Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Life in Slow Motion

Talk about a slow-moving week. It seems like forever until Saturday's 5am start at Squire's Castle. I know, however, that looking back it will have all gone by very fast. The taper is in full-swing now with very little running at all. I ran a very casual 5 yesterday, took today off, and will go out for 3 or 4 in the morning and that may very well be it until Saturday. Something always nags me physically in the final week before a marathon or ultra. Today it was where my right IT band connects at the top. No reason for it to be sore except for my massage on Saturday night. These things always disappear and end up being nothing, but it's one thing I don't need running through my mind right now. Sleep is averaging around 7 hours a night and hopefully 8 to 8 1/2 the next few nights. Friday night will be minimal since the pre-race meeting and pasta party are that night and (ugh!) my alarm will be going off at 2am Saturday in order to go through my morning pre-race rituals and be to Cuyahoga Falls (a 30min drive) for the bus by 3:30am.

Also, last year's weather got up around a blazing 90F. Well, the forecast is moving that direction yet again. Right now, they are calling for 87F for the high on Saturday, mid-70s overnight, and low 90s on Sunday....no rain either day.

My plan until Saturday:

Wednesday: easy 4 miles before work, Kashi breakfast/pasta/baked potatoes/5-6 pieces of fruit/lots of water/Hammer's Endurolytes at night, SLEEP!

Thursday: no run, same food basically/more Endurolytes morning and night/haircut---keepin' it short!/finalize drop bags/ SLEEP!

Friday: no run, back off the carbs a bit until pasta party/incorporate some more protein/fiber but not too much/Endurolytes/Pre-Race Meeting at 6:30pm/home to bed.......

Saturday: 2am, the fun begins....


LIVE Webcast: as runners reach each aid station, the time of day will be recorded and uploaded to website. If you want to come to any aid station to see me, this is the way to predict arrivals. Commentary will also be provided at the top of the screen. The camera you see will be focused on the finish line and refreshes every 30 seconds.

Race Start:
5am SHARP!, Saturday August 2nd
Time Limit: 30 hours (11am Sunday)
My Bib Number: 119

No more blog entries until it's all over. I'll report as soon as I'm capable!! :-)

Thank you to so many of you for your well-wishes and tons of support. It is priceless to me and I greatly appreciate it all!

As always and more so this time than ever, HAPPY TRAILS!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Good Friends, Family, Good Times

Ahhh, what a relaxing day and weekend so far. It started last night with my last deep tissue massage before Burning River and let me just emphasize, "deep" tissue. Lori once again did an awesome job on me and guess what, I was twisted yet again! Basically, my lower torso was not aligned with my upper body. This makes total sense as during the 50K, I'm sure I twisted and turned just about every direction throughout the event. My right hamstring was in perfect shape but my left required a lot of work....aka: more DEEP tissue work....yikes! Waking up this morning, I felt awesome and ready to run. Again, I can't recommend Lori enough to anyone looking for a massage therapist.

This morning, I set up the VR Group Run to take off from Lock 29 at 6:30am this morning. We had 19 runners show up for between 12 and 14 miles on the Towpath. Today was a leisurely pace for nearly everyone as many of us were coming off of the BT50K last Saturday or tapering down to Burning River.

Afterwards, about 7 of us enjoyed breakfast together on the outdoor patio at Fisher's Cafe & Pub in Peninsula. Those 12 miles will be just about it until Burning River except for a few miles early this week. The plan is to take Thursday and Friday completely off and no more than 10 miles before then.
After stopping at Vertical Runner on the way home for some more BodyGlide and a handful of Hammer Gels, I headed home for a planned family day. Since Chef Bill gave me the running tour of the Gorge Metro Park in Cuyahoga Falls a few weeks back, I wanted to get back there with my family with a leisurely stroll through the 1.8 mile trail and see the waterfall. My sister-in-law, niece, and nephew are visiting from Colorado so we all headed on down. Gorgeous day to be out there. All had a great time! The kids' ages are 9, 7, 6, and 5. You'll notice here that I'm wasting no time aquainting them with the beauty of the trails. It's never too early to start them on the right "path" to follow in life! Afterwards, we enjoyed dinner at Parasson's in Stow....one place I've been going to since the mid-1980's and absolutely love! Then we were off to my parents' homemade ice cream shop "Billocks' Ice Cream" in Rootstown. Think "Handel's Ice Cream," but better! For me, it was Double Chocolate Peanut Butter tonight.

