Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Why I Do This

The other night the Medina County Road Runners honored me with an award for completing my 100th race of marathon length or longer. It was a very nice event, and very special to me; much more than I thought it would be.

After Lisa gave me the award, I mentioned that for me, setting a tough goal for myself and actually achieving that in something so tough as a marathon happened very infrequently, but that that small percentage of cases made it all worthwhile. I realized last night that there is something else that's least as important: having friends and 'running family' like everyone in the MCRR, along with Dave and Debbie who also showed up. In fact, they make it all worthwhile more than anything!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Bugs, Sweat and Fears: the Journey of Gnatty Dan (at the Emerald Necklace 100K)

I was the Emerald Necklace 100K organizer and race director, so I'd sure as heck better finish the darn thing. But it was pretty tough out there. The on and off rain wasn't bad, but the humidity and the clouds of bugs were. It turns out that the combination of sweat, rain and bugs is not so nice for the eyes. By the time I finished, I was covered with unhappy gnats.

The first half wasn't too bad. I was joined for much of it by Dave, and even Amy, whom I hadn't seen in months. The second half, heading up to Rocky River, was much tougher. The miles and the humidity were taking their toll.

It was good to see Debbie and Kathy at the Rocky River turnaround. I got my pbj sandwich, turned back, and then it *really* got tough. The clouds of gnats didn't help. I was slowing down further and further, wondering if I'd have to walk, when something wonderful happened: Ladd showed up.

He parked his scooter and ran the final 9.5 slow miles with me. They were really, really slow, but they would've been much slower still, had I not had the company.

I finished in 10:47. This is in between my two other 100K times of 10:25 and 10:59. I'm now pretty sore and beat up. My next run is going to be a painful one.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Number 100

There was some amount of fear and trepidation (can there be one without the other?) as I lined up for the Cleveland Marathon. Twenty-six miles is a long way no matter how you slice it. I enjoyed seeing the sights of my home town. I enjoyed the crowds cheering me on, and the perfect marathon weather. I responded by running better than expected for much of the race. At eighteen miles I felt so good that I picked up the pace even more. At twenty-two miles, I was almost completely shot. I hobbled in with a time of 3:04 and they placed me in the medical tent. My wife, Debbie found me there. I said, not for the last time, “Never again”.

The date was May 14, 1978. It was the first Revco Cleveland Marathon, and it was also my very first marathon. Here I am coming in, just before they took me into the medical tent.

On May 16, 2010, I lined up for the Cleveland Marathon. It’s now sponsored by a different pharmacy, and the course has changed completely. I wasn’t quite as fearful as that other time, but I still had a few butterflies. Twenty-six miles is still a long way. I enjoyed the sights of my home town and the magnificent marathon weather. I saw, and ran with, some friends, including Ladd, whom I ran with for most of the way. We sauntered past the RR HOF, GL Science Center, Browns Stadium, across the Hope Bridge, through the Tremont, Ohio City, and Edgewater neighborhoods before going by Edgewater Park. We returned on the Shoreway, coming back into the Warehouse district. This was just the first half. We then ran east along the lake and into the wind for much of the second half. It was a relief to turn out of the wind and into beautiful Rockefeller Park. I thoroughly enjoyed the different ethnic gardens. We emerged from the park and onto St. Clair Avenue at mile 21. At this point Ladd was hurting a bit and needed to ease up on the pace. He told me to go ahead and I did. I only hoped that he’d make it, perhaps with the help of some pacing friends. Although it felt like I was picking up the pace, in fact I was only maintaining it. But this was fine. Overall, I ran better than expected with a good solid pace, even in the last few tough miles.

I finished with a time of 3:13 and change. It was my best marathon time in a few years. At this point it appears that this may be good enough for second in my age group. I saw many more of my friends after the race, including training partners Debbie Scheel and Dave Gajewski. Ladd accomplished his goal. Of course we all congratulated one another. I must say that these races are more fun now than ever. I also must say that I absolutely love the Cleveland Marathon. For some reason, many local runners don’t share my views. It would be nice if they did, but I can’t seem to change their minds. That’s Ok.

