Saturday, September 26, 2015


Out of Retirement

Akron Marathon Executive Race Director Brian Polen offered a free entry to anyone who was willing to run the race with a person who would be going for the Guinness World Record for jump-roping the entire marathon. I ‘jumped’ at it.

Never mind that I had retired from marathoning (at 100, which was well over two years ago). Never mind that I only had about nine days’ notice. Never mind that I had no idea what being witness to such an event entailed. It was free, I needed a long training run anyway (gotta get in shape for the Fall 50), and I was, therefore, all in.

Emailing back and forth with David Livingston, the guy going for the record, I learned that the existing record was 4:28, but having jumped a 22 miler and having run Akron in 3:05 last year, there was a high level of confidence in David’s chances. He was thinking about running at 9 to 10 minute pace, and I thought this would work out well for me, and would take him well under the old record.

My job was to stay behind or alongside David, and witness the record, should he achieve it. I would then fill out paperwork to testify that he accomplished it. I wasn’t alone. David’s whole family was involved: his wife and one son would take photos on the course Another son, Simon, would follow us on a bicycle equipped with a video camera to record the entire run.


I met up with Michelle Wolff, Debbie Scheel, Harold Dravenstott and Nancy Danisek at 5:00 AM for the trip to Akron. I was given a VIP parking pass, so we had a small privilege to be proud of. Of course I played this up with stuff like, ‘You guys are so lucky to know a VIP runner such as me,’ and so forth.

We got into the close-by parking garage, and Debbie and I hit the porta-johns at just the right time in order to miss the MCRR group photo. Even so, it was fun to see so many MCRR folks and other friends prior to the race.

First Do no Harm

That was my mantra as David and I started with the wheelchair competitors one minute before the main runner start. The elites soon went sprinting by, and David, Simon and I did our best to stay off to the side and out of trouble. I was taking extra care to help keep David safe and to personally not get in in his way at all.

‘Jump roper ahead,’ I kept yelling as the fastest of the main group of runners went by. It occurred to me that it may have been more appropriate to call him a ‘rope jumper’. But Jump roper it was, regardless. As much as we tried to keep off to the side, some still tried to go by on the inside. David wasn’t phased by this a whole lot; he was a pretty easy-going guy. Even so, I was falling into my role as a blocker, running interference for David as best I could.

Along the way, I greatly admired his run/jumping style. He was making this look easy. We talked some, and of course I told a few stories and stupid jokes, but we mostly ran side-by-side, or with me slightly behind, as our planned nine-minute pace.

The rules were such that if David stopped, regardless if it was to take in fluids or nutrition, or because he got his rope tangled up, he had to start jumping again at that exact point. As noted, I was the witness all this.

I actually did get tangled in his rope once, but only once. I apologized profusely, but as with some of the other challenges, it didn’t phase him a bit.

There’s Always Someone Crazier

My friend Dave Gajewski, when learning of this endeavor, told me that a few years back someone juggled the entire way, and then another year someone ran the race in sandals. I learned from the Akron Beacon-Journal article about David’s attempt that those two people were David as well. He’s done Akron every year since its inception, and he’s been looking for new challenges as late.

Here are the two of us at about 16 miles
One of our points of discussion was that no matter how wild you may seem to others, you can always point to someone else and say, ‘Yeah, I may be a little cracked, but I’m not as crazy as this other guy.’ On several levels, David was this other guy.

We encountered many folks along the way. Many of them had read the article, and wished David the best on his record attempt. We also saw several of my friends, including Harold, Michelle, Frank Dwyer, Dan DeRosha and Ron Ross. At one point, Harold was well ahead, and Ron had just passed us. I jokingly yelled up to Ron, ‘Don’t let Harold beat you.’ I then realized that Harold had probably heard, so I yelled to him, ‘Harold, don’t let Ron beat you!’

Caged Animal

We ran and we ran, and things were going quite well. But somewhere around 18 miles, David mentioned that he was going through a ‘rough patch’. I just did my best to encourage him, and told him that the record is in the bag – all we had to do was keep going.

We hit 20 miles in something like 3:04. I was thinking that a sub-four was probably no longer possible, but even if we slowed considerably, the record was still there the taking. All we had to do was keep going.

At mile 20 and a half, David stopped. He’d stopped other times where Simon and I gave him water and/or gels. He had also stopped when he missed a jump. He always started right back up again where he left off. This unplanned stop was different. He had a leg cramp.

I know from experience that leg cramps, while not a serious long-term problem, are nearly impossible to overcome during a race. I didn’t say so though. I just tried to get him to lean against a pole and stretch. I would try to get some electrolytes into him when we got moving again.

