Thursday, December 31, 2009

15% Effort

With temperatures rising above freezing and light rain in the air, I decided to stay away from the messy trails and headed over to my fitness center for a treadmill workout. I set the incline at 15% and the speed at 3 mph and managed to stay on for an hour and a half.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Off-Piste Exploration

This afternoon I met Kirk Harrison at Kendall Lake. Once we crossed over Truxell Road our trail run began with some exploring over by the Boy Scout’s Camp Manatoc. We climbed up and slid down many hills in this area. It wasn’t easy because the ground underneath the 3-4 inches of snow was still wet and muddy. We had a lot of fun though and got to see a lot of things inside the camp that I never saw before, such as the obstacle course and climbing wall.

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Once we left the camp we headed back to Kendall Lake and ran up to Pine Hollow. There were a ton of sled riders up there today enjoying the fresh snow.

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We then ran the Salt Run loop and headed back to our cars just before sundown. Finished with 8 miles and 2 1/2 hours of time on our feet. It was a great day!

Click Here to see the rest of the photos I took along the way….

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Happy Days to Salt Run

This morning I met my brother and Jason McMains at the Happy Days Visitor Center parking lot.  The temperature was in the 30’s with a moderate breeze in the open areas.  We ran the Ledges Trail over to the Pine Grove loop and then continued to Kendall Lake and Salt Run before heading back.  The dam that was under construction for awhile by Kendall Lake is now finished so we ran across it on our way over to Salt Run.  Considering all of the hills, we kept a pretty quick pace throughout the run and I felt great from beginning to end.  When we got back to our cars we had finished 10 miles.

DSC00006Dam next to Kendall Lake

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Heading uphill on Salt Run

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve Trail Run

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This morning I met Dan Bellinger at the Valley Picnic Area parking lot for a run on the Oak Hill and Plateau Trails.  It felt pretty cold at the start with temperatures around 20 but once we got moving it wasn’t too bad.  We ran the outer Plateau Trail first and then mixed in the Oak Hill trail on our 2nd loop.  Dan stashed some water and Gatorade at the Oak Hill trailhead so that made for a nice stopping point. 

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We ended up finishing with a total of 8.5 miles… Now it’s time to put back on the calories!  =)

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

7 Miles in the Valley

I met my brother tonight at Happy Days in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park for a 7 mile trail run to Pine Hollow and back.  The trail was snow covered but was packed down enough to make for very nice running.  There was probably only an inch of packed snow.  Just enough to hide any ice underneath.  Temperature was around 30 but it felt very comfortable in the woods without any wind.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Boston Store to Snowville Rd.

DSC04270 This morning I met my brother at the Boston Store at 9 o’clock.  We headed north on the Buckeye Trail and turned around at Snowville Rd. to give us a total of 10 miles for the day.  The temperature was close to 30 but there was no wind so I actually felt pretty warm throughout the run.  I had a lot of fun today getting used to the new footing since this was probably only my 2nd run of the year on snow covered trails.  There was only about an inch of snow, if that, but it was enough to make things interesting in a few spots.  The Cuyahoga Valley National Park is always beautiful year-round and today certainly did not disappoint!  Here are a few pictures of my favorite section between the Boston Store & Snowville Road….

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

13 Miles & 20 Degrees

That was the temperature for most of my trail run this morning. Once you got moving it wasn't too bad though if you had the right clothing on. I met Nick Billock, his brother Bill, and some others at Happy Days around 7:00. We ran the Ledges Trail and Pine Grove Trail, before meeting some other people, including my brother, Kurt Osadchuk, and Mark Anson at the Ledges Shelter at 8. We witnessed a beautiful sunrise and had mostly sunny skies throughout our entire run. From the Ledges Shelter we headed over to Kendall Lake, did the Salt Run loop, and then headed back to the shelter. My IT Band on my right knee had no issues today so I was glad that I rested it enough between last Saturday and today.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

URINEO FA

"Nonsense is nonsense only when we have not yet found that point of view from which it makes sense." - G. Zukov
My brother and I woke up bright and early this morning and headed over to Mill Creek Park in Youngstown for the 4th Annual URINEO FA. This event, which is pronounced "yer-een-o", is organized each year by the N.E. Ohio Trail Club and stands for "Ultra Runners in N.E. Ohio" or "You're in Ohio!". If you're not familiar with FA runs, click here to read a description.
This run, which takes place on the YUT-C 50K/25K course, begins at the Lily Pond parking lot and features many items of interest along a 8.3 mile loop (lakes, waterfalls, creek crossings, historic buildings, the infamous "Love Log", and the infamous "Monkey Trail". The ultimate goal set each year for URINEO is 50 miles. However, since this is an FA everyone is allowed to run as much or as little as they wish.

