Race Schedule

2018 Races…TBD!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday Fifteen

I'm pretty sure stars were still out when we left for our run this morning.  And if the moon was in the habit of appearing 'round these parts this time of year, we would have seen that too for sure.  It was 5:30 in the morn' and we were headed out for our run.  A decent enough wind blew in our faces from the south as we headed for points unknown.  Unknown because we weren't entirely sure where our turnaround was, we just had a general idea.
Geof had the fun idea to run 15 miles before work today so that we could go home and just relax tonight before our long run tomorrow morning, rather than doing a double.  I dug it and agreed to not hit snooze when the alarm went off at 4:25 a.m.

Waking up was surprisingly easy given how awesome we slept last night.  I could get used to going to bed at 9:00 :)

The forecast called for raining cats and dogs but we decided to play roulette with mother nature and leave our rain jackets at home.  Luckily, the wind from the south was relatively warm and I didn't hate it the way I usually hate wind.  The lights along the path were spotty but at least some of them were on.  The Canadian geese were perched along the edge of the path, waiting for the sky to lighten before venturing into the choppy waters below them for their morning float.  A pair of seagulls were duking it out over a fresh caught fish beneath the eerie glow of one of the lamps.  A few other daring souls ran by in a mad dash to beat the rain.

As the sky lightened we could see the ominously dark clouds hanging over the city, but we were heading south and apparently away from the saturated grip of mother nature.  The legs and mind felt good and we both reveled in the fact that we were doing this before work.  If we did nothing else all day we would at least have achieved this much.

I worked some numbers in my head to try to determine our turnaround point (fact: I should never "work" numbers...it never ends up good/accurate).  We decided to turn beyond what we thought might be 15, just in case as anything less was just unacceptable this day.  With the wind at our backs, though considerably less intense, we headed for home and towards the foreboding clouds.  We felt a few drops here and there, but nothing threatening.  The pace picked up some and it was welcome finally.  I sensed some pep returning to my stride.  I also sensed the need to release some of the water I downed before heading out for the run.  This need only intensified after two attempts to utilize proper facilities (they were locked!) were foiled.  A large evergreen became the focus of my attention.

And then all was right with the world again.

Before we knew it, we were rounding the last museum of the campus and only had a couple more miles to go.  I could feel it in my glutes and my stomach began to rumble.  Hunger was upon me.  We were now enveloped in dark clouds, giving the impression of night, and the rain trickled ever so slightly.  The ground was saturated, evidence we had dodged a bullet momentarily.  As we crossed the bridge one last time and zig-zagged our way through traffic, emerging from the cover of the highway overhead, the rain began to fall in earnest.  I couldn't help but smile.  So close!  We crossed the lot, rounded the last corner before finally making it to cover.  Barely wet compared to some of our running compatriots on this morning. 

Turns out we got in just shy of 16 miles in just over 2 hours.  A darn fine way to start a Friday I do say. 

And, I'm glad we left the rain jackets at home this time :)

Paige, out.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Kettle Moraine Spring Starter 50k

A confidence booster, that's what we needed.  And, the New Leaf Ultra Runs' Kettle Moraine Spring Starter 50k is what we decided would provide that boost.  It fit quite nicely into our respective training "plans" so with a spring in our step and some coffee in our mugs we headed up north to frolic in the 'sconsin woods.

We actually arrived a touch early at the Emma Carlin parking lot and went about making final preparations for a nice day in the woods.  Brian gave a quick speech about the course and the aid every 7-8 miles on the route, and reminded us to turn around at Esterly Road.  Though it's only a fat ass event/group run, Brian still manages to pull together a great event.  That's just what he does :)

We set out on the trail to a symphony of 25 watches beeping 'start' signaling the beginning of a great day.

The weather was cool and damp and we ran the first 3+ hours in a persistent mist under gray skies.  The trail was perfect and we clicked along in quiet contemplation.  Four guys ran up ahead and stayed there all day, while Brian carried our threesome forth with me in the middle and Geof behind.  The three of us moved along as if on a rail.  Smooth and effortless.  The ground was soft and tacky, perfect for traction on the plentiful ascents and descents of this stretch of the Ice Age Trail.  The misty air only intensified the color palette of the forest surrounding us.  Geof and I decided it was how we imagined trails in western Oregon :) 

Trees and underbrush were just sprouting their spring layers and the green was intensely bright set against the gray sky.  Tiny flowers nosed their way upwards through dead leaves covering the side of the trail.  Tiny spider webs dangled between reeds of tall prairie grass, dotted with dew drops.  How tiny must the spiders be that built those webs?  The rustling of leaves on the forest floor alongside us caused more than a few glances throughout the day, but whatever it was kept itself hidden.  Birds were singing and dancing above us, and the frogs were chattering monotonously as we ran past hidden ponds and lakes.  I could sleep soundly surrounded by this woodland symphony.  The forest felt more alive than I can ever recall it feeling.  Nature is king and this day reminded us of this. 

