Ironman Number Five Here I Come!

IM Lou Logo.png

It appears that the “one and done” thing is not part of my thinking when it comes to Ironman triathlon.  When I started my path toward my first Ironman I really had no idea what to expect.  Would the training be hard?  Would I drown?  Would I have to crawl at any point during the run? Would I be able to finish the race under the 17-hour time limit?  Don’t laugh, those were legitimate questions in my head.

But I took the training one day at a time, and it was manageable.  I took the time to learn to swim, practiced it and built confidence in the pool and in the open water.  The crawling thing?  I watched athletes like Julie Moss, Sian Welch, and Wendy Ingraham on TV crawl across the finish line in Hawaii and wondered how anyone could put their body through such an effort, let alone myself.  But I didn’t have to crawl or even shuffle.  And I finished well under the cutoff, far exceeding my time goals and become a newly minted Ironman.

0467_42659_2
2013 – Ironman Wisconsin

Three years passed and my group of buddies and myself signed up for Ironman number two, Ironman Lake Placid 2016.  I got better, faster and more confident.  It may have taken us three years to do it again, but we proved that this wasn’t a “one and done” thing.

153_3rd-103943-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-1320_063652-2542796
2016 – Ironman Lake Placid

We didn’t waste time signing up for another.  For our third race, we headed south to Louisville, Kentucky the following year.  With a decent day for racing, I put in my best effort and went sub-12 hours for the first time.

29_3rd-2330589-CERT_US-1960_044545-12498413
2017 – Ironman Louisville

And last year we regrouped and headed further south to Chattanooga, Tennessee to swim, bike and run in what would be one of the hottest days I have ever raced in.

342_3rd-2595041-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-3102_115098-33893075
2019 – Ironman Chattanooga

So signing up for a fifth race really wasn’t much of an effort at all.  We’ve decided to head back to Louisville in 2020.  It really is a great race location.  The swim is fast, the bike pretty scenic and challenging, and the run is still predicted to be pretty flat and fast even after changing the course from when we last did it in 2017.  The finish line is one of the loudest and best in all of Ironman.  I have heard some rumors that this might be the last year for Louisville, so that was just another incentive to do it one more time.  It’s going to be fun!  Training begins in March, so here’s to a safe and memorable 30-weeks of training.

But the real reason I keep doing it is because of the people below.  They make the journey worthwhile.

 

img_3326
The pre-GUNNERS at Wisconsin.
IMG_5746
The GUNNERS at Lake Placid.
IMG_9641
The GUNNERS take on Louisville.
IMG_8728
The GUNNERS at Chattanooga.

 

I’ve grown to love the training and experiencing the events with my buddies.  That’s where the special memories get made.  Without them, maybe I would have been “one and done.”

 

Gunners-2-1
2020 Ironman Louisville – HERE COME THE GUNNERS!

 

Today I Learned… Cross Country Skiing Is Fun!

56 years, 2 months, and 16 days into my life I found out that I actually like cross country skiing!

Now this isn’t my first attempt at XC skiing. Kari and I bought some skis for ourselves Christmas 1992. We took them out to the local park and fell down numerous times and had some fun. We got busy with our young lives together, having kids and moving that most of the time the skis were tossed up into the attic and forgotten about. We tried again shortly after moving into our current home, probably around 2001, but after trying them out on a very difficult place to ski, we brought them home and put them back into the attic again.

Flash ahead to February 2019 we decided to haul them up to our lake home in upper Wisconsin and give them a try up there, a place where winter is serious about being winter. We drove to a place called Minocqua Winter Park where they have numerous groomed trails. However that day the park was hosting a XC ski race, a marathon actually, and after deciding we’d be too embarrassed in front of this group of people we opted to head home and try them out on our frozen lake. That went well until I fell and my 25 year old ski boots ripped apart in the most comical way. The boot literally ripped itself from the sole and left the sole on the ski that was quickly skiing far away from me!

Me holding the ski with the sole of the boot still attached. Looks like I need some new ski boots.

