Monday, November 30, 2015

BW50K, 2015 Edition

With the help of a couple other numskulls, I started (inaugurated? founded?) the Buckeye Woods 50K back in 2010. There were only 10 finishers that first year, but boy has it grown! 12 in 2011, 13 in 2012, 16 in 2013, and a whopping 24 last year.

Okay, that still doesn't sound like a whole heck of a lot, but 240% growth in five years really ain't bad. And dozens more have begun doing the associated 25K as well as simply being out there for a few miles. This is also not to mention the loads of fun everyone has been having. By some measures, the total amount of fun has grown by 450%!! The only caveat to that is that that's gross fun, not net. But who's counting, anyway?

A lot of that growth and fun can be credited to Suzanne Pokorny. She took over from me last year, and has done a magnificent job with the event. There's actually some organization involved now.

This free MCRR member-only event involves a one-mile run followed by six circuits around the five mile loop through the wetlands and the wooded trails of Buckeye Woods Park. It's a pretty course, and it's also pretty darn easy for a trail 50K. The only challenges have come from the weather: over the years, we've had sideways rain, snow, ice, and also some decent running weather.

Fortunately, some of that decent running weather occurred for our sixth edition of BW50K in 2015. Unfortunately for me personally, I would have other challenges this day.

Oh, they were of my own making, all right. But regardless, challenges, they were. It's the usual stuff: the remaining amount of Thursday's 21 pound bird with related fixings that are still in/on me, the lack of any serious training since last month's Fall 50, the nagging Achilles Tendinitis that just won't go away. Would I, could I get through it? I thought so, but it most likely would not be just a walk in the park.

Running with Joe in the early and middle miles - John McCarroll photo

With Ray and David Case  - John McCarroll photo
After the initial gasping for air, I began running with Joe Jurczyk and a few others, including Ray Miller for the early miles. It was good to catch up on things with Joe, whom I hadn't talked with in a while. And it was now feeling pretty easy; maybe this would indeed be a walk in the park.

I spend way too much time at aid stations during ultramarathons, and such was very much the case this time around. Most of the actual running was at about 9:30 pace, but with the extra time spent fiddling and diddling, each five-mile loop took around 50 minutes.

It was great fun to see so many of my fellow MCRR club members out there enjoying themselves. The nice thing about the course is that runners see each other coming and going at so many points along the way. And it was really good to see some of the speedsters doing their thing. But I was also gratified that some of the speed-challenged folks were running (and running good!) as well. BW50K is great for first-time ultramarathoners, as well as those who would be intimidated by rougher, tougher courses with less support.

Okay, after some more long aid station delays, I managed to catch up with Joe again and we ran several of the middle miles together. But for the final loop, I would be on my own. I'd hit the end of the fifth loop at close to 4:20, so a 10-minute pace for these final miles would bring me in at something like 5:10. That would be a 10-minute pace  for the whole kit & kaboodle.

And a 5:10 wouldn't be too bad. I'd averaged just below 10-minute pace for 50 miles at the Fall 50 (when I was truly focused), but I'd run slower than that at August's Moebius Green Monster 50K: 5:29. Going in, I thought that anything between 5:00 and 5:30 would be acceptable, and certainly better than last year's fat-induced 5:59. I think all my BW50K's prior to that were sub-5 hours.

Well a funny thing happened during that final lap: I got tired and slowed down. I suppose I deserved it; the pigeons (or chickens, or whatever) had come home to roost. I crossed the line at 5:17, much to the wild cheering of the throng of BW50K spectators; all eight or so of them. I was happy that everything held together for another finish, tired and sore as I was.

This will probably be my final race of the year. I'm pretty beat up, but now I will rest a little... Only a little.

Almost, but not quite finished  - John McCarroll photo
An unsuccessful attempt at flying. Everyone else was doing it - John McCarroll photo

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

For my Next Trick

It’s the Buckeye Woods 50K (BW50K), and it’s only a week and a half away. One would think that having run 50 miles three and a half weeks ago, I’d be fairly confident that I can run a distance that’s 19 miles less than that. Except that I'm not. Lookyahere:

1)      I never take completion of any distance for granted. Especially not when it involves as many as 31 miles.

