Race Schedule

2018 Races…TBD!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Healing Power of a Long Run

I actually got a race report published in a f'real paper periodical.  Heh, cool!  The above is from the April, 2011 Ultrarunning Magazine.  So, if you subscribe to the 'zine, you'll get to see it in person.  Otherwise, this is the best I can do for you :)  Maybe I'll go down in history as one of the greatest Windburn Six Race Report writers of our time.  Or maybe not.  It remains to be seen.

Hey, you know what?  I had a seriously awesome 20 mile run on Sunday with my numero uno.  It sorta came out of nowhere.  I was feeling really sinus-y and allergy-ish, and headachey from it, so I didn't exactly have high hopes for the run, but I was certainly looking forward to being outside in the sun.  There wasn't a cloud in the sky and the sun was begging for our arrival.

We ran north along the path and I noticed how effortless it felt pretty soon after we started.  Things started clearing up and my headache was starting to throw up the white flag of defeat.  But, I noticed a sensation I had not experienced in awhile, the feeling of being almost totally outside my body.  Not sure if it was the allergies or what, but I felt as though I had no control over my legs, but in a good way.  It was awesome! 

Just shy of a couple miles into it, Geof noted we were running sub-8:20s.  I logged that information into my internal calculator and held it there for awhile.  It just felt too easy.  Before I knew it, we were crossing Foster Avenue.  Whoa, where did the last 5 miles just go?  I barely had any recollection of the time already passed.  Then, it happened again, we were nearly at our 10 mile turnaround and I had that same thought again...where did the last 5 milees just go? 

We were running without any water or fluids (on purpose...we've gotten so spoiled not having to run with bottles or packs in the cold weather!) so we made our planned stop to pick up some Gatorade at a 7 Eleven, then continued onto the Starbucks to use the facilities and get a Double Shot.  We shared the two drinks and then were on our merry way once again.  I was noshing on some Honey Stinger chews for something 'solid' and noted that I felt surprisingly great.  I could do this all day!  It felt like we were staying pretty consistent, taking no walking breaks and for the most part just running in peaceful quiet, smiling at each other from time to time, or giggling to ourselves over some of the really odd outfits roaming along the path.  We both were having a really great run, and we were both equally surprised by how well it was going as neither of us felt totally up for the task before we started.  Geof commented we were running sub-BQ pace for me, and I once again logged that information into my internal calculator.  Hmmm, sub-BQ pace, eh?  Very well.

We pulled past our 20 mile mark, reached the stairs and ground to a cooldown walk the rest of the couple blocks to home.  We were done.  Hot damn, that felt awesome!  We averaged out at 8:22, even with our 5 minute stop for drinks.  Not bad.  And my headache was gone!  Long runs really do heal.

Now I need to get back to trail training as these legs are officially spoiled by the relative ease of flat pavement running!  But, that can wait until after this weekend.  We've got other plans in store...

Paige, out.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Third Run's the Charm

Slish slosh pffffft, tip-toe tip-toe, squish, squish SLOSH
The ground beneath me slips and slunks with each fall of the foot.

The slushy sheet of ice hisses and rumbles, settling in a muffled crunch beneath the feet.

Pffft, pffft, whip, shoop
Trying to avoid the large puddle in the middle of the trail, I skirt the edge, my legs taking a lashing from the overgrowth.

Breathing in and out nearly effortlessly, I feel my legs moving wildly beneath me.  I look down to make sure they're still attached.  Each step is springy and filled with more energy than I've known all week.  My lungs take in big gulps of fresh forest air, it's intoxicating.

Swish, swish, swish
The quiet sound of sunburned grass as we climb a short hill and make our way onto the wide open prairie section, sun warming our backs, eyes squinting behind dark lenses.  "This is the section that makes you hate life in the summer because the sun is so hot, but it's the section that makes you love life in the winter because the sun is so hot," I say, smiling, as we ease up slightly to bask a little longer in the unexpected warmth.

