Friday, November 08, 2013

The Bobcat Trail Marathon - Burr Oak State Park

This blog has been dormant for a long time.  I am not sure if that will change drastically in the days, months or years to come, but I wanted to bring it out of "retirement" for a race report and course description since both of those things seem to be lacking for an event I took part in last weekend, the Bobcat Trail Marathon.

In looking for a fall challenge, I decided to try this small trail marathon since at least one member of my running group was also planning to participate.  I wanted to do well, but it was not going to be an "A" race - my main purpose for entering was to keep myself moving and get my run mileage back up after the Rev3 Cedar Point Half Rev so I would be prepared for my build-up to The Boston Marathon.

Build Up

Leading up to race weekend, my training success was varied.  Right before Cedar Point, I had my first ever bout with what I suspect is plantar fasciitis.  When doing my race-specific training build-up for the Bobcat, it wasn't keeping me off my feet completely, but I was taking rest days a lot more often than I typically do and I was being extra careful.   I had some of my hardest training days ever, but by 3 or so weeks before the race, I was starting to feel pretty good (not particularly FAST, mind you, but I was running comfortably)  I spent a lot of my long runs at Oak Openings on the "boy scout trail" and was doing weekday runs at least once a week up and down the hills of the local war of 1812 fort, Fort Meigs.

Race Weekend

The family made a getaway out of the weekend and we loaded up the car and headed the 3.5hr drive down to Burr Oak State Park where we had a cabin along with friends, one of which was also running the race.

The cabin was really nice, having been recently remodeled and the lodge and park are beautiful.  Race weekend is unfortunately about a week late for peak color, but it was still amazing to be out in the woods.  We had a nice dinner of homemade chicken paprikas with nice salad and french bread.  With an extra hour in bed due to the daylight savings time change, Chris and I got up early Sunday morning, had our breakfasts (egg and cheese burritos for me, oatmeal and yogurt for him) and were out the door into the morning chill in plenty of time for the 7a start.

Chris and I waiting for direction at the start

The Race

The first 3.5-4 miles were about .5 up the park road and then a short 3ish mile lollipop loop on single-track hiking trails.  This first miles were, as you would expect, pretty spirited for the competitors - but right away after hitting the single track we got a dose of what would be the norm for the day:  damp, leaf-covered trails which required that I (an admittedly poor descender) take it nice and easy to avoid catastrophe due to roots or rocks hiding beneath the ground cover.  I didn't go out too aggressively on the 1/2 mile road section, so when we hit the single track it was a long, snaking single file line of runners.

After the lollipop loop we hit the road again for a couple hundred yards before bombing downhill for the main course of the day - a loop around the Burr Oak Reservoir.  Once hitting the road, I used the space to try and slot a little better by pace.  I skipped aid station 1 as my UltraSpire Impulse was fully stocked with EFS liquid shot, gels, water and NUUN.  

Miles 4-13 were very similar course-wise to the initial loop.  Single track with moderate grades and switchbacks.  Between mile 4 and 6 somewhere, strong trail-running buddy Jeff pulled up with a twisted ankle and had to fall back and walk it off.  I was secretly hoping to use him as my pacer so I was sad for him and disappointed to not have his vast trail experience to tag along with.  I was happy to see him across a finger of the lake and shouted encouragement from the woods that I was glad to see him running again.

I was moving up through the field at this point and was running well.  The legs felt good, my HR was being kept in check for the most part, squarely in zone 3, and best of all, the day was fun and and the course was beautiful.

At aid station 3 around mile 10 I saw the first runner ahead of me since around mile 7.  I asked a volunteer "how many ahead" and he speculated about 8.  I didn't get anxious and spent the whole time between aid station 3 and 4 moving closer.  I would gain on the flats and hold steady on the ups and downs, but he was far enough ahead that I only saw him on switchbacks or in long clearings.  I finally caught him and moved into what I think was either 7th or 8th place at aid station 4 (where once again I continued without stopping, I hadn't stopped at any yet, but was getting my calories and hydration in right on schedule.)

