Paleozoic Trail Runs – Carboniferous Spring II – 25K Race Report

Paleozoic Trail Runs – Carboniferous Spring II 25K Race Report

When:   March 19, 2022

Where:   Willow Springs, Illinois

Finish Time:   2:28:46

Finish Place:   12th overall, 2nd in Age Group M50-59

Results Link:  Paleozoic Trail Race 25K Results


Too Long/Don’t Read Version

I had a great time running a 25K trail race through a very muddy and challenging forest preserve course.  


All Of The Muddy Details 

Pre-race Course Reconnaissance:

Seeing that I have never run a trail race before, and because I have never run at this particular location before, I decided on Monday to drive the 30-minutes to Willow Springs and the Forest Preserve District of Cook County to see what I was up against. I’m glad that I did because I received an in-depth view of the course. There were lots of missed turns, lots of rocky terrain, and lots of hills. Seeing that there was rain in the forecast for race day, I bought a pair of trail running shoes for the race. Rain or no rain, the trail shoes certainly improved my traction on this trail system.

Race Day

Mud can be fun, right?

It rained on Friday – a lot. I knew that this was not going to make for a good run, but what can you do? It was still raining on Saturday morning, and it was cold too. You can’t control the weather, so I always hope for the best conditions and plan for the worst. Of the bad weather races that I have done, this one ranks around fourth I would say, behind Leon’s Triathlon 2015 (3rd – downpouring rain), Ironman Chattanooga 2019 (2nd – extreme heat), and the Boston Marathon 2018 (1st – cold, downpouring rain, headwind the entire way). 

I met up with Jodi, the ultra-marathon crazy friend of mine who was running the 50K.  

The Bad Influence and me. The Stones logo was not placed there intentionally.

Jodi’s race started an hour earlier than mine, so I waited around and was soon joined by my friends Jim and Leah.

Jim, Leah, and me. Photo credit to Leah’s husband, Steve, which I gladly stole from Facebook.

We lined up, wished each other well, and off we raced!

The race started on grass and 100 yards into it my feet were feeling the wetness from the grass. That soon gave way to much softer grass, and mud and I was trying my best to jump over visible puddles, but it was quickly becoming not worth the extra effort.

The course map with the colored trails we ran.

I bolted out from the gate a little stronger than I probably should have and found myself trying to keep pace with some faster runners that I had no business trying to keep up with. By a mile into it, I was passed by another more sensibly paced runner and watched him slowly pace away from me. I was starting to question the choice of layers I was wearing as I was getting a little warm. I took my gloves off, unzipped my pullover, and pulled the hat up to expose my ears. I was struggling with my eyes watering and my glasses fogging up. Miles 2-3 was the portion of the trail that most likely had the best conditions. We ran the Yellow Trail for about 3.5 miles and then came to the Orange Trail. I encountered the leaders of the 50K returning back to the start on their first loop. They were impressive. I saw that someone had ditched their jacket near the unmanned water station and I gave it a brief consideration but opted to keep wearing it.  

The Orange Trail was one of the worst portions – a ditch that was basically full of mud. I made an energetic effort to run the ridge and make my way through it. Thankfully, it was short-lived and soon was on the very technical Blue Trail, with lots of hills, roots, and rocks. The Blue Trail gave way to the Green Trail, but I never noticed the markers. I was too occupied with watching for the orange course marking arrows painted on the ground to make sure I was going the correct way. Thankfully, I was seeing more and more of the 50K runners coming back at me, so I knew that I was on the right path. Around Mile 6 I was hearing another runner coming behind me and he must have been watching me dodge puddles and really muddy spots. He advised, “at a certain point you just have to commit to it.” As he passed I could see he didn’t give a damn about the puddles, just trudged right through them. I paced behind him for a while, but I still lacked the confidence to plow straight ahead through the worst spots. I wasn’t afraid of getting wet or muddy, I had committed to that a long time ago. I just didn’t want to slip and fall, possibly getting hurt.  

Typical of the most of the course, but there were worse sections. Photo credit to Jodi – another steal and used without permission.

From Mile 6 until the turn-around at 7.75 miles was some of the worst of the muddy trail. I trudged through and reached the turn-around and walked over the sensor pad. I refilled my handheld water bottle, grabbed a couple of pretzels, made a quick toilet stop, and then made the turn to follow the same trail back to the finish. I was happy that I hadn’t ditched the jacket, as the light wind was now in my face and it had started to rain a little harder.

