Race Schedule

2014 Races…Still TBDStill :)
Bike MS 100M ride (UT - June) 8:h:40m
Speedgoat 50k (UT - July 19) 9h:34m:26s


Sunday, May 31, 2009

Pearls vs. Chili Pepper Shorts: The Smackdown

[Insert the Rocky theme and cheesy announcer voice from old school boxing matches]

On the left side of the ring, we have the blonde battleship of butt-kicking, known in the ultra world as "that blonde chick", more commonly as "Crash", but more affectionately as "Pearls". She is a pearl-wearing ultrarunnah from H-E-double hockey sticks! She likes to start races...and finish them [the crowd goes crazy!]. She'll make even the most fashion-conscious diva feel like yesterdays bread on sale for 1/2 off at the checkout. (It's those pearls, ya know.) [the crowd really gets wild now!]
And now, on the right side of the ring we have the Irish enigma himself, the downhill runnah, also hailing from H-E-double hockey sticks...[crowd grumbles with anticipation...who could it be?!] some like to call him Vermont Mike, others like to call him the Idea Man, and still others refer to him simply as 'dumbass' (Jeremy, to be specific)! He likes to start races...and then not finish. He's a S!Cap poppin' sonofagun, a water bottle forgetting (oops, I locked my keys in the car!) DNF in the flesh! It's Chili Pepper Shorts! [crowd dies down when they realize it's just 'that guy'] [but wait, he's got the shorts on, so the crowd goes nuts again!!]
As you may, or may not know, Chili Pepper Shorts Mike has become one with the DNF as of late. While I know the man has it in him to actually finish a race that I'm not running alongside him in, I fear he is running low on the mojo to get him across that line.

Now, I also know our fabled Chili Pepper Shorts wearin' dude works best when he is presented with a bonafide challenge, a demoralizing blow to his chili pepper ego, a deep cut straight down to the core of his very being. My what magnificent timing this is. I recently caught wind of a little intel in the ultra world. Chili Pepper Shorts has signed over his life to none other than our beloved Andy Weinberg (two times in the same year, is he nuts?!), and will be taking on the Pittsfield Peaks Ultra Race, in the form of the brutally tough 53-miler. Can we say 13,122 feet of vertical? Can we say "not very runnable"? Can we say "masochistic"? Can we say "I met four people last weekend who said they'd never run the 53-miler ever again"? Clearly, this is a man on a mission! A man out to regain his title as a finisher of races!

That said...

Mike, I challenge...no, I DARE you to finish the Pittsfield Peaks 53-miler on June 6, 2009. Need a little incentive? If you start and actually finish the race (under the cut-off mind you) and it is confirmed by Mr. Weinberg, I will don the chili pepper shorts for my next race (photo documentation required). However (yes, there is another side to that coin), if you should fail and take home another DNF, you have to wear my pearls at your next race (photo documentation required). [the crowd roars, jumping to their feet! I think they want him to lose this bet!! Could it be?!]

You chicken? Or are you in? [the crowd says "ooooooo" in unison...suddenly, there is a chill in the air...Pearls dared Chili Pepper Shorts, this is unprecedented!]

[Rocky theme slowly fades out, and the screen fades to black]

Crash, out.

[And, scene.]

It's A Trashy Job, But Somebody's Got To Do It

"He who influences the thoughts of his times, influences all the times that follow. He has made his impress on eternity." ~ Unknown

It doesn't take much to create change in the world, you just have to be content with doing it a little bit at a time and know that eventually it will catch on and that 'little bit of change' will become a lot of change down the road. Sometimes, creating change means stepping outside your comfort zone and walking against the grain.

A few weeks ago I started a new running group here in Chicago, the Chicago Trash Runners, at the suggestion of Jeremy. The plan is to kind of 'road test' the idea with me and our little group o' earth lovers and then eventually spread out into various cities all over the country. It's a very simple concept, and something Atayne has been doing at various racing events over the last year or so. You announce a date and time at a specific location, everyone shows up ready for a run and brings a trash bag and some gloves, and then the group heads out, picking up trash along a set running route. When you're done, sort it out between trash and recyclables and dispose of properly. Easy shmeezy!

