Saturday, March 29, 2008

Cook Forest Half Marathon

My sister Jamie and I decided a couple weeks ago to run the Cook Forest Half Marathon. We figured it would be a good tune-up for Boston. I wasn't sure if I would all-out race it or just run a descent pace. I called my coach a couple weeks ago and asked if I could get a discount since I had been on the team at Clarion. He said my sister and I could send in our applications without the money!

So, I drove down to Clarion Friday night to spend the night at my friend Mark's apartment. He was on the CC and track teams last year also. My other friends, Adam and Caitlin, came over and we had a good time playing some Rock Band pretending we were rockstars! My sister had to work till 9:00 so she said she would just drive down to the race start in the morning.

Adam, Mark and I got to Cook Forest at 10:00 with the race going off at 11:00. I warmed up with another kid on my team, Travis, who is now going to grad school in WV. After a short warmup up a steep hill, I saw my sister near the registration area. Her friend from Meadville, Scarlett, came along with her to run also.

(Pic of the race last year)

The start of the race was pretty tight, but soon we got moving. The first mile was mostly downhill and I could tell by my split. When I looked at my watch and saw 6:05, I nearly fell over. I could hear others saying profanities as they looked down at their first mile.

I was going a little faster than I felt comfortable at but was pretty pumped up and felt great. I got to mile 2 at 13 minutes. The miles went along and I looked forward to the turnaround point. The course runs right along the Clarion River and is just beautiful!

I ran with this one guy from Slippery Rock for awhile. He was really impressed that I qualified for Boston which made me feel good! We probably ran for only 3 miles before I told him he could go ahead since he looked to be feeling good. I saw he finished the race in 1:26 (6:38/mile).

When I got to the turnaround, my legs were feeling pretty dead. I knew I was going alot slower, but there was nothing I could do except put one foot in front of the other. I had been trying to catch a girl on the team, Tasha, for the whole race but couldn't seem to close the gap the first half.

I was happy to see the 11 mile marker coming up. The good news: The finish was 2.1 miles away. The bad news: Two gigantic hills stood in my way. I finally closed the gap between Tasha and me right before the first hill. I told her to push it and then started up the hill. She is pretty short, so I knew she would have some trouble going up these hills at this stage of the race.

After finally getting up the second hill at a pace which felt like walking, I glided (or hobbled) down the hill to the finish. A guy passed me about 100 yards to the finish, but I put on a sprint (which I was amazed I still had) and passed him right at the line. I finished in 1:30:15 (6:53/mile) and 21st/300 people! I was really happy at my time and effort. I saw Scarlett and Jamie finish a few minutes later. I was really impressed with how fast both my sister and Scarlett ran. They got 2nd and 3rd in their age group. The official results are posted here on Runner's High.

After I finished, I went to get some Gatorade to drink. This was a bad idea because after congratulating Jamie and Scarlett, I had to throw up. It was all Gatorade and liquid. I did it behind the log cabin to spare everyone from the site. The last time I can remember puking was after a run after a track workout in high school.

Jamie, Scarlett and I went to get something to eat at the County Seat Restaurant in Clarion since we were starving. I was really looking forward to chowing down some of their huge chocolate chip pancakes (3 for less than $3!).

I had a great time running the half today. It is probably one the most beautiful courses I've ever run on. It was great to see all my friends and former teammates. Hopefully they'll post the pictures online of the race soon because a guy was taking some of everyone by the halfway point.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Runner's High

I was reading the New York Times today and was excited to see an article about running. It talked about whether or not the "high" you feel after running (especially long or intense workouts) is real or just a delusion. Read the whole article here.

There was also a section addressing a couple exercise myths including:

1. If you’re not sore the day after a workout, you didn’t push yourself hard enough.

2. Running causes arthritis or damages knee cartilage.

Read it here.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Here There and Everywhere

My sister Jamie came home for the weekend, so we decided to go on a long run at Mill Creek Park today. We planned on doing the big loop, the small loop and a little extra to get 20 miles in. We arrived at the Lily Pond parking lot around 4:45, listened to some music to get pumped up, then decided we better get moving and try to beat sunset.

