Saturday, December 21, 2013

Twist and Shout

Two Weeks Ago...
"EEEEOOOOW!" I was on my sixth and last five-mile loop of the Buckeye Woods 50K, running with Patti Tomasello and Shari Geiger, when I experienced a sudden, excruciating pain in my left knee. I stopped running, and Shari and Patti did as well out of concern. I must have twisted it, and/or landed funny, but the pain was huge. My fleeting thoughts turned to wondering whether I'd have to walk the final two and a half miles of the race.

I didn't mention this incident in my race report, because just as suddenly as the pain appeared, it went away. In less than a minute, I was once again back to running the same pace with my friends. My knee didn't bother me a bit for the remainder of the run.

Today at about eight-thirty...
"EEEEOOOOW!" It had, until this point, been a good day and even a good week of running. For the week, I'd done all my runs at my new company's fitness center treadmills as well as outside in the adjacent park with long-time running partner Dave Gajewski. After an easy recovery week following BW50K, these runs had gone pretty well. Today's running had been going even better. I'd done the Hinckley nine-mile big loop at a faster than usual pace with Will Bertemes, Brian Becker and Renee Harden. I'd done a three-mile lake loop with a larger group who showed up at eight o'clock. I'd just started on my second lake loop, when I felt that sudden pain once again.

This time it wasn't on a dirt trail with snow and rocks and roots; I was on a smooth bike trail. I wish I knew what caused the twist of the knee this time, or that other time for that matter, but there it was. Rob Lisy and the others stopped with me out of concern. "I'll be fine, I said. The same thing happened two weeks ago." Sure enough, I did recover and continue my run once again.

Today at about eight-thirty-seven...
'EEEEOOOOW!' Okay, time to stop. I'd only gone another three-quarters of a mile, and it happened again. I slogged back to the car, done for the day.

Now I'm getting a little concerned.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Buckeye Woods 50K – One for the Ages (Well, Pretty Much, Anyway)

“How many people are ahead of you?” Connie Gardner had appeared at the BW50K start/finish/aid station to help a bit, and had decided to join me for my third five-mile loop. I had run the first two with Jeannine Nicholson and Beth Bugner, and I was glad to also have Connie’s company for this one. I hadn’t really thought about it till now. “Oh, a bunch,” I answered, “at least seven or eight.”

Jeannine Nicholson, Beth Bugner and Fancy Pants Horvath     photo by John McCarroll

But then I thought about it some more. “Wait a minute,” I said, “I think most of them are doing the 25K. There’s only one of them that I know of who’s doing the fifty: Pete Schwanke. But he’s good; he ran a fast time here last year.” Connie, never one to mince words, said, “Let’s get him!” Sure enough, I did pick up the pace for that lap. But then I was running with Connie; a faster pace probably would have happened anyway. I may have made a little progress in this new quest for first during that quick forty-one minutes, but I knew I would inevitably slow down in the second half. My only hope was that Pete would as well. Wouldn't that be neat, I briefly fantasized, to win my own race?

I did slow down;  Pete didn't. I could tell by where we’d pass by each other going opposite directions, that he was gaining, not losing ground on me. The best I’d be able to hope for this day would be second. And even that would be a challenge.

“Dan…” (pregnant pause)…  “Do NOT let her catch you!” Harold Dravenstott said this to me as we made the final turn towards home on my last lap. I had a mile and a half to go. “She” was Nicole Gareri, who was coming by at a high rate of speed in the opposite direction, only a quarter mile behind. Nicole was last year’s winner, and she was about to win and finish strong once again this year.

As if I needed another challenge. We’d been running on hard packed snow and some ice for the entire race. The air was cold, and the wind had picked up a bit. I had been happily running this last loop (my slowest at about ten minute per mile pace) with Patti Tomasello and Shari Geiger, thinking I’d be thrilled to simply finish in vertical fashion. Except now I had to try to respond to Harold’s call to action.

I did pick up the pace as best I could, and I barely stayed ahead of Nicole. She finished just behind me.

Just happy to finish    photo by John McCarroll
With over sixty runners, BW50K was bigger by far than ever before. Our new rule that you had to be a club member to run this free race paid off big-time: we had about 25 people join the club. And several, including Patti and Shari, completed their first ultra. I think everyone had fun. With the race growing as it is, however, I won’t be able to organize it next year. I hope I can find someone to take it on.

I’m pretty proud of my second place finish as well as my time of 4:45. I’ll go as far as to say that this is (just about) one for the ages. It’s a legitimate distance, trails, and although there are no hills, the conditions were tough. In spite of that, this was my second best trail 50K ever. Even the other three that I did here were slower by a minute or more. The only faster one was at Another Dam 50K in the heat a few years ago.

But that’s a different story.

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...