Sunday, September 25, 2005


Discovered the awesome sport of orienteering last weekend. It combines several of my great passions: trail running, route finding, and contour maps. Last weekend I headed out to Camp Wokanda near Mossville for National Orienteering Day. I knew nothing about the sport going in, but learned how to orient a compass to the map, better read contour maps and to copy control points. How it works is you trace a predetermined route with nine control points onto your blank contour map of the forest. The maps are very detailed, showing grassy areas, open runnable forest, thicker forest, elevation, large trees and rootstock, ponds, paths, manmade structures, etc. The start goes off in staggered times, you simply try and find all controls as quickly as possible, using any route you choose. The controls all have a punch pin with varying designs that are recorded onto a control card, proving that you found each control. I started with the simple white course, finishing in 20 minutes or so.

Yellow is the next step up. I wasted a good 10 minutes bushwhacking on the hill behind the main building, not thinking the first yellow control would duplicate the first white, but of course it did. After that slight mix-up I fared much better, most of the controls were fairly close to trails, a few were off slightly into the woods on ridges, but overall not entailing much rough cross country navigating. I completed the yellow course in 51 minutes, giving up 15 minutes or so wandering around. There was also an orange course, the next level up, which i didn't have time to complete. Looking forward to trying a more challenging course that involves more route finding and forcing me to visualize the land more using the contour lines--skills that are acquired and only improve, I'm sure, with repeated practice. What a cool sport this is- give me more.

Sunday morning following the O' meet did a short 50 minute run at Forest Park. Was intending on 3 hours but the legs were just too weary. Highlight was running across a red fox bounding up a steep ridgeline about 100 feet in front of me off of Possum Path. Typically red foxes stay hidden from view, I consider myself lucky to have come over the knoll at just the right time, catching her in the middle of the trail.

I also found a great spot near Morton. Behind a public park (remaining unnamed) I found a small entrance into the woods. There is a trail, but it clearly is not maintained. There are about five serious blowdowns in the first mile, along with two foot bridges in disrepair, my best guess would date them from the 1950s or 60s. The trail climbs a ridge, crosses a grassy clearing, then almost imperceptibly enters back into the woods, down a creek ridge (dry now because of the drought) and then promptly dead ends. I bushwhacked about another half mile or so and came across a small wooden sign reading "indian headstones," marking the spot of three large rocks. This sign is on no visible trail and is quite hidden. I have no idea when it was put there or by whom, or even if they are actually "indian headstones," at all, but what a cool find. I suspect it's an old hiking path the park district abandoned at some point. Didn't look like anyone had disturbed the area in a long time, takes an idiot like me, I suppose, to tramp through poison ivy in search of secret spots. I'll be back for sure.

Keegan had a soccer game yesterday, dumping in four goals and having a ton of fun in the process. We followed that up with the Eureka College football game--they actaully won it 32-13.

Went out to farmdale this morning for a 1:34 run/power hike. Part of my taper I guess for Glacial Trail. For the first time in a long time there was a slight steady rain falling. The temps are still too warm to really feel autumnal. I love running in the rain. Started from the School St. parking lot, onto the trail on the south side of the creek, rosewood, stopped for a sec at devil's cliff, across the basin and back on Alt. Creekside trail. Beautiful rainy morning, just me and the deer.
Peoria Mtn. Bike Assoc. have a great map:

Had some slight pain in the back of my right knee, but nothing too severe. Going to agressively taper down the stretch run. Luckily, I am good at that. Glacial Trail 50k in two weeks. Can't wait to get out there.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Sunrise Over Pimetoui

It sucks to run sick. I knew last weekend had to be a long run, since we're down to about a month before Glacial Trail, but man had I been bombed out by strep and then an ear infection following that misery. I had the day off on Friday and went to McNaughton with hopes of doing a long run, but by one hour i was completely off in some other universe, it was all i could to do walk it in back to the blazer in 1:52. Not pretty.

