Thursday, May 23, 2019

Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon 2019 - Bring the Heat

The 2019 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon was definitely one to remember, for the heat if nothing else.  Running a marathon in Cleveland during the Spring is always a huge gamble with the weather.  In past years, I've run in rain, hail, snow, sleet, overcast skies, you name it.  The one weather condition I always struggle with is heat, especially when it is paired with direct sun exposure.  Welcome to the 2019 Cleveland Marathon with highs around 85 and not a cloud to be seen!

Cleveland weather is extremely volatile and can change wildly, so when preparing for this race it helps to run in a wide variety of conditions to ensure you know how you will handle the weather come race day.  This year we had no days anywhere close to the heat we saw on race day.  There were no days even within 10 degrees of the race day weather, and most were at least 20 or more degrees cooler.  Running in this heat brings out many challenges including major challenges with muscle cramps, sun burns and hydration.  Throughout the race the medical teams from University Hospitals in Cleveland did an amazing job to aid the participants.  From vaseline for chafing issues (which I totally used) to cooling packs for the overheated. These workers had their work cutout for them when it came to handling heat stroke and more serious issues as well, since this was the second hottest Cleveland Marathon on record.

Despite being an amazing and top ranked medical center, there was at least one event these caregivers could not fix.  During the half marathon race, just a few hundred yards from the finish, a runner and recent college graduate a runner collapsed.  Her name was Taylor Ceepo.  Rather than try to put my thoughts here, I would like to refer you to my friend and fellow Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Ambassador Andrew Hettinger's post entitled "A Grieving Community"  Andrew expressed my exact sentiments over this awful turn of events for Taylor.  The Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon has helped organize a way to honor Taylor through donations to The Children's Miracle Network, which was an organization Taylor helped raise money for while in college.  Although nothing will replace Taylor to her loved ones and friends, I feel finding an impactful way to honor someone's memory is a worthy endeavor.  I hope every runner donates something to her memory, as it is for a good cause and because this could happen to almost anyone.  Throwing out some good karma, thoughts and a few spare dollars can only help us all.

Thank you to the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon team for taking this initiative in Taylor's memory.

After a tragedy such as this happens, I always think "What can we learn from this?" Clearly, no one wants to have a repeat of something like this.  With that thought in mind, here are some of the ideas I have to hopefully deal with adverse elements, particularly heat. In no way am I criticizing Taylor or any other runners. I just believe the one of the best things we can do is learn from our past experiences and move forward from it, what other choice do we really have?

Be Humble. It is super important to try to take a conservative approach to running, especially longer distances.  No one has ever one a marathon in the first mile, but they have lost it.  It's important to know what you have done in the past, so that when you start a race you line up with the right pacers.  Going out to fast can ruin the later part of the race, if you make it there.  In my mind, it's better to play catch up later when you know how you are feeling than to have to try salvage the race when you are completely spent. Show respect for the distance, no of us do these races because they are easy. 

Most bigger marathon races have pacers, use them!  They are always awesome runners who are much faster than the times they are pacing.  They will get you to the finish or at least help you do your best. I use one almost every year at Cleveland and they are awesome! 

Learn and Listen to Your Body. If you listen to one thing you listen to while running, please make it your heart.  Your heart can tell you so much about your run.  If it is beating to fast, dialing it back is a good idea.  Walking or "power hiking" are not bad words and will never disqualify from a race.  Running your heart rate too high for too long will.  I have run for a long time, but have found using a good running watch with a heart rate sensor is a great unbiased judge that will tell me if I am pushing myself too hard. The watch never lies and helps me be humble and listen to my body instead of my ego.

I really had to dial back this year, since it was so hot.  One amazing thing about the Cleveland Marathon is the fan support.  During what is usually the hardest part of the race, miles 14-20, there was tons of crowd support.  Many of them offered extra water for the runners or even brought out hoses to mist us off.  This is one thing that makes this race so amazing, the crowds! Cleveland isn't Boston or New York, we're our own breed.  Our fans know this and embrace this and the difference they make to help us is amazing. So many of them offering support helps a ton in these hot conditions and really makes it easy to keep your body in running form during the race. The crowds had everything including water, sports drinks, oranges, beer and even the blessing of ice.  They were amazing!

