Monday, August 13, 2018

The Perseid

We speak about the Perseids as the meteors seen in the skies this time each year. Note the plurality. There was none of that today, but one is still better than none.

For the first time in decades, I did manage to get out the door before four. Perhaps it was related, but this wound but being an adventure in sleep-running.

To see meteors, one has to look up. Looking up is not conducive to good, or even half-way decent running. So that, combined with the extreme un-wakefulness were both working against me. But dad-gum it, I wanted to see those Perseids.

Shuffling along on Substation Road - the darkest area I could get to - I wasn't having any luck, so I started trying to spot Orion. This was also problematic because by 4:30 AM, it was only beginning to consider rising. That's when the sky lit up (well, a little) with a meteor. They always appear when you're not looking for them. It was pretty cool.

After further shuffling, I did finally see Orion. And then I saw, coming toward me, an extremely bright truck of some sort. There were green, red and yellow lights flashing in all sorts of ways. I suppose it was an ambulance, but it may have been another type of emergency vehicle or an alien land cruising car (the aliens would have emerged from the meteorite, I'm sure). It was hard to tell.

There were no more meteors, and no more wakefulness.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Orion Rise, 2018

I saw my very first of the season rise of the constellation Orion today. It signals that summer is on its way out, and that autumn is fast approaching. This is all good news for someone of my temperament.

This was my second run in Hocking Hills, and it was a cool one. That's appropriate, since fall is now officially (at least in my book) on its way. Cool, crisp and clear: that's the way I like it. Can't wait for more of it. Bring it on.

Sights and Sounds

I am getting a later than planned start. It's 5:20, and although I've been up for quite a while, this is the best I could do to get myself out the cabin door and into the gloomy morning air.

Said cabin is located in Sugar Grove, Ohio. It's in the Hocking Hills region, and we're staying for the weekend with the Dancer family. These digs are pretty nifty.

Gloomy it is - more so than anticipated. I had planned the route: 3 or more 3.7-mile loops on Sponagle, Swartz Mill, Mirgon and Sugar Grove Roads to make twelve or so miles total. I had figured there would be hills, humidity, humility, and darkness, but not quite so much. And I also hadn't anticipated the fog and drizzle. And did I mention the darkness? Oh, yes, perhaps I did.

First, I have to get up the driveway. I do mean up; it's mighty steep. Now on the road, things do level out. A little. I am bumping into plenty of hills. They pretty much won't stop. Eventually, I find myself running mostly down - way down - to get to Swartz Mill Road a mile into the run.

Good thing I have the headlamp because I can't see a darn thing otherwise. The woods are deep and dark, and the fog and mist reflect my headlamp light right back at me. I do notice the occasional light emanating from a smattering of houses that are back in the woods.

At first, it's so very quiet that even that unnerves me. I do get used to it, but soon the morning crickets begin to chirp. Now it's downright noisy. But in a pleasant sort of way.

All of a sudden, something fairly large flies right across my path, directly in front of my headlamp. It startles me, and I stop. It was completely quiet as it flew by. Then another one follows it within a second or two. I look around for others but don't see any. That don't mean anything; I can't see anything anyway. As my faculties return, I begin to wonder whether they were rather small owls or large bats. I am not able to figure it out, but I'm leaning towards the bat theory.

A couple of the houses come with a barking dog. I am not threatened directly, but I do pick up a stick for self-defense, just in case.

The roads and turns are where I expect them to be. The hills are not, since I hadn't known where they would be. Suffice it to say that they're big. Big enough to put Effie to shame. Effie, by the way, is still the standard by which all hills are measured. I manage to complete one loop. I am 3.7 miles into the run, just as anticipated. I try not to look at the related time.

The second loop is better. It's getting light, and I can now begin to see where I went that first time around. The fog is becoming more patchy. And I'm moving a little faster as well. But only a little.

The third loop is faster still. Still agonizingly slow by any normal standards, but faster than the other two loops.

About two and a half miles into that final circuit, it hits me. I love this! I truly do. It's why I run.

Minor runner's high subsiding, I am back in time to start the day with the kids and grandkids. Time to hike.

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Double the Fun

June 4. 2017. That, as far as I can tell, was the last time I did two back-to-back hilly Hinckley nine-mile loops. I've done the loop a few times in the past, and I know a thing or two about it. And despite the hiatus, I do know how to do two loops, and even three loops. That said, I have, in fact, been trying to revive the Sunday Hinckley tradition.

It wasn't pretty today. The heat, hills, humidity, and especially the humility all came into play. But it wasn't really like play; it was more like work.

Dennis Amstutz, Theresa Wright, Frank Dwyer and Rick Roman were my companions. It was warm and humid when we started at six am, and downright oppressive during that sweaty second loop.

