Saturday, October 18, 2014

DPRT Year Five


Can't believe this was the 5th edition of the Des Plaines River Trail Races. This was my come back marathon in May of 2010. Four months later I did my comeback 50k race at Rock Cut. In the years that followed the race moved to October, grew in size so that remote parking was called for by the forest preserve this year for those running the half and full marathons. I had ran the half in the past three years but also volunteered each of those years at packet pick up before running. Handing out the time chips was very inspiring.

For 2014 I was signed up again for packet pick up and then running the half. Sadly running the half became a DNS as midweek I was hit with food poisoning. Although now recovered I decided to not run as for a 24 hour period I had had no food and slept for 20 hours. But nothing was going to stop me from being there to volunteer and help out the great race directors Ed and Terry. Like past years I handed out the timing chips from RunRace for the 50 milers. The half and full marathoners had bibs with the timing chip attached to the bib so we just had to check them in and hand over their goodie bags.

As you might recall from last year's blog report I really like the DPRT T shirts. Sure the design is the same but they add the current year and change the color. This year same logo design but a grey short sleeve A4 shirt plus the RDs added a bonus black DPRT cap. The 50 milers received a black race vest ideal for winter running when not that cold. Nice SWAG again.

After the half marathon took off (50mile at 7am, marathon at 8am, half at 9am) it was time to convert the packet pick up tent to a post race food tent. All runners received a food ticket so they could get a burger (including veggie version), chips, cookie and Gatorade served up by Ed's wife LuAnn and her team of volunteers. I then helped Terry move the start/finish arch from start to the finish, reset signing arrows to send runners into the finish, poured finish line water and recovery drink then finally the fun part of helping the RDs hand out finishers medals.

The race did have a few minor mishaps but both these are correctable for next year; both Ed and Terry were already working on the plan of ideas while handing out medals. Some runners missed the half marathon turnaround despite the signage. Some tweaking will easier fix that (extra volunteers, different bib colors for the half etc). Same with the first 50 mile turnaround which added a half mile each way (ultras are never exact anyway, Horton Miles they call them). Due to the rain during the week one section was water logged by the river through an underpass, perfect trail running!! And it rained for a few hours at the start of the race. Sadly not even Ed and Terry can do anything about the weather but it was probably close to perfect for running in the right gear. Turnarounds will be fixed; weather forecast probably not.

I hope to run again in 2015. Was sad to break my streak but with crewing and pacing at Javelina 100 in a few weeks for my buddy Steve Ochoa   http://spiritextreme13.wordpress.com/  I made the right decision. I am very inspired but all the runners, their supporters and crew, all the volunteers and the great race staff especially Ed and Terry, plus timers Michelle and Bill (RunRace.net)

Results:  http://www.runrace.net/findarace.php?id=14291IL&tab=a4

   

Monday, September 22, 2014

Muddy Monk Four Stars

The Chicago Flag is one on my favourites. Four red stars and two blue bands. The stars are for historic Chicago events or parts of the City history while the blue bands are branches of the Chicago River but you can read more here:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_Chicago

Muddy Monk is Chicago's favourite trail running series. The good Monk holds trail races of 5k to 50k on a variety of trail surfaces with as little paved as possible. They give out some nice SWAG, think T shirts, beer glasses, finishers medals at longer races, some good food after and a general old school with the modern touches races. That is my type of race.

This weekend found me running the Four Stars 4 mile race at the Old School Forest Preserve. The preserve is right next to the Des Plaines River Trail system so although the trail was new to me driving in I saw trails and trailheads familiar that I had ran before.

Head Monk, Art had set up an out and back course. In a road race I'd not like this but when you run trails they tend to look and feel different going the other direction so this was 2 miles out, turn around and head back. But Art and his devilish ways had a plan for this course.

I arrived early and got parked easily although even late comers would have no issue getting parked here due to the abundance of parking. Checked in at race HQ receiving a nice tech shirt and my number bib. Finishers award was a beer glass - mentioning that now as the shirt and glass are in this photo borrowed from Muddy Monk (not my race number).



Plenty of time to wait for the race start so I decided to check out the first half mile of the course which was a loop from the start along a grass meadow and up (this is the evil part) a sled hill, down the other side, back to the start before heading out onto the main trail system. Climbing to the top of the hill a number of people were out doing hill repeats and a group doing an outdoor boot/cross training session with some coaches. Climb done went back to start and chatted with RD Art and another runner discussing his new 50k (to be ran during his December race) then back to the car to listen to some Chicago music, "Smashing Pumpkins". While sat in my car saw a number of Bears, Blackhawk and Cubs shirts (one Sox) and at least five wearing Chicago Fire (MLS) jerseys including myself!! Others came in pizza, winter vortex (very clever), Book of Moron cast (think it started in Chicago).

