Monday, August 31, 2009

M-Cubed for 8/31/09

Monday Morning Musings for August Thirty-First, Two Thousand and Nine. A smattering of thoughts that alone don't constitute a blog post but together end up here on Monday morning.

- August 31st. Wow. The end of our Portage County Fair here in my neck of woods last night indicates the beginning of Fall and the new school year. Time to saddle up, embrace the new schedule, and hang on for the ride! Soccer game schedules, teacher conferences, more traffic on the way to work thanks to school buses, homework every night, it's all here.

- One year ago tomorrow, I took the oath as a Navy Officer and re-entered the Navy. After 10 years enlisted on active duty and a 6 year break, I was back in. With the 2-year point comes a promotion and last night, I got all dressed up in my favorite uniform that I very rarely get to wear and had some photos snapped just as the sun was getting ready to set. Here they are if you want to take a peak.

- Procrastinating about the Inaugural Bobcat Trail Marathon in November? Well, if you do that another day, you'll pay more, too! Registration fee goes up tomorrow on September 1st so get in there today! Don't miss a great day on the trails, some great swag, and the first of many years of a great new event here in Ohio.

- With September 1st comes Labor Day this coming weekend. After possibly kickin' up some dirt on the trails Friday morning, the 20mi Blue Line run on Saturday, I'll hang out in Akron at The Chapel for the 25th Anniversary of the Labor of Love Run. Marjie and the girls will run in the 1 Mile Fun Run and I'll challenge the humbling and hilly 5 mile course. The Labor of Love is the most family-friendly race I've ever been to, has TONS of homemade goodies at the finish line, great giveaways, and a nice grassy lawn to relax on afterwards while Mark Z. from WCRF radio hands out the age group awards. Don't miss it!

- I think it's a strong likelihood that I ran with a broken toe (right foot, 3rd toe) for the Burning River 100. If you remember a ways back, I stubbed it really hard and fell hard during a trail run about a month before Burning River and it was a dark blue. The color returned to normal by race day, it wasn't too sore anymore, but it was still a bit swollen. After the event, the swelling had gone down a bit but today, it is STILL swollen...8 weeks after jamming it. It really doesn't serve much of a purpose given its location but still swollen this long after being hurt?! Who knows! I'll just keep on running! I'll spare you the picture of the day it was stubbed but if you're on Facebook, you can find it under my mobile uploads.

- Many thanks to my brother, Jim, and his wife Bekah for making me another homemade batch of oatmeal yesterday. They first made me some after the Kettle Moraine 100, another batch was waiting after Burning River, and yet another is promised with an Oil Creek 100 finish in October. This one was a total surprise! THANK YOU!

- Great 50F, calm morning run this morning and nothing but sun forecast for the remainder of the day with temps topping out at 70F. This morning's run was one that many of you who have run fall marathons can relate to. Know what I mean when I say it "smelled" like fall marathon season? It was just like that. Millions of stars filled the sky, constellations were easily identifiable and I felt like a million bucks. 6 miles with lots of pickups thrown in while focusing on a mid-foot strike, proper form, proper hand position, a few stops at the high school for rounds of push-ups, and an average pace at the finish of 7:56/mile...dang, that was good! No better way to kick off another week! Much more of these temps and those trees are going to get the signal: time to change colors! Get out there, everyone...this is yet another gorgeous time of the year!

Have a great week, everyone, and Happy Trails!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

On Cruise Control

I know, I know...BLOG SLACKER am I! There just hasn't been much to talk about or should I say, not much I wanted to blog about. There's always stuff to talk about...right? This past week has actually been a pretty good week all-in-all. In my running world, it's been a week just to chill out and run when I want to and sleep in when I want to. I only ran 4 days this week and logged 42 miles...29 of those in the past 2 days. Yesterday, I met Bob "Gombu" Combs and Jim "Slim" Harris for a tour of the West Branch State Park version of the Buckeye Trail and some mountain bike trails. Today, I'm kicking myself. These trails are <15min from my house and I didn't know about the majority of them...especially the Buckeye Trail. I had no idea. I'm definitely going to start going out there more and perhaps, some Summit County folks might join me in my neck of the woods. I really see potential for a trail event out there some day.

Today, I wanted to change of scenery so I posted a run that covered the YUT-C (Youngstown Ultra Trail Classic) 50K course that I ran last year and will again in 3 weeks. It's in Mill Creek Park which is located in Youngstown. Most think of Youngstown and can't put "trails" and "Youngstown" in the same sentence. Believe me...I was surprised, too. Truth be's a gorgeous place to run and a race that those who have done it, swear by it. It follows a figure-8 pattern and goes around 3 different lakes and multiple waterfalls. You are always within sight of water. On race day, you won't go more than 4 miles before you hit another fully-stocked aid station, either. Great volunteers, great swag, great course, and a dirt cheap entry fee for a 50K. If you haven't considered it and you have the weekend free, please consider it. The link for it can be found at the right under my "Upcoming Events." Anyway, myself and a few others did the 25K portion of the course today and loved it. Afterwards, I sat besides Lake Glacier and soaked my feet in the ice cold water just above the waterfall. That was cool to feel my body cool down from the bottom up as the water cooled me down. Gorgeous view from that seat, too.

Speaking of upcoming events, it's never too early to plan for events after 2009 comes to an end. I'm the type of person (Type A, actually...surprised, I'm sure!) that has to have goals set and always something to be striving for. This fall is certainly filled up with the YUT-C 50K in 3 weeks, Akron Marathon in 4 weeks, the Oil Creek 100 Miler in 6 weeks, and then the Bobcat Trail Marathon in November. However, what about 2010? Assuming I hold an Oil Creek 100 buckle in my hand in just over 6 weeks from now, I thought that the next logical (go ahead...chuckle!) step was to up the anty a bit. One race has the reputation of being the hardest 100 miler east of the Mississippi...that being the Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 (MMT 100) in Virginia. It's a race rich in history, has an awesome volunteer base, and one on most ultra-runners' "to do" lists. It takes place in May 2010. To get in, you must be selected via lottery...a different kind of lottery. Registration takes place during the first week of December then on a selected day just after that, the closing price on the Dow Jones (stock market) decides who is selected. Essentially, all runners have a number and the Dow Jones decides where the starting point is on the list to decide who gets in. Others go on the waiting list. The requirement to register is completion of a 100 mile race which I have done this year...twice so far. MMT has a reputation of being extremely rocky and actually has a tag line "Massanutten ROCKS!" It also has a 36 hour time limit vs. the 'normal' 30 hour time limit...a clear indicator of difficulty. I swore I wouldn't ever do this race primarily because of that very thing but like other "I'm never doing that" decisions I've made over the past 2 years, things change. Oh yea, I've been meaning to share an actual picture of the Oil Creek 100 finisher's buckle. No, this is not my hand but is the race director's hand...holding the the buckle. Thanks, Tom! Now THAT is a buckle!

