Sunday, April 27, 2008

Hectic weekend

While at work Friday I got a call in the afternoon from my mom who said that her mother had fell at home and had to go to emergency because she was unable to walk. At the time they weren't sure if she had done anything serious but she was taken in to get x-rays. So once I left work I stopped over at the hospital and was going to wait until the results were complete. We were waiting forever though, as you usually do in a hospital, so I headed back home.

The next morning my dad called to say that my grandma had cracked the ball in her right hip and had to undergo surgery Sunday morning to replace it and also to insert a metal rod to connect the ball with her leg bone. This was not good news, especially since she's 92 years old and had just finished recovering from a massive heart attack last year which required her to get a stint and a pacemaker put in. In the past she's also been able to get past colon cancer, 2 broken shoulders, and a broken collarbone.

I had originally planned to run 31 miles on the Buckeye Trail Sunday with my friend Mike and Kurt, but plans had now changed since my grandma's surgery was going to be at 7:30 Sunday morning. So, I decided I better at least go for a run today. I ran 5 miles around my neighborhood at a decent pace before driving to Warren in the evening to see my running buddy Bob, who was in town from San Diego for his son's first communion party. It was good to see him again since it had been about 3 months since he moved out there for work. I also had a good time hanging out with my other running friend Jim, his family, and some other people that I knew at the party.

This morning I woke up early and went over to the hospital with my family and grandfather. After waiting for a couple hours the doctor came in and said that everything went well and that my grandma would be back up and walking the next day hopefully. That was great news. She is really incredible for her age and continues to amaze all of us. After getting back home I watched the Cavs beat up on the Wizards to go ahead 3 games to 1 in the first round of the playoffs. Then Tami and I went for a good 2-hour walk in the Cuyahoga Valley since it was such a nice day (sunny and mid 60s). We parked at Happy Days and walked from there to the bathrooms at the top of Kendall Hills (Pine Hollow) and back. I'm pretty tired tonight but I'm looking forward to getting in some more runs now that the events of the weekend have calmed down. This week will start off cold with a chance of a snowflake on Monday (can you believe it's almost May?) but then warming up as the week goes on.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Return of the Cuyahoga

Premieres on WVIZ/PBS Tuesday, April 22 at 9:00 PM
Repeat broadcasts: Thursday, April 24 at 8:00 PM; Saturday, April 26 at 9:00 PM; Sunday, April 27 at 7:00 PM

THE RETURN OF THE CUYAHOGA is a fascinating look at the life, death and rebirth of one of America’s most polluted rivers. Perhaps best known as “the river that burned,” the Cuyahoga is, in fact, an emblematic waterway. Its history is the history of the American frontier, the rise of industry, and the scourge of pollution. In 1969, when the river caught on fire, the blaze ignited a political movement that not only saved the Cuyahoga and its communities, but continues today with the current environmental movement.

The Cuyahoga caught fire as far back as 1883. In 1914, a river fire threatened downtown Cleveland, until a providential shift in the wind turned it away. In 1918, a river fire spread to a shipyard and killed seven men. The Cuyahoga burned again in 1936, 1948, 1949 and 1952. Then on June 22, 1969, the polluted Cuyahoga, slick with oil and full of debris, caught on fire. The river didn’t just burn in Cleveland — it burned in the nation’s imagination. Along with the rise of other social movements in the late sixties, the country was also beginning to take note of our damaged environment. The fire started a chain of legislation and events that continue today, including the creation of the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, Earth Day, and the Environmental Protection Agencies at the federal and state levels. The Cuyahoga is America’s best example yet of a watery success story. The dead river came clean — and back to life again.

“This is a truly national story,” says filmmaker Larry Hott. “Rivers in industrial cities across the country were catching fire due to the build up of oil, waste and debris. The Rouge River in Michigan, the Schuylkill in Philadelphia, and the Chicago River all burned as often and as drastically as the Cuyahoga.”

A DVD of The Return of the Cuyahoga can be purchased by calling 800-937-5387 ($24.95+ shipping and handling).

Here is a preview of the Return of the Cuyahoga:

For more information visit the PBS website or the film website.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day!

By the time I got out of work today the mostly sunny skies had become almost entirely cloudy. I still wanted to get in a run though with temperatures in the lower 70s so I headed over to the Happy Days Visitor Center and planned to do my usual run over to Kendall Lake and back. On my way to the parking lot I was pleasantly surprised to see the clouds beginning to disappear. After getting ready and putting on my Nalgene hydration pack I was on the trail.

