Thursday, January 30, 2014


January 30, 2014

Sadly I’m not talking about the most recent Walt Disney Pictures animated film seen here:

I’m talking about the “state” of the state I live in – INDIANA.

This was the weather a few days ago:

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We have had to leave faucets dripping overnight so that pipes won’t freeze and potentially burst.  Its been insane.  And while its been a little warmer these past few days…in the 20s, the wind gusts are crazy. 

I’ve tried to maintain a positive attitude while spending so much time on the treadmill but I’m nearing my wits end.  And they are forecasting more cold and snow this coming weekend.   That could impact two things.  There is a Groundhog 7 mile run ON Groundhog Day that I’ve been eyeballing.  I’m not signed up and I think you can sign up day of and luckily the “cost” is a canned food donation.  But my next half is on February 8th in southern Illinois.  I’ve run enough events in the cold so what’s one more, I guess.  But I don’t want the route to be treacherous. 

Stay tuned….

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Chicago Polar (snow mound climb, super-sized puddle jump, off course snow/mud/grass road race) Dash!

January 11, 2014


I think I might have gotten 3 consecutive hours of sleep Friday night.  But I felt okay when the alarm went off at 5:30AM.  I took a quick shower and then started getting ready.  The hotel began serving breakfast at 6:00AM which was good because the I’d forgotten my banana and the toaster in our room wasn’t working.  Usually I like to eat before my shower so that things can start processing but I was just going to have to adjust.

The weather still look favorable – for January – but some of the Facebook posts from the race had me a little concerned.

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FRIDAY NIGHT POST: Update on Polar Dash path conditions (final update will be posted here around 6:30 am tomorrow). There are standing puddles of water of varying depths on the route. 5K & 10K so far look okay, but some puddles on the 14 Mile are "impassable" (water is currently pooled in some spots held in place by the ice dams formed by the plowed banks) . Be SURE to bring dry socks to change into after the race

SATURDAY MORNING POST: Course update: Course is clear other than a couple of BIG puddles. Course is narrowed by the snow banks. Bring Dry socks for post race. Embrace your inner PENGUIN!

MYMW and Wendy got up and began to get ready as well and we decided that we would leave the hotel at 7:25ish, step outside and then determine if we would walk to the start or take a cab.  My race (the 14 miler) was to start at 8:00AM and their race (the 10K) was to start at 8:30AM but Wendy needed to exchange her fleece jacket so they wanted to get there early.

We got downstairs a little later than anticipated and - although I walk fast - I wasn’t sure they would walk AS fast as me and I worried that I wouldn’t make it to the start line in time.  So we decided to get a taxi.  The difficult part about taking a taxi is that you don’t have an actual address to give to the driver but knowing it was near the Grant Park/Soldier Field area worked and we kept a keen eye out for the tents as we were driving south. 

We obviously got there in plenty of time since we took a taxi but that allowed us to take some pictures.  The city had a fog hanging over it and I loved that the building in the background had their lights on to read PEACE.

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After these photo ops, I headed to the the corral area.  MYMW got this fun shot of me at the start/finish line.

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Standing in my corral, I saw this hat/scarf/glove combo thing.  FUNNY!

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While standing there waiting for the start, I was regretting not having a second pair of pants on but thankful that I didn’t “check” my jacket.  I had a feeling the running weather/temperature would be similar to last year’s Get Lucky Half Marathon up here and I could adjust like I did for that one.  The course looked to be very similar aside from going north for just a bit at the very start.

Course Map

I’m not sure who wrote the above Facebook posts about the course but I think saying the course was clear except for a “couple” of puddles was FAR from the truth.  We weren't  running for very long before we jumped the first snow bank and began running in the road…then back on the sidewalk…then back in the road…then back on the sidewalk.  I wouldn’t normally look at my Garmin just one mile into a race but I was curious how long all of this shuckin’ & jivin’ was taking.  It was 12+ minutes.  I was worried this could be a long day.  

