Friday, January 30, 2015

Top Ten Personal Favorite Routes

Tiffin Route Starting Point

Inclusion criteria: Route must have been run on a weekly basis for at least one month

Honorable Mention:

Deer Mountain Out & Back, Estes Park, CO. This was a favorite route while living in Estes Park, that I did throughout both the winter and the summer. I would run up Trail Ridge Road to the Deer Mountain Trailhead and then hop on the trail and ascend to the top and then head back down.

Trail near Onion Creek Austin
West Oaks Out & Back, Austin, TX. This out back consists of a run down Escarpment Boulevard, a quick jog down Davis Lane, a sudden veer to the left following the West Oak Trail. Then a cross over Beckett Road into Dick Nichols Park, followed by a short trail run up to Convict Hill Road. Then one last push down Woodcreek Road to William Cannon and back.

Tiffin Carnival/Hedges/Coe Road Loop. Tiffin, OH. This is a classic Tiffin run consisting of a run east on 16, followed by a turn north on 17/15. Followed by a westward turn onto Coe Road and an eventual run of the Tiffin Carnival cross country course. After the running of the course, jump back on Coe Road to Spayth Street and then travel over to State Route 100. Take 100 to Township Road 151 and take a final turn west down County Road 16.
Looking West down 151 Tiffin

Boogie with Stu. Tiffin, OH. These two runs are Tiffin Calvert cross country originals.
  • Start from Coach Behm’s house on Ranchwood and turn east onto Old Attica Road until it T bones  with Route 224 then turn back (5K)
  • Start from Heidelberg Track and run across Main Street down to “Hidden Valley”. Run around the practice fields, through the woods behind the YMCA, which empties in Hedges Boyer Park.

River Road/34/Sandusky River Out & Back, Tiffin, OH. This route is a favorite of mine starting from either Calvert High school or Columbian’s track. The start is somewhat undulating for Tiffin, and the scenic Sandusky River is in view for nearly the entirety of the route. I typically turn around somewhere near the canoe livery.

Golf Course Run, Tiffin, OH. Keep this one on the down-low; A favorite early, early morning run from the house following each hole at Mohawk.

Beaver Meadows; RMNP
10.  RMNP Loop (Through Park housing, up High Drive and around Beaver Meadows, into Moraine Park, then across Bear Lake Road. Then behind the visitors center, along Eagle Cliff, back to Park housing). Estes Park, CO. This run follows some winding trails in Upper Beaver Meadows, eventually reaching a wooded section of Ponderosa Pines (where I had my first face-to-face encounter with a black bear), then a steep section of trail skirting along Eagle Cliff Mountain. Finally, the trail passes RMNP’s “bone yard”, and winds up back at park housing.

9. Estes Park Downtown Out & Back (South down 36, around lake), Estes Park, CO. This was the first route that I did upon first moving to Estes Park. For much of the winter I would run into downtown Estes Park, and loop around the 3.7 mile trail at Lake Estes a few times and head back to my apartment on Sundance Circle.

Homestead at McKinney Falls
8. McKinney Falls Loop/Out & Back. Austin TX. I ran this route for my first run upon moving to Austin. It consisted of a jog from Will & G’s house across William Cannon into McKinney Falls State Park. Then I followed the trail along Onion Creek until I reached the interpretive trail that emptied out near the Lower Falls. I jumped from Rock out cropping to rock out cropping over the falls to a network of looped trails around the old homestead and grist mill. For a longer run I would add a loop of the asphalt trail before heading back. Additionally, I would run along McKinney Parkway in the evenings to tack on some more miles.

Trail near Slaughter Creek

7. Slaughter Creek/1826 Loop/Out & Back. Austin, TX. I have run this out & back loop more than any other in Austin thus far. It consists of a run down Dalgreen Avenue, a turn at La Crosse, followed by a turn onto the Austral Loop, and finally a merge onto the trail by the catch basin. Once on the trail I head under Mopac taking a trail that skirts along Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. I turn back, head under Mopac then take the gravel trail, go under Esparpment into Circle C Metroparks. Then I take a trail along Slaughter Lane to 1826 and continue to follow the trail to the Slaugther Creek Preserve Trail. Finally, I Loop the trail and head back.

