My Search For American Muscle – Part I

MY HISTORY WITH CARS

I was born in 1963 at the tail end of the baby boomer generation, and I think we and maybe the first of the Generation Xers are the last of a breed of guys who think the muscle car era (1964 through 1972) was the greatest period for cars ever.  We may be the last group that can appreciate the beauty of these machines and the last that may appreciate the value they hold.  These are the cars we grew up around.  Maybe your parents had one.  Maybe your cool uncle came back from Vietnam and bought a GTO.  Maybe the neighbor down the street would roar past your house in his Mach 1.  Maybe it was a cool guy in your school whose dad let him have a Chevelle.  For me, the biggest influence was my brother Jon.  He was eight years older than me and was into going fast.  He had a 1968 Camaro that I think he rolled into the ditch near the high school, probably showing off.  He also had an orange and black 1969 Chevelle SS, that I begged him to drive me around in.  I can clearly remember getting in the back of it and driving to Old Chicago, a suburban indoor amusement park in the early 1970’s where I experienced eating Wendy’s for the first time, and watching an old guy hand roll cigars in the window of a tobacco shop.  I think my sister might have even thrown up in the back seat once, not sure on that.

IMG_7983
My sister Sue and the ’66 Ford Mustang, circa 1979-80.
IMG_7984
Believe it or not, this was a color photograph.  Pictures sucked back then.  Neither the sign nor the house in the background are there anymore.

 

My first car was a 1966 Ford Mustang, a car whose radio would only work if the lights were on, and the brakes would work sometimes, only if I really stood on the pedal.  When Mom found out about the brakes, Jon was enlisted to find a replacement.  It was a beater 1974 Chevy Vega, a car that got me through high school but was far from a performance vehicle, although it did have a four speed manual transmission that made driving it at least a little more fun.

IMG_7224
A stock photo of a 1974 Chevy Vega.  I had the same exact car, just imagine it with more rust.

 

In college I found a 1971 Olds Cutlass 442 for sale for $1000 in Macomb, Illinois.  I called my mom and asked if I could use my savings to buy it.  She agreed, and the deal was made.  Then I learned some hard lessons about buying a 23 year old car for $1000.  The original motor wasn’t there, and in it’s place was a Buick 350.  I didn’t know any better to even check.  The body had a little front end damage that was not really visible from a distance.  And it wasn’t long before I could see where the body had been repaired with body filler.  There was lots of it.  But inside it was pretty nice, and it drove well enough for me to drive it around and get the occasional thumbs up from someone who could appreciate a car from that era.  I even courted Kari in that car, cruising around going nowhere in particular, even though I had a nice new 1987 Pontiac Sunbird Turbo GT by then.

Then Kari and I got engaged and married and I sold the not very original 442 for $500 so that I could help fund our honeymoon.  Five hundred bucks.  Today you can sell the rear bumper of a 442 for much more than $500.  I was thinking that I was kind of dumping this car on the guy that bought it because the transmission was fried, no longer really wanting to go in reverse.  But when he came back with the money to pick it up, he was driving a cherry 1970 442 that looked brand new.  His intention was to restore the car for his daughter.  I was glad it was going to someone who knew what he was doing, and I hope that the car is still out there today.

 

MY SEARCH FOR A MUSCLE CAR

Since selling that 442 back in 1992, I have often wished that I could have another muscle car to drive around in.  I can remember back in the mid to late 1990’s I even started a muscle car savings account at the bank and would throw some money into it hoping to save enough for another car.  The problem that arose however, was the market for them exploded.  Baby boomers were now in a position to buy them and they were scooping them up.  Prices skyrocketed.  Some of the Hemi powered Mopars were fetching well over $100K, with the rare Superbird reaching close to a million bucks at some auctions.  I knew that I wasn’t really positioned to purchase a muscle car with three young kids, a mortgage and college to pay for.  I think I emptied that savings account to help pay for one of our houses we moved to, or the minivan that we bought for our growing family.  So I waited.  Waited until I turned 55 years old.

On my birthday this year, my wife gave me a birthday card that was car themed and on the bottom she had written “Let’s go pick up that classic hot rod!”  I was floored, but excited!  She had seen that I had been looking online at old cars for sale.  I was looking just because I like to look at them, but she also could tell that I was interested in getting one again.  Thankfully, prices for classic muscle cars has come down quite a bit.  The 2008 economy tanking affected the values somewhat, and they came down to more reasonable levels.  But they are starting to creep up again.

So I began looking in earnest for a car.  What did I want?  What could we afford?  Lots of things to consider.  It was almost a burden, because the cars I really like are the most popular of the muscle car era.  I particularly like the 1970 Chevy Chevelle SS.  That’s really the dream car for me.  But I see those all the time and Chevelles are really expensive.  So I broadened my list to include not just the Chevelle, but all of the GM A bodies – Buick GS, Olds Cutlass, Pontiac GTO.  I really like the 1970 through 1972 era for the A body, but there is another year that really stands out for me – 1967.  That year seems to me to represent the last of the old 60’s cars before the newer 1968 style ushered in a new look that would take those car styles into the 1970’s.

But I didn’t limit myself just to GM.  My dad had a 1965 or 1966 Plymouth Sport Fury III sedan that I remembered from being a kid.  It was a cool car, painted white with a nice light blue interior.  On summer days when it would rain, I would go out and sit in the car and listen to the raindrops pound away on the roof of it.  It just had a cool interior.  One muscle car from mother Mopar that reminds of that Fury is the 1967 Plymouth GTX.  The lines on that car are super sharp, and it just looks aggressive sitting still.  The Dodge R/T is very closely related, so that car is on my list as well.

So I guess I’m not saying no to any of the cars from that ’64 through ’72 era, it’s just that those are the ones I like.  I was looking mostly online on the Hemmings Motor News website, one that had a ton of cars.  I found several that I saved as favorites.  The trouble is many of them are located several states away.  That meant that I would have to plan on taking a trip to see them and budget for shipping costs to get them delivered home.  Lots of things to consider now.  I told my friend Carl that it was becoming a pain in the butt for me!

 

THE FIRST TEST DRIVE

I was searching on eBay and found a 1967 Olds Cutlass Supreme 442 convertible in an ad.  This car was local too, being sold in Huntley, Illinois about 55 miles away.  The listing had a ton of pictures and I was blown away.  A convertible 442 that looked awesome and I could get it locally.  It listed for $45,750.

