Friday, May 30, 2008

Mad City pace report

The patio at the UW Student Union overlooking Lake Mendota

We arrived in Madison on Friday night and started the weekend on campus. Andrea, who spent some her youth in Madison, took me on a run from the University Student Union along the lakeside path and towards Picnic Point. After the run, we met with the huge contingent of runners from the online community of Kickrunners at the student union for beer and dinner. Meeting fine people would continue throughout our Memorial Day weekend. I can't possibly mention all the good folk by name, but I enjoyed getting to "know" better and meet the faces of people I only knew previously in cyberspace.

Although school was technically out, the union was packed with hundreds of people just hanging out on a Friday night. From looking around, it appears that students, faculty, and locals all congregated and celebrated together. With a view of Lake Mendota and a pitcher of Bell's Two Hearted Ale to enjoy, it didn't take long for me to endear the Mad City.

Saturday morning came too early and I arrived at the expo for my morning shift at the pace team booth. The Mad City Marathon was my eighth time as pace leader and the first time running 3:50 and also my first time running Madison. Working the booth and meeting runners is always an enjoyable part of pacer duties. Excitement overflowed from all the well-tapered and anxious runners. I'll admit it, I'm a running geek and all the pre-race running talk is a lot of fun for me.

After wrapping up my shift, I finally got to formally meet Mindi. Mindi was the leader of last summer and fall's "marathon trainer's thread" at Coolrunning. She led us throughout the summer and to our fall races. Our paths crossed briefly at the Grand Rapids Marathon where we both ran excellent races, but I missed out on meeting her on that great day. I was disappointed that we never got to talk in person and the chance to meet Mindi was part of the reason I chose to run this race. After the expo, Mindi took me on an easy 5 mile run from the expo and along Lake Monona. We turned around near the Monona Terrace and in viewing this lake I imagined the wonderful scene during the Ironman Wisconsin race in September. Mindi played tour guide and host to Andrea and I and took us to lunch downtown where we ordered takeout and sat on the steps of the state capitol. Mindi was apprehensive about running a marathon as a fun-run for the first time, but I knew she was in for a treat. I watched her as she paced well, stayed within my sight for the first half of the race and then she disappeared ahead and finished comfortably in 3:46. Thank you Mindi for hosting us!

I was a little bit worried about my pacing duties since had never run 3:50 before, but overall I performed well. A good performance does not always happen, but this one turned into a good race. My task for the day was to run 8:47 per mile, a comfortable pace for me which is slightly slower than my normal easy long run pace.

My one snafu for the day was forgetting my pace band. Another pacer suggested to me to set my watch to "interval" mode to beep every 8:47. This method worked wonderfully and better than a pace band. I don't know why I never used this feature before as my watch signaled to me each and every mile how far off overall pace I was. I simply looked at my watch after the beep to know how my variance and better yet, no computing in my head.

As marathon pacer, the only big mistake one can make is to start too fast. Since the first mile starts atop the hill near the capitol building, pacing the first mile would be a challenge. I informed my group before the start to prepare for a fast first mile and we did, hitting the first mile about 20 seconds fast. We corrected in mile two with a 9:00 minute mile and we maintained a nearly perfect 8:47 pace for the first 7 miles.

I started with a group of about 35-40 runners. As most marathons do, the early miles feel easy and relaxed if not a little anxious. Most of my marathon pacer gigs follow a similar script: A good number of runners follow me through ten miles. About half of that number through eighteen miles and the group thins out after twenty miles. Anyone who is running strong after this point usually goes ahead to finish well. I don't expect anyone to actually stay with me throughout the entire run. That is an unrealistic expectation.

Miles 7-9 were through gorgeous neighborhood. I think the neighborhood was called Maple Bluff. We passed a country club and gorgeous lakefront homes on the north side of Lake Mendota where a local runner pointed out the Governor's mansion. The course ran downhill during the eighth and ninth miles where we banked about 30 seconds to our pace. I would maintain this 30 second advantage throughout the race until after mile 20.

