Home » Page 3

Ice Age Trail 50 Mile, The 2011 Edition

Post-Race w/Paige

Post-Race w/Paige

I actually started on time this year, so it was went better than last year right from the start : )  The race last year saw all sorts of bad weather but this year was nearly perfect for running.  The temperatures for the day reached into the mid to upper 50s with overcast conditions and while it was a bit breezy in exposed areas, most of the trail is through heavily forested areas that provided plenty of wind block.  There were a few showers but nothing that amounted to much and the trails stayed in good condition all day.  Leading up to the race, my preparation had been steady but minimal so I had expectations of focusing on having fun rather than going out hard.  Paige decided to run the 50K version of the race (her race report can be found here) so I was on my own but early on, I saw fellow CHUG Ed Kelly and latched on to him for the next several miles.  It was great catching up with Ed and there was plenty catching up to do.  Somewhere before the Rice Lake AS, we got separated and I settled in with a train of unknown runners for a bit as we cruised along the single track.  This section is one of my favorites in the area with a lot of rocky sections, some steep inclines and all single track.  Brian and Kelly were at the Hwy 12 AS with the pups, seeing them is always a lift.  I felt good and the easy pace early on was paying off as my energy held steady and my body remained strong.  At some point during the middle section, I ran into Jack, a friend from Iowa City.  This race is turning into our annual reunion of sorts and I always look forward to it.  I was getting reports from folks along the trail that Paige had had a great race and finished third in her race – wow, she’s getting fast!  When we hit the Horserider’s AS, Brelly was there cheering on runners along with Deanna, I stopped to chat for a minute and grab some food.  Then it was off for the Emma Carlin turnaround.  I was feeling the miles, but holding together pretty well for this late in the race.  I decided I was going to push it a little on the way back, it was only nine miles back so even if I blew up, I knew I could still finish.  I passed a few people but mostly ran alone.  It felt good to be moving a little faster and I was started to get excited to finish so I could see my soon-to-be-wife and hear about her race.  I finished much stronger than last year even though this year’s time was a few minutes slower.  Paige was waiting there at the finish and I quickly got the story of her race before heading to join the others in the post race festivities.  This has always been a fun and well run race but it seems to get better each year.  Congrats to my (now) wife on her awesome race!

Mancation

Who Is This Guy?

Who Is This Guy?

What happens when you have some of the best friends around?  You get two bachelor parties!  Rob was working on a weekend “mancation” but, unfortunately, it didn’t work into everyone’s calendar so Moffett put together a bachelor party here in Chicago for those who couldn’t make it.  He was rather coy about the plans for the night but gave me a rough timeline and a dress code – casual.  All day, he had been walking around with a smile on his face – taunting me, he knew what we were doing and I didn’t – I was starting to get nervous that he had something wild planned but I tried not to show my fear.  He, Teague, Ainsley, Chris and I left work on a Friday and headed north on the Red Line.  We got off in Wriggleyville and headed to dinner at Rockit.  We sat down to and awesome dinner with lots of laughs before heading to THE EVENT.  This is what Moffett had been referring to all day but was still unknown to me.  He was using all sorts of “code” words that eluded to widely interpretable things but I still had no idea was THE EVENT actually was – he could see me squirming and he loved it!  We loaded ourselves into cabs and headed to THE EVENT which turned out to be the Golden Gloves Championships.  Ahh, now it all made sense!  We had awesome seats and, with a lot on the line, the action was furious!  We finished the night at a local pub – it was a most fun and greatly appreciated evening!