I saw Leah coming at me and figured she was about a mile behind me. One thing to be said about the runners I was seeing heading to the turnaround, they were all seemingly having a good time. I will admit, I was having some fun too.

Thankfully, I had brought some gels with me or I might have run out of energy much earlier in the first half of the race. I was eating a gel every half-hour and it was keeping my energy up. I took my fourth and last one around the 12-mile mark and hoped that it would get me through the last 3.5 miles. Back on the Yellow Trail with it’s better conditions, I pushed my pace again and tried to keep it up. I could hear another runner behind me and as I reached a rather steep hill, I slowed to a walk and he went around me. A glance over my shoulder didn’t reveal anyone else, so I made an effort to try to reel him back in and was doing a decent job of it until I hit the grassy portion with another uphill climb that just took the wind out of my sails. I ambled around the picnic area, following the course, and saw Jodi just leaving out for her second loop. That was something I would not have wanted to do at that point! I was spent. As I crossed the finish line, a guy with a clipboard told me that I was the 2nd place finisher in my age group. I made my way to the car for some much-needed warmth.  

My feet were squishy wet. Amazingly enough, the shoes looked out-of-the-box new after a turn in the washing machine.

I sat shivering in the car trying to warm up, which was made more difficult by the wet clothes I was wearing. I pulled my top layers off of me, found a long-sleeved shirt to put on, topped it with a couple of windbreakers and my sweatshirt, and then hopped back into the car. I texted Kari and advised her that I was done, and she texted that she and daughter Ashley were on their way, which was a little surprising to me, but I had left some extra shoes at home and she was kind enough to meet me with them. They helped me stay warm while we waited for the awards.  

Glad to be done with this crazy run and a little warmer.

I ended up with 12th place overall and second place in my age group and was very happy with that. And it was a fun and memorable experience that I won’t soon forget. Turns out running in the mud can be fun.

I opted for a beanie instead of a t-shirt. Nice medal and A/G award.  I ran with the map to make sure I didn’t get lost.
Made a lunch trip to Pop’s for some soup and fries. The looks I got in there with my muddy legs were priceless.

The Dreaded Colonoscopy

I go to my doctor regularly, he won’t refill my prescription otherwise, so it’s good to get a check-up and make sure that I’m doing well. He knows no one likes a colonoscopy, so he offers a screen test called “fecal occult blood test,” which looks to see if blood is in your stool and might indicate possible issues with the colon. I failed it. Twice. So he ordered the dreaded colonoscopy.

I’ve had a colonoscopy once before, but not because I turned 50 years old. That time my blood tests showed that I was anemic, so again, there was concern that I was bleeding in my intestinal tract somewhere. That revealed a few small, benign polyps, but no other issues.

So, even though I’m not that excited about having a camera/claw device inserted in my rectum, I will gladly do the tests for peace of mind. But ask anyone who has had a colonoscopy and they’ll all tell you the same thing – “THE PREP IS THE WORST PART!”

I know this first hand from the last time. The stuff you have to drink is strong and tastes awful, but that’s nothing compared to the violent diarrhea that you will deal with for hours. Fun times.

When I got the instructions for the prep I have to admit it made me nervous. I was glad that I didn’t have to do a self-administered enema this time. Others I have talked with all said that they didn’t have to do that. I don’t remember taking the laxatives last time, but they’re listed on the sheet, so I guess I will take them.

My biggest concern is not being able to eat! My coworker Julie had been bombarded with my questions about the procedure because I knew she had done it not too long ago. When I asked her what I should eat before the prep she said that she would go eat a big hamburger and fries at Five Guys. I didn’t see the point of that, as the prepping would just blow that right out of me anyway. On the day of the prep I decided to get one last 8-mile training run in at midday, and then pondered what I could eat. I settled on some baked potato soup and some yogurt, hoping that my body could absorb some carbs before the magnesium citrate blew it out my backside.

I chose some soup for my last meal in hopes of getting some quick calories in me before the prep began.


I made sure that my friends were kept abreast of the situation.

At 3 pm it was go time. I had stuck the bottle of “nasty juice” in the freezer because I had heard it tastes better when it’s really cold. I took the two laxative pills with some water and then started drinking the magnesium citrate. Although it was somewhat strong tasting, it really wasn’t that bad. It had some aftertaste, but I just drank some water and chewed some bubble gum to get rid of it.

