Next to the waterfall overlooking Lake Newport
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
My wife Tami also decided to join my brother, sister, and I this morning for her first official 5 mile race. We arrived at the Kent State Trumbull Campus sometime around 8:45. The weather was almost perfect. Sunny with temps in the low 30's. My brother and sister were already signed up for the race but Tami and I had to register day-of-race. However, when we got to the table to signup this guy told us that they were out of shirts, so we both decided to run as bandits today.
The 2 mile race began at 9am with the 5 mile race set to start at 9:45. As we waited to run I enjoyed chatting with all the usual people I know that show up for this race each year. This is one of my favorite things I enjoy about this race. It's almost like a family reunion since I grew up watching my dad run in this race with all the people he knew. Now today, those friends along with the ones I've met along the way are all together. So it's a lot like one big party. A couple of my NEO Trail Club friends were also in attendance, including Bill Losey, Bob Combs and his son Shames. This was going to be Shames' first 5 mile race. The other neat thing about this run is you get to see people from all walks of life. There are kids as young as 3 years old doing the 2 mile run, 70-80 year old men participating in the 5 mile, and high school speedsters dueling it out in both events. There was even one guy that carried a wooden log on his shoulder for the entire 5 mile run. Not sure of his motive but it was definitely interesting.
Around 9:40 everyone began to head over to the start line. I walked over there with Bill and we waited as Ted Rupe gave the final race instructions. Ted has organized this race for as long as I can remember and he does a great job each year. For those of you who don't know Ted, he has coached the Maplewood cross country team and helped lead them to the state championship each year since 1990. Back in his earlier running days, Ted was world ranked in the 10K and won the Cleveland Marathon in 1986. His son Craig won the 5 mile race today with a time of 26:08. To learn more you can his website by clicking here.
Once the gun went off Bill and I got locked into our pace and we hit the first mile in 7:30. We joked along the way since this lady was running with her dog ahead of us for awhile. Thankfully though we soon passed them. Somewhere near the 2nd mile marker Bill went ahead of me and I tried to just maintain the pace that I was going at. I can't remember the last time I did any speedwork leading up to today's run and I could definitely tell by the way I was breathing, so I planned to just treat this as a fast training run. I ended up sticking around a 7:30 pace throughout the entire run though and finished with a time of 37:30 which wasn't too bad considering I just finished running 31 miles on the Laurel Highlands Trail five days ago. Here's a picture of me coming down the final straightaway...
After I finished I went over to talked to my brother and sister to see how they did. Jeff finished 35th overall with a time of 32:13 and Jamie finished 41st overall (5th female overall) with a time of 33:13. Then I waited and watched as Tami crossed the finish line in 48 minutes. I'm very proud of her for completing her first official 5 miler. Here's a picture that my dad took of her near the finish line. This photo made me laugh because she's looking back to smile at the camera while this girl next to her is in an all out sprint.
Following the awards ceremony where Jamie received a plaque, we headed back to my parents house where my mom was making final preparations for our Thanksgiving day feast which included turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn, salad, rolls, hot apples, and pumpkin pie. Everything was delicious! I'm so thankful to have such a great family, be able to run and compete in races, and have warm food waiting for me afterwards. Thanksgiving is a holiday that reminds all of us of how much we take for granted everyday. Therefore, we must always remember how lucky we all are and help those around us that are not as fortunate.
This was our first Thanksgiving dinner without my mom's father who always provided the pre-meal prayer. Although he left this world in July he will always be with us and remembered. Here is a scripture and a lenten devotional that he wrote that I thought was appropriate for today..."This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you." -John 15:12
We take so much for granted and have accepted, without question, the love of our God throughout our years. When we're infants we take our parents love for granted. As we grow up we take for granted such things as: a nice family, a nice home, food to eat, a warm place to sleep, our friends, a good education, a job so we may earn a living, an automobile, a church in which to worship, and a God who loves us no matter what we do or say. The list could go on and on.
