Sunday, January 31, 2010

52 Miles in 2 Days

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It all started yesterday morning when I headed over to Pine Lane by myself to attempt a back-to-back 50K in consecutive days. This was my plan after finding out that Tanya Cady was organizing a Winter Buckeye Trail FA 50K for this Saturday. The only difficulty… low temps were forecasted to be in the single digits on both days with high temps only reaching the teens. Not really a problem, but it definitely added to the challenge.

Since I was starting my run from Pine Lane, my first challenge was to get past the large water crossing about a mile or so into the run. After running downstream to see if there was an easy way to cross I realized that there wasn’t going to be an easy way. The snowmelt from our last warm-up had added a lot of water to the stream and despite all the cold weather we’ve had recently, there was still a lot of flowing water and thin ice. I eventually decided to cross the stream where there was a rock in the center, just in case the ice began to break. As I stepped across I could hear the ice slowly crack so I hurried across and luckily made it without getting wet.

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I continued heading north on the Buckeye Trail and realized that the first 4-5 miles were very rutted up from the recent warm-up and freeze that followed. I told myself to pay special attention to areas where the trail had frozen over but still had water/slush underneath. Even with this in mind, I eventually made the mistake of stepping in the wrong spot and soaked my right foot. This normally wouldn’t be a problem with wool socks on, but since the temperature was around 10-12 degrees I knew I had to quickly change into new socks that I had brought along in my Camelbak.

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I picked up the pace and soon made it to the Boston Store (4 miles in) where I stopped for a moment to get dry. The lady inside thought I was crazy for being out in the cold and told me that I was the first visitor of the day. After changing into new socks, I continued heading north on the trail. I made it all the way to the stream crossing before Snowville Rd. and decided to turn around because this crossing was even more difficult to navigate than the last and I didn’t feel like getting wet for a second time.

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Once I arrived back at the Boston Store I decided to run some of the Brandywine Trail and the Towpath. After doing this for awhile my mileage was beginning to near 20 and with the middle of the afternoon closing in I was starting to get very hungry. So, I decided to take the Towpath east towards the town of Peninsula and head up the old brick road back to my car at Pine Lane. I finished up with 20 miles (a little short of my goal) but decided to save the rest of my energy for Saturday’s 50K.

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The next morning I met a group of about 15 people at the Oak Grove Pavillion in Brecksville for the 7am start of the Winter Buckeye Trail 50K FA. I ran with Mike George for the first half, all the way to the Boston Store where he had to stop early. From there I ran the last 10 miles or so with Mark Anson. I felt good throughout most of the day despite running 20 miles the day before, so I was very happy about that! Mark and I did the last 10 miles at a fairly easy pace since we were tired and not in any rush, and finished up in 8 hours and 26 minutes.

Click Here to view photos from the run.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Icy Trails!

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Jeff and I met at Happy Days today and took the Ledges Trail over to the Octagon.  From there we headed over to Kendall Lake, did a loop around the lake, and finished up with 6 miles.  With the recent warm-up we’ve been having lately, the highly traveled trails were very icy.  This should all melt tomorrow though when it rains and temps rise to near 50.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

In Deer We Trust

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This evening my brother and I met at the Happy Days parking lot for an off-piste trail run.  We decided to head north over the steep hillside on the far end of the parking lot and do some exploring over there.  The snow had a nice crusty layer on top which made the downhills very fun and manageable.  We did a lot of bushwhacking and found some awesome hills and ridges to climb up as we headed north towards Akron Peninsula Rd.  The one thing that we both noticed were a lot of very nice game trails made by deer in this area.  We also noticed that these trails usually ended up being a good route to take and put us where we wanted to be.  Deer might be stupid on the road, but they’re pretty smart in the woods!

