Sunday, November 22, 2009

Slim Pickins 09 Report

Slim Pickins is annual run put on for members of the NEO Trail Club. This has been, for the last four years, a run of various distances on the Laurel Highlands Trail. Always held the weekend before Thanksgiving, it's an eagerly anticipated FA run.

We've had some rather epic conditions:

in past runs. So, having no snow and rather nice temps (forecast for the fifties) it was almost too good to be true.

We had various lengths of courses that we happening. Some runners were doing the full 100K-from mile 31 to Ohiopyle. Some runners were starting at mile 31 and running the 50K to Ohiopyle and stopping. Others, like Tanya and myself, weren't quite sure what we were running.

We also various start times of 5am, 6am, and 7am at mile 31. We met new member Cam at the trail head-he had locked his keys in his truck for an auspicious start to the day!

Tany and I decided to start down the trail and let the guys sort it all out. Dobies pulled a McGuyver, and the trio overtook us around the three mile mark.


It seemed like we were quickly at Seven Springs Ski Resort. The group slowed up and waited for me on the climb here, and I was glad, because even with Bob's instructions through here, I may have missed the trail in the dark.
In fact, Seven Springs is the only place where I belive you can get lost. This trail is heavily overblazed with yellow blazes. You can frequently see two or three blazes at the same time.
Bob and Slim caught up to me in a few more miles, they took the 6am starting time.

I love how the fall leaves makes Slim's pink gaiters just "pop".

After they passed me, I was alone again, and fine with it. It was a nice day for running, I had little issues going on. My heels were developing some hot spots, but once I loosened up my shoes to the sloppy side all was well. I also kicked a rock really hard (well, it was a mean rock, and had it coming) so my attention was diverted away from the foot issues.
The Laurel Highlands Trail is a very rocky, rooty trail. There are not too many spots of smooth dirt. There are some good ups and downs, but for the most part, you are on the top of the ridge, once you get there. I've run this trail before, so I knew what to expect, but it was still wearing on your feet and ankles, as they landed on rocks, and twisted and turned.

As I ran, and counted down the markers (each mile on this trail is marked) I contemplated my distance. I had told Bob I would run to mile 6 and back, for 50 miles. As I got nearer to the 10 mile marker, I started to assess the situation. At mile 8, there is a 1 mile+ downhill. As a rough guestimate, I reckoned on 1.5 hours for the trek from mile 10 to 6, and then 2 hours back (cuz of the climb back the big hill.) I also thought about the guys who were doing the out and back, and I wanted to stay in front of them, for safety reasons. (I am getting more cautious in my older age.) I didn't want the four of them to pass me and leave me the last one on the trail. I also wanted to get as much of the return miles in before dark as I could.

So I made the decision to get to the mile 10 marker and turn.
I was glad I did, since this then allowed me to come across the 50K runners who had started at 7am:
Mike Halkovich

Dan Bellinger:

Dan Kuzma, Wilma, and Mike Keller:

Mikey made my day by offering me a half-turkey sandwich. Free food on the trail? Sure!!! It was an import from NYC, and very tasty as I made a stop at the aid cache at mile 11. I topped off lunch with a few cookies, got some water, and started back toward mile 31.

It was a very uneventful run in terms of issues and situations. I felt good, I kept eating and drinking. I kept an eye on the time, as it would be full dark right about 5 pm, and I wanted to get as many miles in before this. I kept looking for and counting down the mile markers.

It was almost full dusk, I was at mile 26, and where the heck was that ski resort? I thought lights would be blazing. It was kind of nice to see, since they were not making snow, all the lights were out. I topped the peak and started down the other side, down the asphalt road, where I would pick up the trail again. I was startled to look off to my left and see "a city". Cars, a 5 story building-I don't remember that! But I kept going downhill. I was relieved to find a big gravelly patch that I remembered. Still, where was the trail? I glanced up to my right, and saw the trail-whew! I had almost kept running down the hill and missed the turn! Being by myself, this would not have been good.

Ok, we're past the ski resort, it's all downhill from here, right?

Wrong! I was amazed to find myself on a longass climb (that I didn't remember from the morning on a downhill.) Blecch! I kept looking for mile markers-ONLY 28? It should be 29 or 30 now!!!!!

Finally, 29, and then 30. I really should have ate at Seven Springs, but I thought I was almost "done." I was so glad to see the sign to the parking lot. What to do first, call home, rip off wet clothes, or cram my turkey sandwich in my mouth? I attempted to do all three at once.

Once I warmed up, I drove back to the hotel room, asked nicely for a key to my room, and managed to fall asleep after 1 beer. I thought the guys would be back right behind me, but then I finally put the time together and knew it would be quite a while before they returned.

Mike Dobies and Brian Musick returned to the hotel room sometime after 2 am. They had completed the full 100K, but went an extra two miles when they missed the LH trail at Seven Springs, like I had almost done. Interestingly enough, they called a bunch of people to try and help them figure out where they were, but they never called me (who had left the phone in case of problems) ha! Now they will know better.