Train Smart. Make sure to train adequately for whatever race you are doing.  If it's hot, train in heat.  If it's not hot outside, at least train inside on a treadmill. If the race has hills or mountains, train with hills and mountains. Training smart will help you learn about your body so you can listen to it on race day.  It will also mean that you are more confident and better prepared in case something unpredictable happens.

Adapt. Every race has something that will happen that you can not predict.  It could be a trail race that gets flooded the night before.  It could be falling and twisting an ankle at mile 1 of a marathon. Maybe you didn't sleep well the night before due to nerves. It could be someone else needing your help. Whatever happens in a race you need to be able to adapt. That may mean abandoning the hopes of setting a PR or losing your race goal.  It is always more important to finish in one piece, without any serious injury when possible.  DNF stands for did not finish, it doesn't mean you didn't give that race hell with everything you had.  DNF doesn't mean you stink, it means you learned something that day.  DNFs can and will happen, it's how you adapt to what happened that matters.

Back to the amazing support that is there for the Cleveland Marathon. I saw quite a few medical tents and medics on bike throughout the course, especially the later parts.  This sort of adapting to the heat shows how serious the race director took the conditions and the length they go to to really make sure everyone was safe.  Despite the tragedy that happened, I have to applaud the great lengths they went to. 

Evolve. Things go wrong, the only thing we can do is learn from them so that next time we are better prepared or can handle them. If someone never evolves, they will never get better.  That can mean slowing down, choosing shorter races, trying a new coach or routine.  The important thing is that a lesson is learned and we come out better for it.

Be Supportive. Cheer on your competition.  Maybe they trained more and are actually better than you. This doesn't mean you are a lesser person, it means they earned it.  If you see someone fall, help them up.  I would look at someone who took a DNF to help a hurt or downed runner with much more respect that I would a champion who passed by the same runner to set a record. Distance running isn't like other sports.  We don't dunk on each other, we don't tackle each other and we try to stop one another in any way.  We may pass each other but that effort should always be celebrated, as long as it is done fairly. Reflecting to the early topic discussed in this post, I'm glad I heard that others immediately tried to help Taylor.  I'm sad it didn't save her life, but I'm happy those who could tried.

Hug Your Loved Ones. They show up to support our crazy hobbies.  They deal with us when we get cranky from not running. They deal with us when we are gone for hours on end mindlessly running because we have to. They are also our biggest fans and make us happier than anyone to see them at the races.  They will wait hours for us to show up and ask us if we are OK while seeing us for 5 seconds at some aid station lodged between two mountains that required 4 wheel drive and a dirt road to get there.  Hug them because there is that chance that what happened to Taylor could happen to any of us.  I'd hate to think we missed that chance to spread our love while we could.
My wife and dog standing in the rain during the 2018 Cleveland Marathon waiting for me

My wife and I at 3:30am to start the Leadville 100

My wife (glowing with happiness might I add) and I at mile 40 of the Leadville 100

Despite the extremely high temperatures, I was able to finish the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon with a time of 4:21:30.  This time was by far my worst time ever at Cleveland, but this was NOT my worst race ever.  Upon finishing, I met up with other runners I know and several of them were in rough shape.  Dizziness, muscle cramps and extreme fatigue were common among everyone.  Salts stains where apparent on everyone's clothing and skin.  I kept moving, enjoyed a post race beer and eventually went home.  I kept moving the next day and despite the rough day running, I was totally fine.  I was a little sore but not nearly as bad as I have been in the past.  Being humble and respecting what the race was that day really did my body right.  Without much soreness, aside from some blisters on my toes, I went running 2 days after the race and felt fine.  Had it not been from a lot of my past experiences and lessons from running, this race could have been physically disastrous.  Learning how I need to run was key to making the Cleveland Marathon a celebration of running, like it should be, instead of a miserable one. I hope that some of the above ideas help those who need to hear them.

2019 Cleveland Marathon Medal, 2019 8K medal
(not pictured: the Challenge Series medal)

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Fan Guide for Marathons

Still time to register for any Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon race with code EG2019 and save 10% at checkout

Running a marathon isn't easy.  Being a supportive fan during a race isn't either. You have to plan where you want to stand or sit and decide if you want to spot hop around the race or just stay in one spot. Wherever you are you have to know the time and pace of those specific runners you came to see and pay attention for given periods of time with the keenest of eyes to be sure you spot them.  Hopefully, the weather cooperates otherwise you can be left standing outside for hours in scalding sun, pouring ran, snow, hail, freezing temperatures or some odd combination of all of these. 