Jamie warming up for the run:

The trails were in pretty good condition for the most part. You could see the dirt and leaves on the ground. The trail was narrow on the west side between the steel and covered bridges though due to snow drifted up. It was still completely frozen. The trails were like this in even more places during the Covered Bridge FA 50K. You could still see our footprints deep in the drifts from the 50K. So anyways, we had to walk these sections to avoid falling off the cliff into the water.

The other section that is worth noting is at the YUT-C turnaround bridge by Lake Newport. These trails were muddy (as always) and it was hard to avoid getting your shoes covered in mud.

(Ducks in Lake Newport)

Both of us were feeling pretty good at the turnaround point for the big loop, but we knew the hardest part was still to come: The MONKEY TRAIL! These hills were still covered in snow and we had fun sliding/skiing down the hill by the "love log."

Once we got back to our car, we couldn't believe it was already 7:30 and starting to get dark. We decided to move our car outside the park onto the neighborhood streets and run around the area on the roads. We couldn't remember how long the big loop was, but I thought it was around 11 or 11.5 miles, so we figured we should run somewhere between 55-65 minutes on the roads.

The air felt nice and cool and we both felt like we could run forever. We ended up running by Chaney High School and did 2 miles on their track. It reminded us of high school track and we talked about all the memories we had. It gave me a weird feeling since I had a meet here in HS. Having run in both college and high school, it seemed like high school track meets had a bigger buzz and excitement to them than college meets for some reason.

We finally got back to our car. Both of us laughed because it felt like we had been running for days. It was a good mix of roads and trails. I tried to measure the route we ran when we got back home and I figured we probably ran about 19miles. I'm glad we got one final long run in before Boston. Next weekend my sister and I will be running the Cook Forest Half Marathon.

(The key to staying alive in
Youngstown at night is acting tough!)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Columbus Marathon 2007 Video

Being off this week for spring break, I've had alot of free time to run and relax and then repeat. Today I noticed a program on my computer called Windows Movie Maker that I haven't messed with in the past. It's pretty cool because it lets you make movies from videos and pictures and include music with it. Here's a video I made of the Columbus Marathon I ran back in October last year. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

New Layout

Well, I decided to try a different layout since I thought my old one looked dark and gloomy. We'll see how this one works. I wish you could center the header picture. Does anyone know how?

(My old layout)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Cavs-Bobcats Game

Today I went with my friend Anthony up to Cleveland to go to the Cleveland Cavaliers game. They were playing the Charlotte Bobcats. I got tickets for both of us for only $9 each + $3 service charge on Flashseats. Can't beat that!

We left pretty early at 3:30 and ate at Panini's before the game. If you've never been to one, they have great sandwiches. They are huge and actually fill me up, which is saying alot. I decided to get the Genoa salami sandwich. Their signature is putting fries on all their sandwiches.

After we got done eating, we got to the game about an hour before it started. Our plan was to sneak down to the courtside seats during warmups and stay there for the game. We were able to sit about 8 rows up from the court for almost the whole 1st quarter, but then someone kicked us out. We then moved over to some seats about 15 rows up behind the hoop and stayed there the rest of the game.

It was a pretty close game the whole way through. Lebron had an awesome dunk and ended with 33 points, 7 rebounds and 10 assists. It's amazing how he can put up such high numbers night in and night out. Ben Wallace also had an awesome put-back dunk and finished with 15 rebounds. The Cavs ended up winning 98-91. Below is a video of Lebron doing his regular routine with the chalk before the game.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Covered Bridge FA 50K

The Rose Garden at 7:00

This morning my brother Brian and I left at around 6:30 to meet Dan Kuzma at Mill Creek at 7:00. We decided to get a head start since the official time of the Covered Bridge FA 50K was at 8:00. It's always nice to get done early. When we got to the Rose Garden, the gate was locked since they didn't open until 8. We were going to park outside on the street, but decided not too since there were "no parking" signs all along the road. We drove down to park below the Rose Garden, not too far from the log cabin.

Me, Dan & Brian (left to right)

It was a beautiful morning. Good temperature and it wasn't too dark when we started. We started out going counterclockwise around the lakes in hopes of running into Jim Harris and Kurt "Opod" since they started even earlier. In the middle of the loop, however, we realized that we probably went the wrong way since their cars were parked right by the trail outside the Rose Garden, the same direction we were headed. We knew we would run into them at some point along the trail though.

