Saturday, March 15, 2008
FA 50K Mill Creek Park
This is the Covered Bridge at Mill Creek Park, in Youngstown Ohio. This was part of the running route for the annual FA 50K.
I got to MCP at 0730 to find the parking lot still locked. I knew some runners had started early. Rather than park on the street, I drove over to the Lily Pond parking lot, which is anothe spot where we originate runs from.
Nobody was around, so I gathered my gear quickly and got on the trail. It was a beautiful, cold morning, but not too cold. Youngstown still had alot of snow left on the ground. I quickly encountered all four types of footing out there: muddy, icy, snowy, and mushy.
I made a stop at the other parking lot, and encountered Slim, OPod, and Frank coming in from their first loop. After a quick hello, Jim said he'd give me a head start and then the guys would chase me down. I took the challenge, although I really wanted a bathroom break!
I've run a number of times in MCP, and have no problem following the trail. When I got down around the creek, the footing was a bit treacherous. The snow was coming down right to the edge of the water, which means we were breaking trail through snow.
I made this pic in B&W to try and highlight the closeness of the river. You had to be really careful on the trail beside the creek. A water dip in these temps would not be good.
Slim finally caught up to me on this first section, before we hit the infamous Monkey Trails, and we had a nice talk. Slim is so doggoned fast that we're never running at the same pace together. It was great that he dropped down to a crawl to spend time with me. We ran through the CB together, then Slim sped off to get to his son and daughter's track meet in Akron! Thanks for the time together Slim, I enjoyed it!
The water was really way up in the park; in fact a little bit of the trail was feet under water, and *gasp* we had to substitute an 1/16 mile of road to get around it.
I ran into Brian, Jeff and Dan coming the other way on the trail; it seems there were only 7 of us NEO Trail Runners out for the 50K today! After the guys passed me, I spent the rest of the loop in silence, thinking of
Kathleen Keller and her son and my good friend Mike. I have always marveled at Mike's off the cuff good pictures, and as I ran, I realized he got this artistic talent from his mother. Kathleen was an oil painter (oil painter artist? not sure of the right term) and I was amazed at some of her pictures on display at the funeral home. I have no artistic talent at all and am always amazed and impressed about how people can create. Now I understand why Mike gets some great pics. He just has the eye for it. I missed you out on the trail today Mike. I thought of our last run there, where the lakes had frozen over and you kept looking for a rock to break through the ice!
On the second loop I picked up my music. I realized, with all of us runners spread out, I wouldn't be running with anyone. The second and third loop were fairly uneventful; although on the third loop through the Monkey Trails my quads were burning. But it was a good burn. It was a "my quads are going to be sore tomorrow and ache when I stand up". The burn made me smile.
The Monkey Trails themselves didn't make me smile much! They were slick, muddy and treacherous. On one part downhill, I simply crouched down and slid ten or fifteen feet, it was safer than trying to pick my way down the hill.
My IT Band was complaining loudly to me, probably due to all the off kilter running and slogging through the snow. My ankles turned to throb in the third loop also, due to the uneven conditions.
I am proud to say, I never even contemplated stopping after three. I got back to my car, wolfed down some food, refilled my water bottles and stepped out again for the last round!
I really didn't get too tired until about halfway through the last loop, where I was trying to avoid falling into the river.
I started at 0735 and finished at 1708. I know this sounds really slow and it was! But alot of this was due to the trail conditions. I was glad to get the training time in, and it was great to see my trail friends again, altough just briefly!
I started home quickly after phoning Slim to let him know I was done, since he wanted to make sure I was safe-thanks Jim, you are a great friend!
Even though we had only been together on the trail, it felt like we now knew each other an entire lifetime; the friendships you make in running, particularly ultrarunning and trail running is something else."
-Greg, from his 2005 GEER 100K Race Report