Dennis declared that he would like to be in charge of the navigation for this trip. Navigation is not generally one of Dennis' strengths, but he insisted he would get us there safely and on time.
On my way to pick him up that morning, my car suddenly, and for no good reason started making a horrible sound. It also felt awful and smelled funny. There was no event. I didn't hit anything, run over anything, nothing. Just completely unprovoked.
It was severe enough that my standard cure for funny noises - turn radio up - wasn't going to help at all. I limped it to the nearby Park - n - Ride, called Dennis, and within 15 minutes, he picked me up and our trip resumed.
I texted husband, Webmaster Bill, let him know the car's symptoms and where-abouts, and then turned my attention to the day and running task ahead of us. Dennis and I will be gone all day, maybe this problem will solve itself while we are running.
Dennis' navigation got us to the start on time, and with no diversions or unplanned tours of Illinois back-roads... Ripley's has been notified.
Our plans are to run the 50K, then head out on a trail that Dennis found for some additional miles.
The 50K course is on a 5+ mile loop trail in Veterans Acres and Sternes Woods park. We will do 6 loops. Northern Illinois is not know for hills, but somehow they rounded up a few, and put them all in this course.
There is a full aid station at the start/finish area. There is a mini aid station on the loop, in a portion of the course that we pass twice on each loop.
After a very chilly national anthem, we begin our loopy organized training run. After a couple loops, we start to warm up, and can shed some of our winter layers.
On our 4th loop, the mini aid station is gone. No, not out of water. Then entire station is packed up and gone, which wasn't terribly fun, as we were getting used to arriving at that spot thirsty.
When we arrived back at the main aid station, they asked us if the other one still had enough water. We told them its completely gone. "Out of water?" No. Gone. They told us they'd try to get some water out to that spot.
After 5 loops, we were pretty ready to be done. This year's never ending winter has kept us from getting out on our local trails. We need to do this run, but our legs lost a bit of enthusiasm somewhere in that 5th loop.
After finishing the final official loop, we grabbed a quick snack, fluids, and headed out right away for our auxiliary mileage, before our legs would catch on that we were supposed to be done.
Satisfied that 31 miles on hilly trails was sufficient trail/hill training for today, we set out to find the paved bike path that Dennis had found. He insisted it would be a nice and flat route for our final few miles.
It took a bit of searching, and help from a resident who directed our unmistakably lost bodies, but we finally found our 'flat' bike path. After about a quarter mile I gently asked.. 'um, how did you conclude that this would be flat?' Dennis insisted that it looked flat on Google maps. Yes, most maps tend to look flat when looking at them on a 2-D computer screen. This trail was so hilly, that there were warnings that cyclists had to dismount, and walk their bikes down the steep grades.
To his credit, after we were on it for about 3 miles, it did flatten out. Yay.
Hoping for a total of 50 miles, we settled for a total of 40, which was still our longest run this season.
We headed home, and on the way back, I learned that Bill had investigated the car situation, and decided that it was indeed not driveable. The following day, a tow truck fetched it, delivered it to the car hospital, where it was diagnosed with a broken engine mount. The car made a full recovery by the following day. Our legs and feet took about the same.
This brings the score to ultras: 22, marathons or longer: 83.