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May 18, 2011

Cleveland Marathon, The Summary

Filed under: Running — Tags: , — Marcus @ 6:43 am

So I have now completed my first marathon.  It was a very interesting (and painful) experience, but I learned a lot of lessons, and you can bet you will be seeing me at the starting line again, soon.

To start out with, the Marathon was scheduled to start at 7am, the website wasn’t all that clear on how to get down to the starting line, they just made reference to the roads being closed down at 6am.  I decided I didn’t want any stress in getting there and finding out where I needed to be etc, so I had my friend Paul drop me off down by the stadium at 5am.  They already had closed down most of the roads and we drove around a bunch of road closed signs to get there.  I may have gotten there a touch early though, I am pretty sure I was the very first runner there by about 15-20 minutes (and there were about 19,000 runners).  However, next year for the Cleveland Marathon, you can bet I will probably show up at 5am once again.  I had no stress running around, had time to relax and focus on what I needed to do that day, and I got to talk to quite a few people.

The beginning of the marathon was interesting, I am a very new runner, and I have never run with anyone else before.  The beginning of the marathon (and by beginning, I mean like 9 miles) could best be described as a stampede, it was shoulder to shoulder runners for at least the first 5-6 miles.  I spent a lot of energy trying to keep up with the pace group I signed up for (a group led by veteran runners with a goal of finishing in 3 hours and 50 minutes), there were so many people, my group kept getting ahead of me, and I would have to run side to side to try and find a hole I could move ahead some.  It also was a bit unnerving because I couldn’t see the road very well and I need to be careful of what I step on in my Vibrams.

By the 9th mile I knew I couldn’t keep fighting the crowd or maintain that pace, so I decided to leave my pace group and just run what felt natural, that was probably my best decision in the marathon, the next 7 miles flew by.  Also as soon as we rounded about 12 miles the half marathon runners split off to head back to the finish line, at that point it was no longer crowded and I could really just focus on me running.

Mile 15, I started feeling a twinge just above my left knee in one of my quads, it felt like a bit of a knot, it seemed odd as I hadn’t had any issues with cramping in my training, I just kind of hoped it would go away.

Mile 16, My left leg totally cramped up, I was running down Martin Luther King Jr Blvd and my leg totally cramped, I almost fell over in the street, I couldn’t walk, I wasn’t really all that sure what I should do.  I just stood there and stretched as much as I could until I could move to the side of the road.  I spent probably 5 minutes or so doing basic stretches until I could walk again, I then walked for probably 200 feet before I started running again.

The next two or three miles I ran until my legs would lock, and then I would stretch until I could walk again, I was in pretty bad shape, I ended up being able to recognize when my legs where going to lock and start walking right before that, so I would run a quarter mile, walk a 100 feet or so, then back to running, I did this through the end of the marathon.  My running was not looking so good at this point, I had lost a good bit of range of motion from the cramping so it was a very stiff slow run.

In the end I ended up running the full marathon in 5 hours 2 minutes, I lost an hour to the cramping as my time at the half marathon distance was 2 hours.  I was kind of disappointed I wasn’t able to do it in 4 hours, but my main goal for this, my first marathon, was just to finish, which I did.

During the race my wife Meagan and two of my good friends Paul and Jess spent their time fighting the Cleveland public transit to try and get ahead of me and cheer me on, I had worked out a route beforehand that would allow them to see me at 5 places max if everything went as planned, I ended up seeing them at 3 of the places.  It was an unbelievable boost each time I saw them, and it really was a driving factor when I was out there knowing that we had a checkpoint ahead where they may be.

Almost everyone has wanted to know how it was running the marathon in my Vibrams.  Well, in the end my feet hurt less than most of the rest of me, I feel that the Vibrams really rocked out there.  I never found myself thinking I was an idiot for attempting to run such a distance in a “barefoot” shoe.  The question of what I thought of running in my Vibram’s is really an invalid question though as I was never able to run distance until I changed over to them, so I can’t compare running a marathon in running shoes VS the Vibrams.  Also for those interested, I was running in the Vibram KSO’s, I spent awhile trying to decide between my KSO’s and my KSO TrekSport’s, the difference is that the TrekSports have twice as thick of soles which offer more protection.  However, I am very glad I choose to run in the thinner KSO’s.  Having the extra contact with the ground makes you run softer and saves your feet for later in the race.

As for the cramping, I spent some time researching when I got home, I believe the cramping was due to two things:  #1 Salt deficiency, #2 lack of training.  I have a very low salt diet as Meagan and I prepare almost all our own food from scratch, so we are not getting all the heavily salted prepackaged stuff many people do, and when we cook, we use very little salt.  As for the training, I lost 2 weeks in the middle of my training plan which made it hard to catch back up on my long runs, then at the very end I wasn’t able to run for 3 weeks leading up to the marathon because of my work schedule.  I started really cramping at mile 16, right up until then I still felt great, I wasn’t tired at all, which is why I think it was a combination of the lack of training and salt, I think if either of those had not been present I probably would have been fine.