As I feared, the electrolytes didn’t help. It was too little, too late. David stopped again and again, and for longer and longer periods of time. All Simon and I could do was to try to keep his spirits up. At one point we even stopped at a first aid station, where we tried to get him stretched out. David, however, preferred to just sit in a chair for a while.

Time and again, I would tell David that all he had to do was to keep moving. If we could do that, we even now still had a chance at the 4:28 record.

At mile 23, David stopped for the longest time yet. After many minutes, he finally told us that he could no longer continue jumping. I asked if he was sure about a dozen times, and he said yes each to each query. He said I should go on, and that he would walk the rest of the way in. He didn’t want to not finish an instance of the Akron marathon.

So go on I did. I didn’t want to complain, because what David had done even to this point was so awesome and difficult. All that stopping and starting again, however, had been pretty tough for me. I would have preferred to keep things at a steady pace. Now, however, I had three miles to go, and was full of energy.

My Achilles was bothering me, but I ran pretty darn fast: generally about 7:30 pace. Harold later aptly told me that I’d been like a caged animal, suddenly turned loose. Even so, I managed to get a personal worst: a 4:16 or so. I saw Brian after I finished, and he was sorry to hear the news about David.


It was loads of fun to meet up with all of the Medina County Road Runners after the race. I loved hearing all their stories, and of course they wanted to hear mine as well. Eventually I saw David come in. I went over to shake his hand and congratulate him on his great effort. It sure was something to behold, and quite the memorable experience – for both of us.

Running fast, near the finish felt good                                                                                                photo by Dan Daubner

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

I Really and Truly Mean it This Time

Of course this is to build on my earlier post, I Really Mean it This Time

The 2015 NC24 is now history, and I truly have given it away to Vertical Runner Race Management. It's gone. Goodbye.

But what a ride it was! 2015, along with the first one in 2009, will definitely go down as the most memorable. In fact, things couldn't have gone better. (Except for that temporary rain and wind storm that luckily blew over by Saturday evening.) I must say that September 19-20, 2015 was a 24-hour high for me. I loved every minute, and I think a bunch of other organizers, volunteers and runners would concur.

As noted in another post, I did sign up for the Fall 50. I really mean to run this one, and it's now a month away. For training, I have done everything from Mugrage to Moebius.

And now I need to discuss something that I evidently didn't really mean: marathon retirement. I'm registered to run Akron this Saturday, It's mainly yet another training run for the Fall 50. If I finish, it will be number 101, and my retirement will be something I didn't really and truly mean.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Walls Were Built to Keep You In

This one from the Magnificent Seven has been another one of my all-time favorite movie lines. I’m not even entirely sure why I like it so much. It’s probably best not to over-analyze things. I know. With that in mind, I should quit blogging right now.

But don’t worry, I won’t.

More times than I can count, I’ve run the three miles over to the High School track, only to find it locked up tighter than (I was happy to see a website completely devoted to ‘tighter than’ sayings) an otter's pocket. But recently I’ve found a way to get underneath the fence, but the bad part about that is getting dirty or muddy in the process.

Yesterday I did the crawl, ran eight of my fourteen miles there, and then as it was getting light, discovered an open gate in a remote part of the track area. I would be able to get out without slithering! As I exited, I closed said gate, hoping anyone else coming by would think that it wouldn’t need to be locked.

It worked! It was open, so today I ran sixteen of my miles there. Yes, that’s a lot. Along with a smattering of a couple more with the grandkids and even two on the mill, I wound up with over twenty-five total. Add that to the weekly total of seventy for last week.

Yes, I’m taking this thing (the Fall 50) seriously. Next week starts the big push.

Monday, September 07, 2015


Buckets of Sweat, that is. Aren't you glad you asked?

Having signed up for the Fall 50, I figure I'd better start training. The old legs were pretty tired most of the week; they were still getting over Moebius. But eventually, one must get back to it, mustent one?

On Thursday I met the MCRR crew for what they call a pace run at Mugrage. This is far out of my way to work, but since it starts at 4:30 AM, I thought I could manage it. And manage it I did. Even though it was warm and humid, I survived 10 sticky miles, as well as the uncomfortable 50-minute ride to work immediately afterward.

Saturday was Towpath day. I met Larry Orwin, and we did 17 sticky (again) total miles on the old TP. These runs are always fun - there are so many new and old friends down there.

