Sunday, November 26, 2017

Buckeye Woods 50K, November 26, 2017

At the start
The Buckeye Woods 50K (BW50K) is known as a Fat Ass run. Fat Ass runs are usually held around the holidays in order to provide ultra runners a way to burn off some of the extra weight they've been putting on. They don't have to be 50K (there's a 25K option at Buckeye Woods), but they're often 50 of something. I know there are some 50-mile ones, and there could conceivably be others of 50 feet or 50 parsecs. But 50 kilometers is probably the most common.

A couple other things about Fat Ass runs: they are friendly and easy-going; lack of support is typical (runners usually have to support themselves), and most importantly, there is usually no fee. In fact, the motto for all Fat Ass runs is, 'No Fees, No Awards, No Aid, No Wimps'.

That said, BW50K now has awards (Alyssa Osborne makes beach-glass necklaces for finishers), and there is even some limited support, this year by our Great Race Directors Harold Dravenstott and Michelle Wolff.

And the lack of fees? BW50K is one of the truly great benefits of membership in the Medina County Road Runners club; you do have to be a member in order to run, but it's otherwise completely free. What a bargain. The friendliness and easy-going-ness are a huge part of the bargain as well.

I absolutely love this race. So much so, that I've done each one since its inception in 2010. Maybe I'll even get good at it one of these years. But probably not.

Perhaps it wasn't really all that bad this time around. Maybe I'm being a little tough on myself. Many runners would be happy with my time and my overall place today. Conceivably, I could be very happy with today's run... Nah.

What exactly was my time and place today, you ask? Although I ran alone most of the day (no one seemed to run my pace - most were either faster or slower), it was still good to see everyone coming and going. And to come 'home' at the end of each 5-mile loop was wonderful.

Going in, I'd thought that I ought to be able to run faster than six hours, perhaps even five and a half. A sub-five hour run would be hitting it out of the park for me this day. But for a while, sub-five actually seemed like a possibility. But then the miles began to take their terrible toll, and my lap times began to slow little by little.

My laps. the first one includes an extra mile

My overall time was 5:11:28. This was good for second place overall. If some fast guy (his name is Frank Dwyer) hadn't showed up, I may, just may, have placed better than second. I should mention that there were a lot of excellent runners out there today, but lots of them chose to call it quits at 25K.

Okay, it was great fun. Did I mention that I love this race?

Oh, just one more thing. Here's my BW50K history. The unlabeled column is my age. As I said, maybe I'll get good at it one of these years.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Hail yes, it hurt. ...or... Hail. Yes, it hurt.

The well-known Post Office creed goes, "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds".

The not so well-known Dan Horvath creed for this day goes, "Neither snow nor rain nor blustery wind nor sleet nor hail nor gloom of early morning stays this runner from the swift completion of his appointed round."

The hail hurt a bit, but luckily that part didn't last long. Oh, and the completion wasn't really all that swift either.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Time, Distance, Estimation and Honesty

For someone who measures and estimates for a living, the Garmin Forerunner 620 has been both a blessing and a curse. On the blessing side, it's just so cool to look at the data, including the map, after a run, or even much later. And it's also great to never have to measure or estimate time and distance again. Ever.

On the curse side, one never has to measure or estimate time and distance. That is, there's no opportunity to fudge, over-estimate or otherwise smooth out the data.

Not that this runner would do such a thing on purpose. Before the Garmin, he would do the best he could at measuring accurate distances, and to be precise with the timing. Even so, there may, just may, have been occasions where the estimation wasn't entirely accurate. And guess which way?

What happens, you ask, when such a guy stops using his Garmin? What happens when the battery dies after three years, and the thing has to be returned to Garmin International for a $99 battery replacement? For one thing, he goes a little crazy.

But only a little. He researches various training logs, since he absolutely hates the Garmin one anyway. (He's trying Running Ahead right now, instead.) And he buys a $9.99 Aldi's best "sportwatch", that includes - get this - a chronometer. This will, hopefully, get him by until the return of the Garmin.

Now he's back to estimating time and/or distance for the interim. And trying hard not to be dishonest.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

It was dark in the park

It was dark in the park,

Goes the snark remark.

Today’s runner tried to be quick off the mark,

But with the dark so stark,

He’d been better off to disembark.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Running in Iberia


It’s dark in the park. But only just parts of it. Time to move back to the lighter sections. This experience here in Retiro Park is not at all like the one I had in Casa de Campo park ten years ago. This park is smaller, but it’s still large enough to get some miles in; I do a few large loops of a couple miles for an overall total of eight. And this park, unlike that other one with prostitutes in the trees (you’ll have to reference my previous blog post), has almost no other people in these early morning hours.

