Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Monday, November 26, 2007

Thanksgiving Day - Akron Home Run for the Homeless

Wow, results were up on Thanksgiving in the afternoon. One of the things I love about this race is that 100% of the proceeds go to a great cause - Gennesaret, which is a soup kitchen/homeless shelter in Akron. Everything for the race is donated. No shirts, like I need another. Socks to the early registered, which are technical socks, and I always need more of those. Age group awards are first - turkey, second- pumpkin pie, and third-Smuckers jelly. I think the only costs are for police, and even that is low since 1/2 of the race is in the Glendale Cemetery. I had no idea how I would feel running this race just 5 days after JFK 50. I felt good. Recovery seemed complete. I did recovery runs of 3-8-5 miles on Mon., Tue. and Wed respectively. The quick recovery may be due to the ice-cold shower I took just minutes after I finished the 50. That hurt, at the time it was amongst the most uncomfortable minutes of my life. I was filthy, I stank, and there was NO hot water. What was I to do? - Ice-cold shower! The race started just a few minutes late. There were over 2000 runners, as announced by the RD. I think he included the one-mile runners in this count. As in previous years, Butch Reynolds was the official starter. I positioned myself in the middle of the road with about 2-3 hundred runners in front of me. The start is slightly down hill with a >90 degree left turn after 100 yards. I go slow, with the crowd through the turn. Most of the first mile is slightly down hill and I start weaving through runners after the turn. I make notice of all the little kids, joggers with full sweats, plodders wearing i-pods, etc, and since I see this at all the big races, it's not bothering me that these folks who are destined to finish in the last 20% have decided to start in the front 20%. Just before the first mile mark, there is a slight up-hill and I charged past dozens of other runners. Since I am old, it takes a few minutes for my heart to catch up to my legs. This blessing almost always results in even splits through the first 1/2 of a race, and my last mile is typically my fastest. I get to pass runners the entire race! I'm thankful for that. Mile 1 is 6:15. I am surprised at my speed and that I feel as well as I do. A little after mile one, we head into the cemetery. Just by the entrance I come up on some young men. High school or college aged - they are friends/teammates and they are running in a pack. "We sense your fear" was emblazoned on the back of one runners shirt. Ok, I'm not all that quick-witted, but I just felt a comment was needed here. I have this ability to speak clearly even though I'm running near top-end. A few steps behind the young-man, loud enough to be heard by all his friends I said, "That sounds schizophrenic - WE sense your fear?" Then as I was next to him I looked him in the eye and said, "who ya got in there with ya buddy?" We all kind of chuckled a little, maybe me more than others. Admittedly, my sense of humor is a little strange. Back in the race, most of mile two and three are in the Glendale Cemetery - and there is very little flat. I held my own on the up hills and kept passing other runners in the downs and flats. Mile 2 was also 6:15. Just prior to mile 3 mark is a big hill that is steep and then keeps going gradual up for a couple hundred yards. I was 6:19 at 3, and with some mental difficulty I figured I needed slightly under 6:10 to finish under 25 minutes. My expected time was between 25:30 and 26, that's what I told my son Spencer who was waiting for me at the finish. Over the last mile, I used other runners to increase my pace. I passed lots, and was targeting older men that might be in my age group. "Heck with the women and children!" Which is a funny punch-line from and old joke - but in this case I actually eased back the last 50 yards and let a woman and young man come in before me. In retrospect, It's a shame I didn't work a little bit harder. Just 9 seconds in front of me was my age group winner. Dag! This is a photo of me with Butch Reynolds - from 3 years ago when I won Smuckers Jelly! I got Strawberry. No turkey for me just a pumpkin pie. Hey, it's better than jelly, or nothing at all. There's always next year.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

