Saturday, September 29, 2007

Happy Days to Kendall Hills XC Meet

My brother Jeff and I drove to the Happy Days Visitor Center around the middle of the day and started our run by heading up to the ledges on our way to the Kendall Hills area. Today was my first run since the YUT-C 50K last Saturday and I must say that I felt pretty good. My legs still had some tiredness but nothing out of the ordinary. As we followed the trail we made our way past the Ice Box Cave and then up to the overlook.

As we continued past Kendall Lake we could hear music in the distance. I thought maybe it was from the Blossom Music Center or something, but as we neared the open fields of Kendall Hills we could tell that there was a large cross country meet taking place, with tents set up from each high school. I then remembered Jim telling me awhile ago that his son Heath (who goes to Lakeview) was running in this meet so we went up to where everyone was to check it out.

Just as we got to the top of the hill another race was starting so I started taking video of it and noticed that Heath and his Lakeview team were in this race. Great timing! Results from the race should be posted here -

Race Start

Race leaders pass by the first mile in under 5 minutes

Heath (in blue) passes by the first mile in 5:17

Heath rounding the turn on his last mile

The winner of the race from Woodridge finishing in 17:00

Heath finishing in 18:37

So, after Jeff and I did a few hill repeats we left the XC meet and headed back the way we came to Happy Days when all of a sudden this mini van makes a turn into the Kendall Lake parking lot by us and lays on the horn. My first thought was "Why the hell is this guy honking his horn? We're not even in his lane." Just as I was about to yell at this person the car window lowered and we saw that it was Heath's dad Jim smiling at us. We were surprised to see him because he was coming from his other son's soccer match and he didn't know if he would be here in time to watch Heath run. Jim said that he was planning on running at least 2 hours so he joined my brother and I and ran with us back to Happy Days.

On the way back we pushed the pace some.. probably because we were all pumped up from watching the boys XC race. It felt good to cruise over all the rocks on such a nice day (sunny, cool air, low 70s) and fly downhill on our way back. Jeff and I ended up finishing with 7.5 quality miles... And I finally signed up for the Columbus Marathon last night, which I am running with my brother and sister on Oct. 21st, so I am looking forward to it!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Kelly "The Ghost" Pavlik - New Middleweight Champion

25-year-old Youngstown native, Kelly "The Ghost" Pavlik won the World Boxing Council and World Boxing organization middleweight title tonight, stopping Jermain Taylor before 10,127 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. Pavlik landed a vicious right cross midway through the seventh round that dazed the former champion. Pavlik followed that up with a barrage of punches in his corner before referee Steve Smoger stopped the fight at the 2-minute, 14-second mark.

Congrats to "The Ghost" for bringing the championship back to Y-Town!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Bill Rodgers Autograph

This evening I headed over to Vertical Runner after work to get an autograph from Bill Rodgers who was in town for this weekend's Akron Marathon. He was making an appearance at the store from 4-6pm. Bill Rodgers is one of America's greatest marathoners, winning the Boston and New York City marathon four times each between 1975 and 1980, and twice breaking the American record at Boston with a time of 2:09:55 in '75 and a 2:09:27 in '79.

The last time I met Bill was at the finish line of the 2006 Cleveland Marathon, a very windy day...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Nature's Fury

A cold front passed through last night, resulting in an incredible light show in the southern sky. Here are a couple videos that I took...

Then, as I got ready to drive to work this morning, I was able to witness this huge rainbow to start my day...

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Youngstown Ultra Trail Classic 50K

This morning Bob picked me up at my parent's house in Warren around 6:00 and we headed over to Youngstown for the race. On the way there the sky appeared to be shaping up for a nice sunrise. We arrived at the Old Log Cabin (start/finish area) around 6:30 and started getting everything ready before the early starters began running at 7. Jim also began running the course early to make sure that all course markings were where they should be.

Once they were off, other runners began to arrive and they picked up their bib numbers and goody bags for the official 8:00 start. After all race day entrants signed up we had a total of 62 participants, with 60 starters. Once again we lucked out with the weather... although the low only went down to 63 degrees so we knew that today was going to be warmer than we would like it to be. But, at least there was no rain the forecast. By the middle of the day it would end up being mostly sunny and in the low 80s.

I enjoyed seeing all of the usual local ultra runners and catching up with them. It was also nice to meet a lot of new runners who came from a record number 10 states. The furthest traveler was 65 yr. old James Simpson from California who has run at least 450 marathons. After he finished today's race he immediately hopped back in his camper and drove to Illinois where he was planning on running the Quad Cities Marathon tomorrow! However, there were a lot of first time ultra runners participating in our race this year so Bob and I made sure to go over the course map in detail and answer any early questions before the start. About 5-10 minutes before the race start Bob gave the pre-race briefing and then everyone was off...

