Saturday, August 19, 2017

Buehler's Heart and Sole Community Walk and Run Half-Marathon Race Report

I'm tired just from typing that subject line.

I'm also tired from running this Hilly Half in Wildly Wonderful Wooster. I had no time goal, or other expectation going in. A steady effort, which on this course should translate into negative splits, would be nice, however.

Why negative splits, you ask? The course begins and ends in downtown Wooster. Almost immediately after the start, runners are going up. And up. And up some more. After half-way, it's back down towards the start on the mostly out and back course. I've done it before; I knew what to expect.

It was warm and humid during the early miles. I'd thought it would be cooler. I was doing 8:30 miles, but they were tough. The steeper the uphill section, the slower I ran. Funny how that works. I saw a bunch of friends before and during the race. Unfortunately, one of them was Doug Hradek, who is a good runner and who also happens to be in my age group.

I hit the half-way point (6.55 miles) in 55 minutes flat. Breaking 1:50 now sounded pretty good, and I picked it up a little. The downhills got better over the final five miles, so at that point, I picked it up a little more.

That's when the thunderstorm hit. It hit hard. I had been watching the clouds from about mile 7 on, and they looked scary. There were layers upon layers of dark, foreboding clouds, and I could see the rain coming down in the distance. By mile 8, huge drops were splashing down, and there was thunder all around.

Mile 9 had some steep uphills, so I slowed back down for a while. But the storm soon ended, about as fast as it started; the downpour only lasted about fifteen minutes. A light rain persisted afterwards. Mile 10 was a psychological boon this day. I hit it in 1:23:30 (that's about my half-marathon PR by the way), and began trying to run my fastest miles of the day. Would I be able to?

The short answer is yes. I ran the final 3 in 23 and a half minutes, for a time of 1:47 flat. I was second in my age group, two minutes behind Doug. First would have been nice, but I'll take it.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Coming Up Short

I needed 24. Isn't it funny how we need mileage like this? Anyway, I only got 22. I will choose to blame this one on today's running partner, Larry Orwin. We were running on the towpath, and he was generally leaving the decisions up to me. When to turn back towards home, how much to add on, etc. Well, let me tell you. Larry let me decide to settle for 22 instead of going on for another two. It's therefore all his fault that I came up short today. Never mind that I was tired. That had absolutely nothing to do with it.

While we are at it, I may as well blame last week's running partners, Frank Dwyer, Michelle Wolff, Harold Dravenstott, and others, on coming up short that time. We were at Buckeye Woods, and I got 4 or 5 in early, before our 12+ mile loop, causing me to only come up with only 17 for the day, 1 mile short of what I call a long run. Never mind that I was tired that time, too. And never mind that they mostly kept going, and I could, if not so tired, have gone further with them. No, that stuff had nothing to do with it.

Also never mind that I'm probably still recovering from Burning River. I do, however, have a marathon to get ready for. The Presque Isle Marathon in Erie is only four weeks away, and I had better stop coming up short then. To do so at that race itself would be a bad thing.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Orion Rise 2017

It happens every year, and each time it's a very pleasant surprise. I am running in the early morning darkness, and quite unexpectedly, for the first time this season, spot Orion rising above the eastern horizon. The rise of the Orion constellation portends the end of summer and the beginning of autumn. It means cooler weather and shorter days. It heralds the start of the harvest season and good eating. I am in my element. It's Dan Season.

It had only been a couple weeks since I'd first seen the Pleiades. Of course that was exciting, but nothing compared with this! This is extra special.

The occasion was a pace run at Mugrage park with Frank Dwyer and Harold Dravenstott. I was alone at the moment, but I looked up, beyond the pond, there he was (Orion is a man, you know). What a glorious sight!

The rest of the run was solid, but fairly uneventful. The pace was about nine minutes per mile, and it was pretty steady. Things are good. It's Dan Season.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Details about my Chafing

I left this out of my BR50 report, mostly because it was too painful to relate. But I'll relate it now... but it will also be painful to read. Okay, you've been warned.

I am a little past the mile 45 aid station, the last before my finish. A few minutes ago, I'd climbed up the impossible "piano key" stairs that lead away from Snowville Road. At the aid station I had rubbed half a handful of petroleum jelly on the inside of my upper thighs. It isn't humid, but I always seem to be on the verge of chafing in that sensitive spot, so I've been spreading an ungodly amount of the goop at nearly every aid station.

Never mind that there's better stuff than old-fashioned Vaseline these days. Never mind that it could ruin my clothes. Never mind that it may not work quite as well as some of the newer type stuff. I figured that if I just put enough of the stuff on often enough, things would be okay down there.

I step off the side of the trail to pee for the first time in several hours. Earlier in the race, I'd have tried a little harder to find a tree or bush or something to hide behind. But at this point, any thoughts of modesty and discretion are distant memories.

A woman runs by and announces her presence. I have my back turned, but I think she merely doesn't want me to turn around, in which case neither of us would be happy.

After she passes by, I resume trying to pull my shorts aside. That's when I realize there's a new and unexpected problem: my skin is sticking to the shorts' lining. When I tug harder, it rips. Not the shorts, my skin! On the most sensitive spot a man can have!! It hurts so much that I let out a short, audible wimper. Luckily, my lady friend is out of earshot by now.

Yes, I'm a bleeder. Just like in There's Something About Mary.

I had been aware that chafing can and will occur anywhere that skin rubs against material or other skin. And I'm aware that this happens in the places you least want it to. As it has now.

I suppose this too will pass.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Burning River 50-Mile Front Race Report

Short Version: Things went swimmingly. Until they didn't. Then it got hard. Really hard. But I finished, and that was the main goal.

Long Version: Read on.

Up at 2:05.
Out the door at 2:45.
Arrive at Boston Mills, and onto the bus at 3:15.
Arrive at Squires Castle at 4:30 (after some minor snags).
Off and running at 5:00.

Yes, it's Burning River Time. I like early starts. I like finding, and running with friends, new and old. I like this weather; it's cool for July, and it will stay that way throughout the day. It was a huge factor in why I signed up last minute. I am going to enjoy this.

The first half: Squires Castle in Willoughby Hills to Egbert Road area of Bedford Reservation

One of said friends is Ladd Clifford. He and I stay together, talking and telling stories for the entire road section: 11.5 miles. We go up, way up, and through North Chagrin Reservation, and then south on mildly hilly Chagrin River Road, through the MCRR fluids-only aid station, all the way to the South Chagrin Reservation Polo Grounds. We run at nine-minute pace, which is probably much too fast for me, but I feel great.

Each aid station is like a bustling oasis, where you're a rock star. I want to linger at the one by the Polo Grounds, but I know I must move on. Ladd soon moves ahead of me as we start on the trails. This is not at all unexpected, and I'm sure he will have a truly great day.

My own day is still going quite well too. The trails haven't slowed me as much as anticipated, the scenery is wonderful, and I'm still enjoying myself immensely. I do walk the steep uphill sections, and there seem to be many of them.

I am on the Hawthorne Parkway in Solon. The Shadow Lake is pretty. The course takes me in and out of the woods several times. Around mile 19, the trails become what they call technical. Suddenly, very suddenly, I am not enjoying myself anymore. I've gone from easy running to tremendously tough trekking. I try hard to not become discouraged. Just get through this, I tell myself. It will get better.

It does, a little. The aid stations are between four and eight miles apart. The one at Egbert Road in Bedford Reservation is significant, because at 26 miles (27 on my Garmin), it's just past half-way. Again, I want to linger and savor the buffet. Again, I eventually push on and move out.

It has taken me around four hours and forty minutes to make it this far. If I can only stay at this pace, I'll have a really fast time today. But deep down, I know that that is not likely. The toughest trails are yet to come. The final twelve will be the biggest challenge of all.

The trails in Bedford Reservation are not as difficult as I thought they would be. I am not moving as fast as before, but yet I'm passing a lot of people. Most of them are hundred-milers who started an hour earlier than we did.