Aid station 4 was accompanied by almost a mile of road running.  This allowed me to "run" for a little, but it was short lived.  At the end of the road section we entered the trail again only to find out the trail was really an old road/paved trail that went straight up.  It was mostly broken up and washed out so it was tough going to make sure I didn't twist an ankle.  After that hill, the next 4-5 miles ended up on a mixed-use bridle and hiking trail.  The thing about the bridle trail is that while it was wider and had less roots, it also was completely free from switch-backs.  The grades through this section were really tough, and required hiking rather than running from me.  This also was the beginning of the end for my "racing" for the day.  

By the time I had reached the mile 18 aid station, the foot that hadn't bothered me throughout my taper had become so bad that I was having trouble putting power into my left foot when climbing.  I took stock of how I felt and found that I had unconsciously started to plant my foot sideways when climbing to take pressure off of the arch/achilles/ankle.  I took some time at the aid station and ate and drank real food and refilled my bottles.  Let me just say that to me, nothing had ever tasted better than the cups of ginger ale I had on the course.  Amazing.

I ran from the aid station and hoped that the short break and the food would revive me, but climbing was still difficult.  My foot continued to hurt more and although the section from the mile 18 aid station to the mile 21 aid station had easier grades than the previous one they were starting to feel steeper due to the pain in my foot.  I was reduced to walking hills that I would have been able to run a few miles earlier.

The last section between the mile 21 aid station and the finish was about 1/2 new trail and 1/2 part of the first lollipop loop.  By the time I reached this section, the foot was giving me problems on the flats as well, putting me in pain whenever it didn't land squarely on smooth ground.  I approached another runner and as we chatted I with all honesty told him that at some point in the previous mile or so, running ceased to be fun anymore.  I was waging an internal debate with myself between racing because I was "supposed to be" and having fun, because the race wasn't fun anymore.  

For most of that last 5 miles, I let the "fun" win.  I wanted SO badly to run.  Other racers were passing me and there was nothing I could do about it, but I just couldn't put myself through the misery of trying to run and having it hurt.  I had to have walked 40% or more of that last 5 miles.  As I approached the top of a hill, I was ready to start making deals with myself - "when you get to that spot of sunlight, start running and try and run for a couple of minutes"  Then, that spot of sunlight was 100 yards from the road - 1/2 a mile downhill on the road to the finish.  I had given up many places in that section, but I ran the rest of the way to the finish and was glad to have gotten there.

The "After"

For a guy from the flat lands of NW Ohio, this course was a challenge.  Would a more conservative pace in the first 1/2 have resulted in a better race?  I don't know.  I don't think it would have resulted in a better finish time.  It might have resulted in a bit more fun in the second half, but in the past the PF issues have been more about time on my feet and less about what effort level I used during that time, so I fear if I had run slower I might have become hampered at an earlier point in the mileage...I'll never know.  The next day I went out with the family and walked the initial lollipop loop and didn't have any problems, so I am hopeful the recovery is still in progress and I will have it licked completely in the near future.  I will take 1 week off of running for sure, then test it and go from there.  Boston training starts in early December so the goal is to get to start it healthy.

When I go back to Burr Oak to re-attack the Bobcat, I think I might have to embrace the "suck" and do at least one if not more 15+ mile runs around the hills of Fort Meigs.  The longest outing I had there was 10 miles and that probably wasn't enough climbing to prepare me.  I also might try to make the time to get to a hilly weekend training spot or two to get more hilly trail miles in my legs.

I am looking forward to going back if for no other reason than to enjoy the park with the family more.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Wow, everyone changes so much so quickly. Gretchen is growing like a weed. She moving around and grabbing on to things. She's even started to grab onto her gym to help her roll over. She hasn't gone over yet, but she's almost gotten to her side. She's starting to laugh too. This is a cool age.

Tyler is so much fun. He's enjoying all the things he doesn't remember from last year. Halloween was so much fun. Now he's talking about Christmas and Santa Claus a lot. It's so neat to see his little mind working. He is such a smart thinker... and a talker. Man, does he talk. Sometimes he doesn't stop talking. But it's so cute.