Yesterday was the first meetup of the Chicago Trash Runners and I was a little bit nervous about how it would go, but since I'd done it a few time before at races, I knew more or less what to expect and what I needed to do. It was nice to start out with a small group. It was four ladies and a dog: Connie (from the Ultralist!), Mary, Jessica, myself and of course Charlie the Trash Runnin' Dog (he begged me to come with and gave me those disgusting puppy eyes). We met up at the lakefront path at Belmont and Lake Shore Drive and from there we headed south 2 miles to just south of Diversey, near the water trough. Now the running path is typically very well maintained and trash-free, but I knew we'd be able to find some trashiness hidden along there somewhere. And trashy it was! How about a little pictorial, you ask? Sure, here ya go...

Since it was the first meetup, I supplied the garbage bags and the latex gloves

"Now Charlie, if you don't poop on the path I'll take you to dog beach when we're done." "Arf!" (his job was going to be trash scouting)


Jessica and I sporting our Atayne tops

Lets get this trashy party started!
I found a cigarette butt! And a soda top! Exciting stuff!

This place was swarmming with cigarette butts, and even one of those 'recreational' type "butts" hehehe, people still do that?! Charlie is observing my form
And here I was trying to think of somewhere to grab some post-run grub! Yes, a box of dead fish hanging out by a tree along Cannon Drive. Ummm, exqueeze me?

Yay, us! First trash run = done and done!!
Four full garbage bags and about 10 lbs total (a guestimate). Lots of random stuff, beer bottles, pop cans, socks, a shampoo bottle, batteries, kleenex, Dum Dum wrappers, a Tupperware lid, Mason jar, vodka bottle, lots and lots of paper towels and the plastic wrappers that plastic utensils come in Charlie was wiped out, tough day of scouting for trash (which we've discovered he's quite good at!) but he's already ready for the next one!
And, since he didn't poop on the path he got to go sniff doggie butts and frolic in the water at dog beach!! Dog heaven!

It was a great first Trash Run! Oh, and I was recognized on the path! I was leaning over picking up something trashy when someone said "excuse me" from behind me. I stood and turned around and a dude in a bright orange shirt said, "sorry, but I knew this was going to happen eventually, are you Paige?" I was a little taken aback (what does he mean "going to happen eventually?!), haha, but as he walked up I recognized him as none other than my blogging buddy, GTI!!! He was one of the first people to start reading my blog when I first started it, and we'd been going back and forth since reading each other's posts and commenting. I'd never met him in f'real life before, so this was exciting! An e-friend suddenly became a real live person! Super nice guy and very fashionable in his orange and blue, and a snazzy ponytail to boot (your hair's going to be as long as mine pretty soon!). We chatted a few minutes then went on our merry ways. How fun :) Gotta love that stuff.

So, back to talkin' trash! It was a success and I feel very good about the group now that we've had our first run. I already scheduled our second meetup for June 20th near the south loop/southside's Washington Park. So if you're in the area on that day, come on out for some trashy fun!! We're also going to incorporate food this time...meet a little earlier, then go out for brunch afterwards. Trash and brunch go together like cake and ice cream :)

In closing, I have to say it was very entertaining seeing the looks on peoples faces as they walked past us picking up garbage along the path. It was generally a bewildered expression, but I also got a few "what a nutjob" looks, a couple smiles, and then Connie and I got a, "You guys rock!!" from some gals walking by in their beach gear. All in all, a trashy success and I can't wait for our next run!

As Jeremy and Mike like to say, "Keep it Clean!"

Crash, out.

"Trash picking is just shopping without exchanging money." ~ Identity withheld on request :)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Atayne A Bunch of Treehuggers?!

Say it isn't so!

I Just got word today from Jeremy that Atayne has been featured in Treehugger!!! Way to go Atayne! Check out the article here and also feel free to browse around the site...it's pretty cool.

