Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Long weekend

My high school friend Eric came to town for a long weekend. I pryed myself away from the running shoes and opted to go see some sights I hadn't seen before.

In one short weekend, we made it to the Great Lakes Brewing Co., the Westside Market, Pro Football Hall of Fame, the Beachland Ballroom, Jacobs Field, the West 6th Street Fair for live music, and finally Cedar Point.

Whew! Running took a back seat for one weekend. After Eric left, I got back at it.

Tuesday's run: 9 miles (4 miles tempo) (1:07 total) Workout was 4x1600, with 90 second rests. 1600 splits: 6:21/6:24/6:22/6:22. Great to have Andrew back as I chased him around the track as he did a straight 5mi tempo run.

Wednesday's run: 5 non-descript easy miles in 41:01

A couple random shots here, and I'll post as many as I can on the photo page later on.


Thursday, August 24, 2006

Running in circles

Running in circles on the track serves a purpose. To practice either speed or pace. Yet the destination is exactly the same--we finish exactly at the same spot as we started.

On the surface, it appears running in circles gets us nowhere. Yet anyone who's toughed out a set of Yasso 800s in the summer heat knows that runners strive for a destination more than 'nowhere.' In fact, interval running in circles is a tried and true activity in preparing for a personal best in the marathon (any distance, for that matter.)

My next long race is in 2.5 weeks, so I've decided to stick with the lactate threshold pace running once per week. We'll see how it goes. Instead of blasting out the 400-800 stuff at 5k pace or faster, I'm sticking with the longer, slower paced runs.

Today's run: Humid. 37 laps around the Lakewood HS track. 9 miles. (1:10)

2.5mi warm-up
4.5mi @ T-pace (1x 3mi; 3min rest; 1x 1.5mi)
2.0mi cool-down

Splits: 6:46/6:45/6:39 & 6:41/3:19

This weeks tempo run was a bit tougher without a partner. I set out to do a straight 4 miles, but I wasn't there. I gave in. So I added the extra 1.5 after a short rest.

I ran the track solo, just as I have many times before. While I prefer running in a group, there's something cathedral-like about an empty track. There's something to the symmetry of the loop. While running 'round and 'round, its my place for reflection and meditation.

What is it about running around in circles?

Ever since I took up running as a hobby, the running has never been the problem. I enjoy it. Probably too much. Yet when I thought about running in circles today, thoughts dart to the rest of my life, my work, and my friends and family.

Am I getting anywhere, or am I in one spot?

I've discovered from marathon training that the joy of running marathons comes more from the training and lifestyle rather than the actual marathon race. You know the saying, the journey and destination thing. as I ran my 37 circles around the oval I thought about my journey and my destination. The thought drifted towards the serious.

Right now I don't know the answer. I'm new to blogging and as with the journey in running and life, I feel like I'm learning to write. I'm 3 weeks and 13 posts into a new creative writing outlet for me. It's those darn triathletes over there in my sidebar. They're great writers and their tales of life and enormous training sucked me into Blogger.

So back to running. Running in circles will become a theme here. Imagine the absurdity of running a 1 mile loop for 12 hours. Its on my schedule October 21st. I'll just leave it at that for today.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Cleveland peeps...

Just wanted to pass it on about the West 6th Street Fest this Sunday. There's not enough free stuff going on in Cleveland, but this is it! Carlos Jones/PLUS plays 6-8p. FREE! Carlos is fun for all-ages and best of all, its outside!

I have a whirlwind weekend planned for a friend from out of town. I'm gonna roll right out of Jacobs Field and over to W6 on Sunday. Can you believe I've never been to Cedar Point? That'll change. Soon.

3rd Annual Street Festival August 27

The 3rd Annual Historic Warehouse District STREET FESTIVAL will be held Sunday, August 27 from noon until 8pm on West 6th Street.

Join us for a festive event featuring Residential Open Houses, food from your favorite Warehouse District restaurants, arts and crafts, retail booths, activities for kids and street performers all day long!