Time to run

Start line was right by the HQ pavilion under Muddy Monk inflatable arch. Art said a few words and then fired the gun/horn/whistle/voice, don't recall the GO. Started nearer the back to let the fast kids get a clear start or not charge by me. Following the shrub line and red flags we headed toward the hill I had summited a little while ago. It was a good climb. Of course I knew we'd climb again at the end. Back along the other side of the meadow then out onto the limestone loop. Course was relatively flat, shaded in places thanks to the forest of trees. The markings consisted of blue signs with arrows and red flagging, very easy to follow. Being slow it was not long before the leader was spotted coming back to me and it was great to see a female out leading the race (she went onto be overall winner). The turn around by the preserve entrance was also the aid station with volunteers handing out water. I always carry a bottle of water whatever the distance or event so didn't need any. Then back to the start. Now I could see who was behind me and was surprised there was more than I thought there would be. Getting back to the race HQ the finishers were getting their post race beer, dogs, snacks, checking out Muddy Monk merchandise and generally chatting with each other or cheering in the slow runners like me. Of course we still had the meadow loop to do with the sled hill which seemed twice the size now. The climb up was also from the other direction (being out and back) and the climb was longer while the run down was more rutted. Got that down and headed for home. Felt good and run in with arms up. I had a goal given the lack of running this year and beat it by over five minutes. It was a soft goal but hey we all need one.

A volunteer handed me a finishers beer glass and I grabbed a can of Chicago Finch wheat ale. As I had to drive home and had errand that afternoon plus the CARA Ready to Run 20 miler to work at the next day saved the can for Sunday evening (the wait was good, nice beer). Found RD Art after the race, thanked him for Another great Muddy Monk and then had to leave for home. Art was running the CARA event Sunday then running the Four Stars after with a Muddy Monk season ticket holder who was out of town Saturday but wanted to do the race. Nice touch RD.

Four Stars was an enjoyable race and fun which is what it should be about.

www.muddymonk.com I'll post results link when Art posts them

Photos "borrowed" from Art and Muddy Monk who own the copyright if there is one

Race start from the sled hill, we climber this twice during the race. I had a climb before.

 
The finish


 Further races can be found at the website including the mentioned 50k which Art should have more details in the very near future including sign up. Given it is Cook County things take time for course approval and he wants to make sure it is done before going live.
  
 
 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Run With The Lions 5k at St James Farm

 On April 26th a school close to home is holding a 5k trail race at Warrenville's St James Farm

                                               http://runwiththelions.com/race-info.html


I've never ran at St James Farm but always wanted to. It is one of the many nearby DuPage Forest Preserve right near Herrick and Blackwell. The Illinois Prairie Path runs along side part of St James. Originally this was a privately owned farm but upon the passing of the owner it was presented to DuPage to be preserved. The DPFP have done some work to make it accessible for visitors including adding new parking and an additional entrance. In recent years it has been home to high school cross country meets and a few other 5k races.

Now Longwood Elementary school are using it for their inaugural event to raise funds for the PTA.

Entry fee is just $20 before March 31st and there are certain discounts for signing up with family members. After pre registration the fee will be $30. That is still a great price for a 5k that comes with a tech shirt, a finishers medal, a goodie bag (plus plenty of parking!!) and benefits a school that will make great use of the proceeds. For  kids grade 5 and under there is a free 100 yard dash. Those are always fun to watch.     

                       I will be running the 5k. Sign up yourself and meet me there.

 

Monday, October 21, 2013

DPRT T shirts, oh and I ran a race


Year four for the Des Plaines River Trail races and I was back again for my fourth.

Year one I ran the marathon and the T shirts were white
Year two I ran the half marathon and the T shirts were a silver gray
Year three I ran the half marathon and the T shirts were black
Year four I ran the half marathon and the T shirts were purple

All four years the shirts were the same with the AWESOME logo posted above but with a different colour and the years date right below. Why change a perfectly good T shirt design

(Someone needs to tell the Chicago Marathon - this year's shirt likely sent people to the merchandise booth, oh I get it!!) 

Like years two and three I again volunteered at packet pick up helping timing company (the great Runrace.net headed by Bill Thom and his wife Michelle) handing out the timing chips then ran the half marathon. Unlike those previous years this time I worked until 11.40pm, got home at midnight, slept 3 hours then got up to get ready to drive north. I am also in the middle of a 15 day stint with no days off between full time job, races and event work. Guess I knew how my race would be.