Last but not least, we're finishing up at dinner and my phone rings. Nick V. is on the other end. He was calling because his scheduled got free next weekend and wanted to know if I had lined up a pacer yet. Well, I had just got done reading Wyatt's article in Marathon and Beyond about the inaugural Burning River 100 last year and how vital his pacer was. I also recall Vince being incredibly grateful for Greg pacing him in at Mohican. I didn't want to ask anyone but secretly hoped someone might offer. So just in case Nick hasn't heard it enough yet, THANK YOU for volunteering yourself! I know it's going to be lonely out there and I'll need the emotional and mental support big time. Nick V. is the one in the red VR tech tee in this photo. This was shot during the 2007 Summer BT50K...my first ultra and I think his as well.

One other cool tidbit: Ohio Governor Ted Strickland has proclaimed August 2-3 Burning River 100 Endurance Days. See the official proclamation here.

Well, it's time to sit back, rest up, eat well, get plenty of sleep, and continue to count down to 5am Saturday. If you haven't bookmarked it yet, here is the link to the LIVE webcast to track all runners during the event. The list hasn't been updated yet, but I've been assigned Bib #119.

Thank you to so many of you for your support! Stay tuned!

Happy Trails!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Mind Never Rests

You'd think I was counting down to a wedding, a graduation, or something of significance like that. That's what it "feels" like counting down to this 100-miler in NINE days. No, I don't put it anywhere near the importance of those events, it's just the anticipation and nerves that are similar. Everything is going exceptionally well. I recovered very quickly from last Saturday's BT50K and immediately went into the final taper for the BR100. Sunday was a day with the Navy in Cleveland so no running that day. I did have some Chinese for lunch at Tower City, though...that was the LAST time I'll eat there. I paid for it big time on Monday. Let's just say I left the house more than once for my morning run...plus stopped at my parents' homemade ice cream shop. With that said, I got 7 in on Monday, took Tuesday off, 6 yesterday with a 1-mile tempo mixed in there, 5 really easy today, off tomorrow, and 12 easy on the Towpath this Saturday morning. This morning truly felt effortless. Plus, the weather was a crisp 58F and clear skies. Once I run Saturday, that'll give me 30 good taper miles this week. Afterwards, we're heading over to Fisher's in Peninsula for some breakfast. For next week, I'll run 2 or 3 days and probably take Thursday/Friday completely off. The total mileage for those 2 or 3 days will be 10-12 miles at the most.

Here are some of my drop-bag thoughts for BR:

Drop bag #1: Station Rd #2 (mile 39.7): Trail shoes, packet of Hammer's Perpetuem, some Hammer Gel, BodyGlide, and new socks filled with powdered SportShield lubricant. Extra tech tee just in case.

Drop bag #2: Boston Store #2 (mile 60.6): another packet of Perpetuem, Hammer Gel, BodyGlide, my headlamp.

Drop bag #3: Covered Bridge #2 (mile 85.7): Hammer Gel, BodyGlide, extra tech tee, new socks with lubricant, road shoes...can I pack some motivation, as well?

The rest of my food will come from the well-stocked aid stations. I'll carry 2 handhelds and will re-fill with Hammer's Heed at each station except for the 2 fill-ups of Perpetuem.

Once Sunday arrives, I'll start backing off the fiber-rich foods and increase the carbohydrate load significantly...not just through my whole-wheat pasta, but through lots of fruits like bananas, oranges, peaches, and apples. Lots of water content in those plus the carbs...hydrating and carb-loading at once. Starting Wednesday morning, I'll begin taking Hammer's Endurolytes morning and night (salt/electrolytes) to signal my body to start holding on to water. I'll also target 8-9 hours of sleep per night. The 10-day forecast finally stretches into August 2nd and so far, it's 82F for the high, 67F for the low and a 20% chance of rain. Of course, this is NE Ohio so I expect that to change as many times as there are days between now and then.