We take for granted all of these blessings, and more, that God has provided for us. It rarely occurs to us that, by God's grace, all of our needs are God's gifts to us as an act of love. So, isn't it time we start to appreciate a God that gave "His only Begotten Son so that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life?"
Prayer: Thank you, O God, for Thy many blessings. May we continue our journey through life with Thy every constant presence, and may we learn to appreciate all of Thy goodness and mercy that we have, up to this time, taken for granted. Amen.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Friday night I arrived at the Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott in New Stanton, PA around 7pm and waited for Bob and Jim, who were finishing their dinner after already enjoying 7 hours of trail time. While I was waiting for them I checked my email on the computer in the lobby and received a message from Eric (new NEO Trail Club member from Pittsburgh) saying that he was going to join us in the morning. The hotel we stayed at was really nice and was just renovated this year. It's about a 40-45 minute drive to Ohiopyle where Saturday's run started from. Besides free internet, they had a breakfast bar, pool, jacuzzi (my favorite), and a nice fitness room. Our room also had a flat screen TV, microwave, and refrigerator. But what really put the icing on the cake was Jim's ability to get us the room at a rate where we only had to pay $12 each for both nights!
Before heading to bed I went to Subway across the street and ordered a foot long pizza sub, knowing that I'd need the extra calories on Saturday. This was the first Subway I've been to where they had a drive thru. Then I layed out my gear for the run to make sure I had everything and after enjoying a few Sierra Nevada beers it was lights out around 10:30.
In the morning we woke up shortly after 5am, got ready, and then stopped at McDonald's before driving to the start of the run. I ordered a McSkillet burrito, sausage McMuffin, and two hash browns. This is one of the reasons why I love ultra running! After arriving at the Ohiopyle Visitor's Center around 6:45, I walked over to the Falls Inn and used their outdoor restroom. It was freezing this morning (around 18 degrees) and the high was only supposed to get up near 30... brrrr! Runners began pulling in and after a group photo we were off and running a little bit after 7:00.
From left to right: Dan, Jim, Me, Kim, Bob, Les, Roy & Eric
The plan for this year's Slim Pickins run was to start in Ohiopyle and run out 26 miles to Seven Springs and back for a total of 52 miles. Since this is an FA run though everyone can choose to do whatever distance they'd like. My original intent was to run the whole thing but I decided to look at my watch around 7 hours into the run, see where I was at, and then make a judgement call from there.During the first 5 miles you basically climb up and over a couple mountains, gaining a lot of elevation quick. Click here to view an elevation profile of the trail. This makes your body work hard early on but the good thing is it makes you generate a lot of much needed body heat and at the top of each peak you are rewarded with breathtaking views of the Youghiogheny River and Ohiopyle valley. Here are some photos I took on the way up. The sunrise over the mountains was beautiful to watch and made the uphills seem a lot easier...
The snow made running the downhills really fun but you couldn't get too relaxed because of the rocks and roots that were covered up. A few times I turned my ankle but nothing serious. Just enough to make me wake up and pay attention. I mainly ran alone for the first half of the run but was able to share some trail time with Eric and Roy.
In between miles 5 and 6 your legs get a short break from the uphills, but it doesn't last for long, because at mile 6 you start heading up the monster 3 mile hill which takes you to mile 9. This is always hard to get to the top of, but the 3-4 inches of snow on the trail made it even tougher. The only reprieve is being able to take in the views on your way up...
On top of the ridges and in open areas the wind was roaring through the trees and at times I think it probably gusted to 25+ mph. Throughout the day I felt like I dressed warm enough for the conditions, but as Bob suggested I should probably purchase a shell jacket soon to wear as a protective layer when the weather gets really cold and windy. Even with the right gear though it didn't take long to get cold today if you stopped for any period of time. I tried to keep my breaks to 5 minutes or so, unless I was protected by a hillside or rock wall. One thing I was glad I decided to do was wear my gaiters for the first time today. They worked well and prevented any snow from getting inside my shoes and collecting on my socks, but I was a little annoyed by the snow/ice buildup on the string that goes underneath the shoe.
