Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sunny Lake Park Run

Over the weekend I talked with Mike Keller, who will be attempting his first 100 miler at the Burning River 100 this Saturday, and we decided to plan a short run today at Sunny Lake Park in Aurora. This was Mike's first time here and my 3rd. A couple weeks ago my wife and I decided to check out this park after hearing about it from her boss at work. It is a really beautiful place and I am glad that we were informed of it because we probably wouldn't have found it otherwise. Plus, it is only about 10 minutes from where we live in Streetsboro. Surrounding the lake is a 1.75 mile paved path that is marked each quarter mile.
There are also a couple nice picnic pavillions, a beach volleyball course, a playground for kids, and a section of dirt trails in the woods that I still want to check out sometime to see how far they go. We took it pretty easy today since Mike is tapering for his 100 miler. That was fine with me because it was close to 90 degrees and mostly sunny... and I had been laying by the pool all afternoon after taking a half day off work. Overall, a great summer day!

Showin off the guns...

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Boston Run Loop

(before the rain)

This afternoon I decided to head over to the Happy Days Visitor Center parking lot by myself to get in a run on the Boston Run Trail. This trail is exactly a 3.5 mile loop and is pretty nice. It's not very technical but it has some rolling hills and is a combination of dirt and tiny rocks.

I decided to run this loop twice to give myself 7 miles. Right before I started though there was a heavy rainstorm that lasted for a good 15-20 minutes. This was pretty surprising since we haven't had much rain at all this summer, but it was much needed. So, I waited in my car for the rain to let up and then off I went. Once I returned back to my car after the run I was greeted by a large yellow butterfly that landed on my car...

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Winking Lizard "Shot in the Dark" 2 & 4 Mile Race

This evening I headed to downtown Cleveland to watch my wife Tami run with her friend Katie in the Winking Lizard "Shot in the Dark" 2- mile relay. Here is a photo of them heading to the race start:

They finished 9th out of 30 female teams, with Tami finishing in 17:14 and Katie in 16:15. For complete results - Click Here
Afterwards we enjoyed food, drinks, and a live band.
Here are a few videos that I took of the race:

Mill Creek Park Trail Run

This morning my friend Stacy Sowers (who looks very much like Indians designated hitter Travis Hafner) and I decided to meet up at the Fellows Riverside Gardens parking lot, which is located just above the Old Log Cabin next to start of the YUT-C 50K, for an 8 mile YUT-C loop.

It was another picture perfect day... which has been the story for most of this summer so far...

For those of you considering running the YUT-C 50K this fall, here are a few more pictures that I took on the trail to give you an idea of some of the technical terrain:

On our run we also stopped by a couple construction sites in the park to check out how much progress has been made. These next 2 pictures explain the rehabilitation of the steel suspension bridge and show the current stage that the bridge is in. The entire wooden floor underneath the road on the bridge has been removed and the ornate fixtures on top of the steel arches have been removed for repair.

We also stopped to check out the progress that Mill Creek Park has made on repairing the boardwalk leading up to Lanterman's Mill. It looks like concrete is being poured in order to extend the wooden posts further into the ground to avoid erosion... so... this section of the YUT-C 50K should hopefully be completed in time for the race in September.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


I feel like an old person after yesterday's run so I decided to go for a walk with Tami on the Cuyahoga Valley Towpath to help get rid of some soreness. It was another beautiful day... much like yesterday was. We parked in Peninsula and walked to Lock 29, where we then walked north for a couple miles, turned around and headed back to our car.

On our way back we stopped and ate at the Winking Lizard where we listened to Alex Bevan who was performing live. We've seen him play at a few wineries before and he is pretty enjoyable to listen to. Usually he plays a mix of slow easy listening songs on his guitar along with some upbeat party music that he is famous for in Put-in-Bay.

After leaving the Winking Lizard we walked around Hudson for a bit and stopped and had a few drinks on the patio at Luchita's Mexican Restaurant.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Summer Buckeye Trail 50K Report

This morning my friend Dan Kuzma from Ravenna drove over to my apartment and we carpooled to the Oak Grove Picnic Pavillion in Brecksville for the start of the 13th Annual Summer Buckeye Trail 50K. This was my 2nd Summer BT50K I believe. The last time I ran this race in the summer was in 2005 when I ran a 5:41.