Sheriff Cotter And The Posse

Sheriff Cotter And The Posse

For those who could make the weekend getaway, affectionately called Mancation, it took place the following weekend.  I had a packing list and an airport arrival time – the rest was speculation on my part.  I met Brian at the airport at 4:30AM on Friday and there he let me in on the details for the weekend.  Moab, UT for jeeping, rafting, camping, biking and whatever else came up – sweet!  I LOVE Moab and I’ve never been there in the spring!  Brian and I picked up a rental car from the Grand Junction airport and headed to meet the rest of the crew at some trailhead off the highway (that’s how they do things in the west).  Rob, Tom, Ben and Wyn were there with Rob’s jeep and a brand new rental jeep (it had less than 200 miles on it).  After some very masculine hugs, we each picked out a mustache (Rob had brought costume staches because, afterall, what is more manly than a mustache?), I donned my wig, they pinned a sheriff’s badge on me and Sheriff Cotter was born.  The day was gorgeous and having just come from the longest, crappiest 6 months of Chicago winter, it felt good to be baking in the warm desert sun!  We rounded up the posse and hit the trails for an afternoon of rock crawlin’!.  We did the 7-Mile trail just north of Moab – it offered the perfect mix of good views, challenging terrain, and variety of trail.  After some bone jarring, dust eating and hair raising trails, we safely made it back to the highway just in time to return the rented jeep back in Moab.  The trip was off to an awesome start.

Wyn, Rob, Brian, Me, And Tom

Wyn, Rob, Brian, Me, And Tom

From there, we dropped off one of the cars and took the scenic route to Deadhorse Point, a picturesque overlook where the Colorado river has carved a horseshoe shaped canyon – it was magnificent especially as the sun lowered and finally set in the sky.  We ate like kings with wild caught smoked salmon, pulled pork sandwiches, beans, and a champagne toast.  With the sun down, we enjoyed the evening for a while longer and then packed up and headed to Tom’s “tent”.  Way up at the end of Castle Valley, Tom has a plot of land with a semi-permanent slice of heavy.  Over the years, he has slowly added to the property and it had been a few years since I was last there but it was the perfect spot for our mancation.  He built a two level wooden platform with the first level the size of a large room and the second level serving as the porch.  They then erected a good sized hunting tent over the first level, complete with: a kitchen sink/counter (no running water but very handy with ported water), a propane stove, a utility table, some camp chairs, a wood burning stove, and some other conveniences.  The final touch was “the bucket” which was placed just out of site from the tent and provide some of the most scenic views ever for taking care of your business.  That night, we slept out under the stars on the porch.

Brian Was Up Early Snapped Wyn And I Sleeping

Brian Was Up Early Snapped Wyn And I Sleeping

Morning brought another gourmet meal with breakfast burritos, fresh fruit, juice and french press coffee.  Next up, rafting on the Colorado river.  We headed into Moab where we picked up our vessel for the trip and secured it to Tom’s truck with his and Wyn’s ingenious transporting apparatus, even the guy at the rental place was impressed.  The day was warm and we were all itching to get wet.  Most groups hire a guide but not this group, we got a map and some guidance from the lady at the store and headed out – it was going to be an awesome day.  We drove to the point where we planned to end our trip and left a vehicle behind and then headed up river to the spot we intended to begin our trip.  With gear loaded, we launched ourselves off the sandy bank and into the river.  With Tom at the stern position, we practiced some maneuvers and away we went.  Even though it was a little cold for a swim, the river wasn’t nearly as cold as I had expected.