Returning towards downtown, I was aware of a couple hills near the 10 mile mark. The Gorham Street hill was steep but short and the group had no problems.

Leading the 3:50 pace group on Gorham Street near the 11 mile mark

Running on Friday night turned out to be a blessing. Nearing the halfway point of the marathon, we passed through the university campus and along the same bike path were Andrea and I ran on Friday. Some familiarity helped ease my mind as we passed the half marathon in 1:54:30.

Although the weather forecast called for rain, the front avoided us and all we had to deal with was a brisk wind. I imagined if this was my goal race that I would have not enjoyed racing in this wind. We continued to meander through campus and past Camp Randall stadium. Near the 17th mile, there was a brief uphill stretch along Monroe Street that turned into a grinder of a hill. I could see my group being tested. Approaching the arboretum, the pace group dwindled and now I was down to about a half dozen of the original 3:50 runners.

Miles 19-21 run through the university's arboretum. A scenic park that encircles Lake Wingra, the route followed a similar path as the Mad City 100k race. I am considering entering that race next year and I imagined what that experience could be like.

Throughout the race, there was one runner who paced with me that kept looking back at me. Donna, a first-time marathoner, executed a smart race and it was so adorable that she did not want to leave me. Leaving the arboretum near the 21 mile marker, I could tell that she was holding back to stay with me. At this point, I could tell she would finish strong and I encouraged her to run her own race to the finish. She lost me and finished over two minutes ahead.

The final miles circled city neighborhoods and the crowds increased. By mile 22, I slowed the pace down just enough to get closer to a 3:50 finish. Now running alone, I dragged along as many runners as possible to finish with me under 3:50.

All the race I anticipated the rainstorm, but it did not materialize. I approached the finish line to a nice ovation from the Kickrunners and reuniting with Andrea, who waited for me after her half marathon race.

All smiles with first-time marathoner Donna and her son.

My Mad City run finished in 3:47:57 and Wisconsin became my ninth different state and twenty-second marathon overall. After greeting finishers for the next 30 minutes, we cleaned up and enjoyed a post-race party at the Great Dane.

The Mad City Marathon was a well-organized, medium size marathon that I would suggest to anyone. I enjoyed the college atmosphere and would not miss out on some time on the lake at the union.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Cleveland recap

Random thoughts from yesterday's Cleveland Marathon, Half Marathon, and 10K:

- Crummy weather. It rained steadily for the hour prior to gun and continued through the first 10k. The good news is that overheating was not a problem. Temps stayed in the 50s through the race. Though the rain dried up and the sun came out for the second half, the wind howled and competitors had to face the prevailing headwind from miles 19-24.

- The course changes were not a huge impact, but I favored the old the route through Ohio City, the West Side Market and over the Lorain Bridge and near Progressive Field (new name for Jacobs Field.) To make this course better, they need to do something about those miles along Lake Erie in the late stage of the race (mile 19-24.) They are always into the wind and I imagine that more people would run Cleveland if not for the course.

- I ran the first 11 miles with a training buddy on his 3:20 pace, then hopped on the bike to watch the race at mile 19. On the way out to mile 19, I spotted Bill Rodgers out for a warm-up on a desolate road along the Marginal. I rode along and chatted with him for a few moments before continuing on. I met him a couple times before, at the Akron Marathon expo and in Boston at his store. Meeting Bill is no novelty anymore, but still cool. I imagine there is no end to runners approaching him at road races.

- Armed with a backpack full of small water bottles, I spectated and cheered down on MLK Blvd near mile 19. I enjoyed being there this weekend and I have missed the Cleveland weekend over the past two years. Next year I will miss, as I plan to participate in MMT.

- My bud fought tough to the end and finished 3:20:5x, with a 1 minute positive split and an eight minute PR. Congrats, Ken!