As I've done the last couple years, I started out running a little fast to make sure that everyone in the front of the pack got off to the right start and onto the right trail. For the first loop I started off running with TJ Hawk.

We talked for awhile until he pulled ahead and then I ran some with Damian Nathaniel from Indiana. I was feeling pretty good for the first loop and ran the first 11.6 miles in 2:06:12. Then, for most of the 2nd loop I ran with Chris Basich, the husband of my sister's friend from college who she used to run CC/track with.

My goal for the day was to try and break my best time on this course (6:19:00). However, once the heat of the day kicked in I realized that I had not eaten or drank enough early on and now my body was starting to fight back. As I neared the covered bridge aid station on the 2nd loop I could tell that my stomach was feeling nauseous and I was starting to feel fatigued. After leaving the covered bridge I told Chris that I felt like puking and that maybe it would make me feel better. So I leaned over and puked for a couple minutes. It was almost like I turned on a faucet. Everything that came out was entirely water and I wasn't sure if that was a good or bad thing... probably bad I was guessing. But I continued on and actually felt better for awhile. I continued to rehydrate myself and ate some Clif Shot Bloks for quick calories.

Eventually Chris would pull ahead slightly as we headed back to the Old Log Cabin on the 2nd loop. I was now alone on the trail and had to keep telling myself to continue pushing myself. I knew that if I could just get past the Monkey Trail hills again and reach the Log Cabin then I would be mentally prepared for the last loop. I walked a lot more on the 2nd loop than the 1st and was able to complete the 2nd 11.6 mile loop in about 2 hrs., 45 min., giving me a cumulative time of 4:50:40.

After getting aid at the Log Cabin I was now on my way. After finishing the first 2 loops of this course you always feel better knowing that the last loop is only 8 miles rather than 11.6. Early into the 3rd loop I ran into a guy named Mark Anson from Cleveland...

I could tell that he was hurting about the same as me so we talked for quite awhile and eventually ended up running the entire loop together. We both finished with a time of 6:51:50.

Even though I was unable to beat my best time on the course today, I had a great time running with everyone and was happy that I was able to help Mark acheive his 50K personal best time, which was originally 7 hours. Today the YUT-C course record was also broken by Mike Schuster from Virginia with a time of 4:25:46... wow!

Mike Schuster heading towards the Covered Bridge on his 2nd loop

In conclusion, I was happy to hear everyone comment on how much they liked the course and how well they thought we accomodated each and every runner's needs. Overall, it was another great YUT-C and I am already looking forward to next year's race! Until then, stay tuned for all upcoming NEO Trail events!

Thanks once again to all the volunteers and sponsors who help to make this run possible!

To view complete results and photos visit -

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Countdown to YUT-C

It's been awhile since I last posted, so here's an update on what's new.....

My only run this week was on Monday when I took a half day off work and met Bob at West Branch State Park for 8.5 miles of trails. It was another gorgeous day (70s, mostly sunny) and we both felt really good on this run. The weather we've been having lately has made it hard to not feel good. For the rest of the week it is supposed to be more of the same.. sunny, low humidity, and a high in the upper 70s/low 80s.

On Tuesday night my brother and I met up with one of my friends to watch the Tribe pummel the Detroit Tigers once again, which pretty much wrapped up the Central Division championship for them. The Indians hit 4 home runs in front of a sellout crowd of 41,000 and it looks like they may have the opportunity to acheieve home field advantage for the playoffs. The way they are playing now I think they have the ability to beat almost any team in the post season. I may go to their last home game on Sunday, but it will depend on whether or not the Indians are in a position to clinch their division on Sunday.

As far as tomorrow... I will be taking another half day off work to go over to Mill Creek Park with Bob and help him put up course markings for the YUT-C 50K, which will take place on Saturday. Right now we have 56 pre-registered runners entered in the race from 10 different states, so we are very close to breaking our attendance record of 62 runners, which was set in the race's first year. Weather should be great and I'm looking forward to seeing a lot of familiar faces. It will also be excting to see if the men's course record will be broken this year based on a highly competitive field. My goal for the day will be to beat my best YUT-C time (6:19.32), but most importantly to have fun.

I just finished a virtual video tour of the YUT-C course tonight, which you can view here - I hope to add more to it eventually, but this will do for now... On Sunday I will try to get the results and photos from YUT-C posted on the race website. Good luck to everyone this Saturday!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Mill Creek Park - Lily Pond

Morning sunrise

Yesterday I called Mike Keller to let him know that Bob, Jim, Bruce, and I would be running at least one full YUT-C loop at Mill Creek Park today. Mike already had a run planned for today but the trails were calling his name and he decided to make his first trip over to Mill Creek with me. After arriving at my place around 6:30 we were off. On the way there we were able to witness a great sunrise and snapped a few photos.
Looking out the back of my car

We arrived at Mill Creek Park around 7:15 and started running around 7:30. The plan was to head south on the trail from the Lily Pond parking lot and then eventually run into everyone else on the trail. We would then turn around and run north with them. At the beginning of our run Mike and I saw a couple deer and four turkeys.

