Race Schedule

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

And plenty more!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Screw Shoes!

Literally, screw shoes! That's Geof, above, installing the screws in an old pair of my Brooks Cascadia trail shoes.

I decided to take matters into my own hands and hooked myself up with a pair of handcrafted screw shoes :) I read over Matt Carpenter's Screw Shoe article to make sure I got it right the first time. After lounging around inside most of the day on Saturday, watching the snow fall the entire day (and opting for a treadmill run rather than one outside...I know, I know), Geof and I marched over to the Ace Hardware near our apartment and bought a box of 3/8" sheet metal screws. I brought one of my Cascadias with just to make sure the screws weren't too short or too long. Oh, and I went with the hex head sheet metal screws (very important distinction!).

Back at home, I set about trying to figure out how I was going to get the screws in my shoes as we don't own a power drill. After watching me attempt a couple different things, Geof jumped in and took over. Phew :) Geof used a ratchet screwdriver and got them all in in no time. Much faster and easier than a regular screwdriver!

Shazam! Screw shoes:

Now it was time to test them out. Sunday, we lazed around quite a bit, then finally got out the door around 2:00. It was still snowing! This would be the perfect weather to test out my shoes in. It was about a 1/2 mile (give or take) of exposed pavement the whole run so there wasn't a ton of beating on the nails. Once on the lakefront path, it was smooth sailin'! It hadn't been plowed yet, but there had been a good bit of traffic, so the snow was matted down pretty well. But it was just enough that my screw shoes came in handy, especially on the icey, snow covered curves going around the Planetarium and Shedd Aquarium. Handy little suckers!

We did a few loops around a snow covered Northerly Island, and really enjoyed the scenery, especially since we both finally warmed up and were feeling good. We discovered that the Chicago Park District is set up in the old Meigs Field airport building (which is what Northerly Island once was) and they rent out snowshoes and cross country skis apparently. Lots of cool old photos hung on the walls showing original city plans and photos of how it once looked in the area. Now it's fuzzy, but I think we did four laps around the Island, but definitely three. I felt much more confident with my screw shoes and didn't do nearly as much over-compensation, anticipating slick areas. What a difference that makes!

All told, we ended up with our planned 2 hours running, and a little over 11 miles. I felt really good most of the time, and only had a single twinge on each ankle the entire time. I'm not complaining :) I think I'll give that laser therapy another try this week if I can get in to see Dr. Heddles at Active Body Chiropractic again.

If you're contemplating the screw shoes, I highly recommend giving them a try. I'm sure most of you have a pair of old running shoes laying around the house :) It's a cheap way to feel a little safer out there during your icy wintery runs. Plus, it's easy to do!

Crash, out.

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Poopstacle Course!

Yesterday, Geof and I went out for a late morning run along the lakefront, and were greeted by a most curious sight...poop, everywhere! The snow and ice melted from last weeks barage of random weather, and revealed a veritable poop graveyard. I should mention it was all goose poop :) It didn't stop at the lakefront, it was populating much of the path that wound around Northerly Island, too. Good grief!

I'm glad I opted to squeeze in one more run in my current Brooks Glycerin's before retiring them for the new pair :) It was caked in there like it was built into the cushioning! Suffice it to say, the run was glorious! The weather was cool, hovering around 30 degrees and a little breezy. We wound around the path, heading south, ran a loop around Northerly Island, and then headed back towards home to do 8 reps of our favorite set o' stairs. My ankles and heels held up just fine, and they didn't say a word during the stair session.

Speaking of, I saw my rockin' doc last Wednesday and he confirmed my assumptions: tendonitis. It's peroneal tendonitis on my left leg, and posterior tibial tendonitis on my right leg. Maybe a touch of the posterior tib on my right as well, but nothing like it is on the right. So, that said, I begin PT (!!!) tomorrow evening with a new PT, Brendan, at Athletico. Geof is seeing the same guy right now for his ankle ailment and loves the results he's gotten. Dr. N gave him his seal of approval so I'm looking forward to getting this resolved. Meantime, I've been doing my glute/hip exercise he showed me so I can start strengthening those suckers. I also bought 1lb. ankle weights to wear when I do the exercise (basically, lay on your side against a wall...butt, heel and shoulders need to be touching the wall...and you raise your top leg up, squeezing your glute and hip muscles, then bringing it back down and repeating it x20 on each side. Great little workout!). Knock on wood, this little pain in my arse gets resolved quickly and I get to the root of its evil so that it doesn't come back again!

