Saturday, June 28, 2008

Bees 5K Cross Country 2008 – Race Report

The Bees 5K race in Brecksville is back! I ran the inaugural race in 2003. Then again in '04, '05. Skipped '06 because it was the same weekend as the Jim Klett race. The race was not held in '07, so now it is back under different management (apparently) in 2008.

This is a cross country race, using the Brecksville HS cross country course. It is TOUGH! In previous years my main problem was running on a muddy, slippery, trail-like course. That’s before I was running trails. If you want to see the course and “play” my run, go to this link:

Here is my history of the event:

2003 - 26:27 (8:28 pace) first 2003 RACE - Bees Inaugural 31/118
2004 - 24:25 (7:49 pace) 1st Age Award!!! 13/132
2005 - 22:50 (7:18 pace) dry fast course, 2nd age group
2008 - 22:23 (7:12 pace) 15/130

Somehow I managed to improve my time from last time. I wore trail shoes thinking that this will help handle a slippery course. But the course was mostly dry, despite the heavy rains the past few days (in rained at 6:30 am this morning). The weather cooperated (75F and no rain). I am pleased with my time on a very tough course. Lea struggled a bit (expected) but finished with a respectable time. I am happy and proud of her. Liz (still recovering from Achilles tendon injury) came for support and took pictures.

<- Lea storming ahead. This part of the course was on grass. We later entered the Brecksville HS cross country course, which reminded me of the local trails, but well marked, including markings of roots and other obstacles.

For some reason this year they did not give age awards. I do not personally care since I enter to support a local race for a good cause (the money goes to support resurfacing the Brecksville HS track). But I think age awards are a good idea for a lot of the older folks who enjoy being rewarded for their efforts. Also, it would be nice to see the final results posted in the internet. The only awards went to the top 3 runners (M and F), plus the first Brecksville and first Broadview Hts runners, which essentially means that the same people received two awards, while the rest got nothing. Not a great idea, in my opinion. I hope they will change this next year if they want to attract more runners other than Brecksville students and their families (there were a lot of kids running this race).

The race T-shirt was nice (yellow with black letters with a touch of red – I am wearing it now!) and the refreshments and race organization were first rate. I will definitely enter again next year.

Week 25 – Training Report

S: The week started with the 3rd Buckeye Trail training run. Started slow from Columbia road but picked up the pace and actually lead the group in the Boson-Pine Lane section. Maybe it was the greasy dinner the night before, or the new trail shoes… I’ll never know.
M: Drove to Chicago to pick up passport. 2.5 easy mi. with Lea in the evening.
T: Fitness but skipped running
W: Aborted trail run because I was tired and had the wrong shoes. Snowville to BT, to Columbia and back, 6 mi.
T: Interesting day: At noon I went for 6 miles, Columbia rd and back, all road. It was hot (80F & sun) and went fast. In the afternoon after fitness class I decided to run home. The trails were wet and started raining around 7 pm. Fell down (first trail fall for a long time!) Got soaked (totally soaked). But for some perverted reason, I enjoyed the run! Walked up Snowville home.
F: 1 mi with Liz at noon. She is getting back!
S: 6 am with group 6 miles, then 1 mi with the 7 am group and the home. Took a shower, got dressed, got the family up and we went for the Brecksville Bees 5K run (see report).

Total for the week: 46 miles, 166 lbs

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Buckeye 50K – Training Run #3

Training Run #3 was really short, from Boston to Pine Lane and back, about 8 miles. To make it longer, I parked at Columbia Rd and ran to Boston (3 mi). This added 6 more miles to my run, a total of 14.2. Since I was tired all week and ran 15 miles yesterday, I was not sure if it would be a good idea to run today. I was tempted to skip this run. But I forced myself to get up and go, and I am glad I did! Somehow I had one of the best trail runs so far. I am not sure why. Last night we went out and ate a hamburger, fries, melted cheese, so lots of calories and fat. Maybe that helped :) Anyway, I led the group for quite a while. Average pace 10:34. I made a new friend, Beth. She is a short, thin (95 lbs!) runner, running her first trail run. I expect her to do very well in the race.