Would I have anything left for Sunday? Debbie Scheel had a 2+ looper scheduled, and I had planned to be there too. She began without me for a 3-mile lake loop, but then she and I, as well as Frank Dwyer, Theresa Wright and Drew Williams went on to do two - count them, two - Hinckley 9-mile loops, hills and all. I'm surprised and happy to say that I made it! Not that it was pretty. Especially with the oppressive humidity.

So today, Labor Day, I stuck to the mill, for just a few easy ones. And that was sticky too.

I only wish I had a nickel for every gallon I've sweated out this miserable summer. Fall can't come quickly enough.

Not that I'm complaining.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Marvelous Moebius Monster Mileage Madness

Sorry about the continuance of my alliterational insanity. I’m trying to stop. Really. This post is actually a race report about the 2015 Moebius Green Monster Trail 50K, which takes place at Sunny Lake Park in Aurora, Ohio.

But first, to the tune of A Horse with No Name by America:

On the first part of the journey
I was happy this wasn’t real life
There were plants and roots and rocks and things
There was dirt and hills and stings
The first thing I met was a fly with a buzz
And the sky with some clouds
The heat was hot and the ground was dry
But I tried to stay vertical to the ground
I've been through the trails without getting maimed
It felt good to be not quite so lame
In the trails you can’t remember your name
'Cause there ain't no root for to give you no pain
La, la
After three hours in the Moebius sun
My skin began to turn red
After five hours in the Moebius fun
I was feeling pretty darn dead
And the story I told of a runner this bold
Made me sad to think there was more to tread
You see I've been through the trails without getting maimed
It felt…...

With the thought of meeting up with Brother Dave and his wife Carol, wife Debbie made the journey to Mantua to crew for me. This was a rare occurrence; I often travel to races with friends, but seldom with Debbie.

Prior to the start I enjoyed kibitzing with several friends from MCRR: Ron Ross, Jeannine Nicholson, Ladd Clifford, Larry Orwin, Chris Thomas and Jack and Suzanne Sharpe. Larry was volunteering; the rest of us would be running. We were all startled when people started running right in the middle of our conversation. Race Director Stephen Godale had started the race on time, much to our surprise.

The sudden start. I'm on the left, starting my watch.

Flock of geese over the lake just after the start

And the sun was just starting to rise over the lake

I quickly fell in the second-to-the-lead pack, which included Chris, Kim Good and several others. Chris likes to talk a lot whilst running, and this was fine with the rest of us; it kept us entertained. During that first of five 10K loops, I hardly noticed the scenery, or even the rocks and roots along the way. I was intent on staying with this group and not thinking too much.

End of lap 1
I came in at 1:00:33. Debbie was waiting with a bottle of Tailwind and some Endurolytes. I had told her to look for me every 60 to 75 minutes, so this was going fairly well. So far.

Our pack broke up a bit during the second loop. Now it was mostly me and Chris and only a couple of the others. I began to notice, and remember from last time, all the rocks, ruts and roots. Not that I tripped over any of them. Not yet anyway.

End of lap 2
The second loop ended with a time of 1:00:14. Pretty consistent, eh? Debbie was waiting with a bottle of Tailwind and some Endurolytes.

During the third loop, I was running with only one other guy, and he tripped and fell. When I stopped to help, he said, “At least I got that one out of the way.”

End of lap 3
I caught up with Jeannine. “What are you doing back here with us slugs?” I asked as we ran together for a while. She told me that Ladd had wanted to go faster, and she had let him go. This was a little unusual, especially because I thought she might possibly win today. I guess she was having a not-so-great day.

I, on the other hand, was having a pretty good day. So far, that is. I came in for the end of the third loop with a split of 1:01:01. Steve told me he had me at just over three hours flat. Debbie was waiting with a bottle of Tailwind and some Endurolytes. And now there were only two laps to go. How hard could that be?

I was mostly alone now, although I did encounter another runner on occasion. I even lapped a few friends, including Blondie Hinton and Barry Smoloff. When I least expected it, one of those many roots along the trails reached up and grabbed my foot. Down I went, but luckily not too hard. The dirt and dust clung to my sweaty skin, but I was otherwise none the worse for wear.

End of loop 4
Along with my loss of coordination, I learned that I was also experiencing a loss of speed when I finished this fourth lap with a split of 1:06:50. Debbie was waiting with a bottle of Tailwind and some Endurolytes. Dave and Carol had made it over and were cheering me on with wild abandon.

And now there was only one lap left. I was still not too far off the pace I’d need to run close to the 5:01 time that I turned in here five years ago. I’d come in hoping only to be within an hour of that, and here I was doing much better than expected. But it was getting quite hot, and I knew from experience that this would be a tough final lap.

