Monthly Archives: November 2014

TIme Management for the Week: C Plus

My time management skills for this week have struggled quite a bit! I would give myself a C Plus if I needed to rate my management skills!

Does everyone know the Seven P’s?

Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance.

I’ve been doing very well this month of November, working on my daily goals! Doing my plank challenge, core/weight training, and NaBloPoMo!

I got a little off track with Slim Pickins weekend, and haven’t really picked it back up this week.

What I did wrong? I didn’t review the week ahead.  Granted, the snowstorm on Monday I wasn’t expecting at all, since I had been out of town and didn’t check any weather forecasting.  I didn’t look at my calendar at all, and didn’t realize I  had a dentist teeth cleaning appointment for Thursday morning before work.

I also had a 6 mile run, ‘harder’ before work, Thursday morning.

Ack. Had I paid attention to my calendar, I could have switched up Wednesday, my day off, with Thursday.  Now I had to figure out how to run, get my teeth cleaned, pack my lunch, and leave for work by 10 am. Ack.

Update: I managed some of it. I woke up at 515am, had coffee, got 5 miles on the treadmill, showered, went to dentist, came home, had breakfast, made a healthy lunch AND got the blog post done!


No Money Gifts for Runners


Aha! Doesn’t this sound great? no money gifts

You can give a runner a gift that will not send you to the mall or decimate your credit card.  Here are a few no money gifts for the runners in your life:


Bib– Frame a bib for your runner. Yes, go plunder their stuff. hardrock 100 bib Runners keep bibs. I just found the bib from my first 50K!   Put it in a frame you have laying around, and voila! I guarantee your runner will be pleased.

Quilt-this would also involve plundering their stuff, and you might need their permission ahead of time.

Tshirt running quilt

Quilt my mom made from running shirts, before she got a fraud alert on her phone and had to stop working on the quilt.

This would involve a bit of time, but you could come up with a great present with just your time (and maybe a bit of fabric) involved!

Even if you don’t have a bunch of cash, these are a few ways to make your runner smile on Christmas morning! That being said, there are just some gifts that require forking over some dough. If money is tight, loans, also known as a lån in countries like Norway, can be a good option. Obviously we don’t recommend taking out long term loans to finance gifts, but they shouldn’t be ruled out if you need to finance a small gift purchase.

Pace-offer to pace a runner.  Think creatively. I am not talking about just pacing in a race.  Is your runner training for a marathon or an ultra? Sometimes they have long runs to get in. Offer to join them for a long run. Not a long distance runner? That’s fine. Offer to join them for their last five miles of their 20 mile run. Or three miles in the middle.  Often this is very helpful for the runner and makes their miles go by faster.  Is your runner friend working up to a new distance?  Offer to run their race with them, whether it’s a 5K or a 1/2 marathon.

Picture: this would involve you going to a race (maybe the same one you offered to drive the runner to) and getting out along the course and snapping some pictures. Take a bunch of pictures, find the best one, enlarge and print it, and give it to the runner (maybe for next Christmas!)

Crew-not a runner? That’s okay too.  You could give the gift of transporting a runner to a race. Wouldn’t it be nice to not have to drive yourself home after a marathon?  Just relax and let someone else do the driving?

Crewing could also involve crewing in the ultra respect, aka meeting your runner around the course.

There is also crewing in the ultra context “Cranky runner endless waiting”.  Does your runner have a 50K/50 mile/100 mile run in the future? Are you available to crew for the runner? Maybe you could make that your non-money gift to the runner in your life for Christmas.


Treadmill Season

openind day treadmill season

Today was opening day of treadmill season. With a high temperature of 19 degrees F, wind, and no *real* goal races in the near future, I refused to go outside and shiver through my run. Fourteen degrees is supposed to be the temperature I run in-for the month of January and February, not November!

My work out room has changed dramatically. I’ve painted the walls, the 20-year-old carpet was removed  and new carpet installed; new overhead lights; my running shirt quilt finally hung on the wall.

treadmill workout room

workout room The old look of my workout room. It also doubled as the wine cellar.


The new look:

new workout room

The new look!

Running  gear storage

All my running gear now has a consolidated home

Yes, those are butternut squash on the shelves. Butternut squash could be considered great running gear, or maybe great running food. Just ask anyone who has had our potato-butternut squash soup at aid stations!

Tshirt running quilt

Quilt my mom made from running shirts

I have really recaptured this space to train in. With new carpet, it’s easy to get my stretching, core work done right here in the same room.

My workout today was six miles on the treadmill. I realized the point of my workouts right now are more about consistency than busting open some new speed record. I decided to just “play” today, since it was my day off and I had time to spare.

