Sunday, January 6, 2008

Art Moore's FA 50K

This was the scene for much of the Buckeye Trail today. Muddy, snowy, and frozen ruts! It didn't make things easy for my brother Jeff and I who were setting out to complete 31 miles (50K) on the summer BT course.

Today was the date selected for the annual Art Moore FA 50K+ (a fun run that concludes with a great post-race meal at "Mohican Colleen's" place in North Olmstead. Most runners usually start in the Rocky River reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks and run either trails, multi-purpose path, or a mix of both. However, your starting time, distance, location, and course is very flexible and you are only required to keep track of your finishing time. Last year my brother and I ran with Bob (who was running a FA in Pennsylvania today) throughout various sections of the Cuyahoga Valley. This year Jeff and I decided to start at the Pine Lane parking lot next to Rt. 303 and head north towards Brecksville, which is basically the summer BT course in reverse. However, first things first. On our way we stopped at McDonald's and I ordered a sausage McMuffin with egg and a hashbrown and my brother got a sausage McMuffin and a sausage, egg & cheese McGriddle. This is always an easy way to start off the run with 500+ calories in your body!

We then arrived at the Pine Lane parking lot a little after 8:00 and finished getting our gear ready. Today would be my first chance to try out my new Camelbak M.U.L.E. pack which I bought recently. Even though I would be carrying a little extra weight on the run I figured it was a good idea to bring it since we didn't have any aid placed out on the course. The backpack holds a 100 oz. water bladder and I started the run with it mostly full. In my pack I also included some Clif Shot Bloks, Pure Fuel energy bars, a Snickers bar, and some Reese's Cups.

As we were just about to begin our run a couple runners (guy and girl) were heading towards us on the trail to turnaround at Pine Lane and head back to the Boston Store. We talked with them for a second and then they told us to go on ahead of them because we were "fresh". I told them "You guys are the ones fresh.. we're not warmed up yet!" But we agreed and went on ahead. Not by much though, as they soon began to catch up with us. So, from that point on they stayed just behind us and we had a nice conversation on our way to the Boston Store. Along the way we noticed that despite the sloppy/frozen trail conditions, there were a lot of runners on the Buckeye Trail today. Some that I recognized were Maria, Elizabeth, Janet, and a few others. Maybe everyone figured they better get on the trail today since it will be even muddier after the temperature warms up to 60 on Monday & Tuesday.

A picture that this guy took of Jeff and I running through the pines - the quality of some of these pictures are low since I had a disposable camera

Heading towards the Ohio Turnpike and the Boston Store

When we arrived at the Boston Store, I noticed a somewhat large group of runners gathering, including Roy Heger and Tanya Cady. We talked to them for a bit and then Jeff and I were back on the Buckeye Trail without any further stopping at the Boston Store. Later on down the trail though Jeff was very glad that I brought a stash of toilet paper with me (to wipe his nose of course!) Around the area of Blue Hen Falls and beyond the trail starts getting tougher with steeper climbs... and we could definitely tell as we began sliding up and down the hills more frequently. It started to feel like we had to make 2 steps for every 1 in order to make ground.

We maintained a decent pace though to Snowville Rd. and then stopped there to eat/drink some. Past Snowville Rd. we then ran through the section of open fields which I always dislike because it's like a swamp. Surprisingly there weren't really any major falls today but there was a section of single-track trail past the open fields where my brother stepped to the right a little too much and had his leg completly slide to the right, making him collapse to the ground. It was a graceful fall though and we both laughed for awhile.

We then navigated the section of the Buckeye Trail between Snowville Rd. and Parkview Dr. This area is not traveled a whole lot and therefore the snow was not packed down as much as it was before. Jeff and I were really starting to feel tired at this point and we began to think whether or not we should go all the way to Brecksville. At about 12 miles or so into our run we then decided to turn around and head back to Pine Lane. We figured if we felt good enough when we got back to the Boston Store then we could hop on the Towpath and do the extra 7 miles that we would need in order to complete the 50K distance before arriving back at our car. Unfortunately as we got closer and closer to the Boston Store we both had no desire on doing our additional 7 miles on the Towpath. The snow and ice had made our legs feel like someone had hit them with a hammer. The "ultra shuffle" was definitely in effect now. We would run for awhile until we felt exhausted and then slow down to a fast walk. We tried to run more frequently though the further along we went so that we could be done faster.

The closer we got to Pine Lane the more and more the rain was starting to pick up in intensity. It was starting to feel pretty cold out now, especially since we were somewhat dehydrated. Once we reached our car with 24 miles complete we now had a difficult question to answer. Do we call it a day or do we continue on? We mauled over this question for some time as we loaded up on food/water and then we were finally able to convince ourselves to push on. Our plan was to just run the road on Rt. 303 heading east for 3.5 miles and then turnaround and head back. Once we reached the intersection by Rt. 8 though we were only at 2.5 miles. So, we decided to head back to the car once again to fuel up and then complete the final 2 miles needed for our 50K distance. These miles sucked bad but we were able to run a few of them in under 10 minutes even with a decent amount of walking.

As we reached our car for the final time we were both very happy that we decided to complete the run rather than take the easy way out. This goes down as my 14th ultra and my brother's 2nd 50K in back-to-back months. Great job Jeff! To read his report - Click Here

I'm also very happy that I have been able to put together a good string of distance running lately with a 70 miler in Nov., 50K in Dec., and this 50K in January. Plus I only have about 3 weeks now until the official Winter Buckeye 50K, which takes place on Jan. 26th. Hopefully we will get another freeze before then or else the trail may be even worse than it was today.

After getting a shower at my place Jeff and I then headed over to Colleen's house for an evening of camaraderie, food, relaxation, and ultra talk. It's always fun to hear everyone's stories, especially Art Moore's and Leo Lightner's, who are both around 80 years old with lots of ultra experience. Here's a photo that was taken shortly after we arrived...

From left to right - Chuck Shick, Leo Lightner, Chris Shick, Rita Barnes & Dan Fox are behind Jeff Musick, Art Moore behind Brian Musick, Judy Nejman behind Colleen Theusch, Debbie Lemmer, and Eleanor Royko

*NOTE - A few people were not shown in this picture or had left before the picture was taken

Some background info given to me by Colleen of the people listed above:

Chuck & Chris Shick have been Mohican volunteers for a over a decade - the last few years they have captained the Bridle Staging Area aid station. Rita Barnes has the most Mohican 100 finishes for a female (6). Rita & Dan both did 50 miles at the FA. Judy Nejman is an EMT who has volunteered at Mohican several years. Debbie Lemmer ran part of the FA50, also volunteers at Mohican - usually in food service at some time. Eleanor Royko - finished the FA50K last year. She volunteers at Mohican often - as Fire Tower aid station captain the last few years.


Jamie said...

Great job! Way to keep pushing on through those conditions. I suppose my turn at an ultra won't be too far away...:)

Mike said...

Heck no Jamie. What have you been doing? Get out there!

Nice Job to go over to Jeff's blog to read the truth...probably about you whining and wanting to quit and Jeff pushing you along....

just kidding.

Brian said...

If you're not whining you're not running hard enough!

Jamie said...

Mike, have fun w/the Buckeye 50K. I've been getting slack for not giving into a blog, but perhaps an ultra would officially kick it off? Right now looking forward to running Boston w/Jeff..I'd like to get out on the trails w/the crew for some more runs soon though (which could mean my first ultra!).

Kim said...

Jamie, you need a blog we would really know what these brothers are up to!!

I already read Jeff's account, Pebble, so I know what really happened out there on the trails..