Monday, March 31, 2008

60F and MUD!

I'd say that Spring officially arrived with the Cleveland Indians Opening Day (yea, we beat the Sox 10-8) and the mercury hitting 60F. So, when a text showed up on my phone inviting me to a 5:30pm trail MUD run, there was no doubt how to spend the evening. We (Vince, Greg D., me) met at Happy Days and headed around the Ledges Trail, to Pine Grove, then off the trail where we got lost for a bit (just like I predicted we would!), then back to finish Pine Grove and back to Happy Days via the other half of the Ledges. Mud is widely available for anyone looking for some. With all the rain and snow of late, the trails are a good workout right now. With that said, why not give the new trail shoes a try? I just picked up my first pair of Merrell's new Overdrive 2. Merrell now offers a neutral trailrunner (the Overdrive 2) and a stability shoe (the Cruise Control). You see those "laces" on there? Those are coming off before next time. I had to stop 4 times to re-tighten them. They're strong and a minimalist approach to laces but they simply don't stay put with all the stress put on the shoe while on trails. Laces next time! We wrapped up just shy of 8 miles. I was thinking on the way home that even though the winters can be rough up here in Ohio, I do feel fortunate to see the 4 seasons and how the trails change throughout all of them. Soon, the trails will be poppin' with green foliage, plants, flowers, and a canopy will be created everywhere to run under....lookin' forward to it!

OK, time for some marathon humor. If you've run a marathon, you know how those stairs can be later the same day of a marathon and even worse the next day. Check out this video:

Happy Trails!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Spring is ALMOST here!

Gorgeous day today...sun is shining and temps are in the 40s. I had a refreshing trail run this morning. Mel from Vertical Runner joined me at Happy Days for an easy trail run on the Ledges Trail, Pine Grove, finished off the Ledges Trail, back to Happy Days, and wrapped up with the Boston Run trail. Trail conditions are very good right now. About 7.7 miles in all.Some areas looks as though they haven't had any snow while others have 2-3", and even other areas are getting muddy where they've collected some snow melt. All-in-all, a great time to hit the trails. We ran right into the middle of about 6 or 7 deer and I went for the camera as quick as I could and caught this shot of them but they were moving away quick.

My next NetFlix rental is on the's Running on the Sun...a documentary from 2000 that focused on 13 participants in the 135 mile Badwater ultramarathon. Time to start mentally preparing for the BR100 in August...hopefully, this movie will help. Here's the brief description:

"The Badwater, the most extreme footrace on earth, features a 135-mile course that extends over barren desert, across three mountain ranges and through soaring temperatures of up to 130 degrees Fahrenheit -- with the added perils of flash floods and windstorms along the way. This documentary tracks 13 of the brave participants and runs the full gamut of human emotions with them -- from joy to despair -- as they push the limits of human endurance."

I hope to see you on the trails!

Some inspiration for today:

Perhaps the genius of ultrarunning is its supreme lack of utility. It makes no sense in a world of space ships and supercomputers to run vast distances on foot. There is no money in it and no fame, frequently not even the approval of peers. But as poets, apostles and philosophers have insisted from the dawn of time, there is more to life than logic and common sense. The ultra runners know this instinctively. And they know something else that is lost on the sedentary. They understand, perhaps better than anyone, that the doors to the spirit will swing open with physical effort. In running such long and taxing distances they answer a call from the deepest realms of their being -- a call that asks who they are ...

--David Blaikie

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Into the Wild, the King, and a Run

A mixture of thoughts for today's blog: we watched a movie yesterday that was highly recommended to me by Vince called Into the Wild. Not to give any spoilers, I have to say...go rent this movie! I really don't even know where to start on how to describe this'd be best off to simply watch the trailer for it. It'll breed good conversation so I recommend watching it with someone. It's not a running movie...more a "finding the purpose in life" type of movie...undoubtedly, you can find a way to apply it to your life. Trust'll be worth the 2hrs, 14min to watch it.

