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Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Very Critical Weekend

Sometimes you need a weekend spent with some of your favorite peeps to remember that it's the little things that keep you CHUGgin' along :) This past weekend was so great that I decided it warranted a blog about it...

I ventured out on my first ever experience of a Chicago Critical Mass with Geof on Friday, June 26th. We grabbed bikes at his place then biked over to Daley Plaza just in time to catch up with the back of the pack as they pulled out of the Plaza. Granted, the Mass was a few blocks long and likely a couple thousand strong. We wound around the southwest loop area for a bit, but the Mass never thinned out really so it was slow going in back for us. But once we turned north on some major street I can't recall the name of the pack thinned finally. After an hour or so we left the pack and headed back into the city. Fun stuff!! I'm not much of a cyclist (read: not at all these days) but I sure enjoyed myself and look forward to doing it again.

Geof (aka Lance) and the Mass :)
Geof showing off that he can take a picture and steer his bike with one hand, simultaneously. Me? I'm just glad I wasn't chewing gum at the same time, that could have been fatal ;)
Saturday was the second running of the Chicago Trash Runners. Seven of us hearty TRs descended upon the southside 'hood of Hyde Park and landed in Washington Park for round two. Boy did we have our work cut out for us!! Fellow CHUGs Deanna, Geof, Greg and Torey made it out, as well as my sidekick, Jessica, her puppy Sadie, and Beth, a reporter from NewCity magazine. After just an hour in the park, we had collected 8 bags of garbage bursting at the seams, as well as an undocumented amount of recycling that we put directly into the recycling bins around the park. All in all, a success :)

Deanna, Jessica (w/ Sadie), Me, Geof, Greg, Torey and the last of the trash bags

Then, as if the weekend weren't already action packed, my best friend, Erica, from the days of short legs and pigtails was having her bachelorette party. The lady is gettin' hitched in less than a week, wowza!! When did we age past 15? My how time flies :)

Erica and I in the cab after dinner

Goodness it's rough having a life ;) Just when you think I might have had time to sleep this weekend, think again. Geof and I drove out to Palos Hills to meet up with some CHUGs for another long trail run, this time we hit up Pulaski Woods (Mtn. Bike Staging Area #2) so we could get a dose of some good singletrack. And boy did we find some! That is exactly what I needed pre-VT to remind me why I love trail running :) We cranked out a little more than 16 miles for the day, just short of my 20-mile pie-in-the-sky goal for the day, but given the time we got on our feet, the weather, the trail and, above all, the company, I left very happy.

Jerret, Me, Geof, Jim
Geof, Torey, Tony, Jim
Tony, Debbie, Torey, Jim

What's the next best thing, after a good long trail run? Stuffing your face! Geof mentioned early on that he felt like a burrito...what a funny thing to feel like, is that constricting? ;)...then Jim chimed in in agreement, then it just went from there. So we found ourselves lining up along the chilly tin wall of Chipotle on 154th (I think) and 45, everyones mouths watering looking at the food being prepared for us. Luckily we were able to snag some outdoor tables and enjoy the warmth and shade while we ate like trail pigs.

Jim is camera shy, can't you tell?

Geof was very content with his burrito...don't bother a man with a hot burrito!

Gotta love a great weekend of cycling, trash running, trail running, good girlfriends and CHUGs!

Crash, out.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

"I Need To Run."

Ya know, I'm not really even sure where to start with this one...there is just so much to say about the recent first ever running of the Beer Run 100, a brand new fat ass style event put on by the CHUGs. I do know that this is probably going to be silly long, so you might want to have some sort of hydration and snacks available, or plan a nap mid-way through the post :) Since it's taken me so long to get this up, I haven't really gone through and cleaned it up the way I like, so please forgive any misspellings or gaps in thought :) I just wanted to get this out!

I'm thinkin' for all the general information, you should really check out Brian's blog, he did a very good sum-up of the weekend and it is great for anyone with any questions about the logistics and what not. I like to write about the funny crap that happens and share a buttload of pictures, Brian is our logistics guy...type A to a T!