Turquoise Lake, Leadville
6. Leadville & Turquoise Lake Out & Back. Leadville, CO. This route is run by a couple thousand people each August. A route that needs no description… Basically I started from Mountain Peaks Motel and ran down 6th street to The Boulevard then up the small power line hill, over to Turquoise Lake, along the lake to May Queen and back.

5. Tiffin Town/Country Loop. Tiffin, OH. I have probably run this route or a variation of it more times than any other route listed combined. Basically from County Road 16, I travel up 151/100 (Melmore St) into Tiffin, from there I either ran to Calvert, Columbian, or Molyets, then back down either 231 (Washington St) or 19 (Sycamore St), then back east on 16.

Coe Lake, Berea
4. South into Millstream Run Reservation Bridal Trail. Berea, OH. From the old homestead on East Grand Street, I run past Coe Lake into the metroparks, then past Wallace Lake (800m repeat course) and beyond. The five mile mark is Challet but for longer runs I would travel to Strongsville or North Royalton. This was a classic long run route in Baldwin Wallace cross country days.

Gem Lake, RMNP
3. Gem Lake/McGregor Falls Out & Back. Estes Park, CO. Probably my favorite route in Estes Park, this consisted of a run from Park housing across 36 along Riverside Drive, back on 36 in the down town, then a turn onto MacGregor Avenue. Followed by a eastward turn onto Devils Gulch Road. Then to the Lumpy Ridge Trail Head. From here I either did a 1.7 mile trudge up to Gem Lake or a rolling 2.5 miler to McGregor Falls and back. This could also turn into a run out to MacGregor Ranch followed by a run along the Cow Creek Trail. There are plenty of options and a vast trail network in this northeast section of RMNP. Additionally, Lumpy Ridge is full of scenic cascades and impressive rock formations.

Rocky River, Berea
2. North into Rocky River Reservation Bridal Trail. Berea, OH. During my four year stint at Baldwin Wallace College, this route was my bread and butter. As with many other routes on my list, this was the first route I did upon moving to Berea. From the house on East Grand, I headed down Front Street to Bagley Road. Then I hit the all purpose trail that parallels the road, I jumped off the all purpose trail onto the softer Bridal Trail. From here the Bridal Trail winds along Rocky River, through the scenic reservation. As a bonus sidetrack I used to head up a steep hill about 4 miles into this route and was rewarded with spectacular views of the towering bluffs carved by Rocky River. For most runs, I turned back near the nature center, but for long runs I would take the trail all the way to Lake Erie.

Sandusky River from 131
1. Eden Township Sandusky River Loop (Start heading east on county road 16, turn south down township road 151, turn west on county road 6, turn south on township road 19, turn west on township road 28, head south on trail 0028, turn west onto township road 131, turn east onto county road 6, turn north onto township road 58, turn north onto township 19, then head east on county road 16). Tiffin, OH. I have lived and ran in many places and have seen some amazing views. However, it is hard to top the memories and emotions evoked by this particular route. This route will always hold a special place in heart. Starting back in the latter high school years I began doing long runs out on the old country roads near my house. I discovered the old St John’s Hollow Concert venue, the tranquility of the Sandusky River, and the only hills in Seneca County. Additionally, I discovered a new Sunday morning tradition with my father. For most every long run that I do in Tiffin dad pulls the old bike out of the shed, pumps up the tires, duct tapes his jeans so they don’t get caught in the chain and we hit the road for an eighteen mile journey through the best roads Eden Township has to offer. This has been a long running tradition that has continued right up until this year and I do not expect it to stop anytime soon. It never ceases to amaze me that dad hops on the bike for the first time in months and easily covers the distance. At any rate, this long run has always been a great time to discuss life, love, stress and setbacks. This route will always epitomize to me, why I find purpose in running and for that matter family and friends.
Running down Trail 0028

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Washington Expedition

Stuart Range
On August 20th, I finished up my Neuroscience final in the morning; correctly answering 96% of the questions. This brought to a close my third semester of Physical Therapy school. To celebrate I hit the trails for one last ten miler in Austin before departing to Spokane, Washington. I ran my favorite route, which is a gravel path that skirts along Slaughter Lane and RM 1826. Post run I departed for the northwestern reaches of the country via a Boeing 747. Apryle greeted me at the airport and we departed in her 2001 Ford Windstar for a city campsite in Odessa, Washington.