I ran a mile as warm up, then used one of the pre-programmed settings to do a interval/incline workout for two miles. Then I just ran two miles after that, then one mile slower as a cool down. I didn’t over-do it on opening day here. Jumping on a treadmill and busting out six miles can really make you sore if you are not used to the treadmill surface-as I am not used to.

It was okay. I am, like many others, not the greatest treadmill fan. But it is a useful tool to use. There are days outside which are not safe to run outside-ice, snow, deer-gun season, cold temperatures-so I am really glad I have these useful training tool at my disposal.

Screw Your Shoes!

screw your shoes


It’s time of the year to screw your shoes.  No idea what I am talking about? The snow has hit here in Ohio.


I gave an Ignite Talk all about how to screw your shoes, check it out here!



What is an Ignite Talk? “Enlighten us, but make it quick”.

The rules of an Ignite Talk is a five minute presentation, with 20 slides.  These slides auto advance every 15 seconds. I really enjoyed creating my “stack” and honing my speech down to 5 minutes.  It was a pretty funny speech to give and it seemed well received.  So take my advice, screw your shoes and get out there for a run!

It will take you, with just a little practice, about five minutes to screw your shoes.



Slim Pickins 2014

¹Slim Pickins

This weekend was our 8th annual Slim Pickins weekend.  For the history of Slim Pickins, I recouped that on Friday.  This was the farthest NEO Trail had traveled for a weekend SP run.  This occurred since we had been thrown out¹ of Linn Run, our original destination.  The Professor then said he would like to visit Great Seal State Park, which is the park where the “Not Yo Momma’s” 100 Mile Race takes place in Ohio.

 Rich and Kimba got 7 miles on the trails at Great Seal Park on Friday, to do a bit of a recon before the others arrived the next day.  It was a bit of a challenge to follow the stellar cartographers that ODNR employs to make maps for state parks in Ohio.

bloggers view of map

Blogger’s representation of sucky ODNR map

Really, the map was not much better than this.

We did have a nice cozy cabin, over at Scioto Trail State Park, about fifteen miles away:

Scioto StatePark cabin

For the last few years, NEO Trail has been trying to get a cabin or a hotel suite where all can gather after the run, break bread, chat, and other “fairly normal” activities that we are known for.

None of the NEO Trailers had ever been to Great Seal State Park, which made it a bit difficult to try and describe anything about it. In fact, where we parked and started was where we thought the 100 mile race started. We were in the wrong place! Tim Smith, from Middleton, parked in the correct spot but still managed to find us down trail.

The Polish Surplus had just arrived in the midwest, or heartland, or whatever you want to call the Buckeye State. It was a warm 15 degree at the start of Slim Pickins.Slim Pickins 2014

We then ran over to conquer Sugarloaf Mountain.

Whew! That was a good climb up Sugarloaf!

Sugarloaf Mountain Ohio

Top of Sugarloaf


The guys ponder a cairn. We were doing our best to follow Rob Carroll, the RD of the “Yo Momma’s” Race along with the ODNR map. henceforth known as the “sucky map”. There was much stopping and starting, not listening to the Professor’s navigation tips, and playing on rocks.  We did run into Rob Carroll, who helped show us where we were on the map.

When we got to our water cache, where Aid Station Two is for the YM race, it was much more runnable, and hence we did much more running.

DSCN3246 DSCN3248

It was soon figured out, with all our screwing around, and compensating for the slowest runner’s pace (Kimba’s) it wasn’t going to look like a second complete loop was going to happen.  Kimba stopped after one loop and drove The King, The Prof, and Slim over to the farthest point south to run some more miles. Tim went on to climb Sugarloaf Mountain and head home. It was nice to share trail with a new runner-thanks Tim!

The Yo Momma’s course: this is a tough loop. We knew it would be hilly, but there are a bunch of ups and downs and several big tough climbs and descents. With the course being multiple loops, this is indeed a challenging race. We agreed this race was much harder than Mohican or Burning River.


There was also a run on Sunday morning. We woke up to first snow!  We again tried to follow a ODNR map, which didn’t quite pan out, but we spotted the fire tower anyways.

Kimba and Slim at fire tower DSCN3261

We ended running almost five miles on Sunday back to the cabin, a good way to shake out the kinks and muscles for the long drives home.

The best part about Slim Pickins is saying “see you in a couple of weeks” as URINEO, our club Fat Ass at Mill Creek Park, is December 20.  Another good time had by all!

¹ we weren’t actually kicked out of Linn Run. We had reservations, but the park decided to close the cabins down for cleaning and renovation.

