What a beautiful day for a race!
A little warm, I’m guessing it was into the 80’s around mid day, but thankfully the course is almost completely shaded.
I really love running this course. Mill Creek Park is a real gem of a park set right in the middle of urban Youngstown Ohio. This is a very long, skinny park; the race course follows the shore of three different lakes.
The course consists of two figure eight loops and then one shorter loop to make up the 31 mile distance.
I took the early 7 am start. There was about seven of us this year starting early. We had one runner, Jim, from California! Jim is making his way all over the country, running marathons and ultras. I believe he’ll be running 68 marathons this year alone! Jim needed the early start because he needed to finish and then drive to Illinois for the QuadCities Marathon the next day!!
It’s just daybreak as we start running, and a little dark in the woods, but nothing where we need lights. We get to the infamous Monkey Trails and I get across the “Love Log” first and manage to snap a pic of Jim traversing it. It sure looks easier on those folks with the long legs getting across it!
Just after the Monkey Trails, you are almost at the covered bridge (we have alot of these in Ohio!) where the aid station is located. Actually, since we’re the early runners, there is just water and GatorAde, but no one is in need of food yet, so I top off my water bottle and we continue on.
There is a small section of road along the ‘bottom’ of the course, because we have to go around the lake (I guess that would be better than going through it) and I encounter my geese hazard. I eye them and give them an ‘amscray’ and run through them, hoping I am not going to get nipped in the butt by a goose-hey, they’re not really nice creatures!!
I have a goal for this first loop, with my early start. Last year, the lead guys caught me around ten miles and passed me. This year, I want to make it back to the start before they catch me. So I am running a bit hard (for me). I pass Shubi with about two miles to the cabin and he thinks I can do it. So I keep going. And I did it! Back to the starting line in 2.5 hours. The lead guy comes in about two minutes later! Ha ha!! (This means they have run the 11-some miles in 1.5 hours..)
I start back on the second loop. For this loop, you reverse direction and just run back the way you just came in. This gives me a chance to now see everyone in the race, and it seems like most of the folks in the Northern Ohio ultra community are out for the race.
I hit the aid station again, this time fully loaded The two boys helping out are the Harris boys, Slim’s great kids-thanks for helping out Heath and Eric!! and I go off to go around the lake again.
It’s pretty warm out here for this loop, and the road section and the asphalt is a bit warm. But there are really great views, if you pick your head up and look around!
Somewhere out here, I WHACK my left foot into a rock-not hard to do when the trail is as rocky as the YUT-C is. I hit my two middle toes and it hurts pretty bad. I wonder if my toes are broke. I know there is really nothing you can do for broken toes but tape them. So I figure keeping my shoe on so the toes won’t swell is my best option if they are broke. I just figured it they were broke, I wouldn’t be running the Akron Marathon the next weekend. Just then, a bee comes out of nowhere and stings me! No worries, now my arm hurts worse than my toes!
I’m still having a great run mentally, but know I am running pretty slow. Gee, wonder if that extra twenty pounds has anything to do with it? Hmmm….
I go through the whole gamut of aches and pains-bad headache, quad hurting, arm hurting from bee sting,but you know, it’s kind of the normal stuff. I’m still in a very good mood. Sometimes it’s amazing how you can separate your mental/emotional mood from your physical pains. Sure, I was hurting, but still having a great time out on the trails.
I get back to the starting line, grab some quick chow, and turn around for the last and shorter loop. This time I am kind of dreading the Monkey Trails, probably because I am tired. But I also know the Covered Bridge is right after them and that will be halfway through the last loop. I know I am not going to make my goal of a sub eight hour race, but I continue to chug along. I’ve run this course four times now, and it really helps me at races to know where I am. This way I can gauge where the aid station is and drain my water bottle ahead of time.
I start on the little side loop which we only run on the third loop, and I notice this cool little waterfall/pool off the right. The water level is really low in the park, and the waterfalls aren’t as spectacular as they usually are:
After this, I climb some stairs and cross a road-where I don’t see any Montrail yellow markers. Even though Slim pre-ran the course at 630 am, there has been trail mischief out on the course. I know where to go, here, so I go down the trail, grab some Montrail marker from the course, and hang it where hopefully runners behind me will see it (and someone won’t remove it before the end of the race.) As it turns out, Josh who has never run this course before, got lost several times. He probably ran 40 miles instead of 31.
I am finally done with the side loop and heading for the finish line! The last 1/8 of a mile on the road to the cabin is nice and hot, but I still run in for a 8.26 finish-well off my goal, but I had fun out there, as I usually do!
Probably by pushing it on the that first loop, I may have done myself in, but hey, that was my goal to do!
There was soup, pizza and plenty of stuff to eat at the finish line. Josh finally comes in after his 31+ miles. Josh eschews the pizza and goes for the healthy watermelon:
After sitting around and chatting with Josh and trying to pry his future races out of him, we both take off, since I have a two hour drive and he’s got a four hour drive ahead of him.
Thanks Bob and the NEO Trail Club, this was another excellent race, I had a great time!