This year a new option was on the table after NEO Trail Club member Mike Dobies came up with the "brilliant" idea for anyone interested to run twenty-seven .9 mile out and back sections on the Monkey Trail over and over again until the "Monkey Trail Marathon" distance was reached. For anyone that doesn't know, this section is the toughest part of the YUT-C course and includes many undulating climbs. Coincidentally Mike was unable to join us today, but since the idea was now stuck in the minds of Jim Harris, my brother Jeff, and I, we were committed to the task at hand.

Jeff and I arrived at the parking lot on top of the Monkey Trail hills around 5am. We saw Jim's van already parked there since we were a few minutes late, but after a few quick whistle blasts from the emergency whistle that Tanya Cady gave me two weekends ago at Laurel Highlands, we heard Jim yell back at us. He was on his first lap and headed towards us, so we waited and met up with him.

The first 3 laps or so didn't seem too bad since my legs were still fresh and I was trying to stay warm, but around lap 6 or 7 I could tell that this was going to get real old real fast. By repeating the same hills over and over again it definitely became a mentally challenge. Somewhere around this time Jeff and I decided to get the aid (cookies, Pringles, gel, water) that I brought out of his car and set it on the picnic table located in the middle of the Monkey Trail. This became a great re-fueling point on each lap.

As I approached my 13th lap on the Monkey Trail I started to reconsider completing the entire 26 miles here. I've been putting in a lot of big mileage runs lately and thought to myself that it might not be a good idea to run my body too far into the ground. My main decision for getting off the Monkey Trail hills though was just the monotony of not having new scenery to look at. So, as I reached mile 13 I told Jeff and Jim that I was going to finish the rest of my mileage on the standard URINEO course which loops around Lake Glacier and Lake Cohasset.

I was slightly disappointed to be abandoning my original plan of finishing 26 miles on the Monkey Trail, but once I got off of these hills I could feel my IT band on my right knee starting to get sore and tighten up a bit. I guess my body wasn't too happy with me doing 4 1/2 hours of non-stop climbing 2 weeks after a 64 miler. So, at this point I realized that I had made the right decision. For the rest of the day I did a lot of walking on the URINEO course to give my IT Band a break and it seemed to help quite a bit. Yes, I was slightly disappointed to abandon my original plan for the day. But by the time it was all said and done I was still able to finish 26 miles and live for another day.

Click here to see the final results and other blog reports. Congrats to Slim Jim for being the first and only finisher of the Monkey Trail Marathon! Also congrats to Todd Hanks and Gavin White, who both completed their first ultra marathon distance today!

Afterwards we all enjoyed hot soup and beverages in the Lily Pond parking lot and had a great time talking about trail running and anything that came to mind. This fun run is just one of many NEO Trail Club events that truly exemplify what ultra running is all about!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

10 Miles in the Sun

This morning I headed over to the Happy Days Visitor Center and got in a great 10 mile run that included the Ledges trail, Pine Grove trail, Kendall Hills, and Salt Run. It was sunny out, close to 50 degrees, and there was a very nice breeze. No one showed up to join me so I just put on my iPod and enjoyed leaping from rock to rock while listening to a straight hour of non-stop techno music. When I got to the restrooms at Pine Hollow though I saw Roy Heger running with someone and joined them on the Salt Run trail before heading back to my car. Today was definitely one of those days when you wished the run would never end. I wanted to stay outside longer but figured that 10 miles was enough with the URINEO FA coming up this weekend.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Warren Turkey Trot 5 Miler

Today I continued my annual Thanksgiving tradition by participating in the 31st Annual Warren Turkey Trot 5 Miler with my brother, sister, and wife. This race is held each year at the Kent State Trumbull campus in Warren, Ohio and always draws a lot of runners. This year, between the 5 mile and 2 mile races, the event set a record crowd of nearly 2,200 people. The weather definitely played a role in this with temps around 40 and sunny.