JFK 50 Mile Run

What a great weekend! I had great travel companions, Dan Horvath, Steve Hawthorn and Brandon Russell. We left on Friday morning, departing Hudson a little before 10am. Shortly prior to crossing over into PA, someone mentioned race gear, and water bottle, and I suddenly realized that I forgot to pack my hand held bottle and gu packs. Ughhh! This was bad! I had nothing! Brandon offered one of his bottles and his hand holder, as he had a belt with capacity for two bottles, and he though he could make due with one bottle. This weighed heavy on my mind until it was resolved later in the day. I could NOT take one of Brandon’s bottles. That idea just would not set in my mind as a solution. I suggested to the group that we take a lunch-time side trip off of the PA turnpike to visit the 9/11 Flight 93 crash site memorial. Since I was driving, my vote automatically trumped any disagreement. My thought was the side trip would not take a lot of time, but due to snowy weather, slow traffic, winding country highway and an unfortunate (for someone else) accident we were delayed by more than 2 hours. The side trip did result in two cool stops. First the somber visit to the crash site. It was blustery cold. The mood for me was similar to a first visit to a fresh grave site of a loved one. We snapped a few photos, and were off to find lunch at a “non – chain” restaurant. My desire is always to eat at local establishments, as the price and quality is almost always a notch above Denny’s or Bob Evans. We found “Ed’s” near the Turnpike interchange town of Bedford Pa. I labeled the area “mini Breezewood” and it was. Lunch at Ed’s was great. All four of us ate the “second” helping fish lunch and we all had desert. Dan and I indulged in pumpkin pie. Brandon had the blueberry pie, and Boston Cream for Steve. Oh, I am hungry right now! Two years ago I ran JFK 50 mile for the first time. None of my other travel companions has run JFK before. It was such an enjoyable experience the first time; I knew I would be back. I was unable to run last year due to several employment issues. My life is much more settled now, so this year I was able to execute a better training plan focused on this race. Here is what I did to prepare: The past three weeks I did most of my runs on trails in the dark. This helped me focus on foot placement and being agile so that uneven foot landings would not cause me to roll or twist an ankle. Three weeks ago I ran a 37-mile trail run. The week prior to that, I did 3 runs that were up steep and long mountain trails. Five weeks out I did the Cleveland Towpath Marathon. Six weeks out I did the Akron Marathon. Akron and Towpath marathons were the core of my preparation. Akron, with its hills, and then just 8 days later the HOT Towpath marathon, combined together, these two races helped build my endurance. Back to the trip, after lunch the travel time flew by, and we quickly arrived in Hagerstown. The first stop was race headquarters for packet pick up. I splurged by purchasing a $5 polo shirt off of the discount rack. And I scored a free fluid flask from another vendor. The flask has some adverts on it, and also the slogan: “Run like a Girl” Primary colors on the flask are pink and purple. It worked, and I began to believe this would be my solution. Brandon insisted that I use his hand-held bottle holder as he was only going to use his belt and the hand-bottle holder was destined to stay in the hotel room unless I decided to use it. BTW, I have a belt and have not used it the last couple years. I always use a hand-held flask. I was ok with the thought of no gu packets since I planned to get most of my race day calories from the aid station. My race shorts have pockets and I always have a few gu packets in each pocket. Also, race day temps were forecast as cold and so my plan was to wear a jacket for the first part of the race and maybe (if I can find someone to take it) discard after the sun comes out. The jacket has pockets as well, with more room for my race essentials - gu, baby wipes and a plastic baggie with Aleve. After packet pickup, I drove out to the start area in Boonsboro. My plan was to use the remaining daylight to show a few of the early course locations to my friends. We drove the initial 3-mile road section into the first trailhead. Here we are race eve: We also drove to the Reno memorial. WARNING - Dull history lesson in the following paragraph: The JFK 50 mile course runs through many significantly important historic sites. At about 4 miles into the run we cross Reno Memorial road and right past the Reno Monument. Major General Jesse Reno served under the Commander of the Potomac General McClellen. In September 1862, he was a casualty at the memorial site in a battle where his Union Troops were attempting to stop troops under General Lee. Lee had plans in place to advance on Harpers Ferry which was location of a large Union armory. All the generals and other officers that served under him dearly loved General Reno. In 1868 one of those officers suggested naming a small Nevada town after his beloved General. Here is a photo of me at the Reno Monument: Ok now to the race. My goal was to stay with Terry Hawk for the first three miles since I knew his strategy is always to jog the first part and save the walking for later on the trail where it is sometimes impossible to run. This was TJ’s 10th time at JFK, so I knew I was in good hands. My pre-race goal was sub 9. I had done 9:35 two years ago, and I knew I was in better condition this go around. The night before our group made a quick stop at a Target store. I got a couple of Cherry Almond cliff bars and some baby wipes. My pre race meal was a banana and one cliff bar washed down with about 10 oz of diet energy drink and 440 mg (2 caps) of Aleve. I carried my flask which was full of Gatorade, 4 cliff bars, a small pack of baby wipes and two more Aleve caps and one chocolate gu that another runner, a total stranger gave me just prior to the start. He offered as this was something extra and he could not fit in his pack. I was fearful of the first couple of miles; I didn’t think I could run the entire way up the hill. But I did. And I felt great. The weather was great; high for the day was just below 50. Temp at the start was low 30's. There was a slight breeze. No rain, sleet or snow. I ran hard the first couple of miles on road and stayed with and just a few steps a head of TJ. Miles 4 through 16 are on the Appalachian Trail, which is technical single track and it's difficult to pass other runners. I was passed by a few, and also passed a dozen or so on the single track. About mile 13 I pulled out a cliff bar and ate ½. Another hour later I ate the other half. Near the end of the single-track trail I passed Joe Trask and Sue Demming. Joe is 72. If he completes the run today it will be 20th. The amazing thing about Joe is that he had hip replacement surgery in 1995. And just over a year ago he had a partial knee replacement. This is one tough dude! A little later I passed Leo Lightner and then after the Weverton Cliffs I passed Art Moore. All these folks applied for and were accepted into the 5am start. At mile 16 the trail descends on multiple switchbacks down the side of the mountain to the Potomac River. I came out on the towpath in about 2:35. Right when the course comes off the trail, on a small section of road in the hamlet called Weverton, there are hundreds of spectators. I saw and acknowledged Donna Hawk, Steve Godale and Lloyd Thomas. These three were here specifically to support runners they had come to help with the race. I had no plans for assistance at that time, but shortly after I was hopeful I could hand my jacket and hat to someone I knew and retrieve it at the finish area. The next 26+ miles are on towpath, similar to the one we run here in the Cuyahoga Valley, including mileposts. First milepost is 60 and the last is 86. I stayed consistent there doing just under 9's most of the way. Aid stations are setup between 3 and 4 miles apart. At each station I would eat a couple handfuls of potato chips and drink 3 cups of coke. This would replace my salt and sugars and it tastes better than an electrolyte capsule. I carried a hand-held bottle and about every other aid station I would get that refilled with Gatorade. I never spent more than 2 minutes at the stations. Once I had to stop to get some rocks out of my left shoe. After just a couple of miles on the Towpath, I was getting real warm. First I took off my hat and then I had thoughts of dropping my jacket with Steve Godale. The next crew access point is where Antietam Creek flows into the Potomac. Steve was there to crew for Dawn Malone and I was running near her. I thought of him since he is easy to pick out in a crowd. I figured that I may also see Lloyd or Donna, and they were my backup plan. Prior to Antietam, I arranged all my stuff so that anything I didn’t want, I put into jacket pockets. I had unzipped the jacket so that it would be easy to strip off. It all worked out as planned, and just as I was departing the aid area, Steve was running toward me. Thanks a bunch Steve, you made the last 20+ miles much more pleasant. The last 7 miles of towpath I was slowing to just less than 10 minutes per mile. I was consistently passing runners and occasionally I would be passed. There was always pleasant conversation exchanged. I did several miles with two runners from Alabama, and a couple miles with another runner from Dayton, Ohio. We were all in good spirits. I love to run! For several miles I was deep into meditation. Eyes were slits; peace everywhere, every single physical movement was fluid. Being next to the beautiful Potomac helped. Leaves on the trail, water over rocks, slight breeze - these were the only sensory invasions, and they aided my trance. There is a large low head dam, (Dam #4) on the Potomac near where the course leaves the trail for the last 8.2 miles of road. You can see and hear it on the river about ½ mile before you get there. I was coming up on another runner as the dam came into view and I informed her that seeing Dam 4 means we are departing the towpath and the finish is close. I also asker her, “what’d the fish say when he ran into a wall? Damn!” I got a laugh and a thank you out of her. All good things come to an end, and the 42-mile mark ended the towpath. I had run that marathon in about 4:05. Race time at 42 was about 6:40. The final 8.2 miles are on rolling country road through the Maryland countryside. Even with the hills I kept all of them under 10's. I was passed by a couple of runners and I was lucky enough to pass a handful. The last three aid stations I blew through like I was in a 10k. Hand me a cup of water or coke and I kept moving right on through. Little squeezes of the cup and made it like a funnel to pour it into my mouth. Drop the empty cup into a garbage can, or as close to the can as possible. Of course I had to sprint the last mile. 8 minutes and 40 seconds. It was fun to run. It was great to stop. Something cool happened when I was in the finish area waiting for Steve Hawthorn to come in. Voice on the loud speaker, "Here comes Michael George, from Richmond Virginia" It was cool to meet another ultra runner with my name. Of course, Michael George is a cool dude. The most difficult part of the day lies ahead. Unbeknownst to me, there was NO hot water in the showers at the middle school where we finish. I had no choice but to take a cold shower. It was horrible at the time, but now I believe that ice-cold shower may have provided for an extremely quick recovery from the 50-mile run. Later in the evening a bunch of the folks from NE Ohio celebrated at El Paso, a Tex-Mex Restaurant on Dual Highway, just a mile or two closer to Hagerstown from the race registration Hotel. This Photo was provided by Dan Horvath. L to R: Brandon Russell, Steve Hawthorne, Melissa (don't know last name), Elizabeth Hansen, Steve Godale, Dawn Malone, Dan Fox, Rita Barnes, Dan Horvath, me.