My legs, I swear they are not my own.  There is so much spring in them!  I could run for days!

Shhhhhmmmmmmm, pooooooooooooof, shhhhhhmmmmmmmm, poooooooooooooof
Breathing heavier as we march up the steep rolling hills on the back half of the loop.

Zoooooooooooooosh!!!  Shoooooooom!
As we fly down the other side of the roller, only to be nearly knocked backward by the next steep climb.  And so it goes for the last few miles.  "Uuuuughhhh!  How did I forget this part!"  He growls.  I laugh a smile quietly ahead of him, his announcement breaking the serene quiet of the woods, but know that the tables would soon turn on the next loop.  "You just take a little longer to warm up."

The trailhead is in sight, and the car just beyond it.  Cold water awaits us there.  I down half of it, mixed with a delicious sweet n' salty elixir, and hand it over for him to finish off.  Eat a little bit, and then we're off once more, heading in the opposite direction.  "Let's get the rollers over with first this time."  The spring in my step is now punctuated with a slight twinge of fatigue, and I immediately know...the tables have turned.

Head down, lets get 'er done.  I knew this time would come.

We finish off the planned 20 miles, quickly change and race down the road to grab a treasured bite at the general store before it closes.  Turkey never tasted so good.

It's just early enough that the sun has yet to make its first ascent, but by the looks of it the sun has no intention of making an appearance on this morning.  Rain and wind collide with our windows and though we try to bargain, we know there's only one thing to do...it's Tuesday, and that means Ten Miles :)

The wind whips and swooshes my bare calves as we wind along the hardened path.  It's chilly, but still feels like early spring.  Not all engines are firing, but still I feel decent enough to continue on.  My feet already miss the soft forgiveness of the forest floor and grumble in angst over the concrete. 

We run in silence, each quietly hoping the rain holds off.  The effort feels higher than usual and we both show it on our faces.  We promised ourselves this Tuesday tradition.  We gallop on.  "It'll be after 8:00 if we go the whole way."  "I'm okay with that.  We've gotta finish."

The turnaround comes unceremoniously, and we head back, into the wind now.  The rain clouds hover above, waiting for the perfect moment to unleash.  Saturated and heavy, they are ready to wring themselves out.  But, still nothing.  The pace picks up a little, and it feels good.  Very good. 

I reach over and touch the small of his back, a gesture of heart.  A little smile, we're almost done.

"We must have really picked it up on the way back.  The second half was much faster."  Yesssssssssss.

Another one in the books.

Hoooowwwwwwl, whiiirrrrr, WOOSH!
The wind has a mind of its own today.  "Holy eff, it's cold outside!"  Guess we better break out the winter tights again.

The wind is in a fist fight with our windows.  Ominous at best.

A day off made the legs antsy for a run, and stepping out the front door we are smacked with a stiff wind. 


"I'm glad I wore three layers!"  Heads down, we make our way to the lakefront.  Running south, we know we are going to pay for it heading home.  My ponytail is playing tag with my face, whipping my eyes from either side.  The tailwind is strong and urges us along the path. 

Errrrralllll, errrralll, errrrrrralll...flap, flap, soooooar
Flocks of geese circle above, picking out where to land next.  This inhospitable spot of water, or that one?  I imagine they have a misinformed leader, one that brought them back north a little too early in the season.  The leader's name is Earl :)  Clearly, Earl didn't get the memo that March here is still quite wintery. 

Slip, slide, whoa!
He catches a patch of ice, elegantly catching his balance mid-slide and dashing to the side of it.  "I've got cat-like reflexes!" he announces.

The turnaround comes so soon, and now it's time to pay mother nature for her generous tailwind.  We turn and bow our heads, the wind cutting straight through to the bone.  Eyes watering like leaky faucets, we are bent nearly completely over, pushing our way forward.  I imagine that if the wind were to suddenly stop, we would fall flat on our faces.  Kerplunk!  What little I can feel of my face I can feel a smile.  It's sort of fun, this windy run.