We came up north on January 1st, 2020 to spend some time before the holidays were over and tried to give XC skiing another go. I think we were all a little nervous when we got there, but we checked in and strapped on the skis and found the easiest trail we could find. We all struggled a little at first and there were a few falls, but we quickly got the hang of it and off we went.

My three snow bunnies on the Cookie trail.

Ashley seemed to struggle a little more than the rest of us, falling on her tush enough times that she was having some pain with that. So Kari and her headed back to the chalet and Rebecca and I attempted to complete the loop.

I think we were having more fun taking selfies.
That hill looked seriously dangerous!
Last selfie out on the trail.

I forgot to start my watch’s XC ski app right when we started, but I did hit the start button after about 15 minutes of skiing. When Rebecca and I got back we had gone a little over 3.5 miles in an hour and twenty-one minutes. After reuniting with Kari and Ashley and finding out that Ashley was feeling pretty sore after falling so much, we packed it in and headed home for some much deserved hot chocolate. I can’t wait to go back!

2019 Running and Triathlon Year in Review

 2019 RUNNING AND TRIATHLON YEAR IN REVIEW

I had another great year of running and creating memorable moments in 2019.  So very thankful that I can still do what I enjoy doing and reflecting back on the memories I made.  I have kept track of my running miles since 1989, so I only tally up the number of runs, miles, and time spent running in my stats.  Here’s how 2019 went for me with running and triathlon.

JANUARY – Not much to reflect upon here.  Most were treadmill runs and nothing out of the ordinary.

  • Total Runs:  14
  • Average Weekly Miles:  22.4
  • Total Hours:  11.8
  • Total Miles:  89.5

 

FEBRUARY – Another winter month to get through and focus on recovery.

  • Total Runs:  10
  • Average Weekly Miles:  15
  • Total Hours:  9
  • Total Miles:  60

 

MARCH – Ironman Chattanooga training begins! I chose to be a little loose with the training this time around starting out by following the “Just Finish” plan but then decided to commit to the competitive plan like usual.  I did drop the swimming down considerably, mostly just doing two 45-minute swims per week.  The monthly totals for March reflect what miles the beginning stages of the plan prescribes, plus some time off for a trip to Nashville to see some colleges with Rebecca.

  • Total Runs:  12
  • Average Weekly Miles:  12.1
  • Total Hours:  7
  • Total Miles:  48.3

 

APRIL – Weekly training going well, as long as I don’t ruin things for myself.  For example –  I’m My Own Worst Enemy

  • Total Runs:  16
  • Average Weekly Miles:  23.8
  • Total Hours:  14
  • Total Miles:  95

 

MAY – Still swim/bike/run training and getting into the swing of things.

  • Total Runs:  18
  • Average Weekly Miles:  24.8
  • Total Hours:  13.3
  • Total Miles:  99

 

JUNE – I officially kicked off the racing season this month with a 5K and a sprint triathlon in June.  (See below for the race reports.)

 

64790863_10156429586162005_8159648735173804032_o
Me with my Short Run on a Long Day 5K age group medal post-race, trying to stay dry.

 

  • Total Runs:  20
  • Average Weekly Miles:  30
  • Total Hours:  17.5
  • Total Miles:  119

 

JULY – Time for a vacation and some more racing!

 

IMG_7227
The final stretch of the 2019 Manteno Tri.

 

  • Total Runs:  20
  • Average Weekly Miles:  33
  • Total Hours:  19.5
  • Total Miles:  130

 

AUGUST – It got hot just as the training ramped up big time.

 

D38obdPJSg282V0BCxTdDg
Just two Ironman trainees wondering why we love this sport so much.

 

  • Total Runs:  19
  • Average Weekly Miles:  38.4
  • Total Hours:  23.4
  • Total Miles:  154

 

SEPTEMBER – September came with the wrapping up of 30-weeks of Ironman training and racing a very hot 2019 Ironman Chattanooga.  Even with the heat and all the suffering, it was an epic day.

 

IMG_9000
The first 100 feet of the Ironman Chattanooga marathon leg.

