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Our Second Annual Bike MS Ride!

MS 2013

Why I Ride

I’ve registered for the Bike MS: Harmons Best Dam Bike Ride because I’ve always loved riding bikes and can’t imagine how difficult it would be to be diagnosed with a disease like MS and lose the ability to ride my bike.

Therefore, I want to do something for the people who have been diagnosed – and because I want to do something to help prevent more people from experiencing what it means to live with the disease. Today, there is no cure for multiple sclerosis, and with diagnosis occurring most frequently between the ages of 20 and 50, many individuals face a long life filled with unpredictability.

What Does It Mean To Have MS

Having multiple sclerosis means that you may suddenly have blurry vision. Or that your memory will fail you for no apparent reason. Or that you may not always be able to walk, let alone ride a bike. The symptoms of MS are different, for everyone, and may change from day to day – the only certainty is that it will affect yet another person every hour of every day.

Why You Should Sponsor Me

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society will use funds collected to not only support research for a cure, but also to provide programs which address the needs of people living with MS today.

Donate Here!

The Vagabonds: Past The Midway Point

The Summer Of GnP!

The Summer Of GnP!

After finishing up work at the end of May, our summer of being vagabonds began.  Since then, we’ve covered a lot of ground.  We’ve been to 14 states, visited numerous friends, spent time with family, been to two weddings, celebrated my grandparents 70th wedding anniversary, ran mountain trails, slept in the truck at campsites and at roadside rest areas, eaten some fantastic food, met new friends, seen historic areas, visited five national parks, camped in beautiful areas, witnessed one of the greatest running events in the world, converted our truck into a full blown camping machine and driven lots and lots of miles.  This summer is the realization of so many long time fantasies of mine.  Moving West.  Traveling quasi aimlessly.  Running mountain trails nearly daily.  Visiting friends and family at a slower pace.  Not working for an entire summer.  We are now nearly two months into our summer, so what do I think?  I think…  I love it!  Its been different than expected in many ways, we’ve been more busy than I would have guessed, we’ve adapted to our vagabond life more easily than I would have anticipated, we have spent less money than I would have imagined, and we’ve had fewer “tough times” than I could have even hoped for.  But, what has been most striking to me is how unbelievably fortunate we have been and how gracious our friends/family have been as we travel – THANK YOU, to all who have made our trip possible and special.

We've Seen Lots Of Mountain Tops!

We've Seen Lots Of Mountain Tops!

With all this behind us, we have a lot more ahead.  We are “home” for a few days to collect mail, see friends, exchange gear, run errands, and rest up before heading out again.  Our path is somewhat clear and while I’m excited for those plans yet to come, I’m also looking forward to getting settled into our new home, finding a job, finishing up training for Wasatch 100, and all the fun things yet to be uncovered.  Am I leaving a lot out?  Of course, we’ve been in constant motion for nearly two months and I haven’t wanted to slow down to write it all down but maybe someday.

A Flying Leap

Home Sweet Home: Utah

Home Sweet Home: Utah

What happens when you close your eyes and jump in the general direction of a dream?  We are about to find out.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved the mountains.  As a kid and now as an adult, nearly every vacation has been spent trying to eek out as much time as possible in the mountains – running and hiking their trails, camping in their forests, biking through their woods, exploring their peaks, skiing their slopes, driving scenic routes through them, and admiring their beauty from the safety of tough little mountain towns where people dress like mountain folks because they are.  Despite this love, I’ve lived in the midwest my whole life with a thousand miles separating me from the closest serious range.  When friends would question my choice to remain in the midwest, I always had an answer that sounded logical enough but deep in my heart, I questioned it myself.  When too much time would pass between adventures, I’d start getting the itch and it would continue to grow until I spent some time in the thin dry pine scented air, on the dusty trails, and on the vista filled peaks of the mountains.  After many conversations, Paige and I decided to cast aside reason and take a huge leap into the unknown.  We quit our jobs and with the help of Tate and Gunny, we loaded up our stuff and moved to Salt Lake City, UT!!  The plan?  Take the summer off and travel, run, visit some family/friends, take in the weddings of three great friends, relax and most importantly, enjoy each other’s company.

Everyone has been uber supportive, including the Salt Lake City crew.  Rob and Rina graciously offered us their home as a home base until we get settled.  So, with our stuff stored in their basement, we are on the road until mid-August with all sorts of fun plans to look forward to.  Come August, we will return to “the real world”, I will look for work and Paige will go back to school but until then we are living the nomadic lifestyle and if you don’t watch out, we may end up knocking on your door smelling of a combination of sweat and campfire!