Backtracking a bit, Saturday, Geof and I drove out to Deer Grove Forest Preserve and met up with some CHUGs for a birthday run for Deanna. She wanted to do 34k for her 34th birthday, but when we arrived in Palatine, we were greeted by over a foot of fluffy powder, and once we got started, most of us decided one loop was going to be more than enough! Besides, time on your feet is more important sometimes than mileage itself is :) Since there was so much snow, apparently unexpected, all the entrances to the preserve were closed. Seriously?! So we all met in a parking lot across from an entrance and devised a plan. We were still going to run, goshdarnit! We ended up driving back down Dundee Rd., towards Deer Grove East, parked in the far end of a strip mall parking lot, and then ran across the street to the service entrance and then from there we just improvised! We had no idea where we were in the preserve, but we turned right on a hunch. Where the snow plowing ended, it was hard to tell if we could go further, but I hopped over the pile of snow and blazed a trail, turning around after a bit to see the rainbow of winter running jackets that was our group, watching to see what I found before following me. It looked cool, their bright jackets against the stark white snow. Much to our delight, it led us directly to the brown loop, which we followed, and were able to hook up with the yellow, 5.4 mile, loop eventually. Perfecto! I couldn't believe how well it worked out, as far as navigating went.

The snow was just deep enough, and just uneven enough that the footing was pretty awful. For healthy ankles, no problem, but for my poor ankles I was experiencing a new level of discomfort. After a few usually unremarkable ankle rolls, I was thinking of bailing. Now my ankles were burning whenever the ground was less than perfectly even. Oh for the love, I get it! It really wasn't the best idea I've ever had, but I made it out alive. After almost 2 hours of running we managed to do barely 8 miles...proof positive that snow running ain't no joke!

After a to-die-for brunch at Egg Harbor Cafe in Barrington with Brian and Kelly, we drove home and I immediately started the epsom salt soak, followed by a hot shower, followed by elevating the ol' legs and icing them. Something worked, because there wasn't so much as a twinge during our run on Sunday. So, I repeated the same prescription after Sunday's run as well.

I'm excited to start PT tomorrow :)

Meantime, I'm learning the ways of the iPhone...delighting in all the cool stuff it can do, and comparing my apps with Geof's apps :) With the new year, I plan on tracking all my mileage/workouts in an electronic something-or-other, and my new gadget will come in handy with that!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays!

Crash, out.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bumpin'

Dude, seriously, today's morning run was awesome. I don't even have intelligent words to describe just yet, so I'll fill you in on the last few runs first.

Geof and I bundled up eskimo style last Thursday and Friday and headed out into the 3 degree weather for our usual run. Thursday was great, bitter cold, but great. The curve in the path near Oak Street Beach was completely frozen over, so we turned around and took the tunnel under Lake Shore Drive and ran on the sidewalks the rest of the time. Brrr, colllllld!

Friday was pretty much the same, but a little warmer. Five degrees this time. The wind wasn't as bad and we headed south along the path. I was cautious the whole run because it was so icy and snow was covering up ice patches really well. Even though we were running late as it were, we decided to still run stairs at the end. We made our way down the river walk path, towards Columbus Drive (those stairs are great for running up and down). As we neared the stairs, I took my first step all morning without looking first. BAM! I was down on my arse before I could even take a breath. I hit so hard my head bounced on the ground. Geof looked horrified and jumped down to pick me up. We just stood there, I'm crying like a baby and he's hugging me, probably as shocked as I was. All I could muster was, "it bounced!" referring to my melon. I didn't get knocked out, but I felt like I had gotten the crap kicked out of me. We made our way up the stairs, then ran home. No bleeding either. Around 11:30 a.m. I finally decided to get checked out, just in case, and walked down to the nearby urgent care office. All was well, just banged up a bit, and all headachey. Now ice really scares me!