 

  • Total Runs:  19
  •  Average Weekly Miles:  36.7
  • Total Hours:  22.5
  • Total Miles:  146.6

 

OCTOBER – I debated with myself as to whether I should defer the Chicago Marathon to 2020 seeing that it was two weeks after Ironman Chattanooga, but I committed to it and decided to see if I could parlay all that Ironman training into another Boston Marathon qualifier.  I did!  But not by much.

971521_294131897_XLarge
If it wasn’t for the crappy winds, the day would have been perfect marathon running weather.  
  • Total Runs:  15
  • Average Weekly Miles:  24
  • Total Hours:  13.5
  • Total Miles:  95.7

 

NOVEMBER – Looking back at 2018, November 2019 was almost a mirror image in terms of the stats below.  I ran a couple of races, which probably did more damage to me than good.

2019 ACE Wheaton Hot Cider Hustle Saturday (30 of 1951)
The start of the 2019 Hot Cider Hustle, Wheaton, IL.  I’m in 2nd place!  It didn’t last long.
  • Total Runs:  13
  • Average Weekly Miles:  21
  • Total Hours:  12
  • Total Miles:  84

 

DECEMBER – I paid for the four races I did, which ended up causing me some weird leg left leg/knee pain.  I never had pain in the rear portion of the leg/knee area before.  It wouldn’t hurt during the run really, but afterward, I would have some dull pain that would linger.  I would rest it a few days and then feel fine only to go back out and get the same result.  I decided to shut down running on December 26th for the rest of the year.

  • Total Runs: 12
  • Average Weekly Miles: 17.9
  • Total Hours: 11
  • Total Miles: 71.5

 

2019 RUNNING TOTALS

  • Total Runs:  188
  • Average Weekly Miles:  25
  • Total Hours:  174.5
  • Total Miles:  1193.2

 

LIFETIME RUNNING TOTALS (31st Year of Running)

  • Total Lifetime Runs:  4777 – 154 runs per year average
  • Total Lifetime Hours:  3509.5 – 113 hours per year average
  • Total Lifetime Miles:  26188 – 844 miles per year average

 

2019 RACE REPORTS

I had a pretty successful year racing again, getting some more age group and finisher medals to add to my collection.  Here are the summaries with a link to the race recaps.

 

TRIATHLON REVIEW

I think I had a pretty good year with triathlon.  Ironman training went well and ended with a very good effort on an extremely hot day in Chattanooga.  And I medaled in the other two sprint tri’s that I did, which is always the goal.  I’m really looking forward to another year of racing.

SWIM TOTALS:   Total Swims:  34  /  Total Distance:  69,461 yards (39.5 miles)

BIKE TOTALS:  Total Rides:  132  /  Total Miles:  3694

 

GOALS FOR 2020

In May I registered for a race that had piqued my interest.  The race is called the “Big Hill Bonk” (read about it here: My First Ultramarathon?) and is in Beloit, Wisconsin in early April 2020.  It’s an elimination/last runner standing type race format in which you run a 4.16-mile loop in an hour and keep doing that until only one runner is left.  So this run could be my first ultramarathon if I decide to keep going past eight loops.  I was training pretty well for it and starting to build some decent weekend long run miles, but the leg/knee injury thing has screwed up my training.  I think I will still be able to get to the starting line and get in enough loops to push me over 50K.

I decided to take a year off from running the Chicago Marathon.  I have legacy status, so I should be able to sign up again in 2020 for the 2021 race if I want to.  My Gunner teammates and I were discussing doing another Ironman in 2020, but I’m not sure how serious everyone is.  We’re at the point that we have done the races nearest to us and may to commit to traveling farther to do a different race, or just sign up for one we have already done.  A lot of the fun in doing them is experiencing a new race locale.  I hear that Ironman is returning to Idaho in 2021, so I definitely have it on my must-do list.  If the Gunners shoot for another go-around I will definitely be in.  I just have to fit it around getting my youngest off to college.  I’m not missing that.

If the Ironman thing doesn’t pan out and I survive the Big Hill Bonk run, I may look to sign up for a 100-mile ultramarathon.  I have a local friend who is fond of the Tunnel Hill 100 Miler in southern Illinois, but I have also eyed the Hennepin 100 race out by Sterling, Illinois.  We’ll see.  Got to get some experience first.

