Cornfield Meet

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Running 2013: Weeks Thirty-eight and Thirty-nine

I got my mileage in week 38 with another weekend combination of a trail run Saturday, Sept. 14, and a road run the next day.

There was still one section of Quail Hollow trails I hadn’t visited yet: a 1.5-mile loop shared with the bridle trail. On the map below, it’s the dashed blue and yellow line.

So I thought I’d include that trail this time around. I started up on the sedge marsh trail – that standalone yellow line at middle right – and then, as I had the week before, followed the southern portion of that green loop.

And then I started reaching forks. This is a pretty densely wooded, hilly, area, and the trails are narrow, so you can’t see a long way in any direction. It’s the area in the right 1/3 of this image:


Now, I’d been to this area the week before, and I had made a wrong turn that had led me to the mountain bike trail, so I recognized that decision point, and made the opposite call this time around. But after some twists and turns, I realized that I was heading away from the trail I wanted to find. So I doubled back, like when you pick a quick death in a Choose Your Own Adventure Book, and went the other way at my last decision point. Then I managed to find myself back on the same section of mountain bike trail that I’d been on the week prior. So I turned around again and found a third option, and took that trail westward.

When the landscape opened up a bit to a less-wooded region, and I hit a T-intersection running north and south, I figured I was at the eastern edge of the loop I’d been seeking. I turned right for a short bit, then thought I’d rather run the long way around, so I headed in the opposite direction. And then somewhere along the path, I made another decision that landed me on the mountain bike trail again, heading exactly where I didn’t want to go. On that big map above, this would be the black trail running roughly parallel to the brown dashed line in the lower right corner.

Oh, fine. I doubled back again. Having added about a half-mile thanks to this detour, I opted to stick to the shorter, northern section of the blue-and-yellow loop, then took the bridle trail branch that led back to the park road, which I followed back to my starting point. (There was, in fact, one more brief detour: Not shown on the map is a weirdly groomed and maintained offshoot of trail that leads to…a house with a big yard in the middle of the woods.)

Here’s what the entire route wound up looking like:


It was fun. Yes, for real.

The next day, I did a four-mile road loop and managed to save my best mile – a 7:53 – for last. Overall pace was 8:26, which was the best I’d managed for that distance in a couple months.

Total miles for the week: 7.5. Total to date (week ending 9/16): 257.8. That was the 259th day of the year, so I was just 1.2 miles shy of my goal.

Week thirty-nine began with a rare Tuesday run on the 17th. I had worked from home, and the writing had not come easily that day, so by 6 p.m., I needed a quick two-mile out-and-back just to clear my head.

It’s not a distance I run very often anymore, so when I do, I try to push myself a bit. While I didn’t go really hard on the outbound mile, I made a point of not letting up too much either, and I felt good about my 7:43 time. Heading home, I maintained that for about a quarter mile, slowed up a bit for another quarter, and then poured it on for the last half-mile, which is mostly a gradual incline. My second mile wound up at 7:34, and I actually hit a 5:25 pace for just a second or two in there. My total time of 15:18 was only 15 seconds off the fastest Hall of Fame Two-Miler I ever managed, and I used to feel really beat up after that race.

Did an uneventful 3.5-mile loop on Saturday in 29:45, for an average pace of 8:29 – although I did have to push myself the last half-mile to get there.

I went out Sunday and decided to do another two-mile for speed. I did my first mile in 7:27, but I could tell I was going to be hard-pressed to maintain that and crack that 15-minute mark. Right after the turnaround, and again at the 1.5-mile mark, and again a quarter mile later, I kept hitting a wall and slowing up.

really tried that last tenth of a mile, though, and clocked a 15:06.

Total, then: 265.3 miles. Today’s the 268th day of the year – but while it looks like I’ve lost ground, that’s really because my running week starts on Tuesday, and I haven’t done any miles this week yet.

September 25, 2013 Posted by | Ohio, running | , | Leave a comment

Running 2013: Week Thirty-seven

Two three-and-a-half mile runs this week – so I didn’t make up any of my 2.7-mile deficit, but I did enjoy myself.

I went out for another trail run at Quail Hollow on Saturday, just after 9 a.m. Covered some of the same wooded trails as last weekend, but in the opposite direction. Then explored some new territory in another part of the park, running the sedge marsh and meadowlands trails. In a few spots, these were a little more difficult to follow, and at one point, my pace slowed nearly to a walk, since the planked walkway across a swamp was almost completely overgrown by the grasses alongside.

I encountered a few other runners, and some people walking their dogs, and it was a great morning to be out on the paths. Found a few short but challenging climbs, and inadvertently turned myself onto the mountain bike trail for a bit, too. (Despite the number of cyclists I saw getting ready to ride upon my arrival that morning, I didn’t actually see any out on the trail.)