In between that first one and this last one, there have been exactly ninety-eight other races of marathon length or longer. It’s strange that I have several friends who have probably run this many or more, but who have not bothered to keep track of them. That’s fine, but I’m happy that I have managed to keep track of all of mine. This observation makes any celebration and congratulatory remarks do seem a bit surreal however. I’ll take all the praise and congratulations anyway, thank you.

Here is the list. To be exact, there have been 87 marathons and 13 ultramarathons.

Number Marathons I've Run Date Age Time
1 Revco Cleveland 5/14/1978 25 3:04
2 Athens 4/5/1981 27 3:21
3 Athens 4/10/1983 29 3:23
4 Detroit Free Press 10/16/1987 34 3:16
5 Sy Mah 3/27/1988 34 3:12
6 Chicago 10/30/1988 35 3:33
7 Sy Mah 3/19/1989 35 3:10
8 Revco Cleveland 5/21/1989 36 2:59
9 Scotty Hanton 9/2/1989 36 3:25
10 Detroit Free Press 10/15/1989 36 3:01
11 Boston 4/16/1990 36 3:19
12 Revco Cleveland 5/19/1991 38 3:16
13 Scotty Hanton 8/31/1991 38 3:29
14 Detroit Free Press 10/20/1991 38 3:05
15 New York 11/3/1991 38 3:27
16 Glass City 4/12/1992 38 3:29
17 Revco Cleveland 5/17/1992 39 3:23
18 Scotty Hanton 9/5/1992 39 2:59
19 Detroit Free Press 10/18/1992 39 3:03
20 Boston 4/19/1993 39 3:50
21 Ohio/Michigan 7/11/1993 40 3:24
22 Scotty Hanton 9/4/1993 40 3:01
23 Detroit Free Press 10/17/1993 40 3:01
24 Ohio/Michigan 7/10/1994 41 2:58
25 Scotty Hanton 9/4/1994 41 3:23
26 Boston 4/17/1995 41 3:04
27 Scotty Hanton 9/3/1995 42 2:59
28 Detroit Free Press 10/15/1995 42 2:59
29 Boston 4/15/1996 42 3:16
30 Ohio/Michigan 7/14/1996 43 2:58
31 Scotty Hanton 9/2/1996 43 3:21
32 Toe to Tow 10/13/1996 43 2:59
33 Detroit Free Press 10/20/1996 43 3:17
34 Boston 4/21/1997 43 3:05
35 Ohio/Michigan 7/13/1997 44 3:05
36 Scotty Hanton 8/31/1997 44 3:24
37 Air Force 9/20/1997 44 3:29
38 Detroit Free Press 10/19/1997 44 3:08
39 Scotty Hanton 9/7/1998 45 3:04
40 Chicago 10/11/1998 45 3:05
41 Detroit Free Press 10/18/1998 45 3:22
42 Honolulu 12/13/1998 45 3:14
43 Boston 4/19/1999 45 3:16
44 Bayshore 5/29/1999 46 3:06
45 Scotty Hanton 9/5/1999 46 3:11
46 Detroit Free Press 10/17/1999 46 3:24
47 Austin Motorola 2/20/2000 46 3:12
48 Glass City 4/16/2000 46 3:13
49 CVS Cleveland 4/29/2000 46 3:07
50 Eriesistable 9/10/2000 47 3:38
51 Towpath 10/15/2000 47 3:06
52 Martian Marathon 3/31/2001 47 3:23
53 CVS Cleveland 4/29/2001 47 3:09
54 GCM Cleveland 5/6/2001 48 3:23
55 Towpath 10/13/2001 48 3:19
56 Ocala 2/3/2002 48 3:19
57 CVS Cleveland 4/29/2002 48 3:14
58 Detroit Free Press 10/6/2002 49 3:04
59 Columbus 10/20/2002 49 3:09
60 Boston 4/21/2003 49 3:17
61 Green Bay 5/18/2003 50 3:12
62 Columbus 10/19/2003 50 3:12
63 Ocala 2/1/2004 50 3:20
64 Martian Marathon 3/27/2004 50 3:15
65 Rite Aid Cleveland 4/25/2004 50 3:10
66 Towpath 10/10/2004 51 3:15
67 Detroit Free Press 10/24/2004 51 3:18
68 Boston 4/19/2005 51 3:32
69 Rite Aid Cleveland 5/22/2005 52 3:18
70 Tahoe Triple Day 1 10/6/2005 52 3:42
71 Tahoe Triple Day 2 10/7/2005 52 3:49
72 Tahoe Triple Day 3 10/8/2005 52 3:58
73 Huntington Marathon 11/13/2005 52 3:12
74 Boston 4/17/2006 52 3:09
75 Columbus 10/15/2006 53 3:18
76 Rite Aid Cleveland 5/21/2007 54 3:22
77 Chicago 10/7/2007 54 3:35
78 Inland Trail 11/4/2007 54 3:14
79 Prague International 5/11/2008 55 3:28
80 Erie 9/14/2008 55 3:28
81 Towpath 10/12/2008 55 3:21
82 Inland Trail 11/2/2008 55 3:17
83 Rite Aid Cleveland 5/17/2009 56 3:35
84 Towpath 10/11/2009 56 3:25
85 Inland Trail 11/1/2009 56 3:20
86 Boston 4/19/2010 56 3:17
87 Rite Aid Cleveland 5/16/2010 57 3:13

