ran back with Wyatt, Paul, and Jeff U. It ended up being only 10.25 miles, but after a tough Saturday trail run, that felt right to me.

Monday: I ran a nice 6 miles at a moderate pace, down into the valley, along the tow path, and back.

Tuesday: This is normally speed-work day, but it happened to fall on our 33rd wedding anniversary, so I ran 6 miles at lunch, then we had a lovely evening, barbecuing marlin and asparagus on the patio. Some neighbors came over to celebrate with us. We had a few beers and talked for a few hours, enjoying the beautiful weather.

Wednesday: Another 6 miles (am I in a rut?) at lunch. Lots of hills.

Today: I rode my bike in and will ride home as well (about 26 miles round trip). I hope to sneak a tempo run in at lunch, but schedule may not allow for this. I hope to avoid doing yet another 6 miler.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

A strange group on a strange run

Today run was noteworthy in that many of the regulars were missing, a few members who rarely make it on Saturday's showed up, and we got lost (or at least disoriented) too many times.

I was later than usual arriving, and was worried that the group might start without me. I found a parking spot and ran to the Lock 29 entrance gate where we gather before the runs, but no one was there. I checked my watch, and it was right at 8:00 AM, so I was sure they hadn't left yet (we always leave a few minutes later than 8:00.) Eventually, runners began arriving, surprisingly including Daisy Duc and e-speed, making a very rare appearance together. It was the smallest group since the worst of the mid-winter blizzard runs. Someone mentioned that there was a Veritcal Runner sponsored race in Hudson. I assume most of the missing regulars where there, including Steve Hawthorne.

So, with many of the regulars missing, and with the addition of Daisy and e-speed, we started out at a slow pace. It was a very warm, very humid morning, and within a few minutes, sweat was dripping from us, especially Daisy. No...wait a minute, that was just her water bottle leaking. ;-) Once we picked up the pace a bit, and got into the hilly and muddy parts of the run, the heat and humidity made it a very tough morning. I took off my shirt after three or four miles, in part to cool off and also to use as a swatter against the particularly pesky deer flies that harassed us all morning.

Steve chose to follow some unfamiliar paths, and as a result, there were four or five comical moments where we were unsure of where we were or which way to go. We did some backtracking, and some second guessing, and lost Steve momentarily, but eventually, 13.25 miles and 2 hours and 9 minutes later, we made it back to Lock 29. Here is a satellite image of the route.

That run was a tough one, and by the end I was done in. I had a bottle of Endurox R4 in the car, and I drank it down fast. Respect to e-speed for running strong for the last mile, coming up from behind and blowing past me. I rinsed off, put on a dry pair of shorts, said good-bye to the group and headed home. I've been eating since: a Dutch pancake which is basically a pie shell with a mixture of vegetables and cheese, about a quart of water, a tuna salad sandwich, some cheese and crackers, a beer, and various snack foods.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Feels like summer...finally

If you live in northeast Ohio, or a place likewise meteorologically challenging, it might seem that summer will never arrive. I am no longer amused by the freezing mornings, the cold, wet rainy days, and the sunless sky. Finally, over the last few days, our fortunes have turned, and summer weather has arrived.

Thursday: 8 Mile Tempo
From work, I ran down into the valley, along the tow path south to Route 82 and back. The overall pace was 7:30 mile, with a 6:59 and a 6:43 mixed in to compensate for the steep ascent from the valley which always knocks down my average time.

Friday: 7 Miles around Independence
I tried a new route, looping around the Independence recreation center, then through downtown and down the big hill to Rockside road, then back to Kichler. I kept an easy pace, around 7:45ish.

Saturday: 13.5 Miles around Independence
Before the run, I reminded Steve that last week, we did only 9.78 miles, the first time I remember ever doing less than 10 on a Saturday. Apparently, the need to make up for that, combined with the fact that a couple of new, young guys joined us, motivated Steve to take us on truly challenging run. We went out at a fast pace, and kept it up all day. We ran a really difficult course, covering some of the Buckeye Trail. The hills were steep, the ground was muddy, and we were working very hard. I didn't wear my Garmin, but Paul R. did, so I've asked him to send me the stats. I believe his Garmin said about 12 miles, but he told me he inadvertently turned it off and missed about a mile and a half.

Sunday: 15 Miles
After Saturday, I was hoping for a nice, long, slow run on Sunday. It didn't quite work out that way, although it was a good run. I ran a slow couple of miles before the group started. I ended up running the following mile splits, mostly with E-speed.

  • 7.53 Just warming up as we ran down Solon Blvd.
  • 7.13 What?! Where did that come from? I thought this was long, slow, run-day Sunday.
  • 7.05 What the hell, I guess we're not going slow after all.
  • 7.08 This is just silly.
  • 7.17 I really just wanted to cover some easy miles today.
  • 7.20 Alright already, can we get a drink and ease up a bit.
  • 7.53 That's more like it. And its all uphill for the next three miles.
  • 8.50 E-speed and I split off from the group and ran through the woods.
  • 9.15 More of the trails, more uphill, slowing taking the pace down.
  • 10.08 OK, I know it is the steepest part of the trail, this is a bit too slow.
  • 7.42 Over the crest, out of the woods, and heading downhill on Route 91.
  • 7.59 Backing off the throttle as we come through Solon.
  • 7.58 Decided to keep going south on Route 91.
  • 7.59 Home again, home again, jiggity-jig.
After a quick shower, I hopped on the bike and rode up to the bagel shop to catch up with the rest of the SERC folks for a little nosh. Then rode around town, stopped in the bike shop and bought rear-view mirror which I mounted on the handle bar. I decided that I need this, since I am wary of things approaching from behind. Here is what it looks like.