I grew up fairly close by, and spent a lot of time in my early years here in Bedford Reservation. Although even as an adult I've run here before, it's been a while. It's interesting to see all this wonderful scenery from a runner's perspective.

The Alexander Road aid station has the most enthusiastic volunteers. And that's saying something, because they're all great. I move onto the Bike and Hike all-purpose trail, and think that I'll finally get back to some flat, easy running for a while.

It doesn't last long. Not at all. Soon I'm climbing down a steep ravine to get on some more technical trails. Oh well.

In Cuyahoga Valley National Park, I emerge out of the woods near Frazee House on Canal Road, and then start onto the towpath. I had been looking forward to this. Most of the trail dogs hate the towpath, but I love it. Yes, it's getting warm, and the mid-day sun is beating down on us. But this is one of my familiar running haunts, and it's flat and it's fast. I run these three miles at better than ten-minute pace; much faster than I'd been going.

If only it could have lasted. For a couple reasons, not the least of which is that I could have stayed on this trail for only about four more easy miles to arrive at the final destination. But no; I have around fifteen to go, not four. And I know they won't be at all easy.

These Brecksville Reservation trails are also familiar. Too bad there are so darn many of them. I say that because they are technical and steep and tough. And at this point, I'm beginning to tucker out a bit. And my Achilles Tendon is talking to me. I don't like what it's saying.

When I arrive at the Meadows aid station, I believe I am at mile 41, but I learn that it's only 38. I must look like something the cat dragged in, because Joe Jurczyk asks what's bothering me. I could spout out a novel of grievances, but I only say that I'm 'just tired'. Great, he says, and then reminds me that the next twelve, many of which are part of the Buckeye Trail race course, will be the toughest of all. I knew that. But thanks for reminding me, Joe.

I am walking now. There are almost no sections here that I would consider runnable, at least not by me. But others, mostly relay runners, are indeed managing to run, and they're all passing me. I have a tough time finding room to move aside for them on these single-track trails. There seems to be no end to these passers-by. I am not enjoying this. Not at all.

The final sections are back in CVNP. By the time I get back onto some wider trails, most of those who wanted to pass are long gone. It's been shady and cool for nearly the entire day. The trails are stunningly beautiful. But I hate them.

It's like they went out of their way to make this course tough. I know, I know. It's a trail run, and I'm not used to trails such as these. Every time I think I can't go any slower, I manage to slow down some more. The steep sections, of which there are many, are almost too difficult to walk up. Or even down. Did I mention that I'm not enjoying this?

Along the way, I talk with some other fifty and hundred milers. I'm in awe of them all, but especially these folks who will be only half-way done when I collapse after crossing the line at Boston Mills. I try to be careful to not gloat too much about how I just can't wait to get there and stop running.

I do eventually, after what seemed like the longest and hardest eleven hours and ten minutes of my life, arrive at Boston Mills. The fifty miles appear to me to be more like around fifty-four on my watch, but I won't quibble about any free miles. I'm just happy to be done. Really happy. Ecstatic, in fact.

Michelle Wolff had run the first relay leg, and is there to greet me. I don't know what possessed me, I say. Fifty-plus miles of impossible trails: just not my thing, I say. Never again, I say.

Since my drive home would be sort of like driving drunk, she follows me to make sure I am safe. I make it, and learn later on that I was first in my ancient age group. You mean I get an award for that miserable performance?

The second half: Bedford Reservation to Boston Mills

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Just the (fill in the blank)

"Oh, you're doing Burning River? Which Race?"

A bit sheepishly, "Just the Fifty."

"Front Half or Back Half?"

"Front......... Trails+Darkness=DANGER!"

The conversation repeated itself several times as Danny Boy signed up for the Burning River Front Fifty at the last minute yesterday.

He's not all that used to the conversation, since he used to generally always sign up for the longest race available at the given event. He wouldn't have to say, "Just the 5K" or "Just the Half", as so many other have.

But now he's old. And "Just the Fifty" is challenge enough.

Plenty, in fact.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Sweet Misery

Some track truths:

1) I love the track. the symmetry, the precise measurements, never being too far away from anything. Mostly I just love the looks and challenge of it. It's  the same type of venue that runners, including some of the best on the planet, run on every day. Gives me goosebumps.
2) I love running fast. I know. Fast is relative. In fact, I now know this more than ever before in my life.  But I still love the feeling.
3) I hate the misery of track workouts. I hate the fact that someone put the word, 'work' into that word, 'workout'. This stuff is pure drudgery. But it's sweet drudgery.
4) You may have heard this from me before: running slow doesn't make you slow. Not running fast makes you slow. The track is a partial cure for slow disease.
5) Intervals should indeed be fast. I know: technically, the 'intervals' are the time between the fast repeats. But most of us (and I will here) use the term to mean the fast repeats themselves. But I digress. The intervals, or repeats, should indeed be fast for their distance, but it's far more important that they're sustainable. This means that your tenth 800 should be roughly the same as your first.
6) The length of the repeat distance should vary. For most training, it's good to alternate weekly workouts between relatively short distances and fairly long ones. For example, a marathon runner may do mile intervals one week, and Yasso 800s the next. A half-marathoner may want to alternate 800s and 400s. An additional option is to mix the repeat length in a single workout, like 2 or 3 by 1600, 800, 400).
7) I have found that mile intervals have, at least for me, the closest correlation with marathon performance. In other words, if I can do something like eight one-mile repeats at about 10-mile to half-marathon pace, I will stand a good chance of completing my marathon in the expected time.
8) Naturally, the speed of each repeat will depend on it's length. The mixed interval distance, with different speeds applied based on distance, gives us an excellent sense of pace.
9) The beginning of each repeat contains a sweet spot, where I can run pretty fast before the fatigue hits home. I wrote a blog post about this a long time ago; it's called Before the Devil Knows You're Dead. Check it out.
10) Always give 90 percent; not 100. I've heard that this is the advice top coaches give their charges, especially for the Olympic team. Only at the finish of the final repeat should you give it all you've got. Otherwise, it'll be gone when you need it. This philosophy ought to go into your race plans as well.
11) When your track workout is complete, you should be tired, but not completely destroyed. You should feel as though you could have done more. But don't. Save it for the races.
12) I love the track. Oh, I said that already.

Maybe it'll Blow Over

3:55 am: Out the door before four. This nearly always results in a good run. Good in the sense that the possibility exists that extra miles may be possible due to the extra time. The better news is that the anticipated storms appear to be holding off. In fact, the moon is shining, indicating that the dark skies are at least partially clear.

3:56 am: The moon is gone.

3:57 am: Our runner is feeling the stifling heat and extreme humidity, just two minutes into his run. The air is so thick, he can cut it with a knife. Maybe even a noodle.

3:58 am: Our runner notices flashes of lightning for the first time. Maybe it’ll blow over, he thinks.

4:12 am: The goal had been 10 miles today. Having plenty of time to do such a thing is a plus. But now our runner is beginning to wish he had been able to get out earlier still. The lighting flashes are getting brighter and more numerous, and he’s beginning to hear thunder as well. Maybe it’ll still blow over, he thinks.

4:18 am: The lighting and thunder appears to be more to the south than anywhere else. Earlier, it had been to the southwest, and now it seems to be to the southeast. Maybe it really and truly will blow over, our runner thinks, a bit more hopefully.

4:22 am: It’s pouring, and the lightning and thunder are all around.

4:47 am: The rain has mostly subsided. Our runner is drowned-rat soaking wet, but he’s still going. Maybe the storm is gone for good, or perhaps the rest of it will blow over, he thinks.

5:10 am: It’s pouring, and the lightning and thunder are all around.