On The Colorado River

On The Colorado River

We paddled, took in the views, snacked on gummy bears and drank cold beverages while letting the river do much of the work to carry us on our journey.  Coincidentally, Bethany had a conference that weekend at a resort right on the river so when we got there, we paddled up to the dock and Rob and I ran up to see if we could say a quick hello to the LEWIS! family.  The conference had wrapped up for the day and they had left for an adventure of their own so we didn’t get to see them after all.  Back on the river, Brian spotted a beer floating passed and claimed it was unopened – I had my doubts but we paddled to catch up with it and before you know it, Tom was drinking a river chilled Tecate.  For the most part the river felt pretty lazy but at a few different points, it offered up some white water and we eagerly headed toward the bumpiest parts.  The day passed quickly and soon we reached our pull out spot.  Wyn and I stayed with the raft while the others drove to get the vehicles we left at the starting point.  After loading the gear, Rob, Brian and I headed back to the tent while Wyn and Tom returned the raft.  We had set out the solar showers and the sun had done its work so we setup a spot off the end of the porch for an outdoor shower.  Nothing feels quite as good as getting clean after a full day outside especially when your shower stall has no walls and the sun is beating down on you.  The boys had thought of everything on this trip including a hand-cranked blender and it was Mexican night at Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  Rob mixed up margaritas and we ate chips with salsa and guac while Tom got a fire going.  Everything was delicious, a little too delicious and it didn’t take long before the combination of my inexperience and a relatively empty stomach joined forces against me and I had to call it an early evening.  The boys were quite understanding and didn’t pick on me (much).  The morning was supposed to be our biking adventure but I wasn’t feeling up to it so we lounged around camp and took a little walk around Tom’s property.  It is a rugged and beautiful place.

The weekend went by way too fast and it was hard to say goodbye but with a fresh shower and lunch in our bellies, we headed to the airport.  I can’t begin to express how thankful I am for the friends I have.  The guys did an amazing job organizing, not one but two, very fitting (and totally awesome) tributes to the end of bachelorhood – thank you gentlemen!

Chicago Summers Are The Best

After four plus months of hibernation, Chicago is awake again!  Today was the first genuinely warm day we’ve had this season.  The temps went into the low 80’s and I loved every second of it!  We started the day with a bike ride; we cheered on the Shamrock Shufflers then we took a little ride around the lakefront.  With crystal clear skies, it felt amazing to be outside.  That, in and of itself, is reason enough to be thrilled but add to that what happens to the city of Chicago when the weather gets nice and you have more than enough reason to put a smile on the ol’ face!  Don’t get me wrong, the city almost always has good energy but when the weather turns nice, this city’s enthusiasm goes through the roof!  People are out and occupying every bench, sandy and grassy spot available.  The sidewalks are bustling with bikers, runners, walkers, roller-bladers, and people pushing strollers – its really quite wonderful.

We spent the afternoon finding excuses to be outside, starting with a run followed by a trip up to the North Ave. area.  With groceries bought and errands run, we headed home but enjoyed the trip with the windows down which allowed the sights and sounds of the city in.  I love this city, especially in the summer!

Crossroads Marathon – I Still Got Some Speed In These Legs!

Crossroad Marathon Finishers!

Crossroad Marathon Finishers!

A week or so ago, Paige sent me an email with a link to a marathon and asked what I thought about doing it.  After laughing to myself for a second, I thought “why not?”  She signed us up for the Crossroads Marathon and it was quickly decided that we would each run with the intent of qualifying for Boston.  I have to say, I was a little nervous but if my baby wants to run Boston, then I want to run it with her!  This would be my 31st marathon and my first in three years.  I have been feeling pretty strong lately but we haven’t done any speed training to speak of and we did a fairly quick 20 miler last weekend so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I ran a little less than usual this week as my “taper” but ultimately, I didn’t want to forgo a week of Ice Age training for “just” a marathon.  The next decision was whether to drive from home or get a hotel closer to the race.  It was about an hour and a half drive and we decided to save the money.  So, we got up at 4AM and after our usual morning routine, we were on the road headed to Lowell, IN.  I was feeling a bit nervous, it clearly wasn’t the distance but rather the fact that I was racing.  I had a goal, 3:15 or bust.  Its been a while since I have really raced but not so long that I didn’t remember that it was different than simply running a race.  The forecast was for rain and wind – we got the wind but the rain held off.  As we pulled into the start/finish area, there were a lot of people already there and the energy was high – it felt good.  Paige was nervous, I could tell – so was I.  We got our packets and went back to the truck to finish our prep.  With fifteen minutes to go, we got in line for the port-a-john and then lined up for the start of the race.  We held hands as they sang the national anthem and then kissed before putting our game faces on.