Friday, October 26, 2007

San Jose

I've been here in the bay area the last five days. On Sunday I did a 7-8 mile run on the west side of the valley. This is the Santa Cruz Mountains. I went west on Rt9 from the San Jose suburban town of Saratoga up to the Saratoga pass, where Rt9 crosses Rt 35 (Skyline Drive). I ran most of the Castle Rock 10 mile race course. At my turn, I was at this over look where I could see the Pacific Ocean as the sun was going down.
The trails were similar to what I am used to in the Cleveland area metroparks, but with occasional great views that reminded me I was not running hills around the Cuyahoga valley, but that I was about 3500 feet, amongst some mountains. On Tuesday and Wednesday I ran some trails in Mission Peak regional park. These trails are on the other side (east) of San Jose. Both runs started at low elevation, so I was running up hill for first 1/2 of the run. Then serious down hill back to the car. Last night I was running 6:15 to 7:45pm. Shortly after sun set, I was running a switch-back and heading away from the peaks behind me, when I saw something large (size of a very large ground hog) and very close to the ground in front of me, running away from me at what appeared to be similar to my running pace. It scared the CRAP out of me! Seconds later I realized I was running out of the (moon) shadows of the mountain peaks behind me, and the moon was up there casting a shadow - My Shadow, on the ground in front of me. Ok, I have to admit, I was (for a second) afraid - VERY afraid of my own shadow. What a wimp. Here are some phots of me running trails near Mission Peak. This evening I needed something flat! So I went to the Milpitas High School track. Again, it was near and just after sunset. Surprisingly, there were a bunch of people at the track. Most were jogging, and a few were kicking soccer balls up and down the field. Non-running content - I am staying in Milpitas. Most folks here are oriental. One evening I went to a grocery store - 99 Ranch Market. It was packed. Only after I was in the store did I realize this place had lots of products from China, with packaging/writing in Chinese characters. Hundreds of families were shopping. I was the only non-oriental. I cannot describe in words what I was feeling. I noticed all the little ones. The children with their moms and dads. Melancholy. That's about the only word that comes to mind now - several days later. At that time I was looking deeply at the beauty of each child and thinking of my own daughter. And the pain that her natural parents must have/are still suffering. Pain - balanced with our families joy having such a great treasure. Here is a short video clip of our Angie!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Old Photo

I found this photo a couple of weeks ago and it took me a few days to figure out when, what and where the photo was from. The shoes, shirt and shorts gave me the first clues that this was my FIRST marathon. The street signs in the background confirmed my suspicions. I was 25 years old. It was the 1985 Columbus marathon. And, like this past weekend, it was 80+ degrees. Many runners were hospitalized. I did have some troubles in the finish area. I searched for a long time trying to find water and all I could find was Gatorade. My stomach was upset and I didn’t think I could keep anything but water down. After a few minutes of looking, I just grabbed a cup of light green stuff and sat by a tent. It cam up as quickly as it went down. The tent I was sitting next to just happened to be a medical tent and a nurse heard my heaving. Next thing I know I’m in a bed and they are getting ready to put in an IV. I quickly convinced the nurse that all I needed was a little water. I avoided an IV by sipping water and holding it down. Whew. Anyway this was a cool photo from my past that I wanted to share.
- Mike

