Saturday, February 28, 2009

Ohiopyle State Park Run

The blue line shows our actual route (taken from my GPS watch)
To view the park map - Click Here

This morning Lloyd showed up at my place bright and early around 5:30 and we drove down to Ohiopyle State Park to meet Bob for a trail run. It's about a 3 hour drive from Streetsboro so we arrived at the Visitors Center parking lot around 9am. After some talking amongst ourselves and a run suggestion from Bob, we decided on a game plan for the day which included running trails south of the Youghiogheny River instead of the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail.

We started off going up a 2 mile hill on the Baughman Trail, then continued to the Sugarloaf Trail and went up Sugarloaf Knob (2,640 ft. elevation). After that we continued to climb up different knobs and included some off-piste running which featured lots of rocks and briar vines! The weather was pretty nice today. Even though temps were in the mid 30's it felt really good with the effort that we were putting forth. We ended up with over 5 hours of running and approximately 17 miles for the day. Rather than trying to explain the entire story, click here to see some awesome pictures taken during the day.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

5 Miles of Ups and Downs

This evening I met my brother at the Boston Store. For our workout we decided to walk up both large hills on each side of the Boston Store and then run back down them. We started off going up the hill that leads to Pine Lane and did this once, then went over to the hill next to the Boston Ski Resort and did this twice, and then continued to repeat this process. It was so nice to be wearing shorts tonight and to not have to bundle up. The temperature was around 50 but a little bit of light rain kept things damp and cool.

Monday, February 23, 2009

15% Effort

OK.... I actually worked harder than that. But this was the incline % that I used for my entire workout tonight. I started off walking uphill for a 1/2 hour at 3.5 mph. Then increased the speed to 4.5 and ran slowly for 15 minutes. And then finished things up with 15 minutes of walking. When I was done it said I burned 900 calories! Not sure how accurate the treadmill calculator is though.

The hardest part was trying to continue running at a 15% grade during the middle part of my workout after already walking uphill for 30 minutes. Then I just tried to hang on at the end while rocking out to Daft Punk's "One More Time". This is a good mantra to repeat to yourself, especially while on the boring treadmill. Plus, the beat is a perfect fast walking pace and I was able to step to it for the last 15 minutes.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Treadmill Workout

This afternoon I got on the treadmill for an hour hill/tempo workout. The first 1/2 hour I walked at 3.5 mph on a 15% incline. Then for the next 15 minutes I lowered it down to 1% and ran at 8 mph (7:30 pace). And for the final 15 minutes I walked at 3.5 mph on a 15% incline. Towards the end I could tell that I was giving my legs a good workout!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

"Running the Sahara" - Cleveland Premiere

Charlie and I hanging out at the reception afterwards

Tonight, I attended a special premiere screening of the film "Running the Sahara" at the Tower City Cinemas in Cleveland. This documentary was narrated and produced by Oscar winner Matt Damon, directed by Oscar winner James Moll, and featured music by Grammy winner Wyclef Jean.

"Running the Sahara" follows three ultra-marathoners on their 111-day, 4,300-mile attempt to run across Africa's Sahara Desert: Charlie Engle from Charlotte, North Carolina, Kevin Lin from Taipei, Taiwan, and Ray Zahab from Ontario, Canada – accompanied by a support team consisting of an MD, a physical therapist, and a logistics leader – as they attempt to become the first people to ever run across the Sahara Desert. This character-driven film delves into the life-changing experiences of the three runners as they tackle the physical and emotional obstacles in the Sahara Desert. The film delivers a message of hope and puts everyday challenges in perspective.

This was probably the best running movie that I've seen so far. It was well produced, the story was very motivating, and it was much more real than a lot of other films out there. The best part about tonight was that my $35 got me admission to the show, a t-shirt, a free DVD of the movie once it is released, and an open bar reception at the Ritz Carlton with Charlie Engle (the main character in the film). The other cool thing was that proceeds from the film go to benefit the Rodale Institute and H2O Africa.

Just being able to personally talk with Charlie and ask him questions though was well worth the admission fee. I thought he was a very cool guy and I was impressed that he answered questions in the movie theatre for about 30 minutes following the film. Here are a few video clips that I took during Charlie's Q&A session. Each video is dark, but you can hear the audio...

For anyone that missed the Cleveland screening, there will be another local showing of the film on March 13th in Canton. Click here for details or click here for a complete list of upcoming locations.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

4 Mile Hill

As soon as I got home tonight I went over to our fitness center and cranked out a good workout on the treadmill. I'd much rather be outside but I'm starting to get sick of bundling up and am looking forward to spring like everyone else. The only good thing about the treadmill is that it keeps you moving when you feel like stopping.

So... tonight I started off by walking up a 15% grade at 3.5 mph for 15 minutes. Then for the next 15 minutes I ran at 5 mph on a 10% grade. And then to finish it off I walked for another 1/2 hour on a 15% grade going 3.5 mph. This gave me a solid hour of uphill running/walking and totaled 4 miles.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Beaver Creek State Park Run

Today my brother and I drove down to East Liverpool, OH to check out Beaver Creek State Park for the first time. This is a park I've wanted to run in for some time now. On the way there you drive down a partially maintained road that has some steep dropoffs and no side guardrails. Then you cross the bridge shown in the picture above which is wide enough for one car to pass at a time. We arrived sometime after noon and parked next to Gaston's Mill and Pioneer Village.