Then between miles 1 & 2 as I was coming back down from a snow mound back on to the course, I slipped and fell.  I caught myself but my hands landed in a puddle and my gloves were soaked.  Luckily it wasn’t worse than that.  There would end up being several “causalities” in this race.  So I tried to wring some of the water out of the gloves then put them in my jacket pocket.  However a little later, I felt my leg getting wet & cold.  My still puddle soaked gloves were seeping through my jacket pocket.  So the rest of the race I  had to carry them with the fingertips dangling down.  At least the cuff part was dry so the few times that my hands did get cold I could put them in the gloves partially. 

We probably encountered 5-6 of these impassable puddles on the route south, which meant that we also encountered them on the way back in.  It was good to be following people so that someone else blazed the trail through the snow, mud and grass.  But you didn’t want to follow too closely; you wanted to be able to see the obstacles ahead of you!  Of course when we had to jump off course it basically became a single file line and a walk.  The first few step over the snow mounds and then back down became icy with each passing participant's footstep.  But you didn’t want to step in fresh snow because you weren’t sure if it was solid, mushy and how far down your foot might sink.

Here are a few pictures of what these areas looked like:Course (1)Course (2)Course (3)

It was nice when the path was clear.  I felt like I was able to make up some time and run at my normal pace.

After mile 12, I came to (I think) my last puddle and I thought it wasn’t as deep as it was and ran through it.  I’m pretty sure I blurted out a cuss word but at that point…it didn’t really matter to my feet.

They had a timing mat down at the half marathon point so that you could also get an official time for that distance.  So only less than a mile to go (.9) and then I crossed the finish line.  I got my medal and looked for my friends.  We took a few pictures, I grabbed about 4 chewy granola bars, two cups of hot chocolate and we began the walk back to the hotel.  THAT is when I really started to get cold.

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I was the last to take a shower once we got to the room but I put on dry clothes so I was shivering anymore. After my shower I finished packing and then it was time to head to the Megabus stop.  Again, I should have walked there but I had just (mostly) run 14 miles so I was (mostly) okay splurging on a taxi.

I very easily could have missed this bus because it wasn’t marked as a Megabus.  It was just a plain white coach bus.  It was crowded because it was also taking people on to Cincinnati after the Indianapolis stop.  And although I had to sit next to someone, she was nice and thankfully didn’t want to chat the entire ride home.  The bus was scheduled to leave Chicago at 3:30PM but we didn’t get on the road until 4:00PM.  The second bus driver had forgotten her purse and we were waiting on her to return .  Aye yi yi!   But I will totally take this up there again in March for second race in this series.

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Traveling to Chicago for the Polar Dash

January 10, 2014

My friend MYMW suggested that I sign up and run the Polar Dash 14 mile race.  She was going to be up there and was going to do the 10K.  This was all back in early November so I agreed and got registered before the price went up.  I paid $64.89 which included fees and such.  Then, I really didn’t think much more about it.  She was going to get the hotel room for us and use her points.  I decided that I would take the Megabus up to Chicago to save on money and the hassle of driving up there.  Round trip, the Megabus would only cost $43.50; $31 for the trip up, $12 for the return trip and 50 cents for the reservation fee.  Heck, I would have probably paid that alone in parking overnight up there!  Everyone that I talked to said it really is one of the best ways to get up to Chicago.

I really didn’t even start staging for this trip until the night before.  I think the whole SNOWPACOLYPSE had me and everything else off schedule.  II t was nice to see that the early forecast was calling for somewhat mild weather…so that was good.

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The Megabus was scheduled to leave on Friday at 2:15PM and they want you to get there 15 minutes early to “check in” but I never did check in with anyone until I was boarding the bus.  The bus stop was just a few blocks from the office building where I work in so I parked where I normally would and walked over.  You are allowed to check one bag (50lbs or less) and take one bag on board with you.  And just like air travel, there were people trying to check a bag that was too big and take more than they were supposed to ON the bus.  Aye yi yi.

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We left mostly on time and the bus was not crowded.  The seat next to me was empty so that was nice.  I put my headphones on and watched the view pass by outside my window.  About two hours into the trip, I unpacked my snack/pre-dinner.  I had to chuckle at the girl across the aisle from me and how she was able to curle herself up and sleep on the trip.

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As is usual on any trip up to Chicago, the traffic sucked!  So glad that I wasn’t driving. 

