Sunday, September 27, 2009

Akron Marathon Race Report

Another finish at the Bird 2009!! I finished in 5.33, very slow, but my legs do not like asphalt. They steadily felt number and number...

Ran into all sorts of friends before the race...Sue and Bob Pokorny, Vince Rucci, the Blue Line Crowd (Red, Maria, Debi, Mikey, Chef Bill, Brett, Bob) some of the faster runners (like Tony and Frank) were probably off running strides to get ready for the race.

And crowds! There were about 10 or 11 thousand runners for this race! Little Akron Marathon, no more! I remember being not far from the starting line a few years ago.

The horn/whistle went off. We didn't move. Continued to not move. We crossed the starting line FIVE minutes after the race start! Wow, that's a first. (It's chip timed so it doesn't really matter.)

Looking ahead of me, as we started across the Y Bridge, it was packed runners-wow, just amazing to see. Mike and I angled over to the left so we could see the front runners coming back on the other side of the bridge-always a treat. We were lookiing for elite runner Tony and screamed for him. He even glanced over and gave us a point!
Kevin Martin, one of the fast wolf trail runners even yelled a Kimba over, so strange he spotted us in the pack (well, I was wearing a hot pink headband with sparklies). We were able to spot pacers Lloyd and E-Speed, as they were carrying the pace sticks, but then the running crowd got so thick we gave up looking for folks.

Mike made a couple of pit stops and some dating moves out there on the course until he ran on ahead, which I was glad he did. His pace is faster than mine, and I was running a bit faster than I wanted. Every time I glanced down at my watch I saw a pace in the 11.00 minute mile, and I didn't want that to bite me in the butt later in the race. In fact, as I glance through the Garmin miles, the wheels fell off around the half-way point-the sub 12 minute miles turned into 13.XX minute miles after that!

One thing I enjoy about the Akron Marathon route-it's really split up into sections. By the time you get tired of running through the older, inner city housing area, you're back into downtown. Downtown spins you out onto the towpath. When you're wishing for the towpath to end, you go through the hills of Sand Run. When you're ready to get off Revere Road, you go by the Fairlawn Country Club for a mile. It's not monotonous.

I chatted up a relay runner going up Sand Run, who was in awe that I was an ultra runner-that was fun! I ran part of the way through the towpath with Michelle, who has some injuries but is still running Oil Creek 50 Mile in two weeks!

The only drama I had during the race was around mile 24.9. Running down Market Street, I had both calves seize up! Charley horses! I walked a bit, could not believe how badly they hurt. Then they kind of eased up a bit. Whew! How embarrassing! Get to mile 25 and have this happen! (I did take Endurolytes, but I should have really taken one every hour. It was very humid out there.)

I turned onto Main Street, where the turn for the stadium was less than 1 mile away. I caught up to a guy and said "Come on, don't let me chick you!" He did kind of smile and said he didn't care. Ooop. He must have been in a bad way!
I caught up to two younger women and goaded them on. One said she was hurting. I told her the sufferfest ended in two blocks. It might have perked them up a bit, but I still pulled away from them.
In fact, I was trying to chick a guy ahead of me, but he did manage to keep a little bit of a lead on me...I'm not actually competitive, I just think it's fun to give people incentive late into a race...

A shake of the Race Director's hand (it must have really hurt this day, with so many runners!) and I was done. Just in time! The lighter rain that was sprinkling turned into a big downpour-actually a good incentive to bring it home.
I was glad I had put clothes into a drop bag, I got dry clothes on, drank a beer and ate a sandwich, talked to Michelle again, and then headed home.

The Akron Marathon has done a great job keeping up with its growing marathon. Now it's time for me to go find some dirt to run on again!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The 2009 Groundhog 50K

I was wondering what to sub-title this "The Quad buster"?

I always consider Punxsutawney, PA, the eastern most part of Ohio races. Many Buckeyes make their way over to Punxy, and it's almost like a typical Ohio ultra race. This year,the crowd of Buckeyes was smaller, and it did seem like the race was smaller in size.
I missed the pre-race dinner, as I didn't get to Punxy til 10 pm. Race day morning was a bit more humid than the weather channel had led me to believe. John gives his pre-race speech on his ladder, and we're off on the road, out of town!

I'm looking forward to seeing the "hills" (I know, I'm a sadist). The Punxy race has 'named' hills. With banners, so you know exactly what hill to curse. The Groundhog 50K course is that you go out of town a few miles, then do an 8 mile loop twice, then "kinda" come back to town the same way.

I turn off the road, go through the field, which is growing corn this year, and start down the first hill. It's unofficially named. I believe it was called "ESPN Tower" or something like that, but due to copyright stuff, it's not a name hill. It is deceptively long, and the trademark on this hill is a kind of tree-house of pallets in a tree. About thirty of them. All up in a tree. Yeah.