DSC01595
A red 1967 Olds C/S 442 convertible for sale in Huntley, Illinois.  Are you drooling too?
DSC01698
One of the best looking 1967 GM A bodies in my personal opinion.

This car had me drooling.  The pictures made it look like a show winner.  This car was sexy.  I now knew that this one might be the one.

The engine was billed as original to the car.  I studied and decoded the body tag on the firewall.  It indicated that it was a 1967 442 built in the third week of April.  The one discrepancy was the paint code, it showed a “P” which meant a Pewter color and this one was “arrest me red.”  The other thing that bothered me was the underbody was painted the red body color and most all of the ’67’s that I have seen are painted black on the underside.  It was super clean though, and all of the floor panels looked original and in great shape.

I contacted the owner, a guy who ran a dealership called National Muscle Cars, and arranged to go see it.  I just didn’t feel comfortable making an eBay offer on a car without seeing it in person.  I promised him that I wasn’t just some tire kicker and that I was serious about acquiring a collector car.

Kari and I drove up and met with the guy.  He was super cool and told us that he acquired muscle cars as a hobby and did a lot of buying and selling.  This was the only car he had for sale at the time.

My first impression of the car was wow, it looked awesome and sounded cool too.  We did a cursory walk around and I liked what I saw and we took it for a spin.  It was the test drive that started to change my mind about the car.  The very first thing I noticed was that the compartment lid in the shifter console would not stay closed.  For a car that was billed as having an extensive restoration, to not put the effort into making sure the lid would stay closed seemed odd to me.  Plus it had some weird bolts in the bottom of it securing it to the floor that did not look factory correct to me.

The transmission shifted hard into gear and it seemed that it just wasn’t shifting very smooth.  I decided to put my foot into the gas and there was no get up and go to it.  It rode pretty smooth, but the drive did not thrill me like I had hoped.

Upon getting back to the shop, he let Kari and I look the car over.  It was then I could see some of the little flaws that from 5 feet away you wouldn’t have noticed.  It was a piece of chrome trim that was loose around the the convertible top that made me think that this car’s rotisserie restoration was just basically a repaint and not much more.  For nearly $46,000 bucks, I wanted a little more of a solid car.  I didn’t want to have to correct every little thing.  I told the guy that I would have to think about it, but I had already decided to take a pass.  It just seemed to me that if I was finding these little issues, there would be more that I would discover later on.

I thanked the guy and Kari and I drove to the local Culver’s and had a quick bite to eat, and I explained to her why I didn’t think this was the right car.  We agreed that there are many more out there, and there was no rush to buy the car right away.  I learned to make sure to put in the time to check them out before committing.  These are cars that are 50 years old, and were basically driven hard by baby boomers and people like me for  five decades.

I guess that I will need to kick a few more tires.  The search will continue!

 

2018 Chicago Marathon Race Report

2018 Chicago Marathon

October 7, 2018 / Chicago, Illinois

Time:  3:52:07

Place:  11629 Overall / 8508 Male

 

For my 19th time, I hereby do declare I WILL NEVER RUN ANOTHER MARATHON AGAIN!  This time I MEAN IT!

This Chicago Marathon will definitely go down as one of my most memorable.  The race was my third long distance race this year that was run in the rain.  It brought back memories of Boston last April, cool temps, wind and rain.  This was a light version of Boston though.  The temperature was near 60 degrees instead of 40, and the rain wasn’t pouring.  The wind was only noticeable when running certain directions, and only briefly.  Thankfully, Boston taught me how to manage crappy running weather, but you can never be fully prepared.  And it turns out I’m not sure I was fully prepared for this one.

I was looking forward to running Chicago, as my son was going to be running it as his first marathon.  Notice I didn’t say that we would be running it together.  He’s fast, I’m not.  Well, not as fast as he is anyway.  But I looked forward to sharing that experience together.

Here’s the lowdown on how the Chicago Marathon went for me.

TRAINING

After finishing the Boston Marathon I needed to give my body a break.  I was beat.  I showed up at Boston way overtrained and worn out.  The day after Boston I ended my three year running streak of running at least a mile everyday, and told myself I had to get myself right again.

After a trip to the doctor, I learned what I was kind of assuming, that I had thyroid issues.  Blood tests confirmed it, and now I’m taking a synthetic thyroid medication for the rest of my life.  I had thought that it might change things for me metabolically, but my doctor buddy said not to expect miracles.  He was right.  I really struggled to lose the ten pounds I had gained over the winter and spring.  Eventually, I did drop a few pounds, but nothing like what I had expected.  One positive was that I wasn’t as tired as I had been before, so that is a plus.

In mid-June I began following the same 16-week advanced training plan that I usually use.  I also had been doing some triathlon related training, hoping to throw in a couple of races before the longer mileage weeks started to kick in.  I ended up doing a sprint triathlon in June and the Chicago Triathlon in August.

I was a little nervous about the training after struggling with the Boston training and the race itself, but it actually went pretty well.  The highlight for me was the 20 mile training run I did three weeks out from the race.  I was able to hold my 8 min/mile pace fairly easily through that run and it really gave me a confidence boost.  You can read about it here:  The Dreaded 20 Mile Training Run

 

RACE WEEKEND

I took Friday off and headed to Chicago to attend the expo with Ben and his girl friend Emily.  Every year that I had gone to the expo I would see proud Boston finishers parading around in their Boston Marathon jackets and be somewhat envious.  This year, even though I didn’t really need a jacket, I decided I was going to peacock the hell out my one Boston Marathon finish and sport that damn jacket at the expo.  I wasn’t alone.  I saw numerous Boston 2018 celebration jackets.

IMG_7884
Me, Ben and my jacket heading to meet Emily and go to the expo.

 

We ended up getting there around midday, and man was it crazy!  I had never seen it so crowded before.

IMG_7885
For a minute I thought I was in the corral of the actual race.  This was just the holding area to get in and pick up the race packet.  I had never seen it this bad before.

Ben and I got our bibs and started the trek through the expo.  We ended up spending money on mostly disappointing official Nike marathon gear and other odds and ends.  We caught a glimpse of Deena Kastor and then decided to get out of there.  The expo can be overwhelming after awhile.