5:38 am: Our runner is done. Now he’s more than drowned-rat soaking wet, but he’s happy to have gotten this one done. Now he’ll have to clean up (is a shower really necessary?) and get to work. He dreads going on that long drive into the rainstorm, but who knows? Maybe it’ll blow over.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017


Since my years of being a Medina County Road Runners Club Officer have now come to an end, I thought it may be appropriate to say a few words about the club. Unfortunately, Angie Kovacs stole my thunder with her farewell note in last month’s newsletter. I had been planning to say many of the same things. Really. But now that It’s a new month and new newsletter, I will say them anyway.

I thought I was a pretty accomplished and competitive runner when I joined the club in 2008. MCRR was only a year old, and even though I knew a few other runners in the area, I knew none of the MCRR members at the time. My running and especially my friendships were in for some big changes. The changes have all been for the better.

Joe and Lisa Herbert, along with just a few other runners had started the club. I learned about it from Connie Gardner in Second Sole. I'd had a not so wonderful experience with a different running club. Although folks in that other club were not unfriendly, they also weren't overly outgoing, warm or welcoming to newcomers such as myself, either. I just figured that run clubs simply weren't my thing. From the start, however, MCRR proved that such was not the case at all.

Right away, I met Joe and Lisa, and also Ladd Clifford, Chuck Dammon and a few others. I learned that I wasn’t quite as great a runner as I’d thought – at least when compared with others in the club, and in Medina County. I think Roy Heger and John McCarroll were already members. Connie, Ron Ross, and several other greats had yet to join, although several of them did so soon thereafter. Everyone was outgoing, and I formed several immediate friendships.

Most importantly, I had folks to run with. Yes, I’d had running partners before, but now I had so many! And there were meet-ups at races and other events. The possibilities seemed limitless. I was having a blast. As the years went by, more and more of my newfound friends joined up. I still run with many of them on a regular basis. What could be better than that?

I became the second President of the club, stayed on for a few years, and then continued to serve as a club Officer, including the all-important Vice President position ;). Serving on the Board has been a privilege and an honor. Now with Angie also stepping down, it’s time for Bob Pokorny, our new President, along with some new and some ongoing Officers to take over. I have utmost confidence in them, and in everyone in the club.

As MCRR begins its second decade, I couldn’t be happier with our direction. Our best days are yet to come.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Twin Sizzler Race Report

The Medina Twin Sizzler has been around for over 40 years. That's quite a legacy. I've done quite a few, and I've nearly always done both the 5K and the 10K. I typically exceed my expectations during the 5K, and deceed them for the 10K. I know. You're wondering about the word, deceed.  I got this from the wonderful world wide web:  'There is no established opposite to the word exceed, and it's quite often suggested that there's a gap in the language that needs to be filled! Some people have come up with deceed as a possible candidate, but there is as yet no real evidence of its use.' I saw subceed suggested as well.

This day, I had no expectations at all, so it wouldn't have been possible to exceed, deceed or subceed them. It wasn't too terribly hot, but my olde legs were still mighty tired from MP6.I ran the 5K in an 8:30 pace, and I ran the first half of the 10K at a 9:30 pace. About half-way, I decided to try to pick it back up. I did (!) and ran the second 5K of the 10K in about the same time as the 5K itself. That felt good. 

Too bad the rest of it didn't. Oh, I suppose it's okay. I made it. Live to run another day. If you can call it that.


Sunday, July 02, 2017

MP6 Race Report

The Third Annual Poorly Organized Mugrage Park 6-Hour Run lived up to it's name once again. I humbly submit that it's highly doubtful that anyone could have not organized an event better than this.

I arrived a couple minutes early and began using my poor organizational skills right off the bat: by picking up trash left from the night before. Soon the other 6am starters began to arrive, so I quickly signed in, and got my numero uno bib. Yes, they started with bib number 1, and I got it. What would this portend for the race itself? 

Frank Dwyer took off after a lap or so, and never looked back. He mostly stayed a couple laps ahead of me for the entire six hours. As the day wore on, the heat and the miles began to take their toll. We all began to slow down, but I never caught up with Frankie. 

It was great fun seeing my MCRR peeps out there. There were 30 of us altogether. And then there were the wonderful volunteers. Thanks to all!

I am extremely thankful that:

a) I got past 50K. I didn't last year, but that was a hotter day.
b) We (Frankie and me) did not get chicked!
c) It's over!!

In the final results, Frank Dwyer was the overall winner with 37 laps, which equates to 35.15 miles. What some runners won't do for a $50 gift certificate! Suzanne Sharpe had the highest mileage for the women at 26.6 miles. I was the second overall with 35 laps and 33.25 miles.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

A (Nearly) Midsummer Night's Run

It's a couple days past Midsummer, and our runner is generally recovered from his Midsummer Night's Run. It is, however, most definitely a night's run; he had gotten out of his car and began this journey at 3:59 AM.

"Egads," he thinks, nearly out loud, except that wasn't the word he used. "I forgot to start my watch!" It's 4:05 AM, and a lot of thoughts run through his not-so-clear-thinking head. Can he count these 6 minutes and approximately 0.6 miles at all? Should he go back and begin again? Forget the whole darn run, and just head back to the car and go home?? "Don't panic," he calms himself down. "The time and distance can be added on later. Whew, that was a close one."

The run continues. It's been a long time since he's even attempted this 24-mile jog on the Lester Rail Trail. The route is only three miles each way, so our runner does it with four six-mile out and back loops. After an hour, our runner returns to his car for a pit stop. His earlier panic attack is a thing of the past; he's feeling pretty good right now. And due to the early morning twilight, it's nice to be able to remove the headlamp.

Our runner ruminates about how, eleven hours earlier, he had been still undecided about whether to try to run 100 kilometers at the Eagle Up Ultra in Canal Fulton. He had ultimately decided - wisely, according to his wife - that although his Achilles Tendonitis pain has subsided some, he's just not ready to go that far. At least not without a great deal of pain and suffering. Not to mention time.

The second loop is a minute or so faster than the first. Will this trend continue?

Now it's getting much lighter. The morning is pretty, and it even feels a little cooler and less humid than earlier. It's strange doing a run this long all alone. He used to run alone nearly all the time, but running with friends, especially for long runs, is usually preferable. Today, though, being alone isn't so bad. Our runner finds himself enjoying this run, and more so with each step.

That's not to say that it's easy. It takes some concentration and effort to keep this pace going. Our runner is now trying to do each loop a bit faster than the last, and of course the final lap is the toughest.

He makes it. 24 miles done. Midsummer night running, but not necessarily night running, is over. Until next year.

Friday, June 23, 2017

~ A Midsummer Night's Run ~

Lord, what fools these mortals be!
~ Puck, A Midsummer Night's Dream

Over hill, over dale,
Thorough bush, thorough brier,
Over park, over pale,
Thorough flood, thorough fire,
I do wander everywhere.
~ A fairy's answer to Puck's question, "whither wander you?", A Midsummer Night's Dream

There are lights in the woods!
~ Danny Boy, A Midsummer Night's Run

The Summer Solstice is also known as Midsummer, which is this day. Danny Boy finds himself frolicking at Mugrage Park, alone in the deep, dark woods. He spots lights between the trees in the deepest parts, and he gets spooked a bit. They're probably fireflies. Or something reflecting the light from his bright headlamp. It's possibly even cars from Route 18, which, although beyond the immediate area, really isn't all that far. One thing Danny Boy is sure of, is that they aren't wood nymphs, elves, fairies or gods of some sort. No, those things aren't real.

A huge crowd of at least three or four had been expected for this "Mugrage Park Course Familiarization Run" event. But it turns out that Danny Boy is all alone. They must have good excuses, he thinks. He's okay with that. But who in the world could not want to run around in circles through the woods at 4:20 in the morning?

After about five miles, a nymph named Frank Dwyer shows up. By now it's getting light, and Danny Boy removes his headlamp before joining said nymph for another five miles. Danny Boy is okay with that.

If we shadows have offended,
Think but this,--and all is mended,--
That you have but slumber'd here
While these visions did appear
~ Puck, A Midsummer Night's Dream

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Green Jewel 50K: Danny Boy Strikes Again

If only spring could have lasted one more day. Even though the calendar indicates that we have another ten days, it sure felt like summer all at once, after the cool weather for the past week.

