Saturday, March 30, 2013

FPR Race Directors Race 50K: March 30th, 2013

Jess and I volunteered on April 27th for the Mohican Forget the PR 50K and 25K race put on by Rob Powell.  This is a great event and it was here that I completed my first ultra marathon in April of 2012.  There are many cool things about the main event such as the super challenging but awesome / fun course in the Mohican Forest , the awesome aid stations, the coolest race director who is at the finish line to greet every runner as they finish, and also the family like atmosphere that surrounds the race.  The after party is really cool as well as there is usually kegs of beer and some great vegan food.  In 2011 I volunteered for this race and had just as much fun volunteering as I did running it in 2012.  So this year I got to experience the best of both worlds.  Every year Rob gives the volunteers the opportunity to run the course with minimal aid and minimal course markings.  If the volunteers complete the 50K they get a buckle just like they would if they were running the actual event.  So I decided to volunteer  and run the Race Directors Race, which was held a month before the actual event.

That's what I call some mobile aid!
I was going to camp at the campground the night before the race directors race but the temps were dipping down in the high 20s / low 30s and I would of had to set up camp in the dark.  I took the easy way out and opted to stay at a hotel about 25 minutes away.   I arrived at the starting area about 20 minutes early.  I wanted a chance to visit with T-P (Michael Toth-Purcell).  He is a friend of mine who lives in Ann Arbor that I met while running on the Potawatomi trail in May of 2012.  It turns out that T-P worked at the same company as me but was stationed out of our corporate office and I work at the TSDF in Detroit.  When I mentioned this event to T-P he wanted to enter the race in 2013.  He grew up in Ohio and took many family trips to the Mohican state forest and he seemed really excited about running a 50K there.  In fact, he was so excited that he volunteered to run a mobile aid station for the race directors race!  So, I got there and said hello to everyone and listened to the instructions about the course.  There was a last minute change in our route because they had close down part of the trails so the gas company could cut down trees in one of the most beautiful places in Ohio.  That's all I will say about that because I don't want this blog to turn into a political soap box!

Then we gathered on the dirt road next to Mohican Adventures Campground and Rob yelled Go!  So we were off and I was running with the lead group to start.  They were flying up the first few hills and really going at a fast pace.  For some reason I just kept running with them at that fast pace.  My biggest problem is when my legs feel good I like to really push it.  So we were cruising along and a few of us missed the first turn of the day!  Luckily we quickly realized what we did and got back on course.  So about two miles into the race we reached Big Ass Hill and began our trek up that monster!  As we were climbing up that steep beast I looked over and seen some younger guy running up Big Ass Hill.  What?!!  I have ever seen anyone run up that hill but this kid ran the whole thing like it was no big deal.  The rest of us were dying when we finally made it to the  From there we had to take the road over to fire tower and when we got there T-P's mobile aid station was all set up with snacks and water.  He was also offering a clothing drop since the temperature had risen a lot since the early morning cold.  After refueling, we took off toward the bridal staging area and then hit the bridal trails in the southern part of the Mohican State Forest.

Mac and I trying to figure out where we got off course
After a few more miles we came to the first shin deep river crossing, it was cold but invigorating!  My feet were likes blocks of ice after coming out of that river (water temps around 35 degrees), but it did not take long for them to dry out and warm back up.  Around this time I met another runner named Mac and we ended up running together for a long ways and crossed two more rivers before the next aid station.  When we were getting close to the aid station at Rock Point we ran into Rob on the trails and he said Mac and I were in first place.  Umm...that's impossible because there was two different groups of people ahead of us that were leading.  Crap!  Did we miss a turn?  Getting lost was my biggest concern going into this race since I am not completely familiar with the trails.  As we got to Rock Point we were refueling and the other two groups rolled in.  According to another runner's Garmin compared to mine we had missed about 1.25 miles.  Mac and I thanked T-P and Ron (another guy who ran the race in April and came to help with the mobile aid station) as we left Rock Point and we both vowed to make up that missed mile at the end of the 50K.  We pushed on through the bridle trails and got to a confusing trail intersection where Mac made a good decision which led us in the right direction.  The group of 3 runners in second place would eventually make the wrong turn at this intersection.  I will touch on that later in this report.

