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 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.

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.

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.

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)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Time to Train

I've not written much on my blog this year as I've not been up to much as it relates to running. I've I  been busy with work, school, home and life in general but the running as eluded me this year.

But I think that has all changed so time to write again.

This week I did my highest weekly mileage in at least 8 months. Sure it wasn't mega totals like my friends and fellow New Leaf Ultra Runs club members seem to do day in day out but I was happy to reach 25 miles for the week and felt great about getting those miles done.

This week I ran 2 miles Monday at the gym on a dreadmill (more on that in a second), Tuesday a 3.5 mile road run before work. Wednesday a group of us hit the hill trails of Green Valley and got in a good 8.5 miles. Saturday was 5.5 at McDowell - so nice to be back running there and today (Sunday) I went loopy with the club at our annual Sunburn run. Sure I only did 2 big loops and 2 small loops for 5.5 or so but it worked for me.

So what has got my motivation back besides my awesome running group and friends. Honestly it has to be signing up a few weeks ago for the Naperville Marathon. Living in Naperville I wanted to do this race but it sold out in around 12 hours so by the time I returned from work on sign up day it was too late. Luckily for me I work part time for one of the sponsors who supplied me with an entry. Thanks Clif Bar. I also have a marathon three weeks before which is now a long supported training run. Of course I need to do other training runs and I am now excited to be running again to get me to the finish of Naperville.

The gym. Back in December I joined Planet Fitness. Got a great deal, $99 for the full year paid in advance. That is a great deal but only if you use it. I did NOT. See I am shouting at myself there. Finally I went this week and now kicking myself for not going. Did some dreadmill running but mainly using the incline setting, rode the bikes, did some upper body machine lifts and tried to figure out the elliptical machine. This coming week I get to meet with a trainer there who will help create a program for me.  I do believe in cross training for running, it worked in the past for me.

I mentioned a few races I am signed up for but there are others. Drum roll please.

Back in May I ran Chicago's Soldier Field 10. Not having trained for it I suffered a little and the all road/paved trail was felt in my legs but I finished. Thanks again Clif Bar.

Today was   the New Leaf Sunburn 8 hour. This is not a race but a group run with picnic and BBQ where we all do as many 2.28 mile loops as we can, or as little. The gathering of friends is the best.

My next race is the Muddy Monk Near Sane Trail Half marathon in August. This was to be held at Deer Grove in Palatine but was moved to the Des Plaines River Trail in Vernon Hills. It'll mean less single track and more limestone but it'll still be good.

The following weekend I am running the Windrunner 10k on the limestone trails of Danada and Herrick in Wheaton. My friends are the RDs for this small but fun event. Last year I volunteered but this year I am happy to be running it.
Below is a photo of the actual T shirt, nice hey.

Currently nothing planned for September but might do either the Rock Cut HOBO night 10k or the North Face Endurance trail half marathon. Both are the same weekend and will depend on work.

October will see my first marathon at the Des Plaines River Trail Races in Vernon Hills. I've done this event every year (one marathon, two halves). It is staged by my good friends Ed and Terry. They also have a 50 mile. New Leafs will be out in force at DPRT.

Then onto what I guess is my A race for the year. The Naperville Marathon. I am excited to be doing this one.

Time to Train. Thanks for reading

(All logos are copyright/trademarked of the mentioned races/groups)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Meet Coach Tanya

            Tanya finishing the 2013 Chicago Lakefront 50k

My friend Tanya just changed careers from school educator to running Coach. Tanya is a great runner who can run to beat the best in her age group or just go out to have fun while inspiring all that know her and some that don't. She loves to run 5k to ultra's and even the odd relay. Tanya also has some degree in some type of fitness science but I totally forget what it is. But with her degree, running resume and career background plus being an all round nice friendly happy person she landed a dream job with Lifetime Fitness out of Romeoville to be their run coach. Part of her new dream job has her training people to run a marathon aiming for the fall ones and especially the Naperville Marathon which Tanya is also running.
If you are interested in joining a marathon training program lead by a wonderful person consider join Tanya's program.