 

 

 

My First Ultramarathon?

Unknown.png

I may have signed up for my first ultramarathon.  May have, you ask?  Oh, I definitely put my name, age, sex and credit card number in the online entry form and hit submit.  And my name officially appears on the list of participants.  And I for sure plan on being in the field of the Big Hill Bonk Last Runner Standing race on Friday, April 3, 2020, in Beloit, Wisconsin at 5:30 pm.  So what is the confusion?  Let me explain.

There’s a guy in Tennessee that goes by the name of Lazarus Lake.  That’s not his real name, but that’s not important.  Laz, as he is called, is the brainchild of a race called the Barkley Marathons, also known as the “race that eats its young.”  That particular race has people running through the hills of the Smokey Mountains for 100 miles in five 20-mile or so segment loops, and very few people even finish it.  It’s legendary and well worth watching the documentary if you haven’t seen it.  Highly entertaining.  But if the Barkley wasn’t enough to keep Laz busy, he decided to create another race called Big’s Backyard Ultra.  Big is his dog.  It’s his backyard.  You run through it.   A 4.166-mile loop every hour.  And then you do it again.  And again.  And again.  And again until there is only one runner left.  The last runner standing who finishes a solo loop in an hour after everyone else has dropped out is the winner.  Everyone else is a loser.  Actually, everyone else is declared a “DNF” – Did Not Finish.  For the first time in my racing and running lifetime, I will be a DNF.  Unless I outlast everyone else.  That’s not very likely.  The most recent winner of Big’s Backyard Ultra ran somewhere around 250 miles.  Three days of running.  I’m 56 years old and kind of know my limitations.  I won’t last that long.  I will be a DNF.

The overwhelmingly positive response to the Big’s Backyard Ultra in the ultra-running community has spawned other races, not just in the United States, but all over the world.  Many act as qualifying races for Laz’s race.  Actually, to gain entry into his race, now considered the “World Championship” you have to get a golden ticket, which is actually a gold coin with Big’s picture on it, and it’s only given out to the winner of the other Laz sponsored races.  I won’t get one because I will be a DNF.  I’m not even sure I will get a t-shirt out of this.

So, if I am not going to be the winner, and I am not going to even be listed as a finisher, and I’m not getting a t-shirt, then why the hell am I doing this?  Because it sounds awesome.

Three decades of running has taken me from getting around the block once, to dropping a couple of pounds to fit into my pants again, to racing local races, to running marathons, to giving triathlons and Ironman a try, to…  My point is that even though running eventually became part of the fabric of my life, it gets a little boring after a while, and you begin setting new goals and seeking out new adventures.  I’ve had ultras in the back of my mind for a long time, but I was always fairly content with marathons and Ironmans, which were plenty of a challenge for me.  But now I’m looking to explore a little more of what running has to offer before I get too old to experience it or enjoy it.  This race format popped up on my radar and I became intrigued.

What’s the draw of this race for me to get my first experience going past 26.2 miles?  Well, it’s unique for one.  Ultras usually have set distances – 31 miles or 50K being the typical minimum, 50 miles, 62 miles/100K, and 100 miles.  Pick one of them and run it.  The race format for a last runner standing race is very much open-ended.  Is there a finish line?  Well, yeah – sort of.  You cross it every loop, but then it immediately becomes 4.166 miles away again.  There’s really only one finish line, and that’s the one that the winner crosses – alone.  Again, probably not going to be me.  In this race, you could choose to get to any number of miles and then quit.  Or try to last for 24 hours before dropping.  It’s up to you how far you want to push yourself.  If I last 10 loops and get in 41.6 miles, that might do it for me.

Another factor for me is that it comes in manageable 4.166-mile segments.  Why 4.166-mile loops?  I was puzzled by the length of the loop too, thinking it was just another quirky aspect of Laz’s brilliance.  But in actuality, 4.166 X 24 hours = 100 miles in 24 hours.  So if you run twenty-four, 4.166-mile loops you will end up with 100 miles in a day.  What is nice about the distance is that it is something most runners can wrap their heads around.  Running a little more than 4 miles is no big deal.  Running 4.166 miles in an hour is really no big deal.  That’s like averaging around 14 minutes per mile.  Anyone who runs should be able to get through that in an hour.