Week 24 – Training Report

The week started with the 2nd Buckeye Trail training run. My legs were tired from the Jim Klett 6mi race the day before. Unlike last week, I could not finish the run… very slow and walking. Felt really tired. After the trail run, I took an ice bath again. Not sure if it helped. Felt tired for the rest of the week.

S: 2nd Trail Group Run, Snowville to Boston for the group (Columbia to Snowville extra for me) 15 mi.
M: Yoga & water running
T: 2 mi in the morning, run to the RC for fitness (BT trail, 8 mi) in the afternoon, tired!
W: Trail run (Columbia to Snowville via the Trail), 6 mi
T: Run to RC via BT (8 mi) & Fitness – still tired
F: Rest
S: 6 am with group 7 fast miles, then 8 mi on Tow, slower

Total for the week: 53 miles, 166 lbs

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Buckeye 50K – Training Run #2

<- My Sunday trail run. I have now found (again) how to transfer the Garmin Data to MotionBased and mix them with Google data to get maps like thsi one.

Training Run #2 was scheduled to start at Jaite. This parking lot is about 0.4 mi from the Buckeye Trail entry, off Snowville Road. Since my house is off Snowville Rd, only 1.2 mi from the Buckeye Trail, my first thought was to run from home to meet the group. This would add about 2.5 road miles to the run. But I wanted to put a bit more mileage in so I decided to start earlier from Columbia Road, thus adding 4 trail miles to the run.

I left home around 6:20 am, parked the car by the Buckeye Trail in Columbia Road and ran the 2 mi (trail) plus 0.5 mi (road) to meet the group. We then ran back to the Buckeye Trail, to Columbia Road and continued to Boston. From Snowville Road to Boston is about 5.5 miles. My legs were tired from the 10K race yesterday (even more tired than last week) so the run was a bit of a struggle for me. Things took a turn for the worse when I got near Columbia Rd in the return. I was tempted to just get in the car and go home, but I found the strength to resist the temptation and ran from Columbia and Snowville and back (total of 4 miles). My pace however had slowed to 12 min/mile! I made it home tired (very tired) but pleased.

Total: 15 miles (most all on trail) at 2:48 (11:13 pace). Mile splits: 10:47 10:09 11:19 9:50 9:31 10:41 10:21 11:55 10:37 14:41 12:01 11:21 12:19 12:20. For next week the plan is to run from Boston to Pine Lane and back, only 8 miles. I am thinking of running from home to Boston via the Buckeye Trail, a total of 13 extra miles.

Jim Klett 2008 – Race Report

<- The Jim Klett 10K route, a nice loup with some challenging rolling hills starting at mile 4.

Below: With daugther Lea, posing before the race. It was a rainy day. Wife Liz did not run because of a recent injury.

Another year, another Jim Klett race. I have been running this race since 2003. I have only skipped one year (2005) because there was conflict with something else. I had a very good race in 2004, and then last year (2007) I set a personal course record with 42:23. I knew that this year I would not be able to match this performance. I was hoping between 43 and 44 minutes, and that’s exactly what I did (closer to 44):

<- Sprinting at the end of a hard (for me) race!

2003 - 45:43 (7:19) - Fast 10K but no awards! 36/128
2004 - 43:29 (6:57) - 168 lbs! – Fast race but 41/176, 8th in age group
2006 - 45:08 (7:13) - Hot day! - 31/136, 8th in age group
2007 - 42:23 (6:47) - 23/174, 4th in AG
2008 - 43:53 (7:02) - 29/179, 3rd AG

We woke up to a constant rain. Liz is out of commission with an Achilles tendon inflammation, while Lea was looking forward to the race. The course is a nice loupe, quite scenic, but with some rolling hills in the end.

