Race Schedule

2014 Races…Still TBD :)
Bike MS 100M ride (UT - June)
Speedgoat 50k (UT - July 19)

And plenty more!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Oh, The Weather Outside Is Frightful

Wow. It's just plain ridiculous outside. Cold, wet, windy. Perfect weather for a run to remind myself "it could be worse."

My plan was to get up early and go for a run in the early dawn hours because it looks so cool along the lakefront, but that didn't pan out so well. I instead decided to "sleep in" today and ease into my run. After half a pot of coffee, some lounging on the couch with a chick flick on the tv, and playing with Lola for a bit, I finally decided it was time for a run. It was about 10:30 when I turned on my laptop to check the temp outside: 39 degrees. Perfect. Getting dressed and deciding to nix my prior goal of 3 miles, I decided to go for 5 today. Why not. I was all set to go and checked the temp one more time at 11:00: 37 degrees...it's dropped and now there's snow in the forecast. Okay, put on a hat instead of my ear warmers.

Heading downstairs to my lobby, I set my Garmin in a window to link up (which took forever today for some reason) and stretched. It looked awful outside and the ground was already wet. Oh well, still want to shake the limbs out! For a split second I entertained the idea of going back upstairs to my warm condo and getting a head start on my laziness for the day, but the thought exited as quickly as I entered, almost as if it was never even there. The crappier the weather, the more enticing a run is...just to see how I fare.

It was drizzly when I stepped out, but nothing to call home about. As soon as I hopped onto the lakefront path, the drizzle was joined by a brisk wind coming off the lake. Okay, not my fave, but I can deal. I decided to go with my regular iPod today so I could listen to my latest additions to my music library and I had it tucked nicely in the chest pocket of my jacket. Ah, bliss :) The further south I got on the path, the less drizzle there was. However, it was replaced with an all out blizzard blowing in from the east (off the water) and pummeling the left side of my face. As I neared Diversey, crossed the bridge and turned around at my 2.5 mile mark, the snow was now hitting the right side of my face, which I still had feeling in. This was painful. At least, heading out, the left side of my face was numb from the wet chill so the snow didn't hurt, but now I could really feel it! It was like millions of pins hitting my face. I put my hand up to block it for a bit.

The snow was really pretty, even if it did feel like facial accupuncture most of the time. I didn't negotiate most of the puddles, so my feet were now pretty wet (good thing my feet were numb too, so I couldn't feel the chill!). I was completely soaked by the time I reached Belmont on my way back, but I felt great. A much, much older man heading out on the opposite side of the path smiled really big at me and waved with both hands, I responded in kind. I love that. I laughed to myself and felt a surge of energy afterwards. So I capitalized on the surge and kicked it up a notch to squeeze in some 7:30's for the rest of the way. I felt really good, and my lungs were pretty happy, so why not put the legs to work a little more. The power of a smile from someone else is astonishing at times. At this time, it made me feel not so alone in my insanity for heading out in this weather.

Once I passed Addison, the snow felt more like rain and looked like sleet. At least the wind was slowed some. I made it home with a half tank and I'm sure I could have gone and done the route a second time, but I'd had enough of the wind and snow for one day. I couldn't even feel my face, and as I waited for the elevator I was trying to peel off my gloves...I couldn't feel my hands and I had to really concentrate to get them to move! But hey, it could be worse.

Overall, a great run. A much needed recharge after the holiday weekend. I did get in a nice 4-miler on Thanksgiving morning while my casserole was cooking at my mom's house, but it was about 50 degrees and the sun was out with barely any breeze to speak of. Much too nice of weather, and no mud :)

Coming up, the North Face Endurance Challenge in San Francisco...it'll be Mike's first 50-miler(!) and I'll be crewing and pacing him. It's going to be a great weekend, and so far the weather looks promising.

Paige, out.