It was an incredible day to run with the high only reaching into the low 60s with low humidity and a nice breeze. We headed to the YUT-C start/finish and then continued on the east side of Lake Glacier, eventually running all the way down to Lake Newport.

Lake Glacier

Bruce heading downhill on the Monkey Trail extension (note his yellow eyes)

Mike heading towards the Lake Newport Dam with Bob following

Lake Newport

Once we got to the Lake Newport parking lot where Bob, Jim, and Bruce had parked they decided to call it a day...

Slim Jim shows off for the ladies

So... Mike and I chatted with them for a bit and then continued to the YUT-C turnaround bridge as we made our way back to the Lily Pond.

Me next to Lake Newport

On our way back to the Lily Pond I showed Mike a stream of water that runs off of this leaf under this cave that always seems to be flowing no matter how much rain we get. I've always been curious as to just how clean this water is, so Mike decided to fill up his water bottle and take a swig of it. I was also thirsty at this point so I took a sip. It tasted fresh and was very cold, so unless we get sick in the next day or so this may be a new water stop.

As we arrived back at the Lily Pond parking lot we noticed one kid timing his friend who was doing 300 and 400 sprints around the pond so we talked with them for a bit. They were both track athletes from Austintown Fitch High School and the kid timing said he is trying to break the school record in the 400m this year as a sophmore. While Mike and I yelled at his friend for motivation we looked over and noticed a somewhat large turtle sitting on a rock in the pond. There are hardly any rocks that stick out above water so this must be his usual spot...

Total miles for the day - 14.5

Total miles for the week - 37

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

10 Miles of Asphalt

When I got home from work tonight I definitely didn't feel like I had the energy to go for a run, but I had already told my friend Derek earlier in the day that I would. Plus the weather was perfect for a run (upper 60s and sunny with some wind) It definitely felt like fall was in the air. So.. around 6:15 I headed out the door and met up with him down the road. We started off easy for the first mile until we got warmed up and then locked ourselves into an 8:00 pace. Not too fast, not too slow. With the sun and the nice cool breeze it didn't take me long to get feeling better about the run.

Our original plan was just to do about 4 or 5 miles, but once we got back to where we started we decided that we were feeling good and would keep on going. We ended up doing about the same route that we started out with, heading mainly uphill for about 2-3 miles and then turning around and heading back downhill to where we live. This is a great route to get in both hills and some speed. Plus it is always nice to finish downhill!

I felt really good tonight and hope that I can keep increasing my weekly mileage like I have been lately. It was nice to be able to run 10 miles at an 8:00 pace tonight and still feel like I had a lot left in the bank. My plan is to get in some more trail running leading up to the YUT-C 50K, which is next Sat. the 22nd. Then rest up and do some long road runs to prepare for the Columbus Marathon on Oct. 21st. Tomorrow I will be heading over to Mill Creek Park again in Youngstown for a run with Bob, John, and whoever else shows up. For details on the run click here. Looking forward to it! Happy trails...

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Boston Store to Snowville Rd.

Stairway to Heaven

Derek picked me up tonight and we headed over to the Boston Store in the Cuyahoga Valley to run the Buckeye Trail up to Snowville Rd. Originally I had thought that this run would be 4 miles out to Snowville Rd. and 4 miles back, but as we continued on our run I realized that this run is actually 5 miles each way, so we would end up with a total of 10 miles. I guess the last time I ran this trail was longer than what I thought... As we reached Snowville Rd. it was beginning to get dark and since we didn't have any headlamps we decided to head back to the Boston Store on Boston Mills Rd. This cut the run a little short and we finished with a total of 7 miles. We had a solid run though as we power walked the uphills and ran the rest.

Here are a couple photos taken midway through the run as you come out of the woods and into the clearing, giving you a nice view...