After my 64 mile ultra marathon last weekend I really wasn't anticipating that fast of a time today. I figured I'd get about halfway and my legs would suddenly turn into concrete. Well, I hit the first mile in 7 minutes flat. I thought to myself... Hmm, I'm probably starting off the race too fast again as usual. However, I hit the second mile again on a 7 minute/mile pace. At this point I was beginning to near the turnaround point and was anticipating a gradual slow down, but I tried to continue focusing on the pace that I was moving at and see how long I could hold it. Once I reached mile 3 I was surprised to see 21:30 on the clock. At this point I told myself, OK... let's try to turn this into a race now.

I knew the 4th mile would be the toughest, both mentally and physically, since it brings you just about to the last long road to the finish. In my head I kept thinking about the David Goggins video I watched last night where he says, "In a race you will hit a wall and you have a choice to make. You can either stop right there or you can go parallel left or parallel right. You're looking for that door and when you reach that door you have a decision to make. Should I open it? Or should I keep it closed? If you keep it closed you've made the decision to quit. If you choose to open it then you've decided to continue on with your plan or mission."

Thinking about this quote and the fact that I've done many races much longer than this kept me mentally tough at the end. There have been times when I've decided to take the easy way out and ended up regretting it afterwards. So, I told myself... not today. Before I knew it I was making the final turn to the finish and was able to sprint in with a time of 35 minutes, 50 seconds. I was very pleased with my finish and glad to be able to share this day with my friends and family. Happy Thanksgiving! I definitely have much to be thankful for!

Tami, Jeff, Me & Jamie

Monday, November 23, 2009

Awesome Weekend

This past Saturday I headed over to Pennsylvania with members of the N.E. Ohio Trail Club for the 4th Annual Slim Pickins FA. This free, no frills members only run took place on the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail. I ended up completing a total of 64 miles in 19 hours and 48 minutes! Report to follow...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Bill's Bad Ass FA 50K

This morning I woke up around 5:30 and headed over to the Covered Bridge in the Cuyahoga Valley for the 1st Annual Bills' Bad Ass 50K. This free FA run consisted of six 5-mile loops of the Perkins/Riding Run Trail with the last mile going up a bunch of steps to the top of Oak Hill.

The drive over this morning was very nice with the sun rising and a very thin crescent moon in the sky. My plan was to meet Mike Keller and Brett Shriver at 6:30 so that I could get in an early loop before everyone else started. Mike & Brett had already finished one loop when I arrived. The temperature this morning was pretty chilly, but as the day progressed the high temperature got up into the mid-upper 60's! We are still having unseasonably warm weather for this time of the year but nobody is complaining.

So, after parking at the Church in the Valley I jogged about a quarter mile down the road and met Mike and Brett at the Covered Bridge. Mike had to move his vehicle over to the church lot so Brett and I took off ahead of him. On this loop we probably saw about 3-4 deer with one of them having a nice rack. Since we've been having a lot of warm, dry weather lately, the course was in pretty decent shape. Very unusual for this trail since it's usually muddy and rutted due to horses traveling on it. The only thing we had to watch out for were the stream crossings and all the rocks and roots hidden underneath the leaves. A couple times I thought I was heading for the ground but somehow saved myself from falling.

Brett and I got back to the parking lot after our first loop just as everyone was beginning to gather for the official start. It was awesome to once again see so many familiar faces and be able to catch up with those that I haven't seen for awhile. After a brief course overview from Chef Bill Bailey he gave us the go ahead and we were off.

My first and second loops seemed to go by pretty quick since everyone was together and chatting. The third loop I began to feel a little fatigue but it mainly hit me on the fourth loop as I figured it would. Overall though my body felt pretty good and I was able to run almost every loop in around an hour. I can tell that my endurance base from my recent ultras is paying off and helping to keep me strong during and after my runs. The weather today also made it very enjoyable to just be out there in the woods.