Sunday rolls around and it's do or die. Got to Forest Park for my scheduled solitary long run just as day broke at 6:30 a.m. We have had no relief yet from the summer heat and this morning was no exception, shirt drenchingly hot. I used both water bottles knowing that my fat butt was going to shed some serious electrolytes. The sickness was still hanging around but oh so much better than Friday morning; I knew there was a chance of finishing. First loop was ok, still getting warmed up at 50 minutes when i hit the parking lot. Climbing the first hill of Pimetoui I was really dragging butt, not knowing if I'd have the physical strength to handle the run. Just as a I crested, the sun broke through onto the hill prairie at the top of the ridge. It was one of those moments when you just stop and drink it in for a moment, let things rejuvenate and thank the Gods that you're able to even be out here to bear witness while the rest of the city sleeps in like good sane lil' boys and girls. I say, "screw sanity."

Took an e-cap at 1:30, drinking steadily all the time, straight water after the first hour. Ate a banana before my second out and back Pimetoui section, and another e-cap at about 2:20. At four hours my calves and left quad started getting those shooting cramps. Nothing awful, but noticeable. Walked/slow jogged the last 30 minutes and completed my 4:30 run over the hills of our beloved Forest Park trails. Not sure about the cramping. It was hot, humid, and the steady climbs and descents might have just worn me down strength wise, although our 4 hour run went perfectly (it was a good 10-15 degrees cooler). Might have possibly been glycogen depletion, probably should've eaten more. Stupid, stupid, forget that extra nanner and cashews. Still debating where or not to do a 5 hour before the race. Pam is going out this Sunday, but i won't be ready. If i go, it will be mid-week next week. Going to play it by feel.

Attended my aunt Barb's mothers' funeral yesterday in Williamsburg, IA. Ate up the solitude on the drive out there. I love eastern Iowa's rolling hills and lush farms. Very underrated. Let em' think it's boring. It's been about 6 years since I've done Field of Dreams and the river road down along the Mississippi and the Luxembourg village. Perhaps it's time again. Is it heaven? Yup, could be.

Been reading Dan Millman's "Way of the Peaceful Warrior." The writing isn't always great and sometimes i feel like I've been or am where the mentor of the narrative is, so it's kind of annoying, yet a fun read about awakening to self awareness and the quest for personal enlightenment. Not bad at all.

Thursday, September 08, 2005


An arctic-like day in the waning light of mid-January. Light dances off the board level, coal black loam, now blanketed by the slightest layer of windswept snow, just a tracery hint of icy glaze. Asphalt road spine straight, his darkness the only break on this sea of former prairie. This cold, this thing, bites like so many charred hammerhead teeth, piercing my new windtunnel tested coat, its armor no match for these pearly whites.

It is the 21st century, the age of "improvement," yet this landscape calls the settler, still their domain, miles of barren speckled only by the infrequent century old farmhouse, shingles beaten and crumbling from the alternate abuse of a day like today and the scorch that dog days bring. Today is another day when these vestiges of any earlier time stand in defense of my plains, not yet subsumed by notions of what presently passes for progress. This brings a slight smile to my windburned face.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


I've been down for the count for the last few days or so with strep and an ear infection. This little glitch forced me to axe this past sunday's planned 4 1/2 hour training run and substitute a bataan death march 45 minute run. The most I've been able to in the two days since that was two 30 minutes sessions on the elliptical. I'm still recoverin,g but shooting for the long run in two days at McNaughton. Film at 11. We're still trying to figure out when to sneak in a 5 hour slog between now and the race on Oct. 9. This will be a most interesting experiment. I feel undertrained in some ways, but my hope is that the legs will be fresher. If all else fails, we'll walk more than planned and look at leaves. Wait, we'll do that anyway. My entry fee is filled out and sitting in a stamped envelope on my kitchen counter waiting to be mailed. I'm such a wimp when it comes to commitment.

Alot has been written and covered about the gulf coast hurricane. The only observation I have to make is that aside from being obviously saddened to the core for the level of human suffering, I am equally as saddened by the immediate attempt politicize what happened. Let us show reverence as members of the human tribe for those whose bodies have yet to be recovered from the miasma. Dignity, please, before even political gain or coporate profit. Do the words dignity and reverence even remain in our vocabulary in 2005? As i write this, I'm reminded of an excellent interview on the topic of reverence done by Bill Moyers. Do yourself a favor and check it out.