Enjoy nearly continuous music on two stages throughout the day featuring Catwalk Blue, Second Place, Istan Black & the Sweets, Con Junto Carnavale, Spazmatics, Carlos Jones & the Plus Band, Moises Borges & Grupo Brazil, Joe DeJarnette Quinter, Grupo Fuego, Cats on Holiday and the Prayer Warriors!

Come see the Red Bull TNT Freestyle Motorcross Demo!

Best of all, admission is FREE! See you there!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Roots pics

So I have a new camera to test out. I'm a total novice with digital imagery, but here's a sample of day one with the Sony W50. Check the sidebar for the link to entire collection of roots pics.

This is going to be fun...

Cross-country trail at Virginia Kendall Lake

Cuyahoga Valley overlook at the Ledges

PLUS Band in the flats

What can I say? The man stands taller than Key Tower

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Hey gadget heads...

You gotta check THIS out. Thanks to Scott Dunlap and his Trail Runner's Blog for the story. Scott describes his experience running on the Alter G anti-gravity treadmill.

Yes, you heard me correctly. An anti-gravity treadmill.

Today's run: 22 miles total (3:10:47)

'Twas a nice humid one down in the Cuyahoga Valley this morning. The first 14 (1:52) was the Lock 29/Towpath/Carriage Loop run. Ran with the Trailcheetah and Faceplant. I drove up to Happy Days for the last 8 (1:18) and looped the Ledges down to Kendall Lake for the Cross-Country Trail and the upper Salt Run before returning to the car. I love this set of trails more than the BT. Too bad the Ledges are off-limits for climbing.

Speaking of gadgets...although its no Alter G, I picked up a new toy of my own this weekend. Once I learn how to use it, I hope to Leave a trail here with y'all.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The rootsrunner dilemma

As last night became this morning, it was just one of those times.

The clock struck midnight last night and it was impossible for me to walk away from the irie grooves that flowed out of the Barking Spider Tavern. This is home turf for the PLUS Band--and it rocks. They get a full 3+ hours to perform before a wildly appreciative crowd. Its here that we get to hear some of the Carlos' new material as well as some of his more obscure covers. Its a gig I don't like to miss.

Set list report
Its been a while since I've heard 'Tres riddims,' which is a medley of Rockford Rock, Move out of Babylon, and Modern Antique. I'm looking forward to the new album (due 2007,) in which Leave a trail and Music to the Rescue are bound to be instant hits. 'Leave a trail' is quickly becoming one of my mantras.

So here's my dilemma: How do I enjoy great live latenight music at the same time to rise early and head out to run? Its tough, since there's a limited number of afternoon and early evening gigs. Well, I ended up doing what I normally do. Skip the sleep and go for the fun! After a mere 4 hours of slumber, I was up, out the door, and on the way to Hudson.

Today's run: 10 miles total, 3.5 warm-up, 3.7 race, and 3.0 cool-down.

Race Report
Today was the 5th edition of the the Joseph C. Monastra 5k in Hudson--a fundraiser for pancreatic cancer research. The race is part of the Hudson Clocktower Series and the race starts on the town green and the course toured Hudson neighborhoods. I met Chuck, Tara, and Vince and we departed for a good warm-up at about 45 minutes prior to gun. The morning was quite humid and warm. Halfway through warm-up, a good hard rain came down on us. No big deal since we were already warm and the rain provided a cooling effect. After a few sets of strides, I head over to change into my snazzy yellow racing flats. I've had these shoes since March, yet they only had 7 miles total. I tested them out during Friday's stiders, they felt good, so I gave them a go in the race. After a few more striders, the race started.

It was still raining, but it wasn't a problem. The race got going and after the first 3-4 minutes, the field spread out just fine and I was in about 10th position and Tara was not far behind. At the 6 minute mark, I was still looking for the mile marker, with none to be found. Then at the 1.75 mile mark, the race fell apart. Aparently, we (the racers) missed a turn, and it seems that the lead vehicles mislead us. What a bummer. The leader, Nilesh, made the decision to turn back and he let us all know the bad news. At that moment, it felt as if the wind was removed from my sails. I was in the groove, reserved, and I felt I had something left for the final mile. Oh well.