Lots of exciting things coming up this year with Atayne. Can you believe it's been two years already for Jeremy since he began his journey with Atayne? Time flies when you're doing good :)

Crash, out.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Party At Pineland

"This isn't a race, it's a running party." ~ Jamie Anderson


Pineland Farms is easily the most well organized, and by far the most beautiful, event I have participated in. I signed up for the 50-miler back in April, just days after completing my first 50 mile race, at McNaughton Park. The main draw: it takes place in Maine :) The next thing: it would be an opportunity to capitalize on my fitness and keep the momentum of my season going. I didn’t ever really think much about how soon after my first 50-miler Pineland was. I just knew somehow I was going to be ready.

Of course, “ready” is all relative.

Maine isn’t somewhere I go now and just hang out, I go with purpose and try to do and see as much as I can while I’m there. Thus, I’ll have to make this a two-part series; my trip up to Acadia will come next. For now, let’s talk race report!

I arrived in Portland and was shacking up at the new Camp Atayne Bed & Breakfast :) Sweet digs in my favorite city in the world! I was very excited to spend the next few days with Jeremy and Rebecca and to catch up. On Saturday, Mike arrived in town from Vermont and we all sat around chatting for a bit before Mike and I headed over to Maine Running Company to get our race shirt and bib numbers, and, of course, to pick up some last minute things for the race (I didn’t bring any race nutrition with me so I needed to grab some Clif Shot Bloks and some Gu). While at MRC, we happened to run into Patty Duffy and Mike Hanes, whom we were meeting up with later on that night for our pre-race dinner. Random!
Craft hour at the Camp Atayne Bed & Breakfast

Ataynes contribution. Who doesn't love a good hug in the thick of a tough day!

"Whoever filled in the yellow is a genius. Yellow is a hard color to do. I'm just sayin'."
Dinner was at Portland Pie Co. in the Old Port district. Awesome food! I carbed up on veggie lasagna and Shipyard’s Summer Ale (my fave!) while we all sat around and talked shop. Somehow I managed to get a really good nights sleep, after Mike and I got our stuff together and our drop bags organized. Air mattresses are seriously underrated! Jeremy and Rebecca would be joining the race festivities later on, representing Atayne and cheering us on. They were also going to be giving away free hugs as runners passed through the start/finish area! The 50-milers were set to start at 6:00 a.m. so Mike and I hit the lights before 10:00 that night. Wow, record early night-before-a-race!
The Dinner Crew: Mike, Jeremy, Rebecca, me, Patty, Mike Hanes
At 4:05 a.m. my alarm went off, which I didn’t hear but Mike did, thank goodness. I was wide awake somehow and got up to make some oatmeal and get dressed. By 4:40 we were out the door and headed to the nearest 24-hour Dunkin’ for coffee and a Box o’ Joe to share with other runners. I actually managed to print out accurate directions and we found Pineland Farms without a hitch. Sweet! I love not getting lost. On the way, we had the music on low in the car, but we were pretty quiet as we approached the Farm. “I don’t really feel like running today!” exclaimed Mike suddenly. We both burst out laughing. Typical pre-race Mike :) It was gloriously light out when we arrived at the Farm around 5:30 a.m. We were gathering our drop bags from the car when Greg walked up to us to say hello. He had recognized Mike’s chili pepper shorts and wanted to say ‘hi’ and that he really enjoyed our blogs recently. Love it! What a nice dude. I thought he was running the 50k (but I'm not sure now...! Was it the 50M?) and towards the end of his final loop, my second loop, he passed me up and gave me some encouraging words, which I really needed at that very moment. So, thank you Greg, you rock!!!
The staging area before the race was inside the YMCA on the Farm campus, so we dropped our drop bags outside the front door with the others then ducked inside to see what was going on inside. We ran into the RD, Ian, and Mike asked him some questions, then we went into the gymnasium where we ran into Kristen and Tim of Massachusetts, and also Mike’s Vermont running buddy, Jeff. What cool peeps! We had our Box o’ Joe and handed out coffee cups to everyone. I think people were pretty psyched about the coffee as the race didn’t have any before hand. Fantastic idea Mike! Jamie Anderson walked in shortly after and introduced himself to me. It was great to finally meet him in person. I’ve been following his blog, Maine Runner, for awhile now and love his stuff, plus he’s a super, super nice guy to boot. The three of us were talking about the race when Jamie chimed in with, “this isn’t a race it’s a running party!” Love it! I didn’t have any of the nervous stomach bubbles that I had before McNutty, and I was feeling pretty darn good about it all. But as the start time approached I started to get that giddy excitement that can lead to a crash-and-burn later on so I was trying to keep a reign on it. Then I noticed I didn’t have my water bottle! I was about to “pull a Mike!” I ran out to the car and grabbed it, then we all headed to the start/finish area for a pre-race briefing from Ian.


