Thursday, November 24, 2011

2011 Warren Turkey Trot

Brian, Jamie and I continued the tradition today of running the Warren Turkey Trot at the Kent Trumbull branch.  I always look forward to this race and was glad that I was healthy to run it this year.  I thought about taking it easy and enjoying it this year, but that idea faded quickly as I know how hard it is not to race it!

We got there around 9 AM and the 2 miler was going on.  The 5 mile race was set for a 10 o'clock start, so we got in a warmup after saying hi to many familiar faces.  It didn't take long to spot Shubi, who was in from Colorado and fresh off a 10,000 ft run out there the same day as Slim Pickins.

The weather was perfect and the crowd was large as usual.  Ted Rupe gave a pre-race prayer and then sounded the siren to start the race.  I felt pretty relaxed despite the tough 50K last weekend.  There was a slight wind on the way out and way back, but nothing too strong.  I finished with a 33:45.  Jamie won her age group and Brian had a good race also.

Afterward, we followed tradition and had dinner at my parents house.  My mom cooked a great meal with turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn bread, biscuits, cranberry jello, apple sauce in the crock pot, salad and pumpkin pie. 

I have so much to be thankful for and this day is always a great remember of those things!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Slim Pickins 2011

This year I decided to join the shenanigans at Laurel Highlands for the annual NEO Trail member-only Slim Pickins event.  The event lasts from Friday night to Sunday and this year we stayed at the Yough Plaza Hotel in Ohiopyle.  The stated goal was to run a 50K from the start of the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail out to mile 8 and back twice for a total elevation gain of 7,400 ft!

On Friday, I drove up to Hudson with Brian to meet Lloyd Thomas and carpool over to PA.  We left around 3:30 and it took about 3-3.5 hours.  Some people had already arrived in Ohiopyle and planned on getting some extra miles in.  My plan was to try and run only the 50K on Saturday.  If I bailed out early, I would do some extra on Sunday.

When we got there, we parked at the Falls City Restaurant & Pub and there inside was a table full of NEO Trail members greeting us including Jim & Eric Harris, Cam Baker, Paul Lefelhocz, Kimba, Chris Kalie, and Bruce "The Moose" McMurray.  Later, Wild Bill, Tara Schweitzer and Allison Holko joined us.  The night was filled with good beer, delicious food and plenty of interesting discussions.

After eating, we all went back to our quarters and tipped back a few more.  We snapped this fairly normal photo of us at the hotel and posted to Facebook to show the world what true club companionship really is!

We ended up getting to bed after midnight.  The planned start time was at 8 o'clock.  Cam had to get done early, so he started at 6.  Jim also joined him to get a couple hours of running in before the official start.

My sister showed up about 10 minutes beforehand, as well as a few other people that didn't spend the night.  We walked down to the gate at the start of the trail, took a few group photos and were off.

Instantly within the first quarter mile, the trail heads skyward.  There are three main hills to the mile 8 marker, each with their own difficulty.  The first one isn't overly steep, but continually inclines until a little bit after 2.5.  It also has some pretty technical rocky footing.  The next hill goes from mile 3.5 to 4.5, crests, then zig zags downward on some switchbacks.  Finally, the grand finale from mile 6 to 8 climbs about 1200 ft.  This last one seems to go on forever.

I was feeling pretty good during most of the first out-and-back.  No major issues and aches which was good.  I wanted to take the first loop easy and push it the second if I had the energy.  The main goal was to finish.

After the first loop, Brian and I went to the market to grab a bite to eat.  We both got burgers and fries.  I knew it would be tough starting the second loop after this, but the extra fuel was a huge help.  After a half hour or so, we headed back out.  We saw Wild Bill, Tara and Allison at the gate.  We egged them to try for another loop, but weren't able to entice them.  We headed up the trail a few steps and saw the Moose coming at us.  He was also done.  So, Brian and I were bringing up the rear since my sister and the crew she was running with were only going three more miles out and back.