Here's his first picture of a person. Not to bad for a three year old!

Below are some of the family pictures we got taken together. I'll try to get Halloween pictures next time.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Time Flies

Wow, it sure does... Gretchen is almost 11 weeks old now. I'm gearing up to go back to work on the 20th. I really enjoyed my time off with the kids. I think it was more fun this time around because I could do more things (like go to the zoo with someone who will see the animals)

and go for walks and stuff. Although having two kids, that made some things a bit more difficult--like going to the grocery store on my own. We've had a blast though.

Gretchen is changing more and more every day. The day she turned two months old, she started smiling. My heart melts every time I see it. I have a picture from my sister, but I'm on the wrong computer, I think. I can't seem to find it here. I will post it when I get the chance.

Tyler is turning three next weekend. He's amazing. He talks up a storm in full sentences and amazes me every day. He loves his little sister to death and always wants to hug and kiss her if someone else is holding her. And gosh, he's so cute!

Well, that's all for now. I'll post more pictures later, if I can. In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy my last week at home.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A few more photos

Here's a couple more photos I wanted to include in yesterday's post but didn't get the chance. This first one is one that my sister took in the hospital. It's our first family photo with Gretchen. I love this picture! (Thanks, Nease!)

This next picture has become somewhat of a bedtime routine. It's so adorable, I had to take a picture of it. Even this one doesn't show the heart-melting moments we feel every night at bedtime.

We take Tyler upstairs to get into bed, change his clothes, then he (and we) sing "Jesus Loves Me" to Gretchen while she lays in Tyler's arms. We used to sing this to him before she was born and now we're all singing it to her. My heart melts every night when I see him hug her while singing, then he kisses the top of her head and says "Night night, Baby." It's so sweet.

Keep checking for updates... I'm off for another 10 weeks, so I plan on posting often (we'll see if that really happens or not....nap time will be more important for a while).

Monday, August 11, 2008

New Gretchen Photos

Well, she is two weeks old today and doing amazing. Gretchen is gaining weight like she should, sleeping well at night (knock on wood) and is the joy of all three of our lives. Tyler loves her... he asks where she is every time he wakes up. It's so cool to see him loving her like that and not asking to send her back :)

Here are a few photos I've snapped in the past week or so that are my favorites.

This is Gretchen in her preemie outfit. She got a couple that just fit her when we got them but are already getting small on her.

Here are the happy siblings. A lot of people say they look alike... What's your opinion? I don't think so, but maybe I'm wrong.

Her shirt pretty much sums it up...

This one is from today when we were getting ready to go outside this morning. It was a little chilly, but I thought this was too adorable not to photograph.

That's about it for today. It's my first day home with the kids by myself and I actually got time to do this! It's been a good day so far...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Baby on board

Hi everyone. I just wanted to announce the birth of the newest addition of our family. Gretchen Kristine Miller was born on Monday, July 28th at 11:02 am. She was a week earlier than planned but we welcomed her with open arms.

My contractions started Sunday night about 1/2 hour apart, then progressed through the night. At 5am on Monday they were 8 minutes apart. We called my doctor and since I had a c-section scheduled for the next week, she told me to go in right away to be checked. We made all then necessary phone calls to family and eventually made our way to the hospital. It turns out the contractions were not laboring contractions (although they felt pretty painful for me) but between her heart rate deceleration and the fact that I had a section scheduled anyway, the doctors decided to go ahead and perform the surgery so I wouldn't have to go through all that just to come back again the next morning.

Gretchen was 5lbs 9 oz, just one ounce lighter than Tyler was, and 18 inches long. Tyler was 19 1/2, so she doesn't look as scrawny as he did. She's still pretty tiny though.

This whole experience is amazing. To think that she was in my belly two days ago, and now she's here. And to think that my body has known how to take care of this little baby for the last nine months and even now that she's here. God certainly knew what he was doing when he created life.