The Ice Age Trail from Emma Carlin to Esterly Road is a delicious combination of hilly technical singletrack through towering trees, and flat and fast pine needle padded winding singletrack beneath an aisle of pine trees reaching for the sky.  It is beautiful.  You can feel yourself coming back alive as you take it in.  We were gettin' ourselves some serious nature :)

Brian, Geof and I stuck together all day and I must say it was an absolute delight working together.  We made it to the turn around, exactly 15.5 miles out, in just under 3 hours.  We must have looked like starved beasts as we ransacked the aid set up at the turn.  I guess we were hungry, and not a little bit thirsty :) 

As we headed back out the mist began to dissipate.  The temps were in the low 60s and a cool breeze forced my wind vest back on after standing still for a few minutes at the aid stop.  I kept it on the rest of the way.  The mist had left us pretty well soaked and fairly grimey feeling, but for some reason it felt good.  It felt good to not care and to focus on one thing: running. 

I didn't have any goals for the day, other than to have a great time.  I knew we would before we started; I could feel it.  And I was right.  As we clicked off the miles I decided it would be great to finish first female, why not?  But I knew it wasn't going to be a fast finish.  We were taking it easy and I knew I would have a great deal left in the tank, which is exactly how I want my training runs to go at this point.  Everything was working so well and my legs responded better than expected.  We haven't run more than 20 miles in one sitting since JJ100 back in November so we weren't sure how it would all pan out.  I tell you what, it's awesome to just be able to knock out 31 miles whenever we want.  Geof mentioned this during the run, and I totally agree :)

I focused on pace and maintaining a comfortable stride on the ups and downs, and pushing a little more on the flats.  I pulled ahead and led our pack along for the final miles and found I had to reign myself in to keep us together, but it was good to know I had plenty of turnover to spare so late in the run. 

After what seemed like an inordinately long final 1/2 mile we could see the Emma Carlin parking lot through the trees.  The three of us finished together in a fine time of 6h:12m.  Knowing how much I had left in the tank I could have certainly pushed a lot harder, or kept on going.  But, I was happy to be done because I was really hungry and ready for the La Grange General Store :)  We all finished feeling really good and very happy with how the day went.  I was also happy with how well it went wearing my new La Sportiva Wildcat 2.0s for the first time.  Those shoes rock my world every time.  I did end up getting first female.  Not that this was a race or anything ;)

Brian, Geof and I made our way to the General Store and enjoyed some good eats and shared a choose-your-own six pack...I tried out a new Belgian white by Alaskan that had me clicking my heels; it was delicious...as was the requisite Spotted Cow.  I love me some 'sconsin brew.

My legs bounced back like a couple of champs and after running around the city a little the next morning to watch the front runners in the Shamrock Shuffle 8k I felt pretty well recovered.

Just a few more weeks of quality training before the taper.  I love this stuff.

Paige, out.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Winter Heat

I paused at the base of the climb and briefly pondered my mortality.  Could I die running up this hill?  Probably not.  Do I feel like I could at any moment?  Absolutely.  Why does this suck so much right now?  Because it's SO FREAKING HOT and it's STILL WINTER.  What might it take to just drop dead running up this hill?  Not much!  Is that chafing? already?  What an amateur. 
And with that, we headed up.  Three miles of warm-up and two miles of repeats later we headed out for eight 'cool down' miles before attacking the hill for one more set.  I don't even consider 15 miles a long run anymore, but that's all that was on the docket and it seemed like an insurmountable goal for some reason that day.  I didn't have an ounce of energy to spare beyond that, or at least that's what it felt like.  Or at least that's what dehydration on this day felt like.

I felt like the horse poop strewn about the trail, warmed over, covered in flies.  My legs were solid concrete, my head was fuzzy, my mouth dry, and my 'tude was borderline sanctionable. 

But I made it through despite myself.  Because that's what we do.  We just get it done.  It was very unpretty on my part.  The temperature was in the mid-80s and since it was still yet to officially be spring, the trees were bare and the sun shone down with a fury.  I was covered in goosebumps, but sweating with reckless abandon.  That's just wrong, and furiously uncomfortable.

After what felt like an astonishingly long time, we came to one of the bridges to find that there was actually water in the stream, flowing lazily along; it beckoned me.  I didn't even give it a second thought as I strode through the chilly waters, balancing on mossy submerged rocks, crossing delicately.  In my weakened state, the barely there current was nearly enough to knock me down.  My lower legs thanked me for the cool respite.  Geof cheered me on as I made my way across.  I considered dunking my shirt and hat, but thought better of it.  Who knows what sort of gross is in that water; it is Palos afterall :)

I felt pretty refreshed after my water dance, and noshed on a Honey Stinger Waffle.  But soon the heat took over once again and I had to do something I haven't done in a training run in a long time: take a walk break.  It was lovely and I nearly instantly felt better.  I told Geof to go on ahead and get a start on his final round of Bertha repeats.  I plugged in some musical inspiration and shuffled my way to the base of the hill.  I decided repeats were definitely not a smart thing for me at that time, but wanted to finish out my miles for the day.  So I opted instead to run the remaining 1/2 mile out to the road and back until I reached my goal.  I was even able to drop the hammer and smoke those final miles, and added an extra 1/2 mile just because. 

