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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!

Post-Javelina Recovery

So, how is the recovery going?  Awesome!  We took a full week off from running, as we agreed we would do, and then started back to it slowly on Monday of the following week.  Normally, the first run back is odd.  By that, I mean it feels strange, like I’ve never run before; my legs don’t feel liquid at all, my stride is all off, and things generally hurt.  This time was different.  What do I attribute this difference to?  First of all, I was in much better shape after the race this time – no real feet problems, and nothing overly sore.  Second, it seems that with each race, the “damage” done is less and the recovery is faster.  I say this from a limited sample size but it was also true when I first started running marathons, the first one left me incapacitated but later on, I would be stiff but nothing terrible.  I suspect the same phenomenon is occurring with the longer races now and I’m okay with it!

What surprises me more, is how fast I have recovered mentally.  Normally, a long race at the end of the season leaves me feeling done for a while but this time is different.  I feel charged and ready to set my sights on next season already.  I know that my body is still recovering and that it makes sense to take it easy for a while but it feels good to be “hungry” again at this point.  I assume some of this is related to what I mentioned above, feeling better physically and getting more accustomed to the distance.

In other news, perhaps related, I’ve been eating virtually everything in sight for the past two weeks.  My appetite is starting to die down but it was quite impressive for a week and a half.  And, we just returned from Thanksgiving in Iowa.  My mom and Kev hosted a small group of us this year.  We stuck around for a couple extra days to enjoy some family time, it was great!

Javelina 100 Mile Run: A Party Disguised As A Run

At The Pre-Race Dinner

At The Pre-Race Dinner (Photo Credit: Brian)

Two years ago, I ran Javelina (read that report here) and absolutely loved it!  This year, when Paige and I were deciding what races we wanted to do, we quickly decided that Javelina would be our target race for the fall.  Well, its now fall and last weekend we ran Javelina Jundred.  Friday morning, we flew to Phoenix and met up with Brelly at the airport.  With Caleb entertaining us in the backseat, we drove to the hotel in Fountain Hills to check in and get some lunch.  Packet pickup and the pre-race dinner started at 4PM and we didn’t want to miss any of the action so we soon headed out to McDowell Park where Javelina Jeadquarters were already buzzing with activity.  The number of entrants was much higher this year versus the last time we were here but it still had the same awesome vibe.  We quickly found a few familiar faces and checked in.  After snapping some pictures and milling around chatting with friends, the Coury brothers provided a quick pre-race meeting chock full of info.  It felt good to be there.  After a most delicious dinner and some more socializing, we headed back to the hotel for our final prep.

Brian And I Doing Our Best "Juan" Pose

Brian And I Doing Our Best "Juan" Pose (Photo Credit: Kelly)

Race day, the alarm went off at 3:30AM and, surprisingly, I felt pretty rested and awake.  By 5AM, we were on our way to the start of my fifth one hundred mile race and the second that Paige and I have run together.  After getting our stuff set-up and dropping off our drop bag, we took a couple of pictures and were soon underway.  The night was cloudy but the temps were perfect so I started in a short sleeve with arm warmers that could be removed if/when it warmed up.  Starting toward the back of the pack, it was slow going through the first two miles and then Paige made her move, the first of many throughout the day.  For the next several miles, she was pushing past clumps of people trying to get to a place where we could run our pace, I just followed, which would be a theme for the day.  As we made our way around the first loop, I was happy that it felt so familiar and was everything that I remembered – runnable  and beautiful.  They moved the aid stations around some and added one more for a total of three on the course plus the main one, this turned out to be a nice change.  We finished the first loop fast but it felt comfortable so I tried not to worry that we were going out too fast.  We didn’t stay long but made sure we had everything we needed before heading out on our second loop, counter-clock-wise this time.

Finishing Up Loop One

Finishing Up Loop One (Photo Credit: Kelly)

In this direction, its a gentle up hill for the first several miles but it didn’t feel like it as we ran nearly all of it.  One of the many great things about this race is the ability to see everyone from the front of the pack to the very last runner multiple times throughout the day, so we got to say hello to all the Chicago peeps as we doubled back, everyone was looking fresh and in good spirits.  We cruised through the second loop nearly as easily and quickly as the first, again, my tendency was to worry it was too fast but it felt easy enough so we rolled with it.  Finishing up the second loop, we took a little longer to get in and out of the Javelina Jeadquarters with Paige changing her socks and me messing around with food choices.  It was fun to see some of our crew who were there to support other runners or pace later on in the day; they were a ball of energy and made us feel very cared for (i.e. Kelly and Caleb, Jen, Jim, Terry, among others).