When we reached the top of this one high point and looked north we could see a pretty massive hill not too far from us.  It looked pretty challenging and tempting, but we both wanted to get back at a decent time so we turned around at this point and headed back to our cars, basically completing one big loop in an hour and a half.  Just after crossing the main stream for the last time and before we headed up our final climb, I had to stop for a moment and take a picture of the moon resting on top of the ridge we were about to climb up….

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It was the perfect way to end a fun evening and I’m already looking forward to exploring more of this area another time.

Monday, January 18, 2010

MLK Trail Run

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This morning I met a couple “trail newbies”, Kevin and Kirstie Farley, at Kendall Lake for a trail run over at Camp Manatoc. By the end of the run however, I found out and I think they also found out that they are better running on trails (and off-trail) than they once thought.

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We started by picking up the yellow Boy Scout trail right next to Truxell Road. Then we followed that up to the “Kendall View” sign and continued on over to Lake Litchfield. After running down a ridge that led to a dead-end with the lake on both sides of us, we backtracked and ran around the lake and up to the administration building near the maintenance area.

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Then we continued over to the climbing tower, made our way through the Manatoc Council Ring, and finished up our 4 mile loop by going off-piste and reconnecting with the trail we started on. Here's Kirsite practicing her balance at the obstacle course...

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Just after passing through the Manatoc Council Ring we then spotted this large deer…

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Back at Kendall Lake, Kirstie and Kevin called it a day since they had just done a long run yesterday. I decided to continue on though and drove over to Happy Days to see if Wild Bill Wagner was still running around collecting trail markings that were used during this past weekend’s Run for Regis 50K. I didn’t see his car there so I ran over to the Ledges Trail and put in another 5 miles to the Pine Grove Trail and back, for a total of 9 miles for the day.

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Then I headed over to the Winking Lizard and took advantage of a lunch special they had by ordering a delicious Bayou Burger topped with spices and lots of mushrooms. Any vacation day is certainly enjoyable, but today was one of those days that was extra fun! To view a few other photos from the day, click here.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Treadmill Workout

I headed over to my fitness center after lunch today and got in a workout while watching some NFL playoff action on TV.  I set the treadmill at the maximum 15% incline and decided to “up the ante” a bit by alternating between 10 minutes of walking at 3 mph and 5 minutes of running at 4 mph.  Towards the end I could tell I gave my legs a good solid workout but still felt strong and pain free.  I love that feeling of walking on flat ground again after climbing for a straight hour!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Kendall Lake Area

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This afternoon my brother and I met at Kendall Lake for a 7 mile trail run.  We headed over to the cross country trail and decided to take the long straight route that follows alongside the big open field and leads to the Buckeye Sports Center.  Eventually we came up to a sign that said “Leaving the CVNP”, so we knew that we were now heading onto someone else’s property.  We decided to do a little exploring but stay within the general vicinity of the park.  We followed alongside the property line and were surprised to see these crosses in the very back of someone’s field.  We were hoping that they just buried their pets here…

DSC00172We began to wonder though as we went a little further and spotted what appeared to be some sort of Halloween maze.  There was white string tied from tree to tree, but also attached to the string were these skull bags…

DSC00173 We keep moving and eventually came up to a pond.  Luckily we were able to follow a game trail along the left side of it, which then looped around and took us back to the trails next to the Kendall Hills area.

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Just a reminder… these aren’t chocolate expresso beans!

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Andrew Skurka Presentation & Trail Run

This evening my brother and I headed over to the Happy Days Lodge to listen to a presentation by Andrew Skurka, a 28 year old outdoor adventurer who since 2002 has trekked over 23,000 miles. His recent projects have been intense, off-trail endeavors through premier wilderness in Alaska, Iceland, the Colorado Plateau, and California. His earlier achievements include two monumental long-distance hiking firsts - the 6,875-mile Great Western Loop and the 7,778-mile Sea-to-Sea Route. Skurka has been recognized as "Adventurer of the Year" by National Geographic Adventure Magazine and "Person of the Year" by Backpacker Magazine.