It was also the week for the Randolph Fair in Portage County before all the kids head back to school next week. We spent Friday (free for me for Veterans day!) at the fair, saw lots of lots of animals, and had my traditional "fair" fries, sausage sandwich and extremely yummy funnel cake. It was soooo good...way better than the one I had at the Ohio State Fair a month ago. The Randolph Fair still stands as the best fair I've ever been to. It never changes. The same vendors are in the same spots for years on end and it has an incredible amount of involvement from local 4-H clubs, unlike so many other fairs in the area. It really is amazing to see what the youth are involved in.

This next week will be the first week back to school for my kids and capped off at week's end with the last really big group run on the Blue Line of the Akron Marathon. Traditionally, this is by far the biggest group run of the year. We'll cover 20 miles of the 26.2 mile course. Start time is at 6:30am and all the details can be found here. Speaking of the Akron Marathon, I'll be working in the Vertical Runner booth at the Expo all day on Friday before the race along with Mizuno. Stop by and say "Hi!"

Can you believe that September and the fall are almost here?! 2009 has simply flown by...

Happy Trails, everyone!

Monday, August 24, 2009

M-Cubed for 8/24/09

Monday Morning Musings for August Twenty-Fourth, Two Thousand and Nine. A smattering of thoughts that alone don't constitute a blog post but together end up here on Monday morning.

- First, I thought it might be appropriate for a little explanation. A very short time ago, I blogged something along the lines of "Nothing longer than a 50K for the rest of 2009." Yea, yea, yea...I know I said it but hey, things change! My recovery from Burning River has gone exceptionally well with no ailments of any kind. I've been watching Tom Jennings, race director of the Oil Creek 100, all year design, organize, and put together an amazing event. The registration numbers agree, too. The 50K, 50 Mile, and 100 Mile are all sold out which is amazing for an inaugural year. So, I decided to "strike while the iron is hot" and go for my 3rd hundred. In a future post, I'll write about the event, what race weekend will look like, and how it differs from the Kettle 100 and the Burning River 100.

- Seen (500) Days of Summer? Grab a date and GO! The movie was 'found' at the Sundance Film Festival and has been picked up by the mainstream theater chains and is doing really well. I won't spill the beans about the movie as that really would ruin it but true to the statement made at the beginning of the movie (this is NOT a love story), this movie is a blast and is all so true. Recommendation: see the movie before going to dinner as it will provide lots to talk about. Guys: you'll get frustrated near the end. Ladies: you'll be smiling with a devilish grin. ARGH!!! We saw it on Saturday night, enjoyed a dinner at the Pufferbelly in Kent where I had their blackened Grouper Reuben sandwich, then enjoyed some one-on-one time at Riverside Wine & Imports in Kent at sunset. We had the perfect seat on the back deck above the Cuyahoga River and watched the bats come to life as dark set in. All-in-all, a rare evening together and one we greatly enjoyed, all within 20 minutes of home.

- It was a great weekend of running, too. Friday, Lloyd T. led myself and 3 others through almost every trail in the Brecksville Reservation. Gombu (13 one-hundred mile finishes), Dave P. (9 one-hundred mile finishes), Slim (3 finishes), and Lloyd and I, both with 2 finishes. It was one of the funnest group trail runs I have ever been on. We took it easy and covered 13 miles in about 2.5 hours and ended it wading upstream IN Chippewa Creek for about 3/4 mile. With water up to our knees, it was both refreshing and a lot of fun with other 'like-minded' ultra-runners. Just for the record, it was Gombu and Slim's recommendations about the Oil Creek 100 that sealed the deal for me. Hey, I'm no fool when it comes to getting the answer I want! On Saturday, I ran with Maria and Amy from the summer BT50K starting line in Brecksville and did 18 miles on the Buckeye Trail. They are both going to cross the finish line of their first 50 mile trail race at Oil Creek in October so it was a great time to share the trail and fueling/nutrition strategies. Afterwards, I met my brother (Jim) and his wife (Bekah) at Happy Days and gave them a running tour of the Ledges and Pine Grove Trails for 5 miles. In my opinion, it's one of the most beautiful areas of the park and a great introductory area when getting into trail running before tackling the more technical trails. So together, 36 miles of trails over the two days and I feel great. Onward and upward to Oil Creek!

- I'm a HUGE fan of Keen footwear. So much so, that I can't get away from their trail running shoes. Usually this time of year if you see me, I'm either wearing their sandals or trail shoes. Well, their Wasatch Crest trail shoes were discontinued about a year ago. Up till now, I have 3 pairs of them. One has screws for winter racing (426 miles on those), another is identical without the screws (415 miles) and the 3rd pair, I bought from Brett S. who didn't like them and they have 426 miles on them as well. Those I wore for all 100 miles of the Kettle 100. They did come out with the Keen Powerline which I wore from miles 43 to 84 of Burning River but I found out that day that the upper must be cut differently because it kept hitting my left ankle bone....BAD. That got really sore over 40+ miles! That soreness lingered for the following week. So, I searched and searched and found one pair in my size of the Wasatch Crest on clearance at ONE pair. I searched many other sites and usually, they had none or a couple not in my size. So today, I'm a happy runner because a pair of zero mileage Wasatch Crest trail shoes are on their way, this time waterproof (but breathable). I'll test them out at the YUT-C 50K to make sure all is well then put 'em into action at the OC100. This should get me to the Spring of 2010 without having to find a totally new trail shoe which I'm not looking forward to. Months and months of training and over 1300 miles in this model says something about finding the 'perfect' shoe.

- Don't be caught loafing around on Labor Day morning this year! There is a great race in Akron at The Chapel called the Labor of Love Run. It is a very family-friendly event, has LOTS of homemade goodies every year, a nice tech tee for race entry, and one heck of a hill to challenge your lungs twice during the 5-miler. The event kicks off with the 1-mile fun run. Last year, I ran it with my daughters for their first race ever. Both ran the whole way without stopping and have their ribbons to prove it. Then, I raced the 5-miler. The 5-mile course is two 2.5 mile loops with one monstrous hill about the 2 and 4.5mi point. Afterwards, everyone kicks back on the comfy grass outside the Chapel while Mark Zimmerman of WCRF radio hands out age group awards and draws names for the raffle. I've got a couple of nice fleece blankets for awards in past years and some great freebies in the raffle as well. It's a great event not to miss each year for the whole family. Pre-registration is $15 for the 5-miler ($20 day of race) and the 1-mile fun run is $10 for adults and $5 for kids 12 and under. Details here.

- I think I'm all set on fall registrations. Labor of Love > you betcha! YUT-C 50K > paid. Akron Marathon > done. Oil Creek 100 > you know it! Bobcat Trail Marathon > of course! (Bobcat goes up in price SOON!)

- Slim has some great quotes. Here's one I'd seen before but he sent it out again after the run on Friday morning. Oh, how true:

"A morning spent in the woods with friends is time well vested."