I kept trudging along and soon I was approaching 15.5 miles. After looking at my watch and doing some math in my head I figured it was best to turn around and complete a 50K (31 miles) rather than continue on to Seven Springs. I knew that if I kept going to mile 20 then I would be tempted to continue to mile 26, and that would force me to be out on the trail in the dark for longer than I wanted to be. Around this time I started hoping I'd see either Jim or Dan heading towards me so that I could run back with someone. Much to my surprise I saw someone heading towards me... and that person was Dan! It was funny because he had the same game plan in his head too. We had fun chatting on our way back and it made the miles go by a little quicker. A few miles after turning around we ran into Bob, followed by Kim and Les. Here's a picture of Les as well as a couple photos that Kim took of Dan and I with mile marker 14 in the background. Notice that I'm actually smiling in the 2nd picture...
This is definitely one of my favorite trails to run on. Not only do they have markers at each mile, but they have numerous foot bridges built to take you overtop of streams. Here is a bridge that goes through one of my favorite pine tree sections. Notice in the 2nd picture how much deeper the snow was on the foot bridges compared to the trail...
Dan and I made pretty good time on our return trip and pushed the uphills and downhills on the last 9 miles to finish in 9 hours, 45 minutes. The best part was we finished just before sunset so we didn't need to use our lights. After we were done we went back to our cars to get some warm clothes, but not before waiting another 10 minutes in the cold as a train passed through Ohiopyle...
Dan then decided to drive back home immediately after the run. I went over to the Falls City Pub, which is conveniently located right next to the start of the Laurel Highlands trail, to enjoy some much needed food, refreshments and warmth, while waiting on the runners still out on the trail. I ordered the grilled chicken wrap, which had onions, peppers, and mushrooms in it, and had some Arrogant Bastard and Great Lakes beer. While I was eating I was able to enjoy watching my alma mater Penn State crush Michigan St. to win the Big Ten and advance to the Rose Bowl. Man, I felt like I had died and gone to heaven. An hour and a half later Bob came into the bar, followed by Kim, who came walking into the bar with her headlamp still on. That was pretty funny. Then Jim and Roy came in (Jim ran 50 miles and Roy did 40) and we all enjoyed each others company before leaving to pick up the aid that was stashed out on the trail. Once we got back to our hotel, Bob, Jim and I used the jacuzzi to loosen up our muscles, had a few beers, and headed to bed.
As always it was another great event and we were already talking about plans for next year's run. Man, someone needs to win the Mega Millions soon so that we can do this everyday!
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
We already have 3-4 inches on the ground here in Streetsboro with 2-4 more predicted for tomorrow. As much as I hate to see the start of winter, the snow does make for interesting trail runs and gives you a good tough workout.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
When we reached Garrettsville Jeff and I stopped and tried out the new Powerbar Gel Blasts that I bought from Vertical Runner. This is Powerbar's answer to Clif Shot Bloks and include a new liquid center inside of their energy chews. Right now they only come in Cola and Lemon flavors though. I've used Shot Bloks for quite awhile but may have found a new favorite ultra food for myself since I like the taste & texture of Powerbar's Gel Blasts a little bit more. However, I think the Gel Blasts are a little more like candy and don't give you all the nutrition that you get with Shot Bloks.
It's not very often that you get to see a mile marker with zero on it
On the way back to our car we naturally picked up the pace and finished with a total of 6 miles. Overall we weren't too impressed with this path (I guess the Cuyahoga Valley National Park kind of spoils you) but there are some other areas of the Portage Park District that I would like to explore to see if they contain any dirt trails of substantial distance.The highlight of our day though came after the run when we were looking for a place to eat. As we were driving through downtown Garrettsville we were excited to see a sign on the right side of the road that read "Main Street Grille and Brewing Co." I guess I didn't realize that Garrettsville had a place that brewed their own beer so we stopped to grab a bite to eat.