4:04. Danny Boy hits the split button on his watch to record the time that he achieved the marathon distance. That’s not too awful, he thinks. Now he only has five miles to go at the 2017 Green Jewel 50K. If Danny Boy can only manage ten, or even eleven-minute miles for this last little bit, two good things would happen: a) Danny Boy would finish in under five hours, and this is important for some reason that he cannot manage to articulate right now, and b) Danny Boy would be finished, off his feet and out of this blasted heat. The problem is that in his heart of hearts, Danny Boy knows that even this relatively pedestrian pace, and therefore the a sub-five finish, is not going to happen today.

Did we mention the heat? This year the Green Jewel reversed course to go from Brecksville to Rocky River, and also changed months, from March to June. Now, instead of rain or ice, we have brain-baking heat and humidity. And such warmth wouldn’t be so bad if Danny Boy had been used to it. But after a cool May and early June, he’s definitely not acclimated.

Did we also mention that Danny Boy absolutely loves the Cleveland Metroparks, through which this the Green Jewel traverses? So much so, that he has run several of them, including the very first one, and also last year’s edition.

Said Metroparks are as beautiful as ever today, but Danny Boy is having some amount of difficulty appreciating them as the race is progressing. It’s tough to look around and enjoy one’s surroundings as one is nearly facing the ground as part of one’s marathon shuffle. And these final five miles in Rocky River Reservation are arguably the most scenic of the bunch.

The morning had started well enough. Danny Boy had been well aware that the early hills would be tough, and they didn’t disappoint. Once they were done however, he had quickly recovered, and was rolling along, talking with friends, and enjoying himself. A 2:20 first half was not bad at all. But that was about the point when it began to get really hot.

An hour goes by. And then some. Danny Boy shuffles along, and manages to finish the race. The final five were a real struggle, however, and as he had suspected, extremely, even sufferingly slow. The clock says 5:15. It’s a relief to be out of the heat.

Danny Boy had a lot of time to think in those five plus hours. Therein, he resolved to no longer, at least for the near future, harbor any thoughts about running longer distances. Running, after all, is stupid.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Danny Boy Runs the Medina Half-Marathon

Short Version: Danny Boy ran the Medina Half-Marathon today. Now his toes are worse.

Long Version: Danny Boy ran the Medina Half-Marathon today. After volunteering the previous years, but running the course as a training run many times, this would be the first "official" one. He starts slow, running with the 2:20 pace group, and then eventually catching the 2:00 pace group. He talks with several folks along the way, including pacer Shari Geiger, who introduces Danny Boy as a "legend".

The moniker appears to stick for the remainder of the race, as other friends and acquaintances, new and old, keep referring to him as such. Some of this may also due to Danny Boy's blog post about the very first Cleveland Marathon. The thing is, he's not feeling very legendary. First, there are the toes. They're bad; really bad. They're so bad that Danny Boy has had trouble just getting socks and shoes on. Although he's got them wrapped up pretty good now, they are beginning to announce their presence.

And then there's that other result of last week's Cleveland Marathon: general soreness and fatigue. This is taking its toll: even though Danny Boy is speeding up just a little after those early easy miles, he's still not exactly setting the world on fire. He's doing about nine minutes a mile - almost exactly the same pace that he did at last week's thon.

As the runners approach the half-way point, they run along Medina Lake. Danny Boy likes this part. It certainly is scenic. There are puddles along the trail, and most runners skirt around them on the adjacent grassy sides. Danny Boy does this too, until he sees Angela Demchuk running right through the middle of the puddles, experienced trail runner that she is. Danny Boy follows suit, and this suits him well.

Danny Boy struggles on the uphill sections of the course. Although there are no huge hills, there are plenty of smaller ones. Appropriately named Foote Road is Danny Boy's biggest challenge.

At mile nine, Danny Boy gets some Gatorade from an aid station, takes a gulp, and nearly upchucks entirely. It was thick as pea soup, and sweeter and saltier than anything you could imagine. The volunteers had evidently not diluted the super-concentrated solution with water as instructed. Good thing Danny Boy is able to spit most of his big mouthful out without swallowing much. Disaster averted.

The later miles get tougher and tougher for Danny Boy. He's still maintaining the same pace, but now he's going anaerobic. Just before he begins to redline entirely, he hits the twelve-mile mark and starts on the final downhill mile. Downhill, that is, until the very last uphill climb to the Medina Square. People cheer as the legend comes in and crosses the line. Danny Boy loves it when the Square is alive with activity, as it is now. The volunteers are great!

Danny Boy's time is 1:57 and change. He's sixth in his ancient age group. His pace is only a second or three better than last week.

Now his toes are worse.
Yes, they're worse

Sunday, May 21, 2017

2017 Cleveland Marathon Race Report

My friend Brian Peacock once wrote a piece call, The Long Walk. It's about the long, slow, painful walk back to the car after a marathon. Having parked in what I thought was the perfect getaway position, today's Long Walk was coming as a bit of a surprise. It's pouring rain, and this distance of about 3/4 mile seems to be taking forever. I can't fathom how only minutes earlier, I was running at full-tilt, whereas now I'm having trouble just walking in a straight line.

After this unexpectedly Long Walk, I finally stumble over to the car. What did that take me - thirty minutes? Seemed like hours. It takes a further inordinate amount of time to simply place towels on the front seat and change my shirt, all in preparation for the even longer ride home.

The arrival downtown had, it seemed, gone well. I didn't mind jogging a ways to the start, figuring that being so very close (or so I thought at the time) to the finish would more than make up for it. As I line up in Corral 'C', I strike up a conversation with Joe Jurczyk. It had been a while since we'd seen one another, so of course we talk, and talk, and talk some more, both here in the corral, and also for the first seven miles.

Talking takes energy, but it also helps take one's mind off the tedium of pounding the pavement. Now at mile 8, it's beginning to feel real. It's in the sixties, mostly cloudy, and a little humid. I would prefer cooler and drier weather, but things could be much worse.  I had been running at what felt about like nine-minute per mile pace, or perhaps a little slower. I pick the pace up, but just a little. I eventually catch the 8:58 pace group, and also run with George Themelis on and off for a while.

I am enjoying the course, and the race in general. There are enthusiastic crowds along the way - more than I can remember. But then, it's been a couple years since I've run CLE. And of course they change the course just about every year. I'm guaranteed a course PR for the day.

I pass half-way in 1:59. Can I hold this pace for another half-marathon? Having not run a marathon, or much of anything for that matter in a while, I have no idea. But it's safe to say that I don't have an over-abundance of confidence yet. I'm taking this one mile at a time.

What bothers me most (it's always something), is the mileage markers. They appear about a quarter-mile later than my Garmin indicates. I know, I know.: they measure courses slightly longer than the stated distance to make sure there are no questions about certification. But lookyahere: this may end up costing me, big time. The first digit of my time may wind up being a four, rather than a three, all because of this extra quarter-mile I am running.

After a while, I settle myself down. It is what it is. Going in, I truly tried to fight off any tendency towards expectations of any kind. A steady pace would be nice, but I wasn't even going to let that concern bother me. I was just out here to have fun. I only need to keep telling myself that.

We arrive in the western suburbs a little before the 17.5 mile turnaround. I see Ron Ross on and off. Just before the turnaround, I spot Ladd Clifford, Rob Lisy and John Pavlik. I look for Theresa Wright, but can't find her. Ron pulls ahead, and I lose sight of him as it begins to rain.

The rain is a light drizzle, and it feels wonderful. Around mile 20 (right around three hours), I am somehow able to pick up the pace a bit. We are running through the Edgewater neighborhood, and there are nice views of the lake, and downtown. Those views don't last a long time, however, because the rain begins to come down harder. It still feels great, though.

