Monday, September 23, 2013

A Year and Thirty Hours

The NorthCoast 24-Hour Endurance Run (NC24) has been my baby from the beginning. Not that this particular baby isn't shared. Several people helped me get it off the ground, and many others have helped along the way. But I've always had my hand in it, and it's gotten deeply into my soul. How's that for mixed-up metaphors?

After three years as sole RD, last year I shared the Race Director duties with John Hnat. This was with the understanding that he would take over as solitary RD this year. John decided to step down, however, and Hugh Patton took over. And then, around the June or July time frame, Hugh left the picture too. Now we were left with, once again, me. I suppose that shows that what goes around really does come around sometimes.

If I was going to be RD, I suppose that it was a good thing to take over in July, rather than have it go all year. This way, it may have taken more of my time during the final couple months than it would have otherwise, but it may have been less work overall. At least it only went on for a couple of months, intense though they were.

Another good thing was that our same team of race organizers was in place. These people are simply the best at what they do, and NC24 could not take place without them. I need to tell you all about them now. Here is the gist of a Facebook post I made the other day:

NC24 would is *nothing* without all the fantastic volunteers and the best organization team on the planet. Let me tell you just a bit about the latter (in no particular order):
Roy Heger gets the power generator, rents the truck, handles tents and other big stuff. You will find Roy out there running the race, as usual.
Shannon Miller Fisher puts the shirt order together, procures the food and supplies, and coordinates all of the stuff throughout the event.
Barbara Gibson Clutter coordinates the volunteers, and also helps coordinate registration.
Larry Orwin is coordinating the Friday dinner. He also runs NC24.
Jan Roe helps Shannon with the coordination of food and supplies throughout the event, and also helps with registration.
Scott Stuetzer procured the awards and medals, and also loads and unloads the supplies from the trucks, day and night.
Charles Elkins times the event and also rents the porta-johns and dumpster and buys the water.
Frank Dwyer manages registration and the finances of the event, keeping us in the black. He also runs NC24 every year.
Debbie Horvath helps to direct the Boy Scout troop in the serving of breakfast.
Me? I don't do a darned thing.

So in the final couple months (which was actually a compressed year), our team put together, as always, one heck of a race. On race day itself, several of us arrived at 6:00 AM to prepare for the 9:00 AM start. There was a nice, steady rain, except that at the time we didn't think it was so nice. We got everything unloaded, the tents erected, and everyone checked in as efficiently as possible.

And then they were off. This is where I get the most satisfaction as RD. Seeing it all unfold. Seeing the volunteers working so hard to please the runners and attend to their needs. And mostly seeing miles of smiles on the runners' faces. It all makes everything we've been doing worthwhile.

The rain tapered off, but we were left with strong wind coming off the lake. This is nothing new, but it never makes it easy. For the first time ever, I managed to get out and do two things that I've never done at a previous NC24 event: I took some pictures, and I got a run in. The run didn't come until 10:00 PM Saturday, but it turned out to be just the right time to do it, as things were settling down somewhat.

On Saturday, several runners and crew members spotted some individuals taking runners' belongings. The park rangers apprehended two of the individuals. I don't believe anything that was extremely valuable was lost. This was an unfortunate situation however, and to have anything at all stolen is terrible. We will take some steps to try to prevent this from happening in the future.

Also on Saturday, we were treated to a wonderful sunset over Lake Erie. The day had turned out to be a pretty one, after all.

Sunday morning came soon enough. There were, as always, some tremendous performances, including those by the top men and women, and also by one Leo Lightner, who apparently (it has yet to be ratified) set US and World age group records. What an inspiration!

And then, just like that, it was over. Breakfast was served, we tabulated the results, and presented the awards. Even though we were all tired, this all went as smoothly as possible. The cleanup was also fairly efficient, thanks to the help of the team of organizers and volunteers. When all was said and done, I'd been working on NC24 for thirty hours.

Thirty hours of ups and downs, laughter, inspiration and being on my feet. It was all great, and as Brian Peacock would say, the best part is, it's over.
At the awards             photo by John McCarroll

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Random Thoughts During Today's Run

I've done some eighteens, some nineteens, and plenty that were less, but still in the upper teens. I haven't done a twenty, however, since the Cleveland Marathon in May. This from a guy who used to do weekly twenty milers all year around, whether there was an upcoming marathon or ultra, or not. Those long runs went on for the vast majority of my running life.