The Van

Apryle showed excellent craftsmanship with her makeshift camping van. The van was complete with a comfortable raised cot in the back. The bed frame hinged and lifted to allow for storage underneath. The design maximized the use of space allowing for both comfort and practicality. As a final touch, the van also included some owl print curtains.

Stafford Creek
August 21st
  •  Drove across the south central territory of the state and obtained trail/camping information in the town of Cle Elum
  • Hiked the Stafford Creek Trail and most of the way up the Navaho Peak Trail and where we enjoyed some great views of the Stuart Range.
    • The overall distance was 26 kilometers
    • Four hours.
  • Camped in the tent along Stafford Creek

August 22nd
The van
  • Drove to Seattle
  • Toured the University of Washington Campus
  • Drove to Anacortes and paddled/waded in the Pacific Ocean
  • Had dinner on the shoreline watching the sun set over the San Juans
  • Camped near Washington Park

Washington Park
Apryle paddling

Sun setting on San Juans

August 23rd
Ferry Landing
  •  Walked over to the Ferry Landing in Anacortes
  • Ferried over to Orcas Island
  • Biked about 50 kilometers total into the downtown and into Moran State Park and back to the ferry
  • Hiked to Cascade Falls
  • Ferried back to Anacortes
  • Camped in Mont Vernon
Ferry Ride
Biking on Orcas Island

Cascade on Orcas Island

August 24th
  • Drove to Marblemont
  • Toured the fish hatchery and watched some salmon swimming in the channels
  • Drove into the North Cascades NP
  • Hiked up Lookout Mountain
    • 16.10 kilometer round trip
    • 4000’ vertical elevation gain
    • 2:20 to the summit and about 4 hours overall
  • Rode out a storm in the lookout tower
  • Drove to Johannesburg campsite near Sahale Glacier and set up tent about 200m up the trail
Hike up Lookout

In the Lookout Tower
Rainbow post storm

Lookout Tower
August 25th
Camp at Sahale Arm
  • Hiked to the Sahale Glacier camp; saw two or three black bears; even one swimming in Doubtful Lake
    • 21 Kilometers total
  • Had some lunch near the glacier while a mountain goat attempted to join
  • Hiked down to Doubtful Lake and then back to the Johannesburg campsite
  • Camped in the tent at the Johannesburg campsite again.
Bear in the alpine

Mountain Goat

Sahale Arm

Skagit River
August 26th
  • Drove to Gorge Campground and set up the tent right along the Skagit River
  • Went for a 7 mile run along the Steattle Trail and around Diablo
  • Walked back along Steattle Creek and Diablo with Apryle
  • Camped in the tent at Gorge Campground
Steattle Creek

August 27th
Hike up Sourdough
  • Hiked to Sourdough Mountain; 16.4 kilometers
  • 5100’ vertical elevation gain (8:40am – 3:40pm)
  • Every trail had several raspberries, salmonberries, blackberries and blueberries, but this trail had overwhelming amount of berries.
  • Camped in the tent at Gorge Campground again
Sourdough Hike

Sourdough Hike

Maple Loop

August 28th
  • Hiked the Maple Loop: 17 kilometers (Tangents to Ann and Rainy Lake, as well as a brief scramble toward Frisco Peak)
  • Camped at Maple Loop trailhead

August 29th
  • Hiked up Wallaby Mountain; 6 miles
  • Ran 6.5 miles in about 48:00 out and back on a country road in Winthrop
  • Walked around downtown Wintrop; got a waffle cone and had dinner
  • Camped at Kangaroo Range Trailhead

August 30th
  • Hiked to Cutthroat Pass near the Pacific Crest Trail
    • 17.7 kilometers; Hiked/Ran to the top and Ran back to the van.
    • Traveled to Winthrop and toured the town historical museum
  • Had dinner in Twisp
  • Camped in Omak

August 31st
Downtown Republic
  • Drove to Republic
  • Walked around the downtown area and checked out the Ranger Station
  • Drove over to Ferry Lake
  • Ran 10 Kilometers with Apryle (6.02 mi 1:10:11)
  • Then ran another 6.6 kilometers solo up a steep grade and back to the van (27:32;1600m progressions: 7:30, 7:15, 6:30, 5:38).
  • Camped in the van off the road near Ferry Lake