My prep stuff – Mg Citrate, laxatives, and plenty of water.

I had missed a phone call while out on a run and checked the voicemail when I saw it. It was a call from the doctor’s office and I started to freak. Are they calling to reschedule this appointment?! Well, yes – but they just pushed it back by an hour or so. I would not have been happy if I had started the prep and they had to cancel my procedure!

I prepped the bathroom with extra toilet paper and magazines, and I made sure that my iPad and phone were fully charged. Then I waited until the fun stuff started.

And I waited. And waited some more. By 5 pm I was supposed to take the second bottle of Mg Citrate and I still hadn’t had the result that I had expected. I was starting to get worried. Did I skip a step? Was I omitting something? I reread the instructions and was pretty sure that I was following the prep plan precisely. I downed the second bottle and waited.

I had a couple of what I would describe as weak efforts, but I was starting to sense that things were building. The last bottle of was to be taken at 9 pm, however, I was not sure I could get it down. I was experiencing a feeling that my stomach wasn’t emptying what was already in it. With the previous two Mg Citrate bottles, I pretty much just got them down as quickly as possible, but bottle three wasn’t happening. I could take a swig and then follow that with some water, but it really wasn’t tasting good. With about 2 ounces left in the bottle, I declared that I had drunk enough. More sitting around and watching television, but never too far from the toilet.

I kept sipping water and making an occasional trip to the toilet. It seemed like things were beginning to happen. Midnight was the cutoff from all liquids, so I packed it in and went to bed. Sometime around 1:30 am I was awakened suddenly with my bowels telling me it was time to get to the toilet. I made several trips back and forth between the bed and the toilet between 1:30 am and 4 am. I did seem to sleep well in between urgent visits to the bathroom. I slept in until about 7:30 am and decided to check on the dog. I wasn’t excited about getting up – no food or water until after the procedure, which was scheduled for noon.

Murphy was a little concerned with all my moving around.


Since my wife Kari was in Florida, I enlisted Ashley to be my required assistant. They won’t do the procedure unless you have a driver. I was tired, hungry, and had a headache from those two issues. We hopped into Ashley’s car and got a mile or so down the road and I realized that I didn’t have my mask, which was required there even though the state mask mandate was stopped the day before. We turned around and still made it to the endoscopy center near the hospital in time. After going into the wrong office at first, we found the correct one (there were only two) and I got checked in.

A nice nurse brought me back and gave me instructions to get undressed and put on a gown. I was led to a room to be prepared for the procedure. A quick check of my BP and heart rate and she asked if I was a runner. A low resting heart rate seems to always trigger that question from nurses. Turns out she had run the Chicago Marathon in 2021 and was happy to talk running with me. When the doctor came in to meet me, I was surprised by such a warm welcome. His Yelp! reviews weren’t all that great! He looked at my clothes bag and noticed the Hoka running shoes in there and asked if I ran. I guess I’m not fooling anyone. Another doctor who was there to knock me out with IV drugs came in and was all business. Next thing I knew I was being wheeled into the procedure room and turning onto my left side. I could see the clock read 12:38, and that’s the last thing I remember until I was awakened and brought back to where I was before. Ashley was already there waiting, and the doctor came in and gave me the rundown. Everything looked good. He found and removed three polyps and advised that the blood in my stool was most likely from hemorrhoids. Great, now I got new problems.

I asked to walk to the bathroom and forgot to lock the door and someone burst in and found me sitting there. I think it was the doctor, but I found it humorous. I walked back to my holding area all by myself and got myself dressed. Ashley was told to go pull the car around and I got a ride to the curb in a wheelchair. And that was it.

I made Ashley drive us to Portillo’s and we picked up a post-procedure meal and ate it at home. I had been looking forward to that meal for 24-hours.

Making Ashley drive me to Portillo’s. She was very willing. My wife said I looked “hangry” in this photo.


I am not one to share personal details about my health on this page. But I wanted to show that if a big baby like me can get through it, so can you. See your doctor regularly. Get checked out and be healthy. If you are over 45 years old, get a colonoscopy. Yeah, the prep sucks. However, think about this: Colon cancer is one of the top causes of cancer-related deaths, but it’s also one of the most easily preventable thanks to colonoscopies. They are essentially painless, quick, and can save your life. Do it for me. Do it for your family. Do it for you.

Thanks for reading!