Quads are burning from the strong resistance, my feet whipped behind me each time they lift.  I feel nearly weightless.  We are bullied about by the wind, our stringy figures pushed to and fro. 

Across the bridge, a brief respite from the wind.  We kiss, and he makes his way northward for six more, and I home. 

I'm so over this wind :) 

Paige, out.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

"Now That's Something I've Never Heard Before!" A Palos 32.4 FA Race Report

Waking up to a stomach in turmoil is never a great feeling.  My stomach was making noises that could have rivaled a deep jungle in ominousness (yes, I just made that word up).  Seriously, I must have made five bathroom stops before we even left home.  But, we had 32.4 miles on the schedule for the day and I had high hopes for the run, the Chicago Ultrarunners Palos Spring 32.4M Fat Ass.
Arriving at the Swallow Cliff pavilion just in time to hear my name announced for a raffle prize, I looked up to notice specks of blue were peaking through the clouds...signs of a great day ahead of us :)

Plus, there was a porta-potty right there!  Heaven.

Basically, here's how it goes: the pavilion was our staging area, and only "aid station".  Bring your own food and bottles, and Brian and Tony supplied a big thingy of water and another big thingy of Gatorade.  Thanks guys!  The run is set on a crushed limestone 8.1 mile loop, run four times.  This year (this is the second installment of this particular fat ass run) Brian had us running "washing machine" loops...yay!  This just means that we started out running counter-clockwise, then on the second loop you run it clockwise, and so on until you're done with your loops.  This makes it fun because you get to see peeps all day as you're heading in opposite directions.  I love, love washing machine loops :)

I had to make one last pit stop, and Geof grabbed something from the truck, and in the midst of this we missed the start (this is nothing new for us), so we started a few minutes after everyone else had already disappeared down the trail.  I could feel the competitive burn igniting in my gut...or was that last night's dinner?...as we moved along the trail, a little faster than necessary.  Geof urged me back a little as he reminded me we had all day to get there.  Before too long, we came upon the first clump of runners and passed by as we said our hellos and good mornings.  Then the next clump, then a few scattered solo runners, then no one.  We were on our own, enjoying the serene quiet of the late winter trail.  Everything was dry, save for a few choice spots that seem to always be wet, no matter what.  The one infamous section across from the old toboggan slides was reportedly shin-to-knee deep muddy water, so we devised a re-route as we headed towards it.  Running through the parking lot was the perfect alternate route here, and eventually everyone was adopting this.  Ah, dry feet, and happy Sporty Cats...they were going to live to run another trail afterall!

I was feeling good and, as always, enjoying the run with Geof.  We were pushing the pace just a touch and felt great.  Moving well up the inclines, hammering the downhills, smiling.  My stomach was behaving and I was really getting into a groove.  The first loop was done as we pulled back into the pavilion around 1:12 into the run. 

We were both running without any fluid or nutrition since the loops aren't that long and the cooler weather allowed for fewer caloric needs.  So at each stop in the pavilion (every 8.1 miles) I downed a half bottle or so of Gatorade, some water, an S!Cap, and a (drumroll) my new favorite delight: Honey Stinger Waffle.  This was my first time trying these, and I can't believe how delicious they are!  I picked up a few the night before at REI and looked forward to testing them out on the run.  I brought along my usual Honey Stinger Chews just in case I didn't like the Waffles, but I never did end up eating any of the chews.  So, other than my fluids and salt, I ate three of the Waffles and I was golden for the run.  I was pleasantly surprised how well the Waffles held up in the ol' tummy, and how freakin' delicious they were.  I would sprinkle those babies over greek yogurt and call it dessert, mmmmmmmm :)

For the second loop, Brian joined us.  It was fun to catch up on the week and gab about all sorts of fun stuff with him.  We took it a little easier on this loop, until the final mile where Brian and I broke out into an all out vicious sprint on a straightaway.  I have no idea what we were cranking out, but it was fast and it felt great!  We both sputtered back to a slow jog to recover, laughing aloud and high-fiving the push.  "That'll cost me!"  I can't wait to see what Brian achieves in the coming year with his new take on training.  As Geof likes to say, "It's gonna be awesome!"