-Ben Franklin ( not really from Mr. Franklin, but I like to think that he would agree)

Have a great week, everyone and Happy Trails!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

3 in 18

Why I Love It

Full immersion. Deeply rooted. Quiet devotion. These are a few ways that I describe my perception of the ultra-running community. To date in 2009, I have yet to toe the line at a road marathon. With 23 under my belt and having done 7 in 2007 and another 4 last year, I took a big turn in my focus this year. My way of thought (which not everyone agrees with, by the way) was that if it (event) doesn't have something to do with the goal race (100 mile endurance run), then I didn't do it. That resulted in unofficial 50K trail runs, hours upon hours on the trails, and a few paid-entry trail races. I ran during the week on roads and kept my "road legs" fresh, but never gave them the pounding that a road marathon delivers. That being said, I sit now after two 100-milers 100% injury free and no issues whatsoever head-to-toe. I also have a whole new appreciation for the ultra-running community. It has got to be one of the humblest, most-dedicated, genuine groups of people I have ever met. Most of us couldn't be picked out of a crowd and many of our co-workers who we plod through weekdays with have no idea about our passion and if they do, they really don't understand it or "get" it. To be honest, it's easier to say nothing, do my job, and just go home…essentially an ultra-runner in disguise from 7am-4:45pm every day. If someone actually does show interest, of course I'll talk to them for hours on end…if they can 'endure'!!! But for the most part, I love it the way it is. E-mails from fellow runners and the ultra-list float in my inbox all day and keep the trails fresh in my mind while still doing my job and a few key bib numbers hang on my Runner's World calendar at my desk (KM100 and BR100, to be exact) which serve as a constant reminder of miles gone by and finish lines crossed.

I've found that those I have met this year on the trails and at my two main events are simply awesome people. The friendships established and the "Facebook friends" accepted (HA!) continue to endure and I feel like just one spec on a nationwide spider-web connected by e-mails, Facebook updates, text messages, and seeing each others' names pop up in the highly anticipated issue of each UltraRunning mag. Jenny C. is one of those people. If you read my Kettle 100 report (link on right sidebar) or my BR100 report, you've read about her. She's from New Jersey and has run, I think, 4 one hundred milers already this year…and doing the Oil Creek 100 in October. She either wins or is in the top of the women's field every time. In other sports, you might expect arrogance or a pompous attitude but she's so far from that. Always smiling and accepting of everyone, I'm so glad to have met her and stay connected. Who knows…maybe we'll see each other again this year. Of course, the arrogant types do exist out there as one might expect, but that is far from the norm. To me, there's no place for it on the trail and within the 'community.' Anyway, "Thanks, Jenny!" for your friendship and continuing to provide inspiration without even trying to or probably not even admitting to.

There's really not too much else to report and I know, my blogging activity has drifted a bit over the last two weeks but rest assured, all is well. I'm back up to 'normal' mileage and actually returned to the track on Tuesday for the first time in 18 months with 6 x 800s…and my times were actually what I ran the last time on the track…muscle memory is a wonderful thing! (200m walk/jog between 800s and times of 3:25, 3:15, 3:12, 3:13, 3:14, 3:12) I'm also hitting the trails tomorrow for 13-14 up in Brecksville and another 18 on the Buckeye Trail on Saturday. It feels like it's been much longer than 3 weeks since Burning River…which, by the way, I can't get out of my mind…and that's a good thing. :-)

Oh yea, that whole '3 in 18' subject line…I almost forgot. Kettle Moraine 100 on June 6/7 + 8 weeks = Burning River 100 on August 1/2 + 10 weeks = Oil Creek 100 on October 10/11 => 3 one-hundred mile endurance runs in 18 weeks. I don't know how I let that slip my mind.

Happy Trails, everyone!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

"Born to Run" Book Review

I finally finished Christopher McDougall's phenomenal book, "Born to Run" on Friday night. Let me preface it with this: I very rarely read much more than my staple running magazines like Runner's World or my favorite magazine of all time, UltraRunning, but this book hooked me from the beginning and I think I'll probably read it again. Those who don't know will say it's just a running book for the obsessed. I think it's more about a book that indirectly gets to the core of why I and so many other fellow ultra-runners do what we do. It's that deep-rooted, passion about becoming one with the trail and mentally immersing us in God's creation out there for hours on end. It's not religious on any page nor does it mention God like I just did, but hey...He did create it all, ya know! The book just resonated with me so well. It didn't make it any easier to answer the "why?" question I get day in and day out, but it sure did answer the question for the reader. Certainly, it made and continues to make me want to get out there and run for hours on end. It also was chock full of scientific evidence about our physical bodies and how we are built to run. People with far greater brain power than I spent years analyzing bones, muscles, tendons, etc. in our bodies and comparing those things to the other running animals on the planet compared to the "walkers" on the planet and they conclusively determined that yea, it all leads to the fact that we were all run.

The book also had a ton of great quotes that if you're on Facebook, you noticed I was throwing them out there as I read through them. Here are some of my favorites:

Coach Vigil once said: "The reason we race isn't so much to beat each other...but to be with each other."

"You don't stop running because you get old, you get old because you stop running." - Dipsea Demon

"Ultras are just eating and drinking contests, with a little exercise and scenery thrown in." - Sunny Blende, ace ultra nutritionist

"Something odd began to happen: as the runners got slower, the cheers got wilder. Every time a racer struggled across the finish...they immediately turned around and began calling home the runners still out there." - the author was writing about the finish line of the race

"From high on the hill, I could see the twinkle of the red and green lights strung above the road to Urique. The sun had set, leaving me running through that silvery-gray dusk of the deep canyons, a moon-like glow that lingers, unchanging, until you feel everything is frozen in time except you." - Christopher McDougall, author, writes about his final trek before the finish line...similar feeling that I had just before crossing the finish line at the Kettle Moraine 100 in June.

Scott Jurek (world-class ultra-runner) talking to the author after the finish about going slow in the ultra: "I've been there, man. I've been there a lot. It takes more guts than going fast."

"Born to Run" also talked a lot about barefoot running and running with minimal protection on our feet. The Tarahumara Indians wore sandals when they ran...not the $150 super-engineered running shoes we run in today. Their injury rates and ability to go for incredible distances without injury was a big focus in the book. I was intrigued by the repeated references to how the body immediately converts into a "perfect" stride when removing the protection of our running shoes: we strike mid-foot (the most efficient place to strike), we center our torso over our body instead of leaning forward or back, and we become much more efficient when forced to run with just ourselves and the earth and nothing much in between. It was one of the best indirect advertisements for a product that I have ever seen: Vibram FiveFingers. Locally here in northeast Ohio and at Vertical Runner in Hudson, they're all the rage and flying off the shelf. I have to say that after trying them on a few months ago, I decided against them. After reading the book now, I am compelled to give them another shot. I think I'd like to run some short distances around home in them, maybe try them on some trail, and just wear them around town. I have no desire to replace my trusty trail shoes but I think I could benefit and my running efficiency, stride, gait, and overall form could benefit. I think it's time to teach my body some new "stuff" and get it back to its roots as a natural-born runner. If I get them, I'll be sure to write about it.

