Monday, March 29, 2010

Fool's 50K Race Report

Picture stolen from Nick
The Fool's 50K is a trail race in northern Ohio, held entirely within the confines of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. There is both a 25 K and a 50K, as the 50K runners complete the 25K loop twice.

I went into this race with the goal of improving my time at a 50K. My latest (last years) 50K times have been around 8.5 hours. So, my rough goal this year was to run around 8 hours. Running a sub 8 was a really GOOD goal. But the weather forecast made me leery of setting the bar too high. Lloyd Thomas, race director, had also cautioned that this is a hard trail race. The cut off is nine hours-pretty generous.

At the start, at Pine Hollow, there was ALOT of runners! The 25K option brings out many trail runners who don't happen to be ultra runners. I caught up with a whole bunch of friends before the start of the race.
And then we were off! And the mud began almost immediately! The first downhill on the cross country trail afforded slick mud to slide through. It was fun with the crowd. I elbowed Bob Drake "excuse me, sir you have mud on your calf. You might want to wipe that off at the nearest aid station".
I got to chat with ultra runner extraordinaire Roy Heger as he tried to pull me down the hill we were climbing. A few words with Roy, then he kicked it into gear, and was gone. In fact, I was having a very good time running with friends.

My goal for this first loop was to get as much mileage in as possible before the looming rain hit. As I ran, and the Garmin clicked, I was amazed to see some 12 and 13 (and even an 11 minute) mile out there. I shuffled up smaller slopes that I would previously would walked, and ran right through the mud. After all, it was not going to get less muddy.

Suzanne and Michael caught up with me on the Ledges, and we shared a few miles together. The rain started as we hit the AS around mile 12, and I stopped to pull on my windbreaker, and Suzanne and Michael pulled ahead. I had the muddy Salt Run trail to contend with, and I used most of it to visualize what I needed to do at the 15 mile mark at my vehicle-change shirt, drink Boost, pick up jellybeans and Zune, put on visor, and use inhaler!

The trail runs right up next to the road, and Shaun Pope, young stud ultra runner, was hanging out there, cheering us on. He told me we had less than one mile to go back to the start, so I was encouraged.
I emerged from the woods, to run across a soft, muddy, very slanted hillside. I made a beeline for my vehicle-ripped off my shift, changed, used the inhaler, grabbed my jelly beans and Zune, grabbed the visor and Boost, and took off for the AS. My split was 3.31 and I was really happy with that. I made a quick stop at the Porty-Pottie-you know it's cold outside when the PortoPottie feels like a nice warm place, and took off again. I heard Tanya Cady yell at me about a PR, and that really made me feel good. I have friends who know enough about my running patterns, and times, that they know I'm running well.

Meanwhile, I'm starting out on the cross country trail, the temperature is cold, it's windy, and it's rainin-not heavily, but much more than before. I slip the headphones on, and crank up the tunes. Having the music is a definite mood enhancer, and I keep slogging through the mud, running all that I can, trying not to slip too much.

As I am running across the grass to the Happy Days AS, the "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" comes on, and I just burst out laughing. Yes, it's not so much a "running" song, but it is a song of NE Ohio, and the driving rain and cold just made it very appro pro for this portion of the trail.

As I am going through the Ledges, I notice my Garmin is only recording 15 miles-WTF? I must have hit the button when I was changing shirts and putting my windbreaker back on. Oh well, not that important, but I would have liked to have my splits for the second half.

I spent a few miles on this loop with Tim, from Pittsburgh. It was nice to have someone to run with, but I was conscious that I was dropping back to his pace, so I did make the move to get on up the trail.

I hit the last AS, and shortly afterward, I looked at my watch. 2.09 pm. Well, shucks. 2.30 pm was 7 hours, and I still have 3.4 miles to go---and Salt Run, the muddy up and down trail.
I didn't let it get me down, I just kept moving. I turned up the radio, as it was, and passed two people in the last few miles. I kept looking for the spot I saw Shaun at-at that point I knew it would be less than one mile---and I wanted to be done.

FINALLY I hit that spot, but it seemed like the trail went on forever. The trail was so muddy, that on the uphills, I was pretty much off the trail, on the site, tromping through leaves and briars, because that was where I could get footing.