At about mile 21, I see Ron up ahead once again, and I make an effort to catch up to him. He's running a steady pace, just like he always does. This means I must be accelerating. Well, that may be too strong a word, but I am running a little faster once again. It takes me until about mile 24.5 to catch up to Ron completely. We exchange more pleasantries, and then I take off for the final assault on the Detroit-Superior Bridge.

It's a tough climb, and I slow down considerably. But once at the top, I pick the pace up once again for the final 3/4 mile. It feels great to run fast at the end of a marathon. In fact, there's no feeling in the world like it.

It's a downpour as I cross the line. My time is 3:56:54. I am thrilled.

But now it's time for the Long Walk.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Revco-Cleveland Marathon Race Report - May 14, 1978

Here we are at the start. That's me on the left in my best white cotton attire; Paul Coleman on the right. I can't remember the name of the guy in the middle.

Sorry if this race report seems a bit late. Since this year will see the fortieth running of the Cleveland Marathon, I thought it appropriate to take a look back at the first one.

I had trained hard the previous winter and spring. A lot of the daily running was done at General Electric's Nela Park campus where I worked. On weekends, I did my long runs in the Cleveland Metroparks, usually Bedford, North Chagrin and South Chagrin Reservations.

My training partner was Paul Coleman, with whom I worked at GE. That made things convenient; we could easily walk over to meet up for those weekday runs. We also ran many of our weekend long runs together, and we met at a couple previous races as well.

The thing is, there wasn't a lot of previous races. There weren't a lot of races, period. The only ones I had done leading up to this race were several months earlier: the Inaugural Johnnycake Jog 5-miler and the Cleveland Heart-a-Thon Half-Marathon.

Cleveland Heart-a-Thon- L to R: Ken Bubnik, Paul Coleman, Dan Horvath, Dave Murphy
There wasn't a whole lot of information out there in those days, either. We knew about running a lot; we knew about interval training and long runs. We even knew about carb-loading. But I didn't really know how I was going to pace myself, or what a marathon would even feel like. And as you can see from the photos, I had my very best white cotton t-shirt and shorts to wear. In fact, it's safe to say that I didn't know what the heck I was doing at all.

I did know that cool weather was best for racing. I had therefore lucked out on this day. It had drizzled overnight, but had mostly stopped. The temperature was around 55F. That's absolutely perfect for a first, or any marathon, but not so wonderful for Mother's Day, which it was. It also wasn't the best for spectators, which included Debbie.

Revco was the first official Cleveland Marathon. There had been some others in past years, but this is the one that stuck. In later years, Revco was bought out by CVS, and sponsorship changed over to them. Rite-Aid now sponsors the race. Not a year has gone by when it hasn't been sponsored by a drug store chain.

The race started and finished at my Alma mater from only a few years prior, Cleveland State University. The course took us west through downtown, over the Detroit-Superior Bridge, and over to the western suburbs mostly along Lake Erie, before returning back mostly the same way. Some people thought a flat, out and back course was boring; I loved it.

Gathering at the start of a race was a new experience. It was great to meet up with Paul and a few other friends. Paul had unfortunately sustained a recent injury, and would be running at a slower than usual pace. I would be running on my own.

And even though I didn't know much, I thought I might be able to run a fairly fast race. I went out at a sub-seven minute per mile pace, and held it steady. I don't believe I even went over seven minutes until about mile 18.

Ah, yes. Mile 18. That's where the wall decided to rise up to meet me. I had been thoroughly enjoying this race, and I was thrilled at how well I was doing. But now it started to hurt. Every muscle, joint, bone - everything hurt. I was surprised at how sudden it had occurred. In fact, I don't know that I've had a wall experience that sudden or intense since.

Now each step was painful, and I still had miles to go. The Detroit-Superior Bridge was at miles 24-25, and going up was a real struggle. I remember passing a wheelchair contestant, who was having a tougher time than I was. But as I was running down the other side, Whoosh! He glided past me like I was standing still.

I somehow made it to the finish line, and then directly into the medical tent, where I called for Debbie as they fed me ice chips. Debbie found me, and she was very worried. They were about to give me an IV, but I began to recover, and so they just stuck with the ice chips.

My time was 3:04.

It was a couple days later, back at the office when some co-worker asked Paul and I, "You guys ran a marathon? How did you train for it?" Running a marathon was pretty darn rare back then. Paul, who at the moment didn't want to go through the trouble to explain all the intricacies of our training regimen to a non-runner, shrugged and said, "We ran a lot."

I'm coming into the finish on Euclid Avenue. I don't look so good, because I just ran a marathon. I wound up in the medical tent after I crossed the finish line.

The 1978 Revco-Cleveland Tshirt is now part of one of my running tshirt quilts. It hangs on the wall of my office.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Yah, so 800s are aretty good training

Part 1: Continents Don't Move

Debbie, in her early school years, observed that Africa and South America appeared to fit together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. When she remarked to her teacher that perhaps they were once attached, the teacher ridiculed her, famously saying something to the effect of, "Don't be silly; continents don't move!" She never forgot about this, and when continental drift theories came about - by this time Debbie was an adult - she wanted to go back to that teacher and say, "See, I was right, and you shouldn't have ridiculed me!"

Of course the teacher probably would have responded, "huh?" And of course Danny Boy now (very mildly) makes fun of Debbie, saying that she was probably the first person on Planet Earth to notice such a thing.

Danny Boy himself made a Great Discovery once. He noticed that running 800 meter repeats with times in minutes and seconds amounts to good, challenging training for a goal marathon time in corresponding hours and minutes. So, for example, if one wanted to train for - let's just take some wild goal here - say, a four-hour marathon, one would run one's 800 meter repeats in about four minutes.

Except that at the time Danny Boy made this observation, Danny Boy was running marathons in around three hours, give or take. He was therefore running his 800s in the 2:50s. But that was then.

Along came a guy named Bart Yasso. In an article in Runners World, he made this same observation, suggesting that one should do ten of those 800s with times in minutes and seconds corresponding to the hours and minutes of the goal marathon, He called these, "Yasso 800s".

Too bad Danny Boy was probably the first person on Planet Earth to notice such a thing.

Part 2: Today's Yassos

Danny Boy has been hitting the track about once a week. As noted in an earlier post, he's lost a minute a mile, and he still doesn't know where to find it. But he keeps trying nevertheless.

He arrives at the Mayfield track at 5:10 AM, and finds the lights on. This is unusual, but in a nice sort of way, since Danny Boy can see what the heck he's doing as he embarks on his Yasso Journey today.

Danny Boy actually manages to do his first few 800s under four minutes each. That's when the kids arrive. A couple dozen strapping young men run onto the football field, and begin doing all sorts of exercise drills. Danny Boy had been afraid that they'd be moving onto the track itself at some point. If that happened, Danny Boy wouldn't be able to complete his workout, and wouldn't that be a tragedy?

But it doesn't happen. Danny Boy is not able to claim any excuses, and therefore has to complete his workout. He does get all his Yassos in as planned.

What with this workout, and last Saturday's 23-miler, Danny Boy is now almost done training for this Sunday's Cleveland Marathon. Only five or six more workouts, and he will be trained. He'd better get moving.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Feeling no Pain

Danny Boy is smack dab in the middle of his very slow track workout when it occurs to him. Not much else has occurred to him yet this early morning, so any thought at all is, by definition, somewhat outstanding and profound... at least in relativistic terms. The thought is this: Danny Boy is feeling no pain.

Danny Boy's brother, Dave, seriously maintains a list of euphemisms for being drunk. Right there, along with three sheets to the wind, drunk as a skunk, annihilated, inebriated, dead drunk, looped, snockered, etc., is feeling no pain.

But Danny Boy isn't feeling no pain due to any influence from alcoholic beverages of any form. He is feeling no pain in the literal sense. In regards to this here feeling: it's been coming on for some time now, and it's noted now and then. But once in a while, Danny Boy actually expends a few neurons to consider it: he does so today, and it feels real good.

