Monday, March 24, 2008

Week 10 - More than half way there on the 18 week training plan!

Would you pick these guys up?
Tronk & Son Taylor after long run!

This week started out so-so. I ran on Monday but really didn’t feel like running at all. I was exhausted from the weekend in Cleveland and wanted to relax more than anything. I was slated to run 5 miles but I managed only 3 ½ before calling it a day. I then went to fire drills and worked with 5” hose. That was a workout in and of itself.

I took Tuesday off as scheduled and had planned on 4 miles on Wednesday. Unfortunately it rained all day Wednesday and instead of risking getting sick, like half on my co-workers, I scratched the run and made it up on Thursday with a 4 mile run around town.

I took Friday off at work being Good Friday and my son Taylor had planned on doing his long run in Mill Creek. I told him I would join him but we would have to come up with a plan to do this. I cannot run his pace and I was planning on 16 miles or so and he wanted to run 20.

We parked at the Mill and decided that he would run the east side of Newport and I would run the west side. When he got around to me, he would turn around and run with me until we got to Shields road. After crossing Shields, he would run his pace again and follow the road along the golf course, cross the bridge onto the hike/bike trail, and then turn right and run to 224 and turn around. I would cross the bridge and turn left and run until he caught back up with me. When we got back to Shields road, we would run opposite sides of Newport and he would again run around until he met up with me and then turn around. This didn’t quite work out the way we planned as the bridge to cross over to the hike/bike trail was flooded and there was no way to cross over. We both ran to 224 so he was in front of me by quite a bit.

I ran by myself from Shields road to 224 and back and had made my way almost all the way to the Mill before I saw him coming the other way with a smile on his face. We made it to the car and re-fueled and got something to drink. We had been running for an hour and a half and both of us were feeling good.

After a few minutes, we started down the road away from the Mill towards Cohasset and onto the east Cohasset trail. Once we were on the trail, we decided that he would run his pace and go ahead of me and go along the east side of Lake Glacier and I would go along the west side. I would run until I got to him and then I would turn around and we would finish the last 2-3 miles together.

As I approached Lake Glacier I was trying to spot him coming from the other direction but I could not see him. He was wearing a bright yellow Livestrong hat so he was pretty easy to spot. I started down the west side of Glacier towards the Old Log Cabin waiting for him to come. As I rounded the corner towards the Cabin, I spotted him coming the other way. I stood and waited for him and when he got to me he said he needed to walk a bit. He had pushed the hills hard on the other side and was starting to feel the pain of running for over 2 hours. We starting running again after a bit and decided we would run to the bottom of the hill by the flats and we would power walk the last climb. We got about half way up the hill and I remembered there is a trail that goes off to the right that will take you down to the decking by the Mill. We opted for that and enjoyed the scenery from the trail perspective. We reached the car and had run for 2 hours and 40 minutes. Taylor guessed he covered 20 miles and I figured I almost had 17. We were both tired and were glad to sit down. We enjoyed pretzels and water in the car on the way home.

Mill Creek on Saturday Morning! New Snow.

On Saturday my legs were feeling the pain and the new snow on the ground could have easily made me say I am not doing anything today. Instead I cleared the driveway, changed my clothes and headed back to the park for another run. I parked at the Lily Pond and headed immediately towards Bear’s Den. I wanted to climb and see what I had left in my legs. It wasn’t much, but I got to the top and the longer I ran the better I felt. I covered about 8 miles in 65 minutes. The park looked beautiful with all the new snow and I enjoyed every bit of it.

My Back Yard Saturday Morning
Sunday was Easter and I got up and went to church with my family. After church I had about 90 minutes before I had to be at dinner at the in-laws so I took advantage and got a 4 mile run around town in. I was somewhat stiff but again, the longer I ran the better I felt.

This was a great week of training. I had the opportunity to run with my son on the longest run of his life, and I got to get in some quality miles.

Totals for the week:
317 minutes of running
35.5 miles
Long Run = 16+
Weight = 198.

Next week I am scheduled to run 18 miles. I am looking forward to a 3 hour run.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Zone Swim Meet 2008

I spent the weekend in Cleveland Ohio at the Zone Swim Meet. This is a swim meet where the best YMCA swimmers from five states compete against one another. I have the distinct honor of coaching some of the finest swimmers in Northeast Ohio who did very well at Zones. Here are the pictures I took of these great kids.