When I reached the ledges I turned left and ran until the next road. Then I turned right and went past the parking lot and onto the trail that circles around the big field. Instead of staying on the trail with the small stones though I veered right and ran on the dirt trail that goes alongside the perimeter of the cliff and up to the Overlook. I love this section because there are a lot of large boulders to jump over and a huge dropoff to your right side.

I continued downhill and followed the trail over to the 1.5 mile Pine Grove loop. After one loop around I then ran over to Kendall Lake, ran around it once, and then headed back in the direction of my car. Today was one of those days where it seemed like it took me forever to get my legs loose. Usually I feel pretty good after a mile or 2 but today my legs were achy (probably from sitting all day at work) and my body kept trying to tell me to stop. On my way back to the Overlook though I was rewarded with a beautiful sunset and stopped for awhile to admire it. I thought to myself... this must be God's way of thanking everyone for spending time in the Cuyahoga Valley on Earth Day. Here's a 5 minute time lapse of what it looked like...

After this I felt much better about the run and enjoyed leaping over all the rocks while running the steady downhill back to Happy Days. I finished up around 8pm, just before sunset, with a total of 7 miles.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Exploring the Blue Blaze

After talking with my friend Stacy last night we decided to meet at the West Boat Dock of West Branch State Park at 10 o'clock this morning to run some trails. Usually we run on the mountain bike trails that are located south of the red dot (where we parked) on the map above, but today we decided to explore the section of Buckeye Trail that passes through the state park. The weather was perfect for running today. Cloudy and in the mid to upper 50s. Not too warm, not too cool.

I've seen the entrance to the Buckeye Trail on my drive into the park many times and have always wanted to check out this area but just never ventured over that way. You can see the route that we took today on the map above. I highlighted it with small red dots.

On our way to the entrance of the Buckeye Trail we saw a small snake on the road and Stacy picked it up to display for the camera. Look at the excitment on his face...

From this point on we knew it would be an exciting day! After a short run along Rock Springs Rd. we reached the trailhead to the Buckeye Trail on the left side of the road. Here's what it looks like at the beginning, complete with a map holder...
The trail was pretty wet towards the beginning but it soon turned more dry and allowed us to run most of the way with the exception of a few swampy areas. This section of the BT was nicer than I had expected but not quite as good as the Cuyahoga Valley. There were some scenic valleys and views along the way though and quite a few water crossings. On our way back to the car we counted a total of 10. Here's Stacy leaping over one of the crossings...

Continuing west we encountered some more signs of wildlife after crossing W. Cable Line Road. A leftover carcass and some feathers from something that was either blown to bits or mauled by another animal...

Maybe Bigfoot passed through here? Stacy and I joked about seeing Sasquatch since I told him about a posting that this guy made on this website. Click here to read it. It does say that the closest road to him was Cable Line Rd. which we were near, so who knows?

Eventually we reached Industry Rd. and weren't sure whether or not the Buckeye Trail continued on the road or on the trail. The BT does traverse the entire state of Ohio but not all of it is actually on trail. Since we were both curious we ran along Industry Rd. for about a half mile or so, but still no sign of getting back onto the trail. There were houses around here and the blue blazes were marked on telephone poles which I hadn't seen before. So we turned around and headed back the way we came. Here's a view of Michael Kirwan Lake at the far west end...
Once we got back to our cars my watch said we did exactly 10 miles (probably 9 miles of trail and 1 mile of road). Then this park ranger came by and we asked her if we could've got back onto an actual trail down where we were at the west end of the park. She showed us a map and told us we could've turned right, headed over a bridge, and circled back around on the north side of the lake. At the time we didn't see any blue blazes indicating this, but I will definitely have to try to run the entire loop next time I go back to West Branch. Overall it was a great day of running. I love being able to run new trails and not know what's coming up next. I knew West Branch had a good system of mountain bike trails already but it's nice to know that I can now incorporate the Buckeye Trail into my long runs.
On a side note:
My brother Jeff and sister Jamie will be running in the Boston Marathon tomorrow for their first time. If you want to track their progress, Jeff's bib # is 5017 and Jamie's is 13447.
Also, here's a few other local runners that I know that will be running:
Brett Himes (7036)
David Peterman (6222)
Lloyd Thomas (3375)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Please Make a Donation

This year my wife Tami has decided to participate in the Susan G. Komen Walk for Breast Cancer, in memory of her high school choir teacher and friend, Kim Dearborn-Brickman, who passed away in October 2004. This event is a 60-mile walk that will take place from August 22nd through August 24th in Cleveland.