Here are some ideas to help the fans out there make their important duties of race day support (yes, this IS important) better and more enjoyable for all:

Bring a chair - this is obvious, but a collapsible chair can be a life saver

Make a funny and topical sign - Signs are usually one of the little things that can bring a smile to the runners faces.  A sign that says, "you're almost done" and "you've trained longer than Kim Kardashian's first marriage" are a little played out now.  A sign that is motivational to the one runner you came to see is always great, especially for them.  If they are a first time marathoner, this will likely help them a ton to stay focused and motivated and find their reason why they are running.  A sign with a specific joke to the city or race they are running in is always good.  An example of this for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon could be a picture of Baker Mayfield with the words You Woke Up Feelin' Dangerous, would draw a ton of cheers and high fives from runners.  Even better would be getting Baker Mayfield to show up with a sign that says "Are you feelin' dangerous?" I'm sure someone can make the whole Baker thing happen if we tag him enough on social media. Topical and comedic signs are the best, go wild with ideas, of the thousands of runners someone will find it funny.

**Kids with cute and fun signs will get all sorts of attention. Kids with signs are the best!**

Plan your spots you will be a few days before the race - If you want to spot hop, plan this out ahead of time. Marathons will cause a lot of road closures which you will need to account for.  The Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon provides a good and easy to access course that a fan can easily travel to 2-3 spots, some of which will serve as 2 spots since there is a bit of an out and back to this race. Make sure you also have a plan B and plan C as parking can be tough.  If you can ride a bicicyle a few miles, I'd highly recommend that as it is easier to move and can be parked right up on the side of the course. Also tell your runners where you will be, this will help them look for you and make sure they are running when they see you, or plan a surprise for you the fan.

Keep pets on a leash - A lot of people bring dogs, which is great! Just make sure you dog is a on a leash or better yet a harness.  Make sure someone who has good control of the dog is handling them at all times (i.e. no kids).  This may sound like common sense, but I've seen it go wrong and no one wants that.  Also, if your dog isn't the friendliest or has anxiety issues or doesn't get along with a lot of other dogs, please leave them at home.  With thousands of runners, more fans, and probably hundreds of dogs, it's not fair to the dog bring a dog who is sensitive to the race.  All of that being said, I love watching how excited dogs get when they spot their human in the race.  It really is pure unbridled joy.

Bring a bag - Many runners can face difficulties during a race, one of which can be dressing inappropriately.  Runners love when they can ditch an article of clothing mid race, especially if they weather changes mid race. Some of these specialized articles of clothing are expensive so when a runner can take it off and not lose it, that is awesome!  You can also add in some other odds and ends, in case runners needs them like gloves, hand warmers, etc.  These types of personal aid stations can be a God send. 

**Be kind and pick up any trash you see.  Marathons are great but inevitably they can leave behind some trash. Throw it in you bag or put it in a nearby trash container.  Race directors, runners and your community will thank you for this**

Noise makers - "What we need... is more cowbell" - Christopher Walken, SNL
Yes, we need more cowbell! Cowbells are like injections of adrenaline for runners, especially trail runners.  Anything that makes noise is encouraged though.  Just no fireworks or things that go bang.

Bring drinks - It's always good to have an extra water or sports drink for the runner, but bring some for yourself or others, too.  You may help calm down a little kid or save a runner who is dying and misplanned at mile 19.  Some people bring adult beverages to races and I've yet to run a marathon or longer distance race and NOT be offered a beer.  I've never indulged, but some friends of mine have and love it. I will say there are rules around this so make sure to read them before attempting the adult beverage part.

Bring hand sanitizer or wipes - Most non professional runners will need to use the restroom at some point and so will the fans.  While the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon has a lot of port-a-potties, this does not mean they will always have hand sanitizer in them.  Some just get used more than others and run out.  These little items can really help us feel more human if we have to deal with the gut wrenching possibility of a port-a-potty without these modern day cleaning marvels

Bring a small towel - Again, this is a small thing that can help a runner rain or shine.