"All it takes is all you got."--Marc Davis

Monday, November 24, 2008

M-y R-unning I-njury

Busy, busy, busy. I have some catching up to do...I'll split it in two for more bite-sized portions :)

After my BFT jaunt, I felt that old familiar pain in my right shin. For awhile, the pain was something that was always there (well, at least since March of this year), and when it began to dissipate late summer it almost felt strange to be pain free. I know, totally and completely ridiculous. However, when it made an encore appearance a few weeks back, that sinking feeling returned with it. What if I've really done it this time? I saw my PT, Laura, upon return from the BFT and when I told her what I had done she slammed her hand down on the table and shouted at me. Not even kidding! She was miffed. I guess I hadn't really thought much about the mileage I'd been putting in lately, but two 30-milers, three weeks apart, on my "training" was probably not the best decision I could have made. You live, you learn.




So, we decided I needed to get an MRI now that the pain in my shin was narrowed down to a very specific spot (usually a sure sign of a stress fracture...and that means a boot and 6-8 weeks of no running whatsoever, aka hell). I first had to see my doc to get a prescrip for the MRI. He wasn't exactly thrilled with my achievements of late, but he also assured me he was almost positive I didn't have a fracture because I was still walking without any pain, and when I did feel the pain in my shin it was only when I was sitting still. I like to rest easy at night, and I like to get down to the bottom of things without a lot of fuss, so I said I'd prefer to go ahead with the MRI and find out now.

I love coming up with different meanings for acronyms...like BFT, MRI, DNF, etc. So coming up with ideas for MRI kept me relatively distracted. In case you didn't know, MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging. I've never had one of these before, and didn't know what to expect. Basically, you go into a tube, on your back, for 45 minutes and listen to music while the machine vibrates and clicks around you. Thankfully, since it was my lower leg in question, my head didn't go into the tube, but I was in up to my ribs. I'm terribly claustrophobic and I had my hands clamped together so tightly that my rings were digging into my fingers and I had marks from my fingernails! I didn't realize this as I managed to doze off fairly easily. I was very much aware of how loud the machine was though and it felt as if the entire building were shaking. Oy, I hope I never have to get another one of these. I probably would have needed to be sedated if I had to go all the way in...the tunnel was verrrrrry narrow and I'm pretty sure I would have stopped breathing in it. Elevators still give me the heebie jeebies sometimes :)




An insider's look at my lower legs, from the backside...looks kinda funny!



Two days later, I'm in my doc's office and we're going over the results. No stress fractures! Not even a hint of one. So now I'm confused. What the hell is wrong with my shin then?! There is some fluid build-up in the exact spots I feel pain, on both sides, and it's very clear that my calves are tight. So other than a suggestion to get a few more deep tissue massage treatments, upping my caloric intake, continuing work on my mechanics and following a more conservative training plan, there's not much to do. I'm planning on pacing Mike the last 23 miles of his 50-miler in a couple weeks out in San Francisco, and then the following Saturday there's a Fat Ass 30-miler at McNaughton Park in Pekin. Doc said, "pick one, please just pick one." The temptation to do both is insane. Where does this come from? In a previous life, I would have intelligently weighed the pros and cons, and decided the best course of action. Now, I just sort of throw caution to the wind and do what I feel. You only live once!


In any event, I'll pick one. Most likely, I'll be sitting out the FA30. I will do everything I can to make sure Mike crosses the finish line under the 12-hour cutoff of his first 50-miler! I will carry him on my back if I have to! He'd do the same for me.


I took almost a full two weeks off from running, begrudgingly. I did the stair climber and bike at the gym, and continued with my usual strength-training. Not running absolutely sucks. Well, not running not by choice sucks. I have no problem not running when I've made the choice myself to skip a run, or take a rest week. But when the universe steps in and stops you it sucks. I get in a funk when that happens, and this year has been epic in that department. Obviously, it's high time I start taking a more serious approach to my training. Ultrarunning is no joke, it's no skip-in-the-park 10k where I can halfass my training and crank out a very decent time on race day. I've entered a world where the distance is serious and the resultant injury that can occur due to a lackadaisical training approach is equally as serious. So, to the drawing board!