September 1st
  • Drove to the downtown Republic camp/picnic area and made some breakfast, did some drawing and relaxed.
  • Ran to the Golden Tiger Trail off 21;
    • 10.5 kilometer warm up and headed down to high school track and did a quick workout
    • 800m 2:32, 400m jog, 1200m 3:44, 400m jog, 1600m 5:24, 400m jog
    • 1.6 kilometer cool down run back to the downtown camp
  • Had some dinner and some ice-cream
  • Drove out to 2156/300 junction and attempted to find the wolf call camp; hiked 4.5 miles in the dark but were unsuccessful in finding the camp
  • Camped in the tent off the road

September 2nd
  • Had some pancakes and went for a 8 kilometer run around 300 to 2156
  • Picked up some groceries in Republic and did some work in the library
  • Drove to the Winchester Campground and set up in a little cabin
  • Ran another 8 kilometers down the Golden Tiger Trail along Curlew Lake
  • Had some dinner, Margaritas and watched Rocky I

September 3rd
  • Organized Apryles van and prepared to depart for Austin
  • Arrived at the Spokane Airport and flew to Denver and then Austin
  • Unpacked and prepared to start my forth semester classes on the fourth of September.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Experiences with pacing and crewing

Dad & I at Leadville 2012
I would be remiss if I did not express my gratitude to those that have paced, crewed or provided support to me during my various excursions of the ultra marathon variety. Much like a professional cyclist requires stoic domestiques in order to reach the finish line in top form; ultramarathon runners benefit similarly from an experienced crew and perceptive pacers. It is quite possible to finish a 50 or 100 mile race without either, but it requires extensive planning, self discipline or exceptional talent. More importantly, who wants to bask in the glory of finishing a race of that magnitude alone.  
Dusan & I at Conway
South Carolina Track Meet

Coming from a track background where speed is everything, carrying water or food never entered my mind. For years I would run for hours without even considering much less feeling the need for provisions. If I am running less than 30 miles or rather less than four hours I still do not feel the need to bring food. I have broken down and started carrying a handheld water bottle for long runs. I have taken the minimalist mentality into running ultramarathons, but as indicated from my lackluster finishes; food and water are key. I have learned to heed the advice of Napoleon, that an army does indeed march on its stomach. The quality of forward progress during a race is proportional to intake of nutritients.
Midland Athletic League
Championships 2007
Bill Mullen, Craig Genet,
Myself and Chris Mendoza

That is why a solid crew, pacers and support group is key. Not only do they provide you with nutritional needs, they also provide you with companionship and encouragement. Additionally, I feel that finishing the race is further incentivized by the fact that others have sacrificed to help get me get to that point. Therefore, I would not only be disappointing myself but disappointing my team. This is no different than running outside of my abilities within a 3200 meter relay versus an open 800 meter race in high school. I performed better when others are depending on me and I thrive under that pressure.
Leadville 2012

During Leadville in 2012, I had the advantage of spending over a month in Leadville adventuring with my pacers. We made the cross country trip to Leadville and lived out of Mountain Peaks motel on the corner of 24 and Harrison street. During that time we hiked Hope Pass, swam in Turquoise Lake and Twin Lakes, hiked Mount Elbert and Massive and we even attended Boom Days.

Colorado River in Utah
(trip during the 2012
Leadville training block)
We planned out weeks in advance how we would coordinate race day and my dad flew into Colorado Springs a few days before the race to assume command as crew leader. My best friend from college, Tom Wilkin would assume the difficult task of pacing me from Winfield to Twin Lakes. Pete Brown, a friend and former rugby player from Ohio University would pace me from Twin Lakes to Fish Hatchery. Then Tom would reassume duties of pacing over Sugar Loaf Pass which we practiced a few weeks before. Finally, friend and college rival John Gogle would pace me from May Queen back into Leadville.