Helping in the morning is inspiring. Handing out the chips first to the 50 milers (7am start), then the marathon runner (8am start), then my fellow half runners (9am start) was like a big reunion when I knew so many of them.   

Not going to say too much about my race but it was not that great. My last training run had been 10 days before, a good 20 miler then all that work set in and being on my feet the day/night before meant legs that didn't really want to move. DPRT starts with a 1.3 mile head south then head back passing the start/finish. I seriously thought about stopping after 2.6 miles but I didn't and start to move along some what OK even if I was slow. Maybe it was seeing some other runners out there or the scenic course (crushed limestone trail through forest, meadows and along the river) that helped but I was now determined to see my friends from New Leaf Ultra Runs "running" the aid station near the half marathon turn. They are inspiring themselves, so many ultra stories in that group. I made the turn and headed for home. Sadly a mile later my calf muscle started to tighten up. I figure it was from being on a hard floor at work night before. I tried to run but changed to walking with some running sections. I was on course for my goal up to that point then changed that goal to just finishing to claim my fourth DPRT finishers medal. It was a joy to make that final turn and pass under the finish banner. I actually did run most of the last half mile. RD Terry was there to greet me.

Race Directors Ed and Terry are awesome. They had dreamed up this race on their home training trail and pulled it together. Over the years the race, no the event, has got better and better. There have been some minor changes but only to improve it.

Of course the T shirt design has remained the same, except the colour.  And I like that.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Long Saturday

Today's story is about a long day that starts with running races and ends up with a concert and lots of driving.

The stats.
Events worked: Two
Concerts attended: One
Hours Awake: 22.5
Miles driven: 146

Woke up at 3:10am on Saturday morning ahead of my alarms for the start of a fun day of event work, driving and concerts.

First up was the Chicago Lung Run 5k and 10k being held on Chicago's Lakefront at Montrose Harbor. Race had around 350 in the 10k 450 in 5k and similar in the 1 mile walk.

On the drive in to meet my friend Lynne the Kennedy Expressway was closed due to a bad accident. All traffic was being detoured off the expressway which resulted in a traffic jam at 4.30am as four lanes went down to one lane then a crawl along a residential street with stop signs every few blocks. Finally got back on the Kennedy and made it Lynne's house to then drive and pick up  a rental van.
For the race Lynne and I set up the race courses for the two distances then placed course marshals at the major intersections before taking a corner each. I worked the far north 10k turnaround and then as the 5k started 30 minutes later moved to the 5k turnaround. Lynne and I then picked up the course, unloaded the van and drove it back to the rental office. Race one done.

Lynne then kindly drove me to the House of Blues so I could get my ticket for the night's show. It was not even close to being sold out but I wanted my ticket in hand and also knew if I had it I'd attend even if really tired from working the next event (sure Ian you was going anyway LOL) . More on concert in a paragraph or two.

Next event had me driving north to Lake Forest for the GLASA Twilight 5k. For this event I was assigned to oversee the race course and race logistics.



I worked this event last year for them on 2 weeks notice and was asked back for this year. With more lead in time I was able to help them more. I researched and suggested a new timing company, gave suggestions and advice on other matters. This race has a great event committee who do a ton of work to prepare for this fund raiser. As the title says it is a Twilight event consisting of a wheels wave (wheel chair, hand cycles) starting at 5:15 and then the 5k running and walking event at 5:20. I placed all the mile markers, first aid and tight corner signage on the road, worked with the timer, got the lead cyclists up to speed on their tasks, made sure announcements started on time and anything else the race organizer needed help with.  After the awards they had a big party with a local band playing. Anyone looking for a good evening late summer race on a scenic course for a good course this is it!

Time to drive back to Chicago for the concert the House of Blues by The Mission.

I had seen the Mission around 18 times (plus a solo show by lead singer Wayne Hussey) and even 3 Sisters of Mercy concerts when Mission members Wayne and Craig Adams were in that band. I sure was not going to miss this show despite working those two events. Luckily it was a late event so I had plenty of time to make it there especially given Chicago area bad traffic


As it was I arrived at the venue before the opening band, Chicago's Bellwether Syndicate. They included Scary Lady Sarah (known for her local Goth/alternative DJing) and William Faith from the band Faith and the Muse. They played a nice set of 5 or 6 songs including a cover of a Chameleons song. During their set friends Monte and Christina arrived. The ladies of Milwaukee, Brenda and Jennifer were also in house having arrived at HOB late afternoon and using the early skip the line pass to be front and center for the show, I'd see them after the last number.