So we turned around. Most of us ran the full distance to where the leader turned, but some turned sooner. I once had about a 30-40 yard lead on Tara and now she had about the same lead on me. No fair! At some point, we returned to the original course and headed back. Without fully knowing, I felt like I was running 6:10-6:15 pace (goal was 6:15) before we turned. After accepting that we ran off course, I managed to get going again and to just run for the workout and for the race of it. If it wasn't bad enough, in the 3rd mile the heavy rains returned. It rained so hard that at one point I could not see. As the clock passed 19 minutes I knew we were running a long course.

Final time: 23:33 (3.7 miles; 6:22 pace)

A bit disappointed that I didnt get a fair 5k test. I was feeling okay today. As we congregated at the finish line, the pouring rain seemed even more intense. Sheesh. The poor volunteers and spectators got drenched. After a few minutes of complaining to each other and comparing how long we thought the course was, we all headed off into the rain for good cool-down.

That being said and even with the poor race outcome, I was impressed how everyone involved was a good sport about it. A fun, wet time was had by all. After the awards and a quick change of clothes a small group of us headed over for a smoothie.

Hmmm...what was that dilemma I was talking about?

Friday, August 18, 2006

Changing weekend plans & Sam Thompson

My weekend plans have changed. I was all set to visit my college roommate in Detroit for a Tigers game at Comerica Park, but the plan fell through. Now I'm staying home for the weekend. What to do?

Well, why not race? I'm thinking of one of the following: Saturday Monastra 5k in Hudson, or on Sunday either the Perfect 10 miler in Lyndhurst or the Fat Rabbit Racing Triathlon in Columbus.

The music scene is just as promising: Carlos Jones plays tonight at the Barking Spider and also Sunday at the Mind, Body and Soul Expo.

I'm not too terribly disappointed about missing a weekend getaway. I do have some catching up to do around the house as well as at work. I'll be ecstatic if I can manage a few extra hours of each over the weekend.

I wish to make special recognition to Sam Thompson. On Saturday in Mississippi, he completes his 50th marathon in 50 days in 50 different states. His fundraising efforts go towards rebuilding destroyed homes from Hurricane Katrina. Click here for recent article.

After reading about Sam, I'm inclined to run the Monastra 5k. The race benefits research for Pancreatic Cancer. In no way can I compare this little 5k to what Sam's accomplished, but I'd like to pitch in some small way this weekend.

Now, it's off to enjoy the weekend. Mr. Thompson, I raise my pint glass to you. Cheers!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

On this day in 2003...

...I smoked my last cigarette.

The thought doesn't occur to me at all anymore. Smoking, I mean. Without going all OCD on you all, please allow me to reflect on this day.

I smoked about 10-15 Marlboros a day for about 15 years. On August 16, 2003, I finally had my last one. Earlier that year, I had exchanged my golf clubs for a pair of running shoes and committed to racing in the Columbus Marathon. It was my first serious marathon. Surely, back in my army days, I had run and smoked at the same time. I mean, not simultaneously, but I was a smoker who ran. Arrogantly, I'd even done a couple a smoker.

Yep. I was one of those hardcore smokers. You know the type, outside in the harshest winters sucking one down. In 2003, I was adjusting to new life outside the army and also starting anew in a new city, recently divorced. In a new place, I needed a new pastime. Running became my personal time to heal, meditate, and reflect...long before it became my new addiction. There is no doubt to me that I have an addictive personality, but that is a blog for another day...

But yeah, I gave up smoking because I took the leap of faith to do my best in the marathon and BQ. The training I was doing in the month of August 2003 was becoming progressively more intense. Really, the choice was fairly simple--smoke cigarettes and cheat myself from doing my best, or stop smoking and increase my lung capcity. The passion for running is probably not the best reason to quit smoking, but it worked.