Me & Kirk
The middle part of the run I spent some time with Kirk Harrison, Bob Drake, "Pacer Marie", and both Bills'. The 4th loop I was alone for quite awhile but then ran into Mike Kazar on the trail. When I arrived back at the parking lot to start my last loop Mike Keller was there, so I decided to do the entire 5th loop with him since he lives in Columbus now and I don't get to see him as often as I used to. After finishing our last loop we now had to head up to the top of Oak Hill and pick up a Dum Dum lollipop (I chose the Pink Lemonade flavor) to prove that we had finished. This last climb wasn't too bad today, but if the course is muddier in the future it will definitely add insult to injury. I ended up finishing with a time of 6:53. Not bad considering all the breaks I took.

Mike & I
Overall, I had a blast today and would like to thank Bill Wagner & Bill Bailey for organizing a great run which included free aid and a free tech shirt to those who finished the entire 50K. Here's a picture of what this year's shirt looked like. I thought the logo was pretty cool and am already looking forward to next year's event...

Afterwards I stopped by the Winking Lizard in Peninsula with Bob Combs and we enjoyed a couple microbrews on the patio. Then later on Tami and I then headed over to Chagrin Falls for a free clambake with a bunch of other runners. It was a perfect ending to a perfect day!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Memories

My friend Don Brown, who lives near Yosemite, emailed me this photo today. When he used to live in Cortland, Ohio he ran a lot of marathons with my dad and his running buddies. This photo shows my dad and I coming down the final stretch of Superior Ave. during the '98 Cleveland Marathon en route to my first marathon finish of 3 hours and 44 minutes. Ironically, I was wearing a yellow shirt on this day to celebrate Don's 100th marathon finish. On the picture Don wrote "The first and last time Brian & Joe will run together". He was right in his prediction, but I will always cherish the memories that I have from this race.
Before my dad switched over to cycling after having hip surgery a year ago, he had run somewhere around 40 marathons and 1 ultra marathon. I grew up as a kid watching him finish many road marathons in different cities and it's because of him that I know a lot of what I know today about running.
One of these days I'll scan a bunch of other old photos I have and post them on here...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

10 Miles with Slim

Tonight, as I was relaxing on the couch, my friend Jim "Slim" Harris called and said that he was in Streetsboro finishing up some overtime computer work for his job and wondered if I wanted to go for a run with him. At first I told him I was pretty tired and wasn't sure if I was up for it but then I thought, man, he's never usually in my neck of the woods so I might as well take him up on the offer. So, we decided to meet at the Happy Days Visitor Center around 7pm and run trails starting from the ledges and then heading over to Pine Hollow (Kendall Hills) before turning around. The temperature was in the mid 50's tonight but it was pretty muggy and there was a fog starting to form in the air.

Once I got further into our run I felt surprisingly pretty good and we decided to add on a little more by doing the Salt Run Trail. While running on this trail I noticed something fly over us that I first thought was a bat. But then I realized that this was much larger and once it perched itself on a tree branch right next to the trail I discovered that it was a huge owl. We both thought this was pretty cool and stopped for a minute to check it out before it took off into the air again. At this point we turned around and headed back the way we came. Once we got back to our cars my watch said that we had run 10 miles in 2 hours. Pretty good pace for a night run on hilly, technical terrain. Very happy that I got the phonecall tonight or else I might still be sitting on the couch!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Crooked River Run

This evening my brother and I headed over to Lock 29 in Peninsula to run with the Crooked River Trail Runners group for the first time. This is basically a beginning (social) trail running group led by Jim Christ. Each week a different run location is chosen which is then usually followed by food & beer at a local bar/restaurant. Tonight we began running past Terry's Lumber Yard, up "Initiation Hill", and then turning left onto the Buckeye Trail. Once on the BT we then followed the trail down towards the Boston Store but turned left once we hit the path leading to the Boston Store so that we could meet up with the Towpath and take that back to Lock 29. Jeff and I ran the last mile or so pretty hard and finished up with around 5 miles. Afterwards we stopped by the Winking Lizard with Melissa Cairns and others for a few beers!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Presque Isle 12-Hour Endurance Classic