The Mission was back after a absence from touring the USA with 3 of the original four members. Only drummer Mick was missing but the new guy filled the kit very well. The new CD is due out in a weeks time (merchandise stand had copies for sale though) so the Mission opened with a new track off the new album, Black Cat Bone. I had previously heard snippets of each song on the new CD (Mission had streamed a snippet promo). This song and the other new ones they played fit in with the Mission catalog and I liked them a lot.
.
 
 
The full set list is above. The show was full of classics, old and newer. Wayne said he was losing his voice thanks to the air conditioning they encountered every where so it gave him an excuse to be drinking brandy all night "another large brandy please George". All songs sounded like the Mission of yesterday (and my first Mission show was in 1986!!). Wayne's voice was fine for the most part but Craig gave him some help on some plus the crowd joined in. Highlights for me were Butterfly on a Wheel, Wasteland, Deliverance and of course Tower of Strength. By the last few numbers the brandy was telling on Wayne but with great fun effect. One hour and 45 minutes they left the stage after a great night.

 
                     Mr Wayne Hussey at Chicago's House of Blues Sep 7, 2013 (photo by Brenda)

Once the stage curtains were pulled I found Brenda and Jennifer who were still stage center front row. As we was chatting and catching up a roadie opens up the curtain and passes out two set lists, Brenda gets one and another person the second one. A few minutes later he is back and passes another one which I was able to get (and is pictured above). Thinking mine is the guitar tech's ones due to the writing on it. After all those Mission concerts and over 400 total concerts this was my first set list I've got. It goes right up their with a guitar pick used by U2's The Edge I got once.

So after being up for 22.5 hours, two events, one concert and a lot of driving I got home.

What a great weekend in one day. Come back soon Wayne, Craig, Simon and Mike.
  

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Windrunner 10k Danada, Wheaton IL USA


I just realized I've ran 3 races in the last 3 weekend. Not done that in a long time. Guess if you include the running club non-event it is 4 in 4.

Well today was a local race at the Danada Forest Preserve put on by the Lisle Windrunner club. This was a race by runners for runners. 10k distance all on limestone except the first/last 200 meters which was grass on an equestrian horse track made famous by a former Kentucky Derby winner.

Last year I had volunteered at this race, first packet pickup on the Saturday then I helped them pack everything away after the race. I recall seeing the race one previous year when I was just out running in Herrick (the race uses both connecting preserves). Always wanted to run it and now I have.

I picked up my race pack on Saturday at Lisle's Dick Ponds running store. The pack consisted of a race bib (#225), four pins and an awesome long sleeve blue tech shirt that is pictured above. I liked this race pack; no waste and no fluff. My friend Danielle was running the packet pick up along with her friend. Danielle's husband Jim was the race director. Both are fine runners as well.

Sunday got up earlier as Laura had to be at work early. Guess I was one of the first to arrive and get parked so I just sat in the car listening to some tunes before heading over to the start area about 7.30am for the race start at 8am. The race set up was just like last year with an old school runners race feel but with the modern touches.

Let me example: There was no fancy start/finish set up just two rather long ladders with a race banner strung between the two. There was race day packet pick up (that is getting rare). There was around 350 signed up. The race was timed from the gun start time, no chip timing yet the results which were hand timed were accurate and produced fast. Each mile was marked with a small sign and a high school cross country runner calling the splits from their watch. The water stations were just that, water handed out by more school runners but there was plenty of it even for the last runners.
The modern part was the great race food after, more than just bagels and bananas yet those were there as well. Nothing wrong with pizza at 9am or even gourmet duck, sausage and soft cheese (I didn't try those as I don't eat meat). I already mentioned the tech T shirt, no cotton at this race not that cotton is bad for a race shirt. Race results were posted fast as  mentioned; old school would have been waiting a week to get them :-)


                                         Photo borrowed from Windrunners (not 2013 race)

I started at the back of the field away from the fast guys from Dick Ponds. The course started on the horse track then travelled on the limestone trails in an out and back way except for a loop at the far end in Herrick. This loop is where the rolling hills are found. Like most of this area the course was mostly flat and if a Coloradan was running the hills it would have been minor bumps along the way but the Lakefront runners might have not cared for them. Luckily I run these trails at least once a month so knew what to expect.