Laslty, Bring the NOISE! - Why do we cheer when it's Game 7 of the NBA Finals? Why do we cheer when a game is tied and the away team kicker trots out late in the 4th quarter? We want to intimidate our opponents and motivate our team.  In a marathon, the only opponent is one's self and the distance they have left.  Since roads don't have ears, cheer on everyone you can. Motivate them!  Don't tell them they look pretty or they look good, runners know they don't.  Tell them they are inspiring. Tell them that they are doing great. Tell them that they are a role model for the kids present.  Tell them they can do it and that they are strong enough. Tell them their ex is behind them and gaining quick. Whatever you do be positive, be uplifting and be a good human.

See you all on Sunday, Cleveland!

Register for any Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon race with code EG2019 and save 10% at checkout

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Winner of Free Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Race Entry!!!!!

Register for any Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon race with code EG2019 and save 10% at checkout

After a little delay on my part (darn work), it's time to announce the winner of the FREE race entry to the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon!  This entry is good for any race (5k to marathon) and even the challenge series!

The winner is...

Jeffrey Lammers!!!

Jeffrey (aka FireRunner2379) is a fellow runner and pizza runner (then again who doesn't love pizza) as well as a public employee.  Jeffrey has run in the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon series in the past and has the medal display in his Twitter picture.  He commented on and shared all of my posts after the contest started and really helped me share my love of the running.  Congrats Jeffrey!

I'll be posting more running updates soon, but for now let's congratulate Jeffrey and cheer him on May 19th.  Will he sign up for the FULL marathon?

Thanks to everyone who shared my posts and commented.  I truly appreciate all of it.

Don't forget to sign up for the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon yourself and save 10% at checkout using my discount code of EG2019, it's good on any race!

Monday, March 11, 2019

Spring Cleaning Challenge - Running Edition

Register for any Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon race with code EG2019 and save 10% at checkout

As a runner and an Eagle Scout, I truly love the outdoors.  Any chance I get to be outside doing something, I do it.  It's why my wife and I moved into a house that is very close to the Cuyahoga National Valley. There are great trails throughout the valley system and a lot lightly used roads that meander the hills around it that make for great running.  One thing that ruins great places like this: Litter.

It is just unfathomable to me how much trash I litter I see while I'm out running.  What kind of person just throws trash out their window while driving?  What type of person dumps a ton of trash on the side of the road instead of taking it home or throwing it out in a trash can anywhere?  This really grinds my gears, especially when I hear people complain about how much trash runners create at races.  I know almost every race I've ever been in either has strict rules about trash and littering or, like the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, does the utmost to have volunteers and staff clean up trash along the race course to ensure the place is cleaner then they found it.

Well, I've had enough.  I usually pick up a piece or two of trash when I run.  If I am running with a pack I will try to pickup more.  Just yesterday (Sunday, March 10th) I picked up 8 pieces of trash while I was running on a road near my house, picture below.  The most disheartening part is that I passed up at least 5 times this trash that I could easily see on the side of Riverside Road.  This road runs right next to the Cuyahoga National Valley, leads up to a lot of nice houses and is great to run or drive on. Litter left around this area can end up in the Cuyahoga river and eventually make it's way into Lake Erie, both of which require a lot of effort to keep them clean and free of trash.  Maybe it just looks worse now since all the snow is melted, but that is no excuse for this type of behavior.

Because of this I'm proposing my own Spring Cleaning Challenge: Collect as much trash as you can while out running, hiking or even walking the dog and share it.  Let's clean up our neighborhoods, parks and trails and hopefully guilt the litterers into stopping this horrible behavior.  Sure it might only be one can or one piece of plastic, but it's one less that is disposed of properly, won't hurt and animal or cause harm to our environment.  If you're feeling really green, recycle it.  Here is a list of how much energy recycling can save us by Popular Mechanics that is worth the read.

I'll post picture updates to this blog throughout March and early April to show how much litter I've collected on my runs.  You can follow my runs on Strava, if you like to see where I collect it all. Please post your own pictures in the comments and let's see how much of an impact we can all make.  If there is one Spring Cleaning Challenge that catches on, I hope this is it.

This is the 8 pieces of litter I picked up off the roadside while running near my house.  I had no pack, I just carried it all in my hands while running. The cars passing by either thought I was partying hard or a weirdo.  Either way, I'm glad I picked it up to help clean up the area in which I live.

Lastly, I am still giving away a free race entry to the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon good for any distance.  Comments posted by 3/17/19 will have a chance to win.  You can also comment on my previous posts by then as well or share this on social media. If you miss out, use code EG2019 for a 10% discount on any race.