Tyler seems to love his little sister so far. There are some adorable pictures of them together floating around (if you took one, email me!) Everything is well and we should be coming home from the hospital tomorrow. The only access I have to pictures right now was my cell phone, so that's where the one above came from. When we get home I'm sure we'll be sending out a nice montage of pictures. Stay tuned!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Waiting and working

Just over three weeks to go, at the longest. We still have a lot of work to do, getting things ready, but the list is getting smaller. Tyler is in his "big boy room" now and we're washing all the baby clothes and blankets and stuff. My hospital bag is packed and in the car, just in case.

With the average temperatures being in the mid 80's or higher, I'm definitely starting to feel majorly pregnant. My feet are swelling just about everyday. Not a ton, like I've heard about, but they hurt before I even leave the house for work now. My back has been bothering me a lot this past week. I sit almost 8 hours a day at work and everytime I get up I have to move pretty slowly in order to work the pain out of my tailbone/sciatic areas. It's quite humorous--I'm sure the guy that sits next to me laughs at the "show" every time. I've been trying to get up more often, but that doesn't seem to be helping either.

Other than back pain and feet swelling, I've been feeling pretty good. I've been having a considerable number of Braxton-Hicks contractions ("practice contractions" as they call them in pregnancy world). They're not doing anything except getting my body ready to go into labor. I could have them for weeks before anything happens. I thought Monday I was going into labor though. They were so often, I started timing them. One way to tell if they're real or not is if they are consistently apart from one another and if they start to intensify--neither of which were true. I had them anywhere from 15-25 minutes apart all day at work, but nothing consistent.

Work is going well. I've been training my replacement for about a month and a half now and she seems to be doing a great job. She'll be fine as soon as I'm gone and not her crutch anymore. I'm definitely looking forward to the 12 weeks at home and not working though. I saved all my vacation time in order to get paid for my time off and it's starting to take a toll, not having any days off of work. Soon.... :)

Well, I'm off to finish cleaning and getting baby stuff ready. Weekends are busy doing this, since I'm too exhausted on the weeknights to do much.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Six weeks and counting....

Six weeks from today (or sooner) we'll be introducing a new little baby into this world. Our c-section is scheduled for August 5th. It's only four days before my due date. Tyler was five days early, so we kinda hoping that I'd go earlier than the 5th. Although we have so many birthdays and celebrations in the week before this, that I'm glad the baby will have his/her own day (I hope).

Are we ready? Not really. We've been trying to get Tyler's "big boy room" ready to move him into that so the baby can go into his old room, but things just keep getting in the way of us working on it. I've got most of his clothes moved, the ceiling fan is installed, but that's about it. And that's just HIS room. We've gotta wash all the baby clothes, pack my hospital bag and the baby's.... whew! It's overwhelming! Where did the last nine months go?

How am I feeling? Pretty good, believe it or not. This last trimester has actually been the best that I've felt the whole pregnancy. I'm really starting to swell though, in the heat, and that's not comfortable. Thankfully it's not really bad--yet. I can feel it in my fingers and my feet. Other than that, I'm not as exhausted as I was in the first and second trimesters. Weird, usually the second one is the best. Not for me, I guess....

Well, we'll keep you posted on how things are going with the baby. And no, we don't know if it's a boy or girl yet. Tyler tries to guess, but it changes every time. Oh, and according to him, the baby's name is Ebenezer. Yeah, that's because Grandma Gayle (my mom) won't stop bugging us about what names we've picked (which we haven't really yet) so I told Tyler to tell her it's Ebenezer. It stuck. :) Six weeks (or less) to go......

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


I promised some pictures from the hospital and 10 days later, I have them downloaded finally. They are pretty sad looking, some of them. I'm going to try to post them chronologically from the day Tyler was admitted to the day he went home.

Here he is in the ER after being admitted and calming down from all the poking and prodding from nurses, doctors and student doctors.