       

Did not really have any goals in mind just to finish but finish feeling good. Sticking to a fairly consistent pace I made it around the course running the whole way besides a little walking on the hills but making sure the walk was at a fast pace. I knew I was slow when the leader was on the way back when I had not even hit mile 3, more like mile 2.75 but I was just enjoying myself and the nature around me. Open meadows and shaded trails mixed up the course. I think I hit each mile at an even pace but other than a quick glance at my Garmin GPS I didn't record each mile. The volunteers did an awesome job calling out the splits which matched my Garmin less the 14 seconds it took for me to start the race. Well after 6 miles of running I rounded the corner back onto the horse track. Another volunteer was using a walkie to tell the race announcer who was coming in and they in turn called out the finishers name, another nice and old school touch. As I crossed the line to cheers from those watching and waiting a volunteer took the lower part of the bib number and another handed me a nice cold bottle of water which I immediately poured into my handheld water bottle. Sure there was plenty of water on the course but like most ultra runners I like to run with my handheld bottle even at 5k and 10k distances. Well maybe not my friend Amanda!!

Next stop was the post race food, which as mentioned before was a great spread thanks to the race sponsors. I also ran into RD Jim and thanked him for a great race. Danielle was holding down the fort at the food tent so I got to speak to her for a little bit.

Although I didn't win an awards (and yes they have middle of the pack awards for those not fast enough to win an age group award) I got to see they all received a cool draw string race bag rather than a trophy or medal. Much more useful in my mind as I am sure those fast runners have tons of medals just gathering dust in a box somewhere, at least that is where most of my finishers medals end up after a short time.

If you want a small old school modern touch well organized race I'd recommend the Windrunner 10k. Next year will be the 27th edition. I hope to be there again either  running or volunteering. Nice job Lisle Windrunners, RD Jim, Danielle and the rest of the club and volunteers.

 http://www.windrunners.org/       http://www.windrunners.org/Windrunner10K.htm

And next week no races for me to run but I'll be helping at the WTTW 5k race in Chicago!
    

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Muddy Monk Nearly Sane Trail Half Marathon


This weekend I ran my first Muddy Monk trail race, The Nearly Sane Trail Half Marathon on the Des Plaines River Trail in Vernon Hills, IL. www.muddymonk.com

Originally this race was to be held at Deer Grove Forest Preserver in Palatine but Cook County FP got nervous about the number of runners so the RD had to move it and Lake County stepped in. Deer Grove is a mix of limestone and single track while Des Plaines River Trail is all limestone. I had been looking forward to some single track running but I, and I think all runners, understood the change and rolled with it.

The race started behind a shopping center with around 300 starters lined up on the Muddy Monk arch. First 100 meters was grass and then another 300 meters narrow single track and a true trail runner bottleneck to thin out the group before we hit the limestone trail. The race headed north for around 2.5 miles, turned around, headed south for around 5 miles passing the staging area, then at the turnaround we followed the first loop (sans south out and back) before diving back into the single track start trail to the finish. The course had primarily tree cover but a few open areas. Aid station with water and Gatorade was fairly evenly spread along the course depending on access points. There was a few minor rollers and some bridge over the Des Plaines river but it was basically a flat course.

I've ran this trail during the Des Plaines River Trail Races (half, marathon, 50 mile) in October as I will this year so much of the course was familiar to me. http://desplainesrivertrailraces.com/

Plenty of other folks out running, hiking, biking, even horse riding. Most cheered us on especially as back packers.

So my race very briefly. I am so undertrained this year (see previous post) and this would be my longest run all year. I knew if I ran slowly and even paced with some walking breaks I'd finish. I set out with some great folks who I meet via Nandini and Amanda but we soon all separated into smaller groups. Amanda who had decided to speed walk as much as she could hiked a mile with me as part of a walk break before she rejoined up with a few others. Most of the time I ran alone enjoying the nature. As it got warmer I did have a thoughts of heading back to the finish area early but thanks to seeing Deanna who encouraged me on I successful past the turn in twice and kept going. There was honestly not many folks behind me but I was not last and completed my goal. Very brief!!


                                           Photo courtesy of Nandini Asar

Finishing Muddy Monk was good for me and hopefully is a step towards finishing the Naperville Marathon come November. I also have DPRT in October but that will be a long supported training run with friends, or alone but seeing them over that course!!

Most Muddy Monk races are mainly dirt trails and I'll be back to run one of those at some point.

The race gave us a great green tech shirt in a Muddy Monk plastic bag that included a 13.1 sticker and a beer bottle opener. Finishers all got a green medal (or will for us backpacker as Fed Ex "lost" a box of medals but that is not an issue IMHO). After race food was hot dogs and brats which as a vegetarian I did not partake in although there was a large box of candy and some quality craft beer.


           Muddy Monk race SWAG (not my race bib). Photo "borrowed" from  Muddy Monk

 
Me finishing (thanks Muddy Monk photographer)