This upcoming Tuesday, August 18th, the author of "Born to Run" will be on Jon Stewart's "The Daily Show" so stop right now and set your DVRs to record it! There is also a video on YouTube that is published on his publisher's website that is a sub-2 minute synopsis of his book. You can also see the Vibram FiveFingers right at the end of the video.

I hope you have a chance to pick up this book and read it or listen to the audio book. Believe it or not, the race that the book celebrates at the end actually exists today and remains pure and true to its heritage in the mountains of Mexico. Now THIS would be a dream to participate in some day.

Happy Trails, everyone!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Parallel Lines

I have to ask you open up your mind a little bit here and give me a little bit of latitude with regards to your imagination. I was enjoying...yes, enjoying mowing my lawn yesterday and like a good homeowner, doing my best to get the lines just right and make it look....well, perfect. Just right equals parallel...and parallel being two lines of equal distance apart and not intersecting. With the hum of the John Deere drowning out all other sounds, my mind was given a break to drift off into some relaxed deep thoughts. Like nearly everything in my life, I can relate just about anything to running long distances. I don't know why, but "parallel lines" have been sticking in my head for the past 24 hours. Here's where I drifted:

Take one of those lines and call it your goal-setting line. All kinds of things can be along this line like professional goals, running goals, family goals, you name can be there. The other line is the path we trod. It's defined by each step we take, each decision we make, and every finish line we cross. As my two hundred mile finishes are drifting further and further away each day, I feel like I'm grabbing to hold on to the whole experience. It was so special that I want it fresh in my mind and I don't want to lose that "magic." To that end, people like my wife are subjected to "ultra-talk" day in and day out and those co-workers closest to me have to endure occasional conversation or comments about running or my "experience." It keeps it all fresh in my mind. I guess I'm fighting the parallel lines and trying to make them intersect more often. I also can't get out of my mind those who stood at Squire's Castle with me on August 1st at 5am and didn't share the pure joy of crossing the finish line. I wonder how they're doing, what their story is, and what their next step is. In a way, I'm thankful for my DNF (did not finish) in 2008 at Burning River. I know what it feels like to drop out. I also know what it's like to have an unbelievable hunger for revenge at the course that beat me. Would I have rather finished in 2008? Absolutely! But, much can be pulled from that experience that has led to a 2009 like none other in my running career. The best part? 2009 is only almost 2/3 complete. There's still another four months to go.

I suppose this post can be called the "anti-parallel line" post because life is not about being parallel but the exact opposite. We have to have two lines to navigate by but they should be anything but parallel. They should be varied and constantly intersecting. Sometimes, they'll get close but won't quite make it. However, the lines continue and new opportunities await and more chances to join the two. I can't help but think of the Buckeye Trail's blue blazes on tree bark. Zig-zagging lines that are all over the place and eventually touch each other somewhere along the vertical axis of the tree. It's the perfect illustration of our lives and the journeys we travel. I bet you'll never look at that blue blaze the same again!

As I've talked to people after the race and others just encountering hard times in different life situations, they're tempted to just chop the line short and quit...abandon all hope at any future success. If by chance you find yourself thinking this...don't. Pick a new goal and don't wait around. Don't feel sorry for yourself or wait for someone else to do it for you. You grab it by the horns and own it. Pick up and carry on and don't look back. Don't get locked into a "parallel line" way of thinking where goals stay a distant shout away and never creep closer. Live your life following your own blue blaze and never stop.

Monday, August 10, 2009

M-Cubed for 8/10/09

Monday Morning Musings for August Tenth, Two Thousand and Nine. A smattering of thoughts that alone don't constitute a blog post but together end up here on Monday morning.

- Back to the cage today. I've enjoyed ten wonderful days away from punching a time clock and it's been superb. Another 100 miler done, 4 days escaping to a cabin in the hills, some good recovery running, and a fun celebratory party for the local ultra-runners at Melissa's. Awesome! The pic below is of Ash Cave down in Hocking Hills. It is so mammoth that you can't take one pic so I took three and pieced them together to give it some perspective. It's the biggest cave in Ohio.
- Common question: so now what? Another 100? Answer: yes, but not in the foreseeable future. I'm certainly not done with the 100 mile endurance race. However, for the short-term future, none are on the calendar. I'm "mentally" exhausted and it's time to decompress. For the rest of 2009, nothing over the 50K distance. In a nutshell: Labor of Love 5-Miler on Labor Day in Akron, YUT-C 50K, the Akron Marathon a week later, then the Inaugural Bobcat Trail Marathon in November. Of course, a few of the staple short races around the holidays are always thrown in there for seasoning.

- Speaking of Bobcat: I will be speaking with the group sales person at Burr Oak Lodge, race headquarters for the marathon this week about costs/options/etc. Once I get that, I'll be posting it on the VR Discussion Board. Many, many local runners are planning on running this new race this year and many want to share rooms so this should help. Speaking of that, I'm one of those people looking to split a room. I plan to go down early Saturday. The marathon is Sunday.
- Recovery from the BR100 is going way better than expected and better than after the Kettle 100. I ran an easy 3 the morning after, hiked all day Tuesday, walked a lot on Wednesday, ran 6.4 easy grassy trail miles Thursday, took Friday off, then ran 16.3 miles of the Akron Marathon course on Saturday morning. Feeling so good, I dropped the last 5 miles to the finish at under 8min pace. I really felt like I was getting my "marathon groove" back on. It's startin' to smell like fall marathon season! After I finished, I felt great and felt like I could have just kept on going. I'll continue my recovery and not assume I'm back 100% for several more weeks but I do feel really good right now.

- After another week or so, I'm going to do something I haven't done since last year: speed-work. I'm a big believer in doing repeats at the track, especially when training for the marathon. I'd like to awaken some of the fast-twitch muscle fibers that have been sitting dormant since last year in preps for the Akron Marathon. My PR on the Akron course is 3:33:00 from 2007 (overall PR is a 3:21 from the 2000 Richmond Marathon). I'd love to challenge that (3:33) but honestly, I have no idea what kind of shape I'm in right now. I've heard that runners coming off of a successful 100-miler can often go out and do quite well at the marathon. Heck, it's only 1/4 of the distance, right?! So, to the track I will go. It'll be a love/hate relationship with those 800s. I've seen them work, though!

- It's hard to believe it's already been two years since I went back into the Navy. August 20th marks my two-year point and my promotion to the next rank. Promotion is a beautiful thing! Things are quiet in that part of my life right now. My once-a-month weekend continues with more testing and qualifications. I'll go back to Athens, GA one final time next March for graduation from the program I've been working through. After that point, then "that part" of my life when go from quiet to center stage. I'll take the "quiet" for now!

