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!