As before, I felt like I got a really good workout even though my pace is nowhere near what it is on the road: a 9:10 first mile, 9:16 second, and a 10:13 third. (That’s the mile which included the partially-obstructed walkway.) The last half mile covered pavement, so I managed to pull my overall pace back to 9:23 by pushing a little at the end.

While I’m really digging the trail run, I wanted to push my lungs and speed a little bit on Sunday, so I did a 3.5 mile road loop a little after 7 a.m. Gorgeous morning, pink sunrise. Felt good with an 8:18 first mile, felt better with an 8:13 second mile. Had to work for my 8:18 third mile, but for the last half mile, I averaged a 7:25 pace, which pulled my overall pace down to 8:08.

And I’m very pleasantly surprised to learn that looking at my year to date, that’s the best pace I’ve done for 3.5 miles yet. Progress has snuck up on me.

September 10, 2013 Posted by | Ohio, running, Sports | , , | Leave a comment

Running 2013: Week Thirty-six

Finished off August with a mid-morning four-mile run on Saturday. Somehow felt like I was running into the wind in every direction. Not a really strong wind, but enough to make me think, “Oh, come on.

Didn’t push things really hard until the last third of a mile, but that was enough to keep my overall pace at 8:50 per mile.

Sunday, Sept. 1, I went for my first trail run.

I’ve run on trails from time to time, but never for any significant distance, but I figured I’m going to try one of the Ohio Outside races by year’s end, I should probably give it a shot. The downside is that trail running means driving – just a few miles up the road to Quail Hollow State Park, but that also means I’m putting on the running belt so I can carry car keys. And if I’m wearing the belt, I’m bringing water – which was a good idea on Sunday anyway, since it was warm and sunny.

So, here’s my run as tracked by Garmin:


And here’s what that area looks like on Google Maps satellite view:


From my parking space to the end of the paved “Nature for All” trail was about .6 miles, and I did that at the beginning and end of my 3.5-mile route, meaning I ran about 2.3 miles on pure trail: soil, rocks, roots, and the occasional wooden-plank walkway.

What I learned: Holybejeepers, trail running is work.

I really enjoyed my ever-changing surroundings and being in the shade of the woods, but I was unprepared for the toll the terrain would take on my pace. For most of the time, I was close to ten-minute miles, held in check by the need for short strides, the need to constantly watch my footing, and the lack of downhill freewheeling opportunities. (Okay – technically the opportunities were there, but for a new trail runner, they came with too high a risk of additional opportunities. You know: full-on face plants, crunched ankles, opportunities like that.) The opening and closing pavement stretches were the spots that allowed me to keep my overall pace at 9:33.

And while the park paths are clearly marked, including numerous loops and offshoots, I did lose track of direction at one point, and got to experience the surprise of approaching a landmark only to realize I’d already been there once, and didn’t think I was anywhere near it again.

If I’m going to do a five-mile trail run, I’ll need to put in some serious time at Quail Hollow, but I don’t think I’ll mind.

Year-to-date: 243.3 miles. Today’s the 246th day of 2013, so I’m 2.7 miles short of my goal, but barring disaster, I should be able to make that up this month and get myself back into a surplus.

September 3, 2013 Posted by | Ohio, running | , , , | Leave a comment

Running 2013: Week Thirty-five

I totaled 11.5 miles during three consecutive days this week, focusing almost solely on mileage and rarely on my pace.

All three were warm and sunny late afternoon runs – conditions under which I’m normally slower to begin with – and felt more difficult than I’d like.

  • Aug. 23: 4.4 miles, 40:26. Average pace = 9:09
  • Aug. 24: 3.6 miles, 31:32. Average pace = 8:43 (Pace over the last .6 mile = 8:05)
  • Aug. 25: 3.5 miles, 30:55. Average pace = 8:45

Year-to-date total: 235.8 miles.

Monday (the end of my running week) was the 238th day of the year, so I’m basically one extra run or a few add-on miles from being back on track.

I also realized that I have no summer or fall race plans this year, which would break a 10-year streak, and which suddenly seems kind of like something I don’t want to do, so maybe I should find myself a race to run. Dang – I really should have done Orc Stomp at Gen Con. (For the record, the first five years of that streak were all two-milers: Four Pro Football Hall of Fame Races and one North Canton. Year six, I did the Hall of Fame five-mile, and between 2009 and 2012 I ran two full marathons – Towpath and Canton – and legs in three Akron Marathons.)

Some quick searching leads me to think one of the Ohio Outside trail races would be fun, and something different than I’ve done before.

August 27, 2013 Posted by | Ohio, running | , | Leave a comment

Running 2013: Week Twenty-five

Three consecutive days this week, with more of a focus on picking up my pace.

Friday morning June 21 I did an even three and, inspired by my 7:53 first mile – which felt really good – I decided to push for sub-eights the whole way, and managed to get faster as I went: 7:51 and 7:50 in miles two and three. First time I’ve done three miles in under 24 minutes in quite awhile.