Here's some recent pictures of what I picked up on my last run. One day it was to dark to get a good picture but did manage to pick up 5 more cans

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Running at Night

Register for any Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon race with code EG2019 and save 10% at checkout

Running in Cleveland during the winter can be tough.  You have to layer up correctly so you stay warm, but not too warm.  You have to watch for icy spots that can lead to slips or falls and therefore an injury.  As if that weren't already enough to deal with, it stays dark longer which means cars can't see you if you running on the road.  That leads me to the topic of this post: Running at Night.  I'll provide some of my best tips for running while it's dark and anyone who comments is eligible to win my free entry for any distance race in the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon race weekend, May 18-19th, 2019.  There might be favoritism shown to the runner who provides the best advice! 😉

1. Run with a headlamp - At first I was hesitant to do this mainly because I knew I could see any cars heading towards me, since I always run facing traffic.  One day while out running, A driver was not paying attention and I was forced into a ditch while running. Angered by this near collision with a mid sized SUV, I muttered under my breath and carried on.  After running a loop down a side street I was flagged down by a man frantically waving his arms and yelling at me. This man ran up to me apologizing for running me off the road and admitted that he wasn't paying attention.  He then pulled out a headlamp and told me he wanted me to have it. The man was a runner himself and just wanted me to be safer while running.  I refused his offer, stating I have one at home, which I do.  The man made me promise him that I would always wear one while running on roads at night.  This gesture made me realize, that he was right and that something so simple could mean the difference of life and death for a runner.

2. Make sure to have a rear facing light - While a headlight seems obvious, this might not.  I usually wear red armband LED lights that strap around my arms that might not seem like much.  What I've noticed since wearing them is that cars coming from behind tend to slow down, which always makes running on the roads safer.  They also are more conscientious towards oncoming traffic who can see me running and also slow down or move over.  Being able to be seen by all drivers really does make the roads MUCH safer.

3. Where reflective clothing -  This may sound like a simple thing to do, but we all have our favorite running gear and not all of it is reflective enough and warm enough to run in during the long, cold dark days of winter.  This just helps augment any light you have, any light in the streets and  any light from cars.  I like to this of this as a way to highlight myself while running.

4. Use sidewalks whenever possible - Winter around Cleveland means snow.  Snow means unshoveled sidewalks or snow plows that push snow on to sidewalks.  These can create issues with trying to run through knee high snow and thus can force runners into the roadways.  Whenever possible use the sidewalks, even if there is a couple inches of snow.  This might mean running slower than one wants, but it's better to be slow and safe than fast and seriously injured.

5. Run bridle paths or well groomed trails - When in doubt, just avoid the roads all together. Trials are super fun and very peaceful to run in the winter and provide no chance of being hit by an unobservant driver.  They do pose the risks of ice, rocks and roots so a headlamp is vital to do this and it helps to stick to trails that are wider and better groomed. As a side perk, often roads around these trails are less traveled and drivers are more observant due to the risk of hitting animals like deer, so stepping off a rugged trail and onto a road that connects to smoother trails is an option.

6. Shorten your stride and pick up your feet - At night it may not be possible to see every pothole that may be there, or tree root if on trails.  Shortening your stride and picking your feet up a little higher, helps to mitigate this risk and if you do stumble on an unseen obstacle, your body is in better position to catch yourself without causing and injury. Running in conditions that may have icy conditions means you need to shorten your stride to prevent slipping.  This helps keep your weight over your feet and minimizes the chance of twisting an ankle or knee, if you do slip. If you slip and there is a car coming, but it doesn't get over quite far enough, well I just hope that doesn't happen.  Here is a link to some advice from Runner's World

7. Wear proper shoes - In the winter trail shoes is often a good idea as they provide more grip that most street running shoes.  This again might result in slower times, but can really help prevent falls and sprained ankles.  Microspikes are a good tool to use on trail runs, since they dig in more and can help ascend icy hills.

8. Keep a cell phone on you - If something does happen, this is your lifeline. Always carry it while running at night, no matter where or what time of year it is.

What are some of your running at night tips?  Did I leave any off? Comment below to help your chance to win a free Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon race entry or use the discount code EG2019 for 10% off any race!

See you May 18th and 19th!

