Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Who Cooks for You?

As we've done many times in the past, we arranged for Debbie to meet me at Hinckley so that we could walk around the lake immediately following my run there. The run was nice, with several friends participating.

The weather was unusually warm, so both the run and the walk were enjoyable. But the really cool thing is that Debbie and I saw two large owls near the lake as we were completing out walk. We stopped to watch them for quite a while as they spent time on the ground and in the nearby trees. It was a thrill.

Some owls seem to be saying, "Who Cooks for You?" At least that's the way it sounds to me. Debbie's dad (and also Debbie) used to say that the summer song of the chickadee sounds like, "Who Did It?" I've disagreed, saying there were only two, not three notes in the song.

Clearly, whoever did it also cooks for you.

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Ohio Challenge Series

Greg Everal OCS Director and me        Greg Everal Photo

Huge, ambitious plans were afoot. It was the beginning of 2018, and I needed a challenge. The test? To run shorter races and get faster. I would train for 5K, 5-Mile, and 10K races, and participate in them fairly often, thereby training and racing myself into better shape. To encourage myself to do more of these races, I registered for the Ohio Challenge Series or OCS. There are dozens of races, mostly shorter ones, and competition is by age-group within several broad distance categories.

OCS has been around for something like twenty years. I participated in OCS for many of the early years, but not for the past nine or ten. I was too busy doing marathons and ultramarathons. Now I’d use the challenge to challenge myself to get better. Oh, I would not retire completely from marathoning. I’d just concentrate more on the shorter, faster stuff. Such a strategy may even have a positive effect on said marathons themselves.

Readers of this blog will be aware that this didn’t happen. I didn’t race myself into shape, and I didn’t get faster. I did manage to get more injured. My Achilles Tendonitis seemed to hurt more when I just thought about 5Ks and 10Ks.

However, the competition gets thin near my ancient age-group, and there are those multiple categories. I did not do the required number of 5Ks, but I did run the necessary three 5-Mile/10K races and even exceeded the required two half-marathons in order to compete in those categories. What’s more, I thought I was leading. (Now you have an idea where this is heading.)

Debbie and I attended the OCS awards banquet at Breitenbach Winery yesterday. I expected two category firsts. But a funny thing happened. After winning the 10K category award ($40 and a hat), I learned that I was second in the half-marathon category. A fellow named Joe Tarantino had won. I guess I’ll have to settle for only $30 and a hat for that one.

I did get to meet the new organizers of the series. Nice folks. Will I participate next year? Race myself into shape on the second try? Who knows? Okay: probably.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Ninth Annual Buckeye Woods 50K

I finished my tenth BW50K at the ninth annual run today. This is possible because one of my ten was the eighth and a halfth run which was held off-season this past summer.

Back in 2010, our club, the Medina County Road Runners decided to hold a free (for club members) run at Buckeye Woods County Park. It would be six 5-mile loops through the wetlands and woods, returning to the shelter after each circuit. It would be after Thanksgiving when the weather tends to add to the challenge. Oh, and guess who became Race Director?
About 30 of us just before the start                      Michelle Wolff photo

The race has been ably managed by Michelle Wolff and Harold Dravonstott the past couple of years. But this year I helped as well, so there were actually three RDs. The best of all worlds.

After all the cold, rain and snow the past few weeks, today turned out to be a great running day; temperatures were in the forties, the wind was light, and the sun even came out in the afternoon. This is not to say that all of the running conditions were perfect, however. There was mud in the wooded areas, and a lot of it. Where there was no mud, there was often standing water a few inches deep. By the way: some of us learned that it's best to run right through the water, rather than slipping and sliding in the mud alongside.

There were about thirty starters. It was gratifying to see so many folks out enjoying their Sunday-After-Turkey-Day-Fatass Run. A lot of them were only out there to enjoy a few miles or a couple 5-mile loops. Those who did at least three loops were credited with recognition of a 25K finish. Renee Harden, Debbie Scheel, and Ladd Clifford were among the top 25K runners.