Cold Weather Running Gear

cold weather running gear


The fond memories of hot sultry humid days have faded and it’s now time for cold weather running.  Someone once said ” there is no bad weather, just inappropiate clothing” which can be true.   These are my first choices for cold weather running gear.

Clothes-you really want to under-dress, just a bit. You should be a little chilled as you start your run. You will (probably) warm up.  My clothing go to for cold weather running:

Running tights-I have five or six pairs. I usually buy them on clearance in the summertime! My favorite pair is from Mountain Hardwear. They are at least ten years old.

Shirts-in the past, I have worn two or three tops.  Now I usually wear one long sleeve top of merino wool, and a windbreaker over that.  The reason is, the windbreaker will 1) break the wind and 2) trap more heat inside than wearing two or three shirts.  I have three jackets that I wear:

Sierra Designs. This is at least five years old. It’s very light  sierra design windbreaker

My heavier jacket that I used at Hardrock is my  REI Kimtah  From REI:
The women’s lightweight REI Kimtah women’s jacket with eVent™ fabric is a perfect spring and summer choice for active pursuits where windy, wet weather is a concern.
eVent fabric has a unique membrane structure that allows sweat vapor to quickly escape to the outside of the fabric No matter how hard you work, overheating is unlikely due to this Direct Venting™ technology And because you remain dry on the inside, the likelihood of an uncomfortable, post-exercise chill is eliminated. eVent technology works so efficiently, no pit zippers are needed; all seams are sealed for complete waterproof protection. Windproof to 60 mph. Fully adjustable brimmed hood features easy-to-use ripcord-style cinches.

REI Kimtah Jacket

This was 159.00 dollars from REI, purchased in 2011, also not available anymore.  It seemed like alot of money in 2011, but it’s been well worth the purchase price.

Buff or something similiar.  This is a wool headband from Smartwool. I’m not really fond of hats as my head sweats horribly.  Covering my ears and part of my head and letting the top vent works for most weather situations.

DSCN1506 ll

I did get this great fleece hat from The North Face last winter, and I did wear it for my runs that were under twenty degrees!


I am sure you all see the face mask that I wear. It’s not only for the cold, it’s to warm the air I breath for my excercise induced asthma.   I don’t like the masks but they allow me to continue my running in the cold weather.  These are Seirus Masks.



Gloves-for just “chilly” cold weather, I use my little knit glves from Walmart, they are just fine. I think  I have about twenty pairs of them.  For Christmas last year, I did get a pair of 30 dollar running gloves from Nike.  They are now my “go-to” gloves for the below 20 degrees weather.

The Polar Vortex has hit. Remember, if you geared up correctly, you can continue to run-with fun-all winter long!

It’s Slim Pickins Time Again!

The History of Slim Pickins

Once upon a time, not so long ago, there were not that many ultra running events.
One of the oldest running events is the JFK 50 Mile Race.
The JFK 50 Mile was first held in the spring of 1963. It was one of numerous such 50 mile events held around the country as part of President John F. Kennedy’s push to bring the country back to physical fitness.
When Kennedy was assassinated in November of 1963, most of these events were never held again. The JFK 50 Mile in Washington County, MD is the only original JFK 50 Mile Challenge event. The race is always held the weekend before Thanksgiving.

While many, many, many runners have run the JFK for years and years, others were not that enthralled at the course/race. But, for years and years, if you didn’t run the JFK, there was no other choices.

Hence, “Slim Pickins” for the weekend before Thanksgiving.

But that was before NEO TC. This weekend became Slim Pickins, where runners assembled over a loosely orgainized plan to run miles somewhere on the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail.

The first year was 2006.
First year of SP was a target of a FA 100.

Following were present.

Bob Combs
Jim Harris
Mike Dobies (did not run as he was sick)
John Dewalt
Brad Compton from Indiana (who hit a deer on his way home and caused considerable damage to his vehicle)
We started at Seven Springs and went to mile marker 1, and then turned around to head back to Seven Springs for the first 50.

We all quit at that point except for John Dewalt, who was pissed that we all quit.
(Johnnie D quit too.)


Target was  was a backwards run on the Laurel Highlands Trail, starting at mile 71 and running to Ohiopyle.

It was one of the good “snow years” on the LH:




Four completed the entire LHHT: Roy Heger, Tanya Cady, Jim Harris, and Brian Musick.


2008 was another snow year:

2008 was the double marathon from Ohiopyle to Seven Springs and back, which no one completed.


Global warming occurred in the late 00’s, leaving us with much less epic weather for the 2009 Slim Pickings.


2009 was the 100K from Route 31 down to Ohiopyle and back. Several made the round trip: Jim Harris, Bob Combs, Cam Baker, Mike Dobies, and Brian Musick. Cam, Mike, and Brian also added some extra miles, proving you can get lost on the LHHT.