Cleveland State Natatorium

Ashley and "Old Bear"

Coaches Jessie and Jeff

Taylor, Tre, Dannielle, and Jessie


Kayleigh, Kayla, Becca, Rachel, and Mikayla

Mikayla, Danielle, Meryl, and Jessie

Kara Shows off her "sound system"

Joe shows off his Neptune Pride with an "N" on Justin's back

Neptune Men - Ryan, Tom, Nick and Coach Jeff

Alicia and brother Ian

Neptune Women - Katie, Steph, Morgan and Ashley

Alec, Alex, Justin, and Joe - Neptune Strong!

Katie, Steph, and Ashley

Coach Sue and Coach Jessie

I am very proud of each and every one of these swimmers. They had a great season and I can't wait until next year.

Week 9 and Doing Fine!

What a busy week. I knew going into this week I had a lot of extra things to do besides run, so I planned accordingly. On Monday I dropped off my car at the Honda dealer to have a rear strut replaced. I attended my fire department meeting and training and then headed out the door at 8:00 p.m. for a run around town. I went for 28 minutes of hard running, pushing every hill. It was a warm 33 degrees and I ran in shorts for about 3 ½ miles.

On Tuesday I went and coached swimming until 7:00 and decided I would run on an unscheduled day in case plans changed later in the week. I needed to get my miles in and I wanted to remove all the possible excuses that could come up. I again ran hard around town for 38 minutes and at one point I passed Taylor and his girlfriend who were out walking and Taylor asked me why I was running so fast. That felt good so I continued to run fast until I was home. I covered 4 ½ miles. I got to run in shorts again and it felt great!

On Wednesday I picked Elle up and she sounded great. No noise. I went to the YMCA and coached my final swim practice for the season and went home to relax. I was tired and enjoyed a quiet evening at home.

On Thursday it was a beautiful day. At 50 degrees and sunshine it was one of the nicest days I had seen in a long time. I didn’t feel like running. But instead of sitting on my butt, I put on my shoes and headed out the door. I really believe that everything happens for a reason. As I was about 10 minutes into my run, I happened upon one of my friends (Ed Robinson) in McDonald who was also out running. He asked if I wanted someone to run with. I said absolutely! We ran for 41 minutes and covered about 5 miles. Thank God Ed came along or I might have been home in less than 20 minutes. I thanked him for making my run better.

On Friday I had taken the day off of work so that I could get my long run in. Knowing that I would be gone all weekend and would have little chance to run, I knew it was Friday or never. I would run 16 miles this day in 2 hours 30 minutes. I chose a loop around Lake Newport (clockwise) and then a loop around the “historic” district of the park and then another loop around Newport (counter-clockwise). By having my car parked at the Mill parking lot, I could stop and refuel if needed. It was a very comfortable run. It lightly drizzled the whole time and I enjoyed every minute of it. I passed by one other person out walking the whole morning. There has always been something peaceful about Mill Creek to me, but this was a special day. I hope to have many more long runs in the park prior to the marathon.

Later in the day, I traveled to Cleveland for the Zone Swim Meet, which is the greatest YMCA swimmers from 5 states. We had 30 swimmers representing the Youngstown Y-Neptunes. The kids all did great and I will be posting pictures later today of the meet.

After the swimming was completed on Saturday, we got back to the hotel around 5:30. I decided that gave me just enough daylight to get in a run in downtown Cleveland. What an adventure. I would run straight if I caught a cross-walk with the “walk sign” lighted or I would turn if was a “do not walk” sign. I criss-crossed and zigzagged all over downtown Cleveland in an effort to reach Lake Erie and see the sights that this great city has to offer. After about 10 minutes, there it was….. Cleveland Browns Stadium, the Science Center and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I made my way there and ran by each of them. I thought to myself, in about two months from now I will be running by these places again in the marathon.

I made my way back to the hotel by traveling different roads but much in the same way. I cut back, took a turn, and zigzagged all over town again and made it back to the hotel in about 30 minutes. I was quite satisfied.

Total Miles Run = 32
Long run = 16
Total Minutes Running = 285
Weight 200 (too much food at the swim meet)

Interesting Notes: Next week I am slated to run 29 miles. I hope to do more now that I have a little more time on my hands. 32 miles last week did not leave me sore and a 16 mile run actually felt very comfortable.

Later today I will post some pictures of the Zone Meet. Stay Tuned!!!!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Week 8 - A Short Week

The week started off great. On Monday the 3rd we were treated to some great weather. I took advantage of the unseasonably warm weather and ran 4 miles in McDonald (in shorts and t-shirt). Even if it was short lived, I needed this for my sanity. I was somewhat stiff from the half-marathon the day before, but it felt good to be out running on a warm sunny day.