When we arrived at the Oak Grove picnic area at 6:30am we were surprised to see that almost all the parking spaces were taken. This was primarily due to the fact that the BT50K set a record attendance this year with 175 registered runners (its race limit). This run has been growing in size ever since its inauguration in 1994, both because of the increased populariy of trail running and because of the good race organization by Vince and his running store in Hudson. Before the race start I went over to the pavillion and talked to Kim, Jim and his son, Heath. Today Heath, now known as "Pinball", (16 yrs. old) was running in his first 50K trail race. He would eventually have an amazing race and would finish in just under 5 hours. After chatting with them for a bit I took a few safety pins for my race number and went back to my car to get all my gear ready. I put on my new waist pack that I bought for the race, my GPS watch, and my bandana... now it was showtime.

Dan and I walked over to the start where runners were now gathering and talked to a few people. Vince, the race director, said a few words and then like every ultra marathon you knew the race was starting because people were beginning to move forward. No megaphones or loud announcements... just friendly conversation and the sound of trail shoes hitting the ground to begin another day of fun in the woods! Dan and I had lined up in the back of the pack which was probably good because we most likely would've been pulled out by the leaders if we were in the front of the pack. We both said that we should try to run conservatively through the first half of the race until the turn around point. As we continued on the trail though we felt good and continued passing people. This led to us running faster and faster until we eventually had to tell each other to slow down a bit. We passed through the first aid station quickly.. only taking a few seconds to fill up our water bottles. We did the same at the Boston Store aid station.

Dan and I (front) heading up another staircase on the Buckeye Trail

Once we headed back on the trail towards the Pine Lane turnaround point, I could tell that Dan was still moving good and in better shape than I was so I told him that if he wanted to leave me then he could. Around that time he picked up the pace and besides seeing him as he headed past me on the way back, that was the last time I saw him until the finish. I could tell I was slowing up some but still moving at a decent pace so I just made it my goal to get to the aid station at Pine Lane and fuel up for the trek back to Brecksville. As we headed into the section of trail where there are pine trees on both sides of you and numerous roots on the ground, Roy Heger came up from behind me and we chatted for a bit. He is an amazing ultra runner and well known in the N.E. Ohio ultra running community. I met him for the first time at an afterparty following the Cleveland FA 50K in December of 2004 and was amazed to hear some of his stories. I continued on and eventually got to the turnaround point where one runner told me as he left the aid station... "They're giving away new legs up there!" That made me laugh... At the aid station I filled up my water bottle, took a handfull of trail mix, some gummy bears, and a couple handfulls of M&M's. Then I headed back onto the trail. Everything was fine until that last handfull of M&M's when I felt my stomach get more and more upset, eventually throwing up for a second on the trail. This could've been caused either by not eating enough early on in the race, the rising heat of the day, dehydration, etc. etc. I tried to start running again but still felt nauseous so I stopped and continued walking. After doing this a few times I realized that the day was suddenly going to become a lot longer than I expected. As runners passed me I started to mentally prepare myself that I may have to run/walk the last 13-14 miles. And that is what I did... I tried to run the flat sections and the downhills but the majority of the 2nd half of the race I walked. The good thing, however, was that it was a perfect day weatherwise - sun/clouds, mid 70s with a strong cool breeze - and the trail was bone dry. So I just tried to make the best of the situation and kept on moving forward.

Still giving a thumbs up while drinking water

When I reached the Boston Store aid station again on my way back I talked to Kim, who was helping to volunteer, and she asked me if I needed anything. I told her jokingly that I needed a ride back to the finish. After some aid and a few laughs, I continued on and headed up the steep hill next to the Boston Mills Ski Resort. At this point I felt like singing this song to myself - Click Here. Each mile seemed to drag on and on... and looking at my GPS watch every tenth of a mile wasn't helping the matter! Finally I got to the last aid station where the volunteers told me that I only had 6 miles until the finish. I looked down at my watch though and saw that I still needed 7 miles until the finish and questioned them, but then realized that the tree cover on the trails must have thrown off the accuracy of my GPS watch slightly. Even though I only had 1 less mile to run than I thought I did, this seemed to lift my spirits and I ended up running a lot more of the trail than I was previously. I was also happy to see that with only 6 miles to go, my watch said I had been running for 5 hours, which wasn't too bad.

The last 5 miles or so of the Buckeye Trail 50K always seems to take forever no matter how you are feeling and today was no exception. Finally, as I came out of the woods and onto the road that leads to the finsh area at Oak Grove I saw my friend Dan Kuzma waiting and he ran in the last stretch of road with me. I thought that was very kind of him, especially since he had finished over an hour before me in a personal best time of 5 hours and 19 minutes. On the final stretch to the finish I actually turned on a pretty good kick and sprinted in with a time of 6 hours and 34 minutes.

