Monday, November 25, 2013

Cleveland West Road Runners Club Fall Classic Half Marathon

Yes, that's a mouthful. And there's plenty to say about it as well. Luckily for you, dear reader, I am in a brief (vs boxer) sort of mood today.

I carpooled with John Pavlick and Amy Grentzer, The weather forecast had been for snow showers with 1-3 inches possible, along with a low of 19, a high of 26, and extremely cold winds. Sure enough, it was 19, and those extremely cold winds made it feel like it was in the low single digits. The snow didn't materialize, however. But standing around before the start was C. O. L. D! We saw some other friends and were able to commiserate a little. Once I started to warm up, things felt better. Except whenever I ran into the wind.
Before the start

And once the race actually started, I began to warm up some more. I went right out at my usual 7:30 pace, and actually felt okay. I'd averaged 7:30 at my last half - the Inland Trail Half - only a few weeks ago. I'd been thinking that I could do better this time, and maybe I could.

But then I turned around, and felt the wind in my face. This race, which I've done more times than I can count, is a double out and back on the Valley Parkway in Strongsville. It winds around a lot, but there are no hills. One of the neat things about it is seeing all your friends, regardless of your speed or their speed, so many times during the race. This year it was no different. Except that everyone was so bundled up, it was at times hard to recognize everyone.

Oh yes, the turn. As I headed back north and west the wind nearly stood me up. And it felt as cold as ever. I went by many of the 5K runners for my first circuit through the start/finish area. My time was something like 49 minutes and change. I'd slowed down a bit.

Somewhere in the middle
Now came the second half. Could I pick it up? I ran much of the way with Eileen Meisler. There was quite a bit of back and forth with her and a few others. As we turned back for the final 5K, that wind hit once again. But Eileen got ahead of me and picked it up some more. I tried to follow.

I did manage to pass her and a couple others in the final 1/2 mile, but one guy passed me. I think those last two miles were my fastest. My time was 1:39:19. That was tough!

Once again, it was fun, but C. O. L. D. to hang out at the finish, talking with everyone about that cold wind, and how cold we all felt. Naturally that only made us feel colder. I changed, but my hands were still freezing until John lent me his warm gloves.

I found out that I was second in my age group, but a matter of seven or so seconds. I hadn't seen the guy, but then remembered that the awards were based on chip time; he may have been behind me.

Maybe next year will be my year. Oh yes. I do have at least one more race for this year. Some little thing called BW50K.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Early was Late

In the PBS documentary, The Civil War, historian Shelby Foote describes an incident where Confederate General Robert E. Lee was awaiting the arrival of General Jubal Early and his troops in order to help at the battle of Gettysburg. Lee was upset because "Early was late," he said.

On Saturday I decided to run on the towpath with Dave Gajewski, Kevin Jones and Larry Orwin and wife Christine. They are a fast bunch, but I felt up tot the task. So much so, in fact, that I also decided to arrive early to do some extra miles. I'd had thoughts of stretching the 12-14 they'd planned on, up to 20 or so. But due to some early morning procrastination, I had the consternation of arriving only about ten minutes early, resulting in the frustration of only winding up with 13.5 for the day. The pace was a good one, however.

Had I run longer on Saturday, I wouldn't have felt the need to also run on Sunday, but now I did. In fact, I decided to arrive early for the Hinckley 9-mile loop organized by club members including Shari Geiger. If I could arrive an hour and a half early, in fact, I could get two loops in. But due to some early morning procrastination, I arrived a little bit later than that. This time I did get some decent miles in, however. I did two lake loops and almost enough other stuff to make nearly nine. So this time I wound up with a bit under 18 for the day.

31 for the weekend, and 71 for the week (the most since Cleveland) isn't bad. I guess that if you fail enough, all those failures added together can still be pretty good.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Every Hour, On the Hour

Instant Relief! That's what I felt as I started the fourth six-mile out and back loop on the Lester Rail Trail for the second time.

The first time hadn't gone so well; the PF pain had gradually gotten worse during the third loop, and it was excruciating at the first start of the fourth. As I returned to the car, I changed from my Montrail Mountain Massochist's to my Hoka OneOne Stinson Evo's. I'd also been thinking about quitting altogether; Nineteen miles wouldn't be all that bad after that half-marathon 48 hours ago. But dad-burn it, I'd never failed to complete a 24-miler here on the Lester, and I didn't want this to be the first time. Even so, it'd been a while. Quite a while.

The Hoka's, with the Powerstep insoles, provided the instant relief from the PF pain that I'd hoped for. This truly amazed me. It's too bad that the rest of me was in pain as well, and I had a long way to go.