I made the mistake to challenge Mike Juppe the day before the race. Mike and I are at similar running fitness levels. He is faster in shorter races but slower in longer races. Last year I passed him in the Jim Klett race at around mile 5. This year I passed him in the Cleveland Marathon at about mile 24 (he was walking), but he did better in the Hudson 4 mi race. He is older than me so we don’t have to compete for the same age awards.

<- George and Mike, after the race. Mike was no. 1 and I was no. 2 in this "personal challenge".

The race started at 9 am. I positioned myself behind Mike. The first mile was downhill, giving me the fastest time and I went down from there. Mike increased his distance and I could not match his pace. I was competing with the top female runner, who I passed briefly, but ended up finishing behind her. At mile 4 a series of hills start. As expected, pace slows even further. Mile splits: 6:32, 6:48, 6:57, 7:01. 7:34, 7:16, 6:40 (last 0.2 mi according to my Garmin). I finished at 43:53. Liz and Lea were at the finish with the digital camera on hand.

Lea ran the 5K and managed to run the entire race without stopping. She was wearing our new Garmin 405 watch so now I know her time splits: 8:44, 10:19, 10:10. Her time was 30:21.

We stayed for the breakfast and awards. This year the award was a nice coaster. Quite unusual and unique. When they called Lea’s age group we did not hear her name in the first 3 places, so disappointment was setting in, BUT, they called her 4th and she got an award! (They often go deeper than 3, depending on how many runners are in the age group). For my age group I got 3rd place. This is actually my best placement in the entire history of the race. So, we went home happy!

<- An unusual award this year: A coaster with the race details printed in it.

Week 23 – Training Report

The week started with the first Buckeye Trail training run. My legs were tired from the Hudson 4mi race the day before, but I still managed to run a fairly strong training run. After the trail run, I took an ice bath. Not sure if it helped. My quads continued to hurt. I should have taken the ice bath after the Hudson race.

On Monday, Liz and I took a Yoga class. This involved a lot of stretching, especially in my hips. After the Yoga class, I played basketball with Tony and his friends. Now, I love basketball and I played all my life regularly until about 2002. Then running took over. I would like to get back but I have to do it slowly, or I have problem with my Achilles tendon. Result of the yoga & basketball: My hips and legs (bottom) were hurting for the rest of the week!

S: 1st Trail Group Run, Snowville & back, 12 mi
M: Yoga & basketball.
T: Fitness & running back slow (3 mi). Hurting!
W: 3 mi in the morning, Liz sees doctor Shah, 6 mi trail.
T: Fitness & 7 mi trail run back home
F: Rest, Liz starts Physical Therapy
S: Jim Klett 10K race.

Another highlight this week: The Garmin 405, which I had ordered for Liz in February, arrived this week. I played with it for a while and overall I am very pleased with it. I am thinking of getting the back model with the heart monitor for myself. Basically, I am getting the same information as my 205 but it looks much sleeker and it can be used as a regular watch (shows the time in “sleep mode” with satellites turned off).

Total for the week: 43 miles, 167 lbs

Monday, June 9, 2008

Buckeye 50K – Training Run #1

<- The first leg of the Buckeye 50K race, Oak Grove in Brecksville to Snowville Road. See my house off Snowville Road.

Sunday we had the first Training Run for the Buckeye 50K race in July. We met at Oak Grove in Brecksville and run to Snowville Road and back, a total 12 (6+6) miles. I am familiar with this leg of the trail because I try to run it after our fitness classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

About 40 runners showed up on Sunday 7 am. Vince talked briefly and then we started. I learned something new: The trail is marked with blue squares in the trees (I knew that) but I did not know that when there are two squares, one higher than the other, you are supposed to turn towards the side that is higher. That’s a useful tip for someone like me who gets easily lost in these trails!

My quads were hurting from yesterday so the first couple of miles felt a bit rough. I made an effort to stay with the front runners. I was following Bob Clark and Jamie Carr. We were walking the uphills, while Tracy, just ahead of us was running them. The trail was mostly dry since it has not rained for a couple of days. When we reached towards Snowville, there is a very steep downhill and I took off. Tracy said “you’ll break a knee”. I am of course very careful but I like to run the downhills fast. I then caught up with Vince in the front.