Most folks understand that quitting smoking is a diffucult step. I had no clue where and what that decision would lead me to. Smoking is a simple habit: Have an urge, then light one up. Sometimes I'd have to go to another room or go outside, but smoking is easy to do. To me, running is just as simple. Just walk out the door and get going down the road.

Perhaps there's a physiological similarity to the cirulatory system when smoking or running. In reality, its not important to know. Apparently, I've found that I tend to look forward more than looking back at all the 'whys.'

In regards to fighting the urge to smoke, thankfully I haven't spent much time thinking about it. As I look back, I'd made goals for myself that kept me occupied. In that 2003 Columbus Marathon, I did my best and fell just short of qualifying for Boston. It took 4 more attempts and in May 2005 I finally hit the mark. Apparently, I've kept myself too busy to smoke.

As I reflect on this day, I wish to give thanks. After all, smoking directly causes cancer. I'm thankful for the gift of quitting smoking and developing a more heathly lifestyle. From what I understand, some folks will never escape the grip of the smoking addiction. Thankfully, for this day, I have escaped. For this I am grateful.


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Runnin', runnin', havin' fun!

"We're running, running, having fun in the sun, feels so good I can't slow down."
-Carlos Jones

That pretty much summed up my past weekend. It seems odd to say it, but it felt great getting back to running on the roads. The focus since April has been the trails and now I look forward to getting back some of my lost speed.

Weekend runs
Sat: 18 Long @ Hinckley Reservation. (2:24:48)
Sun: 6 Easy @ N. Chagrin; (50:52)

The weekend kicked off early Saturday morning with the Rocky River Sole group. Hinckley for 18 miles with Chuck, Scott, Tara and Mike. My last run here was the 23 miler before Boston. What a great hill course. This was the same group of friends that I followed around the Columbus Marathon on my bike. It was nice to catch up with running pals I haven't seen for a while. As for the hills of Hinckley, I agree with the person who said, "If you can run here, you can run anywhere." I found a better elevation chart here. Scott brought along his daughter's friend Michelle, who took top 5 at this year's NCAA in the 5000m. We ran with her for all of about 1/4 mile before she disappeared ahead.

The fun continued Saturday afternoon and evening at the Burning River Fest over on Whiskey Island. Unlike the stifling heat at the Tall Ships Festival, the weather here was pleasant and the cool breeze blowing. I caught an afternoon nap and made it down for the last two acts. Carlos laid it down for a short 90 minute set and the wild crowd begged for more. The highlight for me was his old First Light numbers, Running and Apartment Living.

Lucky for me, it was an early show and I got home at a decent hour. Normally this is not the case as I try to make my social and training worlds collide with late night shows coupled with early morning workouts.

Sunday morning I committed to volunteering at the Greater Cleveland Triathlon with Mel and Todd and their race team Snakebite Racing. Tara and I met beforehand for a short run at the North Chagrin metropark before I headed over to the tri. She was happy to have someone come over to the eastside for once. Six recovery miles added up to a 24-mile weekend. Sweet. It felt really great to get the miles back up.

We worked the mile 30 aid station of the bike course of the Half Ironman Triathlon race (1.2 mile swim/56 mile bike/13.1 mile run.) This was my first time volunteering at a tri and I had a blast. The bike course had a last-minute change and we had a hasty move of the aid station, but we made in time for the first rider. Time-wise, mile 30 seemed just a little bit less than the half-way point of the race. As I observed the racers, I could tell those who were in the groove and comfy and also those who were struggling a bit. The temps were relatively cool for summer racing, but the humidity still lingered in the air. My job was to hand out Gu--not always easy while the cyclists zoom by. It was a treat to get to cheer some acquaintances along such as my ultrarunning buddy Jim Harris and also Alan (qcmier.)

As the action dwindled down, I headed home. I thought about heading to the beach to watch the run, but it wasn't sure how crowded the Fairport parking lot would be. I know I missed a great time watching all the finishers. I did, however, get to hear some tales from IM USA from TriEricTri. Even with some of my ultrarunning exploits, the IronMan Triathlon distance seems mind-boggling to me?!?!?! As I left I wished Mel good luck on her first Half-IM next weekend.