The idea began with Adrian Belitu and Jim O'Brien, and then once it was presented to the group, Brian took it and ran with it. And by this I mean within less than a week we had a domain name, website, Facebook page, participants, a route, maps with turn-by-turn directions, pace charts and a hard and fast PLAN. Holy smokes, the man needs to be a RD! We are very fortunate to have such a hard working dude with us, and his co-pilot, Kelly (aka Professional Crew), only adds to the awesomeness!

Double checking my packing before heading out

So, lets see...I met up with Geof after work on Friday 6/19 to get some grub and then we were driving over to the meetup spot to join the rest of the CHUGs, at Goose Island Brewery on Clybourn at 7:00 for some pre-run hydration.

There was also cake as it was Adrian's birthday and Geof and Kelly had very recent birthdays.

I opted for a tall chilled glass of the Goose's Matilda...delicious! I also finally met Jim ("RUN DMC") in person. Jim was planning to run the entire distance to Milwaukee.

That's Jim, our Hundred Mile Runner!
Last minute, Adrian ("Runnin' Buddha") had to back out completely due to an achilles injury, but he had planned to run the whole way as well.

Tony, Adrian, Torey

Geof and Brian (and Kelly!)

Did I mention this was a costume run, on top of all the other insanity? Not required, but most of us indulged and dressed up. A handsome bunch are we :)

Kelly, Brian, Me, Gary, Torey, Adrian, Tony

After our personal paparazzi got bored with us, we finally headed up Sheffield towards Fullerton at 8:45 p.m. From there we would hop on the lakefront path...and to infinity, and beyond! Torey and I passed a couple walking in the opposite direction that said, "Looks like they're having way more fun than us tonight." Why, yes we are, thank you! Now, seeing as I am kinda quietly anal retentive about some things it may shock some to know that I am not like that when it comes to my running. That said, I had no plan for this. I actually didn't even grasp the enormity of this run until the night before, and even then I was very "whatev" about it. I think this was due more to my sort of dreading the whole thing because it just seemed far too complicated. Boy am I glad I decided to stick with it and go along!!!

Coming in from the first leg

I didn't consider my nutrition plan or much of anything beyond drinking water since it was balls hot. As a result, I experienced some "issues" early on that Gary got a kick out of around 5:00 in the morning as I did the peepee dance outside a McDonalds somewhere just south of the Wisconsin border. Speaking of nutrition, I did finally work out a "plan" that worked for me...my new favorite, sweetened dried mangoes, Perpetuem throughout the day, water, Twizzlers, pretzels, Oreo's (double stuff, of course), bananas, gummy bears and, the absolute, hands down best thing I have ever eaten during an ultra distance run: a whole wheat pita (opened up, like a pocket) with honey and organic peanut butter (valencia peanuts) poured in. Wow, it was fantastic and I felt great after eating that little concoction! I highly recommend :)

I digress. I was testing out my new GoLite Rush pack to make sure it would pass muster for the Vermont 100 just around the corner. The verdict? I freakin' love it!! I had some essentials in the pack, but mostly stuff to make it heavy to see how much I could deal with, and then I carried a handheld as well. It was hot and muggy but thankfully the rain let up before the run began and we didn't have to deal with that. I can't believe how much I peed during this trip. It was fine during the night, but once daylight showed up it got complicated. So I'm thinking maybe I was doing something right with my hydration :) The plan was to meet up with our crew peeps every five miles to resupply, change, etc. At these points runners could bow out and join the crew, and crew peeps could gear up and join the run. Jim was the only one doing the full distance. I ran the first two legs, 10 miles, then jumped in Gary's car so that he could run. I sat out the next few, then did two more legs, sat out some more, then did three more legs for a total of 35 miles for the event. My knees were screaming at me for running on so much pavement.

We were somewhere way north in Illinois parked along a very, very dark residential street where the bike path poured out. Brian ran down the offshoot to put one of his red blinkers on the ground to alert our runners to come up the ramp towards the street (this ended up being brilliant). Geof was completely enamored with a glow stick that Brian had produced, and we hung that from the trunk door of Geof's car...that thing produced a lot of light! Once the runners showed up, Brian pulled out his handy dandy RD book with all the pretty color maps and the pace chart. He had his headlamp around his waist and was holding the book down below it so everyone could see it as he explained something. Gary shouted out, "It's Brian's 'Light in a Box'!!" Very brief pause, followed by raucous laughter. Gary was very impressed with himself :) And so went the weekend.