It was. I had trouble keeping any sort of consistent pace, walking the uphills, the downhills, and even much of the flat areas. I stepped gingerly over all the roots. Except one. Yup, I fell again. And once again, it wasn’t too hard a fall, but the dirt and dust clung to my sweaty skin once more, adding to that which was already there.

Earlier I had been thinking that I might place pretty well. I was pretty sure there weren’t any 60-year olds ahead of me, and maybe not even any 50-year olds. But now a handful of runners passed me on the trails, including Ron. He and I talked a bit, but I was sad to see him go.

The Finish, at last!
My time for this final lap was 1:22:12. What with still getting over injuries and not doing so many long runs, I guess I got what I deserved. Still a time of 5:30 was pretty good. And it was good to have Debbie there to help me out – she even hosed me off after I jumped in the lake.

A jump in the lake felt great!!
And now it’s on to bigger and better things. I think.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Tales of the Kid Part IV: The Sweet Smell of Darkness

It's later than you think.

This thought crowds out all the others as the Kid rounds the corner to face east and sees Orion relatively high in the early morning sky. In fact, Omnipresent Orion is higher than the Kid has seen yet this season, and this tells the Kid that either or both (probably both) of the following two statements are true: a) It's getting later in the season, which is to say, closer to fall, and b) It's later in the morning, and with six miles yet to go, the Kid had better get moving.

And what were the thoughts that got pushed out of the Kid's head, you ask?

The Kid is glad you asked. What do colors smell like? Why can't we hear the scent of a flower? How does the sight of a beach feel? And so on. All this while the song, the Sounds of Silence by Simon and Garfunkle is bouncing around in the Kid's head.

Why the Sounds of Silence, you ask?

This time the Kid is not so happy you asked. That's because the Kid doesn't know. Usually it's something classical, often awesomely symphonic, but every now and then a rock, folk or other tune will come in and occupy space up there. Perhaps if the Kid had some hair, it would block some of these things from getting in. The how or why of what starts playing when is simply beyond the Kid's understanding.

Where did today's run take place, you ask?

The Kid is greatly gratified to discuss this one. He's on his eleven-mile route to the west of his residence. It's a route he hasn't run in over a year, but one he used to do quite often a couple years back, as a Little Kid. Today it brings back good memories, happy thoughts (and sights, smells, sounds, etc.) and half-way decent running.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

An Adventuresome Attempt at Alliteration: Tale of Today’s Training Trot

Bearded Bob from Berea: I would like to dedicate this post to my friend BBB, also known as Robert Mayerovitch. Bob has a great gift with the English Language, and this is mostly evident in his use of puns. In fact, he’s the funnest punist that I know. But as his self-anointed nickname implies, he’s also not bad with alliterations.

Gatorade, Grass and Grieg: Since I was up relatively early today, I managed to get out the door by 3:37 AM, bottle of Gatorade in hand. It was pretty dark. The area behind the Brunswick Middle Schools includes the remains of an old cinder track. It’s almost entirely grown over with grass now, and it’s rutted and uneven. For this early part, and virtually all of the rest of my run, I had Grieg’s Piano Concerto bouncing around in my head. It’s fun to be able to do that without earphones. And speaking of piano, BBB is pretty decent at that too. Maybe we can get him to play Grieg for us some day.

Seeking Soft Surface Success: The reason I was running here is that for this long run attempt, I wanted to be on softer surfaces as much as possible.

Dirt+Darkness=Danger: What with the combination of the rutted uneven grass, dirt and cinders, the darkness and even the lighting from the schools that seemed to be constantly in my eyes but not on the ground, I just didn’t like this part of the run. So I moved on.

Beautiful but Beguiling Betelgeuse: With Orion, including my favorite start, Betelgeuse (don't worry - I won't say it a third time), rising in the east, I made my way over to Brunswick Lake and ran a couple miles there. This was better, but the surface was hard. So I moved on to the back of the high school for some…

Tremendous Track Training: Those first ten miles had been mighty slow – something on the order of an hour and fifty-one minutes. Now that I was at the track, it was time to get serious. The rubberized surface here was just what the doctor ordered. Round and round I went, getting faster and faster, at least for a while. I switched directions now and then. It truly does matter whether the GPS watch is on the inside or outside wrist.

Expeditiously Exceeding Expectations: After eleven pretty decent miles at the track, I made my way home. I had planned on 24 miles, and wound up exceeding that by a bit. Only a bit.