The running continues:
Mon: 4 Easy (32:48); cooled down with 4x strides
Tue: 8 LT (59:51); 4mi Tempo run (mile splits-6:39/6:31/6:27/6:29)

What are training partners for? My Boston training partner Andrew is ramping up for the Philadelphia Marathon in about 13 weeks. He's an early-bird too. Well, there's no way I could knock out a 4-mile tempo run on my own. But thanks to him, I had someone to chase for 4 miles of threshold pace at a good clip. This run went much better than last weeks solo tempo run attempt.

So yeah, this weekend I've reconnected with some old friends as well as made some new ones. I've been "Running, running, having fun" and it feels good to change it up a bit by returning to my road-running roots.

Feels so good I can't slow down.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Irie! (I-ree)

A Greeting. excellent, cool, highest: adj. powerful and pleasing

is how I feel after a run.

Like Aloha is to Hawai'ian, the Jamaican salutation of Irie is a greeting and a goodbye. It's one of the most common Jamaican terms I know.

Irie is good music. Irie is good food and nourishment after a great effort. Irie is reaching for higher heights.

This weekend, irie times await. Going back to my road running roots with a group run down at the Hinckley Reservation. Last time there was before Boston. I've missed those hills.

Going to check out the live music at the Burning River Fest over on Whiskey Island. With Roberto Ocasio's Latin Jazz Project and Carlos Jones & the PLUS Band in the lineup, its bound to be irie.

Finally...cooler temperatures in the forecast for the weekend.


Thursday, August 10, 2006

Fun link - I'm Alberto Salazar...

What kind of US runner are you? Try this test

I'm Alberto Salazar...Sweet!

Alberto Salazar
You scored 40 Kick, 46 Toughness, 63 Endurance, and 41 Pain Tolerance!
Havana-born Alberto Salazar had his first running success at Wayland (Mass.) High School, before embarking on an outstanding career at the University of Oregon. While running for the Ducks under Hall of Fame coach Bill Dellinger, Salazar helped Oregon win the 1977 NCAA title. He was still in college when he moved up from running on the track to the formidable challenge of the marathon. In 1980, he won his first New York City Marathon in 2:09.41 -- a world-record debut at the time. The next two years, he repeated as winner of the New York City Marathon. His 1981 victory broke the 12-year-old world best with a 2:08.13 time but the race was found to be short. One of his most memorable victories came in the 1982 Boston Marathon when he and fellow American Dick Beardsley ran virtually stride for stride until Salazar's finishing kick brought him a course record of 2:08.52. As a member of the 1984 U.S. Olympic team, Salazar placed 15th in the marathon. Though best remembered for his marathoning exploits, he also excelled on the track, setting American records in the 5000 (13:11.93) and the 10,000 (27:25.61). Overall, he set eight U.S. records and won a silver medal in the 1982 world cross country championships. Salazar was elected to the National Long Distance Running Hall of Fame in 2000. He has worked as a restaurateur, coach and advisor for Nike.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Kick
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Toughness
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Endurance
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Pain Tolerance
Link: The What Famous US Runner Are You Test written by dkcool on OkCupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Monday, August 07, 2006

Lighthouse Sprint Triathlon - Great weather and fun!

Ten days ago the rains flooded the small lakeshore town of Fairport Harbor, OH. The deluge caused the beach underwater and many families were flooded and flushed from their homes. Just last week the area was declared a federal disaster area.

Fast forward to this past Sunday. Fairport Harbor was the scene of the 14th annual Lighthouse Sprint Triathlon (500m/12M/5K.) It was my first triathlon of 2006 and third lifetime tri. While I had some reservations about doing the race so soon after last week's 50k, I am so pleased I did...I had a blast!