Sunday, Geof and I grabbed brunch with Brian and Kelly out in Barlett, then we all headed over to James Pate Phillips State Park (where Windburn Six in the Stix will be held this coming January!) for an hour run. It was Brian's first run back since Javelina Jundred...6 weeks ago? Yay, Brian, welcome back! It was a warm, but still snowy run and it was a great workout for the calves!

Yesterday's run was very good, with warmer temps, in the 30s. But, this morning, it was even better! It was colder out, but Geof and I were out the door by 6:15 (it's usually more like 7:00 that we finally make it out to run) so it was still dark out. I was super nervous about all the ice along the path, but I did just fine. We did about an hour run, maybe a little less, and on our way back home, Geof suggested doing some fartleks. Ewww, speedwork. Blech.

Okay, let's do it!

We sped up to just enough outside my comfort zone, turning over the legs faster, pumping the arms more, able to feel that I was now workin' it. We held that for 5 minutes, gathered our faculties for one minute, then repeated the faster speed for another 5 minutes. That was it. Simple, and FUN. Oooo, it felt good. It made me realize how slow I really do move when I'm 'comfortable' :-) Then we threw in 10 sets on the stairs before finishing up and heading home.

It felt good, not gonna lie!

Looking forward to the next run already!

Crash, out.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Tecumseh Trail Marathon...Did That Just Happen?

Tecumseh CHUGs '09

I decided it was high time to run a marathon. I have a few 50ks, a few 50 milers and that funny little 100-mile run through Vermont. Why not add a marathon to my repertoire? :) In classic CHUG fashion, a bunch of us rallied together and headed down to the thriving metropolis of Nashville, Indiana (just outside of Bloomington) and bunked up at a sweet cabin tucked into the woods of the Morgan-Monroe State Forest (or maybe it was Yellowwood Forest? They're right next to each other). Who'd have thought such a gem existed in Indiana?! I don't spend any time in Indy, nor do I know much about it, other than that interstate 65 is pretty nifty. I certainly don't identify it with beautiful rolling terrain. I thought it was flat.

It's not flat.

Plenty of peeps warned me about how tough the Tecumseh Trail Marathon is and that I was in for a real surprise. Okay, it wasn't that bad. When you consider courses like the Glacial Trail 50s or McNaughton Park Trail Runs, or even Louisville Lovin' the Hills, it was hard to take the warnings seriously. But, don't get me wrong, Tecumseh ain't no joke!

Getting ready race morning...

A couple things I liked about the format were the point-to-point course, and the fact that it started at 10:00 a.m....that meant we could sleep in a bit :) We followed our cabin-mates to the finish line where they caught a shuttle bus to the start, and Geof and I followed behind the bus. Geof wasn't running, and was going to be hanging out, being the wonderful CHUG cheerleader that he is :) After about 847 hours driving, we arrived at the start line (okay, so it was more like 45 minutes, but still...). I hopped in the potty line, and then we all congregated near the start line and took some pictures. It was super cold standing around. I noticed my shoulders felt really tense, and then I felt my upper back, neck and shoulders starting to seize up and tighten. It happened fast and it was really uncomfortable. Geof massaged them a little as we waited for the other 750 runners to gather at the start line. My neck was officially stiff and cramping. WTF? Probably nerves, and probably shrugging my shoulders up due to the cold was causing it.

Finally we started...! The course heads up the road for a bit, in the Morgan-Monroe State Forest, and eventually gets onto the trail. There were SO MANY RUNNERS that it felt like a road marathon/elbow contest. It was kinda frustrating getting started because you couldn't get into a groove. Good thing the trail was wide at this point. I thought to myself that eventually the field would thin out.