As of Wednesday morning, I am feeling mostly better, I was really sore on Monday, Tuesday was quite a bit better, and today I am almost totally out of pain.  I am planning to start back running this week, I will be starting off slow as it will take several weeks for my body to totally recover, but I should be able to do a few miles here and there.  I am following Hal Higdon’s post marathon 4 week plan for recovery (I followed his training program leading up to the marathon as well).

I am already planning the next couple marathons, I am planning to run the Drake Well marathon in the middle of August, it is a tiny marathon back where I grew up (Last year about 80 people ran it).  I am not going to push my training, I am going to do what is comfortable, and just try and log a lot of miles between now and then.  I will of course be posting my progress here as I go.

May 16, 2011

Picture of the week (Trillium Flowers)

Filed under: Outdoors,Picture of the week,Wild Edibles — Tags: — Marcus @ 2:00 am

I love finding and getting pictures of flowers in the wild.  Finding cool flowers in the wild means more to me than a huge manicured garden, because this happened all on its own, and its up to you to discover it.  Also flowers are one of my best indicators on both identifying a wild edible and also as markers for me to know where we are in the season.  Since I take so many pictures each year, and many times of the same flowering plants, I can compare the dates on a particular flower between years to see if we are having an early or late spring, etc.  When I am having problems identifying a particular plant, if I can catch it while it is flowering, I can almost always positively identify it, then the next year I should know it much better even before it flowers for the year.

The trillium has wonderful flowers as well as being a wild edible, the leaves when it first comes up can be used as a cooked salad green, however by the time the trillium flowers the leaves are too bitter to consume.  I missed trying the trillium this year because I was not totally sure of my identification of it (and I had mistaken a Jack-In-The-Pulpit as a trillium anyways which would have been a shocking mistake!).  From my reading you do not want to pick trilliums as an edible most times anyways as they are not that abundant, so you should only pick them if there is a large amount in the area already.

May 14, 2011

Reflecting back over my marathon training

Filed under: Running — Tags: , — Marcus @ 6:25 am

Note: I will be running the Cleveland Marathon on Sunday May 15th, the marathon starts at 7am, and I am hoping to run it in 4 hours or less, this is my first marathon.

If you want to see how I am doing on the race please check out http://runkeeper.com/user/KD8ITX between 7am-11:30am (when I am planning to run).  I will be carrying my iPhone through the race, and if all goes well it will update that site automatically as to where I am.

Its time.  I have been training for about 8 months, I have lost about 35 pounds, besides taking time off to heal from various minor injuries along the way I have been running 3-4 times a week.  Back in September I ran the Spartansburg 5k and I made it about 1.5 miles before I was exhausted and I had to walk a good part of the way back.  In October I started running in my Vibrams and had to start over again at 1 mile.  I celebrated the first time I ran 3 miles without having to take a walking break, and I blew myself away the first time I broke running three miles in 24 minutes (8 minutes/mile).  It seemed impossible the first time I broke 10 miles, then 15, and recently 20 miles in a single run.

I have covered a lot of ground this last year, basically re-learned how to run, and spent a ton of time at the gym, and more than my fair share of time limping around at work and at home from my long runs.  And you want to know what has driven me to do all of this?  I have no idea.  I would like to have some bit of ancient wisdom that is pushing me on, or maybe some charity or something noble like that, however I can’t think of one.  Instead it was a seed that I planted in my head that I could be an endurance athlete, it was my mind driving me to push myself a bit harder and do something totally out of my ability.

One thing about myself, I love pushing myself to do things.  I firmly believe that each time you push yourself to do something outside of your reach it makes you a better person, just keep raising the bar, even if its a little bit.  I started about 2 years ago getting a membership at the gym to try and strengthen my core muscles in my back so that I could stop throwing my back out and maybe I could keep from causing permanent injury to my back.  Little by little I pushed myself at the gym getting into shape, I got to a point last summer though where I was getting bored and finding it hard to make it to the gym, that was when the seed that I could be a runner was planted.

There is a quote I like from the Matrix, when Neo is in the car about to meet Morpheus there is a point where they stop the car and Neo has to either get out or decide to go with them, the following conversation happens:

Switch: Stop the car. Listen to me, Copper-top. We don’t have time for twenty questions. Right now there’s only one rule, our way or the highway.
Neo: Fine. (Neo opens the door to get out)
Trinity: Please, Neo. You have to trust me.
Neo: Why?
Trinity: Because you have been down there, Neo. You know that road. You know exactly where it ends. And I know that’s not where you want to be.