Toss in that it’s fairly local for me, being only a couple of hours away, and that I feel pretty fit from all of the triathlon and marathon training I have done, it was easy for me to sign up.

So, will this be my first ultramarathon or not?  It’s still a valid question in my mind.  In the past, I have learned that I don’t do as well running spring marathons because I don’t train as well in the winter months in the Midwest as I do in the summer months for a fall marathon.  I’m always more fit in the fall than in the spring.  Secondly, I have no idea how to train for this race.  I’ve searched for training plans specific to this type of event and there really aren’t any.  Most trail and ultra runners just treat it like a normal ultramarathon, and they train as usual and race the event as if they are running a typical ultramarathon.  Which brings me to another issue:  pacing the run.  From what I can tell, most will try to plan to finish each 4.166-mile loop a little under one hour, leaving themselves just enough time to use the toilet, eat something, change some clothes if necessary, and then get back to the starting line for the next loop.  Ultrarunners know how to pace themselves, i.e. they run slow.  Very slow.  Sometimes they walk.  They know that fast tempos early will lead to some very sore and tired legs much sooner than they would like.  I’m a runner.  I can run 4.166 miles easily around 9 min/mile.  That will leave me with about 20 minutes to sit around and wait for the next lap. That was my initial plan, but now I’m thinking that might be a bad idea.  Will taking a 20-minute rest in a chair in between the hourly loops be an asset to me or be a really bad idea?

One last thing I need to emphasize is that this race, in particular, begins at 5:30 pm.  That time of day in April will most likely be getting near dark.  Sunset is at 7:25 pm.  I Googled it.  I will be running the majority of this run through the woods in the dark.  I’m not very experienced at that and sleep deprivation isn’t something I handle very well.  I got a feeling there will be a lot of caffeine involved in my nutrition and hydration planning.

April weather in Beloit can be anything, but I’m guessing it will be cool and possibly wet. I need to plan for all kinds of weather and be prepared.

Also on my mind about this race is what are my goals?  Since I’m pretty sure I probably won’t outlast the field, what do I want to get out of it?  Here are a couple of my main goals:

  • Do enough loops to make it past 31 miles/50K and satisfy the minimum ultramarathon distance.  That should be no big deal.  It’s just a few miles longer than a normal marathon.  But the real goal will be to make it to 100 miles.
  • Don’t be the first to drop.  I have looked at other race results and found races where there are plenty of dropouts after 1-2 laps.  I don’t want to be that guy.
  • Make it through the night.  Okay, this is going to be a challenge.  I hope I can stay awake because most nights I’m asleep by 10 pm.
  • Meet some cool people and enjoy the company.  It will be interesting to see how others approach the race and learn from them.
  • Stay out of the hospital.  I’ve visited the medical tents of past races and even though I have gained the knowledge needed to prevent the need to go there, I still sometimes push myself a little too hard.  This race will be new territory and I will really need to focus on how I am feeling.

I have a lot of questions yet to find answers to while I train the remaining four months for this race.  I will keep looking for insight and reading race reports to find the nuggets of information that I am looking for.

So did I actually sign up for my first ultramarathon?  Maybe.  It depends.  I don’t know.  We’ll see.  Hopefully, I did.  Possibly.

 

 

 

2019 Minocqua Turkey Trot 5K

2019 Minocqua Turkey Trot 5K – The race that will be forever known as the “YOU ASSHOLE!” race.

When:  11/28/2019

Where:  Torpy Park, Minocqua, Wisconsin

Distance:  5K-ish (actual distance was 2.9 miles)

Results:  21:16 / 13th Overall / 12th Place Male Overall / 1st Place M50-59 Age Group

Link to the Overall Results

The family was up north in Minocqua for Thanksgiving and four of us decided that doing the local turkey trot would be fun.  Ben had already looked at the previous results from last year and figured he could easily beat the winner’s time by a couple of minutes.  I was glad to see we could save a few bucks by signing up as a family, $90 for the four of us instead of $30 each on race day!  What we hadn’t planned on was the snowstorm the day before.