I worked on a training plan today, based off of something I found on the Santa Clarita Runners' website. It's pretty cool. You enter in your event date and the distance, and it cranks out an Excel spreadsheet training plan you can download. I didn't totally agree with the one that I got, so I tweeked it and changed it from a 5-day running week to a 4-day week, and I changed the weekly mileage range to 20-48mpw. The original plan called for a max of over 60mpw on some weeks...to me, that's excessive. I think 30-50mpw is perfectly doable, at least in training for a 50-miler. Hopefully I can stick to the schedule! I'll change days around as needed, but I plan to cover the alotted weekly mileage one way or another. Of course, easier said than done :)

I'm sitting here with my shin wrapped tightly in an ice pack. It feels good.

Up next: another installment of Team Atayne...this time we invaded the Chicago chapter of Girls on the Run!

Paige, out.

"The will to win means nothing if you haven't the will to prepare." - Juma Ikangaa, 1989 NYC Marathon winner

Friday, November 14, 2008

Trailgazing

"The manner in which one endures what must be endured is more important than the thing that must be endured." ~Dean Gooderham Acheson


Welcome to God's Country! GC is also known as north central Pennsylvania for those who haven't ventured to this 'remote' part of the country. Remote in the sense that it doesn't have towering monoliths of glass and steel clogging the skyline, but rather towering mountains (or, hills?) stuffed with greenery and trees, even at this time of year. The ground is covered in a layer of golden leaves freshly fallen and the air smells funny. Of course, 'funny' means 'not polluted' to the city girl in me :) PA is the location, the goal: to hike the 42-mile Black Forest Trail (BFT...I have some choice ideas for what "BFT" stands for now!) in the Tiadaghton State Forest; the reason: because it's really freakin' hard and the group we were joining wanted to defeat the trail once and for all. An attempt was made earlier in the summer by Mike and some of the other guys, but extreme heat, serious elevation, and some other factors played into an incomplete. Honestly, I hadn't the foggiest idea what I was getting into, even more so than normal :) Mike made sure it sounded as awful as possible to prepare me, and thank goodness he did!


I flew into D.C. Thursday evening, where Mike picked me up with Jackson in tow. Jack almost jumped out of the car window in excitement when he realized there was going to be another human to pet and pamper him on the car ride home. So, Jack's got his front paws on the center console, leaning against Mike and we head back to Camp Atayne to squeeze in some sleep before our road trip up to PA...well, not before getting a pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream on the way (hey, it was carbo-loading!).


Getting up early, we set to getting everything ready and put into the car. This included making LOTS of coffee. A stop at the REI to get some camp chairs and a few other small items for the trip, and we're off! An aside: I say that a lot in these blogs, "and we're off!" My mom asked me, "do you guys ever not have plans for grand adventures?" Sometimes...but I guess not really :) We kind of suck at sitting still. So, we're off! I have the (tiny) directions in my lap, and Mike's behind the wheel. Seriously, these were the smallest directions I have ever seen...I had to have the paper inches from my face to see them, hehehe.


Driving up to PA was gorgeous, it definitely beats out the grim scenery through Indiana or Ohio. Lots of small towns, and "Americana" as Mike put it. We even drove past the Little League Hall of Fame in Williamsport, PA. A lot of the drive, once in PA, was along the Susquehanna River...that was my favorite part, very picturesque. Around 4:00ish we make it to the campground with just enough time to set up the tent in daylight.



As soon as we arrive, Tonya and RamblinRev greet us. What a character, that Rev! PARidgerunner, Cowanesque, Spikehiker, Blackjackhiker and Trail Goat are also joining us. Six of us were going to attempt the 42-mile BFT: Tonya, Mike, PAR, Cowan, Trail Goat, and myself. We all sat around the campfire and talked shop, ate some chili, roasted marshmallows, and then PAR commenced with the briefing. Wow, talk about some serious organization. The maps and trail description were in color, and they made sense! After the brief, I felt much better about the whole thing. Cowan was going to be our sweeper on the trail...the sweeper follows behind the last hiker/runner until the end...I was very grateful for this, knowing that I wouldn't be alone at any point if the others shot ahead.


