Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Running the Burning River 100 Ultra Marathon

You could say I am touched. Thats why I lined up with more than 300 other twisted souls and ran the Burning River 100 mile Endurance run.
5am Saturday, I took off with Suzanne Deming, and Tim Harber to test our endurance, and insanity.

It would be a day where temps reached 90 degrees, and Clouds were scarce. Times we could not hide from the sun, but many times we were in part of the Metro Parks and the amazing Cuyahoga Valley National Park. If we met all the cutoff times, we would be in Cuyahoga Falls Sunday AM and receiving a highly prized belt buckle. In 2010, I was told only 4,000 people finished a 100 miler. Thats a teeny, tiny part of of America.

I come to trail running from triathlons. I have done 3 Ironman distance races and over 100 triathlons. I have lots of experience racing in hot weather, and extending to the limits, the abilities the Good Man upstairs gave my body. But, 100 miles appeared daunting. This is not road running, where each step is not a mystery. Much of this is over roots, and rocks, and ledges, and down valleys to cross creeks and back up the other side. But the varied terrain is like cross training. Each step, different from the one before. Ankles tested, twisted. On severe downhills, your toes jam up into the front of your shoes. You can lose toe nails. Popping Advil pills is part of the routine.

Roughly every 5 miles is an aid station, where you can get water, replacement fluids...food. Pretzels, Cookies. Pizza, M & M's..Watermelon. You take in roughly 300 calories an hour. Thats 9,000 calories.

Tim Harber had some injury issues that he dealt with all day long. He gamely tried to run in pain and left the race about 55 miles in. Suzanne dropped out not long after. Meanwhile, I kept on pushing. I started to feel stronger, at mile 60. I was getting excited to join my son Patrick at mile 80, so he could pace me the rest of the way. Mike Mayher paced me for awhile and was saying, there was no doubt I would finish. I had ankle tendon flare ups. My knees were getting a little sore, but nothing so troublesome that I would even think about "dropping" out of the race. Late night around 11pm, I could hear fireworks booming from nearby Blossom Music Center. I felt good enough to try to join the music fans, but I had an appointment with downtown Cuyahoga Falls for Sunday am.

When you run this long, you have to adhere to the cutoffs set forth by the organizers. At each aid station (There are 20) you have to come in before the cutoff time. My cushion was 20 minutes as I came to Pine Hollow. I had to run a 3.3 mile Loop, filled with hills, and stairs in about an hour, said the official. But, when I came in to the next aid station, the official said I was done. I was shocked. No way I had lost the whole 20 minute cushion over 3 miles. No way. I was stunned. I tried to argue my point. No avail. I had to give him my number. I then had to call my wife who was waiting at the Covered Bridge aid station. I would not be able to run with my son to the finish. I considered, just taking off and running "unofficially" but that would not have been cool. I was so confident I would finish under the time. I never give up on anything. It was a shocker for me.

The disappointment has given way to resignation, and now to determination. This wonderful day of racing with friends pushing me on was inspiring and very much something I want to be a part of again. So, the good Lord willing, next year I will race the Burning River again.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Still Tempted about a 100 mile Run

Hi....got in a very good weeks worth of training...Hitting weights hard...doing more tempo runs, but have not ramped up the mileage much. thats gonna change. My week was fabulous but not even close to our friends in Egypt. What an incredible turn of events.. The people have spoken.
The idea of running a 100 miler is very tempting and I know the proof in the performance is in the training. The mental toughness. Running 50 miles is one thing. I can only imagine 100 is about 5 times the stress. I have 3 Ironman triathlons under my belt and I think a 100 miler would be tougher. Do the math. I need about 15 hours for the Ironman...the 100 miler will take 30 hours... Well theres only one way to find out....so.....
I enlisted the writing skills of Scott Dunlap. (He is unaware of this. It just means I read his blog. I think its one of the best anywhere.) Scott ran the Burning River 100 miler and raved about it. It was a fun read and it shows just how amazing the race is in many respects. Kudos to the Race Director Joe Jurcyk and all the volunteers. Scott has been all over. You will come away from reading this piece thinking the Burning River is a cool race. Here is the link below.


Life's a Blast

Monday, February 7, 2011

Keeping me in Suspension!!

Been doing this suspension training for 4 weeks now at local gym Fitworks..One Class a week. One hour of hell. The Devil's name is Matt. (Thats him above) Of course I am kidding but I enjoy being pushed and Matt certainly does that. "Lets go, go,go,go". "Don't stop..modify and keep moving".

(What did I sign myself up for??)