Rather than trying to improve on the wheel, I’m gonna take the easy way out and piggy back off Paige’s recap of the first leg of our trip.

31 Daily Adventures – Day Six

“For heights and depths no words can reach, music is the soul’s own speech.  Break out of your regular playlist and listen to new music today.”

Today’s adventure finally pushed me to open a Pandora account.  I’ve had the app on my phone for, literally, years and never opened an account.  But I took the 30 seconds required to do so and immediately started looking for something different.  First up, Cool Jazz – loved it!  Next up, Americana – not quite as much but didn’t quite hate it.  And so the exploration continues.  If you have any urge to open a Pandora account, I’d highly recommend it!

31 Daily Adventures – Day Five

Sweet Potato Burritos

Sweet Potato Burritos

“The colors and aromas of ethnic cuisines from around the world can open us up to all kinds of adventure.  For today’s adventure, try a new food.”

I am definitely not opposed to trying new things and usually like almost everything I try but I’m also guilty of sticking with my favorites more often than not.  Paige, on the other hand, is always up for trying new stuff so today’s adventure was especially exciting for her (and I just piggy backed off her).  She found a recipe for sweet potato burritos, I was a skeptic but she totally pulled it off, they were delicious!  Thank you Paige!

31 Daily Adventures – Day Four

“It’s often said that knowledge is power. What have you learned recently?  For today’s adventure, learn something new.”

Good timing on this one, I grew up in Iowa which doesn’t get much attention most of the time but during an election year, like this one, it becomes the source of great attention.  Yesterday was the republican caucus, you’d think that 1) being a “responsible” adult and 2) someone who grew up in Iowa, I would know something about this process but I didn’t, so today, I decided to learn something about it.

First of all, I learned that the caucuses are oddly informal.  They are hosted in public places (churches, schools, libraries, …) and begin at 7 PM with a representative for each candidate talking about why voters should vote for their candidate.  Once that is complete, voters write their vote on a slip of paper and stuff it in a box.  Once all the votes are in, they are counted and reported.  There may be a little more to it than that but not much.  The democratic caucuses are a little more involved but more similar than different.  While I still know very little about the whole process, I know more than I did.

31 Daily Adventures – Day Three

Chicago Pedway

Chicago Pedway

“For your daily adventure today, consider a different means of transportation to work, take a different (maybe more scenic) route and see what you discover.”

So, we normally walk to work and I generally zig zag my way to work walking with the lights as I hit them but I often end up on virtually the same route because the lights are timed so it just works out that way.  Today, we were running late so I went the fastest way possible to get to work, which happens to be my normal route.  But, on the way home, I took a different, more scenic, route.  Because it was the first really cold day of the year, I decided to try to figure out the “pedway” and, it was really fun!  I’d been through parts before but much of it was new.  The great thing is that on those days when it is pouring out or unbelievably cold or sweep you off your feet windy, I now have a route that will keep me out of the elements for nearly half my walk, pretty cool!  Not to mention, I saw a couple of lunch spots I need to try out too.

31 Daily Adventures – Day Two

“Today’s adventure invites you to pause and notice the littlest things.”  Normally, I think I do a pretty good job noticing the little things but it never hurts to give it a little extra focus.  With that in mind, little things I noticed today: the way my legs felt tight as I got out of bed, the sound of the wind outside, the way the coloring of the lake changes as the sky changes, the way my wife’s bicep flexes as she reaches for her iPhone, the fading smell of pine as I water the Christmas tree, while laying there at the base of the tree, I also notice the delicate stitching of our handmade tree skirt, the heavy organic smell as we enter the grocery store, the exceptional sweetness of the grapefruit I ate for dessert, the subtle changes in mood as songs randomly stream from a playlist, …

31 Daily Adventures – Day One

So, our friend Gretchen posted a link on her blog the other day.  The link was to another blog which was offering 31 Days of Adventure.  To quote Gretchen, “The concept is essentially … [that] adventures don’t have to be huge in order to enrich our lives. Most of the time, in fact, adventure is all about perspective.”  So Paige and I decided to give it a go.  Here is today’s adventure:

Take a photo of something familiar from a new angle: up close; upside down; from above; from underneath.”  I run past this view of the city virtually everyday but I have never taken the time to walk out on the pier and see it from a different angle… until today.  The view was different, not dramatically but different.  I was no longer one of the runners along the water, I was instead an observer of the runners along the water.  Looking forward to the rest of the month!