Saturday, we all met downtown in the late afternoon and met at our hotel, the Chicago Palmer House Hilton.  The hotel lobby was impressive, the rooms not so much.  It’s location to the race start area was ideal, but a little bit of a hike from the finish.  The Chicago Hilton is a better option for being closer to the finish, but I didn’t book it fast enough and had to settle for the Palmer House.  I will say there were better dining options nearby, and I opted for the Corner Bakery and got some loaded baked potato soup and bread for an evening carb load.  I had already eaten some pasta at home around 1 pm, so I think I had enough carb loading for the day.

Ben and I talked some race day strategy and I laid out my options for what to wear in the race.  I had already kind of chosen the outfit, but I had brought some options in case I changed my mind.

fullsizeoutput_11913
Only thing not showing is my matching grey with red Hoka Cliftons.

Sleep went well except for a weird moment in the middle of the night where I found myself sweating like crazy.  I got up, used the bathroom, and went back to sleep.  The alarm finally went off, and I got myself ready for the day.

 

RACE MORNING

Ben met me at the room and after some last minute assurances, we decided it was time to head to the corrals.

 

fullsizeoutput_118b6
It wasn’t raining yet, but we wanted to keep warm.

We were advised to go into the corrals by entering into a specific gate based on our corral assignments, but I wasn’t having any of that.  The first and closest gate was at Jackson and we got in line.  Just as we were getting near the inspection point this Chinese guy cuts in front of us.  Then he couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t let him carry in his sling bag because only the clear plastic gear bag was allowed.  Fortunately, they let him put it into his gear bag, which he should have done in the first place.  Off to a great start, but we weren’t done with him yet.  As you pass security, there are event photographers ready to take your pre-race photo, so Ben and I decided to do so.  Just after the guy takes our picture, we realize the guy photobombed us.

846101_280681710_xlarge.jpg
We made an international friend!

I’m smiling in the photo, but I was laughing right after it when I realized he was in the photo too!  Here’s one without Mr. E10796:

846101_280696690_XLarge
Still laughing about our friend.

Ben and I got to the split where Corrals A and B went one way and C through E went another.  I told him that I loved him and that I was proud of him and that I don’t tell him that enough.  We hugged and I headed straight to the toilets.

Once in the corral I found it pretty empty as I was there pretty early.  So I headed to the front of it to the rope that separates the C corral from D and just hung out.  I used my portable urinal (my nearly empty Gatorade bottle) under my plastic bag three times before the race started which surprised me, as I had used the port-o-lets twice before getting into my corral.  Nerves I guess.  After the anthem the start horn blew and I pulled the plastic garbage bag off and tossed the bag and bottle over the fence, and we started the 7 minute shuffle to the start line.  Ben said he crossed the line within 10 seconds.  It took me 7:18 to cross it.  I gave him a head start.

 

RACE

Start to 5K:  Overall Time:  0:25:12 / Ave. Pace 8:07 min/mile

I started off well and felt pretty strong, although my first split was about 8:15 min/mile which surprised me a little.  It is hard to concentrate on pace right at the start because we are still packed tight a little, and you spend more time getting through the field than thinking about pace.  It was in that first half mile that my Garmin lost track of me as we were under Randolph Street and Wacker Drive and put my split a couple of tenths off at each subsequent mile marker.  Ben was going to hit his lap button every mile, but I’m done with that business.  I had decided I was warm enough without my homemade tube sock arm warmers and stuck them in my shorts in case I needed them again.

IMG_3616
Ben (in blue) coming thru the 4K area where our cheer crew was waiting.

Our Cheer Crew was amazing.  Kari and Rebecca, along with our friends Jeff and Jill were there, plus Emily and a couple of Ben’s running buddies from Loras College braved the wet day to cheer us on.  Although I had told Kari to stick with Ben, I saw Jeff and Jill up through the half way point, and then Jeff at a few other spots.  Seeing everyone was always a big pick-me-up.

IMG_3620
Me greeting the Cheer Crew.  

 

5K to 10K:  Overall time:  0:49:03 / 5K Split:  0:24:31 / Ave. Pace 7:54 min/mile

It was raining pretty steady now but I wasn’t cold really.  I managed to get my pace under 8 minute miles and was feeling good.  Nothing out of the ordinary through here, just still going north.

 

10K to 15K:  Overall time:  1:14:29 / 5K Split:  0:24:27 / Ave. Pace 7:59 min/mile

Miles 6 through 9 really had nothing remarkable about them.  Right about the 10K mark the 3:25 pace group went by me and I took note of that.  I usually see an Elvis impersonator through this stretch, but I’m guessing that he wasn’t into the rain this year. I did start to sense I was getting a blister on my left pinky toe from my shoes being soaked.  That was a little surprising because I had lubed up my toes very well.  Kept my average pace near 8 min/miles.

 

15K to 20K:  Overall time:  1:39:55 / 5K Split:  0:25:26 / Ave. Pace 8:11 min/mile

As I neared the halfway point, I started to tell I was slowing a little.  The effort was getting harder even though I was on top of my nutrition plan.  I felt okay, but that would change as I passed the halfway point.

846101_281162700_XLarge
Wet, but still content.  (This photo won’t stay center justified for some reason!)

 

Halfway:   Overall Time:  1:45:42 / Ave. Pace 8:29 min/mile

I hit the halfway and felt not so great.  I was only 45 seconds over my intended split of 1:45:00 for the half, but I knew that I was losing it.  My average pace dropped from 8 to 8:30 min/mile and I really didn’t see how I was going to maintain it.

 

Halfway to 25K:  Overall Time:  2:06:32 / Split:  0:20:51 / Ave. Pace 8:36 min/mile

At the 14 mile area I saw Jeff and Jill and said I wasn’t feeling good any longer.  It seemed like I was being drained of my energy.  We had just passed a couple little inclines downtown, but I don’t think that was a factor.  I was starting to realize that this was going to be a get to the finish line in one piece marathon for me.  My time goal of 3:30 was slipping away.

 

25K to 30K:  Overall Time:  2:34:01 / 5K Split:  0:27:30 / Ave. Pace 8:51 min/mile

I generally call this section the Dead Zone and it was no different this year.  It’s mainly just runners along this portion as it is the farthest west part of the course.  I will say though, that I expected the rain to drive away the crowds this year and in reality, the course was pretty populated with cheering fans.  My time is creeping closer to the 9 min/mile average.