Saturday, I felt like continuing the speed work, so my brother and I did some .29-mile “dashes” with 90-second breaks in between. I was working on these a few summers back, and had gotten to the point, I think, where I could do 7 or 8 of them and keep my time in the 1:30 to 1:45 range.

We did a 1:40, a 1:37, a 1:43, and a 1:45. And I was really, really hitting the wall on that last one, so that was it for the day. (I had serious numbjelly legs – we were going to do an easy mile cool-down jog, but I got about a dozen steps in and said, “Nope.”)

For perspective compared with my usual pace, those times equate to a per-mile range of 5:43 to 6:08. Much faster than I typically run any distance. It’s certainly not a pace I expect to sustain, but I do remember that working these into my running schedule really made an impact in terms of how I felt during longer runs.

So: 1.16 miles, and not much time spent on the clock, but whew – that was a workout.

Sunday morning was muggy and 70 degrees before 7 a.m. I did the 3.15-mile loop solo, and really just wanted to keep myself moving, so I took it easy to the tune of an 8:44 overall pace, although I needed a push at the end, since I was averaging just over nine minutes with a half-mile to go.

178.17 miles on the year, and Sunday was Day 174, so my “speed day” added a mile to my cushion distance.

June 23, 2013 Posted by | Ohio, running, Sports | , | Leave a comment

Running 2013: Weeks Twenty-two, Twenty-three and Twenty-four

You know what? I don’t have the energy to do the Turtle Sport screen caps right now, but the long story short is that as of today – the 168th day of 2013 – I’ve put in 170.86 miles, so I’m still just a shade under three miles ahead of my goal to average seven miles a week.

A quick breakdown of weeks 22-24:

Week Twenty-two:

May 31 – 3.16 miles, 8:25 average. Pretty steady the whole way.

June 2 – 4 miles, 8:35 average. Again, fairly casual, although the final mile was my fastest, at 8:17.

Week Twenty-three:

June 8 – 4 miles, 8:10 average. There we go: Best 4-miler of the year so far. Managed an 8:03 in both of the first two miles, and finished strong with a 7:55 final mile which includes a good climb. Mile three was where I caught my breath and slowed up to 8:42.

June 9 – 3 miles, 7:59 average. First sub-eight 3-miler of the year, going 7:54, 8:15, and 7:51.

Week Twenty-four:

June 14 – 3.5 miles, 8:32 average. Ran with my brother, and we talked the whole way, not even going full-out during the long downhill at the end of mile one. Mile two was – oddly – our fastest, at 8:12.

June 17 – 3.27 miles, 7:58 average. Yes, I pulled up about a quarter-mile short on this one. Having not run last Saturday when it was cool and dry and gorgeous, I instead waited until tonight after work, when it was warm and sticky. Still, when I saw that I’d done a 7:47 first mile, I decided to see if I could keep the sub-eight pace going. I did – barely. Mile two was a 7:59, and mile three was an 8:09. I managed to get another quarter mile still keeping my overall pace below the eight-minute mark, so I decided to call that fair progress from eight days prior.


June 17, 2013 Posted by | Ohio, running, Sports | , , | Leave a comment

Running 2013: Week Twenty-one

I hadn’t done three runs in four days at all this year, but since I worked from home Friday and had Monday off, the opportunity was there. I also haven’t run much with my brother Adam, and this weekend also allowed for that, too.

Friday morning we got out just after 6 a.m. and went for our old “short three-mile” loop. We talked most of the first mile and didn’t go freewheeling down the hill at the end, but still did an 8:18. I started feeling my lungs really starting to work in mile two, and was pleasantly surprised to find we had actually done it a bit faster than the first. Third mile was the slowest, but still only about five seconds off mile one, and I really had to work at the end, but we still finished with an 8:14 average:


I’ve only run the Short Three (we call it that to differentiate its 3.1 mile length from the slightly different “Long Three” 3.5 mile loop) a few times this year, and Friday morning’s run was faster than those by 15-20 seconds per mile.

I did the same loop in the same direction solo on Saturday afternoon, not really intending to push too hard. But when I saw I was at 8:01 after the first mile, and I did another surprisingly faster second mile (7:56), I kind of didn’t want that effort to go to waste, so I maintained as best I could at the end. Even though mile three was my slowest, I kicked hard enough over the last tenth of a mile to get my average pace down to an even eight minutes. This beat even the 8:04 three-miler I did last month. The only faster run I’ve done this year was a 7:46 two-miler.


I took Saturday off, except for a couple nine-hole rounds of disc golf at Schneider Park – I lost to my daughter, then to Adam, but still had a lot of fun – and Adam and I went out Sunday morning again just after six. Took it completely easy and ran the Short Three again, although we did it backwards to challenge ourselves with the big climb at the start of the third mile.