2)      I haven’t run much at all since the Fall 50. For the two weeks in Turkey, I don’t think I ever ran more than six miles, and I didn’t even run all that often.

3)      When I did return this past weekend and tried to do a 14-miler, I made it, but it wasn’t pretty. Not at all.

4)      I probably put on ten pounds whilst in Turkey. I’m not entirely sure; I’m afraid to check.

I could go on… But suffice it to say that I’ve got a healthy respect for the distance involved.

 And now I’ve got about 10 days to get (back) into shape. Anyone taking bets?

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Trotting in Turkey

Not much. That was the expectation, and it also turns out to be the reality. Our Turkey trip (for more on that, see my travel blog post) involves staying only one or sometimes two nights in small hotels before packing up and leaving early for the next destination. This kind of itinerary is great for seeing a big country like Turkey, but not so great for consistent running.

In spite of the challenges, I am able to get some miles in here and there. None of my runs set any distance or speed records. But when I do get out, it feels good to do so. And it's always interesting and fun, sometimes even exciting, to run in a new place.

Here are some of the highlights, sights and sounds along the way.

Just a mile and a half in Cannakale. Although this is hardly even a warm-up, I do manage to get myself chased by dogs on more than one occasion.

A couple one-hour runs in Kusadasi. It's nice to be able to stay two nights, and to actually run twice in a place. The second of these is with Ian, a fellow traveler from Christchurch, New Zealand. Ian will be running the Istanbul Marathon the day after our trip concludes there. I wish I'd have known about that.

During several of my runs I happen to be out during the early morning call to prayer. This reminds me, in case I'd forgotten, that I'm not in Kansas any more.

I'm always surprised that more people aren't about at 6:00 AM-ish in the morning. When I run at home at this time, it seems to be about the busiest time of the day. Here in Turkey, the streets are deserted, and no one else is even walking about. This is generally a good thing, but the dogs I awaken are a different story. They seem to want to bark, chase and otherwise terrorize a passing

I do run in an ancient Greek/Roman stadium in Aphrodisias. It's actually pretty long, similar to the one in Olympia, Greece. Like that one (that I also ran in), it's probably the length of one stadia, or 191 meters. Too bad I forgot to turn on my Garmin. I therefore can not take credit for running this particular quarter mile.

Although I didn't run at all in Pamukkale or Konya (bad pollution there), I do get out for three runs in Cappadocia. One is a short run in the morning by myself, one is with Ian, and the third is with Ian and Robert, an Australian who sets a good pace from the start. I am having a tough time keeping up, but I later realize that we were going up an incline the whole way. As Ian begins to fall a little behind, I - from my middle position - call to Robert: "Better ease up on the pace; the old guy can't
keep up." I then add, tongue firmly in cheek, "It's not me, mind you. I'm fine. I'm just concerned about Ian." In truth, I am thrilled to slow down a little. And then it becomes much easier to come back down anyway.

Ian and I get out for an early morning run in Ankara, Turkey's busy capital. We try to run by the football stadium, but a guard with an uzi tells us we need to leave the vicinity. We do not argue and we do what he says. Then we try to get into nearby Luna Park, and a guard tells us no. We run around to the other side of the park, where a different guard makes a phone call and then lets us in. We run inside the park for a while, until some loose dogs chase us out. It probably wasn't meant to be. But it was good enough; any run is better than no run, and this one was at least interesting.

Out alone in the early morning darkness in Bursa, I marvel at the level of activity at this hour of the morning. It's still not a lot compared to home, but it's way more than the other areas I've haunted. The pollution is awful here. I eventually find the park that Rob told me about, but since I'm out of time, I have to head back.

And that's pretty much it. I don't get out in busy Istanbul, although I do pine a bit for the marathon that I just miss there. But all in all, it was fun to run in this exotic country.

Click here to see my travel blog post about our travels in Turkey.

Friends who run the Hinckley Hill known as Effie will appreciate the predominant Turkey beer

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...