The race started in about 75F temps and the cool and calm water felt great! I had a little trepidation about the tri since I had zero, count 'em zero, open-water swims in all of 2006. Not to mention my concern with the bacteria levels in Lake Erie due to the recent floods. The name of the race makes me chuckle. This "sprint" distance race would take between 70-85 minutes.

Before the race I met Mel (from the Vertical Runner) and her husband Todd who were both racing. Mel’s dad Marc raced the duathlon. I also saw ultra-studette Tanya C. and her husband Walt, both also racing. Mel and Tanya both did the 50k last week too, so no excuses for me there. The race was split in 5-minute waves. The 34yo and under males started first, then the older males, followed by the ladies. I had a 5-minute head start on Mel. I joked with her that I might have a chance. I had a target.

I started in the back of the pack for the 500m swim--what a mistake. I felt like such the noob by running into so many swimmers as I tried to pass. Like always, I just try to survive the swim without elevating my heart rate too high. I make it to shore and run to the transition. No probs in T1.

The bike course started up a short steep hill out of the beach parking lot and out to the east on freshly paved road. To my surprise, the race organizers placed carpeted planks for smooth going over the 5 railroad crossings. It didn't take long for Mel to catch me (in 1st place) only 3.4M into the bike course. She blew by me but it helped me pick up my cadence. At the 6M turn-around, I still had her in sight. By 7M, the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th females float by me and out of sight. The fast competition pulled me along. I remember logging my fastest miles between miles 8-11. It must have been downhill, downwind, or both! As I approach the bike transition, Mel was already up the hill and out on the run. I fumble through T2 and start to jog. I guess Mel had about a 3-minute lead as I headed out on the run.

I get to the steep hill and in my ultramarathon pea-brain I think to myself, this is a "walker." Heh. But this is no ultra, this is 5k to go!! So up the hill without walking I get going and try to steady my rhythm. The one equipment snafu for the day was my heart-rate monitor. It never registered with my watch for the entire race. I was forced to go by feel, but that was okay. Because of the wave start, and that naturally running would be my best event, it didn't take long to start passing other runners in scores. I remember passing back the three other ladies and wondered if I had a shot at Mel. With about one mile to go, I started to feel the burn in the legs. It’s a burn foreign to me in marathoning and the legs started to slow. The last bit was a descent to the beach and a flat last 1/4 mile along the beach parking lot. I blasted down the hill and turned for home...Mel was in the distance! I gave it my best push and but came up about 15 seconds behind Mel.

Final time 1hr, 14min, 07sec.

Sound impressive, eh? Consider though that I finished 5 MINUTES, 15 seconds behind her!! Mel finished 1:08:xx and the Men's winner 59:xx.

What a great race. Good value for $25, nice course, with easy parking and beach access. I was thoroughly impressed and now I've got a little tri-bug buzzing in my head.

As an aside, with no brick or transition practices this year I thought I did okay with the transitions. I remembered last year's coaching from Mel: to do a walk-thru of each swim-in, bike-out, bike-in, and run-out. I did that in my warm-up. I also remember a warm-up tip from my triathlete neighbor Angie. I did 10 minutes warm-up of each discipline in reverse order: Run, Bike, then Swim. Thanks ladies, it worked for me.

After the race, I head back out for a 5K cool-down run (in reverse direction to cheer home the runners.) Mel, Todd, and Marc and I waited for Mel’s 1st Place trophy and then it was back in the lake to swim on what was finally a decent weather day. The heat and humidity of this summer gave way for one afternoon for us to enjoy a bit of the outdoors.

I'll be back to tri again.

500m Swim + T1: (13:25)
12M Bike + T2: (37:51)
5K Run: (22:51)

Total: 1:14:07

Friday, August 04, 2006

Buckeye Trail 50k - Hot, humid, and mud!

It’s hard to believe that its only been two years. The 2004 Buckeye Trail 50k was the scene of my first ultra. I had recently moved to Cleveland and instantly grew fond of the various trails within the Cuyahoga Valley. To this date, the BT50k is the only 50k I’ve ever run (to go along with a 50M and 70M.)

