Monthly Archives: April 2011

Spring, Finally


It has finally greened up here in Ohio. I guess we call it spring. The temperature hasn’t really co-operated with us yet, although I started today’s run in a very nice 60 degrees.


This was both a daffodil rescue operation and a trail run. The daffs were no problem to find, but it seemed like I waited one week too long for optimum pictures.
This former..building is on a road to Salt Fork. And of course there are daffodils around!

I travelled further down the road, then hopped on a trail to locate these daffodils. It’s a good thing I am a trail runner, because I had to bushwhack off the trail to get to this spot. 



It seems many of the daffs in this area are of this variety. It seems to be a ruffled variety. Most of the daffs were post bloom, and the heavy rains of yesterday had most of the blooms beaten down.

After I screwed around for awhile digging up various plants, I finally decided I need to run, not dig. So I got about four more miles in on some muddy trails before I used up my free time allotment, and headed to the grocery store.

I was amazed when I exited the store, the temperature had dropped about ten degrees and the wind had kicked up. I had nailed the perfect time on this spring day for a trail run!

With “Forget the PR” 50K now under wraps, it is back to focus on the dance on the rocks from here out!

Mohican-Tradition.

A race doesn’t begin when you cross the start line. 

A race begins a few years before. Where friends are running trails together, and the idea of being able to share their trails with others begins. Where new trails are found, and the comment, “well, you can forget about your PR on this one”! is uttered.

Ideas become a solid plan. Mileage is established.Permits are secured. The first race takes place. A success. Year Two follows. Another sell out.

Year 3 seemed to be a change for us. It felt like our race matured. Maybe it was the new location, having a conference center with heat, electricity, restroom facilities. It felt like we had come of age. We had a sell out race, and were excited to share a new course with old friends and initiate new friends to our beloved Mohican trails.

 

You may notice I keep saying “we” and “our”. The race is the baby of Rob Powell, the Race Director. When Rob mentioned he was starting this race, and said he needed my help, my answer was yes. Whatever I can do to help Rob with this race, our race, I do.  There is a bunch of us that have been with the RD since the beginning. Another tradition. I know what I will be doing around the third weekend of April every year.
 I think “our” race has been getting better with each year.

Tradition: the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or by practice.

I was particularly struck by this definition of tradition. I had just remarked to Rob on Saturday that we were the next generation of Mohicans; the “first” generation of Regis, Tanya, Roy, Don, has turned over the reins of directing and volunteering to the likes of Rob, myself, Luc, Mike Patton, Jay Smithberger, and others. 


Tradition: The hand over climb up Little Lyons Falls. The trail up to
Little Lyons Falls always has a certain mystique about it. First, you start up a creek bed-sure there is a trail there-in a rather primordial setting, hopping over downed trees and up muddy banks. You can almost forget about your dry feet here.
The 4 mile loop which Little Lyons Falls is on was called the Blue Loop in the Mohican 100 Trail Race. In the Mo 100, you do climb this section also.
In 2007, the Blue Loop was renamed to the Purple Loop, in honor of Colleen Theusch. Colleen is the race historian and writer of the Mohican 100 Trail Race. She  always dresses in purple, so she’s also known as “The Purple Lady”.  Colleen has been a stalwart supporter of the Mohican 100 since the beginning…tradition.


There are some veterans of the FTPR race, and then there are folks who ran FTPR for their very first ultra! They sure did not pick an easy one for their first!

 

The course was changed this year-and then changed again, a week before the race, due to some trails washing out. A new tradition for the FTPR was the water crossing-once for the 25K runners, twice for the 50K runners. Crossing the Clear Fork Branch of the Mohican River is a tradition of the Mohican 100 Trail Race, but it sure feels better on the body in hot humid June versus a cool day in April.

Tradition: The Fire Tower is an Aid Station Stop. Runners have climbed the Fire Tower in years past for both FTPR AND the Mohican 100 Trail Race. (For some years in the 100 mile race, that was part of the course).
This year the winds were high and cold up at the FT AS. Most runners were happy to just get aid and head back down the hill, out of the wind. Not so for Mike Keller. Mike was
“taking it easy” as he had just finished the Umstead 100 Mile less than two weeks ago. Mike honored tradition and was the only runner who climbed the Fire Tower in the 2011 race.


This picture sums up this years FTPR for me:

Finish!!!
Tradition!!




The Mountain in the Corner

The elephant in the room.

Or should I say, the mountain in the corner? It’s been very quiet lately, behaving itself.
I’ve been tending to other matters, all related to the mountain in the corner, but not actively thinking about it.
I’ve been trying things out, like different food and new clothes, to see what will work for that mountain in the corner.

The Umstead 100 and The Barkley Marathons have been wonderful distractions over the last two weeks. Lots of race reports to read, smack talking via email and trail-I mean we can’t talk about the mountain in the corner all the time.