"We run, not because we think it is doing us good, but because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves...The more restricted our society and work become, the more necessary it will be to find some outlet for this craving for freedom. No one can say, 'You must not run faster than this...' The human spirit is indomitable." - Sir Roger Bannister

Have a great week, everyone, and Happy Trails!

Friday, August 7, 2009

BR100 Pictures in Video

It's been a great week of relaxing in the southeastern hills of Ohio, nestled in a cabin absent of internet or cell phone coverage. Immediately after my Burning River 100 finish on Sunday, my family and I hit the road for a 4-day "stay"-cation here in Ohio and it was really, really nice. I did run a very easy 29min 3-miler on Monday morning to help facilitate recovery, hiked for hours on Tuesday, walked a lot at the Ohio State Fair on Wednesday, then got in a very nice grassy 6.4 mile trail run last night with a large 30+ group of fellow runners. I finally got a chance to run with Red whom I've been trying to run with for months and months. We just kept "avoiding" each other, I suppose. Afterwards, we gave the waitstaff at the Winking Lizard a run for their money and a very large group of rowdy, energy-filled runners took it over. It really was a great night to relax and hang out with friends. For today (Friday), it's another rest day and then tomorrow, I'll run with Vertical Runner on the first of our organized group runs on the "Blue Line"...the Akron Marathon course. It's hard to believe fall marathon season is just around the corner. Overall, recovery is going very well. I do believe, however, that both big toenails are in serious jeopardy after running two 100-mile events eight weeks apart. Who knows...maybe a pic or two will surface.....

Speaking of pictures, many have surfaced this week of the BR100. With so many emotions surrounding the event and the incredible experience that so many had, not only the runners but also the volunteers and spectators, I put together an amateur video montage of some of the best pictures I could find and set them to some music. I hope you enjoy it!

Happy Trails, everyone!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Redemption at the River: BR100 Race Report

The report is long but I found it impossible to shorten it when I knew so many people along the way, knew the trail so well, and the memory of it all remains so vivid. So, it is all published here instead of in parts so you may find yourself making a few visits here to cover it all. I hope you enjoy it!

The report really starts one year ago when I signed up for the 2nd Annual Burning River 100. I trained well, felt ready, and tackled the event but thanks to a bad ankle sprain at around mile 38, on the Carriage Trail, my day ended early at mile 55 when the pain became too much to bear. Technically, that’s called a DNF, or “did not finish” and was the first I had ever had in any running event. It’s also commonly referred to as “do nothing fatal.” Knowing when to say when and pull the plug is a very difficult decision to make but after being treated by the podiatrist, I knew I had made the correct decision. Within hours of that event and a flood of emotions, both positive for my fellow runners who crossed the finish line and not-so-positive towards myself, I swore that in 2009, I’d have my revenge at this course. A chance for redemption, you might say.

This time around, I felt much better prepared, better trained, and thanks to the Kettle 100 eight short weeks ago, I knew what it was like to head into the dark of night and push through it all. Speaking of the Kettle 100, this experience was nothing like it. I won’t say it was a better or worse experience but instead, just completely different from start to finish. Two completely unique, one-of-a-kind experiences. Plus, unlike a marathon that has it’s ups and downs throughout the event but all-in-all, won’t vary too much from the expected, a 100-miler simply has so much time to pass where virtually anything can happen. You can think you have it all together and have covered every possibility, but don’t be surprised when reality takes a turn very much unexpected.

Race morning, 155 of us gathered in the front lawn of Squire’s Castle in Willoughby Hills, OH, part of the Chagrin Reservation. It is located east of Cleveland. Before that, I helped check in fellow runners at the finish line in Cuyahoga Falls where two school busses shuttled us to the start. Just like last year, our bus drivers got lost once we got close to the Castle, blaming it on her malfunctioning GPS. Luckily, she found her way and got us there on time. After milling around saying a great many “good luck’s” to friends watching the countdown clock tick down, 5am rolled in and we were off. The first 13 miles are on road, some hilly sections, and some flat stretches. It’s very easy in this area to go out way too fast. I ran as easily as I could and focused on good, easy breathing and a clean stride. Arriving at the first major aid station at the Polo Fields, I popped some salt tabs, had a PB&J, a Coke, filled up my bottles, and I was off. The next 17-20 miles went pretty well and compared to the 2nd half of the course, are pretty easy and boring. Lots of non-technical bridle trails, grassy areas, and the occasional hill thrown in. With that said, it’s easy for someone to think they are going to have a record-breaking event because if you’re not smart and you run this portion faster than you should, the course will chew you up and spit you out before you get to Cuyahoga Falls. As I passed the 50K spot, approaching the 1/3 complete point of the race, I was feeling really good still. I was eating well, the day hadn’t yet gotten too hot, and I was still hydrated by all signs that I could observe (still going to the bathroom, sweating, hairs on arm not standing up).

Around mile 34, we enter the Cuyahoga Valley National Park on the Towpath Trail for a miserable 2.5 mile stretch to the Station Road aid station which is the first major double aid station since we get there once, do a loop and arrive back again at mile 42. Those 2.5 miles are miserable because you hit it when the sun is directly above you and the day is really warming up with no coverage provided by any trees. The one bright spot along here was Jenny Chow catching me. If you read my Kettle 100 report, Jenny is the runner I was running with around mile 15 when I lost the picture of my family. She went on to WIN the Kettle 100! Two weeks later, she won the Mohican 100 and then ran well at the Vermont 100 a few weeks later. Now, she was back for the 2nd time at Burning River. As soon as I saw her and her always-on smile, I said “It’s about time! It took you 34 miles to catch me instead of 14 at the Kettle! We shared a few moments together but in true, steady, Jenny fashion, she was off. Jenny, you are soooo inspiring! You rock!!! Once at Station Rd., I made a brief stop and headed out for that loop and probably ingesting 30 ounces of water. Back at mile 42, I was surprised to see my parents who I had no idea were coming down. I also stuck to my plan and utilized everything in my drop-bag and changed into trail shoes, changed my socks, and put a fresh shirt on. The only thing missing from my bag was a massage therapist…that would’ve been nice. On the way out, fresh pizza had just been delivered so I grabbed a piece and headed on out en route to Ottawa Point. At this point, I felt pretty good…tired, but no real physical issues like blisters or anything. The pace had slowed as the mercury reached into the upper 80s but overall, I was still moving along well.

I was excited to finally get to Blue Hen Falls which is around mile 54.5 because at the top of the hill coming out of that area is the spot that I had Marjie pick me up last year before I reported my DNF to the Boston Store Aid Station captain. Inside, I was throwing a party for passing that point. Shortly after that, though, I came upon the numerically biggest stair climb of the event, the Piano Keys…named so because there are 88 steps…the number of keys on a piano. Ugh…that was a tough climb at Mile 55. The icing on the cake was my favorite downhill in all the park right afterwards, the ½ mile descent on the Rollercoaster Hill. After emerging from the woods at the bottom, I saw my brother, Jim, on the corner and then his wife, Bekah, crossing the bridge from the Boston Store. Arriving at the aid station, there was Marjie volunteering and stepping up and above her volunteer duties with a kiss. (hey, it pays to be connected to some folks, don’t you think??) Kellie T. was also there who was planning to pace me the final 40 miles. Since I was only at mile 56, she’d have to wait for me to do the Brandywine Falls loop (4.6 miles) before running with me. I grabbed a freshly made beef burrito and headed on out towards the Falls. Outside of the pizza, that was the first “real” food of the day…a very welcome change.

