I woke up feeling pretty rough, my head wasn’t in the game, I could hear the wind ripping outside, my body felt unusually tired despite a good night’s sleep, I felt like I was “fighting something” but it was the second annual Palos Hills 50K and that meant I needed to buck up. So, we had our coffee and I finally packed up my bag for the day. We got to the starting line area just as the raffle prizes were being called out. Paige, not surprisingly, won a RoadID – she has the most amazing luck with raffles and contests. We said our hellos, finalized our prep and the race was underway. We started out at the very back of the pack, not really a strategy, we just got a late start – I’d like to think that is my influence on Paige. Paige set the pace early on, she was feeling much better than I was so I let her do the work. We soon began passing people, at first we’d see them up the trail and quickly pass them but the further we got, the closer their pace was to ours and the passes took longer to complete. We had short conversations here and there with those we came across and eventually we didn’t see anyone for a while – we had settled into ‘our spot’ within the race. Now passing would occur primarily when someone made a pit-stop – at least for the next couple of laps. The course was in pretty good shape with only a couple of areas that were underwater and those could be avoided with a slight detour. As for the wind, we found ourselves fairly well protected by the wooded hills. We finished up the first 8 mile loop and had a nice surprise waiting for us, Brian was dressed and ready to join us for the next one. We had some water and nutrition and headed back out the opposite direction this time. Time passed quickly with a lot of conversation, it was great having Brian with us on this loop. As the second loop came to an end, we caught up with Juan “the Machine” and got to run a bit with him. Juan just finished his first hundred three weeks prior so he was still taking it easy but you could see the joy he was experiencing just being out there and isn’t that what all this is really about? The third lap involved a pit-stop but otherwise, we started to focus in and picked up the pace. We were moving along at a good clip and now started passing runners again – perhaps they were starting to tire or perhaps we were truly just speeding up enough. The final lap, Paige had her game face on and took it out strong – blasting the downhills and powering up the uphills. We were still chatting but the cadence was quick and the pace steady. I was definitely starting to feel the miles in my body but I felt better than I did at the start and MUCH better than I did when I woke up (how often I find this to be true, I feel better the longer I go). Unknowingly, we made some crucial passes on this final lap and when we finished, Paige was greeted with her second win of the day – first place woman! We changed into dry clothes and went back to hang with the Brelly at the finish line area. These races are so much fun; the price is right (free), the environment is relaxed, the loops make logistics easy, the runners are happy, and we know almost everyone which makes it that much more fun. The appetite kicked in about the time I lost feeling in my feet so Kelly, Paige and I headed to the nearest Chipotle for a burrito. With our bellies full and our feet warmed up, we drove back to the park to greet the final runners and pack things up. It was a great day and a huge congratulations to Paige for winning her first race!