At some point, I walked back to the car to get everything organized for the morning so that I wouldn't have to deal with it at 5a.m. in the rain. It was a bit of a walk from the site to the car and I'd be lying if I said I was totally excited to make that walk alone, twice. It was pitch black out, but I had my headlamp. My creative imagination came out of hiding and put all sorts of ideas in my head...a serial killer was lurking in the bushes, a bear was waiting to pounce, rabid wolves, zombies, the kids from the movie "Children of the Corn", snakes, Mike Meyers from the "Halloween" series was stalking me, etc. I made it to the car, though, unscathed, and got to prepping my drop bag with a change of clothes and getting my clothes together for the start of the madness. Mike's car has an alarm that actually works, and silly me locked it with the key fob from the inside of the car, so every time I moved the car alarm went off. I didn't know I was supposed to lock the car from the door locks. Woops! I think the alarm went off every 10 seconds for the 10 or so minutes I was in the car. The guys loooooved that one. The way I look at it, I scared off any predators lurking outside waiting to have me for dinner :) When I got back, Mike went to the car and got all his stuff ready, and packed a massive amount of food in our dropbags...even made peanut butter wraps, my favorite.


Around 9:30, we all decide to hit the hay. Rev is using one of those tent hammocks, and the rest of us are in tents. It was cold, but I somehow managed to sleep really well. Around 3:30a.m. the rain began. At 4:00 Mike got up to go get the coffee ready and warm the car. I slept a few more minutes, then worked up the guts to walk to the outhouse a couple hundred yards away, in the dark...alone. I'm pretty sure a bear was following me, or at least Freddy Cougar. After I changed in the tent, I walked towards the car, passing Tonya who says we're going to wait out the rain a bit, and leave at 6:00 instead. Sweet mother of love, thank you! So, Mike and I sat in his car and ate some breakfast, made some more coffee (the first batch boiled over, oops!), and listened to Bob Dylan to kill some time. Trail Goat was asleep in his car and would be joining us later on, he got in really late that night. The rain kept going, and going, and going... At one point I suggested Mike start his car and let the engine run for a few minutes since we had the lights and radio on for awhile. But noooooo, we'd be fine :) Mike played around with his gear and did his best 'creepy dude in the woods' look...


Now that's pretty creepy!

I think it was 6:15a.m. when we all squeezed into Tonya's SUV and drove to the trail head. Yes, it was still raining. Tonya, Mike, Cowan, PAR and I hopped out, adjusted poncho's and headlamps, took some pic's (hey, PAR, where are those pics?) and then took to the trail. It was dark, cold and wet and would stay this way for another 30 minutes or so. The first climb was a beast, but well worth the view we had. By now we were able to ditch the headlamps/flashlights, and the poncho's, but it was still drizzly and the ground was very well saturated.


Top of the first of three big climbs...





I already look completely exhausted, and this was barely four miles in, oy!

Super troopers...

PAR...he was kicking all our butts with those hikin' legs of his (or as Mike put it, he's like the murderer in the movies, no matter how fast you're running, he is walking and he always catches you)...


The first aid station (AS) was around 4.5 miles and Rev met us there with water and our drop bags. It was so wet out that there was really no point in changing shoes and socks as they'd be soaked within minutes. Fill'er up and we're off. PAR was a few minutes ahead of us, and Steve was hanging with Tonya behind us a ways. We had a nice straightaway after leaving Rev, so we were able to kick it up and run this portion until the trail spit us back into the woods. We had another big climb between AS 1 and AS 2, but that wasn't the worst of it. Between AS 2 and AS 3 was Naval Run and I would soon meet the Naval and curse it. The last portion before AS 2 was along a stream (or 'crick' as the others liked to call it, hilarious!). Mike hopped across the stream very well, then slipped on something along a log...first one to fall buys the first round of beers!! Woohoo, I couldn't believe he beat me to it :) Blackjackhiker and Spikehiker met us at AS 2, at the base of Naval Run, and refilled our water bottles, convinced me to leave my pack and poncho as it stopped raining and the climb was already hard enough without added weight. As we were about to leave, we spotted Cowan coming down the trail...alone. Tonya called it quits at AS1 due to being sick and for safety reasons.