I attended his presentation last year when he came to the Cuyahoga Valley and this year was just as good. He always has a good story to tell and always makes me just want to drop everything in life and go out into the wilderness. Tonight, he informed everyone of his most recent plan - a 4,000 to 4,500 mile loop around the state of Alaska and the Canadian territory of Yukon. This trek is not an official trail or route, and has never been completed, attempted, and possibly even conceived until now. It is almost entirely off-trail and crosses only about 10 roads for its entire length. Click Here to read more about it.

Following his presentation, Jeff and I headed out onto the Ledges Trail and ran to the Pine Grove Trail, did a loop and came back for 5 miles. It was a beautiful clear cold night to be out on the trails and the finely packed down snow felt great to run on. Afterwards, we stopped by the Winking Lizard for a couple beers and some trail talk with a few of our friends and Andrew Skurka. It was a lot of fun!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Snowshoeing

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This morning Tami and I headed over to the Kendall Lake Winter Sports Center and rented all-day snowshoes for $5.  We hiked for about an hour and did a lot of off-trail exploring over by the Kendall Hills.  It was an absolutely beautiful day and there were lots of people out sled riding.  We had a great time and then enjoyed dinner later in the evening at the Rosewood Grill, a new restaurant in Hudson.

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CLICK HERE to view the rest of my pictures from today

Friday, January 8, 2010

More Off-Piste

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Today I met Dan Bellinger at the Kendall Lake parking lot around noon.  We headed over to Camp Manatoc and did some more exploring.  There was quite a bit of snow on the ground as you can tell from this picture…. The more traveled trails were packed down though.

DSC00131After leaving Camp Manatoc, we hooked up with the Salt Run trail and did a loop before finishing with about 7.25 miles.

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CLICK HERE to view all of the other pictures I took

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Happy Days to Kendall

This evening I met my brother at Happy Days for a trail run.  On our way there we experienced a lot of freezing drizzle since temps were in the upper 20’s.  By the time we finished, our cars were a complete glaze of ice.  Thankfully the roads were salted very well.

We ran the Ledges Trail, did the Pine Grove loop twice on our way to and from Kendall Lake, and finished up with 6 miles.  The snow on the most used trails was packed down but there were other sections where we were breaking trail in 3-4 inches of snow, making things more difficult.  My handheld light started dimming halfway through but I knew it had enough juice to get us through the technical sections and the snow made things bright enough to see everything else.  It was a very quiet and relaxing run.  Afterwards we stopped by the Winking Lizard to watch the Cavs game and enjoy a few microbrews!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Snowed In

This past weekend’s lake effect snow storm continued into this week and never seemed to let up today.  I ended up staying home from work and watched as snow totals in Streetsboro grew to a whopping 18 inches by afternoon…..

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One of my friends in Hudson even decided to do a little off roading…..

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We’re still under a lake effect snow warning tonight and they’re talking about the chance of us picking up a maximum of another 10 inches of snow on top of what we already have by tomorrow evening.  I sure hope they’re wrong.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Arctic Run

Well, it definitely looks and feels like the dead of winter in N.E. Ohio now. The high temperature only reached 17 today with wind chills dropping to 5 below zero. And there's already a foot of snow on the ground at my place in Streestboro, with more lake effect snow predicted for the rest of the week.

During a break in the weather today, my brother and I headed over to Kendall Lake for an off-piste run on the grounds of Camp Manatoc. It was amazing how much less snow there was in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park compared to my place, which is only 15 minutes away. The main trails were even entirely packed down and very runable. However, there was just enough snow off trail to make things interesting! We did a loop around the camp and then ran up to the top of the sled riding hill back at Kendall. My watch said we ended up with 5 miles but the effort definitely made it seem longer.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

More Climbing

After getting snowed in this morning and abandoning my original plan for the day, I headed back over to my fitness center and did another two hours on the treadmill at a 15% incline. Legs still felt strong afterwards. Good workout!