With an additional 25K to go, I didn't try to contend with those fast folk. Not that I could have, anyway. Even so, I was running well enough by half-way that I thought there might be a chance for a five-hour 50K today.

Lap four started a little slower, and I never got moving quite so fast again. Oh, I was running all right, just a little slower. And now that the 25K-ers were finishing up, things were getting much more lonely out there. There were a couple fast guys ahead of me, and speedy Debbie Horn and superb running partner Theresa Wright were close behind.

After lap five or so, the two fast guys, who turned out to be twins, dropped out. I was now in the lead, but I had two very fast women chasing me. And before we start with the jokes, let me say that now I was possibly subject to being chicked.  For the uninformed, if you're a man and a woman beats you, this is fine - we can certainly handle such things. It's the new Millenium and all that. But if you're the first man and a woman beats you, then you're chicked. You might say I was 'scared chickless.'

Lap six was about like laps four and five: slow, but still moving forward. My lap splits for these three were remarkably similar. Even so, I did look behind occasionally to make sure no one was sneaking up.

I finished in 5:25, a little ahead of Debbie and Theresa. I think there were seven 50K finishers in all. I'm very happy with the win, but I believe that my recent races have taken a lot out of me. Now I'm really burned up. Time for some rest.
Theresa Wright and me              Sydney Chinchana photo

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Three Things

I recently ran a marathon during which I surpassed 100,000 lifetime miles. I was asked to write something about it for the Medina County Road Runners Newsletter. If you've been following my blog, you've seen some other posts about this mileage milestone. This is more of the same.

Three things I know are true:

1) There are a lot of accomplished runners out there. Some are ultrarunners. Some, I'm proud to say, are my friends. Some of these folks have also run gobs of miles, possibly even as many as I. But...

2) A lot of runners don't track their mileage as I do. I know. I'm a little goofy like this. It's in my genes. Maybe my jeans as well. Counting, tracking, measuring: it's what I do. I do it for a living, and also for fun. Most folks don't suffer from this measurement disease. I simply have my very own anal-retentive trait, that's all. Even so...

3) 100,000 is still a lot of miles.

The logging began in 1978, the year of my first marathon. I ran in some years that I cannot account for, but my total includes only miles for which I have log entries. Every one of the 100,000 is documented in some way: miles that I've tracked in logbooks, in spreadsheets, using online applications, and most recently with my GPS device.

Some fun with that number:
  • The circumference of the earth is 24,901 miles, so I've gone around over four times.
  • The distance from the earth to the moon is 238,900 miles, so I've gone 41.8 percent of the way there.
  • The distance from the earth to the sun is 93,000,000 miles, so I've only gone 0.108 percent of the way there.
  • 100,000 miles over 41 years is an average of 2,439 miles per year.
  • 100,000 miles in 41 years is an average of 6.68 per day.

During a recent group run, I was asked which of my many runs are the most memorable. We discussed a few:

Completing my one and only 100-mile race at Mohican (I might have added that my DNF at that location ten years hence was also memorable).

The Green Jewell 100K where I got lost, then found, then won the race, then had to get in the car and go directly to the airport in order to fly to Europe. Thank goodness for baby wipes.

The time I was running in pitch-dark blackness with only a reflective vest (these don’t work so well when there is no light to reflect), and was hit head-on by something moving very fast down a hill. It was a biker who wound up sprawled away from his now crooked bike. I never saw him coming.

I could have also mentioned my first marathon, my first sub-three-hour marathon that took 11 years to achieve, and my last sub-three that occurred on the most beautiful day the Towpath can offer.

But my most important and most memorable run will be my next one. My next one with friends that is. I like the solitude of running alone, but running with friends is all that much better. I enjoy, remember and cherish group runs more than any. My next one of those will surely be my most memorable.