This park has a tremendous amount of history and makes you feel like you're stepping back in time. The first inhabitants of the Beaver Creek area were Indians of the Fluted Point Culture nearly 10,000 years ago. Flint knives, fluted arrowheads and pottery have been found nearby. Remnants of the Sandy and Beaver Canal, a spur off the Ohio-Erie Canal, are also found throughout the park. This 73-mile canal was built in the mid-1800s and contained 90 locks and 30 dams. As railroads came into Ohio, canal and river traffic declined, and the founding of the Cleveland and Pittsburgh Railroad Company caused the closing of the Sandy and Beaver Canal in 1853.

The Little Beaver valley provided opportunity for water power and resulted in the construction of Gaston's Mill in 1837. The mill stands completely restored and today grinds whole wheat flour, corn meal and buckwheat flour on a seasonal basis. A pioneer village, adjacent to the mill, includes a log home, schoolhouse, blacksmith shop and a church. I saw a sign that said the park holds pancake breakfasts here on the 3rd weekend of every month from May through October. This could make for a fun group run in the future!

Of other local, historical significance was the capture of the infamous Confederate General, John Hunt Morgan. Morgan was one of the Confederacy's most daring cavalrymen. Morgan and his 2,000 raiders crossed the entire width of Ohio from west to east before his eventual capture near the park.

Also, the discovery of rich clay deposits in the area of East Liverpool led to the birth of the pottery industry in the 1840s. The industry was so prosperous that the area became known as the pottery center of the United States and nearly three-fourths of the nation's white ware was produced in this region during the mid-1800s.

Well... that's it for the history lesson! After looking at the park map we decided that the best route to take in order to cover the most ground would be to follow the Vondergreen Trail (which is part of the extensive North Country Trail system) along Little Beaver Creek as far as it would take us and then turn around. Jeff and I were pleasantly surprised at everything we saw along the way. It's always so exciting to run new trails since you never know what's around the next corner and this park seemed to offer a little bit of everything. The best way to describe it is a combination of Mill Creek Park, Oil Creek State Park, and the Clarion River. There are hilly, rocky sections with beautiful overlooks, as well as smooth, flat sections of trail that follow the base of the river. There are also some nice wooden bridges that cross over streams.

We made it down to Hambleton's Mill, which is next to the end of the Vondergreen Trail, and then continued onto the Fisherman's Trail, but didn't go much further than that because the trail turned into a muddy horse trail and we didn't want to get back too late.

So, we turned around and headed back to our car to finish up a total of 8 miles. Click Here to see the rest of the pictures I took during our run. Also, here are a couple videos.....

Overlooking the Beaver Creek valley

Running downhill on the Vondergreen Trail

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Day

Today, Tami and I celebrated Valentine's Day by having lunch at Downtown 140 in Hudson. This is a really nice place for special occasions or just a night out on the town. For my main dish I ordered their Yukon Gold Potato Gnocchi which was topped with a truffle, parmesan broth and served with wild mushrooms and winter squash swiss chard. Then for dessert I had their creme brulee which was served with berries and shortbread.

Everything was delicious and the atmosphere was also excellent! The following comment is listed on their website and pretty much sums up the experience - "While the cuisine is the star of the show, Downtown 140's intimate surroundings and elegant appointments play major supporting roles in the restaurant's success. A long, narrow, low-ceilinged rectangle, the below-ground-level room has been given warmth and character though the liberal use of red and gold fabrics, mahogany trim, and old red brick. Cushy crimson banquettes and broad-seated upholstered chairs surround tables double-draped in cream-colored linens and provide seating for only 60 diners. On the south wall, the original sandstone foundation has been exposed and serves as a backdrop for ornately framed oil paintings; on the north, an open kitchen and a small candlelit bar topped with butterscotch limestone draw the eye."

Later in the evening we headed over to ThornCreek Winery in Aurora to meet up with my parents and sister for some more wine and cheese! But, before we went there I wanted to get in a quick workout on the treadmill since I hadn't done anything since Tuesday's night run. I walked at 3.5 mph at a 15% incline for a half hour.

Before heading to bed we watched a rebroadcast of "Marathon Love" on the Discovery Health channel. This is an amazing story about a couple who beat the odds and finished the Boston Marathon together after a horrific car accident. Click Here to read more and to watch the trailer. It was definitely motivating and will make you stop and think just how lucky you are. I highly recommend it!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Still Healing

This morning I woke up and was happy to not feel any irritation in my right eye. It's still a little cloudy and feels somewhat dry, but I can tell that things are beginning to improve. I'm looking forward to my eyesight being closer to 100% over the weekend.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Follow-up Visit

Today my eye wasn't in any pain but it was still pretty foggy and could feel a slight burning sensation. At 6:00 I went back to the eye doctor for a follow up visit and he said that it looked just as he thought it would and was about 90-95% healed. He said I should start feeling more like normal over the weekend.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Off-Piste Night Run

Yesterday I drove up to the Bedford Reservation after work and met Bob and Jim at the Egbert Picnic Area around 6pm. The plan was to get in about 2 1/2 hours of trail running, hill climbing, and off-piste bush bashing before meeting Lloyd back at the picnic area around 8:30 for another couple hours of fun.