The week shaped up to be hot, humid and waterlogged. The area received 4 inches of rain on Thursday night alone. Twenty-five miles to the east in Painesville, flood damage flushed many residents out of their own homes. With the heavy rains, there was no doubt that the dry trail and course records from 2005 were but a distant memory.

The course is an out-and-back on the Buckeye Trail, Ohio’s Millennium Legacy designated trail. The ‘BT’ is a 1400-mile trail that circumnavigates the state (though not all developed.) The BT50K uses a 16-mile section that stretches north-to-south between the Cleveland Metroparks and the Cuyahoga Valley National Park (yes, Cleveland has a National Park) and traverses the valley several times throughout the race. It’s only an itty-bitty 250-foot river valley, but it’s the roots, rocks and mud gives this trail its character. The terrain rolls and the trail, save the road crossings, is a beautiful single-track trail. Running here, its sometimes difficult to imagine only being minutes away from downtown Cleveland.

If there’s anything such as home field advantage in trail running, for me this is it. After spring marathon season, there’s a regular weekend group out of the Vertical Runner store that runs some portion of the trail. For the past couple years, several of us have helped out with trail crew before and after the race. I ran about 8 miles on Thursday morning marking the course. No doubt it helped out a lot for me to know every inch of this trail.

The race starts in the Brecksville Reservation. With 5 minutes to the start and hardly a soul assembled for the start, I got a good chuckle from my noob friend Louis who said “Are ultras always this low-key?”

After a few announcements, we were off. After the field spread out a bit, I hooked up with Jim Harris (from Cortland) and we ran side-by-side for the first 75 minutes. We talked about his great Laurel Highlands run, the upcoming local races, and we shared the rumors we’ve overheard regarding the new Burning River 100 that is coming to our area next year. Jim was also to RD the Bulldog Duathlon the very next day!

It didn’t take long and we were drenched. The sweat had no place to evaporate in the 90% humidity. We reached Snowville Road inabout 59 minutes and leaving the first aid station together (mile 6) Jim went ahead and we ran within earshot of each other for most of the first 25k. Nearing the last stream crossing before the Pine Lane turn-around, I catch Jim. We make it to the turn (16 miles) in about 2:31. I was 10 minutes behind last year’s pace and I knew sub-5 was out the door.

Two prominent landmarks on the course are the Pine Lane and the Piano Keys. The Pine Lane is a 3/8 mile alley of roots-running and an ankle twist in the making. Piano Keys are the nickname for the 88-step staircase that resides between the Boston Store and Blue Hen Falls. Here's shot of the Piano Keys from last year's race.

The neat thing about an out-and-back course is that you get to see the entire field during the course of the run. It amazes to see the front-runners and how far ahead they really are. I knew a good many first timers this year and its interesting to observe their emotions, whether good, bad, joy, or even sometimes despair. Inevitably in these races, some folks get in over their head. This year was a record amount of starters. Yet only 107 finished from 150+ starters.

After passing the last outbound runner, I knew that the real race began at the 20 mile mark as we depart the Boston Store aid station. In years past I knew how lonely it gets from this point forward as most of the field has by now positioned themselves close to their final placing. Not much passing going on from here.

I have a running partner who has trained with me on the Buckeye Trail for each of the past 3 years, but has not been able to run the race. This year finally, I brought my buddy Roxi along for the last 12 miles. It made me so happy to finally bring her along. We’ve run some road 5k’s together before, but the BT is her domain. For as speedy as she is, and as much as she tries, she never seems to catch the deer.

I hit the Boston Store aid station in 3:12, and now 12 minutes slower than last year. Rob Lisy was the aid station captain for the second year. He had a nice cold water bottle waiting for me. The sun was climbing higher in the sky and temps rising. For hydration I used exclusively water and suceed!caps. For nutrition, my main fuel drink was a mix of Sustained Energy (Hammer) and Ultima Replentisher. I consumed one bottle each in the 2nd and 4th hours. I filled in the gaps with a package of Clif Blocks. I figure I consumed about 900 calories in the race.