I came out of the woods, got immediately uphill, for better footing, then crested the small rise-and saw the time clock 7:45 Ohmygod!!!!!!! I am actually astonished. I immediately start running, as fast as I can, to the finish.
I'm so amazed it's a sub 8 hour. I am incredibly happy with this time.
As muddy as the course was,I still posted a sub 8 hour. So this training thing seems to be working for me! And maybe, weighing 16 lbs less, had something to do with it also.

Very pleased with the running effort. I think I've made some progress. Feeling very positive about the future!

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Operation Farmhouse Daffodil

I think I would consider the daffodil my favorite spring flower. The sunny yellow is always a cheering sight to view in the greening grass, after the tan bleakness or white snow of winter. As a gardener, I really appreciate the flower-it divides and spreads on its own, and critters do not eat daffodils.

As a runner, it's always been a fun sight to look over at the side of the road, or out into the woods, and see the discovery of a patch of daffodils. Daffodils mean civilisation. Daffodils growing in the woods mean someone planted them there. Usually, if you look closely, you will see the remains of a house, or a foundation.

Last week, as the greens started to show, I decided I would go on a daffodil scavenging hunt. These daffodils were planted by someone-probably long ago. How long? In some instances, where I scavenged, I would bet these houses have been gone for fifty or longer. Who planted the daffodils? Some farm wife? Where did she get them from? Her mother? Sister? Did a child bring home some bulbs from school?

My little mission started sooner than I thought. I was out for a trail run, when the yellow caught my eye. I investigated, and found a little gem:

I was expecting the ubiquitous big yellow trumpet daffodil, and found this. It has kind of a split cup, almost looks like a daffodil double. I don't think this is that common of a daff-and this whole grove was made up of these!

I continued on my run, and sure enough, a few miles down the trail, another patch of yellow caught my eye. I had to look carefully, but I could find the old stones of the foundation.

It was a little difficult to dig a small clump of bulbs up-with my fingers and a stick. But I managed to get some bulbs and stuffed them into my running pack.

The next location was from the road. On one of my back country roads, I could see the old chimney from the road. I had even thought to myself, "there's daffodils down there". A road cut to a natural gas well made it much easier to traverse through the multi flower rose brambles, and I procured more bulbs. Although this time I had a trowel with me, it would have been far easier to have brought a shovel!

Although the last time I had run by this house, there was no greenery showing, I had a hunch there would be daffodils around this farmhouse.

The last location I checked was more of a hunch. As I run down this road, I can see the remains of the house-which, I think sometime later, was torched. I investigated, and sure enough! Daffodils!!

The daffodil bulbs have been planted in some pots, and are currently residing in my plant room. Some have blooms, so I can see what they are, others are just like a new bought book-I can't wait to see what will bloom!

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Weekend Long Run

After a long week of working second shift (11am-9pm) AND getting runs in, I was pysched for the weekend long run.

Since my husband was out of town, I eschewed the infinitely more inviting trail run (could be days before someone finds me at the bottom of a ravine) for a more traditional road run. My long run routes are typically done on back roads, so as long as I am in the mood, it's not so bad.

The first dandelion seen of spring!

I seeded water and aid at several spots. I knew the day would be warm, and I didn't want to come up short. Knowing I had water in various locations let me have the luxury of drinking all I wanted to.

This old abandoned house is on a country back road. It looks normal to the eye as you run by..

But if you turned your head a bit, or looked back, you would notice something:

Like the entire back of the house missing! Why is this? It looks like a surgical removal. I posted the pics on FB, one comment was maybe it was moved here.

But as the pictures show, it looks like the original foundation. In fact, there is water in the hole that is left.

Maybe the spring underneath undermined this section of the house?

Well, anyways, I found it interesting to see these old abandoned houses and barns, and sometimes just old foundations. In fact, in the early spring, I love to look for daffodils sprouting out in the woods. This usually means there was a house somewhere nearby, as daffodils aren't native. I'm thinking of doing some 'daffodil scavenging' this week. I would like to dig up some bulbs in these quiet, empty woods, and replant a little daffodil tribute to the original owners. I like the idea of remembering some old farmwife long gone, that I am still enjoying her flowers planted long ago.