I haven't been that thirsty in a long time, and I tried my best to recall the last time I was as I guzzled an entire Nalgene bottle of sitting-in-a-hot-car-for-hours warm water.  But really all I cared about at that point was demolishing a post-run burrito...which we did :)

Tomorrow is long run Saturday once again.  It's going to go a lot better than last week.  I know this :)

Paige, out.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Scene Running

The clocks have jumped ahead an hour, so the scene is now set against a dark backdrop.  The faint promise of daybreak is just beginning to illuminate somewhere beneath the horizon.  Seagulls circle overhead, squawking at each other, urging the sun to rise so that they can begin their morning scavenge on the soft ground below.  The lights along the path haven't quite gotten used to the time change and they opt not to light the way on this morning.

Two runners dance about the path, hopping over uneven seams and deep gouges in the pavement, hoping to keep upright.

Rounding the first bend, first light begins to break behind a fence of billowy clouds resting atop the water.  The sky and Lake become a shimmery slate blue, divided only by the horizon.  A mallard swoops in and lands almost soundlessly atop the glassy water and floats lazily along. 

The fishermen are back at it, taking advantage of the flash warmth.  Their faces already tanned and leathered from a winter spent "ice" fishing along the Pier in an unusually sunny winter.  The runners always wonder, What's their story?  Where do they come from?  Who are they?  Why do they fish right here?

The usual nightowls are closing out their shift, sitting at various intervals along the breakwall, sucking desperately on cigarettes.  The light breeze carries the stench towards the runners, but then they round the final bend and scuttle up the grassy incline and make their way towards the Island. 

Two geese stand at the shoreline, the water now lightly lapping up against it.  One goose is reading the riot act to the other, neck fully extended, parallel to the ground, squawking at the top of its lungs.  The other goose is waddling away as his friend begins to flap its wings aggresively in hopes of stirring the other.  The scene is hilarious to outsiders. 

The Island is quiet and the breeze bends the prairie grass to its will.  Birds are emerging from the three white birdhouses hoisted high atop their poles.  They're like the plantation homes of birdhouses: stately and beautiful. 

The runners begin to push the pace a touch more, why not.  Ten miles has become the new five miler.  Legs are changing shape in response to the increased mileage.  They both mention as much, rounding the top of the Island and heading towards the turnaround a mile and a half away. 

The forsythia are in full bloom now near the marina...that was how they always knew it was spring as a kid.  As soon as the bush out front began to bloom they knew it was spring, and that meant it would soon be summer, and that meant watermelon seed spitting contests, water gun fights in the backyard, and catching fireflies with the neighborhood kids down the block. 

It appears spring has sprung in Chicago :)

The effort is nil, the strides are smooth, the air fresh, and the sun is finally showing its glowing face.  It's orangey morning glow isn't enough to warrant sunglasses just yet; that won't happen until it's higher in the sky.  For now, it's lovely to see it making its morning ascent, waking the masses, urging them on their way.  The runners hit the turnaround, right on pace. 

Back on the Island, the 'biker gang' is finally out, A little behind schedule, boys.  Their pack is small, as it's still early in the season, but they are a tight knit gang, flying past the runners with a smile, in perfect sync. 

Headed north for good the wind tails the runners, pushing them along ever so slightly, ensuring that negative split ;)

A couple smiles by in the opposite direction, dressed head to toe in winter gear.  Did they not get the memo?  The runners look down at their bare legs and arms and just smile.  To each their own, they suppose.

Legs are tired as they near their final destination, but the runners are already looking forward to tomorrow's run.

Paige, out.

Friday, March 2, 2012

BTB Sport Optics Giveaway: Winner!!

Winner Winner, Sushi Dinner!  (I've got sushi on the brain after a delicious sushi dinner yesterday eve...plus it has a tastier ring to it than 'chicken', no?)

After said delicious sushi dinner last night I cut up each name that entered into the giveaway over the last week, put them all in a Headsweats hat (yes, it was clean...I think ;)), shook it up all nice like, and then had Geof reach in and grab out a name.  It was all very exciting, and I think I may have even let out a squeal :)

Without further adieu, the BTB Sport Optics winner is:

Alene N.!!!!

Congratulations, Alene, you will be the proud owner of a new pair o' BTB Sport Optics!  I'm sure you've got some insanely cool adventure you'll need these for 'cuz that's just how you roll, Mrs. Badwater. 

Thank you to everyone who participated!  That was fun :) 

In the meantime, cruise on over to BTB's website and take advantage of a 30% Serious Case of the Runs reader discount with the code: SERIOUS 30.

Stay tuned...I've got another fun giveaway in the works, muhahahahaha :)

Happy Friday!

Paige, out.

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