I like that section from the movie because I feel so many people spend their whole lives going down the same road over and over and over again.  I get to do a lot of cool things, and I write about many of them on my blog here, but in reality, all of the neat things I do is just me deciding that I am going to take half an hour here or an hour there and do something a bit out of the norm.  Do that enough times and your norm will shift into something pretty cool.

So no magical wisdom in what I am doing, just the knowledge that every time I push myself to do something more difficult or complicated, even if I don’t know what I will get out of it, it always seems in retrospect to be one of the greater things that I did.

Now, I do want you to notice I am writing and publishing this before my marathon, I might not think it was such a great idea if I was to write this article the day after my marathon!  Though I have a feeling this is more of the beginning of my real training lesson (and marathon career) rather than the end of my training leading up to my marathon.

May 13, 2011

Wild Edible: Cut-Leaved Toothwort

This is quickly becoming one of my favorite edibles to run across.  I am a huge fan of horseradish on things, and when you process the root of toothwort, I can barely tell the difference between the two!  I have found toothwort basically everywhere I am currently out at, but this picture was taken on the Zimmerman trail.

I am collecting a bunch of toothwort right now to make up some of my own horseradish sauce, just need some more time to dig up some more of it.

May 12, 2011

Mystery Plant, help me identify it!

Filed under: Outdoors — Tags: — Marcus @ 2:00 am

Whatever this is, it has me bugged.  I keep seeing it while I am walking through the woods on the Zimmerman trail in Mentor.  I have been out looking for wild mushrooms, and every time I see one of these from a distance I get excited only to find out its yet some more of whatever these are.

I have looked through my books and I don’t see anything that looks like this (Of course they normally show full grown stuff, so no surprise there).  I would really like to know what it is.  It isn’t a tree coming up, the shoots are easily broken off, the inside of them have a texture that remind my of ginger, but it doesn’t have much of a smell.  It is not a pine cone as someone else mentioned.  I think it might be edible in some way as it seems like the deer are pawing at it to eat them.

So any idea’s on what this might be, please let me know in the comments!

May 11, 2011

Wild Edible: Jack-In-The-Pulpit

For the last couple weeks I have been watching some shoots coming out of the ground, I haven’t been sure what they were so I have been keeping a pretty close watch, when I started to see the leaves develop I thought they might be Trillium’s as a single leaf stalk has a resemblance, however on my last trip out it was unmistakable that these were Jack-In-Pulpit’s.  They went from a shoot with a little leaf to the full plant you see here in a week or less.

These are a bit of a tricky wild edible from what I read, you can only eat the roots, and ONLY after they are totally dried.  The suggestion is to cut the roots into paper thin slices and then leave them out for upwards to three months before consuming, you can either eat them like potato chips, or grind them into a flour (which the Indians did).

The reason you must dry them so much is because they contain calcium oxalate crystals (Same as in skunk cabbage).  This will cause intense burning when you eat it, one of my wild edibles books compared it to eating liquid fire, while another of my books compared it to having a mouth full of glass shards mixed with cayenne pepper.  Boiling will not remove the calcium oxalate, only completely drying it will.

That being said, I do plan to harvest a small amount to try, but it will be sitting here until it is “gunpowder dry” to quote one of my wild edibles books!

May 10, 2011

Wild Edible: Wild Ginger

I found this while I was out on one of my walks this last weekend on one of the islands on the Chagrin river.  I was just walking out and this plant caught my eye, I had taken over a hundred pictures already, but I knew I recognized this plant from somewhere and that I hadn’t run into it in the wild yet.  As per my usual when I got home and downloaded all my pictures, I flipped through my 3 wild edibles books and a couple websites I use and I found this one in the first pass.

Now that I know what it is, I am going to try and go back and collect some to actually try.  From reading you can use this as a replacement for the commercial (Asian) ginger you would buy in the store, it is most likely not quite as potent as the Asian Ginger, but that just means you use a bit more of it.  I am quite excited to have found this!

May 9, 2011

Picture of the week (Baby Geese)

Filed under: Outdoors,Picture of the week — Tags: , — Marcus @ 6:45 am

Wow its been a busy few weeks lately.  I haven’t posted on the blog, but I have tons to put up on here, in the last couple weeks I have taken several hundred pictures while I have been out searching for wild edibles.  I am learning more and more plants each time I go out, and I have been bringing some of them home to try.

When I was out this last Saturday, I was on one of my favorite islands in the Chagrin River when I ran across these geese and their babies.  The picture turned out perfect!  I didn’t want to get very close as they were very protective of their little ones, you can tell by how they have their necks that they were not happy with me being there!

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