Next to the bridge where we parked you can look over and see a river flowing behind their restaurant, along with an old mill wheel that was probably once used to grind flour, etc. Their restaurant also has a multi-level deck overlooking the water that is probably nice in the summer.
The atmosphere inside the restaurant was nice and clean. I felt like I was in an old mill or log cabin that's been updated with flat screen TV's and a nicely done bar. My brother and I talked to the owners upstairs for a bit while they were watching the Steelers game and they said that they're having a beer fest on January 31st that will include Thirsty Dog Brewing Co. and some others. I think they said tickets will be presold at $20/each. I might consider going to this if anyone else is interested. More info will probably be posted online when their website is completed in a couple weeks. Here are a couple pictures I took on their upstairs balcony...
They had 25 cent wings today so we both ordered some and I tried their "Toxic Toast" (barley wine) and their "Nightmare on Main Street" (pumpkin cream ale). Both were good, but the Toxic Toast was my favorite.
Here's what they currently have on tap...
River Rat Amber Ale - ABV 5.5%
Brewed with roasted and crystal malts and a combination of German and American hops to produce a beautifully balanced flavor with a moderate hop finish.
Garrett's Mill Light - ABV 3.6%
Back by popular demand. Our light ale offers a light body, mild bitterness, and a smooth finish.
'35 Extra Stout - ABV 5.5%
Same beer, new name: The term stout refers to stout porter and was first used in the 18th century due to its popularity with train porters in London. Named after the 1935 Garrettsville train robbery, our extra stout is brewed with 7 different grains for a decadently delicious medley of malty goodness.
Edelweizen - ABV 4.9%
Who doesn't love "Edelweiss"? A sweet take on a German style Hefeweizen: A combination of German & American hops & 10 lbs. of honey blended beautifully with the hint of citrus flavor produced by the yeast resulting in a sweet, refreshing wheat beer.
"Toxic Toast" (Barley Wine) - ABV 9%
Relax! It's only toxic if you consume copious amounts & we just can't let you do that. Called a barley wine because it's made from barley like beer, but has sweet, fruity notes & a high alcohol content like wine. This English-style ale is smooth, sweet & malty, with a slightly toasty finish.
Reluctant Reverend (E.S.B.) - ABV 6%
An English-style pale ale named after my best friend, Kevin, who developed the recipe. It's brewed with English malts & English hops providing a deep gold color, balanced malt flavor, and a crisp, dry finish.
Nightmare on Main Street (Pumpkin Cream Ale) - ABV 6.8%
While brewing this beast, I learned why many brewers don't use real pumpkin in their pumpkin ales (hence its name sake), but I think you'll agree that the results were well worth the effort!
Saturday, November 15, 2008
I stopped by Vertical Runner today to purchase a new pair of trail shoes. I was looking for something lighter than my Montrail Continental Divide's but heavier than the Merrell CP Paragon which I recently purchased. I really like my Merrell's when I'm not running too far and want to feel light, but they don't offer the support and stability that my Montrail's do. Another feature I really like on the Continental Divide is their aggressive tread pattern (shown above).
So, I decided to try on the Montrail Streak and the new Montrail Wildwood. The Streak doesn't offer as much support as the Wildwood's do but I thought that both felt pretty good. The only thing that discouraged me from getting either of these shoes was that I could feel my heel slipping a little bit too much. Therefore, I decided to stick with my tried and true and purchased another pair of Continental Divides.
I also decided to purchase a pair of Sugoi SubZero tights since I've been needing a new pair for some time now and because the weather forecast shows colder temps and our first significant snowfall in the next few days. Both of these items will definitely come in handy next weekend when I run 52 miles on the Laurel Highlands Trail.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
During tonight's game the Monsters were down by 2 goals in the 3rd period when all of a sudden they came back and scored 4 consecutive goals to win 6-4. My brother and I both think that we played a big role in this victory by constantly heckling the opponents' goalie throughout the evening.