All in all, not a bad way to watch the Cleveland Marathon. I'm not sure about the owners/organizers of this race, but something is missing from the management aspect. The Cleveland Marathon is not keeping up with the high standards of the Akron and Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathons. I'm not sure what the solution is, but it appears there is a missing element of community outreach and sponsorship that the other Ohio marathons have better grasped. It shows.

Congrats to all on a less than ideal day to race.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Hessler Street

Carlos Jones and the PLUS Band at the 2004 Hessler Street Fair

The Cleveland Marathon is not the only party in town this weekend. Down at Cleveland's University Circle (near the 17th mile of the marathon course), the Hessler Street Fair is set for a fun weekend celebration of music and arts.

Carlos Jones and the PLUS Band headlines the Sunday afternoon show, with local bands Mifune and Jim Miller preceeding. If I had to guess, I imagine Carlos will play from 5:00 - 6:00 PM. After the marathon morning, I plan to get outside to enjoy the party. Carlos plays a longer set Friday night from 10:00 PM - 1:00 AM at the Barking Spider Tavern.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Cleveland Marathon - Course changes

This weekend marks the 31st annual Cleveland Rite Aid Marathon.

My first and only Cleveland Marathon was in 2004 during the first year of the "new" course that stays entirely within the Cleveland city limits. I returned in 2005 as a part of the Second Sole Running Group pace team, running the second half of the 3:30 group. I've missed the Cleveland marathon weekend for the past two years because the Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 mile falls on the same weekend. I am torn between the two events because the MMT 100 is an incredible event and I'll miss the training opportunity in the scenic Shenandoah region of Virginia. Peterman is attempting again this year and I will miss the rocky trails of Massanutten. Good luck, Dave, and the rest of the MMT'ers.

According to the Cleveland marathon website, the map shows a few changes to this year's course. I'm not sure if the marathon organizers made a course announcement. Since some of the course changes are significant, I have added my observations below:

Mile 1: The very first course change is early on and I hope this does not startle the unaware veterans. The races starts (and finishes) at the same downtown location near the Galleria Mall on St. Clair Ave near East 13th. In the first half mile and before the very first turn, the course heads east for a couple extra blocks before turning north on East 23rd and returning to the previous marathon route along Lakeside Ave. Previously, the course turned on E17 or E18 (I am unsure.) This change adds about 0.6 miles to the course at the start. The mile one marker will be in an unfamiliar spot.

Mile 2: The course routes to the north and around Cleveland Browns Stadium, rather than south of the stadium.

Miles 7-12 are completely different from last year, but familiar to the "old" Bay Village course prior to 2004. Instead of returning to downtown on the shoreway, at mile 7 the runners continue on Lake Ave. to Detroit Ave. From there, the course shoots east along Detroit Ave for the next 5 miles -- from W75th and crossing into downtown over the Detroit-Superior Bridge. This way is similar to the "old" Cleveland Marathon when the course was an out-and-back to Bay Village. This year, runners will miss the route through Ohio City, West Side Market, Lorain-Carnegie Bridge, Jacobs Field, and Playhouse Square. Once downtown, this year's course intersects Public Square and follows Superior until East 30th and returns to last year's route, heading east on Chester in the middle of the 13th mile.

Miles 13-21 are similar to last year, heading east and through University Circle, MLK drive and Rockefeller Park, and to the shore of Lake Erie.

Parts of miles 21-24 differ than in the past. In the 21st mile near E55th Street, the course follows North Marginal Road instead of the usual South Marginal. Runners will follow the long westward stretch on North Marginal past Burke Lakefront Airport, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Browns Stadium before scaling the dreaded "hill" in the 24th mile. From here, the course returns to the normal loop of Warehouse district and downtown Cleveland in the final two miles of the race.

The 26th mile differs only because the course heads east for a few additional blocks, finally turning off Lakeside Ave at E20th Street. Runners who are unaware will not enjoy the the additional eastward heading mileage. A usual criticism of the Cleveland marathon course is the winding final two miles around downtown. The change to the 26th mile is sure to bring out more grumbling from runners.