As Snowville Road I had left a cooler with cold water and an energy drink. The temperature was over 80F (maybe 90F) and it was humid, so the cold water was needed. Many people use insect repellants but I don’t feel I need them. After the water break Vince and company decided to go forward, while the rest of us headed back. The way back felt fine. I led the way for parts of it. I did not collapse in the end like I did last year, mainly because this year I carry water and I am properly hydrated.

I finished the run in almost exactly 2 hours. The pace was about 10 min/mile. Mile splits: 9:36 8:43 8:55 10:42 10:50 9:21 10:15 10:18 11:10 10:51 9:22 8:49. The first 3 miles are fast because the ground is mostly flat. Miles 4 and 5 have a lot of uphills. Mile 6 is fast because of the downhill and flat areas.

I am trying to figure out how fast can I run in these trails and what a good goal for the 50K race is. It all depends of course in the weather. If the weather is cool and dry and the trails are dry then I go faster. If the trails are muddy, I go slower and expend more energy. My times in the training runs and races, from last year:

Training Run 2007 2008
1 10:10 10:00
2 10:03
3 9:55
4 9:41
5 10:41
Summer Race 10:09
Winter Race 10:42

I cannot compare the training runs in 2007 and 2008 because the route is different, but this table gives me an idea of how fast I run these runs. A good goal for the training runs is 9:30 to 10:00 pace and a good goal for the 2008 race is 10:00 pace or better.

By the way, the Buckeye 50K registration is already closed. See the web site for a list of Entrants: It is really amazing that the registration closed before the first training run! Last year, I waited until the last training run to register and there was still time. This means that trail running is getting more and more popular every year.

Hudson Run for the Parks 4mi Race Report

<- The race course, from my Garmin watch. The small loop towards the end is only 0.8 mi but it feels much longer. Maybe because of the all the turns and twisting or because it is later in the race. After exiting the part, the finish is only 0.5 mi away.

The Hudson Run for the Parks 4 mi race was this Saturday. The race is sponsored by Vertical Runner. I have run this race in 2004 (Inaugural) and last year (2007). This year I signed up to run with wife (Liz) and daughter (Lea). Lea had not trained well for the race, running only a mile or two, a couple of times a week. Liz has been injured since last week and could not run well but she was going to try. I was OK but have not done any speedwork since I had the marathon 3 weeks ago. Last year I ran a very fast race and I knew there was no way to match it in a hot day like this.

It was sunny and hot! Temperature at 8 am was 80F when we left home. Parking was no problem and it looked like there were less people than last year. I saw Cindy and a couple of people from the Vertical Runner group. While standing around we were trying to figure out what the chances for award were for Lea.

The race started 9:10. I was running fast behind Mike at 6:30 pace or faster. It did not feel that fast. Soon Mike pulled a bit ahead. At mile 1 we had the first water stop. I tried to grab a cup but I missed and it fell down. We continued to run through Hudson residential streets until mile 2.6 when we entered a park. This is the part where I usually do my attack. Like last year, I passed a couple of runners, including the top Female runner (Tracy) during an uphill.

Also like last year, this part inside the park feels really long (Lea agreed too) but it is only 0.8 mi long. There is water in the entry and exit (a welcome relief!) After exiting from the park we only have about ½ mile to go. The finish is on a street going downhill. I could hear someone coming from behind. I thought it was Tracy, but as it turns out it was a young kid trying to get ahead. I accelerated and entered the finish first, but the final results show me behind him.

Anyway, my time was 26:55. This was more than a minute slower than last year, but good enough to get me 10th place overall and 1st age group award, in a smaller field. Here are the results compared to previous years:

2004 26:34 (6:38) 33/298, no AG!
2007 25:47 (6:29) 14/169, 2nd AG
2008 26:55 (6:44) 10/95, 1st AG

Mile 2008 2007 Difference
1 6:31 6:15 -16
2 6:41 6:30 -11
3 6:53 6:37 -16
4 6:50 6:43 -7

So I ran each mile about 10 to 15 seconds slower than last year. I think I need some speed work to get back to faster times in short distances.