We arrived a little later than scheduled due to the traffic snarls and sadly it was raining in Chicago.  The Megabus drop off area had NOT been shoveled so it was the biggest sloppiest mess ever.  I was wearing my non-running tennis shoes and they ended up getting soaked.  I wasn’t the most savvy at trying to handle my rolling suitcase, shoulder bag, purse and umbrella.  And with all of the slop, the suitcase kept tipping over.   The original plan was to walk to the hotel (or packet pick up) depending on the time.  But with the weather conditions and the fact that I really had no sense of direction, I figured it would be best to take a taxi.  The taxi line was insanely long.  I began texting my friend asking if she could meet me at The Congress Hotel (where packet pickup was) just in case I needed her to get my stuff.  I had no idea how long it would take to get a cab or how long the drive would take since it was also rush hour.

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I finally got in a cab at 5:45PM – packet pickup was to close at 7:00PM – and the jerk wouldn’t even get out to help me with my luggage.  But all is well that ends well.  I made it to packet pickup in plenty of time.  MYMW and her friend Wendy met me there a few minutes after I arrived.

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We eventually flagged down a taxi and headed to the Grand Lux Cafe for dinner. I was still dragging around all of my luggage but the rain had stopped enough that I was able to put the umbrella away.  Since it was just the three of us and we were there relatively early (for a Friday night) we got seated right away.  I ordered a pasta dish - Pasta with Chicken, Sun-Dried Tomato and Mushrooms
Tossed with Sun-Dried Tomato, Fresh Mushrooms, Garlic, Cream and Parmesan CheeseI mean it was the night before the race after all!  And for dessert order the: Warm Butter Cake Warm Buttery Vanilla Cake with a Rich Creamy Center, Served with Fresh Strawberries and Vanilla Ice Cream which the three of us shared.

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Since it was only a few blocks to the Comfort Suites where we were staying, we walked there after dinner.  MYMW had reserved a suite that had two bedrooms, a “living room” area where the couch pulled out into a bed, a kitchen with a full size refrigerator, stove, etc. and a washer & dryer!  I laid out all of my stuff on the desk in the living room and set my alarm for 5:30AM.  MYMW and I decided to share a room and Wendy took the other one.  We were in bed by 11:00PM which is a little later than when I usually hit the hay before a race.  However, after about 30 minutes, I went out and slept on the couch.  I’m such a light sleeper that even my white noise app wasn’t drowning out the noises from MYMW’s phone.  The room phone randomly rang ONE TIME around 4:15AM and it was mostly a restless night for me.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Closed for Business – Day 2

January 7, 2014

The county that we live in remained under the RED travel warning level advisory. “Travel may be restricted to emergency personnel only. Officials will re-evaluate the advisory at 5 pm. Roads are still treacherous in many areas with varying degrees of snow cover.”   So technically you shouldn’t be out on the roads unless it was some sort of an emergency or you would get a ticket if they caught you.

But we did have a beautiful clear sky and sunshine first thing this morning.  It certainly made the white snow “pop” against that blue background.


Cloud cover settled in before long but that was a good thing as the temperature finally got above zero around 2:00PM.  And look at that heat wave that is just around the corner!

A small victory but I’ll take it.  We should be back to (mostly) normal tomorrow which is a good thing.  I’ve been off work for so long – from the holidays and this storm – that I’m having trouble remembering what day of the week it it!

Closed For Business

January 7, 2014

Well the weather forecasters did not lead us astray.  That was one big ol’ winter storm that hit.  At our house we got between 12 & 13 inches of snow on Sunday and then the temperature began to fall – quickly and dramatically – on Monday.  My place of employment followed what the city government was doing so we were shut down Monday and today.  Although the roads have been mostly cleared, I think the concern was because of the temperatures remaining in the negative degree category. 

This has made for some funny humor on Social Media:

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But it also made for some great snow pictures around the area.

These photos below are from Sunday, the day the snow arrived:


It also meant that the satellite dish needed cleaning off several times throughout the day.  Doesn’t the hubs look cute in MY jacket? Smile with tongue out


And the dogs got to have some fun!


It continued to snow for 9+ hours and only let up a couple of times.  We did the best we could to stay on top of keeping it cleared.  It was a heavy wet snow…perfect for making snowpeople.   You could hear the delightful giggles and cheers of children playing in the snow while at the same time the grunts and groans of adults while shoveling.