The trek up Hope went well, Tom kept me motivated and I was feeling spry when I got into Twin Lakes where Pete began pacing. I was feeling great until we were half way between Elbert mini aid and Half Pipe. Then the wheels fell off; I was struggling to maintain a walk. Pete did an excellent job of keeping me moving; when we were leaving Half Pipe Pete yelled out to the crowd of spectators asking if anyone had salt. We were lucky enough to acquire some and I remember I actually had to pretty much eat it out of his palm.
At Fish Hatchery (Jay & Shaun)
Leadville 2012

At Fish Hatchery I appeared to be finished. I passed out and my crew with the exception of my dad headed back to the hotel to pack up. However, I popped back up and hit the trail. My dad did his best to ascend power lines with me but his lack of elevation acclimation got the better of him and he turned back. At any rate this actually raised my confidence and within a few minutes I had caught up to Jay Smithberger and Shaun Pope who I met in the last aid station. Now I was without food or water at this point; so it is safe to say I would not have finished the race if it were not for Shaun’s excellent pacing.
Jay was en route to accomplishing the impressive feat of the Grand Slam of Ultras (which he went on to do when he completed the Wasatch Front 100 in September with an overall time of 91:33:57). Shaun too had a very impressive ultra marathon resume despite being only one year older than me. Both I might add were from the great state of Ohio as well. Shaun did an excellent job of keeping both Jay and I on pace and helping me stay fed and hydrated.
Mom & I post 5K in 2006
Tiffin, OH

After departing May Queen we went at our own pace and parted ways. The trip around Turquoise Lake was lonely and I was elated to see my father as I hit the stretch of road, meaning that there was less than five miles of racing remaining. It was poetic to finish the Leadville 100 walking in side by side with my father on his birthday and hotel neighbor and veteran Troy Waller who waited up eight hours to watch me finish. It is a moment I will never forget. That is what pacing and crewing is all about.
Leadville 2013, was more efficient because we knew what to expect. My father, my most trusted lieutenant in the mountains was there once again to crew and Apryle was there to pace the two mountain stretches. Additionally, one of my best friends from high school Craig Genet was there to pace the flat stretches. Once again I am indebted to them all for there support.

Leadville Crew 2013
It is safe to say that I would not have made it over Hope Pass without Apryle keeping my nutrition in check. I went from a hypoglycemic emergency to running full tilt back down the pass. When I met up with Craig we took it conservative and walked for a while. We worked into a jog and then at Fish Hatchery I was feeling good. Apryle and I tackled Sugar Loaf an hour faster than the previous year. Upon reaching May Queen I knew that I was capable running across the line this year. In the final stretch down sixth street, we triumphantly ran together, my father, Apryle, Craig and Catherin. Once again a moment I will never forget.

Apryle at Bridge in Nueces
In late February of last year I got my first experience of pacing for someone. Apryle ran her first 50 mile race in Rocksprings, Texas. It was the Nueces 50 and in typical Joe Prusaitis style, it was rocky and hilly. Apryle did an amazing job tackling a difficult course. I found it very rewarding to put all of my energy into helping her run the best race possible. Additionally, I enjoyed being the one dishing out the pain in setting a pace for once.

Apryle Post 50
Although, I know she was strong enough to run the event on her own and finish without a pacer, I am glad I was there. It was fun running between each aid station, calculating times and projecting times that she would hit at each checkpoint. Pacing the last lap was interesting, I finally got to see how the course linked up and most importantly I was able to watch Apryle throw down an incredibly fast finishing kick in the last three miles. Watching her cross the finish is another memory that I will never forget.
Crested Cara Caras in Austin 2014
Last summer, a friend that I met in Leadville in 2012, Alan Murphy asked me to pace him at the Badwater 135 in July. This was a great honor and I would have loved to have been even a small part of his amazing accomplishment, but unfortunately Physical Therapy school scheduling did not allow me the opportunity to get away. At any rate Alan went on to finish the iconic Badwater 135 in 41:47:30.

Curious goat that Apryle
photographed in PA
November 2014
Most recently in the JFK 50; Apryle once again did an amazing job of getting from point to point to cheer me on and provide me with much needed water. Additionally, Kenny Janasko provided me with valuable course information and advice. A race can be run and even won without the assistance of a crew and pacers, but I prefer to share in the experience with my friends and family.

It makes the process of competing in these events that much more enjoyable when there is a positive support team. Both my mother and my father have always been extremely supportive of my running and racing; always providing encouragement. Apryle has always been equally as encouraging and has been my strongest supporter in developing workout plans and race plans. I am looking forward to the next pacing and or racing experience.