Wife Liz had to abandon the race right away. Daughter Lea did her running/walking routine and finished at 42:59 (10:45 pace). This is faster than her first 5K race (11:02 pace) but slower than her second 5K race (9:17 pace, she did not walk). She did not win an award (4th in her age group) but is still excited about running.

<- Like last year, my award was a plant! This is appropriate for a "Run for the Parks" race.

After the race we stayed around for the awards. Like last year, my award was a plant. Also, in this race instead of a shirt we got a pair of socks. And an energy drink. It is nice to get things we can use and we all have to many race shirts anyway.

Our next race is next week. Both Lea and myself have signed up for the Jim Klett race next Saturday (I am running the 10K, she is running the 5K). Liz has a doctor’s appointment on Wednesday. She is a bit depressed that she is missing these races and running. Let’s hope the doctor will find out what is wrong and how to fix it.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Week 22 – Training Report

<- My new routine, running from the Brecksville RC home via the Buckeye trail. I start running up on Brecksville Rd until Prakway Rd and I get into the trail there. I end up in Snowville Rd and I run (or walk when I am tired) up home (1.3 mi) from there. It is an enjoyable run, about 6 miles in trails.

S: Towpath 9 mi with Liz. She gets injured..
M: On my way to running trails, last dry day but Lea stopped me and did 3 each miles with her..
T: 2 mi with Lea
W: Run at noon around EH, full 8.2 mi. Then with Liz slowly in the afternoon.
T: RC and Buckeye trail in return. Trails were muddy. Time a lot slower.
F: Rest
S: Hudson run for the parks 4 mi. report to follow.

Total for the week: 36 miles, 166 lbs

Week 21 – Training Report

<- Carriage Trail (loop) picked from Towpath Trail

One week after the marathon. Logged a lot of miles! The highlight of the week is my new system of running back from the Rec Center via the Buckeye trail. I leave Brecksville Road running up. Then at the Parkway drive I enter the trail, go down, then continue on the Buckeye trail until Snowville and then run uphill home.

S: Towpath Carriage Trail with Liz, 5.2 mi.
M: Memorial Day. Ran alone from Columbia to Boston via the Buckeye Trail & back, 6 mi.
T: Fitness and back via Buckeye Trail, 8 mi, The trail is in beautiful & dry condition.
W: w/Liz Snowville down, buckeye trail, and back via Columbia, 6 mi, fun!
T: Same as Tuesday. I ran ALL the uphills! I really enjoy these trail runs.
F: Slow 2 mi with Lea.
S: Trail running 6:30 with Cindy’s group. Started at Boston and did the winter Falls part first and then the Pine lane part. It rained the night before and the trails were muddy, so they were not fun. I collapsed in the way back and started walking. Felt really hard and was eating all day long. Total of 13.5 mi.

Total for the week: 49 miles, 165 lbs

Lessons Learned from Recent Marathon

Ready for a bit of controversy? Before my marathon race I did a lot of reading. I read all the recommendations and then, as usual, I did my own thing. Here are my observations.

1- Mileage: It is disturbing to read (for example in the Cleveland Marathon official literature) that to run a marathon you need to be running 50-70 miles/week. My first 3 marathons were done with only 20-30 miles a week, peaking to 35. This year I was up to 40 miles/week, peaking at 50 mi/week. Yes, maybe you will run a better race with 70 miles/week (at what cost?) but please do not tell people that they need 50 miles/week to complete a marathon.

2. Long Runs: Yes, I know, they are important. But somehow I have managed to complete 5 marathons with basically only one 20 mile run.

3. Tapering: I never understood or experienced “Taper Madness”. For me, cutting down on mileage is a welcome relief after hard training.