Brian's "Light in a Box". Watch the SNL skit if you don't get the joke...the skit is slightly more...inappropriate, if you catch my drift ;))

For the second round of 10 miles, I got some much needed night running in with Jim, Tony and Gary. Gary and I shot up ahead and were on our own much of this portion, and naturally we didn't have a map so we ended up needing to pull back so we wouldn't get lost. Talk about carriage before the horse. Running with Gary is fun because we talk about all sorts of stuff that passes the time very quickly. Once first light was appearing around 4 a.m., we started rating burps. I'll spare the details, but we thought we were pretty entertaining :)

Brian decided he wanted to nap while we waited...he didn't quite fit all the way in. Needless to say, he didn't really get any napping done this time around.

Fellow northern Illinois CHUG, Karen, met up with Jim and Tony on the path somewhere and rode in to the next crew stop to say hi and bring us some cake...and beer!

Now, in all this, every time runners came in from a leg, Geof would shout, "Hundred miler runners, comin' in!" I think he dug Timo's little tradition, from the KM100 :) Talk about a guy with endless enthusiasm and a smile that never faded. Geof's recovering from his first hundo, at KM100 in fact, and was our super duper crew this weekend. But, of course, he caved once at Hell's Swamp (Gary's name for a particular aid stop) and decided to shake out the legs a little bit. Geof, you rock! It was around this time I decided to try and level out my nutrition. Well, a little bit at least :) I brought along my new go-to food, dried and sweetened mangoes, and started poppin' those before my next leg. I also decided to give Perpetuem a try for the first time. Jim had a big ass pail of the orange vanilla flavor...it tasted so good when it hit my lips! I'm officially a Perpetuem lovah, it was great and I felt really good (aside from my achy knees) the entire day on Saturday.

The faithful crew awaiting the runners. This was where we were approached by a police officer for the first time. What, people don't always stand around at trailheads waiting for hundred mile runners to come in? Weird.

Once we were in 'sconsin, and after we were stopped by the police, we headed to our next destination, Southport Park (?). It was right on Lake Michigan and it was BEAUTIFUL! It had a great park, a beachy area, a pebbley area and swings! Kelly, Brian, Geof and I partook in some swingage and relived our youth :) Who says crewing isn't totally kickass?!
Geof and I walked down to the pebbly area and had a rock skipping competition...Kelly got a candid shot of us in action...
And, I'm pretty sure I won the rock skipping competition, but my nemesis begs to differ. There will be a rematch (but I'm pretty sure I'll still win) ;)
While the four of us are all enjoying the gorgeous weather, the scenary, and trying to see who can swing the highest on the swings, Torey and Gary are busy...sleeping?! What?! We don't need no stinkin' sleep!
Then our runners were approaching, so we hopped to it, and watched Jim fill his own bottles, lol. No, we helped, and noted his great form :)

Brian suited up and decided to join Tony and Jim on the next leg, and the rest of us headed on to the next stop which Gary later referred to as Hell's Swamp. Very aptly named.
At Hell's Swamp, Geof finally decided he'd had enough of crewing and wanted to give the legs a stretch and go for his first decent run since his KM100 finish. Woohoo, driving duties for me!

Debbie (a Wisconsin CHUG) met up with us around Kenosha and had been running with the guys for a bit (that's Debbie on the far right).

How could we resist this photo op?

It was hot. And after a 10 mile stint along a particularly exposed stretch of road north of the border, I was a tad spent physically. However, I noticed that I wasn't really bothered by the heat and humidity, at least not how I used to be bothered by it (zero sweating, chills, nausea were typical). I put ice in my Buff and had it around my neck, this felt great! I also drank lots of plain water when I was crewing. Lots of spf 70 (the spray kind). And, of course, my RHTL Atayne top :) Jim was holding up amazingly well for all the heat, humidity, pavement pounding, etc. His spirits were up the whole time, but he kept apologizing for being "grumpy". Seriously? He was always full of positive things to say and was a joy to be around. Very inspiring dude, he's Atacama Jim afterall! Talk about some perseverance. Speaking of, I was crewing on this leg, but when our runners showed up someone mentioned something Jim had said...they were plodding along and it was suggested that they start a walk, to which Jim replid, "I need to run." And the title of my blog entry was born!