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Running a lot lately

Bad news – I have been way too busy to put anything new up here on my blog. Good news – I have been doing a lot of running and also putting time into home projects. Eight days ago I ran the Akron Roadrunner Marathon. Five days ago I ran a six mile trail race. Today I ran the Tow Path Marathon. Akron Roadrunner Marathon – 26.2 consistent miles. I ran 23.2 miles no faster than 7:35 and no slower than 7:50. I ran three of the up hill miles between 8 and 8:15. Oh, I’m not counting a 90 second potty break I took at mile 17. My goal – I would be thrilled with anything under 3:30. I expected slower as I was NOT focused on this as a race. The race fits into my JFK50 training plan. For those who don’t know, JFK is always the Saturday before Thanksgiving. About a month ago, I decided that back-to-back marathons would be good training for a 50-mile race. Anyway, I was impressed with the Akron Roadrunner Marathon organization and the attention to every little detail that the race organizers put out. I will try not to miss this race in the future. My finish time was 3:26. CVNPA Fall Running Series -Oct 2 2007 Station Bridge – Six mile trail race. I heard about these races last year and put them in my calendar for this year. Guy Gadomski organizes these “fun” races. They remain a secret until the evening of the race. This past Tuesday, Guy assigned each runner to one of three teams. Then he informed us that there would be three race distances. Thunder – 3 mile; wind – 4.5 mile; and lightning – 6 mile. Every one started at the same time and made the decision on which distance to run during the race. At two turnaround points there were posted a bunch of tags. Runners just picked a tag and ran back to the finish line. The six mile option also had a place for picking a tag. I did six miles in 43 and ½ minutes. It was hilly. I finished second in my age group and 4th in the six mile race. Towpath Marathon – This morning. It was HOT. I ran slowly the first 4 miles – each a little over 8. Then 14 miles of about 7:45. Then the heat got to me and I struggled to keep under 9:30 for the last 7 miles. I felt bad that I was running so slow, but hey – I was passing other runners. Just a few passed me, and some of those I caught in the last 2 miles. My goal was to run consistent with last weeks Akron Roadrunner Marathon. I was 11 minutes slower with a 3:37. All 11 minutes were in the last 7 miles. This was HARD. The winning time was 2:59. Yikes, every one had slow times.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Thursday 9/20

I am feeling much better today. I did a “special” exercise this morning and it improved my life outlook tremendously. The exercise – I created a list of my greatest treasures. I am a wealthy man. For each treasure, I spent several minutes contemplating its meaning to me, and how life would be if that treasure were not mine. My list is simple – health, relationship with God, wife, daughter & son, running, my job which provides all of us with food & warmth & shelter, physical comforts that go beyond need and further even way far beyond my want. I could go into detail, but I will just echo the ancient words of that famous dude David – “my cup over flows.” My running has been going ok. Not tremendously great, but ok is fine with me. Early in the week, I still struggled in the dull drums. On Monday I signed up for a bench and run contest that’s scheduled for October 17th. I have rarely done free weight bench workouts. I think I’m in trouble. Since I am an old guy, my bench weight is set at 90% of my body weight. I hope this will be 165lbs at most. On Tuesday there was another middle school XC meet that canceled my track session. After a 24 minute warm-up, I did 2m on the tread mill, and could not keep with a steady tempo run. So I did 4 quarters at about 6:15 sandwiched between 7:30 pace quarters. I did 4x25 sets of push ups and 2x15 bench press of 95lbs before, during and after my runs. I wonder if I could do even one rep of 165lbs. Wednesday I did a spin class. On a scale of 1-10 I put about 8.5 effort into this class which is pretty good for me. I had sweat dripping from my brow by the first 10 minutes. In ½ hour, every stitch of cloths I had on was wet. I had planned a short recover run after the class, but lacked motivation, so I bagged it. During the first part of today’s run, I did the “special” exercise. My run was a loop on mostly bridle trails through North Chagrin park. – Here is a (guesstimated) map: I ran fairly hard and it felt good. About ½ way through the run, I went past the front of Squires Castle. This will forever be know in my mind as the “start of BR 100.” I abstained from ibuprofen today, which is unusual for a scheduled hard day. I limit my ibuprofen intake to 3x a week at most, so that my body won’t build a tolerance to it. Sometimes I run with pain. For a non ibuprofen day, the pain was minimal. There was a little tenderness on the bottom of my heels for the first 15 minutes, (plantar fasciitis), and then no pain for the remainder of the run. I have done this loop before, today was my fastest time. I feel happiness.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Monday 9/17

Last week my mood was low all week. I didn’t want to do the Tuesday tempo run. I almost didn’t. My typical Tuesday after work consists of a 14 minute warm up run from our Campus I fitness center to the nearby Mayfield HS track. Here is a map route When I got to the track, there was a middle school cross county meet in progress with the finish line on the track. My track session was CANCELED. I had limited time for my work out, but decided to spend a few minutes watching the kids run. It was a big meet and there were a lot of parents/grandparents. I knew NO ONE. Yet I used this time to enjoy watching the effort these kids put out. Almost all of them were really throwing themselves into the race. I was inspired to the point of encouraging some of the kids as they ran by – heck – I’ll admit it - I was yelling at the top of my lungs as though my kid was out there fighting off an opponent. With my mood improved, I jogged back to the fitness center, and en route I decided that I had at least 15 extra minutes. So I planned to do a 2m tempo on tread mill. I HATE tread mills. I was in the same funk on Thursday at lunch time when I had a 3x1200 interval scheduled. I just did not want to go. It took everything I had in me to get out of my work chair and go to the track. My first interval was dismal. Second a little better. I finally got into the groove with the last. And doing 4:20 was a huge boost to my mood. Yesterday I picked up new shoes from Vertical Runner. Buying new shoes always helps improve my mood. The next two weeks I will break them in, and then use them to complete Akron Marathon and Towpath Marathon. I have not yet registered for Towpath. I plan to do that this evening. My track sessions will be less intimidating the next two weeks, since I will be using them to set my marathon pace. I’d like to keep at least 7:30 for both races so I have my track pace set a little faster. I view these two marathon events as training/preparation for JFK 50.