We somehow made it. But it wasn't pretty. Oh, yeah. I said that already.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Heavenly Hills in Wild, Wonderful West Virginia

West Virginia is a very vertical place. I have run in the state before, but it's been a while. After yesterday's downhill hike from the top to the bottom of Bald Knob (we'd taken the ski-lift up), my quads and knees were feeling fairly shredded. But I run everywhere I go, and I would here as well, according to my wont.

Extensive pre-run research indicated that there was a horizontal trail along the Monongahela River here in Morgantown. All I need to do is get to it.

Getting to it involves running down. Way down. After a mile of yet more bone-jarring downhill running, I do reach the river, find the trail, and get going.

The sun is beginning to rise, but it's still dark down by the river. As I proceed north, the asphalt changes to crushed limestone and everything becomes heavily wooded and very quiet. I bask in the solitude. I don't see another human being until after I've turned back - about six miles into my run.

As I get back into the Morgantown area, the sun is shining on the nearby hills. It's light, and I can see fairly well. I realize that I'm finally, after eight slow miles, moving at a half-way decent pace. But now I've got to get back up the hills to my home away from home.

I do somehow make it back up (way up) to the Fairfield. Just in time for more hiking.

For more on said hiking, see my travel blog post.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Hinckley is Back

Okay, okay. Hinckley never really left. But a lot of us did; we hadn't been meeting there for our Sunday morning runs for quite some time. This was for various reasons, but now that's all changed.

We met the other day, and did our good old nine-mile loop. It was the same old gang, and the same old hilly "Effie" loop. Some of us did some extra lake loops as well.

Just like old times!!

Battle of Wounded Knee (as an innocent bystander)

I suppose I wasn't entirely bystanding; I was running. And I wasn't entirely innocent; I had invited my friend Larry Orwin to run with me, after all.

I was aware that this was less than a week after his Herculean effort to complete the Canal Corridor 100-mile race, but he said he was running again already, and I needed a partner.

So we met on the towpath for a fourteen-mile run from Station Road Bridge to Lock 29 and back.

Wouldn't you know it? At precisely seven miles out, just as we were about to turn into the Lock 29 area, his knee goes. He had to stop entirely. Innocent bystander that I was, I stopped to make sure he way okay. He said he was, but he wasn't. After some water, we tried to run back to Brecksville.

Didn't happen. Poor Larry could only walk. I ended up running back to get the car to pick him up. Strangely, I ran those six-plus miles really well. I suppose it was the adrenaline effort to get to the car and back in a decent amount of time.

Hope you're okay, Larry!

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

North Canton YMCA 4th of July 5-mile

Since I have participated in the Ohio Challenge Series many years, I've done this race many times, albeit many moons ago. It's a fun Fourth of July event; the whole city is alive and hopping for the race as it occurs just prior to the annual parade.

Fun though it is, I've never run particularly well here. But sometimes you just need to fulfill your racing obligation for the series. That was going to be the case today. I needed one more 5-mile to 10k distance race to compete in that category, and this would be it. I already have the 1/2 marathon distance category completed as well. Since I won't be bothering with any more 5k runs in the series, I won't compete in that category. And that, my friends, means I'm done!

Coming just a scant three days after BW50K, (And did I mention the relentless heat?) I knew that I wouldn't be at my best. I just wanted to run the distance.

It turned out that just getting the distance in, was a tremendous chore. I thought I was gonna die in that heat. I thought they would be scraping me off the pavement when the race was done.

Well, somehow I remained vertical. But done, I was. 46:50.

Now I'm done in another way too. I'm done doing ANY racing for a while. A long while.

Sunday, July 01, 2018

Buckeye Woods 50K Race Report

I really did it this time. I disorganized a summer version of the Buckeye Woods 50K. Having started the whole thing with a Fall/Winter version eight and a half years ago, I thought, why not do it in the heat of the summer as well? This was also in lieu of the summer Mugrage Park 6-Hour run, which was not going to happen due to a scheduling snafu.

It sure was a toasty one. Temperatures were well up into the nineties. After a few of the five-mile loops, the two ladies ahead of me, Theresa Wright and Kelly Parker, began to walk. They, and the other over-achiever, Angela Demchuk eventually dropped after achieving mileage in the twenties. Not too shabby for this hot, humid, muggy and buggy day.

That left me all alone, but I still had to complete the miles. And even pick up my course markers (I used flags). So the last lap wasn't pretty. I made it, however. 6:19. Good for first (and last) overall.

That's 2 (count them, two) races that I've won this year. Just think what would happen if I was running well.

The Perseid

We speak about the Perseids as the meteors seen in the skies this time each year. Note the plurality. There was none of that today, but one ...