Heading to the start/finish area for the briefing

“Everyone always complains about the grassy trails and how hard they are; I don’t wanna hear about it folks. If you want an easy race, go run a marathon!” ~ Ian, pre-race briefing

Mike Hanes (with his race face on) and Patty Duffy before the start
The course was going to be a short 3.5 mile loop that would bring us right back to where we were standing and then send us out on three loops of the 25k course, adding up to 50 glorious miles. Mike Hanes and Patty found us at the start and we wished each other luck before Ian said, “GO!”
And we’re off! Weeeeeeeee, down a slight winding trail of woodchips and packed dirt. The trail is wide and allows for us to run 4-wide for a bit. Mike and Jeff zip ahead a bit, and I began to prepare myself for a long run by myself. Knowing Mike was there, somewhere, throughout the day was a lift, but knowing that I’d be tackling this distance essentially alone was daunting. It was something I had not thought about until we began running. I was so incredibly thankful for Jeremy and Rebecca being there as well. I would get to see them at the end of each 25k loop and even when I didn’t actually spot them, I knew they were there in the crowd and that’s an emotional lift I will never take for granted. I’ve done a couple of races solo, but never of the 50-mile variety. On this day, I was going to learn how invaluable a friendly, familiar face is.

Things were going just fine until about the ½ marathon point when I felt a sting on my right foot. Blister. I stopped at my drop bag and popped a squat to do some work on my feet. Big ugly fat blister on the right ball of my foot. Vaseline, some Tough Strips and I put back on my socks…probably should have put on dry socks, but they were Drymax so I wasn’t worried about that. I know what the problem was: I had my orthotics (which are fitted for my ½ size larger road shoes) in my trail shoes and they curled up a tad near the ball of the foot, causing rubbing. But I was willing to suffer the consequences so I could avoid the shin splints and achy arches. Turned out to be worth it!

Physical Challenge vs. Mental Challenge

The Ultra List talks a lot about how mental an ultra is. Sometimes, the mental demand of a race far exceeds the physical demand. I consider myself to be of pretty sound mind. A tad emotional at times, of course, but when it comes to my running I tend to feel tough as nails. (When you fall as much as I do you learn to build a tough exterior to handle the sting of a nasty fall, and an equally tough inside to keep you going after a spill :)) Sometimes you’re just wrong about yourself!

I ran with Hanes for a couple of miles, maybe more, maybe less. I never looked at my GPS during this time because I was enjoying myself. Patty caught us and stayed for a bit, but then we all spread out and the others went ahead after an aid station. Soon after, I came upon Kristen and Tim, whom I had met in the gymnasium before the race. What an upbeat and enjoyable couple of people! We stuck together for the majority of the first loop, and a bit of the second. I also met Jason the Canadian, from Nova Scotia. He’s hardcore, and he got to witness my first fall. My knees didn’t even hit the ground, but it was still a fall, and he shouted from behind me (I didn’t realize he was there at the time), “Nice fall! You can tell everyone a Canadian caught you in the act!” haha, okay, fine :) The bunch of us were together for a bit longer, then I left Kristen and Tim at an aid station and Jason had long since shot ahead of us. I ran into Jeff Walker from Trail Monsters, and also Stephen Wells somewhere along the way, and that was cool! I haven't seen them since the Maine Marathon last October. But, now, I was alone. The 25k and 50k runners were still out on the course, but they would be finishing up very soon and then I was going to be really alone. I wasn’t too keen on the conduct of some of the shorter distance runners, but I still liked seeing others on the trail, especially the hilly grassy sections where the rolling hills really got to you. I wanted to punch those hills in the face. They were pissing me off half way through the second loop! Then, the mind games really began to heat up. You come into most aid stations twice, and one of them is named Final Mile AS. But, when you come into it the first time you have something like 8k to run before you come back to it, and then a “final mile” before the start/finish area. I came into it during my second loop and saw Mike for the first time since the beginning of the race. Him and Jeff were on their way out of Final Mile. I shouted to Mike, thrilled to see familiar faces and went up to him. He was not happy. I won’t spoil his race report here (you’ll have to read it to find out the details!), but things were not good. I hung around the AS with him for a few minutes as he explained the situation and we discussed a couple things. It was clear what he needed to do and I felt awful. I’m one of those people who internalizes others’ problems, especially when I’m already stressed. This was no exception.
Couple pretty landscape shots...


