Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A 13-mile LR in 3 Acts

Today's LR was a step down after the last 3 weeks of increase. With a wind advisory from the southwest predicting 25-35 mph winds with gusts up to 50, I decided to catch a ride into DeWitt with my husband when he left for work and run home with a tailwind. This sounded great in theory, but in practice, I had to take a knee at Mile 5 and call the Sag Wagon. I made it another mile down the road by the time Marty found me.

Act I: The open road
About a half mile into today's LR, my neck began aching from holding it up.
The tailwind was so strong I had to fight to keep upright. Grrr.

Anyone remember my canine leg-licker from last fall? I glanced to my left and noticed
more to my shadow than just me. This friendly guy ran with me for about a mile.
Yes, that is dog tongue on my water bottle...

He was such a sweetheart! Look at those beautiful eyes! Yes, they are two different colors!

I got to run past the house in which my Grandmother Reed grew up! This is the willow
at the corner of the acreage. Not only is the willow my favorite tree, but knowing this
was Gramma's makes it even cooler. And while the weather turned gross
by the afternoon, the morning sun was glorious and that blue sky? Divine!

Act II: A room with a view
Hello, Newman...

Am I the only one with a Love/Hate relationship with her treadmill. This is my forward view.

View from the side. My goal was to just dig in and crank out the remaining 7 with a good book.
Unfortunately, I forgot about a lunch date and had to cut it short by 3.

Act III: Swan song
Blurry, but done! After a day of stops and starts: unexpectedly helping deliver Meals on Wheels,
a leisurely lunch with a friend (who's considering becoming a runner!), doctor appointments
for the daughter and me, followed by an impromptu visit with Gramma Reed, 
I summoned the courage to return to Newman once more for a final 3 mile slog.
Listening to the new Florence + the Machine disc helped oodles!!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Adventure Time: 16 miles

Today's LR was a 16er that I opted to do from home. I'd planned for this to be a basic out-and-back jaunt along Hwy 136, but ran into little irritations and segways throughout the run. It became "Adventure Time!" Enjoy!

Mere feet from my home I had to repack my phone and camera. Because I have
a palsy-like tremor in my hands, I'm unable to take clear pix with my phone
and must use my point-and-shoot. With my 4-bottle water belt,
camera, phone and tunes, I was a bit loaded down.

My dad always called our portion of Hwy. 136 a "ridge road" because it stayed
atop the hills and curved along with them, offering great vistas of the surrounding
hills and farmland. The little cluster on the horizon had been an Irish Catholic
settlement originally called Quigley, but eventually took the name Petersville. 
The church remains and still holds mass (the cemetery is beautiful and peaceful)
and a few houses and old buildings still stand though much is abandoned.

As I headed past a neighbors farm, I noticed these vines twisted around a corner
fence post. I found the color on this grey day to be very inviting.

From the "ridge." I never tire of the view...even when Mother Nature
lies dormant, I find the land gorgeous.

With our crazy-warm winter, things have been pretty sloppy. Of course, the
bright side has been running outside! Usually I'm logging megamiles
on the treadmill during January and February!

This was the first of many times I opted to leave the road and climb through the
ditches for a closer look. It made for extremely slow going, but felt kinda cool
in an urban adventurer kind of way...only this pretty dang far from urban.

I love how the ice melted, silhouetting the leaf.

To the east of this farm you can spot portions of an old railroad bed that once spanned
northern Clinton County. I was told the train went UNDER Hwy 136 in this area.
Despite climbing through some ditches and into some fields, I found little evidence.

Rather than simply running through Delmar and continuing to the 8-mile turnaround,
I went in search of the railroad bed that's seen from Hwy 136 just east of Delmar.
The town park sits in the area where the original railroad bed had been, to the west
is a tall embankment on which sits the restored depot. To the east? This...

A few feet south of the original "bed" is another, which I'm guessing is now used
as a rec trail as evidenced by the arrow signs (snowmobiles). I did find a hunter's tree stand
(and yes, I climbed it). The trail totally reminds me of the last leg of Lost Nation's Rustic Run!

This is the gully between the two railroad beds. I don't understand it....

The really OLD railroad bed is filled with bracken and crap. At least the lichen was pretty.

End of the road. Given the crazy-steep embankment, I'm not sure how we could pull off
a Rustic Run-type of course, but I'm game for trying!!!

The view from the top . . .

From abandoned railroad beds to abandoned houses.

After fueling up with a Snickers and Gatorade, I headed back toward home
back along 136. It was great seeing a small herd of momma cows and their new babies!

Five miles from home I look up and see 2 black dogs up the road. I got a little nervous.
Fortunately when they spotted me, they turned tail.

Three miles from home I spotted a couple of "Sam's" (I'm a muppet of a wo-man),
see him? Also, see a remnant of the old railroad bed? Aw yeah!