Aid Station Fun

Aid Station Fun (Photo Credit: Kelly)

The next couple of loops got a bit warm with the sun peaking out and the warmth of the afternoon reaching the mid-70s, it felt warm but never hot which made it very manageable.  As the day unfolded, we saw many familiar faces throughout the day and enjoyed being able to keep tabs on how everyone’s race was going.  We finished up a loop around 6PM and were given the news that the latest forecast was calling for significant rainfall after mid-night, not the best news we could have received but at least we could prepare for it.  The amazing Kelly, went to the car and got our rain jackets and had them waiting for us on the next loop.

Getting A Little Pep Talk From Caleb

Getting A Little Pep Talk From Caleb (Photo Credit: Kelly)

It was dark now and we were running with our headlamps on.  Running with a headlamp always creates an odd sensation, but not in a bad way.  The headlamp typically comes out after running all day, the temperature has started to drop, the pace has slowed, the sleepiness has started to set in, the legs are tired, … and today was no exception – I love it, all of it!  I don’t know why but my absolute favorite thing about running these races is the night portion.  Somewhere during the wee hours of the morning, I was thinking about this and I started to feel just a little sorry for the race winner, Hal Koerner, who finished so fast that he didn’t even get to experience running at night, poor guy.  I say this, of course, just a little tongue in cheek because I would rather set a course record than run through the night but I would miss the night portion.  Normally, I experience a period of extreme sleepiness around 1AM and it typically lasts for a couple of hours but it can be normally be managed fairly well with coffee or soda but I had been fighting this feeling periodically throughout the day and when it hit at 1AM, it was a force to be reckoned  with.  I could hardly keep my eyes open and my body was trying to force me to sleep, sort of like someone was hitting the manual override button and I no longer had control.  I have been packing 5-Hour Energy in my drop bags for a couple of years but have never resorted to trying it.  I decided it was time and within minutes of ingesting the life giving liquid, I was feeling significantly better – the stuff really works!

The rain came early and by 10:15PM, we were huddled under a tent at an aid station putting on our rain jackets and moving our headlamps under the bills of our hats for protection from the rain and thought, “here we go.”  Fifteen minutes later, the rain let up and we were able to take our jackets off for a while longer, though the next time we put them on, it would be for the duration of our race.  The night didn’t get as cool as it did the last time I ran this race and with the rain, that was a very welcome thing.  Still, we saw runners who hadn’t prepared for the rain and were unable to move fast enough to keep warm – that’s tough situation to be in but thankfully, we were both moving well and protected inside our jackets.  As we finished our sixth loop, we were given our glow-in-the-dark neckless which signifies the “bell” lap.  We headed out and, after shaking out the stiffness that had quickly moved into my legs during the AS stop, we ran most of the way to the first aid station.  After a quick bottle refill, we were back on the trail which had now been soggy at best and shoe sucking muddy at worst for the past several hours.  The next section was the rockiest section of the trail, it was still pouring rain and we decided to walk through the worst of the rocks to make sure we didn’t take a fall on the slick rocks.  Two runners came up on our left as we navigated this section, it was Daniel and our friend Jim who was now pacing his cousin.  We’d been playing leapfrog all day with Daniel.  We stuck with them for a while and then Paige suddenly picked up the pace and took off.  Jim look at me and said, “well, you better go with her,” or something to that effect, I knew he was right because she was feeling good and could ‘smell’ the end was near.  I took off after her and I don’t think we stopped running until we hit the finish-line.  I had been doing some rough calculations in my head and knew I was close to my hundred mile PR but couldn’t remember exactly so I decided to keep it to myself and just keep pushing in hopes of breaking it.  As we crossed the line, several of our crew were there including Kelly and Caleb!  Jamil, the co-RD, came over and presented us with our buckles and congratulated us.  They Coury brothers put on amazing events but more importantly, they are just amazing people and this is consistently seen in every interaction with them.  As it turned out, we didn’t quite best my PR but it was within seconds and if you factor in that Javelina is actually 101.4 miles, I suppose it is a PR of sorts.  Paige, on-the-other-hand, broke her PR by 5+ hours, I was simply in awe of her all day, she went out there prepared and executed the run flawlessly.

And, We're Done!