Brian: "I see runners!" Geof: "Oh my gosh, he's in bad shape!" Brian: "What!? He's still running." Geof: "No, that old guy, he's using a walker!" You can't see it in the above picture, but as the runners approached, there was a much older man in front of them with a walker. What a funny juxtaposition!

We are bad, bad to the bone.

Our final crew stop was along a residential street in Milwaukee. Here we are waiting for the rest to show up, then we'll costume up and head out for the final 5 miles into the downtown area, and straight to our final destination, Water Street Brewery.
It's a good thing Captain 6-pack was there to help us get across the street safely...

We've made it about 99.5 miles, or so, we are exhausted, I am 42 hour sleep deprived, we're all hungry, Jim is about to reach his 100 mile goal in under 24 hours, we can SEE Water Street Brewery in the distance, and all we have to do is cross the river and it's a straight quarter-half mile shot...and then the bridge goes up! WHAT?!?!
We were cutting it sooooo close, only 15 more minutes to go to get under 24 hours and it's so freakin' close. Jim later said he was devising a plan to somehow get over the bridge as we stood there and time passed painfully slow. Luckily, the bridge went down after a couple minutes (which felt like 30) and we were off again. Phew! How totally random!
And then, we made it.
And Jim sat down. He looks a little tired :)

Beer and food time!!!! We were a ravenous bunch! You'd think that as soon as the food arrived the table would be silent. Nope, not for a second. The chatter was constant, and the entire room was buzzing with excitment and elation...wow, we did it! JIM did it! Cheers! Torey got a round of "pro-con-pro" started in which you go around the table and each person states a pro of the experience, followed by a con and then closing out with another pro. It was such a nice exercise and a great way to sum up each of our experiences and to relive some really great parts of it (even though the whole darn thing was one big PRO!). The food was amazing and we all devoured it. We even had some cake left over from Karen.

Geof and I
Brian and Kelly

After much food and some drink, we got the check and promptly handed it to the most lucid and able person at the table...Jim. Who runs a hundred miles in oppressive heat, and then has the mind to figure out a huge restaurant bill? I can't even do it correctly under ideal conditions ;)

With a 23:51 finish, and an absolutely amazing experience together coupled with total sleep deprivation (except for Torey and Gary who managed quite a few long naps throughout the day!) we were all ready for some sleep. But first we made a stop at Bar Louie's across the street so Jim could see some old friends. Then it was off to the hotel where we all crammed into a suite for the night. The next day, Geof and Jim bounced, followed by Gary, Torey and Tony. Brian, Kelly and I headed for the open road together. I figured I'd pass out on the ride home, but we were still buzzing from the weekend and had a great time on the drive.

Packing up Kelly's car

Of course, what road trip is complete without a stop at a Dairy Queen for some cones. The first one we went to was closed (gasp!), but luckily Brian and Kelly had their iPhones on the ready and found us another one to hit up, "You're open, right?"

I cannot even begin to describe how amazing this experience was. It really brought us all together and made us closer. Never once was there bickering or disagreement. We all share the same sense of humor and obviously common goals. It was nice to have someone other than me laughing at my jokes ;) Everyone got along unbelievably, which made the fact that we've only really known each other for about a month, if that, even more unbelievable. We're all peas in a pod and I feel incredibly lucky to have such wonderful people in my life. I found that I missed everybody once I got home and had some quiet downtime. I wanted to be back there on the road with my comrades, cracking jokes, eating Twizzlers, talking about how bad we all smell, about running, life and funny stuff we saw along the way. Life is good.

Keep on CHUGgin!

Crash, out.

"Truly great friends are hard to find, difficult to leave and impossible to forget." ~ Anon

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