The field never thinned out.

Despite the chilly temps, and the crowd, I was enjoying myself. The trail is just beautiful, and I can only imagine how great it is in the spring when it's in full bloom!

Some of the field...not thinning out.

I ran for a short bit with Torey, and off and on with Ed Kelly. I finally met Jim Halsey (and then his wife, Vicki, after the race). I was in the mood for some quiet trail time this day, but it was clear that wasn't going to happen, so I slowly eased into the rhythm of feet in front of and behind me. Smiling to myself at the random chatter I overheard, and marveled at the beauty of the forest. Then there was a stream crossing. I didn't know we had to scale a four foot mud wall. Nor did I know there were water crossings in this race. Ooops, guess I should have done some research on the race :) These made the day interesting. There were so many water crossings, it got funny. Towards the end, I didn't bother with trying to keep dry as it was fruitless, and the cold water actually felt good on my heels.

I had no plans for racing, and no time goals going into this. I just wanted to enjoy a new trail, hang out with my friends, and run comfortably. So far so good! The aid stations were so close together, it was a little odd. I think that that's necessary in long runs like 100-milers, but it was a little excessive for this race...every 2-3 miles. I was carrying two water bottles and had extra Perpetuem and gels in my vest so that I wouldn't need to stop much. This worked out very well. I ran through most of the early aid stations, and stopped only twice to refill my bottles, eating only pretzels and some corn chips at a station. The rest of the time, it was liquid only. I was pleasantly surprised to arrive at about the 9.7 mile aid station to see Geof standing there in the road, cheering me in...! He got a lot of pictures, and waited for us all to pass through before heading to the next aid station area to see us all again. What a fantastic guy!

Most of the day passed by quickly, and the miles were just flying by. I had no idea where I was in the pack, nor did I have an inkling of what my time was. I didn't wear my Garmin, but did have on my running watch that was keeping time from the start, but since it was so cold, I never pulled up my sleeve to glance at it. I liked not knowing where I was time-wise. I did know that I wasn't pushing it hard, but I also wasn't dragging ass. I caught up to Ed Kelly at some point, just before one of the many super steep gravel road climbs and together we charged up the hill, running. It felt good! "All those hill repeats are paying off!" says Ed, and I replied with loving the fact that Geof and I had taken up stair climbing after our runs. Boy did that make a difference in this race! I ended up running a lot more of the hills after this point, realizing I could :)

The majority of the trail is single track, but there is also a good amount of steep gravel road running, and of course stream crossings. It was tough to pass peeps on the single track as it was so narrow, and either side of the trail was covered in leaves and stepping into it was tricky since you didn't know what you were putting your foot into. I got stuck in a line of people for a couple miles, with a guy behind me who sounded like he was dying. He was hacking and coughing and breathing SO LOUDLY that it was interrupting my ability to concentrate on anything except how loud he was. And he was on my heels, kicking them a few times even. DUDE, back off! How annoying, and I was stuck there until the next aid station. Serenity now ;)

I had told myself I could turn on the iPod after 15 miles, then I decided 3 hours would be better timing, then 21 miles, and finally at 22-23 miles I decided to turn 'er on. I needed a boost and I really was craving music for some reason. I popped in the ear buds, and blasted the volume as Static X's "Dirthouse" came on. WOW, that song got me moving! I found a new gear and suddenly my legs were speed demons. I was flying and it felt good! I came upon two older men, that stepped aside immediately and waved hello, then I came upon someone that was moving so familiarly and I instantly knew it was Ed Kirk. "I know that gait, it's one Mr. Edwin Kirk!" He seemed pretty surprised and turned to see me. Cool, I didn't know you were runnin' Ed! Good to see you!