Oh yeah, back to the run. I refueled well. I had a Boost at the church where I had stashed water, around mile 5-6. Then I had more water and candy bars stashed about mile 9 (which I then ran back by, a loop, around mile 15.)
Energy levels felt good most of the run. I glanced at my Garmin at mile 19. Oh yuck, I would have to count the 1/2 mile uphill as part as my run to get the 20 miles in. (I was hoping to hit 20 miles in the valley and then simply enjoy the uphill climb as my "cool down"). So I trudge up the hill (making it a 17.18 mile!!!!) and find, to my dismay, at the top of my property.. at mile 19.82.

Crap! I wanted a 20 mile run in! So I headed into our big pasture, and ran across it, and then back to the road. Ok.. 19.93, good now just down hill to the gate! 20 miles it is!

I did the ice bath. It was much easier in the warm temperatures. I find as long as I keep my toes out of the water, it's much easier. Drinking a beer and perusing Ultrarunning Magazine, so you remember why you are doing this, helps tremendously!

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Landslide Run Part 3

Check this out. Due to the camera's position on the road, the perspective really came out warped. I look like I photo shopped myself into this. It reminds me of "Land of the Lost" for some reason.

Despite my midget appearance, it really has fallen four or five feet. Perhaps one more day of driving on it. Then it will be off to the back roads to get to town.

I ran to the land slide, then continued around the block. I ran into a man out for his walk. He told me he was a former 'long distance runner' and had run some races around here. I walked with him a bit...really slow. Like 1 MPH on a treadmill. He told me many things about himself in the 10 or 15 minutes I spent with him, then I finally extricated myself from the conversation and told him I had to get on with it.

The temps were great out. I ran out of water, and the Gatorade that I had stashed in the snowbank on Monday, like the snow, was gone. I resorted to a few handfulls of snow left, just to get some fluids in. 14 mile run, felt pretty good most of the time.

And no, I am not making this up. I burst out laughing when I saw it, and was glad to have the camera.

Now I know why this is Big Foot country down here!

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Thursday, March 4, 2010

That'll Do, Pig.

Today is my day off from work, and long run scheduled. I've been going crazy since I haven't gotten a 20 mile run in forever so that was the plan.

Wednesday, I am musing over routes, where to drop water bottles, fussing about having to do this after work, when suddenly I thought "oh hell, just run to town and back. The IGA is your drop bag."

So plans changed a wee bit. Running to Newcomerstown and back is slightly less than 20 miles. I thought about making a detour to look at the landslide, then thought, nah!!

Roads were clear and the sun was shining. I really wasn't into the run. I kept thinking of bailing. I just shut up myself and concentrated on the podcasts I was listening to. Thank heaven for The No Agenda Show -about global politics with Adam Curry and John C. Dvorak, and my new favorite podcast, a foodie one: The Restaurant Guys Radio I pretty much concentrated on listening, and moving forward. Before long, I was refueling at the IGA: free water, a Butterfinger Crisp bar, and a single serving potato chip bag-man those chips were good-I could tell I haven't had potato chips in a long time!!!

Usually the second half of my run is much more negative, but I did well after leaving town and heading for home. I was having a pain in my right hip flexor, and then the right hamstring tightened way up.

I got home, and just caught the husband taking the dogs out for their hike around the estate-so I joined them. I guess another 1/3 mile hike was good for a cool down.

Once back at the house, I gathered a bucket of snow. This was the first ice bath I've had in a long time and ooo did it hurt!! But already, a few hours later, I feel real good after the run.

So, while not quite the 20 miler (and nope, I'm not like Mikey or the Musick brothers, I did not feel the need to make it a double digit) I was glad to get a long run in.

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Landslide Run

I got out of bed and changed into my outside running wasn't quite so hard to do, and I then went immediately outside. The temp was around 22, but it wasn't windy, so I started down the road.

This was a "destination run" as I wanted to snap some pics of the landslide and see if the road crew had put up a better road closure.

As you can see...nope..

I never run on this road, as it is a main corridor over to the highway, it's heavily trafficked, although it's just a county road. It was mainly deserted today though.

It still looks like I can drive on this one side yet. My alternate route is going to be the "country road" that I usually run on, which I have been likening to a "trail" (which is fine when you are running; ice, mud, gravel, creek bed like conditions as a road-not when you are driving-and trying to get somewhere!)

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