I ran the 12-Hour Presque Isle Endurance Classic for the 2nd time today and finished in 9th place overall with a total of 50 miles in 9:21:31. I was very happy about meeting my goal of finishing two 50 milers on back to back weekends.
For Complete Results - Click Here

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Oil Creek 50 Miler

Finished the 1st Annual Oil Creek 50 Miler in 12:07:51 (31st out of 66 finishers)

Complete Results - 50K - 50 Mile - 100 Mile

Friday, October 9, 2009

Oil Creek 50 Miler - Track Me!

Start - 6am, Saturday, October 10th
Location - Titusville Middle School, Titusville, PA

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Getting ready for Oil Creek!

After work I met Gavin and my sister Jamie for an easy 5 1/2 mile run through Warren. We ran through both Packard and Perkins Park and turned around downtown.

This Saturday I'll be running in the 1st Annual Oil Creek 50 Miler in Titusville, PA. This trail event also has a 50K, which my sister is doing, and a 100 miler, which many of my N.E. Ohio Trail Club friends are participating in. Right now it looks like we're gonna get a lot of rain on Friday but the forecast shows Saturday to be just mostly cloudy with a high in the mid 50's. Hopefully it stays that way!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Easy run @ West Branch

I met Bob and Gavin at West Branch State Park tonight after work. The weather was ideal for running - sunny and around 60. Bob's son Shamus came along again and rode ahead of us on his mountain bike. Bob and I both just wanted to get in an easy run before Oil Creek this weekend and ended up with 4 miles.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fall is in the air!

This evening my brother and I met Dan Bellinger at the Happy Days Lodge to watch Part 4 of the PBS special - "The National Parks: America's Best Idea". So far Jeff and I have watched each 2-hour episode with 2 more remaining. We've definitely enjoyed this documentary so far and have learned a lot about the history of our national parks. After tonight's movie Dan and I went for a 5 mile night trail run. It was the coldest night so far this year with patchy frost forecasted for overnight. High temperatures for next week are still showing mid 60's but autumn has definitely arrived! We can only hope for one more week of Indian summer...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Happy Days to Pine Hollow

This afternoon my brother Jeff and Nick Longworth met me at Happy Days for a 10 mile trail run. It was nice to see Nick make the drive up here since he lives south of Columbus. Once the morning clouds disappeared, the weather turned out to be great - sunny and 70. At the beginning of our run we came across a surprise on the ledges trail. A couple large trees must have fallen recently and were blocking the trail. Looks like the park volunteers will be busy for awhile....

Towards the end of our run Nick must have been really starting to get hungry, so he decided to eat a clump of these red berries that he found next to the trail. Well, it didn't turn out too good for him and after watching him vomit and roll around on the ground for 15 minutes he was able to get back on his feet and finish the run. Now I understand why they make ultra runners sign a waiver before each race...

Friday, September 25, 2009

22 Miles in the Valley

This morning I headed to the Boston Store in the Cuyahoga Valley and met Dan Bellinger for the 2nd Friday in a row. Our plan was to head north on the Buckeye Trail and continue all the way to Brecksville if we felt good enough. The weather was perfect once again and we joked that we should meet every Friday for a run until the weather changes on us. The sun was out today, there was a nice cool breeze, and the temperature was in the upper 60s.

We started the run off easy and gradually picked up the pace. It never seemed like we were going that fast, but when we reached Snowville Rd. I saw that my watch said 1 hour and 15 minutes. I guess the beauty of the day made the run seem pretty easy. It was so enjoyable, in fact, that we made it all the way to Brecksville and had lunch at Heinen's before turning back. Once we arrived back at our cars at the Boston store we had finished with a total of 22 miles and close to 6 hours on our feet. I was very happy to get in a long run with the Oil Creek 50 Miler coming up next month.

CLICK HERE for more photos from today's run

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Mike Keller vs. Rob Powell

This past January I did an FA 50K run with my friend Rob Powell in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and we came across a sign at an intersection of the Buckeye Trail and a horse bridal trail. The sign read "Horses on Bridal Trial Only". So... out of nowhere Rob seemed to get excited and gave out a big horse call that was captured on video. Click Here and scroll down to watch the clip.