Last Week - This Week

Last week 9/9 through 9/16 Sunday – Buckeye ½ Marathon – 1:35:57 Monday – 3m - Easy - North Chagrin Trails (NCT) Tuesday – 2 mile tempo. 3 mile warm up. tread mill – 12:57 Wednesday – 8m – Easy – NCT. Spin at lunch time. Thursday – 6m – Track – 3x1200 w/400 rest – 4:46;4:35 and 4:20. Friday – 10m - Easy NCT with Brandon Russell– Noon Boot Camp Saturday – 14m on Buckeye Trail with Brandon Russell. Week totals – 60 miles – 1 spin class – Friday Boot Camp. This week 9/17 through 9/23 – Akron M. Preparation Sunday – Rest Monday – Easy Tuesday – Track – 6m Tempo at 7:30 m/m pace Wednesday – Easy run – Spin Thursday – Track – 3m Tempo at 7:30 m/m pace Friday – Easy run - Spin – Boot Camp – Saturday – 8m Trails – Easy

Monday, September 10, 2007

Buckeye ½ Marathon

I was not mentally ready for this race. The rain didn’t help. I didn’t want to run. I got there early. As I was in the registration tent getting my number, I was bit at least 3 times by mosquitos. I waited in my truck – reading – for about 40 minutes. About 30 minutes prior to the race start I went out for a 10-15 minute warm up. I ran about ½ mile down the road to a remote trail-head for the towpath to use a bathroom that I knew would be deserted. During thr warm up I realized two things – I forgot to put body glide in ALL the places I need, and I had on an old pair of shoes that would be disaster in a 13 mile run. With just 5 minutes to spare, I was back at my truck, applied the BG to where I needed, and put on my race shoes. I got to the start with only a few minutes to socialize with some of the runners there – Steve Godale, Joe Salwan, and Vince Rucci. I asked Vince about his Colorado trail Marathon, and then it was time to run. Later I found out he did Punxatuny 50k on Saturday - in 4:04 – second place. Incredible running Vince, congratulations! The first 3 miles went well in just 21 minutes. I was passing a steady stream of runners. I felt a little tired but I thought the 7m/m pace was well within my limits. The next 5 mines were about 36 minutes – a little slower just over 7:10 pace per mile. And I was no longer passing anyone. Mile 9 has a few hills. And this is where the steady light rain changed into a heavy downpour. And it knocked the wind out of me. I was passed by 5 runners. Mile time was just over 8 minutes. The remaining 4 miles is on rolling hills, none of which are large, but enough to keep me just over 7:40 mile pace. The last of the hills was just before mile 13. I was passed by at least 10 more runners over the last 4 miles and 3 of those runners past me in the last ½ mile of the race. Not at all how I want to finish a race. Finish time – 1:35:54.

Last Week - This Week

Last week 9/2 through 9/8 Sunday - Rest Monday – 5miles(m) race – Labor of Love - 33:28 – 5m easy Tuesday – 10m - Easy – North Chagrin Trails (NCT) with my brother Dale Wednesday – 4m – Easy – NCT with Dave Nonno. Spin immediately after run. Thursday – 6m – Track – 3x1200 w/400 rest – 4:34;4:30 and 4:22. Friday – 6:00a.m. Spin – Noon Boot Camp – 6m – Easy Saturday – Rest Week totals – 38 miles – 2 spin class – Friday Boot Camp. This week 9/9 through 9/15 Sunday – Buckeye ½ Marathon Monday – Easy Tuesday – Track – 3m Tempo Wednesday – Easy run – Spin Thursday – Track – 3x1200 Friday – Spin – Boot Camp – Rest Saturday – 15m Trails – Easy