Secondly, our family went out to the Carousel Dinner Theater last night to see the King and I production. EXCELLENT! We took our 4 and 7 year olds and they both loved it. If you have kids and go, I'd recommend screening the movie first for your kids so they know the characters. There's a recent animated version from a few years back. If you're a NetFlix member, you can watch it online for free. It runs through April 26th.
Last but certainly not least, what an awesome day for a run!!! 11 miles, 1hr, 30min, pouring rain, 51F, and absolutely no concern for pace or time. It was one of those "surreal" type of runs. It was raining hard enough to where I couldn't hear my breathing but instead focused on the rain hitting the ground and the overflowing water rushing through the ditches and streams on either side of me. I took a new route that was very rural and free of traffic, lights, or life for that matter. Peaceful, quiet, and simply a joy to run....just to run....without a specific goal (tempo, etc.) in mind. I can't remember the last time I did that...what a great way to ground myself back to the simple joy of placing one foot in front of the other. OK, I'm taking some liberties with my camera today and snapped a couple of self portraits...not trying to be self-indulgent..just trying to capture the feeling may work...or may not!

Oh yea, I almost forgot to mention: I'm taking the plunge...and it's official. August 2/3, 2008; Burning River 100 Mile Endurance Run. My first attempt at the ultra-distance past 50K (31.2 miles). Let me just thank my wife now for her current and future support as I push forward to this next-major-event/challenge. I love her and appreciate it more than she knows! You can bet on some interesting blogs in the coming months as I train longer and slower.....and longer. If you are one who wants to join me somewhere past the 65 mile point to keep me company, let me know! FYI: the event starts at 5am on Saturday and the time cutoff is 30 hours (11am Sunday). See the website for the all the info.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Running Green for 23

This weekend is my March drill weekend with the Navy so thanks to the planets aligning just right today, I got in a great long run. First, the numbers: temp. was 36F at the start and 42F at the finish with 5-10 mph winds, light rain the entire time, and lots of puddles! 23 miles, 2hr 56min, 7:39 avg. pace, and a whopping 3497 calories burned! I even weighed 6 lbs less when I got home...all water loss, of course. My goal was to average between 7:30 and 7:45 per mile so I'm happy!

I have a course that I run from my home in Rootstown that takes me all the way to Kent to the Pufferbelly Restaurant. I call it my "Pufferbelly Loop." It's either a 22 or 23 mile loop depending on a few variations. By the way, there is a dish at the Pufferbelly that I haven't seen replicated anywhere else. It's called "Veggie Aglio." It's fettuccini noodles (sorry, wheat not available!), veggies (whole artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, onions, sun-dried tomatoes), and cooked in an olive oil/white wine sauce. Absolutely AWESOME! Cheap, too...only $9.75. Anyway, I'll sum up the exact loop at the end of this blog if you want to read the turn-by-turn. My goal today was to replicate the marathon starting a few days back. Nutrition, carbs, hydration, etc. were all done as if a marathon were today. Clif's Shot Bloks were the nutrition of choice (sorry, Bill...PureFuel is too big to fit in that little pocket on the rear of my shorts!) and Heed fueled the first 10 miles followed by Gatorade (picked up at the Kent Sheetz). I also put my first miles on my new Brook's Glycerins. The Glycerin 6 was greatly re-engineered and since I was so happy with the Radius, I thought I'd try it out. They were great but I did get a tiny blister starting on the bottom of my left foot. Could've been the soaked feet today as I was sprayed MANY times by passing cars. I was covered in grit by the time I got home...nasty!