On Wednesday I had another good run. The weather cooled off some, but it was still a pleasant 32 degrees. I got out and ran 5 miles at an easy pace. I could still feel the hills of the Mill Creek half-marathon every time I pushed a little harder or ran a hill, but again it was enjoyable not running in single digit temperatures.

On Friday the snow came. It was described as a winter storm of epic proportions. It lived up to its billing. It was “THE PERFECT STORM”. Unfortunately, running was not going to happen. On a weekend of activity cancellations, road parking bans, and rescheduling of about every major event in the area, it was hard to convince myself that I would no be running this weekend.

Friday there was no way. I did not even venture out of my house. On Saturday, I went out and cleared the driveway and decided to go see how bad it was for myself. I got into Elle and we traveled over to Mill Creek Park. From my house, the park is about 15 minutes away. After a 35 minute ride, I was starting to doubt I would be running. Once I got to the park, I thought maybe I would run around Lake Newport twice for my 10 mile run. This is a heavily traveled road and I figured it would be one of the first roads cleared. Big Mistake! The roads in the park had not been touched. There was a foot of mashed up brown and white snow covering the roads. Reluctantly I drove home. I stretched out and sat and watched a movie pissed that I could not run.

On Sunday I noticed that the Village of McDonald had done a real nice job of clearing my road. This was a good sign. I waited until the sun came out and then I prepared to get out for my run. I went out at about 11:30 a.m. and it was great. Sure there was a little ice and a little slop, but it is March in northeast Ohio. I trudged on and ran for almost 50 minutes. I chalked it up to 6 miles of running.

Not a great week of marathon training, but sometimes you have to take what the good Lord gives you. Here are my unimpressive numbers for the week.

Total Miles = 15
Long Run = 6
Inches of Snow = 10

Monday, March 3, 2008

Week 7 - Mill Creek Park Half Marathon!

Week 7 started out slowly and once again I was battling the weather. Monday after work I got in a 4 mile run in some frigid conditions. It was snowing, blowing, and really quite miserable.

Tuesday brought freezing rain and snow and we cancelled swim practice. I took the opportunity to get in a short run in some bad weather. I ran for about 30 minutes but did not enjoy even one minute of it. I am now at the point that I am getting frustrated putting on all the clothes, walking down an icy driveway to run in really crappy conditions. I keep telling myself it is going to get better, but with the snowiest February on record, this has been a challenging year to train for a spring marathon.

On Friday it seemed warmer so I went out for a run right after I got home from work. It was raining a little but it did not seem so bad. It was probably about 34 degrees so it actually felt like a heat wave. I ran around McDonald and decided to run roads I don’t normally run to break up the monotony. As I was heading down Iowa Avenue, I ran into one of my friends Ed Robinson who was out running also. He was just finishing up so I walked with him for a few minutes as he cooled down. It started raining harder so I told him I better get on. I ran for about another 25 minutes or so and as I was walking to cool down a little, Chris Rizer, a runner from the McDonald cross country team, came up behind me and walked with me a bit as I stretched out. It was nice to see some of my friends out running in the rain with me.

Saturday brought an all day swim meet at the Canton Natatorium. The Youngstown Y-Neptunes swam well and I was proud of all of them. Needless to say, leaving at 6:30 a.m. and getting home close to 9:00 p.m. meant no run for me. I did however stop in Alliance on my way home and met my son Taylor at Mount Union College. We went and ate at Don Panchos in Alliance for some Tex-Mex. It was good and he enjoyed the company and getting away from college for a bit.

Sunday morning I had planned on running the Mill Creek half-marathon. I got up at 7:00 and had all of my stuff ready from the night before. One of my Junior High cross country runners had called me on Saturday night and wanted to do the run also, so I left at about 7:45 to pick up Kyle and his mom Rita. As we were driving to Mill Creek, I tried to give Kyle an idea of the hills he would be running. Mill Creek is hard to describe to someone that hasn’t run there much. Some hills are steep and long, some are on gradual grades, and some of them just make your legs burn while going up them. I told him this would be the hardest run he has ever done. I knew Kyle was a good runner, but I hoped he would have enough energy for this.

The race started promptly at 8:45 a.m. I started off by staying conservative and running with a group of people. I talked with Jim Harris and his son Eric and wife Beth. I also said hello to Kelli Maheu and her daughter Audrey. Lenny Maheu, who I had run with a couple of weeks before, was feeling sick and chose not to run today. He was out there to support his family and friends.