She has agreed to raise at least $2,200 in donations and hopes to exceed this amount. This will be a new physical and financial challenge for her. So, I'm asking you to please support her fundraising efforts by visiting her personal page and making a donation. Any amount that you can pledge would be greatly appreciated and will help to fund important breast cancer research, education, screening, and treatment.

Happy Days Trail Run

Well, I didn't want to wake up early today. And I wanted to watch the first playoff game for the Cavs at noon (which they won 93-86 today against the Washington Wizards). So by the time I headed out the door for a run it was already after 4:00. The weather was great this past week (sunny, upper 70's & low 80's) but the clouds were now starting to roll in. On my way to the Happy Days parking lot I noticed a few raindrops starting to fall. I figured I'd get wet on my run but the temperature was in the upper 70's so it didn't bother me. I decided to run my usual loop from Happy Days to Kendall Lake, then run the 2 mile loop I measured off for the upcoming "No Frills, Just Hills" FA on June 1st. Then head back to Happy Days by taking the lower ledges trail. The rain stayed pretty light the entire run and actually felt very nice. It's been awhile since I've actually enjoyed running in the rain. I could tell by my breathing that my body is not yet acclimated to these warm temps but that will come along with time. As I got back to my car, my total mileage for this run was 6.5 miles.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

2008 Banff Mountain Film Festival

Tonight my dad, brother, and I went to see the 2008 Banff Mountain Film Festival at Playhouse Square in Cleveland. This is a collection of some of the world’s most inspiring and thought-provoking active, environmental, and adventure mountain films. Each year the festival receives more than 300 amateur films. The best films are then chosen at the film festival which takes place in Alberta, Canada each November and then these films go on tour around the country. We are lucky enough to have a showing in Cleveland, which has grown tremendously since it's first showing 11 years ago. Click Here for this year's intro movie.

When we first arrived downtown we ate next to Playhouse Square at Otto Moser's. The food & drink reception then started at 6pm with film presentations following at 7:30pm. At the reception Chipotle offered some pasta salad and Mustard Seed Market & Cafe served up some pierogies, mushrooms, and tofu. My brother and I also enjoyed the "High Altitude Party" upstairs that included all you can drink beer from the Willoughby Brewing Co. and my favorite cupcukes from Main St. Cupcakes, located in Hudson.

I've gone to this event the last 2 years and had a blast each time. I really liked the movies they selected this year, especially "Searching for the Coast Wolves". Here's a list of the films that were shown, along with a description and a movie, if it was available on YouTube:

1) Entropy - Norway, 2006, 11 minutes
Entropy documents the most progressive season in snowkiting so far. Join a couple of the world's best riders as they search for the ultimate snow and wind conditions.

2) Inner Balance - Canada, 2007, 5 minutes
Riders from Canada, USA, New Zealand, and Australia take unicycling to the next level with amazing drops and trials riding in a massive indoor bike park

3) Searching For The Coast Wolves - Germany, 2006, 52 minutes
Gudrun Pflueger is an ex-world champion cross-country skier and long-distance runner. She goes in search of the mysterious coast wolves of British Columbia.

4) King Lines: Es Pontas - USA, 2007, 13 minutes
A segment from King Lines, filmed on location in Mallorca, Spain. Deep water soloing at its best.

5) Cross-Country With The Snakes - USA, 2007, 7 minutes
A short film about a nordic-skiing punk band. It documents a tour with the Black-eyed Snakes as they ski all day and play rock at night.

6) The Western Lands - Hoy - UK, 2007, 9 minutes
Writer Jim Perrin's attempted climb of the Old Man of Hoy on his 60th birthday. A poetic documentary of love, loss and landscape under the dying of the light.

7) It's Fantastic - USA, 2007, 19 minutes
From the ski slopes of Europe to the volcanic island of El Hierro, some of the world's best speedflyers risk their lives to find the limits of their abilities.

8) Trial & Error - Canada, 2006, 8 minutes
Mountain biker Ryan Leech sets out to ride an incredibly difficult trail in the coastal mountains of British Columbia, in a valley slated for clearcut logging.

9) Ain't Got No Friends On A Powder Day
Switzerland, 2007, 5 minutes
Loris is a "classic" freerider. Jean-Yves, however, has a more or less "accidental style.