The LHHT bridge was removed in 2009, prompting a change in our Slim Pickings plan for 2010. We elected to run on the north side of the LHHT for 2010.

We had the best staging area for the 2010 Slim Pickins. This year, cabins were rented in Linn Run State Park, just a few miles from Donegal, PA. This is on the north side of the PA Turnpike.

The Pennyslvania Game Commission neglected to consult with NEO TC before they changed their hunting dates for 2010.  We found ourselves in the woods on opening day of Bear Season in Pennyslvania in 2010:

All turned out well, no casualties were noted.


This year’s Slim Pickings was staged out of Ohiopyle.  This is the epic Ohiopyle 50K.  
The double out and back. 7400 feet of elevation gain.  Sounds easy on paper, less so on those hills at mile 5 and 3.

This was the least epic weather ever for SP and also the most attendees at the starting line.
18 runners lined up at the Brown Gate in around 30 degree weather, with no snow and temperatures promised to be in the 50’s.


The mile marker three ended up being some of the runner’s turning point, since once you passed MM# 3, and went downhill, you were more of less committed. In other words, once you go down Mile 3 Hill, you might as well trudge on out to MM8 and make the turn.



We had 8 finishers of the OP50K, now known as the “Gate 2-8-X2”  Challenge.  This challenge is open to anyone, we are working on a website for this.  All you have to do is follow the pretty simple rules: Start at the Brown Gate at the LH sign, go to mile 8, come back, and repeat. Do this in one 24 hour period. Time spent refueling in Ohiopyle counts, you can’t subtract that. Report results of time and date achieved.


As always, it is sad to see SP2012 come to an end.
The NEOTC Fat Ass Rules Committee is already working on the details for SP2013.















As this was my four day weekend, I headed over to Ohiopyle early on Friday, to get most of my mileage in.
My plan was a straight out and back on the Laurel Highland Hiking Trail, just to mile marker 10 and back, no epic “Gate to 8 x 2” Challenge.
Weather was looking good, there was still plenty of snow in the Laurel Highlands from a late fall dusting.


Allison, Bob, Paul, and Jeff showed up in the early evening, as Slim was going to join us in the morning.  Surprisingly, it was an early to bed for us.
My plan for Saturday was to drop the 50K runners-Allison, Gombu, and Paul at mile marker 31, and then go back to OP and do another out and back.  But I decided to join the trio through Seven Springs Ski Resort, and double back-that would give me ten miles.
After I left the 3 amigos, I headed back north on the LH Trail.  As I crossed the road, I noticed a wide trail intersecting the path. I looked to my right, and saw a building.  A shelter? I did not recollect any shelter just one mile south of Seven Springs, so I walked over to it.
It was an old spring house.  Still producing, quite well!
I got back to OP about 11 am and wandered into the General Store, where the chili caught my eye.  As I wolfed it down, I thought perhaps chili wasn’t the best food as a refuel for an afternoon run, but it sure tasted good going down!
I went back to the suite and took some Ultragen and again iced my knee.  I figured both could not hurt and needed to let my stomach settle.  Jeff returned from his morning run, and we chatted a bit. Then I decided I was getting real comfortable on the couch, and if I was going to run, I needed to leave sooner than later!

The training schedule was supposed to be longer on Friday, and then “ten” miles on Saturday, but I figured some extra mileage-especially at a hiking pace, with a full stomach-would be okay.

I took a leisurely walk up to the mile 2 overlook.  I sat on the rock overlook there, just basked in the sun.  I stretched.

After about a half hour, I could tell my legs were tightening up, so I resolved to go north on the trail until I ran into one of my NEO TC runners.  At this point, there was no way I was going up the Mile Six hill again!  I figured I could camp out at the Shelter Sign until someone came along.

And happily, Gombu came along as I was climbing up the mile 5 hill.  Oh yeah!  Now I can turn around!  Gombu and I ran back to OP.  So I got eight miles in for the afternoon run/hike, so I got 38 miles in on the LH Trail for the weekend.

After showering, we headed over to the Falls City Pub.  It is the best pleasure in the world, to have a pub at the trail head!

Allison had texted me when she got to the mile 8 marker, so we were guestimating when she would finish.  I gave her a 630 pm appearance at the pub, and she arrived at 6.27!!

Allison was the only one who went out of her comfort zone for Slim Pickins.  This was an unsupported effort, with one water/food cache at Slim’s vehicle at mile 11.  She was also running in the dark in the last hour or so of her 50K-on a very technical trail.  She was alone for almost all of her run, and had a very successful time!  Very proud of her effort on going it alone out there.

I think she looks pretty good after finishing a 50K