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Labor of Love 5 mile

I was planning to run this in about 32 minutes. I base that on the track session I did last Thursday – a 2 mile tempo run. I forgot to figure in the 20 mile training run I did on Saturday and the fact that Labor of Love is not a flat course. I was about a minute slower than planned. The day before the race I fantasized a 2.5 mile warm-up jog, followed by the 5 mile race and then another 2.5 cool down. I thought it would be nice to get a 10 mile into my running log. I doubted I would have the motivation complete that. Some things I like about this race – First, the benefit organization, Akron Pregnancy Services helps people in desperate need. Second, the sponsor organization, The Chapel in Akron puts on a great spread of food after the race. Church ladies know how to bake! I like the out and back type course because you get to see where you are in the field of runners and you can “check-in” with your friends as you pass each other opposite directions. Some things I don’t like about this race – The running surface is mainly cement, tough on the bones. This is a double loop of 2.5 miles NEAR the down town Akron area. There’s not much going on here, it is dull scenery. And there is a hairpin turn in the course that really slows you down. We do that twice. As I arrive to get my race number, I met Joe Salwan. First thing asks me, “want to do a 2.5 mile warm-up?” This fits my plan perfectly. I did a quick, passing hi and greeting with Mike Keller between warm-up run and pre-race potty stop. In the start area I met Greg Dykes. And I pointed out my wife, daughter and mother-in-law to Greg. The family came down to wait and wait and wait for me as I raced. Not too much fun for them, but there was a twist-up balloon guy that my daughter appreciated. I think she got a balloon puppy or something. It was a typical race for me. I started with about 60 people in front of me for the first ¼ mile. Then I moved through the crowd as they slowed down and my heart started to catch up on the demands of my legs and lungs. At 1.25 miles there is the first hairpin turn, I counted 39 runners in front of me. Over the next mile I passed 12 of them. At 2.5 miles we went through the starting area. Someone yelled out to me, “Mike – 2 miles down, just 98 more to go.” Someone was reminding me of the 100 mile run I did just 4 weeks ago, as though I needed reminding! I think this was Jim Chaney, but I’m not sure. I did not see him there, Mike Keller mentioned him in his blog entry and that’s why I deduce it to have been Jim. They have a 2 person relay race along with the 5 mile. Just past the exchange point, two young men pass me and I can tell they are fresh relay runners. Over the next 2.5 miles I catch and pass another 2 runners, so I think my final place was high 20’s. I’ll know for sure when the results are published. I believe there were at least 5 relay teams in front of me, so I know my place was low 20’s. I was fairly pleased with my 33:28 time, expecting faster, but knowing that my expectations were probably slightly unrealistic. After the run, I met Paul Organ, one of Joe’s friends. The three of us did another 2.5 mile cool down. During the cool down, I discovered Paul is also 47 and he finished the 5 mile race about 90 seconds in front of me. The remainder of the afternoon was spent touring Holmes County. We got some Amish baked cookies, cheese, fresh corn, squash, peppers, etc. Also we go to a winery near Sugarcreek called Breitenbach. This is the only place we can find currant wine. Home made currant wine is popular in the Moravian region of the Czech Republic. My wife’s family is from the town of Ivancice (pronounced e-von-chit-sa), and the official town seal/emblem of Ivancice is composed of three wine flasks. If you’ve never had currant wine, I suggest you give it a try.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Yesterday - Double Workout

Yesterday was a double workout. I ran 20 miles on the Akron Road Runner Marathon course with the Vertical Runner training group. And I did two dance performances at he Cleveland Octoberfest in the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds, Berea. There were at least 45 runners. We met at 6:30am in front of the Akron Aeros baseball stadium, the starting line for the marathon. I only knew maybe 6 of the runners there. Bill Bailey, Greg Dykes, Jamie Carr, Joe Salwan, Mike Keller and Don Holtzapple. This was my first long run since BR100, four weeks ago. I have done a couple of 50+ minute runs at slower pace. Yesterday we, (Greg, Jamie and I) ran a little better than 8:30 per mile. I took a couple of potty breaks and had to run catch up, which great interval training. Unintentional intervals, but it forced me to push harder than I wanted. I did struggle for the last mile and a half. Thanks Jamie and Greg for pulling me along. Our dance group, The Sokol Greater Cleveland Czech Folk Dancers performed at 2:30pm and again at 4:30 before a sparse gathering of Octoberfest revelers. We do six different dances for each performance. It was fun and we danced fairly well. We do mainly polkas and waltz style dances, that are self choreographed with authentic Czech folk music. My partners were Julie, Angela and Barb. At the end of the final dance, I throw my wife Judy up on my shoulder. She waves a small USA and Czech flag as the other dancers move in two circles around us.


My name is Mike. I have been married to Judy since May 1997. My wife and I have a daughter that we adopted from China in 2005. I have a son from a previous marriage, and he will graduate from high school in 2008. I intend to focus the posts here on running. I have a passion for long distance running. I will try to make an entry at least once a week. I plan to track my training and future running plans and also include race reports, and an occasional photo. Judy took this photo of me just a few hours after finishing Burning River 100.
Welcome to my blog!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Burning River 100 Report