Chicago = Familiar, From The Pier = New Perspective

Chicago = Familiar, From The Pier = New Perspective

December “Meet A CHUG” Interview

Every month, Ben interviews a CHUG member and posts the interview on our page.  This month, it was a “two for one” interview of Paige and I.  I thoroughly enjoyed thinking about the answers and hearing Paige’s.  The interview follows…

This is the latest in our “meet the CHUGs” interviews. Each month we get to know another  Chicago area ultra marathoner (or two). We hope these interviews continue to build a sense of community and help support the networking of local endurance runners. This month we have a very special holiday two for one deal. We will be chatting with Geoffrey and Paige Dunmore (aka the GnP).

There is a group picture featured on Geof’s blog that is fun for a couple of reasons. First the picture is from one of the very first CHUG group runs. The photo is evidence that Geof and Paige have both been active members of the group since the very beginning. They are both not only very talented runners, but they are also amazing supporters of the Chicago ultra community. They volunteer, crew, pace and organize every bit as well as they compete. Through their wonderfully written and well visited blogs they help promote Chicago’s endurance culture to the readers all over the country.

The photo on Geof’s blog is also particularly notable because in the photo, Geof and Paige are not standing next to one another. This snapshot was taken pre GnP. The picture predates their Chicago ultrarunning love story. Shortly after the picture was taken, Paige and Geof  began dating. Last spring they married. Marriage has certainly served them well. 2011 has been a banner year for the GnP with numerous personal records and constant stream of  age group awards. The year started with a couple of quick Boston qualifying marathons. After a summer of steady training, they posted blazing times this fall at both the North Face Endurance Challenge, and just a few weeks later at the Des Plaines River Trail 50. In November, Geof and Paige ventured to the deserts of Arizona. They ran side by side for a fantastic finish at the Javelina Jundred! Paige set a huge 100 mile personal best, while Geof just barely missed setting his.

Thank you both for taking the time to answer a few questions. Please start off by telling us a little about yourselves. Age, Job, Family.

Geof:  I was the oldest of three kids and grew up very close to my family.  After heading to the University of Iowa not knowing what the heck I wanted to do, I dropped out and worked for several years before returning to school and finishing up a B.B.A. in Finance.  After graduation, I moved to Chicago to work for a large bank.  I am currently working as a financial advisor on the personal side of our business.  I remain close to my family which is spread out around the country but with a concentration in Iowa, Wisconsin, Texas, Colorado and California.

Paige: I am the second oldest of eight kids, growing up in ye olde town of Oak Park, IL.  I went over the hill this year and turned 30, woohoo!  So far 30’s not too shabby.  I got my degree in broadcast journalism from Illinois State University, opting to graduate early and jump ship for my first job as a radio DJ on the eastern shore of North Carolina.  It was pretty sweet for a couple of years, then I accepted a programming position with 93XRT here in Chicago.  After losing my position to budget cuts I took a job as a legal assistant for a mid-size law firm here in the city and have been doing that for almost 5 years now.  Of course, the call of personal fulfillment and the need to do something that actually means something is summoning me back to school in physical therapy, hopefully in the fall of 2012!

How about a little background of how you two met.

Geof:  I first became aware of Paige through the Ultralist.  I remember her posting quite frequently and mentioning being from Chicago, I thought to myself, “she seems pretty fun!”  I hoped our paths would cross but was too shy to reach out to her.  In February of 2009, I joined the very new group formed by Torey Jones called The Chicago Ultra Runners (aka CHUGs) and quickly got involved in the socials and group runs.  Guess what, that fun girl from the list was there and she was every bit as fun as I’d imagined.  We formally met at a group run in Palos Hills on an April morning but barely spoke that day.  I was finishing up training for my first Kettle Moraine 100 miler and she was in training for her first, Vermont 100 miler.  When Kettle rolled around, Torey had volunteered to crew and pace me along with another CHUG named Gary.  During Gary’s portion of the night, we were talking and mentioned that he was pretty good friends with Paige and that I should ask her out.  I doubted that she would be interested but he assured me that she would welcome it and soon setup a night out where we would both be there along with his girlfriend (who also happened to be a good friend of mine from college, small world).  The night went well and the next week was the CHUG Beer Run from Chicago to Milwaukee, it was on that run I fell in love with Paige.  We were skipping rocks on Lake Michigan in Southport Park and I thought to myself, this is the one.

