Friday, June 27, 2008

Hill climbing, part 2

Elevation for The Bear 5 Mile Run:

Starting at elevation 3,640 feet and finishing atop Grandfather Mountain at 5,181 feet, The Bear gains 1,541 feet in five miles.

The race is on Thursday, July 10. Along with the Grandfather Mountain Marathon, The Bear is part of the local Scottish Highland Games.

I'm starting to get excited about this challenge. I've been told that The Bear is the bigger draw of the weekend.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Hill climbing

Tonight's run: 10 miles easy on hills, in the valley, with the Tuesday night group, in about 85 minutes. The Rocky River Reservation is a river valley no more than 80 feet deep on the west side of Cleveland's inner ring suburbs. Our route scaled as many of those 80 foot climbs as possible.

Big hills are hard to come by in my part of town. A worthy hill course requires a thirty to forty minute drive to either Hinckley or the Cuyahoga Valley. Rolling and hilly road courses are part of our formula for marathon training, but our local routes rarely tout more than 200 feet of elevation change. Snowville Road in Brecksville changes approximately 450 feet in 2.75 miles. Those are the exceptions. On most days, I run a relatively flat road course from my front door.

In two weeks I tackle Grandfather Mountain in Western North Carolina.

With a starting elevation of 3,333 feet, low point of 3,160 feet and finishing at 4,279 atop Grandfather Mountain, this flat-lander expects to be vertically challenged.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Mohican update

I didn't arrive down at Mo' until late Saturday, but here is my brief report:

It was a relatively cooler year, with the normal Ohio humidity and a late afternoon thunderstorm which was heavy at times. I witnessed the top 10 runners come through Grist Mill aid station (mile 75), including locals Wyatt, Connie, Vince, and Dawn.

The men's winner was Jay Smithberger in 17:55 and Connie Gardner in 19:22. Gardner earned her third Mohican win while bettering her previous women's 40-49 course record from 2007.

In the 100 mile, 127 runners started and about 70 (not sure) finished. There was a concurrent 50 mile race that I have no stats on.

Five runners went sub-20 hours. Nearly twenty runners went sub-24 hours.

Some local results that I remember off-the-top of my head (sorry if I excluded your name.)

Wyatt Hornsby 19:22 (4th overall)
Connie Gardner 19:22 (5th, 1st woman)
Vince Rucci 20:46 (6th)
Dawn Malone 22:20 (2nd woman)

Steve Godale 25:50-ish
Dave Peterman 26:20-ish

Fred Davis - finished 10th Mohican.

Congrats to all - I look forward to the race reports.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Trail shoes

A list of the types of trail shoes I've used over the last four years:

Montrail Hardrock
Keen somethings (Ochoa?)
Teva X-1
Montrail Continental Divide

I ran the majority of my trail races, including all distances 50 miles and over, in Montrails. Though heavier shoes, the protective uppers and rugged outsoles found in trail shoes has worked well in the longer distance when I'm apt to bang my tired legs and feet on rocks and roots. I won't argue that.

That all said, last night I headed out to the Pine Lane trailhead for a run after work. All I had were my road running shoes and I have to say that it was not that bad. The trail was neither dry or overly muddy and I was surprised to find how okay trail running in road shoes was.

This revelation won't cause a complete conversion. I realize that on muddier, rockier, and slicker trails that the traction and protection of trail shoes is necessary to navigate on terra firma. I like to hammer downhill when trail running -- my Brooks road shoes don't offer the kind of support or protection that I've come to appreciate from trail shoes.

This summer I don't have any major trail races on the schedule. Perhaps now is the time to experiment with using both road and trail shoes. My next big trail ambition is the Massanutten Trails 100 in 2009. While I don't expect to wear road shoes at MMT, I don't have a clear idea on what I will wear.

I look forward to hitting the trails more often to find out.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Say what?

What's to say? I feel like I don't have much to say on the blog. Having decided to pass on a summer ultramarathon, June is somewhat less thrilling than in years past. It is my hope that my running will pick up to the point that there is more to talk about soon. I can't argue with the idea of more running and less talking.