Not that the Achilles Tendonitis thing is gone for good. Oh no; it's still around. But the pain has largely/mostly subsided for the time being. And that's a good thing. This enables Danny Boy to run more. Not faster, mind you, just more.

That's still a good thing. He will take it.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Lost in Gaithersburg

Part 1

Danny Boy is hopelessly lost, but that's not his primary concern. His primary concern is that he's running so stupidly slow. How slow, you ask? So slow that he once again may not get enough miles in to call it a long run before the clock runs out.

He has run these roads before, and he's likely been lost here before; 18 years before. Last time, he was here for a consulting engagement that went on for months. He got to know the roads quite well then. This time, here for the People's Climate March (for which he has to be concerned about getting back), he's doing some measure of re-learning.

Learning can be a slow process, however, and such is most definitely the case for Danny Boy today. Another old adage comes to his mind: the faster you run, the more lost you can get. He slows down even more whilst pondering this bit of wisdom, and that only makes things worse. Good thing he's only half-way through his long run. He can always speed up for the second half, can't he?

Danny Boy manages to find his way back to the Marriott by mile ten. He still has eight to go before he can call this run long, and this is important. It's only important because he's tried and failed so much in recent weeks. But now that he's not lost, he had better get moving faster.

Somehow, he does. The gel, sport beans and water probably helps. It's warm and humid - unusual for April. But it's also ironic that the People's Climate March should occur on a record-setting day; the temperature, in the seventies now, would reach 91 later on.

Oh yes, the run. Danny Boy begins doing 1.5-mile loops around the pretty little lake and surrounding shopping area. Each one gets a little faster. Danny Boy successfully runs 18 miles. Hooray for Danny Boy!

Part 2

The good news is that Danny Boy is rich! He has found 2 dimes and 2 pennies. Together with the penny he found yesterday, that makes.... he's trying to add it up.... a lot of money! The not so good news is that he's lost again. The worst news is that he's running even slower than during his lost miles of the previous day.

This day is warm and oppressively humid. Danny Boy, still recovering from yesterday's long run and hot march, is having a difficult go. But he wants to get ten in, and by Jove, he's going to do it. He has now determined how he's been managing to get so lost, and how he managed to get even more lost during his runs of 18 years ago:

1) The roads to not go straight. Yes, there are hills to get around, but it appears that the roads mostly make dramatically strange angled turns, just because they can.
2) The road names change. And this too is for no reason at all; it's also probably just because they can.
3) Road names sometimes take the name of a perpendicular road, whilst the one going straight takes on a different name.
4) Road names at intersections are either not stated, or are just plain wrong.

Danny Boy makes it back in ten excruciatingly slow miles. But he does make it back.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Ouch II: Danny Boy Falls for Nothing

Danny Boy is awake at 3:30 AM, which is a little earlier than planned. Good, he thinks; he may be able to get an extra mile or so in. Eleven would be really nice, but he will still settle for ten as he'd planned.

Danny Boy is out the door and on the street at 4:39 AM, which is a little later than planned. He should never, never, never check Facebook before a run. Just a quick minute, he'd thought. Enough time for the coffee to kick in, he'd thought. It never works out as planned. Now he may have to settle for even less than ten miles. What will this do to his weekly total?

There is still a glimmer of hope, he thinks. If he can only run really fast, he might still be able to get his miles in, and still get back in time to get off to work.

Danny Boy is running as fast as he can go, and that isn't so fast. But it's still early in the run. Maybe he can still do it.

Early miles give way to middle miles, and Danny Boy is still not running very fast. It's not for lack of trying. Maybe he's still recovering from Sunday's almost longish run. The one where he had intended to run more, but ran out of time. Yeah, that one.

On one of the deep, dark side-streets near home, Danny Boy approaches a pile of branches and other debris that someone had thoughtfully placed in the road. He easily scoots around the pile, but as he returns to his running lane, he finds himself falling. The fall took several steps and at least one very bad word. He has time to break the fall with his hands and right leg. Once on the ground, he looks over and determines that he had tripped over one tiny stick that had escaped from the nearby pile.

Danny Boy often makes fun of his running partners who fall. But who is laughing now?

Danny Boy also looks around to make sure no one saw him. And also to make sure no one heard his expletive. Danny Boy is not known for using bad words. At least not very often. At least not by people other than his wife. At least not when he's not engaged in some wayward home improvement activity.

Danny Boy finishes his run with nine miles. He's not in any more pain than usual. Maybe he can over, rather than under-achieve tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Tales of Danny Boy: Ouch

We here at Blog Central made a sincere promise a while back. We agreed to never again post stories of The Kid. We still plan to stick to our solemn oath; the Kid Chronicles are no more. However, in the spirit of Great Third-Person Literature, we now introduce the Tales of Danny Boy.

“Ouch!” Danny Boy says out loud. It’s 9.3 miles into his 10-mile run. He thinks he may have once again done something pretty darn stupid.

The thing is, running had been improving once again for Danny Boy. To review, a couple months ago, he was ramping up his mileage and his intensity in anticipation of running two and a half marathons this Spring. Then he had his SETBACK. In the ensuing weeks, besides dealing with the intensified Achilles pain, he lost gobs of fitness. Due to that lost fitness, Danny Boy decided to opt-out of Marathon Number One, the Canton Hall of Fame Marathon. But now, over the last couple weeks, he was beginning to feel better again, and was clawing his way back up to 50 miles per week.

Until today.

He hits the road at 4:25 AM, and immediately runs into Neighbor Runner Rita, who is running with her dog. Kind of weird talking with a neighbor at that early hour, but after a few nice words, they each run their separate ways. Danny Boy runs over to the track at his usual easy, slow, loping pace. Once under the fence, however, he lowers the hammer.


It turns out that that hammer is not of the sledge variety, but more like a 6-ounce ball pin type. Having run 10-minute miles to get here, he’s now doing four miles at 8:20 or so pace. He supposes that this fast-feeling is sort of like a tempo run, such as it is. This poor excuse for Something of Substance will have to do today. Danny Boy only wants to survive the run without re-injury. He had been thinking that the soft track surface would be good for him. The constant turning may be stressful, but at this extra-slow pace, there shouldn’t be much torque, he thinks.


Towards the end of the track run, Danny Boy’s Achilles begins talking to him. “I’m here,” it says. It talks more during the run home, until Danny Boy makes his “Ouch!” exclamation. Danny Boy feels stupid.


Maybe it’s not totally dumb. Maybe Danny Boy will easily recover.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

More or Less

I've lost my base, and don't know where to find it.


It's Saturday, and it's the usual gang, more or less: Debbie Scheel, Theresa Wright, Harold Dravenstott, Michelle Wolff, and, somewhat surprisingly, myself. My Achilles injury got so bad a couple weeks ago, that I've done almost no running at all of late. Even though I was beginning to feel better, I had informed the group that although double digits would be nice, anything at all would be better than nothing.

Fast forward an hour and a half, more or less. The others want to do more, but I ~~wisely for once~~ decide to quit early. I got ten and change in, and I am feeling pretty darn good, relatively speaking. In fact, I could do more. I've just chosen not to. I feel so darn smart.


It's Sunday, and it's the usual gang, more or less: actually the same as yesterday, minus Harold and Michelle, but plus Frank Dwyer. I got through the rest of yesterday without major mishap, and as we begin today, I am still feeling pretty okay.

But today is Sunday, and so this must be Hinckley. Hinckley, as in hills. Hills that we did not have yesterday. I fall behind right away on Bellus Hill. It gets worse. Even as I battle back, the others get far ahead of me again on other hills, but stop and wait for me at times. Sympathy for the old man, you know; he lost his base, more or less, and can't seem to find it.

Then comes Effie. I'm behind again, except more than ever now. It occurs to me that this day, I could have done less.