A couple of years ago some of the ultra runners in this area began discussing the possibility of a 100 mile race that would start somewhere up north of Brecksville, and follow the Buckeye Trail through Station Road Bridge and continue south along the BT50K ( course and then further south to a finish somewhere in Summit County. My initial reaction was, “That’s in my backyard, and I have got to do that!” Months later, when that race vision became a reality, Joe Novicky approached and asked me to volunteer and work an aid station with him. I told him, I didn’t want to commit, since I was considering running the race. Well, I never got a training plan put together, and when registration opened, I was fearful to commit money since I considered my training future questionable. I didn’t seriously consider this race until mid June while I was working an aid station for Mohican 100 ( During that weekend I did a couple of runs with Vince Rucci, owner of Vertical Runner store in Hudson and one of the BR100 race organizers. I also met Mike Keller, one of the BR100 entrants, and did a short run with Joe Jurczyk, the BR100 race director. I came home from that weekend with the 100 mile bug. I sent in my BT50K race application and thought about doing one 40+ mile training run. I was hopeful these two long runs would be enough prep to complete 100 miles. Then the offer came in. It was the proverbial straw. Near the end of June, my co-worker, Brandon Russell had a chance conversation with another Progressive Insurance employee Joe Vasil. Joe had registered for BR100 and would not be able to run due to an injury. He offered to have his race entry transferred to another runner for a minimal fee. Brandon hooked me in. I called Joe, and we exchanged some e-mails. On June 30th, I mailed in the transfer fee, and became an official BR 100 entrant. My longest run this year was 19 miles back in March. I had been doing a bunch of trail running, but nothing longer than 16. Guuuulp. On July 2nd I was at 7 Ranges scout camp in Carroll County. I did 10 laps of what I thought to be a 4 mile loop. That run went really well. Later I found out the loop was closer to 4.2 miles. I ran my best-ever 50k (5:12) on July 14th, 2007 at the Buckeye Trail 50k. And I felt great afterward, like I could have kept running. Race weekend - I had a fitful sleep Friday night/Saturday morning. Less than 1 hour total. It amounted to 3 or 4 fifteen-minute naps. I took the 45-minute bus ride from the finish area in Cuyahoga Falls to the start in Willoughby hills. No one on either bus (except for me) knew how to get to Squires Castle. We started in the grassy field in front of the castle. In that field, one Saturday summer afternoon back in the late ‘60s during a family reunion picnic, a bird pooped right square on the top of my head. Also in that field, back in the late summer of 1977 is where I lost my front tooth playing touch football. Now I was starting a 100 mile run from that same field, where I tossed hundreds of Frisbees as a child, and young man.
I want to insert here a special thanks to Tyler Peek who gave me some water as we waited for the bus at 3am. Also thanks to Tanya Cady for a small breakfast that gave me the initial calories I needed to get started. And thanks to Chihping Fu for keeping me company late Friday and early Saturday. We did some of the first part of the race together and he took a few photos of me.
The first 9.4 miles were on Chagrin River road. Dave Peterman, Ron Ross and I ran that whole way together. Ron had race bib #1. I had #2. Dave had #12. I wore my Northeast Running Club race shirt for the first 30 miles. That club hosted the first aid station. It was nice to see club President Jerry Tomko, Rich, and Steve Novak, Tanya and Walt. We walked up the three largest hills on the road section. We didn’t feel like walking, but we did so knowing this was a 100-mile race. Someone made a comment about getting more miles in before the heat of the sun and the hilly trails. I didn’t think that sounded good to me when I heard it. I also knew all the volunteers at aid station #2. Chris Corrigan, Mike Mayher, Dan Manery, Dave Coffee, TJ and Donna Hawk, Sue Deming, Gwen Goss and Joe Trask are the friends I recall seeing. My first problem came up (or I should say down) just prior to the third aid station. This was Harper Ridge shelter, mile 15.1. I had to use the toilet. I was prepared for this problem. I had a small packet of baby wipes. This is when I discovered the start of my second problem. The seams on my boxer-sport briefs were unraveling about an inch or so just on the inseam. My inner thighs were beginning to chafe. This was ok for now since I had liberally applied body glide prior to getting dressed. Harper ridge is at the highest elevation for the race. It’s where we cross over from the Chagrin watershed and into Tinkers Creek watershed, which flows into the Cuyahoga. From that Ridge, we could see Solon, Bedford, Maple Heights, Valley View, Independence, and Parma. This was the first of MANY awesome views. I recall crossing over Route 422 and then about 10 minutes later crossing on a bridge over railroad tracks. This is very close to the Stouffer Food processing plant in Solon. We were down wind of the plant, and I could smell some mixture of Italian sauce. It was a pleasant odor. At the Shadow lake aid station I drank some coke and noticed it was not de-fizzed. I mentioned this to the woman volunteer and suggested they de-fizz it since ALL the runners would like it that way. Another volunteer, a grizzled older, shorter man with a pot belly and a full gray beard, loudly pointed out that I was WRONG, and that HE was an ultra runner and had even run in 100 mile events and HE liked his coke with fizz in it. I kept my mouth shut. This bothered me a little. I analyzed my comments and realized I should have kept my comments to what I preferred and NOT tell the volunteers HOW and WHAT to do for other runners. But it still bothered me. This man who pointed out my wrong was also a volunteer at covered bridge. In retrospect, I am really glad he was out there helping. EACH and EVERY volunteer is greatly appreciated by ALL (or at least this) runner(s). Just after we crossed under I-480 I had to GO again. Fortunately there was a porta potty in a small parking area off the side of Hawthorn parkway. I still had a couple baby wipes. It was about 20 miles. No more wipes. No need to worry, I had more wipes in my aid-station bags. Soon after the potty break I had a great view of a goldfinch to my right. It perched, and flitted, then perched and flitted next to me for about 30 seconds. I wanted badly to point it out to someone, but there was no one nearby. About mile 24, I had to GO again! Agrr! This small problem was becoming a major PAIN IN THE BUTT! There were some long parts here where I was forced to walk or have an accident. I approached another runner from behind and I was anticipating asking him for some toilet paper so that I could find a secluded place along the trail. I knew we had at least another mile (15 minutes) to the next aid station. He was young, under 30. As I came up on him, he started to violently heave. At that instant I knew his problems were MUCH worse than mine. I stopped and checked him out. He told me that he had emptied his stomach earlier and presently was dry-heaving. I told him we were close to the next station and gave him some advice about what to consume and what to avoid that would help settle his stomach. The majority of miles up to this point - through South Chagrin, along Hawthorn Parkway and through Bedford Reservation, was on bridle trail. I was really getting sick of bridle trail. My first question to the aid workers at Alexander road was, “do you have any baby-wipes?” The porta potty was at the end of the parking lot. This time I was forced to use toilet paper. After finishing business, I ate Fritos, drank coke and told the aid workers about the young man in stomach distress that would be arriving soon. I also recognized one the volunteers - I only know him as “iron-dude.” His name is Matt, and I made sure to introduce myself to him. I see him several times a week in the fitness center at Progressive. He’s got the Iron Man logo tattoo on the side of his leg. He has the air of an incredible athlete. About 28 miles, on a single-track trail, a snake came across left to right just in front of me. It was cool! I think it was about noon when I arrived at the first section of towpath, next to the Frazee House. There was almost NO shade for those 2.5 miles. All the runners I saw were struggling here in the heat. I did a few miles with Rita Barnes here. She is one tough ultra runner! AT 30.3 miles, Station Road Bridge was my first support bag where I had a second hand-held water bottle, fresh socks, shoes and shirts. Also, more baby wipes, anti bacterial, and body glide. I made sure to apply a liberal amount of body glide on my chafing thighs. I also decided that I should carry the body glide and anti bacterial with me. I would apply the body glide on my chafing thighs about every 40 minutes for the remainder of the run. I made two big mistakes here. First, as I changed shoes and socks, I did not apply enough body glide between toes. Second mistake was only taking one bottle on the next segment (the carriage trail), knowing it was 6 miles and it was HOT and a good part of those 6 miles would be on the sunny towpath. I had a second bottle, and I chose not to take it. I ran out of fluid a little over ½ way through that segment. I ran almost 3 miles with nothing to drink during one of the hottest parts of the day. Stupid mistake, but it was not cause for failure. I just slowed down a little more. The only positive part of the towpath was seeing great blue herons and turtles. The second time through Station Road Bridge, I only stayed a minute to get my second bottle, drink some coke and eat some Fritos. I was looking forward to this section because I live here. Just after I crossed Riverview road, I looked up to see the three evergreen trees in my backyard. They are the three tallest trees on the ridge to the right across the big field.
Just after I crossed Chippewa Creek on the small foot bridge, I had to go again. This was almost a race ending situation, I just barely, made it to the porta potty at the Chippewa Picnic area. Yikes, there were a lot of things causing me to slow down. I was kind of on a high as I went around the kiosk at Route 82. One of the race volunteers put several water jugs there. As I refilled my bottles, I exchanged some words with some teenage boys walking from the parking lot toward the kiosk. I silently wondered if they knew my son Spencer. About 10 minutes later I was running past the Meadows Picnic area. Spencer’s Boy Scout troop camps here several times a year. When the bridle trail started up a large hill, I stated my first long section of walking. I was tired, and I HATED bridle trail at that point. I walked for almost a mile - from just before Oak Grove to just past Ottawa Point stables, where we started again on a short bit of single track to the Parkview Road aid station. It was dinnertime and I was hungry. Kathy Ross made me some egg salad sandwiches and pasta salad. I rocked the next section, which was almost all single-track trails on the BT50K course. Through here I had a second smaller snake cross in front of me. During that run I called my wife Judy several times and made arrangements to have her meet me at the Boston Store after the Brandywine loop, about 55 miles. And I asked her to have replacement technical underwear for me. It was great to see her and my daughter Angie. I took a longer break to change shirt and underwear, and clean up a little in the Boston Store bathrooms. I continued to run hard from Boston Store down to Pine Lane. About 15 minutes before Pine Lane, I had to go again. Badly. Imodium is now on the TOP of my shopping list prior to my next ultra race. One more bathroom comment, and I promise no more - I needed ALL of my baby wipes in ALL of my support bags - there were three more stops during this run.