Until the one after that.


Using the term, 'whiteout' to describe today's run may be a bit of a stretch. On the other hand, that is indeed what I was confronted with when I turned on my headlamp. Here's the (brief) story.


I pass through the tunnel and emerge into the park. It's dark, so I switch on my headlamp. That's when the whiteoutness hits me. I'm nearly blind!

As I drove in only a few minutes ago, it wasn't that cold, and it wasn't snowing all that much. But now, it's a different story. I do the only thing that makes sense: I switch my headlamp back to off. Relief is immediate.

And now I'm running in a winter wonderland. Even though it's snowing hard, it's not accumulating much. The park is deserted, and quiet as can be. I can see fairly well, as the snow lights things up some when it's not reflecting the whiteness back into my eyes. The beauty matches the serenity.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Made in America Half-Marathon

I should be giving myself more time to recover after last Sunday's Veteran's Marathon, thought I. I should also give myself some time to breathe after traveling 100,000 Miles, thought I. But rest and relaxation were not in the cards today.

Made in America, at about $40 is pretty cheap, it's mostly on a nice crushed limestone surface, and it's in the Ohio Challenge Series, where I wanted to solidify my lead in this category. Furthermore, several of my Medina area friends were carpooling to the event. I haven't done that in a while and forgot how much fun it could be.

It was in the low 20s at the start, but I warmed up quickly during the early road miles. From mile four on, the race was on the towpath. Since this was in Massillon, I don't think I've run on this section before, but it was like other parts.

As much as I like the soft surface, the serenity, and the beauty of the towpath (it was a whole lot like last week), I slowed down. The first four were at about 8:15 pace, whereas the remainder of the race was at 8:27 pace. I had begun to slow down even further during the final miles when some of the runners around me began to encourage one another. This helped a great deal.

Even though we were now moving faster again, a sub-1:50 would be a challenge. Would I (we) make it?

Not quite this time. I came in at 1:50:16.

I'm okay with this. I am sure I could have done much better had I not raced last week, and I believe I did, in fact, ice my series lead. Best of all, I enjoyed it, especially the camaraderie with my friends.

Saturday, November 10, 2018


It was 22 degrees, but that wasn't the problem. There was a half-inch of snow, but that wasn't the problem either. There was some ice (actually, quite a bit) on the roads going down to Buckeye Woods County Park; that was the problem.

After some slipping and sliding, I managed to get behind first one, then another snowplow as they were beginning to treat the roads.

This first bout of nasty weather in a while kept some of the massive crowds away from my Buckeye Woods 50K Training Run and 100,000-Mile Celebration Run. As it turned out, only a handful of hard-core runners, such as Rick Roman, Kelly Parker, Harold Dravenstott, Theresa Wright, Larry Orwin, and Dennis Amstutz made the scene. They were more than enough.

We ran the BW50K 5-Mile loop. It was cold, but fun. And it was enough for me this day.

Now that I’m officially on the north side of that 100,000-Mile milestone, it’s incredibly gratifying to have such great friends. I am honored and overwhelmed.
Most of the hardy revelers     Photo by Larry Orwin

Me and my fancy pants         Photo by Larry Orwin

My 100K Cookie - thanks to Larry Orwin!

Sunday, November 04, 2018

InFirst Bank Veteran's Marathon

Debbie and I arrive Saturday, the day before the race. We take a stroll around Keystone State Park, before pasta loading at Olive Garden, and then retiring at Springhill Suites, Latrobe, PA. Latrobe is about 30 minutes away from Saylor Park in Black Lick, PA, the site of the start and finish of the InFirst Bank Veteran's Marathon.

It's in the thirties as we arrive to check in. But the sun is coming out, and the temperatures are supposed to rise above fifty today. I kiss Debbie goodbye, just before the BOOM! cannon goes off.