Having a race last Saturday helped too. Although I did fret a bit that my 50K time has not decreased by much. I can say, the climbs were easy during that race, and my legs were not even sore for the start of the 50K on Sunday.
I’m fretting a bit on no long run for this upcoming weekend, although I will get some miles in trail marking, and I plan to climb Big Ass Hill and Gas Line Hill too.

This weekend is all about the Mohican runners and catering to them. That will help distract me from the mountain in the corner.

But I did pick up my manila folder labelled MMT. It contains the topo map, the website elevation map, 2010 runner splits, and my spreadsheet.

So after this Mohican weekend, it’s backing to letting the mountain out of the corner.

In fact,the next weekend will be my last run on the MMT trails before the race-I am planning on attending the Chocolate Bunny, which is the last MMT training run. It’s a night run on the MMT.

It’s been kind of nice-a little stressful-giving the mountain in the corner some time off. It will soon be time to sharpen up and focus on that mountain again-after this Mohican weekend.

Aid Station Packing

For any of you runners out there who have never volunteered at an Aid Station, you should.

One, you should be giving back to your fellow running community.
Two, you get a new perspective on a race.

This is the third year of being Captain of the Fire Tower Aid Station. Race Directors designate someone in charge, ie “captains” of aid stations. This is the person in charge, who watches over the runners and other volunteers. This is the person who may have to tell you that you haven’t made the cut off, or pull you from the race due to your physical condition. In many AS situations, there is no communication with the RD or Race Headquarters due to remote locations, and the AS Captain is solely in charge at that time.

A 50K race rarely has dire scenarios like I outlined above. A longer race, such as a 50 or 100 miler, usually has much more carnage and monitoring of runners, especially in races in much more remote locations.

We have a great group of volunteers for the Fire Tower AS, and many are volunteers from last year. Everyone knows what to do and it all goes pretty smoothly. I do more cheering and spectating that any actual work all day due to the great work staff assembled.

I do bring a bunch of my own gear. After working AS for the last few years, there are items that I find useful to have available:

Cutting board: ever try cutting up a watermelon on a rough wood table?
Knives: sharp ones, to cut oranges, watermelons, etc, and duller ones to use to spread peanut butter onto bread.

Plastic ladle/spoons-so you can mix up your Heed/Gatorade concoction with something cleaner than a stick!

Bucket, cloth, detergent. So you can clean up your utensils/pots/tables at the end of the day

Old bedspread, old T-shirts that I am discarding. Haven’t used these yet, really not needed in a 50K-but you never know. When a runner comes in chilled, or starting to get hypothermic, you got some spare clothing you don’t want back to donate to them.

I also throw in rain poncho,hand warmers, bug spray, suntan lotion regardless of the weather temperature. You just never know what the temp will end up. For a volunteer, with all day duty, it could be all of the above.

Now it’s time to start watching the weather forecast-for both Saturday and race day Sunday. Saturday we mark the course (much of it with lime) so it would be good NOT to have rain!

Sunday Race: Not the 50K

After I finished the 50K on Saturday, I headed straight over to Loudonville and my friend Terri’s house, who graciously let me crash there. That was a much better idea than going home between races.
Sunday’s race was the Race Director’s Race. This is where Rob Powell, the RD for “Forget the PR’ 50K lets his volunteers run the race the weekend before. Buckles are given for finishes, and food and beer afterwards.
We had a good showing and we were off. I chatted briefly with Paul and Slim, and then let the pack get ahead of me. I was a bit tired and still on the calorie deficit side.
I’ve run this loop before and had an enjoyable time. It seems like there are more and more trees cut due to new natural gas wells on part of this course. I know we need the energy, but I do love my woods.
Ron Dukes was our volunteer rolling AS, and it was good to see him at each point. My friend Cheryl was only a few minutes ahead of me, but it just seemed like I could not catch her.
The temperatures were in the 80’s at Mohican on Sunday, although with the high wind it did not feel that warm. As I finished my first loop, I decided to change plans and just do the big hills on the first 4 miles of the course and call it a day.
With that DNF from the 50K in mind, I caught up to Paul, who had run the Barkley the weekend before. Paul had run one loop and a bit of Loop Two, so it was much fun to hear all about his experiences.
As we started up Big Ass Hill, Paul demonstrated his strong hill climbing and ran up the hill to Cheryl and my astonishment. (Note to self: climbing is the Barkley training element).
I completed gas line hill, and was topping out Big Ass Hill, and then came across Gombu and Slim. They too, had eschewed finishing the 50K, and were just playing now. They were “heading back” to where lunch was being served, but just not following any trail. I was very happy to join my fellow NEO TC friends, and we got some trail time in together.
Once back at the race start/finish, there was beer, pizza, and lasagna. Sitting out in the first warm weather we have had in months, and relaxing and talking with friends..priceless!