Naval Run is the devil, the devil I tell you and my stomach gets all churny even thinking about it! We had 1,000 feet of elevation to climb in .70 miles (yes, less than a mile!). You can't really imagine that kind of climb until you do it, especially when you're from flat-as-a-pancake Chicago. My lungs and quads were on FIRE. I was tripping and stumbling, but keeping my balance miraculously (I guess PT has paid off!). Just when you think you've made it, think again! more climbing. Talk about unrelenting. Whoever blazed this trail was sick and twisted. Those were the slowest miles the entire day, due to the climb and unrunable terrain. Mike and I stopped and made our own AS 2.5, relishing some GU and Clif bars as if they were steak and potatoes. By now, Steve caught up to us. Once we got to the top of Naval Run, Mike took off and made a run for it. No worries, we had discussed this at length prior to this and I knew he'd take off to make up some time. I had Cowan to keep me company now.


Cowan's a great trail mate and was made sure I knew not to feel like I had to push the pace because he was there, that we'd get there when we get there. I had to stop many times to catch my breath and adjust my hat and neck gaiter, but we also got to run a lot of the last portion of this stretch. We talked about Lasik surgery, foot care, strength training, our jobs, Cowan's 100-milers, nutrition while running, and how much this stretch sucked (well, that was more me complaining aloud). I took an almost spill while running along a stream, but caught myself with my water bottles and was up in a flash...butt didn't touch the ground, so it wasn't a complete 'fall' :)


I could see the trail opening up ahead and Cowan announced we were getting really close, so we kept running. Once on the access road, we got a tad turned around and followed a red blaze accidentally, but figured it out pretty quickly. Cowan stopped for a moment, but I kept going and knowing we were almost there! I was cold, and my feet were still soaked, but I felt great and I ran all the way into AS 3 to find Mike, Rev and PAR. Food! Warmth! Food! Mike was surprised to see me run in, he said he thought that last climb would be it for me (and I'm surprised it wasn't!). Everyone was really cold and I hadn't anticipated this kind of chill so I didn't have another long-sleeve shirt to change into. Luckily, Rev had a super-warm fleece that he let me throw on for the next stretch. There was talk of ending it at this point, 19 miles, but once everyone had dry clothing on, energy was renewed! From AS 3-AS 4 it was going to be the most runable, so Mike and I took off behind PAR. This was the best part! We had 10.39 miles until AS 4. The terrain was slightly rolling, but good for running. The fallen leaves covered a lot of rocks and roots on the trail, but we managed very well. Mike stuck with me for this part, and eventually Cowan caught us so we had some lively conversation. It took a bit, but we finally caught up to PAR as well and the four of us stuck together for awhile before Mike and I finally kicked it up again and took off. The downhills became my friend on this trip. My new shoes were doing really well, and I was very happy I decided to stick with my knee-high wool ski socks for this adventure. They created an extra layer under my running tights to keep me warm, and to guard my legs against the brush and sharp shrubbery. And, I was still blister free.


Finally, we get to the section where there were going to be, "20 crick crossings, no joke." hehehe They were right! It was back and forth, back and forth crossing the same stream over and over again for a long while. During a respite from the water (which we were easily able to rockhop across without getting wet...except for one slip where my left foot got wetter), we were gliding along a ridge at a good clip when my foot caught on something covered by the leaves. I landed like a ton of bricks on my right side. My knee slammed into the ground. I was so shocked I started laughing so hard I had tears. It hurt really, really bad, but it was also pretty funny. So there you go, I fell in an ultra, again :)


I decided that while I was really enjoying myself, I knew that going beyond AS 4 was going to put us in darkness and a really long night, so AS 4 was going to be my stopping point. I'll have gotten in just about 30 miles by then, and I was going to be very happy with that. So, I enjoyed this last stretch immensely. It was really pretty, and the sound of the stream was relaxing. We passed a group of people camping along the ridge, with a fire blazing. Mike passed first and said hello, they all responded but didn't realize until I passed and said hello that we were running. I could hear them say, "holy s@$%! Those people are running!" Love it. AS 4 came at the best time. I was spent, but felt great all things considered. Mike decided this was going to be it for him, too. We could have gone on, but we just didn't feel like it, as he put it. So true! 29.5 miles was just peachy for us on this day.