               Tanya and I at the Sunburn 8 hour event in 2012. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Paleozoic Trail Runs 25k and 50k

Today was the inaugural running of the Paleozoic Trail Runs 25k and 50k trail races held on the limestone and dirt trails of Palos Forest Preserve just outside Chicago (but a world away).

The RD was friend and ultra Grand Slam finisher Mr Bill Thom and his wife Michelle. Bill has run many many many (and many) miles on these trails the years he did the famous Western States 100 ultra in California. In fact Bill and I stayed at the same hotel one year in Truckee (he was running, I was vacationing).

Bill had wanted to put on a 50k on these trails especially as it had been a long time since Universal Sole's  Detonty 50k had been held. In those years since getting permits for events at Palos has become very hard but Bill was able to secure permission for a race although he could not get the orange trails so had to use the limestone trails to the east of Little Red School House and the dirt trails of Bullfrog Lake. In a given year this would make for a good fast course and fine for veteran trail runners and newbies.

I offered to volunteer at the race and Bill asked me to captain the start/finish Wolf Rd aid station which the runners hit twice on each loop. The other aid station was captained by Brian Gaines and the New Leaf Ultra Runs group, my running group. In the end both aid stations were staffed by New Leaf plus Annie from Indiana!

Due to the weather this year Bill was unable to bike the course until the day before and give course setter Terry a grand tour. The course that day was muddy on the dirt and snow/icy and wet on the limestone. That would not change for the next day!

I arrived early before sunrise and set up getting packet pick up ready for the 7am check in. My friend Rich who looks like Mick Jagger helped me before he ran the 25k and then volunteer Annie arrived plus New Leafer Tifanie. Bill had everyone's bib, timing chip, safety pins and T shirt in a plastic sealed envelope. All we had to do was ask their names, distance go to the correct box or cooler and they were set for the race. Roughly 90 50ks and 116 25ks were signed up of which only 15 were no shows.

Bill with help from Michelle and myself gave a pre-race talk before sending the 50k runners off then 15 minutes later the 25k runners. Tifanie, Annie and I then converted the packet pick up station into an aid station and helped Bill get the timing table/mats into place. Water, Gatorade was poured while small bowls were filled with salty, cheesey snacks, candy, bananas, Clif Bars and oreos.

Around 1 hour 20 minutes the first runners began to appear but sadly something had gone a tad wrong on the course with many getting lost or taking wrong routes back to the main trail. Now if this was a road race the place would have erupted. Sure they were not happy about it but they all took it in stride and went out on the smaller dirt loop. Some folks missed turns on that loop even though it was marked well and most seemed to get it right second time through. On the main loop the course setters had got a little lost in the dark but righted themselves in the end. As I was at the main aid station and never on the course I really not sure what happened out there. In the end no one was really upset and put it down to being a trail race in tough condition.

The runners arrived some in groups some alone some with cheering crew. They fueled up and headed back out on the challenging trails. The winner was around 3 hours 45 or 50 minute (I don't recall exactly and it might be a few days before official results are up). Second place guy was not far behind but he did get lost so that changed his distance and time. Shelly Cook won the female 50k division. Most people finished the distance they signed up for with very few dropping down or not finishing. With the conditions that was amazing to witness.

Everyone who finished received a really nice medal (different wording for each distance) and a drink cozy. The medals and cozy were a big hit. 

An amazing sight during the race was around 100 sandhill cranes flying over Palos headed north probably yo Wisconsin - maybe winter is soon to be over.

For a first time event it was a lot of fun. There are some issues with the course to sort out for next year and I've given the RD some suggestion which he agreed would likely work. He would also love to have it a little later (April) but a lot depends on the preserve department.

Thanks to Bill and Michelle for hosting, thanks to New Leaf that hosted the mid loop aid stations and the New Leafs that helped at the start/finish. Congrats to everyone that finished the distance, it was tough and challenging out there.

Results will be here once Bill has had some rest and figured them out