Second time through Boston Store - about 55 miles. I went easy for the last 45 miles. Time was no concern to me, I was mearly enjoying where I was and what I was doing - living in the moment - keep moving forward. Trying hard to manage my calorie, salt, and fluid intake. And making sure to take care of my feet and chafing thighs. At one point I discovered a blister between my toes. As soon as I recognized the sensation, I stopped and sat in the middle of the trail to add more body glide. Too late, the blister was already there. I was at 62 miles when it became dark and I had NO flashlight. I could hear the fireworks from the Twinsburg Twins-day festival. I was walking on the rail-to-trial just north of Route 303. My first flashlight was in my support bag at the 65 mile aid station. A short part of the trail was pitch black and I had to navigate by repeatedly opening and closing my cell phone and use the display to light the trail at my feet. I met my first pacer, Brandon Russell at Happy Days Visitor Center, 65 miles. He ran/walked with me for 15 miles. At 75 miles we were at the Kendall Lake aid station, and it was midnight. I saw Steve Hawthorn and Dave Peterman, both in chairs with blanket wraps. Neither looked well.

Boston Store about 55 miles - after a change of cloths A little after midnight we were near the Summit county animal shelter and we could hear the dogs. Shortly after that I stumbled. My only fall. Just after "the fall" we climbed up a hill in a large field going up to the next aid station - Pine Hollow. The trail was lined with glow sticks placed at even intervals. It looked psychedelic! Then I heard a familiar voice call out my name. It was Dave Nonno, another coworker from Progressive, and he was waiting for me. He had volunteered to work the race just a few days before and was assigned this aid station on race weekend.

About 2am, we hear several coyotes calling out to each other. At mile 80, the covered bridge near Hale Farm, Brandon went home, and I had my second pacer Joe Novicky join me. The covered bridge aid station resembled a war zone. Bodies everywhere. I am sure this was drop point for a lot of runners. The Perkins trail was TOUGH! Several STEEP hills. The sun was coming up as I was on a short road section through Hale Farm. The aid station at O'Neal woods was great. Bill Wagner and Leo Lightner gave me a fried egg and cheese sandwich that perked me up a little. Also the beauty of the park, a trail along Yellow Creek, put me in a better mood. I dreaded the last section of Towpath. This went right next to the compost facility of the Akron Sewage Treatment plant. Human waste composting is about the most noxious order I have ever experienced. I think I walked about 5 of those 8 towpath miles. Joe Novicky gave me a couple of gel packs, one with caffeine, that got me moving again. The last 4.8 miles flew by. I was all of a sudden running hard again. I passed at least 4 runners through Cascade and Gorge parks. The finish on red carpet was first class! 28:34. Slow time, and a very hard run. I kept track of all my rest breaks - time. A couple breaks were close to 20 minutes. Total break time was close to 3 hours! I did use "the chair" several times to rest. "beware the chair!" many experienced ultra runners have advised - but I had only fleeting thoughts of quitting just during one chair rest break at 85 miles. Most rest breaks were between 5 and 10 minutes, depending on if a bathroom stop was needed. There was no point during that run where I was in agony. I really did enjoy at least a part of every section of this race. A couple of hours after my finish. Sign me up for next year! - Mike