Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Buckeye Woods 50K, or, I Hear That Train A-Coming Part III

Here comes Verrelle!
Photo by John McCarroll
Last time it was a real train. This time the train was called Verrelle Wyatt. Everybody knew he was fast. But this was ridiculous. He was running those six 5-mile loops around Buckeye Woods County Park as if possessed by demons. It didn't surprise me when he lapped me once. But dang if he wasn't coming up fast (very fast) behind me again as I was completing my fourth lap. It was Verrelle's sixth and final one.

I was fairly tired at the time. I'd begun to slow down more than I'd have liked at this point - 21 miles into the run. I'd been starting to wonder if 10 additional miles were feasible for me this day. But all those thoughts went out the window when I rounded the lake in the final 1/4 mile, looked back, and saw, approaching insanely fast, one Verrelle Wyatt. I just had to sprint. Being lapped twice would simply not be acceptable.

So sprint I did. This was to the cheers of the throng of spectators, which consisted of Dan DeRosha and one or two other folks. I actually managed to not get passed as I nearly collapsed at the aid station.

Somewhere in the middle - I look like I'm still okay at this point.
Photo by John McCarroll
Verrelle finished his 50K in a phenomenal 3:07. I had now run that time for 21 miles and still had another 10 to go. Those last two laps would prove to be much tougher. But on two more occasions I went back around the lake, around the Windy Circle of Doom, the Woods part of Buckeye Woods and back. Each lap got slower and slower. But I never stopped to walk.

I came to the finish in 4:57. That was good (or bad, depending on your perspective) for eighth place out of only 13 finishers. Not to mention the 47 starters. It was about 7 minutes slower than last year, which in turn was about 4 minutes slower than the year before. 

Now my knee is fairly well wrenched, and the rest of me is shot as well. I think I'll give up running for the rest of the (pick one: day, week, month, year, decade).

Note: the official results and story are at the event website.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Hot Coco 5K - Not Your Father's Race Report

No, it's not your father's race report. But it is your father-in-law's race report.

My son-in-law, Barry, trained for his first 5K by following the Couch-to-5K Running Plan. He asked me to run the race with him as he was completing his training. This plan has helped many a beginner through their first 5K run. And Barry followed it as much as possible. Fairly well in fact, until some life impacting events managed to get in the way. Things like Hurricane Sandy, and the birth of a second son, Vincent. Stuff like that.

But we had registered for the Hot Coco 5K in Cheshire, CT pretty early on, And a commitment is a commitment, right? Well... Barry didn't feel as well prepared as he'd have liked, and had been having some leg pain. I would have let him off, but Veronica wouldn't. She told him he had to go.

So we went. Debbie had been staying on to help with the newborn and now 2-year-old Malcolm. I was there for the weekend - to visit, but also to pick her up and bring her home.

I felt that a fairly large race like this would actually be pretty good for a beginner. There were over 600 runners in the 5K, and more for the kids run. It started and ended at a school, so there we could keep warm before and after the run. And there was plenty of food and - get this - hot coco!

Barry wanted to run the first mile, and then play it by ear after that. Sure enough, we did run that first hilly mile at an easy pace - about 11:30 or so. But that included the 40 seconds it took us just to get to the start.
Barry wanted to walk right after that. No problem. Except that his calf was bothering him again, and he said it actually hurt more to walk than to run.

I wanted to say, "well, then run," but I bit my tongue. Eventually we did do some running during that second mile. It probably wound up about half and half, and we came to mile two 24 minutes into the run. I mentioned that the winners had been done for quite some time, and Barry got a little depressed. I didn't mean for that to be the result.

But we did start running again just after the two-mile mark, which was at the start of a bike trail. The funny thing was that we started running faster and faster as we approached the finish. It was kind of fun to pass so many people on that trail. We turned onto the road just before the mile-3 mark, and I realized that we ran that mile in under 10 minutes. That's cooking!

We crossed the line in 35 minutes flat (so our real times were about 34:20). Here's a short video of our spectacular finish! (I've got the yellow jacket, and Barry is just ahead of me in gray.) We've already started talking about our next one.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Dan Horvath: Trail Runner Extraordinaire

That's meant to be a joke. I consider myself a particularly bad trail runner. But perhaps I shouldn't be so hard on myself. Looking on the positive, glass half-full side, I can actually do okay on trails, except when there are any rocks, roots, mud, streams, ravines, swamps, wildlife or anything else to get in the way. And yes I'm also aware that, slow as I am, there are some people who are even slower.

With Scissors now behind me, and the Buckeye Woods 50k just ahead, I ventured onto some trails this morning. It's nice that I don't have to go very far to get to some. The trouble is that the ones close by don't go very far. Behind the subdivision is a city park that consists of an old farm with a large field of weeds and tall grass. This is where I do some of my trail running - getting out there once a month at best. Hey, you don't become extraordinary unless you put the time in! (I actually do some other trails on occasion as well, but those I have to drive to.)

The city mows paths through the field, which would be otherwise almost completely un-runnable. The loop they've mowed most of the time is about a half-mile. I call it that, because it takes me about 5 minutes to get around it. That's usually it for this Trail Runner Extraordinaire - 1/2 mile loops in the grass. And it's probably short.

Today, after not being back there for a month or so, I noticed some additional paths. The city had mowed some newer areas to make use of more of the field. Now I could do longer loops - 7 plus minutes for about a 3/4 mile loop (probably short), and 8 and a half minutes for about a one mile loop (probably short).

I like these one mile trail loops much better than half mile ones. Maybe I'll even get out there more than once this month.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

I Hear That Train A-Coming...Part II

This is Part II because Part I was a while back during a 10K.

Oh, the things that bounce around in your head during a run. Well, my head, anyway. Usually I can't figure out how they got in there to begin with. But this was a little different. Those things sometimes include music of various sorts. Today, for no immediately apparent reason, I started singing Folsom Prison Blues to myself.

But there was a reason. It's just that that reason registered itself in my consciousness about a minute after the song began. Yes, there really was a train coming. Isn't it funny that my subconscious knew it first? There was no danger of being hit by a speeding locomotive; I was safely on the road away from any tracks. But I was scared nonetheless.

The incident occurred 7 and a half miles into my 16-miler this morning. It was the first time I'd run this course in something like a year. Not that I haven't been putting in the miles; I did two tough 9-mile loops at Hinckley on Sunday, and then of course there was My Run With Scissors last week. The reason I haven't been doing this run is because until today, is that I haven't been able to get out the door early enough. I love those rural Medina County country roads, but not when there's even a little traffic. There's never all that much, but it is certainly reduced at 4 to 5 am compared with 6:30 to 7:30 am. The cars that I do see go very fast, and there isn't always a lot of room to get off to the side of the road. Today traffic wouldn't be a problem; I started at about 4:10 am.

And, sauntering at about a 9-minute pace, I was enjoying my run. Until that train started a-coming and made me a little afraid. The course crosses the tracks three times after going underneath a train bridge for a fourth. I had gone under the tracks and was now on the other side for the first of two times. Now maybe my irrational fear is becoming apparent: I fear getting "trapped" on the outer side of the tracks.

I understand how irrational it is. If I got caught:
a)  I could simply stop and wait the train out. They are never that long.
b) In this case I could also run back the way I had come, and go back under the train bridge.

But I also wanted to complete this course. What to do? Run fast, of course. Try to get past the next set of tracks before the train comes so as to be back on "my" side. It worked. I beat the train. And I finished the run as planned. Thank God for small victories.

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