After the experience of last year’s marathon, I became a believer of shorter tapering. They say that you cannot gain fitness the last two weeks before the marathon. Maybe, but you can lose fitness if you are not careful. This is what happened to me last year. An injury forced me to do very little running the last two weeks before the marathon. I did not mind it, thinking that tapering was good, and I paid for it.

This year, against the usual recommendations, I peaked mileage-wise two weeks before the marathon. A week before the marathon, 8 mi. long run is recommended. I did a 12 mile run at near marathon pace and then 7 more easy miles with my wife in the afternoon. I only tapered one week. The last week I ran every day, but shorter runs, but I did not run the last 2 days before the marathon. That's enough rest for me. And it worked well, since I had plenty of strength in the last part of the marathon.

4. Eating & Diet (my favorite topic!): Against most published advice, I went on a diet 3 weeks before the marathon. I kept the diet until the last days before the race. On Friday morning I was 162.5 lbs. I then ate well for two days. On race day (Sunday) I was 166.5 lbs. 4 lbs of glycogen and water that I needed for the race.

I am wondering about some of the things I read... "4 hours before the race eat a small meal...." Do they really expect me to wake up at 3 am to eat? All my eating was done on Saturday. When I got up on Sunday I only ate a 1/3 slide of bread with almond butter and half an orange. And a sip of water.

During the race I did not have anything to eat. No energy bars, liquid packs, gels, nothing. No food at all. It is not that I have sensitive stomach (I do not). It's just that I was not hungry, or weak, or anything like that. I did not need to eat and I was not going to force myself to eat. And I did not hit the wall. I did not come anywhere near feeling weak. I think I have large glycogen reserves. One day of eating (the day before the race or a long run) is enough for me.

4. Hydration: In my opinion, hydration is overrated. :) I made no effort to hydrate before the race. The morning of race I only had a sip of water. I was not thirsty and I did not want to force myself to drink water. This extra water will only be a problem at the race. Having to pee, holding it, looking for potties, and wasting time to pee. Who needs that?

The weather is a big factor. It was rainy and 50F. That's not weather for needing water. I took a bit water and gatorade at the aid stations and that was all I needed for the race.

5. Pacing & Walking Breaks: Even pacing is a myth that does not apply for ordinary runners. There is no way you can maintain the same pace for 26 miles. You have to plan for a at least 30 seconds difference in pace between the first and the last miles. You have to run the bulk of the marathon at about 10-15 second pace faster than expected time, to account for expected slowing down later on.

My first 3 miles were slow/cautious. I then settled in a comfortable pace for the next 19 miles. This pace was 15 sec faster than projected time. I built up a 3 minute buffer which helped me psychologically. I slowed down the last miles by about 30 seconds/mile but I had enough strength to finish with a fast last mile. I finished 2 1/2 minutes faster than goal time.

In past years I had taken walking/stretching breaks, even a break to change clothes, including shoes! This year I did not need/use any of that. I even ran through the water stops (trying to drink while running, something I had not practiced before). No potty breaks either. Just running.
Considering the good outcome, I plan to stick with this plan, until I have a problem next time :)


It’s been almost 3 weeks since the Cleveland Marathon. Recovery from this marathon went extremely well. Much better than in previous years.

In previous marathons I followed this pattern: For the first two days after the marathon I am unable to run, I am walking with difficulty, and I have a lot of pain going down stairs. The first attempt to run is usually the 3rd day after the marathon but only for a mile or so. By the end of the week I was able to run maybe 6 miles.

This year I clearly had less pain. Two days after the marathon I went running 2 miles at noon at 3 1/2 miles in the afternoon. I had very little pain. On Saturday, just 6 days after the marathon, I ran 15 miles, 5 on trails and 10 in the towpath.

Does that mean that I did not try my hardest at the marathon? Nahhh… It just means that I was better trained for this marathon than previous ones. But I am wondering about my wife. She does not have any leg pain/discomfort after her 5Ks and the recent 10K. I am telling her that if her legs/muscles do not hurt the day after the race, then she did not run hard enough. Am I right in saying this?