The first loop went by pretty easily. The dark at the very beginning made it a little tricky in some spots. The trails had a mix of everything from slush to ice. The monkey hills by the steel bridge were especially hard since you couldn't get any footing. Going down the hills was more like skiing than running. It was actually pretty fun as long as you didn't crash into a tree!

Waterfall by Pioneer Pavilion

Waterfall by the mill (tons of water!!)

I can't remember when we ran into other people, but somewhere during the first and second loop we saw Jim, "Opod", Kim and Frank. The second loop went pretty well also, and I didn't start feeling sore until the end of the loop. Brian, Dan and I joked around alot which made it go by faster. One of the things that past the time was joking about a made up character who was a hillbilly. We said he threw TVs and fridges over the Stone Bridge with his family (since there used to be a TV on the trail beneath the bridge). His son was named Johnny and was an albino. Johnny also had a brother named Bobby who constantly pedalled a bike in the basement to provide power to their house. It's funny the random stuff you talk about on the trails.

At the end of the second loop, we ran a mile in silence for Mike's mom. It was really peaceful and I noticed alot of sounds of nature I hadn't noticed earlier. A bird was flying overhead occasionally making noises.

On the third loop, I went ahead of Brian and Dan about a fourth of the way into the loop around the steel bridge. My legs were tired and sore, but I still felt I had some energy. Right when I went ahead of them, I slipped and rolled into the drifted snow. I realized I had to slow down a bit. Those sections where there was drifted snow on the trail was really tough. The trail was really skinny and dropped off into the water. The drifted snow was pretty solid (especially before temps got warmer) so you couldn't even run on it and make a trail if you wanted to.

I got done with the loop and had told Brian and Dan earlier that I would wait for them at the cars. I ate a trail mix Powerbar in a matter of seconds and then refilled my water bottle in the Rose Garden. After that, I sat down in the car with the heat and radio on. That was a mistake! Brian and Dan got back about 20 minutes after I finished the loop. I got out of the car and my legs were really stiff! I could barely walk much less run. I thought about calling it quits, but figured I would see if I loosened up on the 4th loop.

We walked alot on the 4th loop but I noticed my legs loosened up a little. They were still aching alot though. We ran into Kim towards the end of our loop near Pioneer Pavilion. She was on her last loop also. She showed us this energy gel called Lava Bar. It's a melted chocolate bar in a pack. It looked really good and I contemplated snagging it but figured I wouldn't make it too far the way my legs felt.

We finally got back to our cars and I was so glad to be done and that I stuck with it. We finished in 8:55 which was pretty slow, but the conditions weren't good at all. Doing the monkey hills 4 times was a task. Each time we did it, it got worse and worse and more slippery.

Brian and I were starving, so we decided to get some hot dogs at A&W in Boardman. They had the $1.50 special on footlogs today. I ended up getting the yard hot dog (3 footlongs) and a rootbeer float. Brian got two footlongs. What a good recovery meal! I had a great time today and can't believe I've already done 3 ultras.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Rec Center & Kendall Lake

I went over to the rec center today with a friend I met through the running club I'm trying to start here at Kent. Turns out he ran the Detroit Marathon last October and is a pretty good runner. We decided to run around the track upstairs until we were sick of it or got dizzy from going in circles. We ended up doing about 3 miles up there then went in the hot tub/pool and sauna afterwards.

I got back to my dorm and then my brother called me about going on an intense snow run at the Cuyahoga Valley. Since I didn't do too much at the rec I decided to run again. So, we got out to Kendall Lake around 6:45 and headed out. It's nice that we finally have more sunlight at night because of daylight savings time. The sun was still a little ways above the horizon. Here's some pictures of the sunset. It looked pretty cool with the hills.

We started out running around the lake and veered off to run some of the Kendall Hills. There were a lot of people sledding down these huge hills. We were running up them. The trails actually weren't too bad since the snow was smashed down by walkers and cross country skiers. The parts that weren't smashed down were useful to get traction or slow down going up and down the hills.