Finish line gloriousness...looks like a turban on my head, hehehe
Rev announced that Trail Goat had come through 5 minutes before us...speedster! We couldn't believe we were that close to him. TG had started an hour and a half after the rest of us, and then continued to pass us towards the end of Naval Run, he was trucking it (not to mention, he had a 20lb. pack on, too!). TG went on to AS 5 and called it a day there (at 35 miles). Mike and I waited for Cowan and PAR to get in and we all hung around for a bit. Cowan and PAR decided they wanted to try and finish it so we wished them well, then got into the warm car!! Spike and Blackjack drove us back to the campground where we were going to change and then head over to the Manor Hotel to eat and wait for the others to show up. We got in the car, only to find that the battery was completely dead... :) hmmmm While considering changing then just walking the mile or so up to the Manor, a truck pulled into the otherwise deserted lot and Mike asked for a jump. Thank goodness!!! What lifesavers.

Happily nestled inside the Manor, we proceeded to order the following, and ate it all: huge bowl of clam chowder, endless coffee, salad, steak, mashed potatoes, mozzarella sticks, and wine. Divine. Trail Goat showed up soon after us and ordered a sampling of the entire appetizer menu, with beer and coffee. We were all a sight for sore eyes! TG made it to AS 5 as planned, then came straight to the Manor. Eventually the others started trickling in. Mike ordered that round of beer as promised. After a few hours eating, Mike and I headed back to camp and then decided to just pack up and start driving back to D.C. So, we stopped at the Manor to say goodbye, and just then Cowan and PAR arrived. They finished!!! And I think it was an hour ahead of when they planned to be done. Nicely done, guys! We said our goodbyes, and then hit the road. It was late, we were in a food coma, and totally spent. A stop in a teeny town for some Dunkin' Donuts held us over for a little bit, but as soon as we spotted the Holiday Inn Express along the highway, we were sold! That is the best hotel-bed sleep I have ever had, hands down. Slept like a baby. After some continental breakfast we finally set out around 9a.m. on Sunday.


Wow, what a trip! It was a lot of fun, incredibly challenging, tiring, cold, wet beyond description, and totally exhilarating. It took us 9h:40m to complete what Mike and I did. It was tough. As soon as I get over Naval Run ticking me off, I'll be ready to try it again, and finish the whole thing. I highly recommend this trail to anyone looking for an all out butt-kicking and really good time.

I made it out with zero blisters (miraculous!), and barely any aches (doubly miraculous). However, my shin has come back to haunt me. I'll be getting that checked out next week. Meantime, I'm still basking in the glory of a fantastic day in the woods with some truly remarkable people.

Paige, out.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Waiving My Sanity

"The body is given out on loan - don't waste it and expect to use it tomorrow."- Shapiro

Waiver:

I may die.

Agree to waiver by checking here. By agreeing to this waiver you submit to the terms and conditions as set forth by this event and certify that you have provided true and accurate information as requested through this registration process.

That's the waiver I had to agree to when signing up for the 2009 McNaughton Park Trail Runs 50 Miler. It's official, I've signed up for my first 50 miler!! Come April 11, 2009, I will make a go of it. I can't wait!

My right shin and knee have a twitching phantom pain in anticipation of it. Oy vey!

I now have four months to get my rear in gear. I can do it, now that I have an end-goal...and it's paid for. That seals the deal, when it's paid for. I will crawl that course if I have to, but dangit, I'm going to finish it!
ION: I got my new trail runners in the mail this week...the neon green Brooks Cascadias 3. They rock my socks off! It feels like I'm wearing a cushy sock, they are so light and comfortable. I ran six last night with Beer Runners to sort of break them in. I could run faster and jump higher in them! No, but seriously, they are fantastic. They felt great even on the pavement, so I can't wait to take them for a run on some single-track this weekend.

They are nestled safely in my suitcase, anxiously awaiting the Black Forest Trail in PA. Happy feet!!

Paige, out.