A very good solid run for me. Slim and Bob don't think I was challenged enough, but I am satsified with the run. Yes, I could have gone to the 50 mile distance, but I played on the side of caution. Maybe if I had been running with another person, that might have spurred me on, to go on farther.

I'm now rather interested in running the Laurel Highlands Race in June. It's south to north, which I think is the "easier" direction. You get your big climbs out of the way early.

Big thanks to NEO Trail for the aid cache, Mike Dobies for the beer, and John DeWalt for picking up the aid cache after the runners went through! See you all for another NEO Trail Run (open to all)the annual URINEO !!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Bobcat Trail Marathon Race Report

Whew, this was a tough course!! As my friend Bob said at the finish line, toughest marathon he's ever run-same here!

You could not ask for better weather for the inaugural trail marathon at Burr Oak State Park. The race course essentially follows the lake, on the blazed yellow trail. The park officials had just repainted the blazes last week-for the runners! What great cooperation Brandon and Vince, the race directors, had from the Ohio Park Officials.

I arrived in the early afternoon on Saturday. The weather was so gorgeous I went out for a run on the course. I did the initial white loop, then headed out the yellow/blue blazed trail. It wasn't marked yet, but I was pretty sure that was the way we would be coming back for the remaining miles. (Glad I did so!)

I was already worried about being able to finish this race in the 7 hour time allotment. I ran the Akron Marathon in about 51/2 hours, but I had finished the Groundhog 50K in 8 hours. So a marathon in 7 hours should be do able. I was hoping!

Race started promptly at 8 am, and we were off on the trails after a brief uphill on the road. True to form, I was about last but just enjoying the day. It was fun to run trails totally unknown to me. There were plenty of ups and downs, but some good runnable sections around the lake.

The volunteers were excellent, if not over enthusiatic! I came into the first AS, the second to last runner, and one girl was still making PB & Jelly sandwiches. I advised her that she probably had enough sandwiches to go around, and ate some to alleviate the abundance!

My race went well until about mile 19 or so. I think I hit the "Wall". (How embarrassing. I run a marathon and hit the proverbial wall.) I think the blood sugar got a little low. I was very hot out there. It was about 70 degrees and sunny out. I had stopped looking at my watch to see my sucky slowass time.

I came upon the last AS with the poor guys still stuck there. They advised me I was around mile 21, and the last AS to the finish line. As I trekked up another hill, I just wanted to be done with the race. I was cranky, crabby with myself. I was tired of being the poky last person, tired with being so tired. Do fast runners get tired out there? Do thin people get tired running? I really wanted a finisher's hoodie. I consoled myself with there wouldn't be any hoodies left, Vince had already said with so many last minute signups they might have to mail hoodies out. Foo. I guess being last meant no hoodie for me. Honestly, I was really really mean to myself out there. Disgusted with being fat, disgusted with being so slow, hating to make people wait for me so they could get on with their day. I finally looked at the time and realized I was not going to make the 3pm cut off. I figured I would finish in about 7.5 hours.

The only bright spot was my Garmin, which advised me that I now had less than 4 miles left in the race. And I knew soon, I would recognize parts of the trail that I had run the day before and know exactly how far I had left.

I also brought myself around with positive thoughts. I told myself how lucky I was to be out running, on such a beautiful day. The weather was beautiful, the course was so nice to run on. I consoled myself with how many calories I was burning that day. That I only had a few miles to go. That I could have a good cry on the drive home.

What really helped was where I recognized the trail!! Hey this was where I had turned around yesterday! Alright!!!! I knew where I was, I knew how many climbs I had left! This, and the rest of my jelly beans, helped to energize me mentally. I'm sure I wasn't moving any faster.

The last climb, then back out on the road to the lodge. A van stopped and the runner driver hi-fived me. I was back to being really happy again! A downhill run to the finish, whoop that did it for me!!!!

Jim Chaney was still there with his timing equipment, and I crossed the line in 7.25ish. Just about what I thought I would! And a nice young man presented me with a hoodie, even though I didn't finish the race in the time allotted! How nice was that! Also appreciated was two cups of water!

I went inside to look for Brandon or Vince to say thanks, and wandered into the dining room where they still had chili and cheese sandwiches left, even for poky old me! I ended up eating with Luc and Dan. Dan had just run the Columbus Marathon with Luc two weeks prior-his first marathon-so he runs this horribly tough trail race-for his second marathon-and his second trail run ever!! He did great, and was in very good spirits!

Why there are no pictures-I lost my camera out on the trail! I think it slipped out of my hydration vest as I took it off to refuel. Luckily, it was found, and will be shipped back to me. Will post pics whenever that occurs!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

White Trail

A new trail!! Is there any better two words together in the English language?
My coworker mentioned this trail. It's at Salt Fork State Park, but over by the Lodge, and the Sugar Tree Marina part of the lake. I really never looked on this area of the map.

I am glad I have done so! I ran part of it today, it turns into a nice loop course. If I had continued to the Marina, there is another section of the trail which can probably extend 6 or 8 more miles.
I also spotted the snowmobile trail loop, another trail to explore.
Life is good!

This is a little cave. I need to explore this further!

Was surprised to come across this cemetery. It wasn't on the map.