 

30K to 35K:  Overall Time:  3:03:47 / 5K Split:  0:29:46 / Ave. Pace 9:35 min/mile

Running through Pilsen and Chinatown are highlights of the race usually, but not this time.  I just wanted to get past the 20 mile mark and know I had 10K to go.  It was in this section that the 3:30 pace group passed me by like I was standing still.  I was resigned that my goal of finishing 3:30 was gone, and I also knew that being sub-3:35 for a Boston Marathon qualifier was pretty much out the door.  I was a just finisher now.

846101_280858362_XLarge
Mile 21 – Chinatown

 

35K to 40K:  Overall Time:  3:37:22 / 5K Split:  0:33:35 / Ave. Pace 10:49 min/mile

Hello 3:35 pace group.  Goodbye 3:35 pace group.  I was walking the aid stations now and willing myself to keep moving forward.  In 2016 I was passing these zombies, this year I was one of the un-dead.  Along this section I did get a pick-me-up though – I saw the guy that is always at Ironman Wisconsin on Old Sauk Pass wearing the orange afro-wig.  He was cheering us on here as well.  I stopped and said hello to him because we spent some time with him on that course cheering for Jeff and his sister Jan.

846101_281249756_XLarge
I wish I had a good side, but sadly I don’t.  This definitely isn’t it.  I feel bad for E8772, having my dumb ass in his photo.  

 

40K to the Finish:  Overall time:  3:52:07 / Split 0:14:46 / Ave. Pace 10:50 min/mile

I saw Kari and Rebecca waiting for me after the 25 mile mark and I stopped to say hello.  Not much longer and I would be done.

fullsizeoutput_118e3
Saw Kari and Rebecca and I headed to their side of Michigan Avenue.  

I started to press forward and make it up Roosevelt Road and head to the finish.  As I was climbing Mount Roosevelt as we marathoners call it, a volunteer said to “Fight up the hill!”  I told her I was a lover not a fighter.  She laughed and then I heard her yell, “then Love up that hill!”

As I headed toward the finish I heard my name get called out from the stands.  I turned to look and saw Calvin Jordan, a fellow runner from New Lenox that I had met this fall.  I made a beeline over to him and said hello.  I think he thought I was nuts not sprinting for the finish, but I was glad to end the run with a friendly face and hello.

846101_281175996_XLarge
Wrapping it up.  
846101_281083225_XLarge
Finally done with 26.2 miles.  

 

Conclusion

The goal for me was to take advantage of a 10 minute Boston qualifying cushion that I would receive just by turning 55 years old.  But in September, the BAA decided to reduce the qualifying times by 5 minutes.  So I went from needing a 3:40 marathon to 3:35, which didn’t seem to be out of the possibility for me seeing that I had ran a 3:25 in 2016.  But this just wasn’t my year.  I wanted to join Ben and Emily in Boston in 2020, but instead of being in the field, I will happily go to be a spectator.

I think my main issue this year was volume, and essentially too much of it for a guy in his mid-fifties.  When I finished Boston in April, my body was beat.  Everything hurt.  So I dropped the 3+ year running streak I had and worked on rebuilding myself.  I was really feeling pretty good again come summer, and when I did my 20 mile training run in late September, I held that 8 min/mile pace well.  Just wasn’t my year this year.

But I must say I’m very proud of my 3:52:07 finish.  Being sub-4 hours is always pretty cool.

 

Ben made me very proud.  He crushed his first marathon in 2:47:11!  After the race he seemed like it was just another day of running to him!  Not tired at all.  The next day I went out and got my Chicago Tribune and saw that he was in the banner photo at the top!

clipping-2

 

image
I also found this photo of him online.  Not sure where that hard left turn is, but seeing that the field is pretty spread out and the sparse crowd, I’m guessing toward the latter part of the race.  It could be up near mile 8 though.  

 

We wrapped up race day back at the Corner Bakery with some hot soup and then headed for home.

IMG_7915
The Trump Tower was off to the left of me and I was trying to pull Ben over to get the sign in the photo, but he wasn’t having any of that!  Proud dad with his running boy!

 

 

 

The Dreaded 20 Mile Training Run

IMG_7738

Preparing for a marathon means following a plan, a plan that takes you up in mileage over several weeks (16 for me) and gets you ready to tackle 26.2 miles.  This is Week 13 of 16 for me, and it was time to do the dreaded 20 mile training run.

This year I decided to join in with the local Frankfort/New Lenox Running Club that I have been following and run their 20 mile training run.  This club really did a great job putting on this event.  The route was run on my local trail, had awesome volunteers, plentiful aid stations with anything you could have needed, and even a local team of specialized volunteers called CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) aiding with traffic at several street crossings.

We started at the still sleepy hour of 6 am in downtown Frankfort, Illinois after a group photo in the dark that surprisingly turned out well.

41769763_10215030808635447_7418325109162639360_n
Photo by Susan Danforth

I don’t know why I get nervous before long runs like this, especially when I am doing them alone.  This was just billed as a training run, not a race.  But regardless, I still was a little nervous.  As soon as the photo was taken, I hit the trail.

I was in a pack of about 12 people at the start, but by the time I got 100 feet into it I was in second place.  Not that I was racing it!

The trail was in great shape for the early morning run.  Most of the brush clearing that the forest preserve does in the summer/fall seemed to have been all cleaned up, and the trail was not yet overrun with cyclists getting in their weekend miles.

I could see a couple of runners ahead of me and I could tell that they were pulling away from me through the first two miles.  The girl was moving super fast.  They caught another runner and the male dropped back and ran with her.  It wasn’t long before I caught them and realized it was a guy from the group named Pat that had also run the Boston Marathon in April.  He ran with me for the next two miles to the 4 mile turn around point.  We had a great conversation about Boston, running and triathlon.  He decided to drop out at the turn around and told me he was heading to the 14 mile aid station and would see me there.

It was now just me and the super fast girl ahead of me, when around mile 6 I was passed by another guy from the group whose name I learned was Gavin.  Gavin killed it.  He was moving too.  There’s some good runners in this club.