The surprise here is that we actually got faster over the course of the run, and managed to keep a pretty steady pace even up that hill.

An even 150 miles on the year, so as of May 27, the 147th day of the year, I’m an even three miles ahead.

May 27, 2013 Posted by | Ohio, running | , | Leave a comment

Running 2013: Weeks Nineteen and Twenty

Week 19, I only got one run in – a 3.5-miler to the post office and back:


I stopped my timer while I was actually in the post office (marked by that spike on the green pace line). Considering I didn’t feel like I was pushing myself the first mile, since I was carrying an 8×11 inflexible envelope, I was surprised to see my sub-eight-minute time. Even with my third mile slowdown, this was a good run.

I didn’t have a chance to run on Sunday the 12th, but I had enough of a mileage cushion for the year that I wasn’t too worried about it.

Week Twenty, then, I thought I’d throw an extra run in early Friday morning, since the weather was good, and I wanted to make up for the previous one-run week.



Four miles, out and back. Best time for that distance this year, and I did mile four quicker than mile one, even having to climb the hill that benefits me so much at the end of the first mile. Felt good about this one.

Saturday, then, I did the four mile round-the-block loop:



I don’t know if it was the work from Friday’s run, or the fact that I’d only run a day the week before, but despite a good start and finish, miles two and three felt really difficult, so I just kind of focused on enjoying the weather and the run itself.

Later, while I was getting ready to do some yard work, I felt a lightning shot of pain in my lower back. It’s happened from time to time since an injury a couple summers ago. I took it easy the rest of the day and hoped I’d still be able to run Sunday, but I woke up the next morning still sore.

May 20 is the 140th day of the year, so at 140.7 miles, I’m still just ahead of my mile-per-day goal.

May 19, 2013 Posted by | Ohio, running | , | Leave a comment

Running 2013: Week Eighteen

Weather-wise, what a fantastic weekend for running: a little bit on the windy side (at least in the mornings), but clear and sunny and warm.

Interesting to look at the numbers, since I ran the exact same 3.5-mile route in opposite directions on Saturday and Sunday.

So, here’s Saturday’s run:


My best average pace of the year for this loop, and the first time I’ve cracked the 30-minute mark on it.  And this surprises me a bit, because I ran this one in the direction that puts a big climb 2.5 miles in, but that green pace line is pretty steady most of the way, until I tried for a bit of boost at the end.

Now here’s Sunday:


This time, I ran down that hill (and into a steady headwind) at the end of my first mile – and it looks like I had a much tougher time keeping a steady pace – again, until the last half-mile push. I never felt like my speed was varying that much, which is a bit weird, but there it is. And overall, I came in a second slower than the day before, but still better than any other 2013 trip around this loop.

Because I’m not running four days a week like I do when I’m preparing for a race, I’ve really felt like it’s been a struggle to improve my pace, but this weekend reminded me that I have also been varying my courses, so I don’t always have an apples-to-apples comparison. I’ve run this loop more than a dozen times, though, and looking back, I’m finishing about 47 seconds faster than I did back in January, so I guess that counts for something.

Also: 129.2 miles for the year.

May 5, 2013 Posted by | Ohio, running | , | Leave a comment

Running 2013: Weeks Sixteen and Seventeen

I didn’t actually miss a week running – just last week’s post about it. So, first: Sunday, April 21 –

I really just needed to go for a long run and unwind, which worked out well, since I had skipped Saturday due to some things needing done and a Jurassic Park that needed seeing on the big screen. And since I’ve done the seven-mile loop a couple times this year, I got it in my head to do an eight-miler down into North Canton. The route breaks up nicely and has some climbs that give my lungs a bit of work even when I’m not going for speed.

All I wanted to do was keep my legs moving and enjoy the sunny, slightly breezy day. It was cool enough to wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, and I wore my hat for about half the time, when I was running into the wind.


Kept a pretty steady pace, though I clearly got slower as I went along. My legs hit the jellypoint (a running term I just made up!) in miles six and seven, and I was really slogging at a couple points down the stretch, but I never stopped, and my lungs felt fine.

Finish line brought me to just over 115 miles on the year.

Saturday and Sunday, April 27-28 –

Saturday was just gorgeous: A nearly cloudless sky, temperature in the mid-50s, and just enough of a breeze to keep things comfortable. I opted for a four-mile out-and-back, and went for a bit of speed in the first mile, managing just under eight minutes. I was hoping to do the same for mile two, but I hit a bit of a wall, and I decided to slow up on the way home.


I got out Sunday morning before the rain and was rewarded with overcast, cooler, and extremely pleasant conditions, so all I did was enjoy a steady three-mile run.


For the year: 122.2 miles.

April 28, 2013 Posted by | Ohio, running | , | Leave a comment

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