TRX is a copyrighted program, that uses Straps hung from a ceiling. As you can see in the photos, you can use the straps to do hundreds of movements. All of them use your body weight as the resistance. If you want more weight, then the angle you use is important. The workout never stops..We can go from chest presses right into squats, or lunges. Mountain Climbers. You name it. One drill right after another. I am close to my anaerobic threshold for a good chunk of the workout.. As I continue to work on my triathlon base building, I rely alot of doing workouts like these. I will do two of these per week soon.
On another note. I predicted the Steelers would win by 10 in the Super Bowl. Very wrong there.. I was impressed with Aaron Rodgers of the Packers. Looks like he is in a class with Brady and Manning now.
Life's a Blast.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A New Triathlon Guppy

greetings gang

I ran into a guy this morning at the caffeine fillup stop...aka.. Starbucks. He knew who I was from the television. So, after I answered a few questions about the Browns newest coach, He asked me about racing in triathlons. Turns out he got into the sport last year. He was a tall guy, well built. Athletic. Could probably swim-bike-run circles around me. I told him I have done alot of triathlons. Over a 100. Started in the sport when I was 32. I am now 57.6112 years old. I asked him what problems he encountered in his first race.

He paused. Collected himself and said he rented a wetsuit for the race day. It was a race at Mentor Headlands. He made the mistake of never using the wetsuit before race day. Thought he could just pop it on and swim like a fish. Turns out he panicked. Two reasons. 1. The suits, for those of you who have never raced, or worn one; can be restrictive in the chest area. Better word would be claustrophobic. 2. He was not prepared for the rush of swimmers around him. He said once he got into the race and panicked, he had to unzip the suit a little to catch his breath and to chase away the anxiety. Took about a minute and then he adjusted.

So, if you are getting into triathlons and want the wetsuit experience, make sure you swim a few times with the wetsuit. Funny thing is, once you get used to it..you feel very secure. Why else would I strap on a wetsuit and set off to swim for a breakwall close to a mile away and come back.

Happy training and racing..
Life's a Blast

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Iditarod for Humans

Shocked aren't you??? I have posted twice now in 4 days. The recent post, which came after six months off..dealt with a rope skipping workout I did. Intense..but well within the realm of "Giving everything you have, but wanting more"
Today, I drove to the Brecksville Reservation to catch up with old buddies, whom I have raced with in some triathlons. Dynamic couple..Eric and Aimee. Each is an Ironman, and cool folks. Aimee is the "Snow Queen" as she, Eric and Dale helped me learn some of the trails a few years ago in the CVNP when I got into trail running. Also today, we ran with Tina, a cancer survivor and Deb.
Started at the Station Road Trail Head. -4 Degrees when we got going. Trails had lots of snow and the cross country skiers had knocked down some of the snow. I wanted to do close to two hours, but was just along with the gang and not being technical about anything... It was a good time. Eric, whom I nicknamed Yellow Buck because of his jacket, had a way of running ahead of us, then because the trails in the woods were serpentine, he would amazingly appear out of nowhere. Took me a bit to realize he was darting through the deepest woods, probably ticking off the deer, who I joke are probably distant cousins... We were out about an hour and 20 to 30 minutes..navigating was slow due to the snow, but it was great!! Some coffee and a breakfast sandwhich at Paneras and it was a good, good morning..
Still mulling over race plans. One of my co workers, Doug is getting into Triathlons this year and I think is racing at Wendys in Columbus early in the season. It will be his first. I was thinking that could be a good race to do....(done it before) and would give me chance to give Doug any pointers..last minute, or ease any worries.. We'll see.
Toodles. Life's a Blast

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Greetings from the abyss.

I am back to blogging. Its been awhile. I will try to post twice weekly, and the missives might be more brief. Its my own shrinkage thing, I guess. The last 3 months have been pretty eventful for our family as my Mom took ill and passed away on Nov 21st. We stayed at hospice for the better part of 5 weeks until she went to meet her Lord and Saviour. I am at peace because Mom so very much was a woman of faith. She lived it. I humbly try to follow her example.
However, the working out was pretty consistent but the diet suffered a bit. Hey, it was also the Holidays. For about a month, I have been really strong in my workouts and am still pointing towards a couple of ultra marathons on the trails.. 2-3 triathlons, and I might even toss in a 10 mile plus open water swim.
As I mentioned, I will keep you up to date on workouts and goals. I will also detail, on occasion some of the behind the scenes things that go on when one reports and anchors the sports on television. I am now in my 31st straight year here at Fox8 in Cleveland. Folks tell me thats some kind of record. They also say I am insane for covering losers for so long!!
This week I did my second workout using the suspension training called TRX. I will detail one of the classes soon. For now, heres a sampling of one rope skipping workout I did just this morning. (1-19-11) (Note the bermuda shorts!! Its Not what you wear, its what You Do!!
Warm up 10 minutes straight..medium tempo
Do 10 sets of :30 seconds MAX intensity with :60 REST.
3 Minutes easy skipping.
Then, do 5 sets of :30 seconds MAX intensity with :30 Rest
2 minutes easy skipping
5 minutes strong tempo, then cool down....
Thats it folks. Good luck with your training and racing..
Life's a Blast