The chilly Mohican river!
Mac and I made it back to the fire tower where we refueled on some snacks provided by the T-P mobile aid station.  Then I seen the first place runner coming back to this area from making a wrong turn and going a few miles out of the way.  Mac and I left the fire tower and started our decent to the covered bridge.  I got ahead of Mac in this section and I felt pretty good so I just kept going solo.  I got to covered bridge and Ron was there with some aid.  I filled my water and headed back on the Lyons Falls loop.  This is one of the coolest sections of the course.  it includes a hand over fist root climb and some technical trail running.  After climbing up little Lyons falls I kept pushing on.  Then when I got to the stairs at Big Lyons Falls the second place group of three came up behind me.  I was shocked, did I make another wrong turn?!  They were messing with me telling me that I missed a few more miles.  This really made me depressed, but I felt better when they came clean and told me that they messed up at the confusing intersection I mentioned earlier.  They had added a few more miles onto their day.  I followed them back to the covered bridge.  After leaving covered bridge T-P took a couple pics of me crossing the Mohican River.  This was really cold and about thigh deep.  It took a little longer for my feet to thaw out after this crossing!

Balance is the key!
I followed the three or four mile section along the Mohican River to the mountain bike trail.  We had to pass up the North Rim Trail and add in the mountain bike trail to make up for some of the miles that we missed due to the trail closures.  On the way up to the mountain bike trail I tripped and ended up doing a somersault and landing right back on my feet!  I could not do that again if I tried!  So I followed all the switch backs of the mountain bike trail back to the campground area and decided to follow some of the campground trails to add the extra 1.25 miles that Mac and I missed.  When I got back to the parking lot and my Garmin officially read 31.1 miles and I was satisfied.  I was also happy to see that I set a PR of 7 hours and 4 minutes on the Forget the PR course!  I think all the training I have been doing for the Burning River 100 at the end of July has really paid off.  After the race we all met at Trails End Pizza for beer and pizza, which is the perfect combination after running 31.1 miles through the trails of the Mohican State Forest.  My next event is at the inaugural Playing Possum 50K in Delaware state Park.  I am excited to run this new event because it is put on by my friend Mark Carroll and all the proceeds go to the Special Olympics, looking forward to it! 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Corktown Race 5K: March 10th, 2013

This awesome event takes place in Corktown, which is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Detroit.  The potato famine during the 1800s in Ireland drove many Irish immigrants to this area.  So as you can imagine St. Patties day in this neighborhood is a pretty big deal.  Every March on the Sunday before St. Patties day there is a 5K race and then it is followed by a huge parade down Michigan Avenue.  Also, the many beer pubs in this neighborhood are set up with extra beer lines and quick food, usually corned beef sandwiches and Guiness.  The hardcore partiers are up and at it by 7:00 AM.  This neighborhood is where the old Tigers Stadium once stood before it got torn down.  The neighborhood had taken a turn for the worse when that happened, but is recently undergoing a huge revitalization.  There are many younger people moving to Corktown and the establishments there are really taking off.  This is the first year we have decided to come to Corktown for the big party and it was well worth it.  The 5K is more of a fun run then a serious race.  There is a costume contest and almost everyone is dressed in green in the spirit of the celebration.

Jess and myself getting ready to run.
Race is complete, time to get our drink on!
 When I woke up in the morning I had to get out and run 5 miles before heading down to the 5K so I could get some required training miles in for my big event at the end of July.  Then Jess and I drove downtown and found a sweet parking spot North of the freeway, which was smart because there was huge traffic jams of cars trying to get right into Corktown for the festivities.  In reality we were really close to everything without the hassle the other drivers were having.  Jess's two friends from her work, Stacy and Moureen, were going to run the 5K with us so we found them and got in line to start the race.  I think there was around 13,000 runners and most of them dressed in green which was a cool site.  The course goes 1.5 miles down Michigan avenue and then back.  Along the way there were many spectators and even some bagpipers were out playing.  I took some video of this while I was running.  The video is pretty choppy for obvious reasons but I posted it anyway.  This was neat to see.  I was really feeling the spirit and vibe of this massive celebration, especially because of my Irish descent.  There was some very interesting costumes as well, one guy was dressed in a wrestling singlet and he must of been drunk before the race started.  He was leapfrogging parking meters and yelling at people.   

Bagpipers on the parade route
Congrats to Maureen who finished her first 5K!  After the race Jess and I went to a few bars and walked around checking out all of the festivities.  Then we watched the parade for awhile.  It was quite the scene.  We ended up hanging out at a Detroit original called Slow's BBQ which is a staple of Corktown.  We grabbed some chicken sandwiches and also a few beers from their awesome beer selection.  Then we met up with a couple friends from work who were also down at the Corktown celebration and headed to a pub called Nancy Whiskey's where the Irish party was raging!!  They even had a separate line just for Irish Car bombs, my favorite shot!  Perfect!  This was such a great time that we will defnitely be back next year.