In order to get to the Falls, you must go up. Up is a very good way to describe the first half of this loop. After a short stretch of towpath, you get out in the sun on the blacktop. Let me describe it this way: the tar on the road was so hot that it was bubbling and as I went by, I could hear pops here and there…from those bubbles popping. Oh yea, it was uphill, too. After a steep downhill following the uphill, a very quick jaunt through the woods, and crossing the boulders over the stream downstream of the Brandywine Falls, yet another long, very rocky climb presents itself that ends above the waterfall itself and also besides the Inn at Brandywine Falls (a bed-n-breakfast I highly recommend, by the way). After passing by and entering the boardwalk above the Falls, I decided that I needed a “moment.” With no one around, I finished one set of steps on the boardwalk but stopped one step shy of the top, turned around and laid down. I just laid there…motionless…and stared at the clear blue sky, surrounding trees, and listened to the falling water of Brandywine Falls. I could have laid there forever. However, after about a minute of peace and truly soaking in the moment, I was up and cruising again. That little “moment” worked wonders for me. I think it helped reset things in my head and bring me back down to reality. I enjoyed the mostly downhill stretch back to the Boston Store and once back, changed my socks, downed a Starbucks DoubleShot, picked up Kellie T., my pacer, and I was off and running to mile 65, the Pine Lane Aid Station.

If I could draw a dividing line in this event, it would most likely be here. Things had definitely take a turn for me in a couple of areas sometime in the previous 5-10 miles. For one, my energy levels had certainly gone down even though I was eating and drinking well. This really should have been no surprise. The other more pressing problem was my breathing. You’d think I was asthmatic or something because I couldn’t take full breaths…instead, half breaths. This made it really hard to run for obvious reasons. So, on a stretch of trail I know better than any other and one that I love to run hard, I walked for most of it. I probably added ½ hour to my normal transit time on that section to Pine Lane. I felt like I needed to already start apologizing to Kellie due to my pathetic performance but she remained positive and upbeat and just kept encouraging me. About a mile from Pine Lane, we could hear loud cheers and Kellie asked “What IS that?” “That’s Red and her SARC (Summit Athletic Running Club) crew at Pine Lane welcoming a runner,” I said. No doubt, each and every aid station became more and more of a blessing to arrive at and see familiar, smiling, and cheery faces. Just as we came around the bend about to emerge from the Buckeye Trail, Red’s crew erupted in cheering and applause. [insert grin from ear to ear] I spotted a chair, sat down, and within a few moments, I was enjoying pierogies with onions. They were sooooo good! It really was great to not only take a seat for a brief few moments but also to see familiar faces like Red, Debi, and Bob and hear their encouragement. They are a good example of the “why” I am out there…to share the trails, the experiences, the pureness of it all. Thanks, guys!

Pierogies finished, I hopped out of the chair and we were off on the Valley Bridle Trail en route to mile 70.3, the Happy Days Aid Station, and also where Maria awaited with her homemade snowball cookies. This stretch was over 5 miles which at this point was a long way. As we dipped out of sight of Red and her crew, once again they erupted in cheer and sent us on our way. I have to wonder what a lot of aid station volunteers thought as I left each aid station as far as their finish/non-finish prediction for the event. We runners feel one way but it would be interesting to know how we’re actually perceived. I was told many times “You look strong! You’re doing great!” which was great to hear…but I certainly didn’t feel that way! Anyway, we spent a mile or less on the Valley Bridle and then it was asphalt for several miles until just over a mile from Happy Days when we dipped back onto trail on the Boston Run Trail. Before we got there, Kellie texted Marjie and found out that Marjie, Bekah (my sister-in-law), and now my dad were all there waiting for me. Night also fell in this section and the headlamps came on for the first time and the bats were everywhere. We emerged from the Boston Run Trail, ran across the grassy field, and said hello. Within moments, a cup full of snowballs were in my hand and I was one happy runner. The volunteers at Happy Days were sporting a Woodstock theme, all wearing tie-dye shirts and peace signs hanging everywhere. There were also a few runners catching a nap nearby. Refueled and ready, I grabbed one last kiss and hug from Marjie, said my goodbyes and thanks to everyone, and we hit the trail for Pine Hollow via the gorgeous Ledges Trail and eventually, the monstrous Sound of Music Hills.

The Ledges are a brilliant example of nature at its finest. For the faster runners, they saw this section before nightfall. For us after the sun set, it was a very slow trek through a heavy rock/boulder trail to keep from falling/tripping. Past mile 70, more of a conscious effort has to be put forward to lift those feet enough to clear obstacles. As we made our way past the Ice Box Cave, where we paused to soak in the ice cold air, we eventually made our way to the Overlook. This is the high point where you can see for miles during the day across treetops. I asked Kellie for a “moment” just to relax and I found a large, flat boulder and took a seat. I turned off my light and laid down. Total darkness, silence, the cool rock boulder on my back. Ahhhh….almost as comfy as my pillow-top mattress at home. Turns out that Kellie found her own boulder and loved the moment as well. No doubt, I could’ve fallen asleep within a minute. It appears that the DoubleShot I took at Boston wasn’t doing anything for me at all like it did at the Kettle 100. I was getting very sleepy. The good news was that I was able to breathe again.

After our brief rest, we finished the Ledges, Pine Grove Trail, crested the Sound of Music Hills, and arrived at Pine Hollow, the mile 75 aid station…about one marathon to go! I had some soup because nothing else sounded too good, grabbed a grilled cheese sandwich, and sat down on the moist grass. I was pooped! I ended up spitting out the grilled cheese because chewing it made me feel nauseous. This had me getting worried because I knew I needed calories to fuel myself and that soup wasn’t going to do much. While Kellie fixed her headlamp, I told her to take her time and found a piece of cement near the bathrooms, took a seat, and buried my head in my hands wishing for sleep. A few extremely brief minutes later, I heard Kellie looking for me and we were off across the grassy meadow down to the arduous, hilly, technical Salt Run Trail, one of my favorites in all the Valley. I call this next section a death march. It is a L O N G six miles to mile 81, the infamous Covered Bridge Aid Station. After a little less than 2 miles, we exited Salt Run and entered the Wetmore Trail which has a swampy section (ie: MUD!), one really tough climb, then a section connecting us to Robinson Field before entering a weaving section of Bridle Trail through fields eventually ending besides a cornfield…literally. We found the worst mud of the day only inches from the cornstalks as we approached the Bolanz trailhead. We used the bathrooms at Bolanz (really surprised they were unlocked after midnight) then completed the 6 mile march to the Covered Bridge.