Pulling back into the pavilion, I down another Waffle, some Gatorade and water, and an S!Cap.  Brian resumes his RD role and we take off back down the trail in the direction we just came from.  "Halfway done!" I say to Geof.  My stomach lurches in protest of something, most likely the pace we've been holding, and I mention I'll need to stop at the 'john after the road-crossing up ahead. 

Crisis averted.  'Nuff said.

Now I'm feeling downright stupendous and we head back onto the trail.  The third and fourth loops go by more or less uneventfully, just chatting and smiling, enjoying the brief bursts of sunshine that break through the clouds, the feel of fresh forest air on our faces and the smell of horse dung strewn about the trail.  Spring is in the air!  I can tell we are moving pretty quickly and I'm starting to feel it in my glutes and hips.  I felt like I could just be happy with settling into a slower pace and throwing in some walking, but then I reminded myself that I would most likely relinquish any hopes of a PR or a now-coveted wooden medallion.  So, I pushed myself forward.  We really had no idea of our placement, or where anyone else stood in the standings.  It was kind of fun to tinker with the idea of PRing and winning a top 3 award.  Stranger things have happened!

The final loop handed us Big Bertha near the beginning of it and we just hammered the heck out of that steep, winding downhill.  It's not very long, but it's steep and was the source of most of our hill training for Leadville last year.  I recall thinking it was far too steep to run down at the time, but on this day we flew down it.  I let 'er rip and hoped for the best as we made our way down.  Steve shouted after us, "last lap, go get 'em!"  That was exhilarating! 

I found myself checking my watch for the first time during the run, several times in fact, at this point.  My interest was piqued when I saw that it was just a few hairs over five hours..."How far does your GPS say we've run?" I asked Geof.  Glancing at his Suunto, he announced it was just barely 30 miles.  One can imagine my surprise at finding this out!  "Whoa!"  Heads down, arms pumping, trail crunching beneath our feet.  The wind picks up, and the sun goes back into hiding.  Now, I'm on a mission.  Coming into this day, I was hoping to come under 6:30 for the 32.4 miles.  I had nowhere in the recesses of my imagination conceived of coming in under 6 hours.  Now, it was suddenly a very real possibility.  At about 5:20ish we had already surpassed the 50k mark and I was more than happy with that.

My mind was reeling, and I was now in autopilot.  My one landmark on this last loop was the old stone shelter, which signaled we were about a 1/2 mile to the finish.  I kept thinking, "Where in the EFF is that dang shelter?!  Are we there yet?!"  Funny how excitement can cause brief moments to stretch on endlessly.  We finally pass the old shelter, and round a corner, then another and another, and then suddenly BAM! we see the pavilion just up ahead.  Oh glory of glories!

Pulling into the pavilion to high-fives and congratulations, I stop my watch and note my time on the handmade chart set up on the table: 5h:34m.  Brian walked over and handed me my wooden medallion, announcing I was first place woman.  Hot DOG!  "Now that's something I've never heard before!"

Geof and I ended up in 7th and 8th places overall, of about 50 runners in all.  I was pretty stoked to get another piece of wood to hang on the ol' Ultra Shelf at home (and to double as an ornament come holiday season :)), but the fact that I just completely obliterated my previous 31.1 mile (50K) PR (which was 6h:12m) in a 32.4 mile race, by about 45 minutes, had me absolutely jazzed.  At some point near the end of the run, I mentioned to Geof that I was pretty sure I would be able to more than meet my goal for Ice Age 50k in May.  Uh, ya!

After changing into warm clothes, we headed over to Chipotle for post-run burritos (pretty much a GnP Palos tradition) with Kelly before making it back to the pavilion to cheer on the rest of the runners and help Brian out.