Happy Trails, everyone!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Summer Buckeye Trail 50K report

Yesterday was the 15th installment of the Summer Buckeye Trail 50K. A record turnout and essentially, a "who's-who" gathering of the NE Ohio running community. Essentially, every runner/friend I know was there. The forecast all week was calling for hot and humid temperatures and we didn't get any rain all week. Sometimes with cool nights and off and on rain, the trail retains some of that coolness due to the heavy coverage by the trees, but this week it essentially baked in the sun. Start temp was around 72F at 7am and finishing temp was about 82F and humid. It stayed overcast throughout the morning and early afternoon which helped prevent the day from turning into a scorcher. My plan was to run comfortably for the first half to the Pine Lane turnaround, then slow it down and eventually merge into a run/walk strategy to best mimic what I'll do at Burning River. The plan went well and I felt good at the finish, although from miles 20 to the end (31.2), it was definately slow-going as the humidity was taking it's toll. One thing I tried this week after receiving the advice from Vince was "salt-tab loading" about 4 days prior to the event. No medical research to back this up, but Vince felt this would force the body to retain more water than normal which on race day, would help fight off dehydration, my #1 enemy. It's hard to say if it worked or not. However, with conditions as they were, I'd say it probably did work because I continued to sweat for at least 45min after I finished. If I were fully dehydrated, there wouldn't be water to sweat out. With that being said, I had no side effects from them at all and will most likely employ this strategy in the future. I also took 2 more salt tabs at each aid station they were offered. I also left my Nathan race vest at home which holds 1.5L of water. My thought is that with 2 handheld bottles and a newly acquired waste belt, I shouldn't need anything else at BR. The aid stations are close enough to each other and are stocked enough to not need more. With that said, I wore the belt yesterday and it was very comfortable and rarely even felt it being there. It can hold several gel packs and other thin and not-so-bulky items.

All-in-all, I am very happy with my performance and strategy. My plan was to use this as a "dress-rehearsal" for Burning River, run smart, and finish feeling good. Today (Sunday), I feel very good and feel like another 20-miler would be entirely possible. However, I'm now 13 days from Burning River and officially in "taper-mode" so that would simply be....well, stupid! The good thing is that I know I could head out and do it. I have practically no soreness whatsoever or any other typical post-marathon/ultra side-effects. I definately want to pass on kudos to everyone involved in the BT50K. Vince did a phenomenal job this year and Lloyd played a big part, too. The aid stations were well stocked, not only with food/drink but with volunteers who were happy to be out there and that's an awesome sight to see when to show up to each one. At every station, volunteers insisted on removing the cap, filling the bottle with Heed, and putting it back on. This may sound trivial, but it really does matter. Also, a big thanks to Merrell as a big sponsor again this year and working with Vince to give us the great tech-tee. A definate upgrade on the tech-tee this year. I simply have nothing but good to say about it....WELL DONE!

I'd be remiss if I didn't say congrats to many of the roadies-turned-trail runners! Susan, Rose, Aaron, and Sean...great job to you all! Rose: no, this is not crazy! You'll be back...I'm sure! Susan: hang in there and be very happy with your accomplishment. It wasn't about the clock yesterday...it wasn't a road marathon! You did great! To everyone else (I could list many, many names), it was awesome to see all of you out there...great job to you all!

Chef Bill, awesome post-race grub! From the start to the finish, I just kept thinking about chowing down at the finish...just knowing it was going to be awesome. I opted for the Grilled Chicken Wrap (whole wheat wrap stuffed with cilantro-lime rice, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and grilled chicken) and Barley & Quinoa Salad (barley, quinoa, tomatoes, onion, red peppers, olives, fresh herbs). Awesome and packed full of protein. Pictures here are of the lunch, and Vince, Chef Bill, and Bill's assistant (right to left) at the "grub-table." I just wish Chef could've run with us AND cooked us lunch!

Last but not least, thanks to takers of the pics you see here. Lloyd, Jim, and Brian provided the photos as carrying a camera wasn't possible. In fact, there are literally hundreds of photos uploaded by all 3 of them on the Vertical Runner discussion board.