The gun went off and it was all systems go.  The first couple of miles felt really easy and I was thankful for that.  By mile three, I was right on pace and feeling good.  The next few miles were steady and I slowly reeled in runners.  The pace felt good and it was nice and steady.  I was feeling relaxed and moving well.  Soon, we were passing the half-marathoners (they had a different route but we overlapped with them on a few occasions).  The miles were flying by and I still felt pretty good but I was starting to remember how hard racing a marathon was, it takes continuous focus and determination to keep the turnover high.  I took my first gel at sixteen-ish and felt recharged.  Then I got to see my baby on a short out-and-back section, she was looking good and that was a huge lift to my spirits!  I was in 11th place at mile sixteen and by mile nineteen, I was in nineth place – I don’t have to tell you where my mind went but, suffice it to say, I started feeling competitive.  The next several miles were beautiful rolling countryside and I was enjoying it despite starting to feel the miles in my legs.  I was picking off runners and I have to say, each of them looked like they wanted the day to be over worse than I did.  I was hitting my splits all day long but I didn’t have much wiggle room so I knew I had to stay focused.  The final few miles were rolling and mostly into a very strong headwind.  I put my head down and ground out the final miles passing two more runners in the final 3 mile stretch.  The last half mile was uphill and into the wind but I didn’t have any time to spare so I kept after it, pushing right to the finish… 3:14:23.  Not my fastest marathon ever but definitely the fastest I’ve run in a quite a while (probably ten years, at least).  And, I felt very proud not only to have accomplished my goal but to have really pushed myself and kept focused all day long.  I have to admit, I forgot how hard marathons are, especially when they are raced.  That time was good enough for fourth place and second in my age division – I’ll take it.

Paige Finishing In A Boston Qualifying Time

Paige Finishing In A Boston Qualifying Time

Paige wasn’t far back and she stormed in at 3:39:23 – she had the exact cushion for her Boston qualifying time as I did and she finished fourth woman to my fourth man : )  What a fun day!  We drove home, stopping for a pizza along the way.  When we got home, Paige settled into a very unappealing ice bath and I felt peer pressure to follow.  Honestly, after all the drama that ensued when I sat down in that icy bath, it really wasn’t that bad and I’m sure I’ll be glad I did it tomorrow.  So, it looks like we will be throwing our hats in for Boston next year – hopefully it doesn’t fill before we get accepted!

It Was So COLD!

It Was So COLD!

Second Annual Palos Hills 50K

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!

Utah, You Are A Good Friend Indeed

sittinginarchesThis past week, Paige and I made the trip west to see the Salt Lake Crew.  We flew in on Thursday morning so that we could use a free ticket and get there in plenty of time to drive down to Moab for the Red Hot 55K on Saturday.  All went smooth with our flights and Rob and Rina were there to pick us up from the airport.  After a loving greeting from Lucy, we were off to get some lunch at Pago, what a great way to start a visit.  We spent a lazy afternoon catching up and ended the day in Park City at the High West Distillery – absolutely delicious!  Friday morning, we got an early start down to Moab, we had decided to rent a car so we could get down there early enough to do a hike in Arches National Park – it turned out to be a great decision.  We arrived at the park shortly after noon and had the place to ourselves.  We covered several trails in the first half of the park with Delicate Arch being our final destination.  This was my second time seeing the great arch but it was Paige’s first and, despite the missing sun and blue skies this area is known for, it was glorious!  The hike in was fun and, like the rest of the park, it was empty with the exception of a couple of people who overlapped briefly with us.  We were getting hungry and looking forward to meeting up with the LEWIS crew at the condos we had rented for the weekend so we wrapped up our hike and headed into town.  We stopped at the Moab Brewery for a most awesome chicken burrito and an equally delicious oatmeal stout.  Then after picking up our race packets and a quick grocery store stop, we were on our way to our weekend home.  The condos were amazing, especially when you consider the price per person – what a steal!  We said hello to everyone already there including LEWIS himself and got ourselves settled in.  The first condo was full so we ventured over to the second one and found it empty, we naturally took the master suite and the accompanying guilt too.  The rest of the crew trickled in – first the Vukins, then Bethany, then Zoe and Billy, and finally Rob and Rina.  It felt good being there, especially with such a great group.  We talked race strategy, and generally enjoyed each others’ company.  Soon the crowd started to dwindle as people went to bed so we did the same.