I got back to the 8 mile aid station, which was our starting point and filled up my water bottle.  I think they were slightly surprised to see runners already returning from the first out and back.  It was awesome to have the aid stations.  I probably could have left my water bottle at home, but I like to be able to drink when I wanted it.

IMG_7743
Stopping at the 4 mile water stop running with Pat.  I’m unsure who took the photo, but thanks to those that did!

Around the 10 mile mark I couldn’t take my sweat soaked shirt anymore and I took it off and wrung the sweat out of it.  It could have easily been a cup or more of sweat.  The day started cool enough, and there was plenty of shade when the sun finally made an appearance, but it was humid and I was sweating.  I kept up with my run plan of taking a salt capsule every hour and it kept me in good shape.

IMG_7741
Me holding my GU wrapper garbage getting ready to toss it in the garbage at one of the last aid stations.  This might be near the 14 mile turn around.

Soon after turning around at the 14 mile mark, I could see that another runner Dan Doyle had made up some time on me.  He was closing the gap and finally caught me at Wolf Road when I stopped one final time to top off my water bottle.  We ran the remaining 3 or 4 miles together.  He was planning to do an extra two miles but he said that he was starting to feel like he was going to cramp up.  He ended up doing an additional mile.  He’s looking to get a Boston Marathon qualifier in Chicago, and I think he has a real solid chance at that.  You never know with the Boston Marathon numbers game.

41758897_10215233061932578_3245685508319215616_o
Dan and I getting to the finish of 20 miles.  He went on to do another mile.  

IMG_7740

I wasn’t planning on writing such a long report for a 20 mile training run, but I haven’t posted anything about my marathon training so far.  I was a little concerned about how I was going to fare, seeing that Boston was a terrible run for me and that I came to the conclusion that I was way overtrained.  After Boston I dropped the 3+ year running streak I had and took some time off to let my body heal.  Missing out on those recovery days after hard efforts was killing me.  I think I trained pretty well through the summer to get to this point.  It’s kind of hard to know sometimes, as the hotter summer temps produce slower times even though I was putting in hard efforts.  What was clear about this run was this:  performance on race day is so different than when you are just out there working on a training run.  Even though this highly supported 20 miler was not a race, it had a vibe of one, and it allowed me to see where I stood.  The previous weeks’ 18 mile run was done on a much cooler day and I seemed to struggle to eventually finish with an 8:15 average pace.  Today I averaged 8:05 on a much warmer day and felt strong at that 20 mile mark finish line.  A great weather day in October for the Chicago Marathon will hopefully make for another 3:30 or 3:25 finish for me.  This run certainly was a confidence builder.  I don’t think I have much to dread anymore.

One last shout out to FNRC for hosting this run and doing such a great job.  The cold drinks and popsicle at the finish line was the best ever!

2018 Chicago Triathlon Race Report

When:  08/26/2018, 7:32am

Where:  Chicago, Illinois

Distance:  Olympic/International:  1500 meters (0.93 mile) Swim, 40 Kilometers (24.8 mile) Bike, 10 Kilometer (6.2 mile) Run

Results:  2:53:43 – 756/2238 overall, 24/36 M55-59 Age Group, 171/483 Males Over 40

611266-5550-928710

The Chicago Triathlon is always fun to do, even more so when your Team Gunner friends join in on the fun!  WE LOVE THIS SPORT!!!  Especially Gunner Alex!  He loves it more than anyone!

I thought I’d let the pictures tell the story this time – so buckle up!  Here we go!

Team Gunners started trickling in and I started taking selfies.  The expo was where we all met and sat through the mandatory course talk in order to pick up our race packets.

I was kind of disappointed in the expo.  I usually buy an event tri kit to wear in the race but they were almost completely sold out, save for a few size small tri tops.  What guy wears a size small tri top?  Nobody, that’s who.

After a quick discussion upon leaving the expo, we decided that we would take advantage of pre-racking our bikes in transition the day before the race.  Here’s a few shots of what the transition area looks like.  The photos don’t show the 7,000 plus bikes.

IMG_7679
It’s a good idea to make a mental note where your bike is located.  It’s behind that tree about 50 yards.

IMG_7678IMG_7675IMG_7672

 

IMG_7684
One final group selfie after everyone had there Gunner-mobiles racked and toured Bike Out.

For dinner we went to Jeff and Jill’s house on Michigan Ave. and were treated to a wonderful spaghetti dinner.  It was great, as was the conversation.  Their view of Millennium Park and Lake Michigan is amazing.

 

RACE DAY – SUNDAY MORNING – 4 AM and the alarm goes off.  I had written down that Dave said we should meet at the elevators of our floor at 4:40 am, but for some reason my mind registered to meet at 4:20 am.  So there I was, 20 minutes early wondering where everyone was.  Triathlon makes you dumb.  The crew finally arrived and off we began our trek from the Chicago Hilton to transition again to set up the rest of our race gear.  This is a long walk, and we were regretting not having our bikes to ride there.  But honestly, the racks were so packed with bikes that I doubt I would have found room to rack the thing.

Upon leaving I saw three of Rebecca’s music teachers who were racing the Olympic distance as a relay team.  I chatted them up and they seemed pretty excited.

fullsizeoutput_115a2

 

Alex was first up.  His wave started at 6:16 am.  Lucky him.  Did I mention that he loves this sport?  He was racing in the Collegiate division with his buddy Brandon.

 

 

More pictures of Alex in the water.  Nice sunrise photo, too!  Thanks Kari!

fullsizeoutput_1159c
The remaining Gunner boys met up one final time before our individual wave starts.

 

It was Jeff’s turn to go next.  He really loves this sport too.  He’s on Week 28 of 30 training for Ironman Wisconsin.  Fun times.

IMG_7699
Down to 3 Gunners!  One last selfie before Dave and John abandon me.
IMG_3325
It’s 7:08 am and now it’s Dave and John’s turn to jump in to Lake Michigan.

IMG_3334

 

This cutie was next.  This year Elizabeth and her friend Claire were in different waves.  So Lizzy and Claire had to go it alone.  I’m not sure if they love this sport too.

 

IMG_1535275339140

 

 

 

 

Somehow we missed taking pictures of Claire getting in the water, but I found this awesome photo on the race website.  Go Claire!!!  I’m guessing that she doesn’t enjoy this sport as much as we do.