Number Ultras I've Run Date Time
1 Olander Park 24 hour (51) 1992 39 51 miles
2 MI Fat Ass 50 (50K) 1995 42 5 hours
3 Roadkill 6 hour (28) 1996 43 28 miles
4 Roadkill 6 hour (32) 1997 44 32 miles
5 Mohican 100 2001 48 26.5 hours
6 Chicago Lakeshore 50 2002 49 8.5 hours
7 Buckeye Trail 50K 2004 50 6.5 hours
8 JFK 50 2007 54 8.5 hours
9 Green Jewel 100K 5/3/2008 55 10.5 hours
10 Green Lakes Endurance 100K 8/30/2009 56 11 hours
11 Run with Scissors 27.5 Mi 10/25/2009 56 5:35
12 Freedom Park 24-Hour 12/31/2009 56 93.66miles
13 Green Jewel 50K 3/6/2010 56 4:50

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Concrete and Strip-malls and Four-lanes, Oh My

Run 1
I step out of the Fairfield for my not-so-early morning run. I go past the Home Depot, past the Best Buy, past the Cracker Barrel. I run alongside the Walmart, the Toys R Us, the Sams Club, the Fazoli’s. By the Red Lobster, the Applebees, the Menards, the Office Max, the Golden Corral. I turn onto the main road before hitting the Kohl’s and the Hobby Lobby. Next thing I know, I’m out on the busy four-lane highway. You’d think that with all this concrete, they could’ve found some for making a few sidewalks.

This could be Anywhere, USA. In fact, it’s Council Bluffs, Iowa, just across the Missouri from Omaha, Nebraska. I’m taking it fairly easy this week, trying to take my own tapering advice. The older and probably wiser tapering advice, that is. The tapering advice that says you should actually do a taper. The Cleveland Marathon, you see, is looming.

Interlude: More on (or moron) Tapering
As part of my tapering regimen, I only ran 81 miles last week. This is true, but it’s also a tiny bit misleading – most of those miles were accumulated during the previous Sunday’s 28 and Tuesday’s 24. The rest of the week was easier. Except, that is, for the Friday night 5k in Medina, where I saw all my friends and ran 20:40, which was about as expected. And also except for Saturday’s 14-mile run on the towpath with Debbie, Dave, Brad, Dan and a couple others. 14 miles wouldn’t have been so bad, unless you race them like Dave and I did.

After all that, and after a nice Saturday night dinner with Rita and George, I was determined to take it easier on Sunday. And I did, a little. I ran the big Hinckley loop once with Debbie, and then only most of the way with the rest of the bunch, winding up with 17. That’s a little better than 28. I also wanted to get finished in time to pick Mom up, take her to Mother’s Day Brunch at Thyme with Debbie, Carol and Dave, and then get to the airport for my flight.

