Saturday, March 21, 2009

42 Miles & the Akron Zoo

Wow, what a great weekend so far. It has been chock full of great things since it began. This weekend was to be my first back-to-back training weekend in preps for Kettle Moraine...only 77 days from today. So Friday, I headed on down to the Fools 50K course with the intent of running it in reverse then adding miles afterwards. To my surprise, I actually got someone to show up on a Friday morning at 9am to run. Tracy M. showed up, considering to run the Fools race, and we ended up running the course in the correct direction so I could "sell" her on the course and get her to sign up. (once a car salesman, always a car salesman!) Luckily, with all the sun this past week and warm temperatures, the trails really dried up nicely. We ran the 25K loop in 2hrs, 38min. Not too shabby considering I ran it a week ago in 2hr, 50min. After she took off, I headed back over to the Ledges and Pine Grove and wrapped up the day with 22 miles. I felt best. I certainly ran out of gas the last few miles. I finished up at 1pm and the next 18 hours were going to be a test in how well I could recover for today's run on the Fools course again. In a nutshell, I wanted plenty of protein, lots of water, lots of fruit (carbs and water), and some good, hearty, filling food. First up was sushi from Heinen's in Hudson and for dinner, I took my girls out for Mexican...and some superb homemade ice cream from my parents' ice cream shop...Pecan Ball, to be precise. I was in bed by 8:30pm and feeling completely wiped out not knowing what to expect when I awoke. Lately, I've been waking up the day after a long run with aches and pains that didn't exist when I went to bed the night before. With a "late" start at 7:15am, I set the alarm for 5am but at 2am, I was wide awake and starving. I hopped up, had a banana and clementine orange, popped some ibuprofen, checked the e-mail and hit the sack again 20min later. At 5am, I stood up...gingerly...just to see what would be hurting. Outside of some creaky muscles, nothing really hurt. So far, so good. At the group run, we set off just after 7:15am. With temps below freezing, I only wore shorts and a long-sleeve tech tee but that ended up being perfect once I warmed up. Most others wore double-layers, hats, gloves, etc. Incredibly, I felt really, really good. I felt the way I feel after tapering down for a race....which made absolutely zero logical sense. After all, I finished 22 sixteen hours ago. Perhaps my recovery was dead-on? I went with it and never got tired and never slowed. I finished the 25K loop in 2hrs, 29min. A whopping 9min faster than yesterday. That's shaving over 30sec per mile off. Feeling really good and extremely crunched for time (my family was en route to the Chapel Hill Chick-Fil-A to meet me for lunch before heading off to the Akron Zoo today), I solicited a few others and we kept on going until we hit 20 miles. Overall, my average pace for the whole run was a minute faster per mile than yesterday. Plus, I did not want to stop. I think I easily had another 10 in me. However, I would have been in the dog-house big time if I bailed on my family. Plus, 42 miles was plenty and to run the 2nd day so strong is icing on the cake. Now as evening arrives, I feel the lactic acid taking up residence in my legs like cement but I'll keep the fruit and water going. A crisp, early recovery 10 miler is my goal for tomorrow (Sunday) morning. 52 over my 3-day weekend should suffice, don't ya think?

So how much can I cram into the weekend? The Akron Zoo was superb today. After some Chick-Fil-A, we headed on over and had a great time. Isn't this picture of an African Lion the best?! I stood there just waiting for this and finally got a phenomenal shot. It was definitely the best shot of the day.
The Akron Zoo, in my opinion, is hands down far better than the Cleveland Zoo. It is a hidden gem in Akron, just outside of downtown. We ended up becoming members for a year. The decision was's why: the winter rates are 6 bucks a person plus 2 bucks for parking. That would be $26 for all of us, for one day. For $68, we could buy (and we did) a year membership that covers all of us plus parking, unlimited. The best part, it's honored at over 130 zoos across the Cleveland, Columbus, and Pittsburgh...and many, many others. With at least 1/3 of the exhibits closed today, I'm sure we'll return later in the Spring and also in the Summer. I took about 45 pics today...see them here. One of the new exhibits at the zoo is their first saltwater exhibit, the jellyfish exhibit. WOW! It was unbelievable. If for nothing else, check out my pics to see some of them. They turned out really, really good. Unreal that they have a pulse, but no heart. (Oh geez, I could write all kind of parallels to that statement! I'll save it for a Mr. Moon run in the future.)

All in all, a super couple of days and the weekend isn't even over yet. This next week will be a down-week to properly recover and rebuild. These are the times when common sense must prevail. Yes, I feel really good after the miles. I feel like heading out right now, but that's the crossroads between staying healthy and getting injured. Many people get hurt when they are on a continuous running "high" and they do too much. A recovery week is certainly in order. With that in mind, Lori is coming over on Monday night for a deep tissue massage. I have a feeling I'm going to be yelping like a whipped puppy on the table. After the super-muddy, Covered Bridge 50K a few weeks ago and the several multi-hour trail runs, I know my body is out of sorts. She'll put me back in check and keep me on the healthy straight and narrow. The following week will end with the Fools 50K on April 5th. My intent is to help Lloyd mark the course on Saturday then run the event on Sunday and get as many miles in as I can over the weekend.

Congrats to the 35 starters/finishers at the Green Jewel 50K that also happened today around Cleveland. I ran the inaugural event last year in the pouring rain when the 100K still existed. To date, that is still the furthest I've traveled in one day. (100K = 62.4 miles) I was definitely missing being there today, but 31.2 miles on asphalt just doesn't fit into the type of training that I need to be doing right now.

I think I need a clementine....

Happy Trails, everyone!

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