And, We're Done! (Photo Credit: Kelly)

I want to send a shout out to Brian who had a fantastic race and shaved hours off his PR as well.  We had such a fun time with all the Chicago crew including some new friends.  A huge thank you to Kelly for being such an amazing crew person all day and for the others who stepped in to help as well.  Other than fighting with the periodic sleepiness and a slightly touchy stomach, I felt pretty good most of the day.  Despite feeling good, it was all I could do to stay with Paige for the majority of the day.  Two Dunmores ran Javelina this year and it is undeniable that my wife was definitely the stronger Dunmore … at least on that day : )  (You can read her race report here.)

Somewhere On The Course

Somewhere On The Course (Photo Credit: Vens)

Apple, You Make Me Smile

Paige "Meeting" Her New iPhone 4S

Paige "Meeting" Her New iPhone 4S

We got our first iPhones in December of 2009 and it changed our lives.  Last Monday, we got our second iPhones and were definitely not disappointed.  Everyone was expecting the iPhone 5 to be released in September so we held out to upgrade but when the announcement came, it was an iPhone 4S that was released.  It came in the essentially the same package but added some subtle internal hardware updates (better camera and faster processor) and some really sweet software updates.  I’ll save you the long story but the short story is that my laptop, while still totally functional for most things, was too old to handle syncing the new phone (or updating a whole host of other software) so, we also bought a new MacBook for us to share.  With new phones and a new computer, I made an appointment with the Apple Store to help get everything moved over and set-up.  After an hour and a half with Christopher, most of my stuff was up and running.  Paige couldn’t make the appointment so we’d have to set hers up at home but I was armed with enough info that I thought we could do it ourselves at home.  We still have some work to do but, we are 90% there and loving our new set-up!  The iPhone 4S is an awesome upgrade from the 3GS and MacBook is wicked fast compared to the old PowerBook G4.

Openlands Luncheon, What A Great Organization

I Got To Bring Home Our Table's Centerpiece, Bad Picture, Great Plant

I Got To Bring Home Our Table's Centerpiece, Bad Picture, Great Plant

This week, I had the privilege to attend the Openlands Annual Luncheon.  Going into it, I knew virtually nothing about the organization which is somewhat shocking knowing what I know now.  They are an organization that have been around since 1963 and deeply involved in creating and preserving green space in and around Chicago.  Partnering with government agencies, local conservationists, community environmentalists and private property owners, they have been able protect over 55,000 acres of land.  This land is then available for public use including the greenway we ran on last weekend.  Their vision is to connect people back to nature.  It was such a warm loving group of all sorts of people, from the granola sort to big donors to concerned politicians.  Explaining the event to a colleague, I realized that besides loving the work they do, I loved being in a room with so many people who passionately pursued their dream.  Their shared vision of bringing nature to the neighborhoods of Chicago was inspiring and the result of their work is one of the things that makes this city so great!  My public thanks to an organization that has done so much for the area.

What Else Can We “Fit” Into This Smoothie?

Today's Smoothie

Today's Smoothie

Paige and I have been eating smoothies for breakfast for nearly two years.  It started out simple enough, a little protein powder, a banana, yogurt, frozen fruit and juice.  Then we started adding other items, we swapped out the protein powder in favor of organic tofu.  Soon, we started adding a green supplement called Amazing Grass Superfood.  Then we heard someone mention that you could add spinach for a little nutritional boost, we did.  Over time, it has evolved into a bit of a game to see how much nutritionally dense food we can fit into our morning drink and I have to say, its a pretty fun game.  While everyday’s “recipe” is different depending on what we have in the house, here is today’s smoothie: 1/2 tomato, 1/2 grapefruit, banana, 1/2 cup greek yogurt, 2 cups of greens (kale, dandelion greens, spinach), tofu, concord grapes, 3/4 cup mixed berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries), Amazing Grass Superfood, and juice.  When possible, we get our ingredients at the farmer’s market and virtually all ingredients are organic.  I’m sure we will continue to swap out items as they come in and out of season but I can see a version of this mix sticking around for a while, it has a very diverse mix of nutrient dense food which is exactly what we have been striving for with our concoction.  Admittedly, the taste can best be described as “healthy” but oddly, our taste has changed to really appreciate that taste.  I wonder what else we can fit into tomorrow’s smoothie?

Fifty Miles In Less Than Eight Hours

Des Plaines River Trail RacesWe meant to sign up months ago but didn’t, and missed the first two price break points.  Then we went back and forth as to whether or not to run the race or volunteer instead.  Eventually, we went with our original plan, paid our dues and ran the Des Plaines River Trails 50 Miler.