Hey, any of you recognize the new green Vertical Runner tech tee? It's all part of bringing more awareness of "going green" in everything we do. The back of the shirt is shown below. It's a Brooks shirt and did very well in the soaking conditions. There are a limited supply at VR so get one quick! Kinda cool that my Glycerins have green on them, too....not that I "match" my running clothes or anything! It goes with the season, too. St. Patty's Day is around the corner and this Sunday is the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach...that's where we used to live. I've ran that twice and the last time was the day my wife went into labor with our first child! I was carrying a phone and she called around mile 15 and said it was time....then said she was kidding...ARGH!!!! Later on while I was slumbering on the couch, it actually WAS time and we spent the night in the hospital until our first daughter was born the next morning shortly after 6am. Dang, time flies! That was 7 years ago!

For those of you interested in the route, here it is: leave home in Rootstown > Route 44 north to Summit St., left on Summit St. > pass the KSU Field House (home of Tuesday night speedwork) and Dix Stadium, cross over Rt. 261 > right on Horning Rd. > right on Rhodes Rd. > left on Rt. 59 > stop at Sheetz for Gatorade (10 miles) > continue on 59 to Franklin (Pufferbelly and the halfway point) > left on Franklin > left on Rt. 261 > right on Rt. 43 > left on Sherman Rd. > left on Lynn Rd. > right on Rootstown Rd. > right on Tallmadge Rd. > left on Kline Rd. > left on Bower Rd. > left on Rt. 44 > HOME! 23 miles roundtrip!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

"Nightlife" saved my life

Yea, I think that's a fair statement. On your left, I light up like a fluorescent Christmas tree with light shining on me. On your right, that's me with no light shining on me. Get the drift?

OK, today is the kind of day that blogs were made for. Let's start at 5:45am: I head out for a 6 or 7 miler on my favorite course...rural, quiet, and hilly. 1 mile in, I hear 2 "large-sounding" barking dogs. It's foggy and I can only make out their silhouettes. They look big. I yell out "STOP!" and they stop moving towards me but continue their loud barking standing in the middle of the road. Let me say this...I travel this route often and without incident. Today, I stood there for a solid 10 minutes while no owner or anyone did a thing. Each movement I made towards OR away from them and they moved towards me. It only takes getting chased once by a dog to be very defensive in this position....and that I have. Eventually, the neighbor leaves for work and says they are harmless...yea right! It's dark and 2 loud barking dogs are blocking my way...what would YOU do?! With this neighbor pulling out onto the road, the dogs backed off enough so I could turn around the retrace my steps towards home.

Now, I feel like a fish-out-of-water. My "routine" has been disrupted and my preferred loop for the day is a no-go. I head back towards my subdivision and map out a 7 miler in my head and continue on. Unfortunately, I'm now stuck traveling in the UN-preferred direction for morning traffic. I live in Rootstown...a small rural town with minimal berm to run on so yes, it's dangerous. More cars/TRUCKS than not don't move over or give any consideration to me whatsoever. In fact, it is commonplace to hear an engine rev when they see me and actually move TOWARDS me. I kid you not and this is normal for a run. For the rare person who gives way to me, I give a thankful wave to them as I am most gracious. Please know...I always get off the road if I can and if two cars are passing while passing me, I will exit the road. I don't play chicken or stupid out there! Guess vs. little 'ol me = a dead me!
OK, I got off on a tangent but I've been wanting to blog that for awhile. Jump ahead, I'm doing a mini time-trial to learn my marathon goal pace without looking at my Garmin 205....just to know what it feels like. I'm about 5.5 miles into my run and I come to the intersection of Cook Rd. and New Milford Rd. in Rootstown...I'm heading south on New Milford and turning right on Cook Rd. I have no stop sign and the crossing Cook Rd. traffic does. As I make the right turn, I become thankful I used the bathroom before running today. To my left is yet another truck LOCKING up its brakes and sliding through the stop sign. Understand the title of today's blog, now? If I didn't have my Brooks jacket on, I absolutely would have been flattened out. I was so stunned that I just waved him on as I stood there. The run home became a different kind of time trial as I was furious but thankful to be alive. I just wanted to get home in one piece now. It's as if I wasn't supposed to be running today or something. What? Stay home? After running in this town consistently through every kind of weather, using regular routes, and generally the same times of day, you'd think over time the courtesies of fellow residents would get better, but they don't.
Don't let anyone or anything stop you from getting your run in's the normalcy and solace of the run that keeps us all grounded and focused. Some embrace this and some call us crazy. Call me crazy but I'll keep on heading out to the roads...dogs, trucks, snow, ice...whatever. I'll be safe and take every precaution but I will still head out.