Right after the unofficial hill, you cross the road to the backside of "Two Beer Hill". So named because it takes the mountain bikers two beers of courage to go down the hill. Well, even the backside of the hill is a steep climb.
And then, there's the welcome sign "Welcome to Two Beer Hill" and down I go! The shale and footing is a little slick and more treacherous (and I'm also another year older) so I am a bit more conservative rather than my pell mell down hill on this. Still, it's fun, and always good to make it to the bottom in one piece. Unlike this runner from 2007:

After this, about a two mile very runnable section, then you start on the loop. Yellowbus is about a mile down the trail. I cheered when I saw the banner (I know! I know!!) and I started up the climb. My strategy is to only look at the ground right in front of me-this never works, and there is always one cursed look up to see there is STILL MORE CLIMB to do. But at the top, I whoop'd again, and paused for a very cool look around-we're above the tree line here.
You then have a nice little dowhill, before "Crybaby Hill". This is where Vince Rucci and Mark Godale lapped me-they were going through the loop on their second time. Vince had just a fifty foot lead on Mark at this point. Mark said "hi Kim" as he went by-that was very nice, I didn't even know Mark knew who I was. (Vince went on to beat Mark for his first ultra win!!!! Even more impressive, this was a win over elite runner Mark Godale!!!!)
"Crybaby Hill" is called that, because you've just done Yellowbus and now you have yet another hill, you'll be crying on. This is a shorter hill, but the footing has more shale on it, so it's actually a bit harder I think.

The great thing about this course is then you have downhills. And by the time you start on the second loop, you've had plenty of time to recover. (Well, there are more smaller hills involved, but since there's not named, they don't

For the second time through the loop, I put music on. "Mobscene" by Marilyn Manson got me up YellowBus, and then "Greased Lightning" from the Grease soundtrack was on for Crybaby. Before I knew it, I was heading back toward the strip mine area, on my way to Two Beer, and just dreading it.

But before you get to Two Beer, you take an different route back. When my friend Andrew and I ran this in 2007, I indicated that we turned left and didn't just follow the course back. This of course, let us experience "Water Tower Hill". Andrew was just sick and tired of hills and RD's that went out of his way to include more hills-and went into a very funny cursing rant all through this section, to where I couldn't even climb the hill due to laughing--and this was where Art Moore, age 72+, passed us!!!

But this year, I was alone, for a while. Then speedy Leo Lightner, age 80, passes me by. He asks if I am feeling okay, or just tired. I laughed and told him my quads were aching, I had a cramp in my left calf that wouldn't go away, but other than that, I was fine! (My quads were feeling the effects on the downhills about halfway through the race. But what can you do? The cramping calf was back, although I was using endurolytes and eating bananas and hydrating quite well. But it's just a 50k! That thought brightened me up quite a bit around mile 23'ish or so. Hey, this will be over in just a few miles, it's no stinking allnighter 100 mile run!!!)
Leo was followed by Jeannie (in her 60's!!!!!) and I was never able to catch them.

I was finally back to Two Beer-and it wasn't so bad. I caught up to two women, who had taken the early start at 5 am. They looked like they were hurting a bit, but were motoring on.

At some point around here, I glanced at my watch and saw I might make it back to the finish line in around eight hours, which was my goal. (Arbitarily thought of on Friday). Luckily, the last mile or so is a gentle downhill, which my quads were happy with, so I was able to shuffle on. I don't know if I could have pushed it to break 8 hours, because of my quads and my quite annoying muscle cramp.

The last 1/2 mile is the most harrowing, since you're back in town, and not everyone is that courteous or attentive. I did cut off one driver coming out of a side street..hey I only had 1000 feet to go, and I really didn't want to stop so he could go first...took the turn for the finish and saw 8.03 on the clock!!

Ending funny...I crossed the finish line, and everyone is babbling to me. Someone says "Oh let me get you a chair" Puzzled, I look at her. " I don't need a chair. I'm good. I can stand". Oh!! This year, the finisher's award is a stadium chair, that says "Groundhog 50K" on! Cool!!! I didn't think I looked that bad!!

There was cold beer and warm pizza, and showers to use at the Rec Center. And with this being "just" a 50K I still had hours left in the day! After some post race chatting, I hopped in the car for the long ride (about 3.5 hours) back home.

My quads are still still and tomorrow will probably be the worst day! Today I hope to get out on the bike and do some leg turn overs and work some of the lactice acid out of my legs.

Thanks John Goss and volunteers, another fabulous Groundhog 50K in the books!!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The sense of humor returneth

I seem to have emerged from the month long fugue I have been in...

I had a "Sally Field" moment out, in all places, my garden, while picking tomatoes. I've been pretty 'eh' about the Oil Creek 100 I am signed up and destined to run in, just have had no enthusiasm about. Somehow I was both thinking about it and MMT, and the people that blithely run up and down the hills of Virginia. As the negative thought of "you're just not good enough" was fogging into my pysche, little bubbly Kimba came out of nowhere (picture the Trail Goddess in pink here) punching the black fog in the face, stating " gosh darn it, I am good enough"! So much for this "I'm not worthy" bullshit that's been dragging me down. I'll run any stupid race I want.

Speaking of races, I attempted to register for the Umstead 100 at noon today. Due to my unspeedy satellite internet connection, by the time I got to the credit card payment (six minutes people!!!!) the Umstead 2010 was full. Apparently it filled in about five minutes.

