20 Mile Drop

Sunday, April 13, 2014.

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This past winter was a blast to the past for Cleveland winters because the past four or five years we’ve experienced relatively mild winters. Atypical snow fall and warmer, milder temperatures seemed like the new normal, but 2013-2014 winter said “not so fast my friend.” For running that has been great since I didn’t have to wear spikes on my shoes as much which makes for easier running. This winter was tough for training and I love winter. It snowed a lot and got super cold a lot! I spent many days on the dreaded treadmill (dreadmill) since the wind chill would be pushed to dangerous levels. Snow never bothered me anyway…uh, yeah – while the wind-chill would leave me feeling frozen. Ok, I’m done referencing that movie. Seriously though, this winter made for difficult training. The most since I took up running again.

Last year I was contemplating running the Flying Pig again, but my intuition must of told me to consider it. Luckily it was right. I wanted a challenge close to home and preferred a spring run which only provided options of a half marathon realistically. Not long into winter is when I discovered the 20 Mile Drop race organized by Lake Health Running. Not a half marathon, but close to a full distance and taking place in early spring. That nailed it for me. Also the course was set to run “downhill” over the 20 miles from Chardon to Lake Erie. I registered and mapped out my training for the next few months. Since I live on the eastern side of Cleveland it provides lots of great rolling hill opportunities for training. I mapped out lots of my long runs to run uphill typically. The longest distance I ran was 19 miles mostly uphill and thought nothing of it. Piece of cake right? I felt I was set after the 19 mile run three weeks before the race, but throw in a spring break trip to South Carolina two weeks before the race, a nasty lung congested cough and a surprise visit of a summer like day on race day and you got a mixture of a super tough running challenge.

As a runner I’ve learned that some days I am on it and I am far from on. I didn’t sleep well the night before the race and woke up earlier than I should. Lungs felt okay, but not great and the temperature was already close to 70 degrees at 5:00 o’clock in the morning. Yep, I knew I was in for trouble. Don’t get me wrong I was excited for the race and felt prepared, but the lingering cough and the heat made me a little worried about the race ahead. The temps reminded me of the Rock n Roll half marathon back in October where I ran my worst ever race due to a number of factors besides the heat that day.

I really liked the course from Chardon to Lake Erie. Very scenic and enjoyable, but it got hot! I’m not a fan of warm weather to begin with. I stopped at every water station after mile 3 to stay hydrated and even consumed a GU pack (berry) provided on the course, but that sun was just tough the closer and closer I got to the end. There wasn’t much shade once you got past highway 2 by Painesville. One, or rather two, amusing things occurred during the race and that was two delays by trains. While at those points I was already moving slow it didn’t factor into my time as much, but I know there were a few ticked off people over it. I’m not one to get worked up over things like that since I’m not a competitive person. I can understand why people would be mad if you got stuck waiting during a timed race. Also this race was touted as a downhill race. Over 730 foot drop from the start in Chardon to the beach of Lake Erie. Not that it was all downhill, there were a few steep surprise hills, but that kind of a drop over 20 miles is really not that noticeable. Not that I’m complaining. It was nice to let gravity pull you gradually over that distance than exerting energy to get up a long hill.

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While not my best run it still wasn’t all that bad for me. I told Kate that expected to finish in 3 to 3:15 hours. I met the latter almost perfectly. Since it was a simple start without a timing mat the race began really close to 7:26 AM.

Here’s the stats.

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My typical range of middle of the pack. If it wasn’t for the heat I probably would have been in the upper pack, but it is what it is. No complaints. Due to the heat I was a little nauseas post run. I did have to sit down for a bit, but at least I was able to catch my bearings after a bit. Nice head wind on the beach to help me cool down at least.

Overall a great race. My daughter ran at the end and crossed the finish line with me. Choked me up a bit, but I loved every moment of that. She says she wants to run a 5k with me. I’ll train with her for sure. Should be fun. Stay tuned for that.

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Thank you Lake Health for a great race event and mega super duper thanks to my wife for letting me have so much time to do this. Without her support I can’t do this.

UPDATE (04/25/2014):

A video of crossing the finish line was posted by the race.

20 Mile Drop finish from Mark Davis on Vimeo.

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