So I’m running along, and it’s about mile 32 when I suddenly can’t breath normally, it’s a sensation similar to hyperventilation. So I slow to a walk thinking I’m pushing too hard, when suddenly it just starts happening. I’m friggin’ crying almost uncontrollably. Who does that, during a race and for no reason?! I’ve certainly never done that before, and I could not figure out what was going on. Then it suddenly stopped as quickly as it began. And that was that. I picked it back up and continued on my way. I felt that same sensation a few more times but I fought it back and refused to chick up my run :) When I noticed it had been a few hours since I last saw someone else on the course, I realized how lonely I felt. I just wanted to talk to someone! I never carry my iPod during a trail race, so I didn’t have that to distract me either. I wasn’t prepared for this so I didn’t really know what to do or how to get past this slump, so it stuck with me until I crossed the finish line. That’s quite a weight to carry with you during a long race, oy!

It was tough getting into a rhythm, but I managed to find something to look forward to a couple times each loop…the Valley Farm Road AS!! The group of volunteers manning this station was far-and-away the best I’ve ever witnessed. They had a country western theme and were so attentive and cheery the entire day, even through the rain. Loved them. I got a ton of compliments on my pearls and that made me smile each time someone exclaimed, “It’s Pearls!!” So there were definite rays of sunshine throughout the day :)

So, throughout the day, I managed to avoid looking at my GPS too much so I had no real idea what my pacing was or when I might finish. I felt good physically, actually I felt really good physically. My shins and knees were happy, and I ran with my Zensahs on the entire race. My stomach cooperated the entire time, and I never felt like I wanted to stop for a nap! I took an S!Cap once per hour on the hour, and three Clif Shot Bloks per hour on the half. I also drank 20oz. of water (with a Nuun tab dropped in every couple of hours, otherwise it was plain water) each hour. I ate a gummy bear and a window pane pretzel at each aid station (literally one of each!) and always swigged a cup of water while the volunteers filled my bottle. I had a sugar cookie at the final pass of the Valley Farm AS (it tasted like pure heaven!), a handful of trail mix x2, and a cup of defizzed Mountain Dew at the AS with the dudes in fatigues. Otherwise, I didn’t eat much of anything not in my Nathan vest.

I could feel a new sting on my left foot and knew it was another blister, but I ignored it and it eventually numbed. My right foot was behaving very nicely. Once the rain stopped, I wasn’t getting chilled anymore and the sun felt great on my arms. It was around mile 40/41 when I was heading down a steep descent that I somehow stepped out of the moment. And that’s when I hooked my right foot on a root sticking up on the hill. I flew down so hard and fast on my stomach that my water bottle flew out of my hand and across the wide trail into the brush. I landed on my right arm which kept me from hitting my face, and I had enough momentum to somersault and land on my back. I just laid there stunned, and then began laughing uncontrollably. Now everything hurt! I think I bruised a rib, though, it’s pretty tender right now, but doesn’t bother me when I breathe so I’m not too worried about it. I was covered in dirt, pine needles and grass. I scraped up my right knee and have some nasty bruises on the outside of my right knee. Serious war wounds :) I even got dirt in my mouth somehow. Classy.

Oh wait, a few more pic's :)



Pearls and Atayne :)

It stopped raining!!! The sky really is BLUE!

I love these fences...