Here’s another version of my usual answer to the question, “What do you think about when you run?” The usual answer is, I think about running. That’s partially the case today as well. But on this first run in Iberia, there are all sorts of random thoughts bouncing around between my ears. Thoughts such as, “where am I now?”, “was that a voice?”, and, “what are we doing later today?” Mostly though, I think about my running goals for these next three weeks here in Iberia.

Having completed most of my important races for the year (only Buckeye Woods remains), I won’t at all mind taking the running easy for this trip. Of course that’s what I’m doing now, but I also anticipate doing so for most all of my upcoming runs here. I do, however, decide to try to run at every location. That’s not to say every day, but nearly so. It will be tough, since we are on the move so much. Most locations are just for one night, although some are for two, and only the Lisbon hotel will be more.


I am concerned about getting lost in this jumble of medieval streets, so I mostly stick to the main roads, and reference my printed Google map often. I learn right away to avoid the bike lanes at all costs. I try to get into some of the city parks, thinking they may be as wonderfully runnable as Retiro was. They’re locked up tighter than drums. I could probably try to sneak in, like I do at the Brunswick Track... but I don’t.

Second choice is the river. I have often found several paths along rivers in Europe, and this one, the Guadalquiver, does not disappoint.

Things are fine except that several sections are covered by cobblestones. No doubt these were placed here by the ancient Romans, or possibly later peoples such as Visigoths or Moors. No matter, they’re not designed for Danny Boy and his Brooks Ghost Nines. This causes me to slow down even more than before, if that’s at all possible. This increased slowness, in turn, causes me to turn back. We wouldn’t want Debbie to worry.


This Is turning out to be a really nice run. Once again, I have navigated to, and run along a river. Once again, it’s proven a good choice, after all the fear and loathing I had been doing about getting lost. So much so, that I’m carrying two maps along with my room key. These particular cheap-o shorts, throw-aways that I will wind up trying to keep after all, have no pockets. I also have a headlamp that I need to be able to read the maps.

My fear had at least some basis: we’d walked the jumble of narrow, twisted streets of Granada yesterday, and it seemed impossible not to get lost.

The dirt paths along the river are lovely, even though it’s still dark. Along with my headlamp, there is some lighting to help with the footing and navigation. Thus regarding my quest to run at every location possible during this journey, all is good. But here is what I should have feared and loathed about: slow-disease. I am only barely moving faster than a brisk walk. In fact, this is working out to be my slowest, and therefore shortest runs yet. One of these days I’ll need to get serious about this running stuff. But today is not that day.


This one is shaping up to be my best run so far, in just about every aspect. Valencia re-routed its river away from the city to eliminate the risk of flooding, and they re-purposed the riverbed area as a long city park. So once more, I’m running along a river, although this time it’s a river sans water.

The width of the park varies, but it’s probably never more than a half-mile wide. But it sure is long. And long is just what the doctor ordered. Getting started around 4:30, not having to worry about getting lost, traffic, bad footing, darkness (it’s well-lit), etc., all add up to a goal of at least ten miles for the day.

Having decided to run out on one side of the riverbed and back on the other, I had hit the turnaround, where I think the park finally ended, at a little over five miles. This was perfect. Now after going out on the eastern edge, I had been trying to return on the western side. But I get re-routed just a little and wind up on some of the middle paths. Here I find a dirt trail that suits me.

The lighting is a bit different - small up-lights vs the overheard ones that illuminate the other trails. I am starting to see other runners now that it’s nearing the 6:00 am hour. I notice a 2 km marking, and then others every 100 meters. It’s a trail marked specifically for runners, and I follow it all the way to the 5 km finish. This is extremely cool!

I’m not done yet, however. I have a couple more miles before I get back to my hotel. I finally pick up the pace a little, making this not only my farthest and most enjoyable, but also my fastest run. Ten miles. You can’t go farther than that.


The streets are filled with people. Not what you would expect at 6:00 am on a Saturday. But then, this is Spain. The problem of the day is not the people and the busy city streets. It’s that there’s no destination. For each of my other runs so far, I’ve managed to find a river or a park where I could run in peace. Such is not the case today.

But I knew that. I’d had low expectations going in, and I’m now reaping what I’d sewed. I go up to, and then out and back on Avinguda Diagonal, the main drag through town. I don’t feel threatened by all the young people, although a couple do remark on my presence (I think it was of a positive nature).

This winds up as just two easy miles today. It will also wrap up my running in Spain. On to Portugal!