The half marathon course stays within the historic district of the park and winds throughout the hilliest sections. I don’t think there was ever a point longer than a half mile that we were not either going up hill or down hill. I enjoyed every mile, every hill, and everybody I talked to. I ran a very comfortable pace and at times was just waiting for my legs to cramp, or to start feeling like I was running out of energy. That never came. The only hill I chose to power walk was Big Bear, and that was about mile three of the race. I ran half-way up and thought to myself, why am I killing myself here? I power walked and actually passed a few people. Kyle was with me at the time and we ran together to just before we got to the Mill. He seemed like he was doing okay, so I kept on my pace. I did not see him again until the end of the race.

I pretty much ran by myself for the next 9 miles or so. I remained within the same group of people, but we all kind of kept to ourselves. This was good with me, because I like to run by myself. I like to look around at the park, occasionally talk to people, and take it all in. You miss a lot if you are busy talking and gabbing. The miles went by quickly and I enjoyed each one. They were all different, but when you are running hills, in your mind you are always preparing for the next one. When you reach the top of the hill, it feels like you have reached another milestone. When I crossed the Silver Bridge, I laughed to myself. Just a week ago I stood on this bridge while Brian Musick took my picture. The King of the Winter-Wonderland I thought to myself!


On the final loop, coming from Lanterman’s Mill, I climbed the long hill from Scholl pavilion. At the top of the hill there was a bunch of people cheering that had been out there the whole morning. They were there when I passed this area over an hour ago. When I got to the top I noticed they were all jumping up and down. I was so happy after climbing that hill that I ran right towards them and started jumping with them. They went crazy and started cheering and patting my back and giving me high fives. I was so pumped when I left that group I felt my pace quicken. What a great group out there at that tough spot on the course.

I had about 3 miles left to go and thought to myself, It's just a 5k. I looked at my watch and decided that if I stayed on pace, I could get in under 2 hours, which was my goal. I kept checking my watch so much that finally I took it off and put it in my pocket. I decided not to look at it again until I got to Bear’s Den and the final climb. At the bottom of Big Bear I saw my eye doctor Bob Gerdes for the final time of the day. He had been there all morning and it was good to see a familiar face out there.

I continued along the course and I felt a lot better than expected. I felt like when I started to push a little harder that I could feel it in my thighs. I wasn’t cramping, but my legs definitely had done their work today. I had one more climb to go and I knew it was not going to be fun. Bear’s Den is a series of hills that resemble a staircase. You climb one hill, level off a little, climb another hill, level off, and then climb another hill and then a gradual climb all the way to the finish. All of this while enjoying some mammoth rock formations and the beauty of Mill Creek Park. I shortened my stride and was determined to climb these hills. I pushed up each one. I wasn’t going fast, but I was going as fast as I could. After the last big climb, I knew the finish was less that a ½ mile away. I checked my watch and it was 1:54.00. I now knew barring any catastrophic thing from happening, I would be under two hours. I pressed to the finish and completed the run in 1:58.24. I was ecstatic.

After finishing I went inside to get warm and have something to eat. I came back outside and found Rita standing near the finish line waiting for Kyle. I waited a few minutes, but then I told her I was going to change out of my wet clothes. I went to the car, changed and came back and Rita was still standing there. She said she was starting to worry, so I told her I would go back out on the course and see if I could find him. I jogged from the finish line back down the course and offered encouragement to those that were making their final push to the finish. I was greeted with several smiling faces.

I traveled half way down Bear’s Den and decided to perch at the top of one of the hills so I could spot Kyle. I continued clapping for the runners as they made their way up the hill and I think my support was appreciated. After about 10 minutes, I spotted Kyle at the bottom of the hill walking along the edge of the road. I yelled some encouragement and after a few minutes he made it up to where I was waiting. He said his legs were hurting bad and he had nothing left. I asked him to jog a little and he made it about 100 yards before apologizing and started walking again. I told him he was less than a half mile from the finish and he started to smile. We turned the last turn towards the finish and I told him that the finish was just on top of the hill. He said he would walk until he reached a pine tree on the right and then he would run the rest of the way up. When we reached the tree, he took off and made his way to the finish. He completed his run in 2:34.00. I was happy he finished and ran to finish line.

This was another unusual week of training for me but it was capped off with a good, challenging half-marathon. Swim practice times are being shortened the next two weeks so I hope to increase my mileage. Here is a run down of this week.

Total miles = 28
Long Run = 13.1
Weight = 198
Attitude: Can’t wait to run on Monday the 3rd. I got some stiffness the day after the race and am looking forward to working it out in my new Asics Gel Nimbus shoes.