The rest of the miles were fairly uneventful. I met a very nice woman towards the end and we chatted a bit, then she shot up ahead of me. After leaving the Final Mile AS for the last time, and making the loop around the field towards the finish line I remembered that Jeremy and Becca were leaving early, and I had no idea where Mike was so I began to worry I was going to be alone and have now way to get anywhere since Mike had my keys, and thus my phone. But when I rounded the corner and headed into the straightaway to the finish line I saw Mike standing there shouting my name. I honestly was swallowing bursting into tears as I crossed the line. Holy crap, I was DONE! Ian congratulated me and a guy was handing me my cowbell and saying something that I couldn’t understand for some reason. My head was foggy and I had that soreness in my throat that you get when you hold back crying really hard. I didn’t want to get all googly moogly at the finish line! Seriously, I have never been so happy to see a familiar face. I didn’t realize how important it was to me to have that on this day. Thanks, Mike J I was so flustered and foggy that I hadn’t noticed my finishing time…10:17:53! Hot damn, a full three hours faster than my first 50-miler a month and a half ago! Of course, it took until the following day for that to sink in. I was just so damn glad to be done, and to have my snazzy cowbell, and that Mike was okay.
Allllll that said, I can't wait to get back to Pineland Farms next year! I learned a lot about myself, and I learned about some footcare. I know I need to get off that crutch of having someone with me for the rough spots. But, like Patty stressed in an e-mail to me afterwards, it was hard and it was challenging and I was mentally exhausted by the end but I made it through and I finished! I got through it, and now I feel like a whole drawer full of pearls, or a million bucks :) The post-race BBQ smelled amazing, but I wasn't hungry quite yet and I just wanted to sit in an ice bath. So after I saw Mike off to Vermont, and Hanes and I made some grub plans for Portland, I jumped in the car, got incredibly lost in the middle of nowhere somehow, then eventually made it back into P-town for that ice bath.
By the way, I heart Maine :)

A fabulous trail review of Acadia National Park is still to come...with TONS of sweet pic's :)

Crash, out.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

When in Maine...

Go to Acadia and get a solid sunburn on top of a mountain (oh, you also have to forget to bring water with you)...

Watch the sun set from a boat...
...and watch Camp Atayner, Jeremy, play some hack sack on an island with his buds while said sun, sets.
Oh, there will be running, yes there will be. Right now, I'm...tapering :) More to follow very soon!
Crash, out.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

It's Maine-ly About Running...

But sometimes it's also about really cool places I venture off to...

In the 'brush' in Acadia
You do not even realize how excited I am for Maine. To put it in perspective a bit, imagine being a kid in a candy store, 1st place finisher at Hardrock, getting Jurek-like speed for Christmas, winning the lottery and a life-time supply of ice cream all rolled into one. That's close to how excited I am to go back to Maine. Very close. Throw in a year supply of Shipwreck's Pumpkin Ale and I think that's a near match for excitement :)

Quick recap, in case you missed my first post about my Maine Squeeze... I flew to the land of "The Way Life Should Be" last October with my sister, Holms. The thing that drew me to it in the first place was to run the Maine (1/2) Marathon with Brad, Chrissy and Becca from Chicago Beer Runners, but then I was recruited to full on trash running with Atayne. Holms and I rented a condo on the East End section of Portland. We ventured up to Acadia for a day, Freeport a couple of times for shopping, got some tats, and otherwise tried to eat at as many restaurants as we could in the Old Port.

A quick pictorial...

Stick wars in Acadia, near Jordan Pond House

Holms, stuck in a tree, "somebody, save me!"

I really wanted to climb this wall...I pulled over to the side of the road just for this. That's about as high as I got. Could I have stuck my ass out any further you think?

On my way to find some lobstah in the Old Port...leaf strewn brick sidewalks = the way to my heart!

Looks like the lobstah found me...this is outside some ice cream/fudge shop/tourist trappy place in Bar Harbor, just outside Acadia
So I'm looking to have at least as much fun as I did the first time around, only this time...I'll be running my 2nd 50-miler, at Pineland Farms! Atayne's going to be settin' up shop at the race this year, too, so that will be cool to have Jeremy and Becca hangin' tough with us ultra nerds :)

I am hoping (fingers crossed!) to make it up to Acadia again so I can test out some of the trails there and get some more pictures. The long drive would be worth it.