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_3339

My turn has finally come.  What was I thinking about you ask?  I was looking at these 55-59 year old men and thinking about how we all grew up listening to the same music, wearing the same types of clothes and doing the same stupid stuff back in the 70’s and 80’s.  We’re the crew that somehow survived that period in one piece.  Deep stuff man.  Actually, I was fretting about how hot I was, that I had to pee, and that the run was going to suck.  I love this sport.

IMG_3342
Time to get into the water.  This photo is just after I punched myself in the lip trying to get my wetsuit on. I really enjoyed that.  
Triathlon=Love

 

IMG_3345
7:32 am – Horn blast and off we go!  I’m on the left side in the back.  See me?  I was just giving the others a head start, you know, to make it fair.
IMG_3346
THAR SHE BLOWS, MATEY!!!

SWIM:  1500 Meters – 32:03 – It was a pretty good swim for me, seeing that I had done practically NO swimming the entire summer.  I was worried that the water would be warm – a week prior the water temp was 80 degrees. But thanks to some strong wave activity this past week, race day water temp was 70 degrees.  I was surprised when I jumped in at how cold it felt.  The water was perfect, very calm.  I stayed wide of the fray and avoided contact.  It was a pleasant swim.

T1:  5:40 – The distance from Swim Out to T1 seems like 1/2 mile.  It’s a long way to go.  I got my wetsuit off quickly, grabbed my bike and headed for Bike Out.

BIKE:  24.8 Miles – 1:13:49 – The bike course takes you north on Lake Shore Drive and although it can have some rollers, it’s pretty flat and fast.  I’ve done about as much bike training as I have swim training, but I was moving along pretty well at an average of about 20.5 mph.  Seeing that I was in Wave 24, I knew that there would be plenty of slower riders I had to pass around.  I passed Elizabeth and then passed one of the Becca’s band teachers.  I probably passed Claire too, but I didn’t see her.  After coming back down LSD, you head into Lower Wacker Drive, and then the fun starts.  I felt like I was riding a motorcycle.  You loose GPS signal on Lower Wacker, so I really don’t know how fast I was going, but I assure you that I was easily getting over 25 mph.  Love that section of the race.  It’s was a lot cooler under there as well.  The last third of the bike course is no fun.  It’s on a bus only, two lane road and gets pretty crazy down there.  I saw the aftermath of a crash with one guy still on the ground.  I just wanted to get through it without any trouble, keep my average speed up, and get to the run in one piece.

T2:  3:27 – I’m kind of surprised that this isn’t longer, as helped a guy find his bike that he couldn’t locate, and I took time to shove an empty Gatorade bottle down my pants and pee into it as I walked from my bike to Run Out.  Gotta love triathlon.

RUN:  10K/6.2 Miles – 58:46 – The run was a literal “hot mess” as the kids say.  The race results listed the temperature at 93 degrees.  It felt hotter.  I started picking off other runners right away and got into a good pace.  My split for the first mile was 7:42 and I knew I was not going to be able to hold it.  By mile 3, I was walking the aid stations and just shuffling along.  I felt like I had enough nutrition, I had taken 3 salt capsules leading up to this point, and I seemed like I was hydrated enough, judging from the color of my pee in that Gatorade bottle in T2.  (I know, too much info.)  My real concern was heat stroke.  I could feel myself getting really hot.  Fortunately, the aid stations had plenty of water and I kept putting it in me and on me.  One table around the 4 mile mark had ice and I stuck some in my jersey pockets.  By the time I passed by the 5K sprint turn around, they were sending all athletes back.  The Event Alert System had gone to RED.  Miles 4 and 5 were my slowest, notching a run/walk average pace of 10:35 and 11:03 respectively.  But I think it was smart race management on my part.  At least I didn’t end up like this girl:

IMG_3361

 

Kari snapped this picture of another racer trying to prevent this girl from face-planting.  She got medical assistance.  The guy ended up in Dave and John’s race finish video.  Kuddos to that guy.

I told myself that I would pick up the pace for the last mile and ended with a 9:27 pace for that mile.  I’ll take it.  It was brutal.  Probably the hottest running race I have ever done.  I can’t remember a hotter one.

 

 

 

My race finish video.  I’m on the far right.  If you watch it, turn the volume down.  You’ve been warned.

IMG_1535279186820
Coming down the stretch to the finish.
IMG_1535279166080
Glad to be done and still upright on this extremely warm day.

Time to wrap it up:

IMG_3358

 

 

Here’s Alex thoroughly enjoying his run.  If you look at his leg you can see where he donated some skin to the pavement on Lower Wacker.  I got to hand it to him – in spite of the signs saying to slow down for the turn, he went FULL GUNNER into it and wiped out.  HE LOVES THIS SPORT!!!

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_3365
Here’s brothers John and Dave finishing together.  They finished the race with the exact same time.  John is tipping his hat in a show of respect to the sport he loves so much.  Dave is like me, I always zip up nearing the finish line as well.  That’s a pro move, baby!
IMG_1535279460400
I got my medal and my popsicle.  I have to say, getting a popsicle  was the highlight of the race.  Just another reason to love this sport.
IMG_4928
Many thanks to this lovely lady for being there for me and my Gunner teammates today.  And thanks for walking the extra couple of miles to transition and back to get all my junk.  That may have been the hardest part of the day.  I really was contemplating quitting triathlons and running at this point.  LOL

fullsizeoutput_115a1

Until the next race, Cheers to you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2018 Manteno Sprint Triathlon Race Report

When:  07/28/2018, 8:00am

Where:  Manteno, Illinois

Distance:  Sprint:  400 yard Swim, 11 mile Bike, 3.1 mile Run

Results:  1:05:03 – 23rd overall, 2nd place M55-59

I thoroughly enjoyed this race when I did it for the first time last year, so there was no hesitation about signing up again this year.  Kari joined me for the race this year again too, doing the duathlon.  We got up around 5am and headed to the race.

IMG_7596
Looking fairly happy pre-race.

As soon as we walked our bikes into transition I was met by a lady who recognized me and said she had read my blog from a previous race. She follows the same local running group that I do, but I was surprised that she had read it.  I only share it on my page, so I’m guessing someone else must have shared it.  Anyway, I kind of felt like a celebrity after that!