Paige: Wait, what?  That’s not how it went!  I’m kidding :)  I was pretty much gaga after rubbing elbows with him at the first CHUG social, at Wilde Bar, just days before KM100, where I volunteered at Nordic and got butterflies in my belly when I saw Geof come through at the 100k mark.  I may have batted my eyelashes, but I mostly hid in the tent, too nervous to actually talk to him.  The Beer Run sealed the deal for me.  I knew I was going to marry him as we skipped rocks on the lake that morning.  How’d I get so lucky?!

How did you each get into ultrarunning?

Geof:  As a boy growing up in Iowa, my family was very active with hiking, biking, running, canoeing, camping… all of this gave me an appreciation for the outdoors.  My dad would let me tag along with him on runs from time to time and we would often go to watch local races where my running juices would get flowing and I would do laps around the block.  My relationship with running varied over the years but was always there and when I moved to Iowa City, I fell in with a group of friends that ran marathons.  Soon, my love of going long didn’t seem quite as strange and I started doing multiple marathons a year.  In 2000, I got my first taste of the ultra distance at the Minnesota Voyageur Trail 50.  We rented a minivan and a whole group of us went up with two of us running and the others in tow as crew – it was an amazing experience!  The next month I did my second 50 mile race.  After a far too long hiatus from ultras, I ran the Chicago Lakefront 50k as my first race back in 2008, it felt good to be back.

Paige: Let’s see, I followed a route to ultras that I do not recommend to others.  Running has been a part of my life since I was a bag o’ bones freshman track runner back in high school, but it wasn’t consistent until my sophomore year of college.  After moving to North Carolina, I ran just about every 5k race I could find, then continued that once I moved back to Chicago in 2006.  I joined a running club where I met someone who was running a 50k.  I tagged along and crewed (it was the DWD Hell 50k), and got sucked into the ultra world instantly.  I ran my first 1/2 marry the following week, then signed up for my first 50k the next month.  After finishing the 2008 Stone Steps 50k (in OH) I wrote off long distance.  That lasted one week, and then I signed up for my first 50 miler, McNaughton Park 50M (in Pekin, IL).  I ran my first marathon a year later, at Tecumseh.  Again, I don’t recommend this route to newbs :)

What do you each most enjoy about ultra running?

Geof:  I love running, always have.  I love seeing cities and trails, one step at a time.  I love the feeling of my body in motion.  But, what I think I love most about ultra running is how it boils everything down to its simplest components.  It is so refreshing after all the things that typically distract us on a daily basis to just be out there taking in the surroundings with no responsibilities other than taking care of your body’s needs.

Paige: Ooo, yea, what he said.  I also love the extraordinary challenge it presents.  The feeling of setting sights on something, working hard towards it, and then accomplishing is unlike anything else.  Knowing what you’ve gone through to get to the finish line of a 100 mile run is a good reminder that the little challenges you face daily are really just nothing in comparison.  Ultras remind me that life is pretty much exactly what you put into it and make of it.  You get out exactly what you put in; there is no faking your way through something like a 100 mile run.  Deep thoughts, with Paige :)

What an amazing year of racing! Give us some highlights.

Paige: My first roadie (road marathon) back in April.  We signed up on a whim, two weeks out, toying with the idea of qualifying for Boston.  Geof’s run Boston before, but this was a totally new thing for me.  I’d never raced *anything* in my life.  This was going to be interesting.  We both ended up BQ’ing, and that day set the stage for the rest of our year.  Ice Age 50k was when I finally thought perhaps I was going to have a pretty good racing year.  My paradigm shifted and suddenly I wasn’t going out just to finish, I was going out to see how fast I could go.  DPRT 50M  reminded me I am a runner and not just a jogger/climber.  But the biggie came at JJ100.  Whooowee!  After not being able to break 28 hours in my first three 100 mile races, I thought sub-26 would be doable with my training, and sub-24 was stout but within reach with the right focus.  Running the smartest and most consistent race to date earned us a sub-23.  THE best way to close out the racing season.  And now I’m really thirsty for next year…

Geof: Surprisingly, my highlight of the year came at the Crossroads Marathon.  Its not so much that particular event but rather that it awakened my desire to race.

What do you think made this year such a success?

Paige: Actually training.  And a LOT of strength and conditioning exercises I’ve learned through volunteering at a sports medicine physical therapy clinic.  It’s my secret weapon :)

Geof: We didn’t over race and were very steady throughout the year.  I did a little core work which helped with my form later in the longer races.