I do manage to complete this, and get another double digit run under my belt. The base will come back, won't it? In the last couple downhill miles, Debbie scoots up ahead, and I mention to Theresa that she (Debbie) was doing the right thing for her upcoming Boston run. Theresa, who is going to Beantown as well, sprints hard to catch and even pass Debbie. Never, ever challenge Theresa, or even kid her to say that someone else is doing some training that's 'good'.

But now I'm really tired. And my Achilles hurts more than yesterday. I feel so darn dumb.

Monday, March 27, 2017


From [soo-per-stish-uh n] noun
1. a belief or notion, not based on reason or knowledge, in or of the ominous significance of a particular thing, circumstance, occurrence, proceeding, or the like.

I don't consider myself any more superstitious than the next person. But I did pause a little as I posed a question to the Canal Corridor 100 Mile Endurance Run Facebook Page. The question itself isn't important, but my thoughts at the moment were: am I jinxing myself by simply asking something and thereby implying that I am even considering running 100 miles?

I wouldn't have been considering it at all, except that things had been going so well for me. In preparation for my Spring races - two marathons and a half - I'd upped my mileage, and my speed, strength and endurance had all been going the right direction. It had taken an extremely long time to get there. The Achilles pain had finally subsided enough to let me run 50, then 60 and more miles per week, including long runs on the hills of Hinckley. If anything, the increased mileage had knocked the pain down a notch or two.

That was when I stepped on the mill and did some speedwork. It was only a day or two after the question. And it wasn't extremely fast; only a bit more intense than other recent runs. Of course the Achilles hurt afterwards - that's fairly normal. I took the next day off before tackling the Hinckley hills for an attempt at a long run that failed badly.

The pain has only become even more intense in the past week and a half. So much so, that I've only done a smattering of miles, and it hurts even to walk.

Now comes the most painful part of being injured: admitting it. And part of that is admitting that you probably can't run the races you've registered and trained for. The first one, scheduled for the end of April, is out for sure. The other two, in May, are in serious jeopardy.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Until I Wasn't

I was planning to get a long run in today.  Until I wasn't.
I was running fairly well. Until I wasn't.
I was feeling pretty darn good during the run. Until I wasn't.
I was actually enjoying myself. Until I wasn't.
I was even having a good week, running wise. Until I wasn't.

And finally...
I was even even starting to think that this Achilles thing was finally beginning to get better. Until I wasn't.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Don't Think About an Elephant

Another Hinckley loop; another adventure.

We're loping along in the dark, and a male runner who is not me (let's call him 'Prank') stops to go into the woods. I notice that he's not too far off the road, so in the interest in preserving Prank's privacy, I tell a female runner who is also not me (let's call her 'Veresa'), "Don't shine your (headlamp) light on Prank." Naturally, that's exactly what Veresa does.

In retrospect, I suppose this is akin to telling someone not to think about an elephant.

Saturday, March 04, 2017


Michelle Wolff was running alongside me... and then she wasn't.

For the second time in two runs, she did a faceplant. This one was more sudden than the last. For a moment, I thought she'd disappeared. I am allowed to make fun of Michelle's falling adventures only because I've had my own share of difficulty remaining vertical. You could almost say that I'm vertically challenged.

What was it that tripped her up? This time it was a rather large dead raccoon. I actually had noticed it, but of course I didn't say anything; I'm the silent running-mate type. Just ask my friends.

Later on, several of us nearly became roadkill ourselves. Not long after turning onto Kellogg Road (motto: it's all downhill from here), an extremely large rottweiler jumped out and surprised us. We stopped, but the dog still seemed threatening, even as the owner came out and tried to keep us still whilst she wrangled her animal. The thing wasn't happy until it gave Debbie Scheel a very good all-over sniff. Only then did it decide that we were probably okay, and allowed itself to be wrangled.

Our second Hinckley loop was no less eventful. First, Frank Dwyer decided to kick the raccoon off to the side of the road. He said it didn't smell too bad, and it wouldn't stink up his shoes. I was a little dubious. Then a different Kellogg dog attacked, paying particular attention to Theresa Wright, and then me. This one was much smaller, but I still didn't like being nipped at. When I yelled, "go home", the owner found this hilarious. I am still trying to understand the joke.

Just one more story. The raccoon fiasco reminded me of an incident that occurred around about twenty-five years ago, in Michigan. I was running alone in the early morning darkness, on the left side of the road. A car approached from ahead, and came to be even with me at the same point in time that a large dead raccoon appeared in the middle of the road, in between us.

I have since long pondered the probability of all three of us (the car, the raccoon, and I) all occupying that same twenty square feet of road at precisely the same moment. I've decided that only in a Dan Horvath Roadkill Nightmare could such a thing happen.

The result? SPLATT!! The car had decided to run right over the carcass, spraying me with blood and guts. So much so, that when I got home and removed my reflective vest, and interesting geometric pattern appeared on my white shirt.

Roadkill Cafe, anyone?

Saturday, February 25, 2017

I've Lost 2 Minutes per Mile and Don't Know Where to Find Them

Before it was one minute a mile. Now two. Where did they go?


The thought occurred to me as I hit it the other day. It was my first time on the track for many months. In my (much) younger days, when doing track workouts, we would yell 'TRACK!' at anyone moving slower than us that were in our way. Do track runners still do this?

I love the track. I love speedwork. But with injuries and all, speedwork doesn't love me.

Nowadays, if I can do my mile intervals in under eight minutes, I'm a happy man. In the olde days, six minutes was good. I could whine some more, but I will spare you.

The good news is that, in spite of the non-cessation of the Achilles pain, I'm running more, and even slightly better. I should. I've got marathons to train for.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Free the Hinckley Nine!

This is another one that required an explanation. I will get to that.

The usual gang, Debbie, Theresa, Frank, Dennis and I, complete our 9-mile circuit. There are other runners, some of whom I know, hanging around in the parking lot. We chat a bit. Suddenly dozens of others come running into the lot; they had just gone around the lake. Presently, more running for everyone but a few of us, would ensue.

My thinking, such as it is, is this: wow - lots of runners. Cool!

Why do I think that a lot of runners, as opposed to just a few, is such a cool thing? I have no idea. I'm actually happy to run with anyone, be that a few or a lot. I've been posting these Hinckley runs as Facebook events lately, but it's nearly always the same usual suspects that make it each week. I'm okay with that, since this bunch I go with are fine people. But bigger crowds are fun as well.

Tomorrow's run should involve a bigger crowd. It's the monthly Medina Half-Marathon training run, and the weather is looking fantastic. In fact it was today as well. One of today's runner's said, "it doesn't get any better than this," and I agree wholeheartedly.

The Hinckley Nine? Well, that's the name of our usual road loop. But it also sounded to me like some kind of notorious group of people. Maybe outlaws or terrorists. Or maybe people who are more innocent, but are being unjustly persecuted. In the event that you can think about the name in terms of people instead of miles, freeing them would seem like a good idea.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

The Old Bull and the Young Bull

When you have to announce that a joke is completed, that’s a sign that either it’s not funny, or you didn’t tell it right. I think it was the latter this morning, as my running-rattled brain wasn’t firing on all cylinders. Theresa Stephens Wright, Debbie Scheel, Dennis (don’t know his last name) and Frank Dwyer had actually asked for a story. Here it is, (told perhaps a little better).

An old bull and a young bull were in a pasture, looking down at a lower pasture filled with comely heifers. The young bull says, ‘Hey old bull, the farmer left the gate between the pastures open! Let’s run down to those cows and smooch a couple of them!’ The old bull says, ‘Nope. Let’s saunter on down there slowly, and smooch the whole lot of them.’ Author’s note: verbs other than ‘smooch’ may be substituted here.

Running friends from a couple generations ago used to have some fun with that one. I'm thinking of old bull Brian Peacock, and young bull Geoff Chase. Being between those two in age, I'm not sure what role I took on. Maybe one of the heifers?

I would also like to say that my Achilles pain is subsiding a little, and that has enabled me to pick up the pace and mileage ever so slightly. I would also like to say that I am very rich and famous, and that I get younger each year.