I was on a roll. Where did these legs come from? My neck and shoulders were still bothering me, but I felt them most whenever I stopped or slowed. So, I went through the last couple aid stations without stopping. Running all the hills, and pushing faster on the downhills. I knew I was making great time, I could feel it. I was making up for the slower pace I held earlier in the day, passing by people I hadn't seen the entire day. I thought my legs would burn up quickly, but they were so happy! I pushed and pushed, and smiled, and loved the feel of the rocky, uneven trail under my feet. My heels didn't make a peep during this time, and I felt happy :) I was really looking forward to that finish line, and to seeing Geof. The trail poured us out onto the rolling gravel road that would take us to the finish. I could smell the finish line. It was callin' my name! I finally rounded the last corner and turned into the parking area, following the orange fencing around to the finish line. Geof was there and snapped my picture as I finished, in a better than expected 5:15:31!

Now I kinda wish I had worn my Garmin so that I could see how those last few miles played out. There had to be some serious negative splits in there. Geof commented on how strong I finished and that I really made up some ground. BAM! What a lovely little race! It was tough, but not enough to break you (well, as long as you have some hill training in), beautiful, somewhat unpredictable in some areas, complete with water crossings, great weather, and a well marked trail that was easy to stay on. A little later, Bill (finishing his first marathon, and longest run to date!!) and Leslie crossed the finish line, all smiles. Geof got the BEST picture of them as they finished...
After the final CHUGs finished, we all headed back to the cabin to clean up and grab some dinner at Big Woods Brewery in downtown Nashville, then managed to stay awake long enough to get back to the cabin before passing out from the day's efforts. What a fantastic day, shared with my CHUGs no less, and the trails :) We all felt the remnants of a tough run, and that made bed all the more inviting.

The next day, on the way out of town, Geof and I stopped at Muddy Boots Cafe for breakfast. We were so glad we stopped. It was exactly what we wanted: a cozy, eclectic atmosphere with great food, great coffee and wonderful service. You have got to stop here if you are ever in Nashville, IN. It is adorable. The mismatched furniture, eclectic mix of art and knick knacks filling the space, the aroma of homecooking and fresh coffee, soft music emanating from corners, and the hum of locals gathering around a carafe of coffee and catching up on gossip. It felt good in there. Downtown Nashville is something to see, especially during the holiday season. It was like a Courier and Ives painting, four blocks long, bursting with character and warmth. We loved it.

So, Tecumseh, I will likely see you again for another round of calf-busting running. Word to those considering the race for the first time...work on hill training, and running with cold, wet feet :)

Running my first marathon was the final goal left on my list for 2009, so I was very happy to finally check it off. Done and done. Time to start thinking about my goals for 2010...it's going to be tough to top the goal busting year I've had this year, but I'll try my ultra best :)

Crash, out.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Snow Drifters

I LOVE SNOW!

Yesterday morning, Geof and I woke early as usual to start making motions toward heading out for our run. I was on Facebook and noticed someone's status message mentioned snow...wait, what? Snow?! I ran over to the window, pulled back the blinds, when what to my wondering eyes should appear? But a gorgeous city, covered in snow! Yippee! My calves and quads were super tight and sore still from this past weekend's Tecumseh Trail Marathon (race report with pictures to follow later this week!) and my neck was stiff as a board, so I was considering opting out of the run, but once I saw the snow, it was a done deal! As soon as we got outside and along the deserted lakefront covered in a thick layer of fluffy snow, I started feeling better. It was a nice run, and we cut it short at 2.5 miles since we got a late start on the run.

This morning, it was even better! We woke in the midst of a heavier snowfall, and supposedly it's going to get a lot heavier throughout the day! We suited up, (I in fewer layers this time because I heated up so much yesterday) and headed north on the path. Man, did we feel good out there! The wind was at our backs, snow falling, covering the ground, the street lights reflecting off the fresh fallen snow and making it sparkle. It was lovely. We both mentioned how good we felt and that we wished we could go long today. I think we finished with 4.5 miles, and we may head out again tonight after my final exam for some more :)

The legs were much better this morning, and I can only feel some tightness around my ankles, otherwise I think the run yesterday was an excellent idea for recovery. Bam!

Now to decide how to squeeze in a long run this weekend. Wonder if it'll snow :)

Crash, out.

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