Pre-Race With Ben

Pre-Race With Ben

The next morning was windy and wet despite moderate temperatures.  We loaded six of us into the Prius and drove to the starting line.  It was a big group forming but we quickly found several familiar faces including Krissy Moehl and Bryon Powell and starting chatting it up.  Paige and I planned to run together and take it easy, so we were quite relaxed.  The forecast was spot on and the race started in the same wet and windy conditions they predicted.  The first mile was uphill and we settled in to a gentle pace but somewhere toward the top of the climb, Paige took off and it was all I could do to keep up – she does this from time to time.  We were moving pretty quick for the next several miles and rolled into the first aid station (AS) feeling pretty good after passing quite a few runners.  The next section was pretty exposed and uphill again, we were both feeling pretty good but eventually, a small crack appeared in my mood – nothing too serious but the wind/rain combo was wearing on me.  The second and third aid stations came and went and the first half of the course was behind us, now we began the second and more challenging half.  Immediately the red rock exerted itself on us… we fought back.  We climbed and almost scrambled at times but pressed on.  We were now in a group of runners that we would pass and then they would pass us, back and forth.  Eventually we made it to the highest AS on the course where runners were dropping like flies.  We made a quick stop and thanked the crew for their help but then moved on, Paige even quicker than me.   We began a relatively steep decent on the hard rock this area is known for and, if you’re not careful, it can really beat up the legs.  We took our time but still found that we descended faster than most.  The course is beautiful but this section is extra gorgeous, even on a gray day.  I was feeling reasonably good at this point and we were moving along fine though very comfortably.

Paige And I Finishing The Moab Red Hot 55K

Paige And I Finishing The Moab Red Hot 55K

After a lot of ups and downs, we made it to the final AS and did one final refueling before heading into the last section which was pretty runable relative to what we had just crossed.  We started passing runners and fell into a nice rhythm.  After spending several hours in the wind/rain, we were looking forward to being done.  As we approached the final stretch, I could hear my name being called from below, it was Rob and Ben waiting for us near the finish.  The last mile is all downhill and we made good time.  We finished the race 12 minutes faster than the last time I ran this course which made me happy.  We soon learned that Ben had placed 10th overall and Bethany had finished second woman, both in the 55K race.  Others in our group also finished well in the 33K race.  We got some soup and hung around for the awards – what a fun day!  I am so thankful that Paige and I can do these things together, she is a most amazing running partner (not to mention that she will soon be my wife)!  Back at the condo, we showered and ordered some pizza.  That night we all hung out, eating, drinking, talking and swapping tales from the day – it was fantastic and the pizza… out of this world!

Landscape Arch

Landscape Arch

After a yummy breakfast at the condo on Sunday morning, people began parting ways – some were going cross country skiing, others heading back to Salt Lake City, and we were heading back to Arches.   Having explored several areas in the first half of the park, we headed to the Devils Garden.  With our cameras and a snack, we began our hike.  With each passing minute, our surroundings got more and more gorgeous which is saying a lot because the whole area is amazing!