Per the map, those are the changes to this year's Cleveland Marathon course. I hope no one is surprised on race day. Good luck Cleveland Marathoners!

Thursday, May 08, 2008


There's no doubt about it, I have some recovering to do after Boston and the Green Jewel. The good news is that nothing is injured and so far I have identified muscle soreness only as a lingering effect.

Though I have rebounded quickly from long ultra runs in the past, I will stress the importance of listening to the body and to determine my recovery needs based on merit, rather than what I have accomplished in the past.

While I've employed active recovery methods by walking, cycling, swimming, and massage, it's important for me to reflect back and to understand that I am not Superman. The body can and will recover, if I let it. And there are methods to help speed the recovery along.

On my first short recovery run yesterday, I felt the lingering muscle soreness in the leg muscles. Nearing the end of the three mile run, the soreness subsided and the running gait felt normal. I will continue to monitor the soreness.

Key to my recovery has been the use of "active recovery" techniques. Starting immediately after the Boston Marathon, I used walking and self-massage (insert testimonial for the "The Stick" massage product) to help speed recovery. Since the Green Jewel, I have cycled each day to promote blood flow to the sore muscles to help accelerate the healing process.

Doubts - I sometimes get them. To help with uncertainty, I go back to my running log at a similar point in time in the past. After a long ultra race I ask, what was the first week like? How much or little did I run?

After the Presque Isle 12 hour run, this is the week of training I found in my log book:

Sunday: rest
Monday: swim 800 yds
Tuesday: cycle 30 minutes
Wednesday: rest
Thursday: Run 3 miles
Friday: cycle 30 minutes
Saturday: run 6 miles

The following week I was able to increase and return to a running volume in preparation for the next goal event in the following month.

Reviewing the log book has become a useful exercise when doubt is cast in my mind. Seeing what has worked in the past offers a glimpse at the solution. As my body gets older and feels more beat up after multiple races, I intend to implement all the tools available to me -- by resting, active recovery, and by reviewing what has worked well in the past.

Let me not forget the forgiving trail surface. Time to get dirty!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Report: Green Jewel 100k

A long report for a long run.

Around Cleveland, there's a distinction that divides the region between east and west. Each side of the city lives and plays on their side with little commingling across town. As an Ohio transplant, I've discovered that a Cleveland way of life is to recognize this distinction and for residents to proudly claim their status as an "eastsider" or "westsider."

Though the region holds a geographical divide, uniting Cleveland and Northeast Ohio are it's fabulous and accessible park systems. For a metro area, Cleveland enjoys an vast amount of protected parkland. Between the Cleveland Metroparks system and the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, no neighborhood is farther than five minutes or five miles from a park.

Connecting the parks are a system of paths and roads that form Cleveland's "Emerald Necklace," a route that bridges the divide between east and west. When I heard news of the new Green Jewel ultra I relished the chance to celebrate our parks with the challenge of running the entire length of the Emerald Necklace. Since my home is couple miles from the start, how could I resist?

After a solid race at Boston only twelve days ago, I was unsure of my condition to complete the distance. I have my sights set on Laurel Highlands Ultra in six weeks. The Green Jewel became a no-pressure chance to test my gear, nutrition, and to accumulate a great amount of time on feet. Mentally, I wrapped my mind around the notion of running 62 miles on pavement by allowing myself permission to drop out at anytime during the run. I took comfort in the option to stop after 50 kilometers (31 miles.)

Early Saturday morning, twelve ultrarunners embarked on the Green Jewel ultra -- a 100 kilometer run presented by Western Reserve Trail Running and the Vertical Runner store. Starting at the mouth of the Rocky River in Lakewood, the course follows the path of the Emerald Necklace and finishes in the North Chagrin Reservation on the east side.

In the back of my head, I estimated the run would take ten to eleven hours. I did my best to check my competitive instinct and to take time to enjoy all the scenery. Spring is finally here as evidenced by budding trees and the parkway's greenery. I planned to share the day with friends by snapping photos and sending text messages along the way.