We went around for another loop to get a total of 4 hills. We decided to run all the hills to get a good workout AND to look good in front of all the sledders! It was getting pretty dark now so we headed back to the car to make sure they didn't lock the gate. It wasn't locked, but we figured we better run around the parking lot a little more in case someone came. After about two laps, a park ranger came to lock the gate so that ended the run right there.

We ended up running only 3 miles, but it was a tough one with all the hills and snow. Got 6 miles in for the day. The only good about all this snow is that it's building a lot of strength so when it finally gets warm out, I'll feel really fast.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Blizzard of '08

Well, I was planning on fighting through the weather and getting my runs in this week, but today there was just too much snow! I went for a run yesterday when there was 5 or 6 inches of snow on the ground. I was curious as to what time I would run with these conditions, but was not worried about my pace. I knew it would be pretty slow. I started at the rec and did an out and back run. Some sidewalks were pretty hard to run on, but surprisingly I still kept a descent pace on plowed or shoveled sections. I went slower on purpose on tougher parts so I would not tire myself out too quickly. I was surprised when I finished the run and saw that I ran 8 miles in about 7:50 pace!

So today I was planning on running at the rec with someone but it had closed today due to the weather. And there was no way that I was going to venture out in the almost foot of snow we now had with 20 mph winds. Yesterday was tough enough. Below is a slideshow of some pics of the snow I took today.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Kent vs. Miami

I decided to go to the second half of the game tonight against Miami since it was airing on ESPN. It wasn't a very exciting game (we beat them 50-39) but it's always fun when you win. I called my sister during the game and she said she could see me waving at the camera on ESPN. With this win, we clinched the MAC title and earned the number one seed in next week's MAC Madness tournament at the Q in Cleveland. Below is a video of an awesome 3-pointer made by Chris Singletary.

Sunday, March 02, 2008


After a busy and fun weekend, I decided I better get a run in today since I didn't run yesterday. I went over to the rec and ran on the track for a bit. I planned on running some on the track, some on the treadmill and some outside to mix it up. I ended up running 6 miles on the track, 2 on the treadmill and 2 outside. I counted down the laps this time in my head while I was on the track. It seemed to mentally work better than counting up. The temperature outside wasn't too bad, but it was pretty windy and the air still had a chill to it. While I wanted to get an even longer run in near 16, I was content with my effort and glad that I pushed to get 10 miles in by doing 2 more outside.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

BHTM Concert

Last year, my brother Brian and Bob Combs went to the Big Head Todd and the Monsters concert at the House of Blues in Cleveland. Well after hearing how good it was, I decided to go this Saturday.

Brian and I got to Cleveland a couple of hours before the doors opened at 7:00 and looked for a place to eat. The area where the HOB is located is really cool. I've seen it before driving past but have never stopped. The street (E 4th St.) has lights all along it that hang above the road. The lights really give it that Little Italy look. The area is called the East Fourth Neighborhood and is known as the "soul of the city." There are tons of restaraunts and bars along the street. We decided to eat at an Irish pub called Flannery's. The food and atmosphere were great!

After relaxing at the pub, we walked to the HOB and went inside. This was my first time seeing a concert here. The inside looked really cool. There were tons of decorations all along the walls and the whole place just had that blues vibe to it. One thing I really like about the place is that it's small, so no matter where you're at in the building, you're still pretty close to the stage. Since we got there early we got a great spot right down by the stage about 3 rows back.

At around 8:00, the opening act came on, Paul Kelly, an Australian singer/songwriter. His music was pretty relaxing. I thought he sounded a little like Bob Dylan. Here's a video of him singing.

Paul Kelly played for about an hour and then BHTM came on around 9:15. I was pretty pumped at that point. They sounded great live! Some of my favorite songs they played were Resignation Superman, Boom Boom, Angela Dangerlove, and Bittersweet. They played for a good 2-2.5 hours and, while my legs were tired from standing, I didn't want it to end. Todd Park Mohr, the main singer, played some pretty awesome solos on the guitar!

Solo on the Guitar

Resignation Superman

Some saxophone!

We met alot of really nice people at the concert too. A couple we talked to were both runners. The lady had run some half marathons before and her husband had run two marathons. He ran Columbus and qualified for Boston, but waited too long to enter it and the maximum participants had been reached of 25,000. I had a great time and definetly want to attend it next year! Good food, good music, good company, good night!!