I'm Not Gonna Lie To You, It's Gonna Get Weird, "Two Pencils"

I'm Not Gonna Lie To You, It's Gonna Get Weird, "Two Pencils"

After several jumpers and a few hours of hiking, we were back on the road to Salt Lake City.  During the ride back, both Paige and my legs got stiff and sore – I’m sure it was a combination of the race and all the jumper’s we did but never-the-less, we were both walking a little gingerly.  That night, we hit up a Salt Lake classic, Red Iguana which is always a Mexican treat!  Monday we took Lucy for a short run around Liberty Park before having brunch at the LEWIS household.  What a great bunch they make with their newest addition, Ada, who is a complete joy – thanks for a fun day!  Tuesday, we finally got to ski – Paige and Rina opted for cross country while Rob and I went downhill skiing at Park City Mountain Resort.  The parking lot was full but once we got up a little higher, we had the place to ourselves.  We skied most of the east side of the resort but the highlight was definitely the Jupiter bowl which had great snow and was completely empty.  We went hard and probably got close to 20 runs in before the day came to an end.  Dinner was quick as we had tickets to the Banff Film Festival that night.  Rob put together a great concoction of left overs that was healthy and tasted quite yummy!  Fifteen minutes later, we were sitting in the theater waiting for the festival to begin.  There were three nights to the festival but I have to believe we saw the best one, it was awesome!  My favorite was called The Longest Way which documented a walk across China in time lapse photography.  Wednesday, we had a relaxed morning at R&R’s place before packing our stuff and trying to squeeze in one more hike before catching a plane home.  We ended up at Red Butte with sunny skies and warm temps.  With a hike under our belts, we grabbed a quick sandwich at Caputo’s Deli which really hit the spot!  Unbelievably, we found ourselves back at the airport.  Thank you to the entire Salt Lake Crew but especially to Rob and Rina for hosting us for the week.  I can never get enough of you guys or Utah.

Snow Day!! a.k.a. Snowpocalypse

Paige And Me On Michigan Ave.

Paige And Me On Michigan Ave.

A few days ago the weather reports started predicting a major storm heading our way.  At first, I didn’t pay that much attention but as the reports continued to get more and more serious, it looked like it was going to be a doozy!  I started to get excited but had my lingering doubts having been burnt by such promises before.  Tuesday we got a message at work that all non-critical people could go home at 3PM and Wednesday was going to be a skeleton crew.  I got the okay from my boss to take a snow day and soon after, Paige got notification that her office would be closed on Wednesday too – woohoo!

Drifts By The Lakefront

Drifts By The Lakefront

I ventured out on Tuesday evening and while the storm was in full force, the snow wasn’t super deep just yet.  By Wednesday morning, not only was the storm still raging, but the snow was now very deep and we had a blast!  After our coffee, we bundled up and headed out to play.  We walked all over our neighborhood and marveled at the drifts and how everything was shut down except a handful of restaurants and Starbucks.

Doing A Flop

Doing A Flop

We climbed mounds of snow in the NBC Plaza, walked through an empty mall, watched snow swirl around obstacles, and had a blast playing with two little dogs who were just as excited as we were.  Later in the day, we took a little drive to see some other parts of the city.  South Chicago was even worse than where we were – abandon cars in the middle of intersections, streets with several feet of unbroken snow, and drifts that buried cars – it was what we had come searching for.  By the time we got home, it was late afternoon and we were ready to be home after an adventurous day.

Buried Alive

Buried Alive

Windburn Six In The Stix: 2011 Edition

Windburn Six 2011: Before The Race

Windburn Six 2011: Before The Race

Thank you to the CHUGs and especially to Brelly for offering such world class events – for free, no less!  Last Saturday was the the second edition of the Windburn race and it was quite different than last year.  The temperature this year was 28 degrees at the start versus the zero degrees we faced last year – the sun wasn’t shining but a definite improvement!  After some brief comments from Brian, around 50 of us headed out on our first 2.28 mile loop.  The snow was loose similar to last year but it felt like it may pack down over the course of the day unlike last year.  It took a couple of hours before it really felt good but once it did, we were able to move pretty well.  The format of the race was a self-supported timed event with the goal of running as far as you can in the six-hour time limit.  My hope was to run at least 25 miles at a bare minimum and the whisper goal of 30 miles.  We were moving okay through the first couple of laps and it was clear that we would meet my initial goal even if the footing didn’t improve.  As we started to spread out a bit, we could see who was having a good day from the get go and his name was Jimmy O.  Paige and I planned to stay together, as we often do : )  After two laps, we made a pitstop in the shelter where we had set up the “aid station” to grab some water.  Brian was there chatting it up and supporting runners as they passed through.  After a long bout of bronchitis, he was still taking some time to recover and opted not to run – it must have been hard for him to watch as we ran but he never let that get in the way of having a fun day.