Speaking of thrilling, I found myself in the unusual position parked in front of the television over the weekend. Though I haven't played recently, championship golf remains in my blood and witnessing the weekend play at the U.S. Open captured my attention. If you did not watch Monday's superlative playoff, it was a must-see, instant-classic for all golf fans. Tiger's fairway bunker shot on #15 topped by Rocco's birdie putt couldn't have been scripted any more dramatically. If you are a golf fan and did not catch the playoff, I wholly recommend catching a replay.

Running-wise, I have been able to string together a few weeks of consistent base mileage. Listed below is my weekly mileage since the Green Jewel on May 3:

15 (Recovery week, May 4-10)

So far, all the running has been at easy pace with no quality. My last run of any pace faster than easy was the Boston Marathon on April 21. Of the last 30 days, I've logged 27 runs. Most of which were in the range of 7-8 milers.

Where am I going with this? Having no races on the near-term schedule, and skipping the June ultra, I've found myself starting a new training cycle. My body is rehabilitating from the Spring race season and I'm enjoying some carefree training with no quality workouts or racing efforts. And it feels so good; I feel stronger with each day of easy-pace running.

Looking forward to the cycle ahead, I anticipate designing a plan to tackle the Marine Corps Marathon on October 26. The race is about 19 weeks away. I plan to continue the base building phase for another 4 weeks until the end of July. I'd like to see some weeks of 60+ miles. The idea then is to introduce some elements of quality starting in August. Included in the plan is to run the hills of the Grandfather Mountain Marathon on July 12. After recovering from that effort, I will assess my condition and map out a couple quality phases.

Good luck to this weekend's racer at the Mohican Trail 100. I won't make it down this year for the pre-race fest on Friday night, nor for the start of the race, but I do plan to catch the action by late Saturday night to watch the finish.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Mohican splits

Mohican is near and the excitement builds...

I finally got around to compiling my splits from last year's Mohican Trail 100.

I thought the old race website provided the splits. I remember viewing the data to help with my own Mohican planning. I looked around the new website and could not find the splits. Anyhow, I found my old notes and put together the list to share here. I added a couple notes below.

(I am having technical difficulties displaying my table here - please click the link below to view)

Table: Aid station arrival times, 2007 Mohican Trail 100

Based on my then-recent race results and reviewing past Mohican performances, I aimed for a sub-22 hour finish. I also had an idea for a 20-hour finish, but kept that thought to myself. Having never run 100 before, I had no real idea how the day would unfold. I thought somewhere in the range of a 10 hour first half and 12 hour second half.

Then the race started. The table shows I maintained a sub-19 hour pace through 60 miles and held sub-20 hour pace until 83 miles. I ran faster and ahead of schedule all through the day. I missed my first pacer at the Fire Tower (mile 60) because I was there one whole hour ahead of schedule.

Finishing the scenic blue loop (mile 42) I caught up with Michael Hayden and 6th place, the highest position I would get in the race. Not far past the Bridal Staging Area (mile 45), I hit my low point in the race with a bout of stomach distress. This section until Rock Point (mile 52) was my lowest point in the race. Around mile 47, a train of good runners came flying past me including Bob Pokorny, Connie Gardner, Doug Cassiday, and Jay Smithberger.

After that, I saw only three other runners for the entire way. I passed Steve Core. near mile 54 and Jay S. at Hickory Ridge (mile 68.) Jerry Brandt caught me on the approach to Hickory Ridge and finished strong in an amazing sub-20 hours. I saw no other competitors in the last 32 miles.

When I planned my race, I studied the past splits and found that most of the runners in my ability range had run the last 20 miles at Mohican in 5 hours or less. In 2006, I watched Kim Martin run the last 10 miles in about 1:50. That was a goal of mine, but my quads wanted no part. My pace slowed considerably after nightfall and I had beat my quads too much in the early miles to allow myself to run in the late stage of the race. I walked more than planned and finished the last 20 miles in 5:20, with a final time of 21:16 and ninth place overall.

Weather conditions were warm, but not as bad as 2006. We caught a break with having a dry and fast trail. Hardly any mud.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Where I'm at

I'm not sure if I'll get all the thoughts out in the this one post, but here's a few on where I'm at right now:

Running: I've decided to skip the Laurel Highlands Ultra. All year I've pointed to this race and I wanted to return to Ohiopyle to improve upon my initial Laurel race in 2006. I have the miles under me, but at this point my heart is not into it. Surely, I could finish and likely do okay. But I am looking ahead and the recovery needed from Laurel might set me back for what's to come next.