The snowstorm caused the race director to alter the course and eliminate the trail portion of the run.  The course was now changed to an out and back.  The town took care of the snow for the most part, but the sidewalk and the streets we would run on still had some snow.  Fortunately, due to the sand they throw around up there on the streets, the footing was pretty good.

So we all showed up, registered and then Kari and I went back to the car to keep warm while the real runners, Ben and Emily, went for a pre-race warm-up.

PVGP%s6UTBCm0eqImkuxoQ
Trying to stay warm on a cold upper Wisconsin Thanksgiving morning.

The start time approached and we all started gathering around the start banner.  Ben had keyed on a kid wearing a Ripon College cross country shirt and figured he would stay with him until the end and out-kick him.  Emily joined me and said she was going to run easy, which meant to go my pace, and I was glad to have the company.  Kari took her spot away from the front and then the countdown began.  8…  7…  6…  I hate when they do this because some guy always will jump the gun and go on 1, but here we were.  1…  GO!

The race start was narrow and fed us almost immediately into a more narrow sidewalk, and that is when the festive mood of the race changed for me.  A woman runner started to run almost directly at me from the left and I thought she was going to run into me so I held my arm up and kept her from bowling me over.

“YOU SHOVED ME, YOU ASSHOLE!”

For the record, I didn’t shove her.  She didn’t even lose her balance.  She just didn’t get to run into me like she was about to do.  I explained to her that I was just keeping her from knocking me down, but damn, she was angry enough about it to call me an asshole.  But now I was a little miffed.  When you are a slow runner you shouldn’t be starting at the front of the race where the faster runners belong, and if you are going to cut someone off you better understand that the person you are cutting off isn’t going to like it.  Why can’t these races just be fun and not end up with some weird, screwed-up occurrence?  Happy Thanksgiving to you too, lady.

So with that incident on my mind, I tried to find a comfortable pace to run and try not to slip and fall on the snow-covered sidewalk.  Emily and I made our way to the side street and to the turnaround point without any further issues.  There were a couple of younger guys ahead of me wearing turkey outfits and I decided that I didn’t want to get beat by a couple of turkeys, so I started working on pulling them in.   Emily had also decided to push ahead and leave me in her snowy dust.  The first turkey I caught pretty quickly but it wasn’t until about a half-mile left of the race that I caught the second one.  Another runner was ahead of me and I passed him as I was starting my last all-out kick, but he still had a kick left and then blew past me and started racing a high school kid up ahead that we were getting close to.  I finished alone without any further challenges.

I looked at my watch and saw that the GPS recorded a distance of 2.90 miles and Ben and Emily said the same.  The course was a little short, but no big deal.

Being called an “asshole” aside, it was a pretty good race for all four of us.  Ben implemented his race plan and waited until 20 feet left to take the air out of the other kid and beat him by a second, winning the race.  I think Ben enjoyed toying with his prey until the final moments.  He won’t deny it.  Emily was also first on the women’s side and both of them got turkeys for their wins.  Kari was also on the podium with a 3rd place in her age group.

When we got home I was explaining to everyone what I did to get called an “asshole” and I demonstrated what she did with my daughter Rebecca.  As I got close to Rebecca she instinctively put her arm up to keep me from running into her.  There, I am vindicated!

 

fullsizeoutput_13825

Gravel Bike Adventure: Wauponsee Glacial Trail & Midewin Tallgrass National Prairie

I recently gifted myself a new gravel bike for my birthday this fall and I am enjoying getting on it and exploring some new trails that my triathlon bike could not take me on.  What’s a gravel bike?  Well, it mostly is a road bike with a couple features that allow it to ride on non-paved trails and other surfaces that a road bike would be ill-advised to ride on.  Those features include a little more comfortable upright riding position thanks to a more compact frame, and a wider fork and frame to accommodate wider tires.  It is very similar to a cyclocross bike I would think and would handle similar terrain.

