Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Eve Happy Days Trail Run

I woke up this morning at 5:00 after staying up late to watch the Titans win, knocking the Browns out of the playoffs. Jim and his son Heath said they would pick me up at 6:40 at my house to head over to the Happy Days parking lot for a long trail run. We got there a little early and I think my brother Brian, who we were meeting, was a little surprised that we beat him there since he thought he left early for once. We talked for a bit and then headed on our way.

It was a beautiful day to run. The skies started out cloudy, but quickly it became a clear sunny day. The temperature hovered around the freezing point or maybe a little cooler, but it felt perfect once we worked up a sweat.

We turned right this time at the cliffs and went on some new trails I've never been on. I'm not too familiar with all the trails there since I only run there once a month, if that. It didn't take long into our run before Jim saw a deep valley we would go down, up the other side, then head back to the same trail we came from. It was pretty fun navigating through the brush and sliding downhill and your back.

We ended up running on some cool Boy Scout trails by Camp Manatoc. One of the trails went along a ridge jutting out into the lake with water on either side. It dead-ended and at the end was an Indian carved out of wood.

We continued on and decided to do a loop around Kendall Lake. Along the way, we got some pretty good hill work in (as if we didn't already) at the cross country course. There are some monstrous hills here that would be great for hill repeats.

We finished the loop around the lake and then headed back since everyone was pretty tired. We ended up with a good 13 miles for the day.

On the way home, Jim said "We have two choices: I can either take you home or we can stop at the Hot Dog Shoppe and then take you home." I couldn't pass up the second choice, so Jim, Heath and I got a bite to eat.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Witch Hunt Run

Tonight my brother Brian, Bob, Stacy, his son Taylor and me went for a run at West Branch State Park on the one year anniversary when Brian and me heard the witch scream (Read about it here) As always, everyone was skeptical about what we heard being a witch, but it was unlike any other noise I've heard.

During the beginning of the run Taylor and me switched the front position leading the group through the expert trail. It is covered in rocks and many tricky spots to maneuver around. We stopped a couple of times and turned off our lights to look at the stars, which shone brightly in the dark woods away from any major city lights. We quickly noticed Mars since it was so bright and the only reddish-orange speck in the sky.

Towards the end of the run, we decided to go on the expert trail where we heard the scream. At that point, Bob decided to head back to his car. We went for a little ways then turned back, but heard nothing. We heard an owl hoot during the run which startled me a little, but sounded nothing like the noise we heard a year ago.

Later that night, I was sitting on the couch watching TV when, all of a sudden, a picture of my grandparents fell off a table. Then maybe 30 seconds later, a decorative Christmas angel, which was sitting by the TV, fell to the ground breaking a couple stems off a poinsettia plant below it. I thought this was pretty odd, but then, about a minute later, a decorative snowman we have fell over. Hmm....was this just a weird coincidence or had the witch followed me home?!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Again To Carthage

Today I finished reading "Again To Carthage", the sequel to John Parker's famous running book "Once A Runner." I haven't read tons of books, but this one was probably the best I have ever read. I got it 3 days ago at Second Sole as a Christmas present for my sister and figured I might as well try to read the 344-page book before I gave it to her. I will probably buy it, though, since it was so good. "Once A Runner" is not printed anymore and goes for anywhere from $200-$300 online. My roommate in the house I lived in last year at Clarion had the book and let me borrow it to read. I read it off and on since I was busy with school and running but never finished it. I'm a little mad now that I didn't finish it since he now lives in Colorado and it is so hard to find.

Anyways, I was so pumped up after reading it today that I decided to go for a 5-mile tempo run. I ran the out and back loop that we call the "Imperial and Back." It starts from our house and goes to where the old Imperial hotel used to be on East Market St. in Warren. All that remains for the turn around point now is a white pole.

I knew this was going to be a good run when I reached the first mile in around 6:30. I then got to City Hall (the 2-mile mark) in 13 minutes. After turning around at the pole and heading back, I really noticed the strong wind. I ended up finishing in 32:44.

I recommend reading "Again To Carthage" because Parker uses such descriptive words and describes what a runner goes through very well. I couldn't put it down and stayed up till 3 last night (or this morning) reading it. "Once A Runner" is more about Quentin Cassidy's (the main character) career in college and the Olympics and the fire he had in his youth, while "Again To Carthage" is about his desire, 10 years later, to revisit his youth and try to make the Olympics one last time.

Cassidy's memories of running in college really reminded me of all the antics and joking around that went on when I ran at Clarion. While we all joked around a lot, we were all determined and dedicated toward one goal at getting better. It's fun to be on such a team where you know each other so well, but sometimes I look back at my training log and wonder how I ever ran all those miles and at the pace we did.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

West Branch Run

Panoramic picture of lake

Today my brother and I decided to run at West Branch State Park. We went for an easy 5 mile run but screwed around alot, swinging on vines and throwing snowballs. The conditions were very sloppy, especially at the beginning part of the trail. I tried not to get my feet wet but then realized that was impossible. I thought for sure I was going to lose a toe after stepping in the frigid puddles, but soon my feet warmed up as we ran. Out on the trail we stopped to talk to a couple of CAMBA members who were marking a new trail along a meandering stream. It looked pretty cool! The many trails and bridges they make are fun to run on and allow for a different run each time.