1) I hate running here. Don’t get me wrong. I love Portugal in general, and Lisbon in particular, in lots of ways. But running isn’t one of them. It’s all cobblestones; they’re impossible to avoid. And now I’m hopelessly lost.

It shouldn’t have been that difficult; I only wanted to head over from the Marriott into the main downtown area. It’s a couple miles, and I have walked it in my previous visits to this place. But today is not a great running day. Besides being lost and afraid of tripping, I now have a cold as well. Probably caught it from a fellow traveler. Somehow I find my way back this first day.

2) I love running here. I had headed out the other direction – north instead of south - and the memories came back. This is where I used to run most of my miles whilst working here. There are universities and hospitals around here, and there’s a running trail through a university athletic area and park. It’s about ¾ mile – I do one circuit before heading back, but I will return!

3) I love running here. I know I said this yesterday, but I mean it even more-so this time. I am running in the same park, and I am re-discovering other routes around and through the place. There are more soft dirt trails, and plenty of variety. There is some lighting, but even so, it’s a good thing I have my headlamp. I figure that it’s about a 1.7 mile circuit at the most. After a few of those, I start around a smaller circular course more in the interior. A little under a half-mile in length, it goes around a stadium, and it’s on roads. It’s just beginning to get light out, and other runners are beginning to do this shorter route (they are starting to run the dirt trails as well). Some of these other runners are pretty darn fast. I pick it up here as well. It’s good to finish this ten-miler feeling strong.

4) I kinda like running here. Since I am now staying at a different Lisbon hotel, I’m in a different park: scenic, even in the dark, Parque Eduardo VII. It’s actually fine, except for the cobblestones. Did I mention that there are 17 billion cobblestones in Lisbon? And that I’ve stepped on nearly 28.3% of them? And that I haven’t tripped yet? And if that don’t jinx me, nothing will. The biggest problem with today’s run, however, isn’t the cobblestones. It’s me. I’m just too darn tired to run more than four miles. And of course I am, once again, out of time.

I had apparently missed the Madrid Marathon whilst we were there doing other things. Now in Lisbon, we actually witnessed a 10K run that was going on in the Belem area while were touring that area. I sure would have liked to participate in these events, mostly for the opportunity to experience something unique.

The Algarve

It occurs to me that if something would go very wrong during this run, I’d have a great deal of trouble describing where I am staying. I don’t even know the name of the town that I started in (I later finally get it into my head – it’s Armacao de Pera). The other bad thing that could happen, as I run down this dark, narrow road, is for some Brit who’s only half awake such that he’s driving on the left, to hit me from behind. This area is where a whole lot of Brits and Europeans go on beach holidays, and the beaches are quite lovely here.

Luckily, neither bad thing does indeed occur. I find an even more narrow road to run down, and end up making a loop around a camping area. I also run on the beach a little. Once again, I wind up enjoying this run a whole lot.

I would like to do more. Too bad I run out of time. Again.
Running on the beach in the Algarve


The cathedral again? How can I possibly be this completely lost in such a relatively small and compact walled city? Why o why can’t I find the main square, from which I would be able to easily navigate back to the hotel?

Yes, I must admit it. I’m as lost as lost can be. I had started, key, map and flashlight in hand, with honest intentions: the thought of getting outside the walled city and its complicated cobblestone roads, and back, as fast as possible. By now you know this hasn’t worked out so well. There were cobblestones outside the city walls as well as inside. Worse, it wasn’t entirely clear in my muddled brain what was inside versus outside said walls. In fact, I wasn’t sure at all whether I was inside or outside the walled city. I had wandered a lot, and eventually found myself back inside said walls.

That part was okay. By then, I’d gotten a couple miles in, and it was time to head back anyway. Too bad the fun was only just beginning. Now I keep finding myself back at this darned cathedral, from which I keep trying different roads to take me away. At one point, I travel all the way back outside the city, thinking once again that I can then navigate all the way around on the outside. No luck there either.

I had asked a couple people – it was now getting later in the morning, so they were beginning to wake up – for help, but as much as they tried, the communication barriers were too great. The map only made things worse.

What’s the danger, you ask? I check my watch. It’s 6:52. Debbie is by now becoming extremely anxious, sitting in the room awaiting my return. I’d said 6:30, and it will soon (at 7:00) be time to get our bags out and go to breakfast. The worst case scenario would be that of missing the 8:00am bus, and thus being stuck in Evora forever.

I run down for one more loop around and through and back. Back to the cathedral. Back with still no sign at all of the main square, with it’s way to Hotel Mar de Ar. I stop to ask an elderly couple for some directions. I hesitate, because none of the others had been able to help at all. There is more communication and miscommunication, but they wind up actually walking with me up and down the streets, to the main square.