It was an exhausting run, mainly because I was in the ditches because of all the mud.
Hey, good training for the upcoming Hawkeye 25k trail run, right?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

11 weeks to Champaign: 15 miles

With rain predicted for the afternoon and snow by this evening, I wasn't sure what this morning's 15er would look like. I wore my warmer long tights again, one long sleeved shirt, one light coat and one half-zip fleece with gloves and mittens on top. For fuel I carried all 4 bottles on my Nathan belt and 2 packs of Sport Beans. The first 6 miles were gorgeous along Clinton's Rec Trail with blue skies, temps in the high 30s and a light breeze out of the southeast. This is also the leg on which I took the most pictures. Not only did it make for a SUPER DUPER slow jaunt, but as I began the 9 mile leg along last week's LR path, the sky greyed and so did my mood. Wile I tried to stay positive, the last 9 were kind of a slog-fest.

Mother Goose guards her babies during bath time...

I  loved seeing these guys zoom up the river for some fishing
like it was June and not February!

A view up river from a tiny leg off the main rec trail.

The Clinton County Courthouse never ceases to grab my attention.
I think she's gorgeous, even from this dull vantage.

I started at the north end of the river leg portion of the Clinton Rec Trail and to access
the main river front, your taken over a local lock. Here I stand above that view cold river. 

Being that I'm a product of the 80s, I remember when the great Bald Eagle was
nearly snuffed out. They're now a common sight, but they never get old to me!

Clinton boasts its own local theater company which took up residence in this great paddle
wheel from which the troupe took its name. Every summer they offer a 2-week-long
Glee Camp for elementary and middle school kids. My daughter LOVES it!

A view off the paddle wheel of the Showboat Theater. Just look
at that commerce seen beneath the theater's gangplank entrance!

I assume this was some "nutty" Valentine left over from yesterday.
Nonetheless, it stopped me in my tracks. I hope they liked almonds!


A pretty cool war memorial.

This is the starting point of the Clinton Rec Trail, but I started at the opposite
end of the river front. I love the bridges. The far one is for rail cars while
the high one is referred to as the 'south bridge' into Illinois south of Fulton.

Just a cute little nest in one of the trees along the river front. Too bad it was empty.

Getting my thrill on as I head over to Fulton. I loved seeing all the
blocks of ice floating along.

As I was shuffling along the Great River Bike Trail, I just happened to glance left and
spotted this offshoot. Despite having run this trail several times, I'd never
noticed it before. I like finding new things in familiar places!!! 

I spotted this in a Fulton front yard during the final 2.5 miles. My dad passed away
1 month ago today. I do not wish to bring him back, cancer had
caused him enough suffering. But I sure do miss him.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

12 weeks until my 2nd Illinois Marathon

Having taken a break during December and January, I've returned to the solace of the Long Run as training resumes for the April 28th Christi Clinic Illinois Marathon. I ran it last year and LOVED IT! For today's 12 mile LR, I wore my thicker long tights and wool socks, 2 long-sleeved shirts, a fleece half-zip pullover, skull cap and gloves. My toes were a little cold, but not unbearable, though my fingers were pretty numb by the end. I also had a Nathan water belt with 2 10 oz. bottles of water and 1 peanut butter granola bar. 

I opted to drive to Clinton, Iowa, where I knew I could easily access support if I needed it. Plus, I get such a thrill running the North Bridge which spans the Mississippi River, connecting Clinton and Iowa with Fulton and Illinois. From there it was a simple out and back jaunt along the Great River Bike Trail.

Heading over the Mighty Miss toward Fulton. Note the guy and his dog on
bike path below. As I was leaving, I overheard him shouting at
his canine companion. Jerk. I hope he poops in the guy's shoe! 

My rush!!! I LOVE going over this bridge!!!!

Just a light dusting of snow greeted me this morning. Most was melted
for the return trip, but I ran cautious so as not to pull a hammy.

Is there anything sweeter than little kitty prints? :-)

 I couldn't resist a close up...

I had the trail to myself! Many runners don't understand those of us
who venture out on Long Runs alone. Myself? I find it blissful!

Approaching the turn-around. I don't particularly enjoy this section of the
Great River Bike Trail. It's kinda creepy and lonely. Fortunately I wasn't on it long.

Toot at the Turn-around. I don't remember this cross from previous runs and
I don't know the story behind it. I gave it a respectful nod nonetheless.

Meeting myself I was going.

Having just come off the bridge, there was something about the trains that speaks
to the history of this town. Clinton can be a bit depressed, but as a runner,
I've come to really love and appreciate the town's efforts to offer friendly running
terrain and fun events like last weekend's 31st annual Brrry Scurry!

What a great end to today's run. Less than a quarter mile from my car, I spotted 
this wee Sally Carrera from the Disney Cars movies. I came to screeching halt
(or maybe a sluggish pause) to snap her picture. There was something so
cute about this little thing just sitting out on the sidewalk. I let it alone
perchance some little person would return in search of his or her toy...