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

2018 Recap, 2019 Look Ahead

Save 10% on any race in the Rite Cleveland Marathon series
with code EG2019!

Last year, 2018, was full of new running challenges for me.  I decided in December of 2017, I would attempt 12 marathons in 12 months.  I was coming off of a DNF at the Leadville 100 in August, both bummed I was unable to complete it and amazed I was able to make it through 70ish miles of running through and over the Sawatch Range of the Rocky Mountains.  I had never taken on a challenge that involved this many races in a calendar year, let alone so many marathons.  For me this was a chance to see what I could do, knowing full well this would take up a lot of my free time and weekends.

With 2018 in the rear view mirror, I can say I finished 7 marathons and 3 races of other distances.  The biggest factor that held me back from running 3 races was time.  Family has to come first, yes even over running, and trying to balance these two was always tough.  Time has finite limits and skipping out on time with those who matter is not an option, running can always be done at a later date.  The two other marathons I skipped out on was simply due to lack of recovery or injury.  While I enjoy running and pride myself on being able to go for running for long periods, I'm not a professional and avoiding injury is always my number one goal.  In the end, I still need to be able to go to work and pay my bills.

Here are my races from 2018:

2018 Marathons:
Run for Regis - 1/20/18 - 5:00:52 (2nd overall, 1st male)
                          - ran self supported due to a government shutdown.
Olde Girlded Grit - 2/24/18 - 4:40:17 (7th overall, 7th male)
Glass City Marathon - 4/22/18 - 3:48:06 (435th overall, 308th male) PR!
Pro Football Hall of Fame Marathon - 4/29/18 - 3:59:28 (213th overall, 163rd male)
Flying Pig Marathon - 5/6/18 - DNS - time issue
Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon - 5/20/18 - 3:56:49 (568th overall, 418th male) 2nd fastest time ever!
Youngstown Marathon - 6/3/18 - time issue
Mohican Marathon - 6/16/18 - 5:14:14 (14th overall, 10th male)
Air Force Marathon - 9/15/18 - DNS - inured/recovering
Akron Marathon - 9/29/15 - DNS - inured/recovering
Towpath Marathon - 10/7/18 - 4:29:28 - (89th overall, 59th male)
                           - reaggravated hip injury, officially end race season
Columbus Marathon - 10/21/18 - DNS - time issue

2018 Other Races:
Buzzard Trail Race 25k - 3/17/18 - 2:34:57 (8th overall, 8th male)
Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon 8k Challenge Series - 40:04 (65th overall, 51st male)
Leave No Trace Half Marathon - 8/31/18 - 2:14:00 (44th overall, 39th male)
                           - hip injury aggravated during this race, cut down from the full marathon mid race

Pretty happy with my results overall, other than the little bit of injury that slowed me in prime fall racing season.  Any year I can set my two fastest times in a marathon, I'm happy with the results. The pleasant surprise of the year for me was seeing how highly I placed in the trail races.  This clearly reflects the amount of time I spend running trails and my love for this venue. Some other highlights include: setting a near PR at the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon while running the race with friend to her first marathon finish, setting a personal record for the most marathons done in one year,

I'm sad to hear that the Run for Regis is now canceled due to changes in how the National Park Services allows for use of certain areas of the Cuyahoga Valley. I hate seeing the government stop a sport that has so many supporters of it's services, but they did cite some valid reasons as to why.


I've decided to tackle some new challenges and start doing more diverse races.  Here are my immediate goal races for 2019.  I also hope to do a race or two with my wife, one with my dogs and tackle some ultramarathons.

Here is what my rough calendar looks like as of 1/8/19:

February: Olde Girdled Grit Half Marathon
March: Buzzard Day Trail Race 50k
May: Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Challenge Series (Full Marathon and 8k) GOAL: PR
June: Mohican 50, (maybe also the Green Jewel 25k)
July: Burning River 100 (backup in case I am not fortunate enough to make Leadville), Muddy Paws 2 Mile Dog Run
August: Leadville 100 (pending the lottery of course) GOAL: FINISH
September: Northcoast 24 hour Endurance Run (backup to the previous two races)
December: Regal Beagle 50k or 25k

There will hopefully be some smaller races throughout, but this calendar will keep me enjoying the outdoors and all Ohio has to offer, with some possible high altitude racing as well.  I'm always one to aim high but I think everything listed is achievable.