Eventually we do arrive at the square. I can’t figure out how it was that I couldn’t find it before. I thank the couple profusely with multiple obigados, and then run the rest of the way down to the Mar de Ar. I get back around 7:15, and Debbie had indeed been worried, but she also had everything packed up and ready for us to go. I had been out since around 5:45, but only got around five miles in.
Extremely Lost in Evora


You won’t believe this, but I’ll tell you anyway. I’m lost. Again. This time, I’m in the early morning darkness, running on cobblestones in a medieval, walled city with narrow, winding streets. I know. This sounds much like yesterday’s debacle. But it’s today’s as well.

I hadn’t planned on going very far today. Of course, I hadn’t planned on it yesterday, either. This time, things do work out a bit differently, however. I emerge from some narrow, winding, cobblestone street, only to find…….. my hotel!! Of all things. And right where I left it.


I am not lost. I may indeed have a problem getting back to the hotel, but I’m not lost. Not one bit. I know exactly where I am. Exactly.

And furthermore, I know where I started. So, let’s summarize. I know where I am now. I know where I started. I just don’t have the slightest idea how it transpired that I arrived from there to here, or how to get back. Here, by the way, is under the famous Eiffel bridge here in Porto. And this is precisely where I did want to run today, since it’s by the river (alert readers will note that I like rivers for their navigational assistance), and also has fewer cobblestones.

And then a miracle occurs. I manage to retrace my steps, and arrive back at the hotel without further mishap. It’s amazing. 
The bridge in Porto

Figueira da Foz

I am not lost, but I have no inkling what city I'm in. You can read it just above this sentence because I am able to look it up when I return. The reason I'm not lost is that we've finally gotten to a place that's easy to navigate. Keep the Atlantic Ocean on my right-hand side going out, and on my left when I return. I can handle this.

And yet, with the heavy fog (I could only see a couple feet in front of me), I do somehow manage to get away from the ocean.  I didn't think I turned, and the bike and walking paths had appeared to go straight.  I know I've gotten away because I'm suddenly running under a huge and high bridge that's perpendicular with my path. Assuming that it's not taking drivers all the way across the ocean, I must have trailed off. Will I find my way back this time?

I do. It's a pretty good run. And it's a good final one for the trip.

I did manage to run at every location. Each one was extremely slow, but at least memorable.

For more on this trip, see also my travel blog.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Today's Tale: Torturous Track Tempo Training Trot

People often ask what we runners think about as we're running all those miles. We think about blog post titles such as this one. And when they find out, they're sorry they asked. It would have been nice to be able to include the word, tremendous in there. Nice, but not quite appropriate. Torturous, unfortunately, is the more apt descriptive adjective.

It's been tough to keep motivated now that Erie is over. Other than late November's Buckeye Woods 50K, there's nothing else on the horizon at the moment. Without some Big Race on the calendar, and perhaps with some still ongoing post-race mental and physical damage, I just don't feel like running so much or so fast these days.

Today would be different. It would be a Something of Substance Tuesday Track Trot. I show up at 5:15, and run a few easy miles with co-worker Colleen DeVito, who's getting ready for her first half-marathon in a while. Then I pick it up to begin the speedwork.

What particular speedwork am I doing, you ask? Darned if I know; I make this stuff up as I go along. That's especially true when there's no race looming in the near future.

I am nearing a mile at this tremendous 7:30-ish pace when I consider whether to slow down at the completion of said mile. In other words, should I do mile intervals, or a tempo run. (I am already committed to something longer than 800s or 1200s, by the way.)

The mile goes by, and I keep going. This does indeed become a 3-mile tempo run, and by the time I hit overall mile six, I'm ready for a quick pit stop. Can I do a few more miles at this pace?

Besides something of substance, I'd wanted to get to a total of ten, or possibly eleven miles today. This usually isn't a problem for these mid-week speed sessions. It is today. After a couple additional fast, but not quite as fast miles, I ease up for a cooldown mile. The watch indicates nine miles. What? I thought it was ten for sure. Is there some mistake?

Nope. Nine is correct; the only mistake is my brain. I struggle mightily, but manage another mile.

I am still (still!) waiting for this to become easy.

Monday, September 18, 2017

There once was this ancient runner

There once was this ancient runner from Brunswick
Who thought: to be the best that ever lived would be mighty slick
He runs as fast and as far as he possibly could
No doubt way more than he should
Guess that makes him pretty much a lunatic

Buckeye Woods 50K, November 26, 2017

At the start The Buckeye Woods 50K (BW50K) is known as a Fat Ass run. Fat Ass runs are usually held around the holidays in order to prov...