The pain had actually been a little more manageable, and I really have been running a little faster and farther... until today's sixteen-miler. Now it's back to normal. And that's not so good. You would think that I ought to ease up a little. You know: take it easy.

But no. I am committed. Or need to be. At the Medina County Road Runners Club Banquet a couple weeks ago, I won a free entry to the Medina Half Marathon, and registered immediately. Last week I learned that a friend wanted to sell her entry to the Canton Hall of Fame Marathon - for only $20! I jumped at it and got myself registered for that one as well. Then, with all that money I saved, I splurged and paid a high price ($105 plus fee) to register for the fortieth Cleveland Marathon. Yeah, fortieth. I had run the first, in 1978.

So I guess I can't stop now. You would think an old bull would know better.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

One a Day

It's been three weeks now, and I still shudder. So much fear and trepidation. It went something like this.

We got back last Friday, and it's now Tuesday morning. That's getting back from 17 days on that cruise ship. 17 days of gourmet cuisine, fixed the way you like it, for breakfast, lunch and dinner, not to mention snacks, every day. For 17 days. Okay, okay. I guess I said that already. And don't even get me started about the unlimited wine with meals package that we had. Debbie and I joked about how we were putting on a pound a day. Yeah, I managed to run a little on the ship, but nearly enough to compensate for those 17 days.

Now it's time. I don't want to do it, but I really can't put it off any longer. As I step on the scale I think about how I've been pretty good. It's been fairly normal eating over the weekend, followed by my usual partial-fast yesterday. Furthermore, I got some running done over the weekend. It was tough to go out against the cold, but I managed, with the help of some friends. Sure, I can still tell that I'm a couple pounds north of where I ought to be, but surely not too much awfully so.

It is too much awfully so, The scale nearly busts, and then tells me that I weigh 172 pounds. That's around 12 more than three and a half weeks ago. Not quite one a day... but then I think that at some point over the weekend or previous week, I likely did tip the scale at 177. I can hardly believe my eyes. I don't think I've weighed this much since my high school football days.

Nowadays, I'm only beginning to get over this. One may have hoped that if one can put on a pound a day, one could also take off a pound a day, right? No, it doesn't appear to work that way. Oh, the weight is coming down. But only gradually. Very gradually.

Here's the silver lining. I've been running okay (once again, friends help), and my AT pain doesn't seem so bad these days.

Thus it's not all gloom and doom. There are some bright spots on the horizon. Heck, we even have a brand-new, shiny president. What could go wrong?

Friday, January 06, 2017

Running and Cruise Ships Don't Mix

You have exactly three options:
1) Go ashore and run
2) Run on one of the Fitness Center's treadmills
3) Run around the perimeter of the ship

Numero uno is the preferred choice. But it's also the most problematic. It usually involves taking a tender boat or bus from the ship to a place that's runnable. And with only a matter of hours at most ports, it isn't possible most of the time because we're usually going somewhere or doing something for that brief time. This leaves only the ports that we visit overnight (so I can get out and back early). And the boat / bus thing is undesirable as well.

Treadmills generally fill me with dread. But they do provide a good workout. The biggest problem - and it truly is a big one - is that the fitness center doesn't open until 6:00 AM. Don't they know that the day is half-way gone by then?

And then there's the gerbil thing. Ten laps per mile. Round and round. Last time we were on this ship (it's the Oceana Marina), I did a couple ten-milers. That's 100 laps if you're keeping count. And yes, count them I did.


This particular Marina cruise is traveling around the southern part of South America. We start in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and finish in Valparaiso, Chile. Buenos Aires is a huge and wonderful city, but the port area where we're parked is awful. It's all big-time stacks of shipping containers being loaded, unloaded and moved around. It's impossible to simply get off the boat and run; one must take a bus about a mile through the maze of shipping stuff, over to the terminal.

I am quite alone as I wait on the bus for it to leave at 5:30 AM. I wait for what seems like a long time, but eventually I make it to the terminal, and head out for my run.

It's not entirely pleasant. Bad sidewalks, gobs of traffic, and eventually - as I get to the bus station - tons and tons of people. I only scoot around for a few not-so-great miles, before going back to the terminal, bus and ship. At least I got out. That won't happen very much, if at all, for the next couple weeks.


A couple days later, we're moving towards port. The sun is just rising, and yet it's still early. The it occurs to me: it's summer solstice. Since we are moving, I try to run a ten-lap mile with the GPS going. I learn that I ran a 3:30 mile! I run a few more miles before getting booted off. The winds are too strong, I'm told as they close the entire area.

I just give a dumb, disbelieving look. Yeah, the winds are strong, but they always are when the ship is moving. Luckily the fitness center has just now opened. I do a couple more on the mill.


A few days after that - Christmas Day - I am once again flummoxed. The closing of the upper ten-laps-per-mile jogging track due to strong winds seems random to me. Yes, sometimes they close it when the winds are indeed strong, but other times they close it when they are relatively calm. One day it was open, and I actually, really and truly, totally on my own, determined that it was unsafe to run up there, and terminated the run myself. Debbie was proud of me.

This day doesn't seem bad at all however, and yet the track is closed. How in the world am I going to get today's planned double-digit run in? Wait two hours until the Fitness Center opened at 6? That is not going to happen.

I run one deck lower, in the central part of the ship, above but around the pool. I figure that this course is 14 laps per mile. Yes, that's a lot. But sure enough, I do manage to count out 140 slow laps. By the time I am done, the Fitness Center is open, so I even run a few more miles on the mill.


More days pass, and I get an unexpected gift from heaven: we arrive in Ushuaia, Argentina at 3:00 AM, and this means I have time to run onshore before today's planned hike. Yes onshore. As in, on land, off the ship!

Trail Running in Ushuaia, Argentina
It's 5:00 AM, and I decide to head toward Glacier Martial. It's supposed to be up in the hills above town. Town, actually the southernmost city on the planet, is on the island of Tierra del Fuego, and at the base of the mountains. Finding a glacier, or at least the route up to one (I knew it was a ways) shouldn't be all that difficult.

So of course it is. I am chased by wild dogs several times, go up and back down roads that head up the foothills, but peter out. Finally, four miles and about an hour of running and hiking and being mixed up later, I do manage to find the park-like area with trails leading to Glacier Martial.

I run a little bit on the trails, but now it's too late to keep going to see the glacier. I had better return to the ship. I do manage to admire the mountain scenery and view of the city and the bay. And I even manage to take a few photos, since I am carrying my pocket camera.

Getting back is much easier, since I now know where I'm at in relation to the ship. And down is often easier than up. I'm back in no time. Except now there's a hike to be done.


Days pass. I run more on the mill, and a little more on ship's jogging path. My Achilles Tendonitis is really hurting - probably the combination of extremely high weight being applied to an already injured body part. So I decide to try acupuncture.  For the first time.

This is a new experience for me. I am open-minded about it. And it is somewhat painful, as needles go into my opposite wrist, but also in a couple spots on the foot where the pain was (notice the past tense, since there is now new pain).

Unfortunately, it does absolutely no good, whatsoever. Except that it helped me forget the AT pain for a while - since the needle pain was there to replace it.


It's the 17th day of the trip, and we are due to disembark in a few hours. I am sure I've gained at least 17 pounds, in spite of a decent amount of running. Most has probably been on the mill, but today I run on the jogging track. I'd hoped to be able to run on land here in Valparaiso, but since it's necessary to get bussed to the cruise terminal to get out, there isn't time.

So around and around I go - 30 more times, just for fun.

Now that that's done, it will be homeward bound.

Ten Laps on the ship's "jogging track". It's funny
how Google maps doesn't understand that there's a ship there.

Lost, looking for the glacier in Ushuaia, Argentina. The lost part is the upper-right. Finally got
on the right track (left side of pic), but by then it was too late.

For more about this trip, see the Travel Blog Post.

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