Towards the end of our run we had another encounter with Bambi.. Except this time she had her baby with her and I was able to snap this quick photo... This picture is blurry but you can see the small deer in front of the mother. It looks almost like a baby giraffe.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Mill Creek Park - Lily Pond

Once again like last Wednesday- Bob, John DeWalt, and I decided to meet at the Lily Pond parking lot in Mill Creek Park for an 8 mile trail run on the YUT-C course. This time Joe "Moose" Novicky met up with us after doing 3 miles on his own. This run is becoming a regular thing lately and we have already planned another trail run for next Wednesday the 12th. It was pretty hot and humid again today, but not as bad as it has been for some of our recent runs. Bob was recovering from the 70 mile run he did with Slim in VA last Saturday so we kept the pace conservative. You can read more about their 70 mile "Ringer" run by clicking HERE

Monday, September 3, 2007

Sunny Lake Labor Day 5K - Aurora, OH

Derek, Me, Tami & Kristen
This morning Tami and I picked up Derek and drove about 10 minutes to Sunny Lake Park in Aurora to meet her friend Kristen for the annual Aurora Labor Day 5K. This was the first time that Tami and I had run this race and Kristen's first 5K race ever. The weather was great again today (upper 60s for race start) as it has been this entire holiday weekend.
After signing up and getting our bib numbers, Derek and I went out for a brief warmup on the path and then walked over to the starting line about 10 minutes before the start of the race. It didn't look like there was going to be an extreme amount of runners (100+), but we were both wondering how they would be able to start the race efficiently since the paved path is only about 8 feet wide. Once the race began everyone spreaded out pretty quickly though with the faster runners lining up front.
Derek and I started off together for the first half mile or so and then gradually fell into our own individual running pace. I was feeling pretty good... a lot better than yesterday's run.. and made it to the first mile in about 6:45. The course is almost all entirely flat with the exception of one small uphill and basically consists of one and a half loops on a 1.75 mile paved path around the lake. I was glad that I felt pretty strong for most of the race and was able to keep an even pace... running the 2nd mile again in 6:45 and the last mile in 6:40, giving me an overall finish time of 20:40 and a first place award in my age group. Derek finished only about 30 seconds or so behind me and also received an age group award. And Tami finished with Kristen for her personal best time of 28:46.
Included with your registration is a unique post race all-you-can-eat pancake and sausage breakfast, done by Chris Cakes of Ohio. While waiting in line you get to watch everyone try to catch their pancakes on their plate as they are being flipped by the cook.

Mark - aka "Flapjack"

This was probably the best part of the entire run... I can definitely see this race becoming a labor day tradition!

Mark in action

Later on in the day Tami and I went to downtown Hudson for the 3rd Annual "Taste of Hudson", where we sampled foods from local restaurants.

Along with the food and entertainment, they had some pretty sweet cars on display. Here's a few pictures of them...

Rolls Royce



Sunday, September 2, 2007

Woodcock Dam Run

My sister Jamie and I drove about 15 minutes from her apartment over to Woodcock Creek Lake today to do a 5 mile run. We started out by going over the 1 mile paved path that runs over the Woodcock Dam. This section is very scenic to your left and right, but the path is straight as an arrow the whole way and seems to take forever to complete.

Halfway on the path

After the first mile we then continued onto a path made of very fine gravel which traverses through the woods. This trail was pretty nice with lots of trees and open fields and reminded me of pictures I have seen of Idaho.

The first half of this trail is slightly uphill once you get into the woods and isn't noticeable until you turn around and head back the other way. I could tell that we both increased our pace significantly on the way back. Once we hit the paved bridge for our last mile we turned it up and made a strong finish to the car.

Video of Woodcock Creek Lake

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Meadville / Erie, Pennsylvania Trip

Tami and I drove about an hour and a half today to visit my sister in Meadville, PA. She has been living there since the beginning of the year and works at the Meadville Tribune. After arriving we decided to drive another half hour to Erie, PA to grab a bite to eat and visit my alma mater, Penn State Behrend. We parked next to my old dorm, Ohio Hall, and then walked some trails that are nearby. The campus is really landscaped well and they have some nice trails with waterfalls and gorgeous views. Plus it is not very far from downtown Erie and the lake. This was one of the reasons that I decided to attend college here.

A view of the gorge from the overlook

Ohio Hall

My sister, Jamie

While I attended Penn State, Tami was going to school at Bowling Green State University, so we dated long distance for about 3 years. When she would come to visit me we would enjoy hiking the trails near campus and exploring the gorge. One day we ended up carving our initials into a tree back in 2000 (the year we met) so today we decided to stop and check it out. Sure enough it was still there...

After leaving campus we drove up to Lake Erie for some food/drinks at a place called Coconut Joe's, which is part of the new "Boardwalk Complex" that includes Dream Nightclub. They named this area Boardwalk since it is right next to one of my old favorite bars "Park Place". To complete the Monopoly board there is even the Erie police station across the street! I really enjoyed the atmosphere at Coconut Joe's and the way that they decorated the outdoor bar/patio. It almost made you feel like you were in Cancun with the muraled walls and tiki hut seating areas.

After dinner we headed over to the lake to see the sunset.