I'd say that was a pretty darn good day!  No encounters with DOMS in the wake of this run (yahoo!) and things managed to recover pretty quickly this time around.  No soreness, just some sneaky twinges in my calves.  Nothing an 8-mile run couldn't fix the following Tuesday :) 

Lessons?  Eat Honey Stinger Waffles.  Sporty Cats are my one true faithful shoe companion.  I love those guys and hopefully I can find another pair in the discontinued color...they fit way better than the new colors for some reason :)  Icebreaker once again proved its sheer dominance over all things.  I wore a long sleeve 150 weight top underneath a short sleeve 150.  I love IB.  Beanie hats with ponytail holes are awesome!  This was my first experience with a ponytail compatible hat and I gotta say, it's pretty sweet.  It's a chick thing, so just trust me on this one guys.  And, let's see, oh yes, fact: a stomach in turmoil makes you run faster...when you've got the Runs, your Runs are faster! :-)  True story!!

Paige, out.

Monday, March 14, 2011

I'm A Goal Digger

No, not a gold digger...a goal digger :)
Image courtesy of www.twopeasinabucket.com

I find that in running, and perhaps in regular life, too, I don't like to proclaim my goals too loudly. Rather, I'll water them down for public consumption, whisper them when no one else is around. That's silly, I'm not seeking watery goals, and not everything is a whisper goal. It is most definitely borne of a fear of not achieving them, or falling short. Insofar as running is concerned, I fear injury, and, thus, don't like to set many running goals because I worry something will come up and I'll only be disappointed.

That is so lame.

So what if I don't achieve a goal in the timeframe I initially had in mind? It's not suddenly rendered a totally unattainable goal; it's just not attainable within the original timeframe. Reassess, regroup and set a new timeline. I love this one quote that seems to pop up all over the place, something to the effect of 'life is 90% what happens to you, and 10% how you respond to it'. It's a nice thought, and certainly holds some water.

On a recent Saturday, whilst basking in the glory of a good/tough long run, I lounged on the couch and picked up a book Geof brought home from work. It was small and thin (even better) and had a big font (bonus!): it begged me to read it. It was called No Excuses - The Power of Self-Discipline by Brian Tracy. Never heard of the guy, but Geof mentioned he liked him, so chances were I'd like him, too :) After soaking in a couple chapters, I came away with a small, yet still sizable, message: set goals, write them down, make it happen. Basically, according to this guy, 97% of people have goals, but never bother to write them down. The remaining 3% of the population have goals and actually write them down, thus setting into motion a chain of events that ultimately lead to the achievement of said goals. By the way, everyone else works for this 3%.

I was a tad overwhelmed by the approach he suggested, but figured I could do a mini-version of his suggested route and see how that felt. I decided to come up with a couple of challenging, yet still very attainable goals for my running self in 2011. Why not? I don't want to be a member of that 97% group of people who only ever talk about what they want to do (talk is so cheap), rather than actually writing out a plan and moving forward with it. So here goes (my goals, not my plan...that's still a work in progress):

1. Run a 50k PR at the 2011 Ice Age 50k in May. When I originally crafted this post, I wrote that I'd, and I quote, "go so far as to say my goal is to run a sub-6 hr. 50k there.  My current PR is 6h:12m, at Glacial Trail 50k, in 2009. This, I can do."

Well, that PR changed over this past weekend (woohoo!  Race report to follow later this week :)), so now I had to revise this entry, yet again :)  But, that's a good thing!  I have now reevaluated my goal for Ice Age 50k and aim to finish in 5h:30m.  The Ice Age course is much more difficult than the course I was running this past weekend, but it's not that bad, and I truly feel this is still quite doable, but not without some work.

2. Run a 50 mile PR at the 2011 Sunburn Six in the Stix 12-hour run in July. Again, I'll be specific...my current 50 mile PR was set at the 2009 Pineland Farms 50M, in Maine, at 10h:17m. This year, I'd like to run a sub-10 hr. 50 mile. This I most definitely can do. Sunburn is the perfect course for this.