The race is in honor of veterans, so they receive a t-shirt with their race entries, and others have the option to buy them. There are a half-marathon and a relay to accompany the marathon, but it occurs to me that there really aren't that many runners around. Maybe a couple hundred, all in all, tops.

I should say that I prefer it this way. I prefer the small numbers, the cool temperatures, the low-hassleness of the race organization, the scenic peace and quiet, and the soft, crushed limestone surface. And, on top of all that, I'm feeling half-way decent. In fact, I have to say that this is about as good as it gets.

But would I be able to run well? That's always the bottom line, isn't it?

I can't help but admire the beauty. The rails-to-trails Ghost Town Trail is absolutely gorgeous, The fall foliage is spectacular, and I enjoy every minute. Each time I hit a rough patch, I look around and oggle those wonderful colors. And each time it works; I become more relaxed and get back on track.

I ran that best-in-a-long-time 3:43 in 2017, but I haven't been able to get anywhere close afterward. I don't think I can today, either. But maybe I can come close.

I am tracking every five-mile split, and they're pretty even-steven. I hit the half-way turnaround in about 1:54. If I can keep this pace up, I'll at least break 3:50. That would be a good thing.

It's getting warmer, but I'm still comfortable. My splits are still encouraging. Will I finish strong?

My hundred-thousandth mile will occur, by my reconning, at mile 26 of today's race. If I can make that a good, strong mile, I might even beat 3:47 today. I want it to be a strong mile, I really do! And it is! It's a bit under 8:30, perhaps my fastest of the day. (I later learn that my math was off, and I'd reached 100K at mile 16 instead of 26.)

I finish in 3:46. About as good as I could hope for today - a day when marathoning is as good as it gets.

My One Hundred Thousandth Mile

My one hundred thousandth mile occurred, fittingly, during a marathon. The race was the Veterans Marathon in Pennsylvania. I thought I'd planned it out such that mile 100,000 would occur during the final mile of this, my 109th marathon, and my 145th race of marathon length or longer. I didn't realize until I got home that this wasn't the case; I'd reached 100K at about mile 16. The rest was gravy.

Today's 16th and 26th miles were probably not so much different from my first documented mile in 1978. Back then, I was training for my first marathon. But I suppose that my training miles were at around eight-minute-per-mile (or perhaps a bit slower) pace, whereas today's all-out marathon pace, including miles 16 and 26, was at about 8:39 pace. Okay, maybe mile 26 was just a hair faster.

Being the numbers guy that I am, I've counted all the miles I've run since 1978. I ran some before that, and I also ran during the 'lost year' of 1980. But since I don't have documentation on those, I am not counting them. Here's the list of my year-by-year mileage:

I should mention that I've had the honor of knowing and running with some amazing people who have accomplished nearly unbelievable things. Many are great ultrarunners, and many of them have surely run at least as much as I have over their lifetimes. But a lot of them are not quite crazy enough to want to keep track of things like this. Maybe they have better things to do.

Anyway, here are some fun facts with these numbers:

  • The circumference of the earth is 24,901 miles, so I've gone around over four times.
  • The distance from the earth to the moon is 238,900 miles, so I've gone 41,8 percent of the way there.
  • The distance from the earth to the sun is 93,000,000 miles, so I've only gone 0.108 percent of the way there.
  • 100,000 miles over 41 years is an average of 2,439 miles per year.
  • 100,000 miles in 41 years is an average of 6.68 per day (I'd get better averages if it weren't for some of those 'slacker' years.)
  • The average pace has slowed a little. Actually, it's slowed a lot over the last few years. Interesting that the mileage hasn't dropped, however.

Okay, that's enough now. Maybe it's time to quit. You know, hang up the old Hokas.

Naaah. I'm still gonna try for the moon. Is there another way to become the Greatest Runner Who Ever Lived?

Who Cooks for You?

As we've done many times in the past, we arranged for Debbie to meet me at Hinckley so that we could walk around the lake immediately fo...