Goals for the day:
1. Don't break anything
2. Accumulate time on feet
3. Complete a run of Cleveland's Emerald Necklace

The forecast called for morning rain with temps in the 60s most of the day. I prepped a bag of gear with a change of clothes and a few of my preferred foods and beverages. A bike companion would accompany me during the middle miles and provide aid to me if needed.

The run started in darkness at 5:00 AM. Being from the west side, I was intimately familiar with the first 15 miles in the Rocky River Reservation -- a path I've run many times. I carried a single bottle waist-pack, a rain jacket, and enough powdered ULTRA beverage to refill my bottle six times. With the aid stations spaced every five miles on a paved path, traveling light was an option. Though there was no necessity to carry anything at all, this day was a good day to test the gear required for more rugged ultra races.

With such a small field, I took the time in the first few miles to chat with each participant. I discovered that about half the runners intended to run 50k and six or seven would attempt the 100k. After the first aid station at five miles, the runners spread out and I found myself running with a familiar friend -- Dave -- who crewed for me at Laurel two years ago. Some of my most memorable time with Dave are my experiences as pacer and crew for Dave at the Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 in each of the last two years.

I didn't load up on carbohydrates and liquids very well prior to this run. Instead of taking multiple days to load up, I tried stuffing myself full all in the last 24 hours. I felt bloated in the early miles and found myself stopping to water the trees a lot. If I were racing, I'd be frustrated the frequent stops. Thankfully, it was early morning in the dark with no one around.

The 60 degree temperature felt comfortable but the forecast rain loomed large in the dark clouds. Having completed the entire length of the Rocky River Reservation, rain sprinkles started by 7:30 AM as we passed the fifteen mile mark and started through the Mill Stream Run Reservation in the cities of Berea and Strongsville.

The first twenty miles of this course are relatively flat and very runnable. Normally in trail ultrarunning, the hills or rugged terrain dictates when to run or walk. In road ultras, the strategy is less obvious. Employing a run to walk ratio is a normal strategy, but on this day I played it by ear. Recalling my only other experience with a road ultra at the Presque Isle 12 hour, I remember using a 25/5 (minutes) run to walk strategy. I planned to walk at some point, but ran freely for the first few hours without much walking.

Near mile 20, I stopped to use the restroom and Dave continued on. Leaving the Mill Stream Run, I approached the first real hill and the highest portion of the county as we approached mile 24 and the Ridge Road aid station. The rainfall was steady but not uncomfortable. At this point, Courtney, my bike companion found me and accompanied me for the next few hours. Having her along for conversation lifted my spirits and the miles started clicking by with less thought of the daunting second half of the Green Jewel course.

The next 6 miles departed from the paved path and followed the Valley Parkway -- a rolling road through North Royalton that connects to the Brecksville Reservation and the mid-way point of the course. We arrive at 50k in 5:07 and I mentioned to my companion that I was not sure that I wanted to run the entire 100k. Like good a crew person she ignored me.

The Brecksville Reservation sits on the west side of the Cuyahoga Valley and borders the National Park. After a two mile descent to the valley floor, I stopped to grab a sugar-free Red Bull from my Sherpa. While drinking, I took my first extended walk break for about ten minutes until reaching Station Road Bridge and the Cuyahoga River.

The next three miles were on the Towpath Trail that runs adjacent to the river that divides the region between east and west. The walk break and caffeine revived my senses enabling me to return to a decent running pace. The east side of the Emerald Necklace was less familiar to this westsider. After crossing the Cuyahoga River valley, the real test of the Green Jewel was just beginning with the hills of Bedford and Solon looming ahead.

I am grateful for the companionship of my bike companion on this rainy day. Before parting ways at the Alexander Road aid station (mile 37) I changed out of soggy shoes, socks, and clothes and felt ready to continue for the final 25 miles alone. The addition of headphones provided a musical companion to motivate me along the eastward azimuth.