What a distinct contrast to where I was last year. This time last year I was entering taper phase for the Mohican Trail 100. I was focused and hungry for the challenge. Same with two years ago when facing the Laurel Ultra. Not so this year. I am just not at a same place.

When I started this blog, I had a by-line that read, "dreaming of running farther than ever before." As I progressed up with the the ultra distances -- from 50k, to 50 miles, to 70 miles, then 100 miles -- I took a delibrate approach, allowing two whole years before taking the 100 mile plunge. Each new and longer distance fueled my desire.

I just have not had the same hunger as I did last year. I recognize this. As a runner and coach, I understand that it is okay to change or readjust the goals. And I have. So far, my 2008 has been a good one, with three ultras and three marathons under the belt. I cannot complain this year with a 5k PR and a #2 all-time marathon best performance in Boston.

I have decided, however, on the next ultramarathon goal: Massanutten. It's 49 weeks away and a certain challenge. I have something now to fuel my desire once again. For sure, I'll need more visits to the the mountains in the year to come. I won't know until December, but I hope to gain entry into the race.

Looking ahead to the rest of the year, I am going to focus on the Marine Corps Marathon as the goal race. In the interim, I look forward to a fun summer getaway weekend and tackling the Grandfather Mountain Marathon in North Carolina. With plenty of time before MCM, I look forward to rebuilding my base and starting a new training cycle. With a late October date for MCM, I have plenty of time to build up a big base. It will be August before adding quality to my running program.

Training: In case you had not heard, I started a coaching business this year it is starting to grow. I decided to try making my passion and profession intersect and give the running business a shot.

Part of my days are now training with, advising, and coaching distance runners. I am enjoying the time listening to runners and helping construct a plan for runners to achieve their goals. I'm also working with a local gym to start a runner's program at their location. There is a limited number of clients I can take on in one season, but I don't think I have reached that level yet. There is room for more. I have a bare-bones website established for more information. If you or anyone you know is interested in a running coach, email to me.

I wrote an article titled, "The best five minutes." If you're so inclined, let me know what you think. I have a few more articles in the works and I'm continuing to further developing my written lesson plans. I am indeed excited about this upcoming season.

Races: I am looking forward to our summer trail races. I intend to be more involved with the local trail races in the Western Reserve Trail Running series by helping more with the summer Buckeye Trail 50k and the Burning River 100. I'm heading up the Station Road Bridge aid station again for the Burning River on August 2. Similar to last year, we'll have a group run that preceed volunteer shifts. If you are in the area and wish to help for a couple hours, let me know.

In the big picture, these are good times. I am healthy and have a training goals on the calendar. The prospect of helping others with a running program, pursuing my own personal bests, and now seeing Massanutten come into view, are all reasons for a rekindled desire.

Mohican: Some people have asked me about my race last year. I still haven't written a report, but I ought to start some momentum towards doing so. I'm going to dig up my spreadsheet tool that I used to help plan for my Mohican race and make a post soon. There's two weeks to go. Go Mohican runners!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

No frills FA

Kendall Lake in the CVNP

On Sunday, I joined members of the NEO Trail Club for the No Frills, Just Hills FA.

A timed event with a six hour limit, the course followed 2 mile trail loop around the Virginia Kendall area of the Cuyahoga Valley NP. The idea was to offer a fun and simple fat ass style run to help prepare runners for the upcoming ultramarathon season.

Eleven runners started, with the top dog logging 15 loops. Several runners used the FA as a training run for local ultras such as Laurel Highlands 70, Mohican Trail 50 and 100, or the Burning River 100.

Sharing trail time is always a great way to catch up with the regulars. On this bright and sunny day I ran 10 loops (20 miles total) with Slim, who is preparing for the new Grindstone 100 in Virginia. Spend enough trail time with Slim and the topic is sure to turn to Massanutten. And it did.

I enjoyed the format. Passing the car on each loop allowed for a simple aid situation. No need to carry much allowing for more running and funning.

Here's a few shots from the day:

The "Sound of Music Hill" in the background. Site of the Pine Hollow (mile 75) aid station of the Burning River 100.

Descending the Sound of Music Hill

On the run with Slim