That was great! Let's do it again!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Ultimate Direction Waist Pack

After work tonight I stopped by Vertical Runner in Hudson, OH to pick up my Buckeye Trail 50K race packet. While I was there I decided to purchase a new waist pack (shown above) to wear during the race this Saturday. It is the "Solataire HHS" made by Ultimate Direction. I think one of my running buddies, Jim Harris, owns this same waist pack. Once I tried it on in the store and saw the design and how much the zippered pocket holds, it was a pretty easy decision to purchase it. The other thing I really like about it is the kicker valve that they have on the water bottle to replace your conventional nozzle.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Winking Lizard World Beer Tour

Each year the Winking Lizard Tavern, which has 13 restaurant locations in N.E. Ohio, offers its World Beer Tour to its customers - giving them one of the best and most varied beer selections in the nation. Last month, my friend Steve and I went to the Winking Lizard in Peninsula, OH for dinner and learned about this tour from our waiter and decided to give it a shot. Basically, to join the tour you must visit your nearest Winking Lizard location and give them $10 to sign up. Once you are registered you have until the end of the year to drink either 50 beers off of their list and receive a full color picnic blanket, or drink all 100 beers and receive a world tour jacket and admission to an all-you-can-eat party at the end of the year with everyone else who has completed the tour. Completing this tour should be a little more challenging for my friend and I though, considering that we didn't sign up until midway through this year! I was pretty impressed though when we signed up to see that they give you an electronic swipe card and a pocket wallet card to keep track of which beers you have drank at any of their 13 restaurant locations. They also give you a nice guidebook which lists and explains each beer and its history and origin.

This evening, after walking some trails with Tami in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, we decided to stop by the Winking Lizard in Peninsula for some wings and a couple drinks. Tonight I decided to go with Brooklyn Brewery's (Brooklyn, NY) "East India Pale Ale" and the Flying Dog Brewery's (Denver, CO) "Flying Dog in Heat Wheat". Both of them were pretty good but I definitely enjoyed the Flying Dog brew more since I hadn't had a wheat ale for quite some time.

For those running the Buckeye Trail 50K this Saturday, here is a photo I took of the stream crossing as you approach the turnaround point at Pine Lane. As you can see, there is not much water here due to our dry summer...
I'm looking forward to running the 50K on Saturday and being able to see so many familiar local runners again. This year the race has reached its maximum entry limit of 175 runners so it should be a great time! Saturday will also be the 1-year wedding anniversary for my wife and I. It's hard to believe that a whole year has already passed by, but I have enjoyed every minute of it with her.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


That's right... this is the powerdrink of all powerdrinks.
See if you can watch this whole video without laughing....

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

4th of July

Originally Tami and I had planned on buying tickets to watch the 4th of July fireworks from Blossom, but with the chance of rain in the forecast we decided to go to the West Bank of the Flats in Cleveland instead. When we first arrived downtown we had dinner at the Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery. I had a Hickory Burger along with a Dog Pound Brown ale and Tami had their Brewer's Club sandwich. Everything was great as usual and I definitely recommend trying this place out if you have not been here before.

After leaving the restaurant, we walked next door to the Cyrus Waterfront Restaurant & Patio to get our seats for the fireworks and enjoy the view of the city. NewsChannel 5 was broadcasting their 4th of July show from here and I ended up getting on TV a few times. It ended up being a very nice evening of weather and I was able to capture some of the following photos...

The fireworks were pretty good... However, we were a little disappointed at the length of the show, as we both thought they would've lasted longer.

Miles away from Ordinary.....

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Monday.. Tuesday.. Happy Days!!

This evening Dan Kuzma came over my place and we watched my new DVD "Dancing the Bear" before driving over to the Happy Days Visitor Center for a 7 mile trail run. This was the first time Dan had run through this area, so he was looking forward to it... especially since these trails are part of the Burning River 100 course which he plans on running this August.

This run started out by going underneath Rt. 303 through this tunnel... I thought this was a pretty neat picture.

We then made our way up to the ledges and continued on the trail up to the overlook where I was able to get this photo of us.... what a view....

We then continued to Kendall Lake... On the way there we saw this deer crossing the road and were surprised to find out how close we were actually able to get to it. It must of been pretty tame because I was able to stand only about 25 feet from it. Someday I promise I will jump on one of them and get a video of me riding a deer through the woods!

After running up around Kendall Hills we turned around and then headed back to our car with another nice sunset...