We ran into many familiar faces and we shared race day strategies and advised each other on who to look out for!  Seems like a very close knit group.  Even my wife remembered some of the duathlon competitors.

IMG_7595
With transition all set up, it was time to race.

SWIM:  400 Yards, 9:31, 3rd in A/G, 68th Overall

The swim temp was 77 degrees, barely wetsuit legal, but I only saw one guy wearing one.  I opted to not even bring it from the car.  I had a really good swim.  Last year I was a touch faster, but I remember laboring more too.  This swim had zero contact and was issue free.  Some commented post-race that they thought the course was longer than 400 yards.  My watch showed 511 yards, but I forgot to hit my lap button as I exited the water and headed into transition.  Official T1 time was 1:14, which isn’t too bad.

BIKE: 11 Miles, 30:53, Average speed 21.4 mph, 3rd in A/G, 25th Overall

Like last year, I opted for the full aero disc on my bike and went all out from the start.  I was pushing hard through the whole 11 mile ride.  I didn’t get passed by anyone this year, and I was blowing by lots of other riders.  The wind was much lighter this year and it was also from the west, so it only affected a mile or two of the ride.  Moved up several spots after the bike.  Official T2 time was 1:27, slower than T1 because I sat down to put on socks.

RUN:  3.1 miles, 21:56, 7:04 per mile pace ave., 2nd in A/G, 20th Overall

I had not trained for triathlon much this spring in summer.  This time last year I was already 10 or 11 weeks into Ironman Louisville training.  When I got off the bike and started the run, my legs were rubber.  Very apparent to me that brick workouts make a world of difference, and I hadn’t done hardly any this year.  But all things considered, I settled into a comfortable pace and just started catching the next runner ahead of me.  I must have passed a lot of duathletes, because I only moved up 5 spots from the bike.  I started pushing a little harder at the 2 mile mark and just kept up the effort until I finished.  I was greeted by a guy named Mike, who I beat last year and he asked what had taken me so long.  Oh well, try to get him next year.

Untitled

Kari and I both got 2nd in our age groups.  Kari’s group seemed to be having more fun.

Overall, a little slower than last year, but I was not as prepared this year as last.  Very fun day.

Link to the 2018 Manteno Tri Race Results

Amita Health/Fit America Half Marathon Race Recap

WHEN:  SATURDAY, 7/21/2018 – 7:30am

WHERE:  HOFFMAN ESTATES, IL

DISTANCE:  HALF MARATHON – 13.1 MILES

RESULTS:  1:38:53 – 53rd OVERALL, 7th in Age Group M 50-54

IMG_7588

I signed up for this race last week in hopes of improving my corral seeding at the 2018 Chicago Marathon (CM) this coming fall.  Otherwise, I avoid summer half marathons like the plague!  Too hot, muggy and miserable!  But I was on a mission.

Although I have legacy status for the CM which guarantees my entry, I ended up getting into the race based on a qualifying time from the 2016 CM race.  At the CM, they seed you into corrals, which are now separated into three waves.  Being in the first wave is pretty awesome, as you are with the faster runners who finish under 3 hours and 45 minutes, and generally with those that will be running the same pace as you.  In 2016 I was seeded in the B corral, which was like being an elite for me.  When the word got out that we had been assigned corrals for this years race, I found that I had been moved to the E corral.  Talk about a blow to my ego!  Still in the first wave though, which is really the goal.  Being in the first wave is preferred because there will be less people, less congestion, and no fear of the supplies of water, or Gatorade, or gels, or whatever running out.  But even so, my qualifying time of 3:25:08 should have put me in the D corral to begin with by their own time standards.

Screen-Shot-2018-06-21-at-2.38.43-PM
2018 Chicago Marathon Corral Time Standards

I sent an email requesting to be moved to the D corral, and it was approved.  But I thought I would give it a shot at trying to get into the C corral, which would require me to run either a <3:20:01 marathon, or a <1:35:01 half marathon.  Since there’s no way I’m attempting to run a marathon in July, I found this local half marathon race in relatively nearby Hoffman Estates, Illinois.

 

Amita Health/Fit America Half Marathon Race Recap

PRERACE

Of course it was raining.  Since running the in pouring rain at the Boston Marathon in April, it seems like every race I sign up for is going to have rain.  I even skipped a triathlon in June because of the storms that morning.  But today it wasn’t too bad, just misty, and that only lasted for about 30 minutes.

I took my spot in the start corral area and found my pacer.  This guy and everyone around him all looked young, tall and thin and more than capable of being sub 1:35.  I tapped his shoulder and asked him what the 6.55 mile (halfway) split would be, just to see if he did his homework.  He did the math right there and I was satisfied.  He also had a pace chart on his wrist.  He did ask me if that was what I was intending to run, with sort of doubt in his expression, which always makes me chuckle when people doubt me.  I may look old, fat and slow, but there is nothing more pleasing than surprising them with my effort.  I said I was shooting for the stars today, hoping I would be able to hang until at least halfway.

Someone with a mic started a countdown:  10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3… and on 3 the guy with the airhorn started blaring the thing.  We all laughed and off we went.

(Note:  I’m a newer user of Strava and I find the data and info from it interesting.  I added screenshots of each mile split for reference and to help me recall things that happened during the race.)

MILE 1 – (7:13 Split) – I was afraid that 7:15 per mile was going to feel like 5K race pace to me, because I don’t normally train at that pace (usually I’m running 8:40 or so in training!), but our pack settled in behind our pacer.  I actually felt pretty good.

Screen Shot 2018-07-22 at 10.52.22 AM

 

MILE 2 – (7:12 Split) – By this mile my heart rate was in Z4 and I started to feel the intensity of the pace.  But still I felt good, hanging with the group and feeling and looking like I belonged.

Screen Shot 2018-07-22 at 10.53.37 AM

MILE 3 – (7:09 Split) – This split time is a little surprising, because Mr. Pacer was pretty spot on with his pace.  There was only a handful of times when the group slowed going uphill, but we all picked it back up to 7:15 pretty easily.  There were warnings of puddles to avoid, and I mentioned to the girl running next to me that Boston was all puddles, and she said she had run it too!  Conversations were happening in the group and I sensed the group was feeling good.