The Covered Bridge was decorated with Christmas lights and full of very supportive, cheery volunteers led fearlessly by Tanya Cady, a veteran ultra runner and 100 mile runner. I was immediately greeted by Mike Keller who checked me in and Tom Jennings who filled my bottle with Heed. Tom is the race director of the inaugural Oil Creek trail races in November…100 mile, 50 mile, and 50K distances. To be honest, I’d been secretly pondering the thought of a 3rd 100-miler this year at Oil Creek but I think now that enough is enough. I’ve been watching Tom and his incredible organization of this new event and would love to run it, but just not this year. I wish all the OC100 participants the best of luck! After seeing a few other familiar faces at the Covered Bridge, I had a cup of fresh, cold pasta salad (YUM!), and a hot, melting grilled cheese ½ sandwich. This time, that baby went down really well. It was soooo good. My stomach was finally cooperating with me. As we departed Mile 81, it was time for the unavoidable. The nastiest, muddiest section of the BR100 is the Perkins Trail. It is a bridle trail, very steep, and used often by horses which really chews it up. Add water and it’s a mud-fest. Kellie had been joking for the last 20 miles “Wouldn’t it be ironic if it started raining when we got to Perkins?” Thanks, Kellie! As soon as we stepped on Perkins, the downpour started. At a distance of around 4.5 miles, this section seemed to go on and on. Steep climb after steep climb…they seemed to never end. Mixed in were some very steep downhills as well which I found out quickly I’d better slow down on or I was going to be eating mud real quick. I was actually starting to feel a bit of life in that section and wanted to quicken the pace…just when I shouldn’t. Eventually, we were back at Covered Bridge at Mile 85. Shoes totally covered in mud, I did my planned shoe change into a heavily cushioned pair of Brooks Glycerins, new socks, another piece of grilled cheese and some grapes for the road, and we were off. Oh yea, my 2nd can of Starbucks DoubleShot, too. Maybe this one will do something for me. Here’s hoping.

The next two miles are asphalt along Hale Farm Village. We kept our headlamps off for most of it and instead navigated by the silhouette of the road…kind of freaky at times, I must admit. At this point with so much darkness and the surprising lack of effect of the infusion of caffeine into my bloodstream (via ShotBloks every 45min plus the Starbucks), I was really getting tired and my eyes were getting heavier by the minute. After 2 miles on road, we entered O’Neill Woods, an easy, rolling, non-technical section of trail and arrived at Mile 89, the O’Neill Woods Aid Station. Suzanne, the BR100 volunteer coordinator, was there offering her never-ending support. I was getting really chilled from the rain and just wanted to lay down. She actually offered me a blanket and a spot beneath the aid station table but although tempting, that would’ve been “lights out!” for me. Instead, I spotted a vacant picnic table a few short steps away. I could hear the aid station workers asking where I was going but I’m sure Kellie explained that I just needed a “moment.” I laid down on the soaking wet, cold bench and attempted a few moments of shut-eye. Unfortunately, the heavy, cold, piercing rain drops on my eyelids prevented that and I was maybe there for 2 minutes and figured since nothing was being accomplished, it was time to get moving again. Off to Merriman Road…

We hit the trail again and before long, we were on a short (but felt long) section of road that connected us to the Towpath Trail…our home until mile 96 at Memorial Parkway. I remember vividly during this part being very cold and crossing my arms trying to garner some body heat. I also remember thinking I needed to throw up. I wasn’t feeling very well, again. As we set foot on the Towpath, I told Kellie to go ahead and I was going to try to induce myself to throw up but I couldn’t do it so instead, I caught up with her and we continued on. Within a few minutes, we could “smell” what was ahead, the wastewater treatment plant which notoriously is the stinkiest part of the course. The Towpath runs right along it’s nasty concrete walls. Here’s where my “dead man walking” impersonation took full effect. Easily from this section until daylight, Kellie would turn around and see my eyes shut, but still moving forward. Every bench or horizontal surface passed looked more inviting than ever as a makeshift bed. I’d weave like the letter “S” across the Towpath behind Kellie trying not to fall over but still keep forward movement. It was certainly the toughest thing I’d ever encountered in ultra-running. Two Starbucks DoubleShots, several cups of Coke at aid stations, caffeine-infused Clif ShotBloks, solid foods, plenty of protein…but alas, none of it was enough to keep me awake. I just wanted it to end. However, there was NEVER a thought to quitting. I wanted it to be over but nothing was going to keep me from that finish line in under 30 hours. I was determined to run across that finish line with my girls’ hands embraced.

As day broke and the dream of finishing in under 24 hours passed, I came alive again. It was also good to meet up with Melissa C. here, as well. The last time I saw her, I was about 4 miles ahead of her around mile 41. Since then, she closed that gap and was clearly battling her own battle within herself. After a quick hug (thanks a ton for that, Melissa…that meant a lot), we spent some time on the Towpath together before eventually drifting apart. The sun rising (although not visible due to heavy cloud-cover) and the rain tapering off breathed new life into me. I started running much more with fewer breaks and charged into the last aid station at Memorial Parkway at Mile 96.4. Maria was there once again with her snowballs and even the Inca Princess was there! I quickly refueled, used the bathroom, and we were off. I was charged and ready to conquer this last section through the Gorge area of Cuyahoga Falls. We climbed the old brick road and quickly passed through a not-so-good neighborhood before entering the Chuckery and eventually the Highbridge Trail. This trail is mostly wide and grassy. We passed the famed Signal Tree and I was mostly running now and passing a runner every once in awhile. We climbed the tortuous stone steps and another set of harder wooden steps before covering the last section of Highbridge Trail besides the Gorge Dam and finally, we arrived on Front St. We crossed the bridge, running, and look who’s there…Mr. Vince Rucci himself. I started walking (due to a hill) and here he is yelling at me to get running! “Hey, man, I’ve covered 99 miles since 5am yesterday…give me a break!!!” He shouted a few other “motivating words” and we dipped onto the Glen’s Trail, the last trail before the finish. I told Kellie “Let’s run all the flats, walk the hills, and walk around/over the big rocks/boulders. I don’t want to slip or make any stupid mistakes at this stage.” We did just that and before we knew it, we made the last dog-leg turn out of the woods and onto Front St. There were my girls and Marjie jumping up and down!!! I turned to my right and looked at the big “S” logo on the Sheraton hotel, an image I had imagined countless times at this very moment, a clear indicator that victory was at hand. I grabbed a hand of each of my girls and we began running along Front St. en route to the finish. As we turned the corner, THEY were getting winded so I gave them a little rest break, then we set our sights on the brick clock tower at Falls River Square and pushed through to the end, crossing the finish line hand-in-hand in 27 hours, 11 minutes. Redemption at the River has been accomplished! It was like paparazzi at the finish line with cameras flashing all around. It seemed like an endless supply of handshakes from fellow runners, hugs from family and from Kellie, my awesome pacer.