Below is a video of me hitting a stop sign really far away with a snowball. I was pretty pumped hitting it on the first try.

Here's a cool pic of the sunset at my house later after the run:

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Riverwalk Run

Tonight I ran for the second time since the URINEO 50K. I went 4 miles yesterday just around the neighborhood and my leg got a little tight during the run. Today I decided to run to City Hall in Warren and around Perkins Park on the Riverwalk loop.

The footing wasn't too bad except for the footbridge that connects our neighborhood and Packard Park. It was covered in ice. I felt pretty recovered from the ultra and probably ran around a 7:30 pace. As I ran down the sidewalk in front of Packard Music Hall, I got the begeezus scared out of me. I had almost stepped on a dead cat that must have gotten hit by a car!

I continued down to City Hall and ran the Riverwalk loop. It is exactly 2 miles long if you start from the telephone pole at the bottom of the hill at the Perkins Park entrance. The mile-mark halfway through is still there from when we ran it in high school. The part under the Summit St. bridge was flooded from the melted snow so I went around off the path.

I stopped at the YMCA to use the restroom and, as I was going up the steps, this black guy said "Man, you must love running!" Haha, this made me feel good that someone appreciated that I was running outside in the cold.

Saturday, December 15, 2007


Today I planned on doing a loop or two of the 8.3 mile loop around Mill Creek which is pretty much the 3rd loop of the YUTC 50K but, I ended up getting more than I bargained for! My brother Brian and I got going around 6:00 this morning. Brian's pre-Ultra ritual seems to be to go to McDonald's and get a couple sausage and egg McMuffins. So I decided to join him. We drove separate so that he could get going straight back to his place right after the run to avoid the snow storm that was expected.


Before we got to the Lily Pond we stopped at the gas station to try and get rid of the egg McMuffins in the bathroom, and Brian got a few gallons of water which turned out to be a good idea. I had only brought one water bottle full of water. While we were there, we saw Mike Keller, Josh, and Kurt O (aka "OPOD"). We talked a bit and then headed over to the Lily Pond to meet up with the rest of the NEO Trail Club members.

As we started, I had the idea in the back of my head that I might possibly go for the 50K distance and complete my 1st Ultra. But first I would just run a couple loops and see how I felt from there.

I ran the 1st loop with mostly the whole group and split off ahead with Frank a little ways before the Monkey Trail to go a little faster. He told me he had a long drive back (Medina), so he would run until around noon so he could beat the storm. For some reason, I didn’t even notice that he was wearing shorts, but realized how funny this was after looking at some pictures. We ran until we got to the Monkey Trail extension and then waited for the rest of the group since I couldn’t remember where the trail went. All the leaf-coverage hid the trail.

On the 2nd loop, I ran with Josh and Dan Kuzma (Brian's friend). It seemed to go by pretty fast since we talked about a range of subjects from training workouts to the movie "Into the Wild" to people who are totally against running on the roads. I mostly run on roads, but would probably run all trails if I lived closer to Mill Creek or some other nice trails.

Dan & me starting the 2nd loop

Anyways, I finished the first 2 loops and decided to go on. From the beginning, I decided that I would either do 2 loops or 4, not 3. Also in the middle of the 2nd loop, I picked up the pace a lot to catch up to Bob and the group after taking a URINEO in the woods. Bob told me not to go too fast since I wasn’t even halfway done. In my head, I hadn’t made up my mind to do the full distance, but after Bob said that, I had to go the 50K!

My brother showed up while we were hanging out after the 2nd loop at the parking lot. I waited for Brian to fuel up and soon we got going. The 3rd loop was pretty tough knowing we still had another loop left. We did a lot of running and walking in intervals and walked most uphills. I learned a lot about the techniques used in Ultra trail running to conserve energy.

We finally got back to the parking lot and saw Bob sitting there in front of his vehicle done with his 50K. He told us to get some stuff to eat and drink, but to get the hell out of here and try to do the last loop in 2 hours or less. So, we headed out for our 4th and final loop! It started to snow lightly halfway into the loop. It didn't seem like it would accumulate to too much, but soon it covered the ground and made things slippery. I had worn my screwed shoes for the first 2 loops, but I could start to feel the screws so I switched to the only other shoes I had. A pair of Puma Phasis III (shown below) that had tons of miles on them and no traction whatsoever.

These shoes made things a bit tougher and I'll remember to bring an extra pair of GOOD shoes next time!!

As we neared the last stretch towards the Lily Pond, we saw Bob coming up the trail. He congratulated both of us, and we walked back to the finish with him. Bob, Jim, Brian, and I hung around for little bit after the run, but we soon left since the weather was rapidly declining. Brian’s car wouldn’t start so he had to get that jumped by Bob using Jim’s car.

I had a really fun time out there today and look forward to future trail runs. I am glad that I stuck with it and finished the full 50K. Congrats to everyone else and hopefully I’ll see you soon for a Christmas run!!