The first three laps had gone quite well. I arrived at 4:00 AM, in order to get a loop in before Jack Reilly showed up at 5. Jack only did one loop with me, so I was back on my own for the third loop at 6. All this running had been at close to nine minutes per mile, and I was pleased as punch about it.

But then came those final six. Even without the PF pain, they weren't one bit pretty. Can you spell 'ten thirty miles?' Somehow I made it though.

This had been a test; a test to see if I could/would do the full 50K at Buckeye Woods in December. I guess I passed. This means that as of now, I may consider going for it. But I got a long way to go.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Inland Trail Half-Marathon

'It's so boring!' That's the number one complaint about the Inland Trail Marathon and Half-Marathon over the past few years. The marathon was out thirteen miles on the Inland Trail, a rails-to-trails bike path, and back. The half was point to point; they bused the runners out to the marathon turnaround point in Kipton, and they just ran back to Murray Ridge School in Elyria. I've run the marathon three times, and I've never experienced said boredom. But then I can't remember being bored on any run at any time. 'I've experienced many different problems during my various runs,' I like to respond, 'but boredom isn't one of them.' In fact, I thoroughly enjoyed each of my races there at/on Inland. It helps that I’ve also run them well.

After listening to all the other runners' complaints about the race, the organizers decided to change the course this year. We ran on country roads and through subdivisions for the first eight miles before finally getting onto the Inland Trail itself. Then we stayed on the trail for the final five miles of the half. The marathoners would continue on for a much longer out and back portion. Having been part of the silent majority who actually did like the old course, I didn't know what I'd make of the new one. But I figured it would still be small (it was), and fast (it was), so I thought I'd give it a shot. I drove in with Jack Reilly and Michelle Wolff.

The early November weather was, as usual, absolutely perfect: upper thirties to low forties, a few decorative clouds and a very light breeze. But speaking of breezes, I was pretty winded during the first half-mile, until I backed off just a bit. My time was 7:22. Boy, would it be great if I could maintain that pace.

'Hello? I'm running a race - what do you want?' I, along with a couple ladies in the vicinity had to laugh at overhearing (we couldn't help it) Shelby Buell's phone conversation early in the race. I tried to kid Shelby about it, but he didn't hear me. By mile five I was averaging about 7:30 per mile. Not bad, if I could only maintain that pace. Where have we heard that before?

A few miles and a couple gels later, I got onto the Inland Trail. The country roads and subdivision hadn't been bad - except some runners didn't like the half-mile of rough gravel road at mile seven - but now that we were finally on the trail for which the race was named, I realized how much I missed the old, 'boring' course. It was beautiful with the remaining fall leaves decorating the sides of the trail, and it was quiet to the point of being serene.

There was an aid station as I turned onto the trail, and I took a quick sip of water. Soon thereafter, my GPS notified me that I'd run eight miles in almost exactly sixty minutes; I was still doing 7:30's. A minute and a half later, at mile 8.16, I spotted the eight mile marker. Until that point, the course markings hadn't been very much different from my GPS. But surely this was a mistake; the next miles would be shorter, and everything would be in sync again.

A couple things happened at mile nine:

1) I spotted the first half-marathoner coming back at me on the trail. The turn-around was at mile ten, so he was about two ahead of me. I decided to begin counting everyone who was in front of me.

2) I spotted an aid station up ahead and took a gel, anticipating that I would be able to wash it down with a cup of water. But the table was not manned. Or even womaned. And although there were some water coolers, there weren't even any cups. The gel wasn't going down so well, but I guess I'd manage. Surely there would be more water ahead; they wouldn't make us run the final five miles of a half-marathon without water, would they?

3) Mile nine was off by the same amount as mile eight.

The turnaround was just after mile ten. *Their* mile ten. I'd counted eighteen runners ahead of me. One of them appeared to be about my age. But surely he'd be in some other age group. There was no more water. Surely they'd have someone manning the one at mile 9/11 by now.

It was still dry. I took another waterless gel. Picking it up a little, I passed Shelby and a few other runners. According to my watch, my final two miles were my fastest: 7:08 and 7:07. I figured there were only fourteen ahead of me as I made my final turn onto Murray Ridge Road. The volunteer said, 'only a half-mile to go!' I wanted to yell back, 'but I've got 12.9 *now*! How can there be a half-mile left?' But I didn't; he was only the messenger.

At mile 13.3, I finished in 1:38 and a half. Just about the seven-thirty pace that I wanted. And it was good to finish strong. Not strong enough, unfortunately, to win the age group; that other guy beat me by four minutes.

But I'm still pleased with my performance. I did what I was capable of. And I really shouldn't complain about all those minor trials and tribulations. Surely they really do go with the territory.

Hinckley is Back

Okay, okay. Hinckley never really left. But a lot of us did; we hadn't been meeting there for our Sunday morning runs for quite some tim...