Here is Tyler right after we got to see him in the recovery room. His arms are bound so he didn't pull any of the tubes out. Except that once he got used to them, they took them off and forgot to put them back on. He ended up pulling out his NG tube. Ouch. Mommy had to help the nurse put it back in at 3:00 in the morning.

Here is Tyler the day after his surgery (Saturday), wiped out, with his best buddy, Marty the Moose.

Sunday was a breakthrough day. Tyler was sitting up a lot. His face is so swollen here from all the IV liquids they gave him.

Here he is on Tuesday, in his cute hospital pj's and his Spiderman slippers. Doing better and better each day... He got his IV out this day.

This is day six in the hospital--the day he went home. Here he is in his pj's again, in the playroom. He seems pretty happy to be going home.

And he was. This is Daddy and Tyler at home now, doing one of their favorite things--singing.

And here's what his scar looks like after the steri-strip was taken off. Not too bad. He doesn't have stitches or staples to worry about. The doctor must have used the new medical glue stuff to close him up.

Tyler is doing great now. He's just about back to normal, although very clingy and wanting Mommy and Daddy a lot. That's to be expected though, after what he went through.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

What a week...

It has been a very hectic week around here. Tuesday night last week, Tyler woke up screaming in pain, and was up all night. We finally got it out of him that it was his stomach that hurt. We seemed to calm him down enough and he still wanted to go to the babysitters. Wednesday night was a little better--he only woke up once. So, he went to the sitter's again on Thursday. That morning she called me suggesting I set up a doctor's appointment for him because he was so lethargic and not himself. Normally, after two days I wouldn't bother, but he had gone through something very similar two weeks before so I called the doctor and set up an appointment for that afternoon. About and hour later, the sitter called me back and said she didn't want to alarm me but that he was pointing to the right side of his stomach and she was worried about his appendix, with the way he was acting. I let her know that I had already set up an appointment for that afternoon, since he wasn't doing so hot.

So, I took him to his appointment that afternoon and the doctor saw him. She checked his stomach and ears, mouth and such and said she wanted some tests done--x-ray or CT scan. She was going to call the radiologist to see what he suggested. In the meantime, Justin made it to the doctor's office to hear the rest of the news: she wanted us to go immediately to Toledo Hospital's ER because she was also worried about his appendix. Not only were we not going to St. Luke's, which was really close, she didn't want us to wait, she wanted us to go right now.

We took the long 1/2 hour drive to Toledo Hospital and got to their ER. Tyler had several nurses and doctor prodding him and poking at him. He got an x-ray of his belly, too. I heard the ER doctor say he was going to call the surgeon for his opinion. When he came down and saw Tyler, he said they were going to start him on antibiotics that night and then perform the appendectomy in the morning. Imagine our shock! The little research I did before his appointment told me that appendicitis on 2 year olds are so rare. Not only did he have it, but it ruptured too. They told us he could be in the hospital for up to seven days!

Friday morning the surgery came bright and early, first thing. When he finally got out, an hour and a half later, I was so glad to see my baby. He was groggy, but asking for us.

Each day in the hospital got better and better, but Sunday was the turnaround day. He spent a lot of the day up and about, in the play room and reading. From then on he just got better and better, and actually got to come home on Wednesday, earlier than we were expecting.

I have to admit, when we were told to go to Toledo Hospital, I was worried. I knew we'd get the best care, but I wasn't sure how the nurses would be. I was used to St. Luke's--small and personal, where I had Tyler. Toledo Children's Hospital was great. The nursing staff that treated us was awesome. After a long first night in a shared room, they went out of their way to get a room cleaned for us and to move us to our own room which we had the rest of the week. It takes a special person to do what some of these nurses had to do on children and I commend them.

Tyler is still recovering, but doing a whole lot better. He's still in pain, but only because his intestines are swollen and irritated. Other than that, his inch long incision and stomach doesn't seem to bother him.

I do have to thank all the visitors and calls we received on top of gifts and prayers. I don't think we could have gotten out of the hospital so quickly without all the caring family and friends' support that we have. Thank you!!!

By the way, we took a bunch of pictures from the hospital. I'll post some of those later.