I'm okay with that. I think it was kismet. Time for the Trail Goddess to move on and find a new race to run.
So I am looking for a spring race. I now work every 4th weekend, so certain races-like Rocky and the Barkley, are out, since those are my weekends to work. McNaughton really doesn't interest me, as it seems like a giant mudfest. Any other suggestions??

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Yellow Water Road Run

What a nice day for a run. Since I need to focus on hills, I went down the neighboring side road, Chapel Hill, and eventually made a loop. I have no idea why this road is named "Yellow Water" Road...

I could have also called this post "Abandoned Houses Run". I just started taking pics of these houses. I'm always interested in pondering about what happened, why is the house uninhabitable.

This one is in the middle of a cow pasture.

This one will soon be taken over by the vines crawling over it..

If you gotta run on roads, these aren't bad roads to run on! Some gravel, but alot of dirt. "Yellow Water Road" was a very rough road, more dirt than gravel. The road also functions as a creekbed in the right weather.

This was the only house I spotted running on Yellow Water Road. It certainly was an old house.

You can see the solid oak planks. And if you look closely, you can see rough hewn logs used in the foundation.
Yellow Water Road takes you down to the bottom of the valley. I looked over in a ravine and saw it was full of garbage. Most of have been the local dump area. I wonder how old the garbage at the very bottom of the ravine is. There's probably some antiques down there!

The water didn't look yellow...
The only sign of life on Yellow Water Road...and it looks like Lane of Lane's Lane does not want company! I burst out laughing when I saw the "Go Away" sign. As remote as a location as this road is, Lane (he or she) wants their solitude!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Not infrequently, people have told me " I inspire them". This statement has always puzzled me. I don't know quite why folks think I am an inspiration. Is it because, although I am old and fat and a very slow runner, that I keep doing it? This is my usual thought, and I've talked about it a bit out on the trail. Maybe I take my self-consciousness about being fat and the slowest runner a bit too much to heart at times.

So, recently, a newby ultra runner completed her first 100 mile race. In her tweets about the race, she said she was doing the race "to inspire you!"

Well, that just puzzled me more. I do not run 100 miles to "inspire you". I don't run them to impress you. Heck, I don't even raise money for any charity. I run 100 miles for me-me me me me me. Totally selfish and self absorbed.

So, I started to look up the definition of "inspire". I admire certain friends, on both their outlook on life, training, goals, etc etc. I never really use the term "inspire" in that context. But maybe I use the word "motivate" in the similiar way other people use "inspire", because many people do motivate me.

to fill with an animating, quickening, or exalting influence: His courage inspired his followers.
2. to produce or arouse (a feeling, thought, etc.): to inspire confidence in others.
3. to fill or affect with a specified feeling, thought, etc.: to inspire a person with distrust.
4. to influence or impel: Competition inspired her to greater efforts.

Maybe since I am more goal oriented I use the word motivate:

To provide with an incentive; move to action; impel.

1885, "to stimulate toward action," from motive (q.v.), perhaps modeled on Fr. motiver or Ger. motivieren. Motivation first recorded 1873; the psychological sense of "inner or social stimulus for an action" is from 1904.

When I talk to Slim or Bob Combs I am always motivated to do more, to push the envelope, to try and do more races outside what I am capable of doing. Perhaps the word "inspire" would actually be synonymous here.

Anyways, I'm almost forgetting where I am going here. Personally, I am very hard on myself. I always have been. I find it very hard to accept compliments and praise. So when folks tell me I inspire them, I never know where that comes from. So, as I try to take an objective look at myself, from a runner perspective, I have found some positive facts. I am very positive and usually quite cheerful out on the trail. I like to laugh and crack jokes. If you would turn around and look at me, I usually run quite a bit with a smile on my face(since I'm usually pretty happy out there.) I am a very slow runner but very persistent. I have great determination and focus. I do not talk about negative thoughts or negativity (except for some poking fun type stuff) out on the trail.

So maybe that's what people call inspiring in the above paragraph. Maybe it does help other runners to see someone come into the AS behind them, smiling, in a good mood. Maybe it helps get someone out the door for a 2 mile run to hear me tweet I've just ran 10 miles on the trail (and hey, Kimba, the people on Twitter probably don't even know you are fat and old) and feel great. So maybe that is what inspiration is.

Enough mental rumination. Ran 5 hilly miles on side road, Chapel Hill Road. It was cold this am! 50 degrees. I forgot to use the albuterol inhaler, and in these transitional days of weather, I cannot forget this. Some forced breathing and wheezing. Petted a nice black lab who fondly reminded me of two of my deceased black lab dogs. Despite the bronchial problems, glad I got out there for the run. I'm going to run on this road alot more in prep for the OC100, as it's all up and down hills.

Happy September

It really feels like fall has begun here in Ohio. I ran 4 miles around the neighborhood yesterday before work, and it appears some leaves are beginning to change color.

Finally caught up and read Tony Krupicka's DNF account of Leadville and was cheered by this comment:

"On a good day, running 100 miles is fucking hard. Period. On a bad day, it's borderline impossible."