Glacier Trail 50K Race Report

I ran in the inaugural Glacier Trail Ultra on Saturday, in Moraine State Park, Pennsylvania. This was a series of races being presented at the same time-50 mile, 50K, and a 30K. Although the temperature was supposed to hit a high of about 60 degrees, it really didn’t seem to get out of the fifties. I added the long sleeve top at the last minute, and then ended up wearing it the entire time. I did vacillate between keeping it on, taking it off, and then I would hit a ridge and some wind and be glad to have it on.

The 50 mile runners started at 630 am, and the 50K started promptly at 0730. There was around one mile on the asphalt bike path, which allowed the runners to get spread out. We hit the single track trail….and The Mud. It wasn’t bad yet, but there were already big patches.

This would be the theme of the day. Mud.

I was very amused at how some of the runners were trying to pick their way around the mud. With 30 miles to go, you are going to get your feet wet. And muddy. I just went straight through the middle. Many times, the footing was less slick going right through the water than trying to pick your way through the edges, like everyone else!

I had read (briefly) the race instructions, and knew there was an unmanned water stop around mile 5, and then the first food AS was around mile 10. That was fine with me, as I was still trying out my malto and then had Sustained Energy powder in my pack to use around the halfway point.

I was looking forward to chatting with Tom Jennings, the Race Director of the Oil Creek Ultra Races. I had seen him before the race, but then once the race started I couldn’t tell if he was way in front of me, or somehow actually behind me. The race course had some good climbs. With an out and back race, the worst thing is, the nice runnable downhill section you are on..is going to be a walking section on the way back! The course was very runnable. Except for the mud. I got out to the Jennings Center. I took a bathroom break, and then preceded to the Aid Station. Tom had arrived, got his aid, and was heading out! He must have been just out of sight behind me! I resolved to try and catch him, but wanted to get my calories in first.

Going back was a bit tougher, mainly due to the Mud. It’s all gotten deeper, longer, and greasier. The muddy uphill’ are the hardest. I don’t mind uphill’s, but I like to keep moving uphill, not sliding down! I hit the manned AS at mile 21, but Tom’s got 10-15 minutes on me. Rats, I won’t catch up with that kind of lead. Another female, catches up to me in this next section. It was nice to have her on my heels, because it actually made me run sections that I was getting ready to walk through. I did pull away from her on some uphill’ss, although she finished only 10 minutes or so after me.

Last 4 miles. More mud. I catch a male runner through here and pass him. He’s tired of the mud too. He advises me that when we hit the pavement, we’ve got 1 mile to go. I have been checking my watch and trying to play games with myself, but with over 1+ miles to go, I’m at 7 hours 50 minutes. And here comes another mud patch. Oh well, so much for running a sub 8. (Ha, so much for running a 6.30 race! Remember to think about the course, course conditions before you spout off again! But, thinking about it, I think I could run a 6.30 here with dry trails. Really.)
I get a big honking lucite medal at the end of the race. I go down to the lake and scrub off the mud off my legs before I even try to change clothes. Nicely organized, early season race!

Race Packing

I love to race pack. I love my lists. Yes, I am an obsessive-compulsive runner, like many of us out there.

This is a special weekend because I’m running two 50K’s, in two different states.

But at least I only need one list. Just times two.
I’m glad I started today, after checking the weather forecast. 62 F in PA and 75 F in Ohio??? It’s singlet and shorts/skirts.
So I start trying on shorts and running skirts. I’m glad I did, because there is now a discarded pile…too big. And unlike tops, which if too big is just fine, running skirts and shorts tend to slide down. I have to make sure I have good clothes for MMT, so this was a good chance to sort clothing.

Other considerations is the fuel for the weekend. The Glacier Trail Ultra is a race with actual aid stations every 4 or 5 miles, so there is no need to tote alot of nutrition. This will kind of be a treat for me, because  I haven’t run anything in months where an AS was less than 10 miles apart.
I will be carrying and using both my plain malto dextrin and using Sustained Energy. The malto is proven to work, and I’ve only used the SE on a short run, just to see how I could tolerate it.
Sunday’s race is a bit more FA-style, with just some water and limited aid on the “Forget the PR” 50K course. I plan on stashing some food of my own in the Covered Bridge area, just so I have enough calories to get through it.

Other packing: breakfast items (oatmeal, cranberry juice), some Heed, post race clothes, sleeping bag stuff, towel, laptop, camera, and BEER.
I’m looking forward to some guilt free eating also. I’m envisioning eating an entire pizza while driving from PA back to Ohio. I can’t wait!!!

Oh, and the beer? Dogfish Head 60 minute.