Wednesday, March 28, 2012

31 days 'til Champaign: 15 windy miles

Today was a dial back in preparation for Sunday's 21 miler. As with the trainings for my last 2 marathons, I run the majority of my LRs on Wednesdays because A) I have that day off and 2) Hubs is at work and the kids are at school. It's worked pretty well for us compared to when I trained for my first marathon and ran my LRs on the traditional Sundays. I found it sucked too much time from the family. The kicker of running the Long Run mid-week is when the schedule closes in on the peak point. That's when I move the LR to the weekend.

The temps were much more agreeable then last week, but the west/northwest winds of 15 to 25 mph with gusts to 30 were a bit of a challenge as I chose an out-and-back route to Delmar, west on Hwy. 136. I fought the wind for the first half and then was too fatigued to enjoy the tailwind for the second half. Oh well. I have to admit my 3 bone headed moves of the day: A) I failed to wear my gaiters and since the shoulders of the road were chiseled earlier this week, that meant plenty of dirt and rocks in my shoes (I think I stopped 3 times just to take 'em off and shake 'em out); 2) forgot to wear a sweaty band; and D) forgot a sweat rag. The last two I think were more major than the gaiters 'cause I'm a sweaty beast.

All in all, not a terrible run and nothing beats the greens of spring. Enjoy the pix!

Couldn't resist showing off my most excellently dirtied feet!!!!

About 4.5 mile into the run, this barren patch of sticks caught my attention. Upon closer attention
there were buds at the tips of the branches and I'd venture to guess this is a patch of sumac.

In an effort to escape the wind, I cut south on the last gravel road before entering Delmar
so that I could run the old railroad bed into town. It was very peaceful. In the park, I refilled
my water bottles and decided to head up to the restored depot museum. The museum pays
homage to the Orphan Trains that came through this area 80+ years ago. Back in the '90s when
I worked in journalism, I had the honor of meeting one of those children who had been given
up by his birth family on the east coast and shipped west on one such train where local families
would look over the passengers and pick one to maybe be a son or daughter or
in this person's case, be a farm hand. It was so sad.....

A "beached" rail car.

An easterly view of Delmar's city park from the rail car.

Wandering through Delmar I opted to run along a property line and enter St. Patrick's Cemetery
from the south. I stopped to visit a cousin's grave and just soak in the peace I find present
in cemeteries. Call it morbid or call me Maude, but I enjoy the serenity of grave yards.

I'm a sucker for old trees like this one in St. Patrick's Cemetery.

While it may be a little early for these gorgeous blooms, it made for great eye candy today.

Couldn't pass the farm with the cows without pausing to say Hi to the new calves!

Given that traffic is a constant along this highway, I tend to run alongside or in the grass.
See how the shoulders have been churned up? When it was done last year I found a
purse full of cash! Alas, good citizen  that I am, I turned it over to the sheriff's department. 
Nothing much turned up today...though I was happy to NOT find our two dogs who went
on "walk about" Tuesday night and have been AWOL ever since. Yeah....not good. =(

Like Hubs noted last week, "there's nothing like the green in spring!" Maybe because we're
deprived of color for many months, but he's so right, the green is beeeeautiful right now!

I've always loved this little bridge and am grateful that whoever owns this land hasn't
removed it. They simply farm around it. While near the old railroad bed (that can been seen
behind it) I believe this was an actual road. Because the old bridge is now home to tall grass
and other flora and fauna, I'm reminded of New York's green space effort called The High Line
that I saw while biking Manhattan in 2010. Communities like the West Village and
Meat Packing district have turned abandoned railroad beds into green spaces. Very cool!

Dirt? Bring it!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

5.5 weeks 'til Champaign: 19 miler

After last week's epic scratch of the 18er, I celebrated St. Patrick's Day running the 25k portion of the 2nd Hawkeye 50/25k trail race around Lake Macbride. The unseasonably high tempetures have me totally cashed. If it's not mongo head winds, it's temps over 80. Winds I expect. Heat I do not.

Today I headed west from home along Hwy. 136. I didn't get going until 8:30 a.m. and the sun was burning hot. At 4.5 miles, I noticed road work up ahead so opted to turn back. With the water bottles on empty, I went home and refueled with Sport Beans and Nuun electrolyte tabs and hopped on "Newman" (my treadmill) for 8 more miles. I finished today's 19er with a 2-mile walk/jog combo with my daughter who's gearing up for a 1 mile fitness test at school.

As fields like these green up, more and more cows are being let out to pasture.
I'm not sure, but I think a type of fly treatment rub gets hung from this structure.

I love farms viewed beyond stretches of hills and dales.

 Don't ya' dig the early buds. The green is so vibrant it's almost neon!

Despite the greening, there's a whole bunch of bare out there.

I love when roads look like ribbons or waves, gently rolling along...

Momo in some new tennies. And how 'bout those socks! I told her if she takes a liking to running,
we'll make the drive north to Dubuque's Shoe Shack for a proper fit! They are WONDERFUL!

She thought we should note the rules of the track.

DONE-SKI! (I really hope she finds herself a runner!) 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

"Breezy" 17er - 7.5 weeks to Champaign

After last week's step down, it was time to ramp back up with a 17 mile run today. I lacked a game plan for today and thus chose the Clinton Rec Trail, again. The headwind from the south waxed me on the first 4 miles and from that point, it was a bit of a trudge-fest up into Eagle Point Park. After enjoying the downhill return to my car, I threw in the towel at 12.2 and ran the remaining 4.8 miles on the treadmill at home.

Having started near St. Irenaeus Church, I traveled south on the rec trail
and toward the Mississippi River. I'd never noticed this view before!

Once I got into the tree-lined portion of the rec trail beside the river it was
ALL EAGLES, ALL THE TIME! I couldn't get close to this mom, nor did I want to,
and just tried to zoom in as close as possible. She didn't budge at all. Once I got
home and started looking at pictures, we can now see why she stayed put!  

This was my view of her from the rec trail. Pretty hard to
pick her out from this vantage point.

There were absolutely OODLES of eagles out today! At one point, I counted 8 on the ice
and a solid dozen in the nearby trees. Was pretty psyched to have caught this pic.
I eventually ended up channeling Dean Karnazes and doing some off-roading
to the point of that land mass behind them!

Aren't they awesome!

I was super excited to be on this strip of land. Very cool to be the only one out there.

This was the view of the rec trail from the nose of this little island.
Note the Showboat Theater.


Decide to continue the off-roading for a mini little jaunt
beyond the north end of the rec trail.

The opposite view of the tracks. That's St. Irenaeus Church in the background.
It was one of several the local catholic diocese closed. Fortunately
the structure was saved and last I'd heard it would be utilized as a museum.
The inaugural 'When the Saints Go Marching In 5k' was held last Memorial Day.
I missed it, but my husband and kids all placed in their age groups!

After tackling that long climb up into Eagle Point Park, I shuffled
along on the park roads. On Monday, several patches were still snow and
ice covered. Today? All clear, but the roads were still closed to traffic.
Every kid needs to visit this castle, it's just plain fun!!!

While in Eagle Point, the sun came out and lighted up the gorgeous
vistas of the Mississippi. See y'all next week!!!