Leaving tomorrow for the promise land!! I can't wait to share my adventures when I get back...hopefully with a nice shiney gold cowbell :)

Crash, out.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Ego-booster 6M

Today was exactly what I needed. A good run. Oh, and some sun.

I hadn't gone for a run since Wednesday, when I was less than thrilled with how I had felt during my run that day. I haven't lost my running mojo in over a year, so I was certainly due for a dry spell. Plus, three days really isn't anything in the grand scheme of things, but for me it was a lot. Not to mention the loss-of-mojo blah mood I had to go with it. But, today was my comeback :)

I woke up rested for the first time in a week (which is always a bonus) and immediately threw on my running clothes. This time I decided to try something out, and I undid the fancy lacing technique my pedorthist had done to my shoes when I got fitted for my orthotics, and laced them normal. This ended up being the most genius idea I've had all week: my shin muscles didn't make a peep the entire time! I also foam rolled and stretched a bit before I left...another thing I never do before a run.

Beautiful day out: sunny, 60's. I was motivated enough to run, but not enough to go find a trail, so I stuck to the Fox River path near my house. Paved, but still enough good scenery to ease the mind. I was aiming for 5 miles, but knew I'd be happy with 3, and ended up with 6.13. How 'bout them apples! I felt good most of the time, and I glanced at my Garmin when I felt the switch flip: 4.42 miles to warm up and feel like a million bucks! Wow, I guess I really am a distance runner :) I found a piece of trail that branched off from the main path, and on the way back I decided to take it. Who'd have thought! The path narrowed considerably here and eventually turned into glorious packed dirt. It was very short-lived, but it was enough of a taste of the good stuff that I am reengergized for next weekend's Pineland Farms. I needed that.

Still have a strange twinge in my left heel/ankle, and I'm hoping some ART tomorrow will help that out. I'm pretty sure it's tightness in my calf that's causing it so the appointment tomorrow should losen that up a lot. I've also been walking around barefoot the last week or so. Feels kind of good. I normally have on a pair of running shoes around the house, but I'm giving this barefootness a whirl to see how things fare. I've also become a lot more conscious of how I'm walking and what my form is like.

After my run, I took Charlie to the park to let him run lose for a bit while I laid in the grass and napped. It's cool to watch Charlie run; he's half greyhound, half yellow lab and he runs like the friggin' wind. Show off :)

Crash, out.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

"FIT"ing It All In

Today was frigging cold and windy.

But alas, I had things to do, places to go and miles to run! Today marked the beginning of my first coaching stint...I'm volunteering with USA/Chicago Fit as an assistant marathon coach. Pretty sweet, huh! I had to be at Montrose and the lake at 8:00 a.m. (literally one block from my old condo), so I set the alarm for 5:45 and hit the road at 6:30.

Holy crap, it was windy. I got downtown, one Poptart and a bottle of water later, and froze my ass off. I actually got there early, so I roasted a little in the car with the heater on full blast, then went out to the meeting spot once I saw peeps gathering. It was a small group today, but it's supposed to be larger next week. Jeff is the organizer and big cheese. We had to run 3 miles to determine what pace group each person will fit into, and that was pretty much it for the day. The Lakefront Path was packed, and I mean packed. Everyone and their mother was out there with a training group and none of them knew the first dang thing about path etiquette. Run on the right, pass on the left folks! There were also a bunch of kids out there for something, not sure what. But I am sure that they have never run in an organized setting before. They were all over the place, walking, running, sprinting, suddenly halting in the middle of the path directly in front of you, causing one to swerve and roll their ankle. But, I digress.