"No matter what hurts at the beginning, by the end of the race something else will hurt worse."- Bob O'Connor

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Signed Sealed (almost) Delivered

Entry form...Check. Signed check....Check. Stamp...dangit! Have to get a stamp. But otherwise, my entry form for the 2009 Holiday Lake 50k++ is all set to go snail mail!

Holiday Lake is technically a 50k race, but since it's a Horton classic, it'll have a few extra miles added onto it (hence, the "++"). Dr. David Horton's a bit of a legacy in the ultra running world. Mike got to experience him some when he volunteered at Mountain Masochist last weekend, in Virginia. How cool. The '09 HL50 falls on Valentine's Day, so Mike's running it too (he even said he'd run with me, what a gent!). In my mind, there is no better way to spend Valentine's Day than getting beat up by a trail with lots of mud, a few F-bombs, stubbed toes, and then a shiney new finisher's award at the end. Romantic, indeed :) Hopefully there will be chocolate chip cookies at the finish line.

In other news:

Stairs are the devil incarnate. I've decided I need to incorporate more 'climbing' into my training, and what better way than with stairs (well, hills would be better, but in Chicago that's not gonna happen). My condo building has 29 floors, so I strapped on my HR monitor and Garmin so I could keep track of the ol' ticker while I climbed the stairs up and down four times (30 minutes). In order to keep my HR in the range of 60-85% of my max HR, I had to walk the majority up...I have a lot of training to do before I can run up stairs the whole time! Oy vey. I was tired after that one. I'm going to do that once per week. Hopefully that's enough :)

Sunday I decided to take my long run into the suburbs and hit a trail. I woke up at 6:30a.m. and drove out to Darien to run the Waterfall Glen trail. It's a 9.45 mile loop, but I keep going back around until it's a full 10 miles. The trail is lovely. It's crushed gravel the whole way, which is great, until it gets into your shoes and starts bouncing around in your socks. The scenary is beautiful, and on this day I only saw a few other runners. Most everyone else on the trail was biking. So, I spent the majority of the time alone, with my iPod. It was a beautiful day out, sunny in the low 60's. It's mostly shaded, but there are a couple sections that run through a wide-open prairie-like area. The leaves have all changed and a lot of the trail was covered in a layer of pine straw and fallen leaves (which lent to that awesome fall smell I love).

The trail rolls a bit in sections, but it's otherwise flat. I didn't push it all that hard, I just wanted to enjoy the run. I averaged 9:00's, finishing up in about 1h:30m. A nice little jaunt in the 'burbs. My body felt great, and I didn't have any issues with my ham's or shin's, which is great! However, I did get a couple blisters on my right foot, just above where I'm healing from a nasty blister from my 50k a couple weeks back. That's so annoying. Why am I getting these blisters all of the sudden now? So small, but so irritating.

Monday night, I finally made it back to Beer Runners (it's been a couple weeks since I've run with the group) and made a go at the 3-mile loop we usually do, rather than the five. It turned into a really fast tempo run, much faster than I normally would go, and it felt amazing. I finished up in 21 minutes...fastest 3-mile time ever by the way :) Moving at a good clip from the start, it was hard, and I did pull back a couple times, but overall I felt really good and knew that I could push it. I was out of breath when I got back to the bar! Rene and Ryan were up there with me the whole time, and then in the last three blocks they shot ahead and I was putting in everything I had already so I let them fly by. Those guys are fast! It's nice to get new members who can really push the pace though, it keeps the competitive juices flowing and gets my rear in gear.
So tonight I'm hoping to crank out six miles when I get home. It'll be dark though, which I hate doing. Or, I'll hold off and do that tomorrow night with Beer Runners...that's what I should do. I have a lot of stuff to work on tonight, so we'll see. Either way, I'll get the miles in in the next two days!

This Thursday after work I'm flying out to D.C., and from there Mike and I are road-tripping up to Slate Run, Pennsylvania to make a go at the 42-mile Black Forest Trail! Mike's goal is to finish it in 24 hours...running as much of it as possible. Hopefully I can keep up with him :) We'll have a pretty big group of other backpackers with us, so I'm sure I won't be on my own that much, if at all. I'm looking forward to it. I'll have an update on that next week, with pictures of course!

Paige, out.

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