To Kellie: THANK YOU for your support, your encouragement, and your occasional “cattle prodding” that was necessary at times. Your continuous upbeat attitude helped keep my spirits from diving into the negative. You most certainly kept me from taking a very long nap out there. Who knows…I may still be out there somewhere if it weren’t for you! You are truly a great friend and I am forever appreciative for your willingness to accompany me on this journey.

To Marjie: THANK YOU for enduring a year of craziness in training for and completing two 100 mile endurance races. I am so thankful for your never-ending support and very happy you could experience this one both as a volunteer at the Boston Store and as a spectator. Your unwavering support for me and my “addiction” does not go unnoticed or unappreciated. If family and running were not in balance, none of this would be worth it. Thank you and I love you.

Monday, August 3, 2009

M-Cubed for 8/3/09

Monday Morning Musings for August 3rd, Two Thousand and Nine. A smattering of thoughts that alone don't constitute a blog post but together end up here on Monday morning.

- 27 hours, 11min! My 2nd 100-miler is in the books! Not just my 2nd, but my 2nd in eight weeks! "Redemption at the River" certainly was fulfilled and the race report by that same name will be published later this week/weekend.

- I think some key highlights are due in absence of the race report this morning. Some things really stood out and will be forever memorable.
* Meeting fellow ultrarunners from across the country who I had never met in person before.
* The bus driver getting lost AGAIN for the 2nd year in a row on the way to the start on Saturday.
* Seeing my parents at Mile 42 after returning from the Carriage Trail. TOTAL surprise!
* Spending the last 40 miles with Kellie T., who paced me and kept me moving. Kellie ran her first 100 miler last year so she had the perfect experience to keep me moving. THANK YOU SO MUCH for what you did, Kellie! YOU ROCK!
* I never got fully dehydrated (as indicated by my hairs standing up on my arm. Amazing accomplishment given the temps.
* The high temperature was about 87F for the day and full sun but the clouds did roll in as the day progressed. Amen!
* Having Marjie, my brother, and my sister-in-law at both Boston Store aid stations (Miles 56/60.6) and at Happy Days (mile 70.3). My dad was at Mile 70.3, too.
* Coming into Pine Lane Aid Station at Mile 65. Red and her SARC team were SOOOOO loud when a runner emerged from the Buckeye Trail that no one (unless unconscious) could get in (or out) of that aid station without a grin from ear to ear. She's already posted her report as well. Thank you to all of you! YOU ROCK!!! (I loved the pierogies, too...with onions!)
* Again, it's food related. Maria made my favorite snowballs and at Mile 70.3 and 96.4 and she was there with them! YUM! Maria volunteered a ton...thanks so much!
* Laying down for just a minute on the Overlook boulders on the Ledges Trail and staring up at the sky. I never thought a boulder could be so comfortable. The silence of the night was brilliant, as well. (the race report will explain)
* Falling asleep...while running/walking. (eyes shut)...race report will give full details on this one
* The webcast: Jim Chaney did a phenomenal job on the webcast. It is extremely rare (maybe even non-existent) for a 100 miler to have a webcast with fast/reliable updates for each and every aid station. It made it easy for family/friends to monitor our status...and slowing...over the distance. Also a highlight that Jim ran his 2nd 100-miler and accomplished all of his goals placing 8th overall. Way to go, Jim!
* While I loved all of the aid stations, the Covered Bridge lived up to everything I heard. Tanya Cady and her crew had some fantastic food out there and hugely positive energy...great for the middle of the night in a downpour. I had a hot, grilled cheese sandwich and some yummy pasta salad. Both hit the spot. It was also great to finally meet Tom Jennings, Race Director of the Oil Creek 100 this October.
* Rocking out the last 2 miles and running nearly the entire way (while being cattle-prodded by my pacer, Kellie!)
* Running the last 1/4 mile and crossing the finish line with both of my girls holding my hands. Finally!

- OK, I ended the highlights because if I don't stop, this will turn into a race report and I simply don't have the mental fortitude nor the time for that this morning!

- Rest and Relaxation are on tap for this week. No work until August 10th and some time down in southern Ohio in the woods and in a cabin with my family. But...guess what? The Buckeye Trail goes directly through the back yard of our cabin. I see some recovery time taking place out there later this week!

- A bunch of pics that Marjie and my sister-in-law took are available here. I'm sure more will come as the days pass.

- Since I'm drawing a blank right now (and my legs have turned to cement while I've typed this), that's enough M-Cubed for today. I'll be sure to gather my thoughts and share them later this week. Thank you all of you for your support both via e-mail and in person over the weekend. As they say, it was PRICELESS!!!!

Happy Trails, everyone!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Burning River 100 Race Day

It's finally here! Race day for the 3rd Annual Burning River 100 Mile Endurance Run.

Event Details:

Race Start: 5am SHARP at Squire's Castle within the Chagrin Reservation which is located east of Cleveland, OH.

Deadline to finish: 30 hours (11am on Sunday, August 2nd)

Course: The BR100 will travel for the first 13 miles on roads then switch to mostly trails for the rest of the event. It will pass through the Cleveland Metroparks (including the Bedford and Brecksville Reservations), Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and eventually (around Mile 89) the Summit MetroParks, ending at Falls River Square in Cuyahoga Falls, OH. If you are familiar with the Falls, the finish line is adjacent to the clock tower at Falls River Square, where many local events take place like Rockin' on the River.

After following the above link, you will see a listing of runners. They are listed in order of current running order. To search for someone more easily, you can click on the link at the top to list them alphabetically by FIRST name. As each runner enters an "aid station," a volunteer will be responsible for updating the webcast with the time. Please note: the times are elapsed times since 5am, NOT time of day. If you click on a runner's name, you will see a picture of him/her that was taken at Friday night's pre-race pasta dinner/meeting as well as their age, hometown and state.

Current forecast is for sunny skies and temps in the mid-80s. In other words: the weather is living up to the past two BR100s and will certainly present a challenge to many including myself. As night falls, the clouds are expected to roll in and temps will only get down to the mid-60s and most likely, high humidity.

Links are also at the top right of my blog for directions to the Boston Store Aid Station which falls at Miles 56 and 60.6. Marjie (my wife) will be volunteering there from 4pm - 8pm. I will arrive there once again 4.6 miles later. Best chance to catch me will be between 5:30pm and 8pm...but I recommend checking out the webcast for my current pace. There is also a link to the finish line area in Cuyahoga Falls. There will be a plethura of free parking on the street by the Sheraton but also in the blue and red parking decks a block away.

Thank you to so many of you for your on-going support this year as I ran my first 100 miler eight weeks ago at the Kettle Moraine 100 in Wisconsin and now, my 2nd attempt at the Burning River 100. (Here's my race report of the 2008 Burning River 100) There is only one goal this weekend: Achieve redemption at this event and cross that finish line.

Happy Trails, everyone!