Now passing the noon hour, based on the forecast I expected the clouds to clear up some. I left Alexander Road with no second layer or rain jacket. I don't know what I was thinking, but it's been nearly a year since I had done a longer ultra run. My training is rusty. I had forgotten how the body's core temperature drops in the later miles of a long ultra run. Now without crew, I was on my own wearing only a sleeveless shirt. Perhaps I was still thinking like a marathoner and that 55F, even in rain, was a hot day. Soon I would learn my lesson for the day.

The twelve miles from 37 to 49 are rolling terrain through the Bedford and South Chagrin Reservations; a stark contrast to the flat miles of the west side. Climbing through Bedford nearing mile 40, I resigned myself to more walking and less running. I dismissed any time goals and intended to enjoy the day more by taking more photos and making a few phone calls. Steady rain continued and my fresh set of clothes were now soaked. Since the aid station volunteers were leap-frogging, I would not see my drop bag again until after mile 50. I pressed forward the best I could, now walking more often, finally reaching the top of the hill in Solon at the Harper Road aid station and mile 49. The time was now 1:45 PM and about 8:45 into the run. The rain finally stopped.

In my experience, every run has that magical sensation when knowing that finishing is no longer a question. I arrived at this moment with 13 miles to go. Although the pavement was taking it's toll on my sore quads and feet, two downhill miles from 49-51 energized me. The rain had stopped, my second wind appeared, and all was wonderful my world. I did some calculating and figured if I could average ten minute miles that I could finish in a respectable time under 11 hours.

At mile 51 the paved path ends at Chagrin River Road. The next 10 miles head north on River Road towards the finish at North Chagrin Reservation. Dodging occasional high-speed traffic while balancing on tired legs added to the challenge. I looked forward to snapping photos of scenic farms and homes along the the Chagrin River valley.

Out of nowhere came a downpour. There was no escaping the drenching rain. The only was to stay warm was to continue running. My second wind disappeared soon after I found it but at this point I was not going to be denied. I arrived at the Polo Grounds aid station (mile 53), but my drop bag was with the other volunteer. This was the last planned aid station that left nine miles to the finish. Now at 9:30 into the run, I held the motivation to finish strong and under 11 hours. I head back out into the rain with the goal to secure the treasured Green Jewel.

When I thought rain could get no worse, I witness fast-moving dark clouds above. I push ahead. By mile 55, I am caught directly in a rain squall. The torrential rain was so heavy and drenching that I ducked under a stand of trees to call for help. My poor phone became water logged and I'm still wondering if I caused damage to it. My core temperature dropped further as I questioned my sanity and I yearned for a rain jacket. There was no choice to stay warm other than to keep running in the downpour. At this moment I felt a connection to Forrest Gump. Running in sideways rain, an incredibly nice couple pulled along side to ask if I wanted a ride. As tempting as it was, I left them perplexed when I said, "No, I'm just out for a run."

Vince the race director pulls up to me by mile 57. Although the rain continued, changing into dry clothes felt great, if only to head back into the rain. What a difference a second layer makes as I instantly felt warmer and comfortable to run. I learned a valuable lesson to always carry an extra layer in marginal conditions, especially in the latter miles.

Ready for this journey to end, I continued along River road through the towns of Moreland Hills and Gates Mills. Finally reaching the North Chagrin Reservation, the final 1.5 miles rejoined the paved metropark path and up the hill to the finish near the picnic area.

Wouldn't you know it, but the clouds break up and the sun shines brightly at the finish. The treasure hunt ended and the Green Jewel found in 11 hours 26 minutes.

Dan, the first place runner, was motivated by a five o'clock plane flight to Europe. At the start, Dan stated that he had to finish in 10.5 hours in order to make the flight. Amazingly he did so. I can only imagine the leg stiffness Dan endured on his flight. Dave also finished ahead, but not without excitement of his own. He missed the final turn to the park and was found headed towards Pennsylvania before being redirecting back on course.