I think I'm going to like this whole coaching thing. It'll be a good challenge, and a great base-builder for my training :) So, after our little 3-mile skip down the path and a quick group chat, I hopped in the car and made my way back to my new favorite spot, 40 Acre Woods, in Palos Hills. What? You didn't think I was going to call it a day at 3 miles, did you? The wind died down and the sun was battling with the clouds to come out and play. It finally did and it felt great. The woods were beautiful today, even greener than last time. Not a whole lot of action on the trail, but I did run into a few bikers, hikers and couples out running. And a lot of horse shit. Literally. We share the trail with horses so there's evidence of them all over the place :)

The yellow loop is 8.something miles and I had originally only planned on 10 miles, but Chili Pepper Mike made me feel guilty for not having a long enough long run prior to Pineland Farms 50M in two weeks (and next weekend would be too late to do a long run), so I opted to do the loop twice and knock out 20 miles for the day. Why not! It was kinda tough, out there alone without any distractions...no iPod, no running partner, noone else to laugh at my jokes...but I did come across a deer (a doe?)...!
That was cool, I've only ever once seen some f'real wildlife on a trail run, so I had to take a picture of it. She just stood there and stared at me while I snapped pictures. What a ham. I wore my new road shoes so that I could test out the new orthotics on a run longer than 10 miles and they held up very well; no peronial problems, and no weird arch pain like I had last weekend during my 10-miler. Sweet. I introduced my road shoes to mud and splashed through some unavoidable mud pools and puddles. They liked it :) I also tried out a new gel. I always get raspberry flavored Hammer gels in race packets so I've accumulated quite the collection and figured I should make use of it. It wasn't bad; a nice break from the usual mocha gel or Clif Shot Blok. I think I'll use it more often! I took one Shot Blok before I started, and 4 or 5 chocolate covered espresso beans. This was a good idea and I felt good the whole first loop. Before heading out on the second loop, I refilled my handheld, grabbed more espresso beans and had some grapes, yum. I decided to take a page from someone else's book (it was either Christian or David!) and bring fresh fruit for between loops and after my run. Great idea!! My right shin chimmed in towards the very end and it was so out of nowhere, but I slowed to a walk for a bit to let it shimmy out. Then I took a picture of the single track I was not going to attempt since I was alone and fully capable of "crash"ing solo...
Doesn't it look yummy?

Once the sun peeped out things took on a brighter, more vibrant color...

Trail pretties...

Some sort of fire pit/fireplace doodad. A great place to pop a squat for a second...I was getting tired...scratch that, I was really tired and I could feel it in everything. My glutes were aching, my lower back was whispering sweet nothings to me, my abs afire...I was just plain exhausted from the week, and the early morning. But I kept moving forward. I made sure to incorporate plenty of walk breaks, and walked all of the big ass hills so that my legs wouldn't be completely trashed tomorrow. I found myself feeling rushed and anxious at several points during my run, and had to keep reminding myself that I could relax and that I didn't have anything else to do with the day but run and enjoy being outside on my own.

Coming around the toboggan slides, there's a little bit of limestone singletrack that brings you back into the canopy of trees and woodland. It made me think of Maine :)
After Biatch Hill (my new name for the hill some of my CUR's referred to as Big Bertha) I knew I was close to being done, and a glance at the GPS concurred. It had been 3.5 hours (!), and a total of 20 miles. Oh praise the trail gods. That was awesome! It felt good to be done, and to have done it on my own. It's a big lift to do a big run like that without any help whatsoever. It's a solo long run PR :) At the car, I stretched, put on dry shoes and socks, ate my banana, grapes, chocolate milk and protein bar while I watched some people grooming their horses in the parking lot. Random.

A great day. I had some Chinese food with my mom and Richard for dinner. I ate A LOT, and way beyond being satiated :) I can't resist perfectly fried crab rangoon, I just can't.

A bunch of my CUR's ran the Ice Age Trail 50M today and I'm so happy for them all!! Lots of stellar finishes and I can't wait to hear all the stories from the trail. Mike had what I like to call a 'character building' experience at the Wapack 50M in Massachusetts. Trust me, his race report is going to be epic. All this 50-miler mumbo jumbo had me wishing I was partaking in one this weekend, but all in good time :) Pineland Farms is a measly two weeks away!!! I can't decide what I'm more excited about...Maine, another rockin' 50M, Camp Atayne, the ultra dome in all its glory, or more cowbell!

Crash, out.

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