It took a little while to get back in the groove since we had the burger on our stomachs.  The sun was slowly starting to head to the western horizon.  Brian and I wanted to at least make it to the turnaround before we needed to use our headlamps.

We saw Lloyd and Rich as well as Jim and Kim on the way out.  At the overlook near mile 8, we snapped a few photos and headed back.  We had to turn on our lights with about 5 miles to go.  The darkness slowed us down quite a bit, but we had a few nice streaks of running especially when Brian had his headphones on!

The excitement grew as we continued to clip off the miles.  My legs ached a bit, but it really didn't bother me since they had been even before we started the second loop. 

Finally, we made it back to the mile 0 gate!  We gave each other high fives and walked to the pub.  As we entered, we got a round of applause.  It's always a great feeling to accomplish something you're not sure about when you first start.  This was my second 50K this first being the actual Laurel Highlands 50K race!

This year has been filled with more injury downtime than running and races, but today made the rest and cross training worthwhile! This event has me itching for more miles...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Magic Moment

“You have to take risks”- he said.

“We will only understand the miracle of life fully when we allow the unexpected to happen.

“Every day, God gives us the sun–and also one moment in which we have the ability to change everything that makes us unhappy.
“Every day, we try to pretend that we haven’t perceived that moment, that it doesn’t exist–that today is the same as yesterday and will be the same as tomorrow.

But if people really pay attention to their everyday lives, they will discover that magic moment.

It may arrive in the instant when we are doing something mundane, like putting our front-door key in the lock.
It may lie hidden in the quiet that follows the lunch hour or in the thousand and one things that all seem the same to us.

But that moment exists–a moment when all the power of the stars becomes a part of us and enables us to perform miracles.”

-Paulo Coelho

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

West Branch Night Run

Tonight I met Jim Harris and Todd Hanks at 6:30 at the boat dock parking lot for a night run.  We started on the Lake Trail, crossed Cable Line Rd, ran the trails on the other side, and then finished on the expert trail.  Before crossing Cable Line Rd, we walked down to the family cemetery to check out the witch's grave.  No screams heard tonight!

It was a perfect night for a run.  A nice breeze, actually feeling warm at times, and a partly cloudy sky that gave way to a bright full moon.  We still needed our headlamps, but I looked around a few times and was surprised how bright it was out.

I really enjoy night runs.  A trail route you run all the time during the day looks totally different at night.  It's easy to get in a trance and forget you're physically exerting yourself.  The pace always seems faster than what it is.

Group night runs are even more enjoyable.  It's like sitting around a campfire telling stories except you're running and the glowing light is your headlamp.  A lot of people get depressed when the clock turns back and it gets dark earlier.  I've learned to accept it better and not let it ruin my workouts.  Each season provides a different adventure and a different challenge.  I do wish winter was shorter, but it makes us appreciate Spring that much more.  If it wasn't for the challenges in life, we would take the simple things for granted.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Double 12

Yesterday I went for a run at Mill Creek with Brian.  The weather was gorgeous with clear blue skies and nice temps near 60.  We ran a big loop counterclockwise around all three lakes starting from the Rose Garden.  By the wetlands, we saw a bald eagle.  I had never seen one in person, much less in MCP!  It's wingspan was amazing as it flew away.  We ended the day with 12 miles.

So today the weather was still good and I still had some running fever in me.  I got out of work early, but knew this was post- move the clock back an hour.  Ugh!  I was glad for the extra hour of sleep, but now it gets dark at 5:30.  I grabbed the headlamp and headed out as quickly as possible.

I ran from Boston Store to Snowville Rd. then did two more miles on the Towpath.  I made it to Snowville without my light on, but had to turn it on after to avoid tripping on the leaf-covered roots.  I saw plenty of deer out on the trail staring at me.  I always enjoy night runs.   There's something about being all alone in the woods with just the creatures and the moon that is very calming.  I only saw one other person out there and he was doing the same route as me.