The trail starts off going downhill on a gravel/dirt path with a large open field to your right. You then run into a sign which says the loop is 4 miles. Here you must choose to go left or right, although the park currently has the trail closed to the right for some reason, so we decided to start off going left.
The next mile or so winds back and forth and is mainly uphill. We were surprised how fast we were gaining elevation. Once we reached the top of this ridge we had a pretty nice view of the valley with the leaves down. Then the trail heads back downhill with a couple stream crossings along the way. We had to pay special attention to our footing today since the trail was really covered with leaves.
Halfway into our 4 mile loop I noticed that the parking lot for Kendall Hills was right across the street. Now I knew where I was at! It's funny how sometimes the trails you run on all the time are right next to other trails but you don't realize just how close they are to each other. The last time my brother and I ran through Little Meadow (across the street) we were trying to find the trails that my sister and I were on today, but didn't see any trailhead so we just turned around. Now that I know the close proximity of these trails I can really put together a nice long training run.
Jamie and I continued running up and over the Kendall Hills and around Kendall Lake. We stopped near the site of the old toboggan chutes since my sister had never seen this before. For those of you not familiar with this area, there used to be toboggan chutes that were built by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) back in the 1930's. These chutes were enjoyed by winter enthusiasts for more than 40 years before being removed in 1990. I'm not sure why they actually decided to remove them.
Here's a picture that is posted on a sign that shows what the chutes used to look like...
And here's a tunnel which still exists that used to allow visitors to hike the foot trail without having to cross the toboggan slide...
We then hopped back onto the Wetmore Trail. Eventually we came to an area with an open field on our left, the other side of the closed trail to our right, and a trail that headed straight. Instead of taking the closed trail, which probably would've lead us back to our car, we headed straight and ran into a large open field that had a bunch of tall radio antennas. They appeared to be for a radio station or something. Not knowing where we were, we continued running straight. At the main gate there was a sign that said something like "Caution. No trespassing. High radio frequencies."
Once we left this area we realized we were on a private street instead of a normal road. We stopped this car that was headed towards us and asked this younger couple how we could get back to the Wetmore Trailhead parking lot. They appeared to be confused as to how we got here but told us to cut between the yards of these 2 houses and then make a right onto Wetmore Rd. So we ran the road back to our car and ended up with a total of 7 miles. I guess somehow we got a little bit outside the boundaries of the national park. Oh well. At least it increased our mileage for the day.
Monday, November 3, 2008
Sunday, November 2, 2008
The King makes a special appearance
The King with Charo
A King wannabe
Indiana Jones sneaks up on the King with his machete
Indiana Jones doing his best John Belushi impersonation
The Brawny Guy (who I think looks a lot like John Belushi) doing his impersonation
The King busts a move to "The Hustle"
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Little Pebble at Little Meadow
The suprise of the day... On our way back from Kendall Hills we were about to run around Kendall Lake when all of a sudden we noticed a pie pan with an arrow on it and some orange streamers marking a trail. The markings went up a hill that seemd to be too steep to be an actual trail but we were curious so we continued on. When we reached the top of the hill we noticed a concrete pad that seemed to be out of place and a plastic bag on top of it which contained a book. This seemed really odd and out of place but then I noticed that the bag was labeled "Run with Scissors" and immediately I remembered that this was part of Roy Heger's "Run with Scissors" FA run that took place last weekend. During the run each runner has to cut a page out of the book to prove that they were there. As for the concrete pad, I think this used to be an old toboggan chute back in the day.
In the Deep Woods - by Nicholas Conde
A chilling novel of suspense--now an explosive NBC-TV movie, starring Rosanna Arquette and Anthony Perkins. After her best friend is murdered by a serial killer, children's book illustrator Carol Warren begins to suspect that the killer is someone she knows. Someone she knows quite well.
I'm intrigued... Sounds like a good book to read sometime. Just not before a night trail run!