Boston Store Run

Earlier this week my friend Dan Kuzma emailed me and mentioned that he'dd like to head over to the Cuyahoga Valley this weekend for a run. So, we planned a 10:00am start from the Boston Store to allow some time for sleeping in. The temperature was in the upper 40s, making it warm enough to wear shorts and a thin long sleeve shirt over top of another shirt. We decided to start our run on the Buckeye Trail heading towards Pine Lane. Along the way we noticed a decent amount of daffodils and even saw some growing right in the middle of the trail once you cross the paved path that heads downhill to Peninsula. Spring is on the way! That is once we get past freezing temps for the next couple nights...

Getting closer to Pine Lane we noticed that the water crossing was a little higher than usual. Thankfully a hiker or someone must have put down a 2x4 recently in an attempt to keep their feet dry. I can't imagine this lasting very long though if the water continues to rise. Here's Dan walking the plank...

Once we arrived at Pine Lane we decided to take the Towpath back to the Boston Store. The trails weren't terrible but there were enough muddy sections to influence our route. We both felt pretty good though and the miles were going by fast. I was glad that I didn't feel much fatigue from last weekend's FA 50K. Once we passed through the tunnel on the Towpath this middle aged runner (also named Brian) caught up to us and we talked to him about running, races, etc. He was a friendly guy to chat with and I could tell that our pace had picked up considerably without much effort as a result.

As we arrived back at the Boston Store, Brian told us that he was continuing on the Towpath so Dan and I decided to run with him until we got to where the Towpath splits off to the Stanford House. At this point we turned right and ran the Brandywine trail. Further down the trail we saw a sign that said a bridge was closed for emergency repair. Of course we ignored this since we're trail runners and don't necessarily need bridges in order to get to where we're going. We were surprised to see that there were actually 2 bridges that had been damaged from recent high water. The stream was not high today but you could see where the soil was washed out underneath the concrete pilons.

Once we got near the turnaround point of the Brandywine Falls trail we turned left and took the road back to where it meets up with the Towpath. After getting back on the Towpath we looked over to the field on our right and saw over 15 deer! We couldn't believe how many of them were standing together.

I tried to walk close to them but they seemed a lot less tame than most deer. You can see all their white tails heading into the woods in this short video...

With about a mile to go the rain that was predicted for today finally started coming down. Dan and I picked up the pace but there was no avoiding getting soaked before reaching the Boston Store. As we arrived back at our cars I looked down at my watch and saw we had done 11 miles total. We warmed up for awhile in the heated bathrooms at the Boston Store and then talked to this guy outside that was riding his recumbent bicycle. On the back of his bike he had what looked like a small trunk to carry stuff and his bike helmet had a face shield, much like a motorcycle helmet, except the shield pulled down over his face. He told us that his bike weighs about 40 pounds and on downhills he reaches speeds up to 50 mph! Pretty neat...

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

No Frills, Just Hills FA Information

Here's the info for a run I'm planning in June.....

2 Mile Loop - 6 Hour Time Limit
Sunday, June 1st - 8:30 AM (parking lot gate opens at 8:00 AM)
Kendall Lake Parking Lot - Cuyahoga Valley National Park
For additional information visit -
Any questions? Visit the discussion page

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Fool's FA 50K

Last year on April 1st, runners hooked up with the Vertical Runner Sunday morning group for a trail run. The tradition continued again today with Lloyd Thomas organizing the 2nd Annual Fool's FA 50K & 25K run which starts and finishes at the Happy Days Visitor Center parking lot. This run is entirely on trails and spans the entire elevation change that the Cuyahoga Valley National Park has to offer. The first loop is 12.5 miles and the 2nd loop is 3.25 miles, which totals 15.75 miles (25K). For those that want to complete the 50K distance all you have to do is double both loops to arrive at 31.5 miles.

I was really looking forward to today's run and woke up bright and early to arrive at the start at 6:30. As I pulled into the parking lot I noticed the van of my friend Bruce McMurray who lives in Youngstown and parked next to him. We talked for awhile and before long everyone was getting out of their vehicles to get ready. Lloyd gave a pre-run briefing and then we were off.

When we first started the temperature was very cool in the low 40s, but quickly warmed up as the day went on. It actually ended up being a perfect day to run b/c the sun was nice and warm with the high reaching 66 degrees, but yet the air was still very cool and refreshing. I was surprised though to see frost on the hillsides when we reached the Kendall Hills area...