Keep on running, friends!
- available at Vertical Runner in Hudson, OH

Sunday, March 9, 2008

An "Endorphin-Packed" blog entry...BEWARE!

With a reservoir full of "running endorphins" due to no running yesterday, what spills out here today is post-run endorphin-rich! (here is a really good article on endorphins and the 'runner's high' so commonly referred to...worth your time to click and read)

I have to admit...I felt like my 'running world' came crashing down yesterday morning as our blizzard hit northeast Ohio. I can't remember the last Saturday that I didn't run. Ironically, I woke up sore this morning...not from running, but from shoveling. My left shoulder and down my left side hurt...and still hurts. BUT, the sun was shining bright, the roads were plowed, the snow stopped by 10pm last night, and most people were just getting out of bed...especially with the time change last night. G R E A T run...16 miles, 2hrs 10min, 8:08 pace, 2448 calories gone! (Fueled by Heed and Pure Fuel...recovery by Recoverite)

There have been lots of questions I've been asked lately regarding healthy eating, weight loss, and what worked for me (maybe I should just write a book!). I won't repeat it here but instead, please reference my January 1, 2008 post. It's all right there.

A Saturday indoors (except for shoveling the snow) forced me to once again take an inventory of those things I truly value. My particular list is not all-inclusive....may I suggest you take a moment and make your own? Writing it down helps....well, re-focus you on what's important.

My personal inventory:
  • - my wife and kids (undoubtedly, without them...well, life would not be OK!)
  • - my extended family (parents, in-laws, brothers (and their families))
  • - my personal freedom to live where I want, run where I want, and say what I want (ie: THIS BLOG!)...paid for by those who have served before me
  • - my running friends (you know who you are!)
  • - the local northeast Ohio running community (not as common as you may think!)
  • - Cuyahoga Valley National Park (a crown jewel right in our backyard)
  • - Health and continued health now and for years to come

Off the topic: Food....I watched this documentary this week called "The Future of Food." If you subscribe to NetFlix, you can watch it online for free (as I did). It is jaw-dropping and will amaze you at how agriculture in this country (specifically corn and soybeans) has been transformed by big-money corporations and the government. No, this is not a political left or right documentary, but more of a history lesson of what's happened (especially to the farmers), what is happening, and what is to come. Near the end, I heard an argument for organic foods better than anything I had heard before. If you care about what you eat, where it comes from, and who your dollars are impacting, make it a priority to watch this. Find it at NetFlix or read about it at The Future of Food website.

Spring....I am waiting for you!!!!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Oh, how frustrating...

It's 5:30am on Saturday morning and I should be toeing the Buckeye Trail right now. Instead, I'm sitting in my kitchen in my tech gear ready to go...but I'm not going anywhere. Outside, the Lake Erie snow machine is kicked into full gear. The snow is reaching the bottom of our patio furniture outside (about 1 foot high), our driveway (which I shoveled last night) has once again 10" of snow in it and since we live on a cul-de-sac, the lovely snow plows have barricaded me in. Oh yea, I drive a sport compact car! I had every intention of knockin' out a solid 20-miler today, snow or not. You can bet as soon as this lets up (not until late tonight/tomorrow), I'll be out there. In the meantime, the snow is supposed to get heavier through the day and we're supposed to get several more inches. I really should have got our snow-blower fixed. I'll be getting a different kind of workout this morning!

Missin' my running buds and the trails....