Tonight's run turned out to be very epic. The temperature was in the mid 50's but there was still enough snow off-trail to slide around and make things enjoyable. With this recent warmup there was lots of standing water and the stream crossings were ice cold. The streams were flowing so fast in a few areas that we had to find a fallen tree to keep our weight against so that our feet weren't taken out from underneath us. After getting out of the water it felt like your feet were numb but the warm air temperature quickly helped bring them back to normal.

We were having a great time and started heading back to our cars to meet Lloyd when all of a sudden I scraped my right eye by brushing against a small branch. I stopped for a moment and realized that I still had vision but it was a little cloudy. I thought, man.... I even had safety glasses with me but they were no good to wear since they kept getting foggy. Next time I need to put on that anti-fog stuff they have for glasses. I put a little water in my eye and continued back to our cars. At this point I told Bob and Jim that I wasn't sure if I felt like continuing on but decided to anyways since it didn't seem too bad.

During the 2nd half of our run we went up some incredibly steep hills, grabbing onto tree roots and digging into the muddy, leaf covered ground with our hands. A couple sections were almost as vertical as you can get without going straight up. My energy was really low now since I didn't eat much during tonight's run and I had to force myself to keep going to get the top of these hills. Eventually we decided to head back and ended up finishing our run with approx. 12.5 miles in over 4 1/2 hours. We all agreed that this was one of our best and toughest night runs to date.

When I got home I could still feel the irritation in my eye but I just figured that I could sleep on it and it would be fine in the morning. Well.... when I woke up my eye was really burning now and it almost felt like I had something in it, like sand or dirt. I tried to wait it out as long as possible but then finally decided to make an appointment with a local eye doctor. Thankfully they were able to see me only 40 minutes after I made the call. When the doctor looked at my eye through his instrument he said, "Man you must be pretty tough. Most people would be crawling in here." I told him that I did have a hard time keeping my eyes open in order to drive over to his office. He then told me that I took a good chunk off of my epithelium which is the outer protective layer above your cornea. The good thing is this layer easily very quick. For more info on this, click here. He then placed a contact-like lens on my eye and said that this will help protect the abrasion and speed up the healing process. After giving me a couple eye drop solutions he said to come back tomorrow and he would take the contact off.

So, that's where I stand now. The good thing is the doc said not to worry about any change in my vision. I just need to make sure I'm more careful on future night runs. Looking back on last night reminds me of a good quote by T.S. Eliot - "Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go."

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Mill Creek Park Trail Run

The partially frozen waterfall next to Lanterman's Mill
After taking some photos/videos at the Dirty Dog 10K this morning, I drove to Mill Creek Park and met my brother at Fellows Riverside Gardens for a trail run. Today was the start of a "heat wave" and the temperature was a very pleasant 50 degrees when we began our run. The sun was even out too! With this recent warmup we weren't sure how icy the trails would be, but luckily there was still enough snow on the ground to keep decent traction. There were some areas that you had to watch what you were doing though. We ended up doing one 8 mile loop before heading over to Inner Circle Pizza in Youngstown for a bite to eat. Here are some more pictures from our run... the ice looked amazing in the park today!
During our run we also stopped at the Ford Nature Center, which surpsingly I've never been to until today. Earlier I stopped here to drop off a photo that my wife is entering into Mill Creek Park's photo contest. Here's the picture she took of Lake Glacier last September...

While inside the nature center Jeff and I checked out the animals they had on display that are native to N.E. Ohio...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

TreadHILL Workout

The last couple days I've taken a break from running since the bottom of my left foot was a little sore following Saturday's lake run. I think what happened is at some point a large piece of ice formed in the middle part of my left shoe (around the arch) and I continued to run on it. I didn't notice it until about halfway into the run when Jeff and I stopped for a bite to eat. I felt good during the run but I probably bruised it slightly.

Anyways, I feel all better now and headed over to my fitness center since the temperatures were going down into the single digits tonight. Plus I figured I could watch the 2nd half of the Cavs game too. My workout and the game both turned out to be great. I set the treadmill at a 15% grade and walked at 3.5 mph for an hour. Then, I lowered the treadmill back down to 1% and got motivated enough to run a mile in 6:30 and lift some weights afterwards. I can tell that each one of these hill workouts is getting easier for me. As for the Cavs game, they ended up beating the Knicks in Madison Square Garden and LeBron earned a triple-double with 52 points.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Lake Run Satellite Photos

After my brother and I finished our lake run on Saturday I uploaded data from my GPS watch onto Google Earth and saved these overhead photos. The light blue line is the route we took, starting with #1. I added the numbers in red as a way to show you these points up close...

# 1 - West Boat Dock parking lot (this is where we started our run)

# 2 - This is where we stopped next to the beach for lunch

# 3 - This is the island we crossed over on the way back to our cars