Our training has been going really well and I’ve been running between 90 and 100 miles a week without much thought about it.  I still look forward to every run and my body is holding up remarkably well. Paige and I do most of our runs together, which I love, then I try to sneak in a few extra miles whenever I get a chance – I need the extra training just to keep up with her.  Going into the race, we felt good but with Javelina just three short weeks away, our plan was to take it easy and use it as our last push before the taper.

The day started at 4AM with coffee and final packing.  A short drive to the north suburbs brought us to the race headquarters.  We checked in with Ian, Maria and Adrian before running into Terry (one of the RD’s for the race) and quickly started seeing familiar faces – I love the racing scene, so many friends all in one place.  Back to the truck for final prep and then to the starting line.  The day promised sunny skies and warm temps but, at that moment, it was dark and cold.

We started off at a conversational pace chatting with friends.  The first section was a short out and back which allowed us to see everyone who was running.  Then we settled in to a quick but comfortable pace and got serious about what lay ahead of us.  As the sun rose, we could see just how beautiful the trail was that we were traversing.  We found our “spot” in the group and moved silently through the early morning hours.  We passed through the first couple of aid stations without stopping.  I have been dealing with a tight hamstring for the past week and thought it might be a problem during the race – it was tight but so far, okay.  We chatted here and there but mostly just ran.  Eventually, we would stop to refill our water bottles, grab some grub and then keep moving.  We got word that Paige was the second place woman – oh boy, the pressure was on.  Soon, we passed the first place woman but she wouldn’t have it and quickly passed us back and then disappeared – with our target race just three weeks away, we happily let her go and kept to our plan of running a relaxed race.  The trail was unbelievably flat but incredibly gorgeous!!  We had run a portion of this trail once before with Ed but it was in the dead of winter and it was icy and windy that day which left a less than awesome impression – today, it was making a very different impression.

Finish Line Photo Courtesy Of Bill Thom

Finish Line Photo Courtesy Of Bill Thom

The middle section of the race was uneventful, our emotions were even tempered, there were no deep pockets of dark to overcome, our bodies seemed to be fine with what we were asking of them, our energy remained high, the weather cooperated fully, … we were happy to be spending the day running.  This section was also an out and back section which is really nice, especially on a wider trail, because it allows you to see everyone a couple of times throughout the day.  The day went fast and soon the end was near.  It was clear that we were running a decent race and the flat terrain was lending to a fast time but its not over till its over so we kept after it.  As we crossed the line, we both looked at the clock a bit in disbelief – 7:43:47, a significant PR for both of us.  I don’t want to overlook the flat and smooth nature of the trail but as Bill Thom reminded us, “you still covered the distance.”  He was right, we had covered the distance and it was good for second place woman and seventh place man.  As you might guess, we were happy with that.  We headed to get post-race massages, change and then to get some grub.  After congratulating several of our friends as they finished, we said our goodbyes and headed home feeling quite happy with the day.

It was awesome to see so many friends either running or as volunteers.  Thank you to Ed, Terry and all the volunteers that made the day so easy and fun!  As we go into Javelina, my confidence is high.  I feel good about my fitness and the next three weeks should prove to be the final touch to an awesome training buildup.

Wanderlust?

I have had a severe case of wanderlust lately.  I’m not sure why, at least, why now?  What I do know is that I am constantly thinking about taking a trip, a really long trip, somewhere… with Paige.  Beyond that, it gets really fuzzy.  It made me look back to this short film we first saw while visiting the Salt Lake Crew back in February at the Banff Film Festival.  It struck me then and strikes me even more now.  The guy in the film is Christoph Rehage and his website can be found here, I find him to be incredibly honest and inspiring in a very subdued way.  Below is the film.

The Longest Way

Where’s Geof?

Mr. and Mrs. Dunmore

Mr. and Mrs. Dunmore

It’s been a while, a long while, since I last posted but I’m still here.  After the wedding/honeymoon, we have been readjusting to normal life and right about that time, summer decided to make an appearance in Chicago so we’ve been trying to take advantage of that too.  We’ve been doing some running, went to my 20 year high school reunion (yes, 20 years!), took a short camping trip to Wisconsin with some CHUGs, went to a Dunmore family reunion, and then, baby Brelly decided to be born.  Its been a fun and exciting time for us.  In short, married life has been awesome!

As for our running plans, we’ve committed to two race with a couple of others tentatively lined up.  Yesterday, we signed up for The North Face 50 Mile in Wisconsin in September.  In November, we will be heading to Arizona for the Javelina Jundred.  Those are the two focus races with the others mixed in there to serve as long training runs.  It feels good to finally have a plan roughed out, just two weeks into our training schedule for Javelina and I’m already starting to feel like a runner again.

More to come…soon…