At this time, the final results are not published. I did hear that everyone finished at least 50k and that 6 runners completed the 100k. I am grateful to have celebrated the Cleveland Metroparks by covering on foot the distance of the Emerald Necklace. Though the story of the day was the dreary and rainy day, I will not forget our region's real treasure -- having a great park system so close to a great city.

Special thanks to the folks from Pure Fuel for providing the delicious energy bars at the aid stations.

Click here for my photo album of the day.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Green Jewel photos

Click here, or any of the photos below for a few snapshots from yesterday's Green Jewel 100k.

Early start before daybreak

The all-purpose trail that connects the parks is known as the "Emerald Necklace"

On the road near mile 28

With ultrarunner and bike companion Courtney and Race Director (and aid station volunteer) Vince

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Seeking the Green Jewel

The Green Jewel is a new ultramarathon in Northeast Ohio presented by Joe Jurczyk (founding race director of the Buckeye Trail 50k and Burning River 100 mile endurance runs) and Vince Rucci (owner, Vertical Runner and current Buckeye Trail 50k race director.)

The Green Jewel run joins the BT50k and BR100, among others, in the new Western Reserve Trail Running series here in NE Ohio.

This 100 km road ultra appeals to me because the course follows the path of the "Emerald Necklace," showcasing our region's park systems. The route is comprised of the multi-purpose paved paths (70%) of the Cleveland Metroparks system, country roads (25%), and a short segment of towpath trail (5%) within the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

The Green Jewel course connects the following parks:

- Rocky River Reservation
- Mill Stream Run Reservation
- Brecksville Reservation
- Cuyahoga Valley National Park
- Bedford Reservation
- South Chagrin Reservation
- North Chagrin Reservation

Though I'd rather run on dirt trails, the opportunity to run the Emerald Necklace fits well with the training build for Laurel Highlands. Since I'm not crewing at Massanutten this year, I'll use this run as an aided training run. The field was limited to 50 runners, but I'll be surprised if the event reached capacity. I admit that ultra running on pavement does not appeal as does the trails. My training objective for this run is to test nutrition and accumulate a really long time on feet. With rain and thunderstorms in the forecast, the raingear will face the test, too.

The 100k and 50k runs start Saturday morning at 5:00 am in Lakewood near the mouth of the Rocky River at the Scenic Park marina. Runners opting for 50k finish at the Oak Grove Picnic Area in the Brecksville Reservation. 100k runners continue east
across the Cuyahoga Valley and north through Bedford, Solon, and Hunting Valley. The last 10 miles follow Chagrin River Road before ending at Forest Picnic Area in Mayfield Village township.

Aid stations (distances):

Start Scenic Park Marina, Lakewood
Lorain Rd. (4.9 miles - parking lot)
Rocky River Nature Center (10.0 miles - parking lot)
Wallace Lake (15.0 miles - parking lot)
The Chalet (19.1 - parking lot or driveway)
Ridge Rd. (24.5 - parking lot)
Oak Grove (31.9 - shelter) – 50K Finish
Alexander Rd.(37.8 - parking lot)
Egbert Picnic Area (42.6 - parking lot)
Harper Rd.(49.2 -parking lot/shelter)
Polo Field (53.1 - parking lot on River Rd.)
Finish Forest Picnic Area, Mayfield Village (62.4 - parking lot)

For those in the area, you're welcome to ride or run along with me for any part. I'm estimating running between 9.5 and 11 hours, depending on conditions. Stopping after 50k will be awfully tempting, too. I estimate passing Wallace Lake (mile 15) by 7:15am and arrive at Oak Grove (50km) around 9:30 am. For reference, a 10-hour finish is 9:37 per mile pace.

I'll carry the cell phone, so contact me if wish to get in touch along the way.

The final course instructions are very helpful and are available by clicking here.

The course map is super cool when it's not messed up. The site provides map and satellite views, but right now the image shows the course running across Lake Erie! I certainly hope that's not the case come Saturday.