Ultra #4 in the books! 6hrs, 13min, 34sec...a course PR over last year's 6hr, 37min. which had more favorable conditions. Overall stats: 185 starters, 156 finishers, and I was 47th of the 156. Now it's taper time...

Happy Trails!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Taking it Easy & Staying Healthy

It’s really been quite a good week. Since I last posted, I volunteered for the Muddy Paws 2/5/10 Mile Trail Run on Saturday. The 2-mile option was run with the runners’ dogs and everyone else had the 5 or 10 mile option. The event supported the Summit County Humane Society located on Quick Rd….which was just down the road from the race at Pine Hollow. A record turnout and great weather resulted in a really fun time on the trails. Greg D. ran the first water stop and I ran the 2nd stop. I always find it humorous to watch people take their first sip of Hammer’s Heed. One would expect a Gatorade-type of taste but instead get something that tastes similar to dental wash you get at the dentist. But like I say, it’s something you get used to over time. A fine trade-off in order to get something all-natural without the junk in Gatorade and other high-fructose corn-syrup products. If you’re running the BT50K or BR100, Heed will be served! Yea! Chef Bill and I met at 5am for some early miles but quickly learned that the sun no longer rises that early so we walked for the first 20min on the Salt Run Trail. Afterwards, we ran the course to pick up pie plate arrows, streamers, and any trash. Runners really took care of the trails during the event….there was very little trash. THANK YOU!

Saturday was my deep tissue massage by Lori. I think I actually fell asleep for the first time during a massage. How embarrassing! Heck, I’d been up since 3:15am! Lori is running a “Buy 5, Get the 6th Free” special right now so I took advantage of that…considering I’ll see her next week and then again immediately after Burning River. Her contact info is in my last blog entry down below if you want to give her a call or you could e-mail her.

Plan of Attack for the next 17 days:

1. So far this week, I’m in a semi-taper to the 50K this Saturday. I ran 9 on Sunday, 6.8 on Monday, off Tuesday, 7 this morning, 5 tomorrow, off on Friday, then 31.2 (ie: 50K) on Saturday. I plan to just have a good time on Saturday, run conservatively, and enjoy Chef Bill’s post-race grub at the finish line. Just about everyone I know in the NE Ohio running community is signed up for this sold-out event this year.
2. Following the 50K, I’ll be in strict taper mode to the BR100. Run no more than 7 or 8 miles during the weekday runs next week. Nothing hard and no racing. 12 miles on Saturday.
3. In the final week, I’ll back way off and run 5 on Monday, 4 on Tuesday, off Wednesday, 3 on Thursday, off Friday, run 100 miles on Saturday and Sunday!
4. From Tuesday – Friday before BR100, I’ll take Endurolytes (salt tabs) morning and night (recommended by Vince), carbo-load, and do my best to get 8-9 hours of sleep per night.

Overall, my outlook is positive. I feel that yes, I missed some runs that I felt very important NOT to miss. However, it wasn’t because of lack of effort. Physical ailments presented themselves with no warning and I just needed to work around them and through them the best way I could. Mentally, I feel very strong and ready to tackle the 100 miles. I feel like I have an army of friends (that includes many of YOU who are reading this!) and family who have been and continue to be supportive. I will draw on that to push on through when the time comes! Thank you!

Happy Trails!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Plan for the Next 4 Weeks

Great week so far after a rough weekend. I took Sunday and Monday completely off. Come Tuesday, the "passion" was back to get out there so I forged ahead. My renewed focus in these final 4 weeks to the BR100 will be to:

1. Stay healthy
2. Run slower...and slower...and slower. One thing I learned from the Green Jewel 100K was that to run normally around a 7:30min - 8min pace but then to go out and do an ultra at 2-3 min slower per mile...without ever training at that pace, can bring forth lots of pain and agony early on. On the surface, that sounds illogical...run slower and hurt more? Yep! Different muscles, different stride, different breathing, different posture, etc. So right now, I'm really focusing on this and also some power-walking.
3. Keep the mileage up a bit this week but not an all-time high, then taper next week to the Buckeye Trail 50K on the 19th. After the BT50K, a focused taper along with several days of carb-loading and "sleep-loading" in the final 4-5 days before the BR100.
4. Deep tissue massage this Saturday and another one in between the 50K and the BR100. I never got my post-race massage from the Buffalo Marathon so I know that from all the mileage, a marathon, and the sloppy mud-running, I'm physically out-of-sorts. Lori Roosa, LMT always does a phenomenal job at fixing me so I'll see her this Saturday and again 2 weeks later. I swear by Lori and highly recommend her. She works on her own as well as part-time with Summa on the Hudson/Stow border at the Wellness Center. Her direct contact is 330-204-6463.
5. Eat more. I am simply not taking in enough calories as of late. Even though my 50lb weight loss ended over a year ago, I still think about how many calories are in everything I eat. I can't seem to break it. My diet overall is extremely healthy so there are no concerns but I still "guesstimate" my calories each day. What a waste of brain cells!

For this week, I ran an extremely comfy 6 miles on Tuesday morning at 9:45 pace. That was really enjoyable! Wednesday I ran 7 before work. I did the first 3 1/2 at 8:02 pace and the second 3 1/2 at 9:30 pace. Then on Wednesday night, I had an awesome run with Chef Bill in the Gorge Metro Park in Cuyahoga Falls. I ran in road shoes as my plan is to now change out of trail shoes after the Perkins Trail (mile 85). The last 15 miles do not require trail shoes and my feet will undoubtedly welcome the switch into the comfort of my Brooks. We met at Chef's house and ran a very enjoyable 11 miles that covered much of the BR100 final miles including Glens Trail, Highbridge Trail, Signal Tree trail, and the Gorge trail (is that what it's called?). I wanted to see these areas in daylight, unlike on Saturday night so I could better visualize the final 5 miles to the finish. On the way back out of Glens Trail, I ran it just like I plan to for the finish and ran across the pavement where the finish line will be. I stood there, spun around 360 degrees and soaked in the visual that I will most certainly recall for a bit of motivation on August 3rd. Things like this really seem to help me. I took this morning off but will run this evening around home. This Saturday, I'll be volunteering at the Muddy Paws 5/10 Mile race and also get my long run in while there...somehow. I'm thinking about running at 5am, volunteering from 6:30am to whenever, then doing some more later. It's supposed to be a steamer on Saturday with highs around 90F.

Thanks, Bill, for the "Tour de Cuyahoga Falls" last night! You have some awesome places to run at your doorstep!

Lastly, here is video shot by Jim Chaney of the "Pine Hollow to Covered Bridge" segment of the BR100. This is one of my favorite stretches. I am the one in the white shirt with race vest on. It covers a lot of horse trails and is a very enjoyable section. Between 8 and 9 minutes on the video, we caught the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad train...cool video! There are now a total of 6 segment videos at http://www.youtube.com/burningriver100. Enjoy this section and as always, Happy Trails!!!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Staying Positive & Moving Forward

It's Sunday night, bedtime, and a weekend planned that didn't quite end up as the weekend that was. Looking back, I can be thankful I still have my health, I didn't do anything stupid, and a few lessons were learned. You would think that after a few 1/2 ironman triathlons, 21 marathons, 2 50Ks, and a 100K, I'd know to carbo-load before running 30 miles followed by a planned 22 miler the next morning. This realization didn't even hit me until after the fact but it's the only thing I can attribute to the way this weekend turned out.