But when I quit marathoning, there was no need to keep doing runs of twenty miles and longer. So I got a bit lazy. By cutting these down a bit, and by taking at least two days off per week, my weekly mileage is also now lower. Not that things aren't okay, they are. Witness my last post where I talk about a pretty good speedwork session.

When there are this many things going on, however, it gets a little tough to get even these 50 weekly miles in. Some of those 'things' include this weekend's NC24. To get up to fifty for the week, I set out to do twenty today.

It wasn't pretty. I thought a lot about bonking, which I did early on during the initial 16. I used to love that course. It's on country roads, and it's fairly serene. Just me and the road. I suppose I bonked because I ignored one critical success factor for long runs: get adequate nutrition and hydration from the start. Back in the old days, I didn't need no stinkin'  nutrition and hydration. But now I do.

My early 8:40's somehow morphed into 9:20's, and I finished the 16 with positive splits. Now I needed to do 4 more. In the old days, I'd try to make these the fastest of the bunch. And I did manage to do the final five of Saturday's fifteen at sevenish pace.

Not today. I got some water and a gel, and hit the trails at Heritage park. Would you believe 13 minute pace on that hilly, wet grass?

At least now I don't need to worry about another run until post-NC24 Monday.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

As Good as it Gets

3:12 for that first Yasso. Not bad, but now I'll want to run the next nine 800's the same way. There's nothing worse than having your first interval (or mile, or whatever) be your best. The idea here is consistency and sustainability. Will I be able to? Last time - I've been doing them at 5:00 AM with friends every other Tuesday - I averaged about 3:15, and 3:13 the time before that. But this time, the weather's as good as it can be. It's in the forties, clear, and the winds are calm. The stars are bright. In fact, I call this as good as it gets.

Although there have been some hot days, including a couple record-breaking mid-nineties days last week, we've had some nice running weather lately as well. Saturday was very nice, and my semi-long 15-miler with Christine and Larry Orwin on the towpath went quite well. Christine and I ran the last 5 at 7:00 to 7:15 pace. Of course, I'm only trying, as always, to roll with the punches.

Today, Jack Reilly and Donna Hoffmeister are my companions on the mostly dark track. We had done the warmup together, but since we run at different speeds, our intervals are mostly by ourselves. My second one is... 3:12 again. This is still good, but I continue to wonder if I can keep it going.

Turns out that I can. I feel absolutely great, and I do keep running consistent times. I even throw in some 3:09's and some 3:07's. My average for the ten 800's winds up at 3:10.

Yup. That's as good as it gets.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Labor Day Weekend Races

There have been a couple times that I ran 3 races in three consecutive days. At least one of those was over a Labor Day Weekend. It almost happened again in 2013, but in the end I decided that two was enough.

Saturday's race was the Celebrate Westlake North Coast Challenge 5-mile. This is another big prize money race, and as with several of my recent races, all the best runners were out there. The heat and humidity were oppressive. I ran a fairly steady (only just) sub-seven minute pace to finish in 34:36. That's almost exactly to the second my time for the Canton Football HOF Festival 5-miler a few weeks ago. This time I won my age group, and I would have actually received some prize money if two 65-69 year-olds hadn't beaten me. I didn't feel so bad about that, however. Those two were Ron Legg and Terry McCluskey.

Just before the start - Larry, Christine, me and Debbie
photo by Larry Orwin
Sunday's race was the South River Winery Run 10K. One thing was similar to the previous day: the heat and humidity. Otherwise it was a different experience altogether, running through all the vineyards. And it was fun too! Too bad that after that previous day's race, and with the tough terrain (I actually 'threw' a shoe that flew out and away from me when I stepped in a hole), I was suffering from slow disease. My time was 49:44, and I won my age group there as well. Not that the competition among the geezers was especially keen this time. I was well behind Chris and Larry Orwin, and I was even beaten by Debbie H., who walked the 5K a few seconds faster than my time for the 10. It was nice to have the wine afterwards.

After the run and some wine - me, Debbie, Larry's friend, Christine, and Larry
photo by Larry Orwin

Although there were options for races on Labor Day itself, I thought it would be too much labor for this tired body. Instead I did 10 easy Medina miles with Debbie Scheel, Michelle Wolff and Shari Geiger.

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...