3. After letting this draft sit for a good few weeks (no, I didn't forget about it; rather, I was mulling...and I was actually a little afraid of the accountability!), I grew the balls to throw in an unexpected third goal, and this one sorta scares me because I know what it'll take to get it...a LOT of very hard work and discipline, as opposed to just maintaining my current fitness. I plan to run only one hundred miler this year, Javelina Jundred. My goal for this race is to bring some A game. I want to get a new 100 mile PR, and finally break through 28 hours. But, I actually aim to do one better than that and finish under 26 hours. Who-daddy, now that is scary!! It is not an easy course, it's a sucker-punch course...you go in thinking it's all 'whatev, anyone can run JJ', and as soon as you let your guard down for a moment it body-slams you, repeatedly. So, you can't shirk your JJ training if you want to do well. I wonder if pool running would come in handy since running in sand is a lot like running in water :)

Well, there you have it.  I have some other things in mind, but first I would like to get to work on these...afterall, they will require a fair amount of work! I also have some good personal goals I'll start outlining, but that's totally un-running related so I won't bore you with that here :-) Those will take up a lot of scratch paper and a lot of different drafts to write out properly! And, lots of doodling...I like to doodle when I'm working hard :)

This was fun! I already feel well on my way to achieving my goals :-)

I think everyone should practice this.  Why not?  It's never too late to start either.  You don't need a new year, or a new month to get to work on it. 

I'm looking forward makin' it happen!

Paige, out.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Marcy B. Has a Serious Case of the Runs!

True story...
Marcy B. in New York has the Runs on her rear...bumper :)

Keep 'em coming!

Paige, out.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tuesday Ten Miler

Mmmmm, Geof and I had a goooooood run this morning.  I do actually have something of substance that I am drafting, but I quickly wanted to share that for the second week in a row, Geof and I have checked off a solid Tuesday Ten Miler.  Spring = Tuesday Tens (TT).  Duh.  It's great to have those back.

Since the weather is supposed to start spitting cats and dogs this evening, and I just feel better in the morning in general, I suggested on Sunday that we maybe plan to do our TT in the morning instead of after work.  Geof was on board.  So, when the alarm sounded at 4:50 a.m., we dutifully silenced it and slept for another 10 minutes.  That was a gift to ourselves :)  Ten more minutes!  Should I mention that I was in bed by 8:30 last night?  Nah.  But seriously, true story.

The sun came out and warmed out souls as we made our way along the lake this morning.  The wind was almost negligible, which is a rare treat here.  While things felt a tad heavy, it was much better than yesterdays shakeout run.  I mentioned that it felt a little cheaty to be out so early, stealing some rarely seen winter sun before the weather heads south today.  Like I said, mmmmmmm.

There's something about heading out and cranking out a good longer early week run, in the morning.  It sets a really nice tone for the rest of the day.  It's a good reminder that, if nothing else, we achieved something great today.  I love that feeling.

I then got to work and achieved something else of almost equal greatness: finishing up an entire chocolate paczki on my own!  It's a feat never before seen in my years at the firm.  I've always been a Fat Tuesday half-of-a-paczki eater.  But today, no, today was a WHOLE paczki day.  I then followed it up with an apple.  I learned that in order to avoid a sugar crash, you must consume some fiber.  Guess what?  It's true.  Worked like a charm :)

Well, this weekend is the CHUG Palos 32.4 Fat Ass run and Geof and I are planning to run it together.  Hopefully the weather holds for us, but right now it's looking pretty cruddy.  Warmer, but cruddy.  Should be a good old time!

Paige, out.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Chris M. in North Carolina has a Serious Case of the Runs!

Notice the shiney new bumper sticker in the upper right corner? :-)

Hopefully everyone that slid in under the cutoff has received their bumper stickers by now (and, if not, you should have them soon).  Thank you to everyone who chimed in!  Now, let's see where everyone else is announcing their Serious Case of the Runs!!
Crash, out.

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