Fast forward 8 months later.... I'm volunteering at the Covered Bridge aid station during the YUT-C 50K/25K this past weekend and another one of my friends Mike Keller comes through, sees I have a camera, and gives his best imitation of Rob's horsecall....

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So, the question is.... Who has the best horse call??

***UPDATE***
New contestant - Video submitted Friday, Sept. 25th.....

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

West Branch 7 Miler

After work I headed over to West Branch State Park to meet Bob and Gavin for a trail run. Since we planned to run on the mountain bike trails, Bob's son Shamus brought his bike to ride ahead of us, which kept us moving at a pretty good pace. It was very humid but we had a couple heavy downpours during the run that kept us fairly cool. We managed to get in just over 7 miles before sunset.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

5th Annual YUT-C 50K & 25K

The 5th Annual YUT-C 50K & 25K took place today in Mill Creek Park (Youngstown, OH). Between both races there were a total of 117 runners that participated. The weather was awesome once again (sunny and 70 for a high), which resulted in new course records for the men's & women's 25K and a new course record for the men's 50K. I volunteered at various points on the course and enjoyed seeing so many familiar faces. Between Bob Combs, Jim Harris, Bill Losey, Joe Novicky, myself, and others, we seem to have this race down to a science now and received many good compliments following the race.

To view photos and results visit - www.neotrail.org/yutc.html

Friday, September 18, 2009

It's a beautiful day!

This morning around 9 am I met Dan Bellinger at Happy Days for a trail run. My body, despite not having run a lot of miles lately, felt really good and fresh. We finished up with a total of 12.5 miles. The weather was absolutely beautiful (sunny and low 60's at start). It was one of those days where it just couldn't get much better. The sun was warm, the air was cool, and there was a nice breeze. We stopped at different points and enjoyed taking in the beauty around us. I must say that we are very lucky to have the Cuyahoga Valley National Park close by.

Click here to view some other photos I took on the run

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day 10

This afternoon I met my brother at the Boston Store and we ran the Buckeye Trail to Snowville Rd. and back for a tough 10 miles. It took my body awhile to get going after yesterday's run but near the end we were moving good and I think we negative splitted the 2nd half, finishing in 2 hours. We heard a few rumbles of thunder along the way and knew the rain was close, so we turned it into a game to try to finish before the rain came down. We succeeded by reaching our cars just as it was beginning to sprinkle. Afterwards I put on a new shirt given to me recently from friends of our family that live out in Denver, CO. They purchased it at this year's "Bolder Boulder 10K" and it says "Sea Level is for Sissies". That might be true but the humidity on today's run sure wasn't easy!!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

West Branch Trail Run

This evening I met Jim Harris at West Branch State Park in Ravenna for a night trail run. We parked at the West Boat Dock (located at the end of W. Cable Line Rd.) and began our run by doing the Buckeye Trail section from Rock Spring Rd. to State Route 14 and back. This is approx. 8 miles roundtrip. The weather tonight, with the exception of the humid air, was almost perfect - low 70s at the start and then gradually cooling air as the run went on.

When we got back to our cars we then ran the mountain bike trails for awhile and included the rocky "expert only" trail. I was curious to explore this area again at night after the strange experience my brother and I had here a few years ago. Click here to read about it. You can also check out this link that was forwarded by one of our running friends this past week. Kind of makes you wonder about the area. Jim and I, however, had no such encounters tonight and finished up with a total of 12 miles in a little over 2 hours. We kept up a good consistent pace tonight and I was very happy with how good my body felt.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Boston Store to Pine Lane

I met my brother at the Boston Store tonight for an 8 mile run to Pine Lane and back. The weather was great again (sunny, low 70s) and the forecast says it's supposed to be nice all the way through next Tuesday. These kind of days make it very hard to not get out and run. My legs and body felt great tonight and I'm happy to be getting in a lot more consistent miles lately.

Here are some photos I took from tonight's run... the Cuyahoga Valley is always so beautiful...