So I thought that I would take rides on trails that I normally don’t get to ride on during triathlon training and posts some photos and thoughts about those rides.  It’s getting a little late in the season, but hopefully I can hit a few more trails soon.

 

GRAVEL BIKE ADVENTURE:  WAUPONSEE GLACIAL TRAIL & MIDEWIN TALLGRASS NATIONAL PRAIRIE

I have ridden portions of this trail before but not from one end to the other, so I was glad to get all the way to the end of this 22-mile trail on this late November day.  Named after an ancient glacial lake, the trail itself is mainly a flat rail-to-trail conversion, although I saw no signs of previous rail usage until the end of the trail near Kankakee.

Screen Shot 2019-11-25 at 4.57.15 PM.png
Due to some rough trail conditions of the trail located by the Sugar Creek Preserve where I would normally park and begin riding, and the trail closure just south of there to replace an old bridge, today I hopped on the trail near Manhattan and rode it to the end.  That was about a two-hour ride total, with a small detour into the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie.
ZTCN2aFDRkGs8W8CaUlshg
This trail is straight and flat for the most part.

As soon as I turned out of the parking lot I was met by a couple of walkers, one of which was a friend – Rollie!  I shouldn’t have been surprised to see him as I see him all of the time on my local trail near home, but I certainly wasn’t expecting to run into him out here.

Riding south I had to shoo away a black cat and a raccoon, and I spooked some crows.  I was a little concerned about passing a rider on a horse, but I made enough noise for both of them to notice me before making a cautious pass.

 

z59oHzslTK+wqA1TY3vuQA
This is an old train trestle bridge over the Kankakee River at the end of the trail in Custer Park.

 

Turning around at the end of the trail was welcome as it seemed that was a slow and steady gradual uphill climb to this point.  Another positive was having the sun now at my back which made what was left of the fall colors a little more vibrant.

About two miles away from where I parked I noticed a side trail of sorts that seemed like it was an actual trail heading into the Midewin National Preserve, so I decided to enter it and explore a little bit in there.  Midewin is a huge expanse where the old Joliet Army Ammunition Plant was located back in the days of the Second World War.  There are many reminders of the former plant visible from the trail, including bunkers where they stored the TNT that the plant produced.  Lots of old roads and an old cemetery that is well cared for.

 

OkHZb2z3Tx6%4ou4PoBBtg
The type of trail in the prairie reserve.

 

 

bHmG9iA0TESGzRwZHcxyUw
A munition bunker was located on the other side of this fence.  There was a ladder-type thing there seemingly inviting me to go over to the other side.   Do you think I should go over and investigate the bunker?

 

DuwohDTbRK29picoWWvM7w
Yeah, couldn’t resist going over to take a closer look.

 

Z89ub2dPQ9K61x4pJ1qZuA
Just off of the Wauponsee trail is this cemetery inside of Midewin.  It seemed out of place but is well kept.

I would have explored further into the prairie but I saw a person walking alone up in the distance and then he disappeared, only to reappear as I got closer.  He was wearing a trench coat and seemed a little too weird for me, so I decided that I had better play it safe and turn back.

All in all, it was a good ride.  The trail is a little boring – straight, not much variety in scenery, but is well maintained and in good shape.  I will definitely go back just to explore more in the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie.

 

Confessions of an Un-peaceful Peaceful Sleeper

an amazing run

Last night I was enjoying a really deep sleep.  Honestly, most nights I enjoy a really deep sleep.  Now, you might ask how does one actually “enjoy” a deep sleep?  Well, I’m not sure really, but when the bedquake hit, it jolted me from the deep sleep I was enjoying and I was now no longer enjoying it!  A bedquake?  What’s a bedquake?

A bedquake is something my wife Kari has invented in order to prevent me from having a really deep sleep.  It’s a tactic she resorts to when the foot rub on my calf doesn’t work.  The foot rub on the calf is only good to disrupt my sleep if I’m not that deep into it.  One night I was just dozing off and could feel this strange calf massage thing going on.  I thought, “huh, that’s strange,” and just rolled over and went back to sleep. But…

View original post 711 more words