The group did a little something different today. The Ultra runner crazies of our group are training for the Burning River 100 mile race in August. I have no intentions of training for such a large magnitude running event, at this juncture in my life, but I am fascinated...and when the time is right, I'm going to tackle a 50- 100 mile race, but for now, I venture myself an apt student, taking notes and learning from their experiences. It's so fun having ultra runner friends. Mike Kellar, Debi, Kurt, and Josh (another vague name from Bloggerland I had the pleasure of finally meeting and putting a face to the nebulous name) were going to run the first several miles of the Burning River course. Roger couldn't make it today. Debi and I would run 6 miles with them and turn back, since we're only training for a half right now. The first several miles are all on road, but then the vast majority of this race (75%) is conducted on trails or Towpath. I hope to pace either Mike or Kurt part way through the second half of their race, when they'll need a little extra motivation to get through the pain and delirium. Hey! I'll be their official butt-beacon for the tough parts, running just in front of them, wiggling the Sensationally Red derriere as a carrot of sorts, to keep the boys moving. Every runner, has at some time or another needed the aid of a butt beacon to get them to the end. Some men like to fixate on ponytails. During the Akron Road Runner, I followed the extraordinary behind of a young Lance Armstrong look-a-like for the last 6 miles, while my I-T band shot periodic jolts of ice-pick intensity pain through my outer knee. Just concentrate on that man's butt. Don't let it out of your sight! It worked too. I finished that race, but messed up my I-T band so bad, I couldn't run for the next month, anesthetized as I was with that male butt vision. So, be a butt beacon for someone sometime...help out a fellow struggling runner! Debi said she looks at people's feet...but my point is that we all need to focus on something during the tough parts!
So, the race begins way in the hell up in the North Chagrin Reservation area of the Cleveland Metro parks at the Squires Castle trail head on Chagrin River Road. I don't think I've ever been up here. This is a spectacular area. The Squires Castle, itself, has an interesting but sad history. It was initially started in the 1890's to serve as a servants house for massive mansion build by a Mr. Squire, but the Mr. Squire died during construction, leaving a mourning widow behind and purported now to haunt the castle.
This was a perfect day. Ohioans have been waiting weeks for such a day as this--to fall on a weekend, no less! There was not a cloud in the sky. It was still kind of chilly when we started out, but I knew we'd be sweating 2 miles down the road as the sun started to warm the air. Chagrin River Road is winding with gentle undulating hills. I thought it was a perfect stretch for Cleveland Half training. We ran through the picturesque village of GatesMills. It was picture perfect, with white little buildings everywhere. No trash. No derelicts. A place I'd never be able to afford to live, except in another lifetime...new husband...new career. Oh well, you get my point. It was beautiful. I was a little worried we were going to adversely corrupt the young Josh from Cincinnati with our usual banter. Mike was with us after all...and he has a way from going to innocent G rated to XXX within 30 sec. I hope Josh wasn't thinking these runners, one to three decades his senior, might be mature and level-headed. I felt like we should cover his ears. He was such a sweet guy. He reminded me of a young Dean Karakase, (I'm slaughtering the spelling-I know)the ultra-runner that runs across the country, a marathon a day dude, the running machine man. Josh could very well end up with the mind set of Dean K. Already Josh has run an impressive number of marathons and aims for something like 100 marathons/ultras in the next three years. He's so young too...it's rare to find a young runner with that kind of motivational drive.
I was kidding around with him in the car and asked him if he might be a wee-bit obsessive compulsive? I meant that to be a compliment. There are so many directions obsessive compulsiveness can go...the way of excess drinking, drugs, sex, gambling, and here he chosen to do something healthy. He'll be a wonderful role model for others his age. Ultrarunning tends to attract, on average the 40-something runner. For one, it's at this age that people find them settled in careers, but getting soft as father time makes it slow encroachment. Also, I think the 40 somethings have a "now or never" pressure under their asses to get moving before father time makes irreversible marks on the body. The 20-something person imagines they have all the time in the world. I used to think exactly that as I dragon inhaled my Marlboro Lights in between way too many alcoholic drinks. I'll quit when I'm 30! When I turned 30, I actually did quit smoking, but father time hadn't done enough damage to my body to get me to actually start exercising. That didn't happen till I was 38 when one day took an objective appraisal of my mental and physical being. I felt like crap. I looked like crap. I could grab four inches of flab around my waist. I looked frumpy and my ass was flat in my high-waisted mom jeans. How am I going to keep up with my kids? I want to look good naked. I don't want my husband to just overlook all my flaws, cause I know he'd still love me even if I gained 200 pounds. So, I don't think it's too surprising when someone my age takes up the active life...it's now or never, but I am very tickled when I see young people like Josh jumping in with both feet. I just hope he takes it easy, listens to his body, and learns much from all the others that have blazed the ultra trail before him! Keep running!
We parted ways with the guys at mile 6. The guys were going to hit the trail soon at some point and run back to Kurt's mom's house where we parked Mike's car. Debi and I headed back. It was such a beautiful run today and I was feeling remarkably good. I had to pee like crazy at one point and there is absolutely no place to pee in the Gatesmills Village, unless I wanted to walk in on the Sunday morning church service, so I scrambled down an embankment and fertilized the skunk cabbage. Debi has been dogged by a blister on the bottom of her right arch for several weeks. I think she needs new shoes, but she's stubborn about replacing shoes too soon, unlike Mike, an admitted shoe whore, who will buy a pair of shoes every week because he fancies the horrid green color--to function as a colorful focal point in his training blogs. He cracks me up. Mike sure adds an extra dose of spiciness to every run he's a part of. I grilled him on his run with Kim. I want to run with her sometime, so we'll have to pile in my big mom van sometime and travel for a run, so I can meet her in person. I've seen her a few times at races, but never had the opportunity to chat. Now...here is somebody that knows blisters!