For the first loop I mainly ran with my friend Derek (in the middle below), Jerry Williamson (Jerry, his friend, and I sang songs together during the Winter Buckeye 50K to pass time), and Marta Pacur (wearing a green hat below). Here's a picture of us heading to Kendall Lake and trying not to trip on the Salt Run trail...

The first loop felt pretty good but I could tell that we were moving a little bit faster than I think we wanted to. Even Jerry, who had the most miles (40) for the day of anyone, said afterwards that he went out a little too hard. Well, he definitely pulled us along and by the time we got back to Happy Days with 12.5 miles complete I was really starting to wonder if I would be able to finish the entire 50K distance. Derek and Marta were both calling it a day so I knew that I'd be on my own for awhile now. I ate some food at the car and then took off to do the next 3.25 miles.

As I started on the Boston Run Trail I saw my buddy Jim Harris coming at me and he looked very strong. He ended up finishing first with Vince Rucci with a time of 4:55, which was one of his best 50K times to date. On this short loop I spent most of my time thinking about whether I would continue on for the 2nd 15 miles. As I got back to Happy Days there were a decent amont of runners in the parking lot and everyone I knew kept asking me "are you doing more?" Then my friend Kurt "O-Pod" Osadchuk also arrived at his car and said "Are you going to continue on? I'm planning on going pretty slow" Hmm... I thought. Then he told me that he was also bringing a bag of pretzels along with him so I figured what the hell. It's a gorgeous day, it's 10-10:30 in the morning, and I don't have anything else planned. I might as well push on. Brandon Russell, who works at Progressive with Mike George (another ultra runer) and my wife, also joined us, along with Courtney Baker, who I met at this year's Winter BT50K. We did a lot of run/walking and soon the walking began to take precedence. Every little incline seemed to become a hill but we were having fun and enjoying the day. Eventually Brandon and Courtney took off ahead of Kurt and I but then we all met up again at the Pine Hollow restrooms. At this point Brandon left us and headed back to his car to complete the 25K distance. Kurt, Courtney, and I continued to walk the uphills and run the rest and stayed together pretty much the whole way until the end. I'm very glad that I had both of these guys to talk to or else the run would've seemed a lot longer. I was surprised how good our time was though despite all the walking that we mixed in today.

When we got back to Happy Days with 3.25 miles to go I knew that a 7 hour or less finish was possible. Once we began the last loop, Kurt, Courtney, and I would go back and forth trading the lead on the Boston Run Trail. We all just wanted to be done and running actually felt easier than walking at this point. Kurt and Courtney eventually finished a few minutes ahead of me and I came in at 7 hours on the dot. Coming up the last big hill I saw Lloyd standing at the top with his camera and made sure to gave him a big relieved smile.

I knew I must have been somewhat dehydrated because my face was coated with salt. We're definitely not used to running in this kind of weather yet, especially with the sun beating down on you the entire time. Hopefully this is the beginning of more great spring weather though! Afterwards we all headed over to the Winking Lizard and I ordered a large pepperoni pizza which I nearly completed by myself, along with a couple dark ales to help aid the recovery process. Overall I was very happy with the day in general and the fact that I decided to keep going when I could've easily bagged it at my car. Thanks again for coordinating the run Lloyd! Great trails shared with great friends make for a great day!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Kendall Hill Repeats

My brother and I headed over to Kendall Lake this afternoon to plot out a 2 mile loop for an upcoming FA run I have planned called "No Frills, Just Hills". The basic idea will be to run as many loops as you can in a 6 hour period. Runners will be able to re-fuel at the Kendall Lake parking lot (start/finish area) and also at the Pine Hollow restrooms. Stay tuned for details.

Jeff and I were surprised that on our very first try today we measured out an exact 2.0 mile loop, so we decided to continue running the same course and finished up with a total of 3 loops equaling 6 miles. The weather was great today.. sunny and low 60s. Let's keep our fingers crossed that spring has finally reached N.E. Ohio!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Filter @ Cleveland HOB on May 24th

Tonight I bought tickets for Tami and I to see Filter in concert at the House of Blues in Cleveland on Saturday, May 24th. Their hit songs include "Take A Picture", "Hey Man Nice Shot", and "Soldiers of Misfortune" which can be heard off their new album "Anthems for the Damned" set to debut on May 13th. This should be a great show!