Saturday at 3:30pm, a group of 6 of us left the Happy Days parking lot (mile 70.5 of the Burning River 100) en route to the finish in Cuyahoga Falls. Sun was shining, low humidity, and 80F. We were moving at a very comfortable, slow pace which was very welcoming. Once we got to Mile 85 (Covered Bridge Aid Station #2), we met up with several others and the group expanded to 15. It was around this time that I seemed to be running on empty. This made no sense at the time. How could I feel this way 15 miles into a trail run? A typical Saturday run is more than this and I feel great. Plus, we were moving way slower than I was used to. I was taking in water, electolytes, Pure Fuel, salt tabs...everything to plan. By the time we hit the 20 mile point of our run (ie: 90 mile point of the BR100), I was really dragging. Thanks to Chef Bill for realizing not all was well with me. Eventually, Bill dropped back with me and we shuffled through the last few miles to the finish. Once again, I am thankful for the friends I've made here in the NE Ohio running community. They never fail! When I got back to my car, I ached more than I did after the Green Jewel 100K a few months ago (62.4 miles). Ribs, abs, back, shoulders, neck...they all hurt, which is not normal at all...not even when racing a marathon. Ironically, the legs really didn't hurt at all. I just was out of energy...plain and simple. I didn't carbo-load to top off the glycogen stores, but instead ate my normal diet throughout the week with no concentrated increase. The end result? I tossed and turned all night long from the soreness and didn't go to the 22 mile run Sunday morning. I feel that I really needed that high back-to-back mileage to cap off my training for the BR100. At this point, I don't feel I have the time to do it with less than 4 weeks to the BR100.
OK, now that I have that off my chest, here are some pics from early in the run. Even more photos are posted over on Chef Bill's blog. Be sure to stop on by. I also want to throw out a HUGE thanks to Jim Chaney who led the group along with camera in hand. Jim has been filming segments of the BR100 course and posting them on YouTube. With at least 5 segments captured so far on YouTube and more coming, I'm not going to embed them here in my blog due to size. You can view them directly on YouTube. Jim shared a lot of the mental battle he faced during last year's BR100 and how he battled through it. Jim is also playing a huge role this year by building and running the live race webcast. Truly, an awesome contribution to the event and a great way for anyone worldwide to track their runner(s). Also, thanks to Mike George for leading the way in planning this run. There were some bumps in the road due to Summit MetroParks' rules after sunset, but we still got it done! Thanks, Mike!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Toe Update, 4 Mile PR

Hey everyone! A shocking Saturday morning: I can't remember in recent history when I slept in past 6am and wasn't on the trails. It is a beautiful, brilliant blue sunny sky this morning and a great morning to run, but bigger and better plans lay ahead later today.

To update from my last blog entry last weekend. I took Sunday completely off and did an easy 7 before work on Monday to "test" out my toe. It felt OK at best. Throughout the workday, it felt better and better and less noticeable. My massage therapist got me hooked on this $4 cucumber foot cream a few months back and I'm a huge believer in it. It has rapid healing properties and in my opinion, is the perfect running "maintenance" cream...especially for the high mileage runner who beats up the feet constantly. Anyway, it did it's job and I was back to normal by Tuesday morning's 9 miler. Wednesday was 10 before work, Thursday off, and I raced a July 4th 4-miler yesterday. I haven't seen the results yet, but I know I PR'd with a 26:11. Congrats to many others who took home hardware and all represented VR by flying the VR colors proudly: Susan who took 3rd overall female, Aaron who I believe (but not sure) was 2nd in his age group and PR'd at 24:45, Sean Mooney who placed (not sure where, though), and Rose who I believe was 2nd in her age group. (the race was the 30th Annual Firecracker 4 miler in Stow, OH) Afterwards, I met my family for the Stow Pride Festival Parade. 1hr, 40min long!!! The LONGEST parade I've ever been to. Loved it! In particular, I loved the live reinactment of the Iwo Jima Memorial. That was an awesome tribute to our servicemen and women who have gone before and continue to serve today.

We are leaving the Happy Days Visitor Center at 3:30pm this afternoon (mile 70.5 of the BR100) and heading to the finish. Jim Chaney will be filming this section to post on YouTube. Check out the video he shot below of the Boston Store to Pine Lane section. (re: this is the leg I blogged about last week....remember the unplanned "time trial"?!) Nice job capturing the essence of the trail, Jim!

After we finish later tonight, I'll crash for a few hours of sleep and then meet up with the VR group at Oak Grove to run 22+ miles of the Buckeye Trail 50K. This will give me in the mid 50s for mileage between today and tomorrow and great training for the BR100 only 4 short weeks from now. I plan to take my camera today so hopefully, I'll have some pics to share late on Sunday.

Happy Trails, everyone!