Who's going to talk me into other/more races?

So here's to a new year of running in 2019!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

How To Run In A National Park During A Government Shutdown

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As of the writing of this blog post, we are in day 15 of a partial government shutdown.  While many parts of the government are still functioning, this shutdown directly impacts runners due to the shutdown of our National Parks Services (NPS).  As a runner who lives near the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, I use it multiple times a week.  This national park practically buts up to my house and is one of the main reasons my wife and I bought a house where we did.  

To quote the NPS website, "The National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. The Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world."  Sadly, a lot of park rangers are working without pay or not working at all and our naturally beautiful lands are not being cleaned and protected. This means facilities can be closed, trash may not be picked up and in some races may be canceled.

While the races may be the least to worry about here, this concerns me.  For some, if not many, people, races in national parks may be their first interaction with a park.  This was true for me when I flew out west to visit the city of Leadville, Colorado and race in some of their awesome races.  I grew to love their little city and the expansive national forests (yes, this is different than national parks but the National Forest Service is also shutdown) that surround it. In my trips there, I have visited other national parks, like the Great Sand Dunes, and always had an immense amount of fun and time to find myself.  Isn't that what national parks are for?

Below is some of my advice of how to enjoy the national parks (or forests) and things you should do while you are there:

1. Stay on the trails  - I can not say this enough.  The trail systems these parks provide are there for many reasons, to provide a fun and safe path for visitors to enjoy, to prevent erosion and to protect plant and wild life areas.  Staying on the trail is not only for the safety of nature but for the safety of the visitor as well.  Sure 99% of the time, you will be fine stepping off the trail, but if you wander too far or get lost (which is easy enough to do on the trails) you could get seriously hurt and it will only be that much harder to find you.

2. Pick up trash - I know, this isn't your job.  The problem is, that with the government shut down, it's no one's job.  If you see trash where it shouldn't be, pick it up.  I try to make it a personal goal of mine to pick up 2 pieces of trash every time I visit any park, though I am not always successful.  With the shutdown, I have kept my eyes on trash containers, with the intent to empty it if it is full by putting it into my SUV to take home or to a local facility to dispose of.  Full trash containers risk litter spilling out into the surrounding nature reserves and animals learning food may be present there and thus increasing encounters with humans. Maybe it's just my inner boy scout but I was always taught you should leave it better than you found it.

3. Be respectful of the land - This sounds similar to #2, but this includes staying on proper roadways.  Again, this is for everyone's safety. If you see an area that is in disrepair, avoid using it to worsen it further.  Make a note and contact the park services. 

4. Follow posted instructions - If a park is truly closed, stay out.  If the park is open, you may enter.  I know I can take care of myself out in most wilderness, but if something happens there may be no help available.  Facilities that are often relied on may be closed, which presents further danger than previously thought and thus why you should stay out.

5. Use the facilities before hand - I've had personal experiences with this during a few government shutdowns, which makes me sad to say I've had to experience more than one while running.  Use the restroom, particularly number 2, before you go.  Restrooms are usually locked and this can make a big issue as we all know what runner's trots are.

6. Whatever you bring in, bring it back out - Again, there is probably to refuse service occurring during a shut down. Do not be the asshat who makes a mess and has to leave it for the unpaid park worker to clean up.  An animal make beat them to it, especially now, and get sick off of it. Neither should happen, so pack out what you pack in. The boy scouts teaches you to "leave no trace", remember that and to learn more follow or volunteer with Leave No TraceHere are their principles to follow

7. Be respectful to the rangers - Do not take your frustration out on a park ranger who is doing their job.  They want this less than you do, don't beat them up for it.  They may just not come back until they are paid and then the park suffers more.

8. Be the park ranger - Ok, so don't go stopping poachers (unless you're Dog the Bounty Hunter or something).  Be smart but if you see someone doing something they shouldn't be, say something.  Back off if you feel uncomfortable but we really need to do our best to protect the land from people who are doing things they shouldn't be, whether it's a kid playing in a wetland or a company illegally dumping.  You can volunteer your services to better the parks here for the parks and here for the forest services, once they are up and running again.

9. Donate! - You can donate here, and pick your favorite National Park to donate to.  You can donate here for the National Forest Services.

Here is a list of all of the interior United state departments that are shut down when a government shut down occurs.

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