What’s coming up on your racing schedules for next year?

GnP: We’ve signed up for Zane Grey 50M in April, but that’s all we’ve got on the schedule so far.  We are eying a spring roadie, and will sprinkle in some 50 milers to keep the legs fresh.  There could be a return to JJ100, but we’ll definitely have a 100 in there somewhere; which one just depends on lots of other life factors (moving, school, etc.).

Any dream races?

Geof: Badwater, Hardrock 100 and UTMB, but these are a ways off : )

Paige: Hmmm, not sure I have a ‘dream‘ race in mind, but I wouldn’t hate a jog around Hardrock   or Wasatch one day.  I do have a strong desire to run American River 50 for some reason.  I’ll be happy to crew for Geof whenever he decides to do UTMB, or Badwater for that matter 😉

Do you have any favorite workouts or routes?

Paige: For all its lack of terrain variability or excitement, I love running on the Lakefront Path…it’s where I gained my racing legs.  But my heart really belongs on the trails of the Southern Kettle Moraine.  I really love training runs up there.

Geof: Most of our running occurs on the Lakefront and I love our ten mile route that incorporates Northernly Island.  I really enjoy fartlek sessions run by time (i.e. X minutes hard followed by X minutes of recovery).  I also love the trails of Kettle Moraine, no particular favorite, they are all good.

Do you have any favorite local races?

Geof: Kettle Moraine 100, Glacial Trail 50 – the RD’s are awesome and the races are well run.  I also love the NLUR fat ass events which are less races and more group runs.

Paige: Glacial Trail, Ice Age and the North Face 50M (Wisconsin), can you tell I love the Kettle Moraine?  I have a teeny soft spot for the Indiana Crossroads Marathon, too.

Do either of you have any special nutrition during training or racing?

Geof:  Adrian Belitu gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten and I’ve stuck with it ever since.  We were talking nutrition one day and he said, “go liquid.”  That made a huge difference for me, now I get the far majority of my calories from liquid sources which includes gels, powdered drinks, and soda.  Favorites are Perpetuem, EFS liquid shot, GU, Starbucks Double Shot and Coke.

Paige: Honey Stinger waffles and chews.  Love those things.  But I’ve learned that my game plan needs to change after 50 miles.  At JJ100 this year, that meant switching to gels (CarbBOOM! was available at aid stations), Coca Cola and Starbucks Double Shot for the last 50 miles.  Oh, and a buttload of water.

The GnP is known for running together. What are the advantages of running as a team?

Paige: Two heads are better than one :)  I like the teamwork aspect of it that was sort of de facto employed during our races together this year.  We’re usually in different mental spaces during races and sticking together can be a huge help in keeping each other in line.  Geof could troubleshoot for me, and I for him, when things got a little foggy.  We are generally pretty quiet otherwise, so it’s more just enjoying getting to spend the day with my better half, doing what we love.

Geof:  I agree with Paige, its nice to have each other there to look out for one another.  And, it’s just such a fun way to spend time together.

It seemed to me that this year you both really transitioned from running to racing. Do you think that this transition is more of a physical (training) or mental (confidence) step?

Paige: I think it’s a scoop of each of those things.  Like I mentioned earlier, I actually trained this year, starting in July (with the focus of JJ100).  Prior to that, the transition began in the first half of the year with running with Geof almost entirely, forcing me to push myself more than I would have on my own.  I also believe that I fine-tuned the mental aspect of it along the way.  Those two things work in concert and you have to work on both in order to have consistently good results.  For me, I had to get over a lot of internal noise when it came to my running/racing.

Geof: I go back and forth with adding racing to my running.  I think I enjoy both equally, this year just incorporated a little more racing than some years.  Ultimately, my goals are: 1) have fun and stay healthy, 2) finish, and 3) race.  Racing is just gravy, I don’t see that ever changing.

What advice do each of you have for new ultra runners?

GnP:  Don’t feel a need to rush it, enjoy the process.  A lot of runners new to the sport want to immediately jump to the hundred mile distance, which is great, but there is a lot of fun to be had along the way too.  Relish the achievements building up to that distance.  Expect times during your races and runs where you will feel rough and embrace them, and know that it too shall pass.  Listen to your body and give it time to rest and recover.   Don’t compare yourself to others, ultra running is a very individual experience, enjoy it!