I carried two bottles (44 oz) throughout the race and I noticed that those who carried only one were running out of fluids. For me, it turned out to be the right choice. The aid stations here are 4-6 miles apart.

The last aid station of the race is in the valley floor at the Snowville Road crossing. I arrive there in about 4:08 and a full 15 minutes slower than last year. The last leg of the race is the most rugged and for that reason its my favorite section. This year the rain washed out several sections of the trail. There is one infamous washed out side-slope where about a ½ dozen down trees skewed the trail. To pass this section, at one point its hopping from log to log. At the next moment I was crawling on my hands and knees in the mud to get up over the last slippery log. Yet Roxi had no problems…hmmm.

While the trail was wet and muddy, the story of the day remained the heat. It was now into the mid-90s at the 5 hour mark and the temp stayed there for the rest of the afternoon. I knew it was a tough day as I slowed. I fully expected a charge from the pack behind me. I used the fear of being passed as a motivator to keep me moving forward. The single-track trail ends at Ottawa Point and with about 1.5 miles to the finish the trail transitions to a mix of bridal and double-track trails. I tried to keep a little reserve for the last runnable 1.5 miles.

When the day started, my goal was 5:15. As I crossed Snowville, I knew it was going to be close--needed to pick up the pace a bit to make it in 67 minutes. But on this day I did not have a good finishing kick like last year. I survived the heat and wandered to the finish in my best run/walk mix. I made it! Unofficial 5:21 and 14th place.

Normally, Roxi has no problem with the distance as her PR is 20 miles of BT. But even on this day she was wiped out. Poor thing. But after a short rest it didn’t take long before she was up again playing crowd favorite with the tennis ball.

The race was over and the camaraderie was just beginning. Of course, the front runners are talking about how tough it was. Most everyone was about 25-30 minutes slower than last year. The men’s winner was Kam in 4:31 and the women’s winner was Connie in 5:00.

While satisfied with my accomplishment for the day, my absolute favorite part of the race was kicking back near the finish line watching them all come in. Especially talking to the the first-timers. To see the smile on their face is one thing, but to hear the stories flow is priceless. Special kudos to first-timers Doc Louis, Mel, and Kellie. Too cool. Also kudos to Vince at the Vertical Runner. Thanks to him, the Buckeye Trail 50K has become a wildly popular local race. For $25, we got an amazing value. I waited to the end with Vince as the last runner came in just shy of 10 hours.

As for the local ultra scene, the post race chatter centered around the announcement of a new local club called the NE Ohio Trail Runner’s Club and the news of the Burning River 100 in August 2007. The 16 miles of the BT50K course is going to be part of this 100.

Yeah, this year’s BT50k was a bit hot. I pushed on knowing that our weather was nothing compared to the heat of Badwater, eh? Yet I cannot imagine yet what its going to take to finish the Burning River 100 in AUGUST 2007! Triple today's distance in the hot, humid Cuyahoga? Egad.

Leave a trail,

This is rootsrunner...

Me, a blog?

I decided to call it rootsrunner. I spend a lot of my free time either running or listening to roots reggae music.

I met Carlos Jones and Peter Platten about 3 years ago and ever since I've been hooked on the sweet, soothing sounds of the roots. There's no shortage of the roots here on the local Cleveland reggae scene. Carlos has been playing out for over 20 years with I-tal, First Light, and now his current band Carlos Jones and the PLUS Band. I've blessed to have known him for just a short while.

Also, I've dedicated a good portion of the past couple years to qualifying and running in the Boston Marathon. In 2005 I finally qualified and in 2006 I ran Boston. I just love running. I dream of running 100 miles someday. Something in my pea-brain is asking me to see how far I can run. We'll see...

Somehow, I'm going to make the connection between running and reggae. The message is there in the air. On somedays, I try to make the two worlds collide--staying out late night for a gig and follow it up with an early morning workout.

Aside from the run blog, I hope to share some of my favorite roots and reggae moments. Where will it take me? Who knows...I'm hoping its irie.