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.

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...