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!


Kim said...

Whadya mean you didn't know if you could finish a 50K? No snow, no ice? YOu spent too much time on vacation!
Great first pic shot of you!

Brian said...

I knew I could do it. My mind was trying to convince me otherwise though with the warmer temps and constant sunshine.