Windburn Six 2011: Crossing The Bridge

Windburn Six 2011: Crossing The Bridge

We fell into a rhythm, plugging along and stopping every two laps.  I was using Ramen noodles for my nutrition plan – the warmth felt good and it was quite tasty too!  With two hours to go, I was starting to feel a bit worn out.  This was our furthest run by several hours and my body finally realized it.  Its a funny thing, when you set out to do a six mile run, that feels like enough.  When you set out to do a six hour run, that feels like enough.  The mind is an amazingly powerful thing.  It didn’t take long and I started to feel better and the final hour was perhaps our best of the day.  As others slowed (all except Jim), we were in a groove … literally, the snow was packed in a tiny grove around the edge of the path.  After our 12th loop, we were past our goal for the day and Paige decided she was done.  I decided to stretch out the legs and see how many more miles I could get before the cutoff.  I got a full loop and then two small loops (each a half mile) for a total of 30.6 miles.  As I came around the final loop, Paige had decided to do another small loop as well.  I was happy with the day and felt amazingly thankful that I am healthy enough to be able to pull off such a run on relatively minimal training.

We ended the day staying at the Brelly B&B and eating a delicious meal at Moretti’s!  It was such a fun weekend, it really got me excited for the upcoming running season!  Congrats to Jim and Jen for their respective wins, to Brian for another successful event, and to all the runners who came out for an awesome run!

January Has Teeth

December had a couple of weeks that were cold but then it moderated and we had a few weeks of nice moderate weather.  That said, the past few days have reminded us what January is all about – icy trails, cold winds, and brutally cold temps.  After a slip and slide day on Tuesday, we opted for the treadmill on Wednesday – I’m not a fan of the treadmill but on an icy morning, its just too hard to get a decent run in so it seemed like a good choice.  I took the opportunity to do a hill workout and worked the incline up every half mile until it felt like my heart would burst from my chest.  It made me realize that living in a flat place like Chicago, I should probably do one of these hill workouts every week regardless of ice or not, we’ll see if that becomes a reality.  Yesterday proved to be the coldest day of the year so far.  At zero degrees with negative sixteen degree windchills, we were excited to dress warm and “tough it out.”  It turned out to be a great decision as the sunrise was beautiful over the frozen lake and we only saw a couple of other hearty souls out there.  It was a good reminder that when you dress appropriately, cold weather running can have its perks.

With the Moab Red Hot 55K a month away, we have been putting in some longer runs on the weekend.  One advantage of colder temps is that long runs can be done with very little water or food.  Today, we have eighteen miles on tap – looking forward to it!

2011 Comes In On A High Note

Paige and I did our first run of the new year today and it was glorious!  We left the house around 11AM and when we got outside, we were surprised how nice it felt.  The temperature was only 20 degrees but the sun was out and that made a huge difference.  After the very warm past couple of days, all the snow and ice had melted leaving the path north open for business.  We were excited because the north route has been iced over for nearly a month, naturally, we decided to go north.  With our first race of the year coming up at the end of the month, we were looking to do a longer run and decided on 12 miles.  We felt great and the pace, while quick for us, felt very easy.  The entire run went well and we finished in great spirits – one can only hope this is a sign of things to come this year!

Speaking of this year, I am still completely undecided on my schedule for the year.  We are doing the Windburn Six In The Stix this month and next month, we will run the Moab Red Hot 50K+ but after that, the schedule is wide open… I need to get cracking on putting together a plan!