Run 1 Continued
So today would be an easy run. It’s just too bad that the environment doesn’t favor running. After a mile or so, the four-lane changes to two-lane, and then dead-ends at a lake. I’d seen this on a map, so I wasn’t totally clueless about where I was headed. I start going clockwise around the lake and manage another mile or so before realizing that I’d better head back. I do some pick-ups along the way.

I’m calling this run a seven miler. As the week goes on, I’ll get some other runs in, where for some I’ll actually make it all the way around the lake.

Run 2
This time I’m gonna make it around the lake or die tryin. Gmap Pedometer told me it’s only about 4.7 miles around, so with the mile to and from the lake I should get a bit short of 8 miles in. I really want to get well over 10 miles in, so maybe I’ll take a detour or two – maybe even over to the Missouri River.

Heading out of the hotel an hour earlier, I ought to have plenty of time for this longish-run-to-be. Foul weather is predicted for today, but it’s dry so far. About three minutes into the run I feel the first raindrops. At least it’s not raining too hard. I hate a cold drenching rain. Six minutes or so into the run it’s pouring. At least there’s no lightning. I hate running in thunderstorms. Nine minutes into the run I’m ducking for cover. I’d seen a few distant flashes of lightning, but now it seemed to be all around me. I hesitate to say that at least it’s not hailing or tornadoing.

Turning back isn’t an option. I need to get this run in, dang it. Maybe it’ll subside. I keep running around the lake. The rain and lightning isn’t subsiding. I feel like I’m sprinting through this storm, but now that I know the distances, I calculate that I’m only doing eight and a half minute miles.

I manage to get around the lake and back to the hotel. I’m freezing from the cold downpour and still ducking from the lightning. I’m not gonna get ten in (it’s barely eight), but that will have to do. At least I made it around the lake.

Run 3
This time I have enough time to run a decent amount of mileage. And this time there doesn’t appear to be any kind of storm looming. So I head south toward Lake Manawa once again. I huff and puff and go as fast as I can to the south end of the lake, which I know is 4 miles. 32 minutes and change; felt like faster. Instead of continuing the lake circuit, I turn south and run a short distance to the Missouri River. I’d had thoughts of running along it for a short, or possibly long while. There are some trails, but they appear to be muddy from last yesterday’s deluge.

I head back toward the road, but before I reach it I take a paved bike trail that goes on through the woods to the west. That trail goes on and on and on. I believe I had been on it for well over 4 miles before I hit a road crossing.

I take the road back east, taking one more detour towards the lake. By the time I get back to the hotel, I’ve got enough time in to call it 12 miles. Not bad.

If/when I return, I certainly have many more trails, both asphalt and dirt, to explore in these parts. Western Iowa ain’t all concrete, and therefore is not so bad after all.

Monday, May 03, 2010

A Little Too Long? The Tale of Two Twenties

I mean 20-plus-ers. In fact, these 27 milers are killing me. Actually, last week's wasn't so bad, but this week's was a bit tough. The difference? Last week's long run was after a day of rest; this week's was the day after the Hudson Race for the Parks 15K.

Last week's run began with 3 loops around Hinckley Lake. Then I did two of the big 9+ mile loops with everyone else. It went swimmingly well. On Tuesday I hit the track and did Yasso's - 10 x 800 in about 3:15 or so. Now *that* was a tough workout. Of course there were a few other runs during the week, but I thought I was fairly well rested going into the 15K.

On the other hand, I suppose maybe the long run and the speedwork were still in my old legs. Whatever the excuse, the 15K did not go well. The first 3 were mostly uphill, but I held a decent enough pace, all things considering. The next 3 miles were on mostly uphill trails through a nice park. I didn't mind slowing down some, but was surprised by how much. The last three miles were back on the roads, and they were mostly uphill (see the trend here?). I thought I'd pick the pace back up, but despite my most fervent efforts, could only manage 7 minute miles. I finished in 65 minutes and change. Pretty darn bad indeed.

The funny thing is that I didn't feel all that horrible for Sunday's run. I did all three big Hinckley loops this time, and at least they were fairly consistent. Not particularly fast, just consistent.

That will be my last really long run before Cleveland. Or will it?

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...