Screen Shot 2018-07-22 at 10.55.43 AM

MILE 4 – (7:16 Split) – This is where it all fell apart for me.  I hit a wall and I hit it hard!  Who hits the proverbial wall 4 miles into a half marathon?!  Me, that’s who.  I think the problem was I grabbed an energy gel at 30 minutes and started ingesting it.  Between that and a water stop, my heart rate soared and I could feel myself starting to struggle.  We were also starting to hit more of the hillier sections of the first half, and that was adding to my issue.  The group wasn’t too far ahead, but I didn’t think I could keep pace any longer.  I figured that the halfway point might be where I would falter.  I was a little surprised that it was hitting me now.

Screen Shot 2018-07-22 at 10.58.02 AM

MILE 5 – (7:22 Split) – Okay, a little relief from the energy gel.  It usually takes about 5-10 minutes to get absorbed and it was starting to give me a boost.  I worked on trying to pull myself back up to the group.  We hit a turn around at this point and Mr. Pacer offered a thumbs up.  But the hills were starting to take their toll on me.

Screen Shot 2018-07-22 at 10.59.03 AM

MILE 6 – (7:33 Split) – Running alone again.  Every race, every time.  This middle mile of the race is like all middle miles of most any race.  It’s the point where I find myself running alone.  Although it was becoming splintered a little, the 7:15 pace group was a good football field or two ahead of me now, and there was no sign of anyone behind me.  This happens all the time to me.  The official timer had a split mat at 10K and I hit it at 45:51, which was still looking pretty good for me, but I had another half of the race to go.

Screen Shot 2018-07-22 at 10.59.58 AM

MILE 7 – (7:44 Split) – I don’t remember much about this mile other than it was the straightest of the miles.  Just doing the work at my new, more comfortable pace.

Screen Shot 2018-07-22 at 11.00.56 AM

MILE 8 – (7:47 Split) – This is the mile I had originally planned to start a finishing push.  You can see by the slower split time that it didn’t happen.  Interesting mile though.  I started eating my last energy gel, just kind of taking a small amount each time.  I wanted to make sure it lasted a little longer.

Screen Shot 2018-07-22 at 11.02.06 AM

MILE 9 – (7:37 Split) – I was starting to feel energized again.  A young college kid passed me wearing a UW Stevens Point shirt and he had the look of a classic cross country runner.  Tall, thin and running easily.  I figured he must be just pacing through a training day and not racing at all, because there was no way I should have been leading that kid through 8 miles.  But I was wrong.  I saw him and his mother at the finish and I asked him if he was just taking it easy, and he claimed it was his first half marathon and he didn’t run at UWSP.  Shame.  He definitely looked like he should have been in the top 10 today.  Looks can be deceiving.

Screen Shot 2018-07-22 at 11.03.01 AM

MILE 10 – (7:59 Split) – As I passed the 9 mile mark I noticed the ball of my foot was getting sore, and I guessed that I was starting to get a blister.  That was a little surprising, because I had lubed up my feet pretty good with Body Glide.  My feet were soaked however.  This was my slowest split and I’m not sure why.  There was a turn around, but I didn’t mess around there.  With only 5K to go at the 10 mile mark, I started to push again.  I was slowly starting to catch people.  I think I overtook 3 other runners in this mile.

Screen Shot 2018-07-22 at 11.04.12 AM

MILE 11 – (7:43 Split) – I wanted to keep pushing but the path started getting hilly and curvy again.  Hoping to push a little more but save enough for a strong last mile kick.  Definitely could feel that blister forming on my right foot.

Screen Shot 2018-07-22 at 11.06.06 AM

MILE 12 – (7:41 Split) – Just after passing the 11 mile marker you come to a turn where there is a water station, but I almost made a wrong turn there.  That’s the fear for me when I get stuck in no-man’s land.  Fortunately I chose correctly, grabbed some water and kept going.

Screen Shot 2018-07-22 at 11.07.09 AM

MILE 13 and End – (7:29 Split) – I finally got out of the forest preserve and back on the road heading back to the finish.  I had been looking over my shoulder and could see a guy in a blue singlet pulling me in.  I’m pretty sure he was in the early 7:15 pace group with me.  He caught me with a little less than a half mile to go.  I latched on and we paced together until we were handed American flags about 200 meters from the finish.  I was with him at that point and encouraged him to push.  He did and was able to beat me to the line.  I crossed the line waving that flag, relieved to be under 1:40 and to be done.  He congratulated me on a good finish, and I him.

Screen Shot 2018-07-22 at 11.08.08 AM

Screen Shot 2018-07-22 at 11.08.56 AM

Overall I was pretty happy with my sub 1:40 time of 1:38:53.  I was hoping for that sub 1:35, and I was optimistic about it for the most part, but I really would have needed a perfect day and course to get that.  Corral D, here I come!

Screen Shot 2018-07-22 at 11.20.25 AM
My Garmin HR Zones for the race.  Z4 is hard, but over the years I have found how to exist there in races.  I never spend 95% of my time in Z4 in training.  More like 0%.

 

COURSE INFO

hoffmanestates_ffasf_halfmap – PDF of course map

The course was more challenging than I expected.  It had about 650 feet of elevation gain which is notable.  Rolling hills, but nothing too terrible.  The course is all paved, some on road but most on bike trail.  There were five switchbacks and a lot of turns.  I would rate it challenging, but still capable of producing a good finish time.  The race organization was outstanding.  The volunteers were plentiful and were awesome.  The medal seemed a little cheaper than other races I have been at that this race organization hosts, but I still liked it.  I signed up late and paid about $70.  I highly recommend this race and most races hosted by All Community Events.

mhp_1550.jpg
Most ‘Murica thing I’ve done ever!

 

RACE RESULTS LINK

All Community Events 13.1 Race Results – Overall Results

Fit America – My Results

 

 

 

Memories Of A Now Gone Park

Yesterday I was on an after dinner walk with my wife Kari, and daughters Ashley and Rebecca.  As we wound our way back through the neighborhood, I headed toward the park to deposit some of the trash I had picked up on the walk in the trash bin adjacent to the playground.  I saw the swings and couldn’t resist.  I hopped on one and began swinging.  The girls soon joined in, with Rebecca also swinging, Ashley opting to walk on the balance beam and with Kari heading for the main play set.  I followed Kari on the bouncy bridge, across the pedestal bridge, and back on to the wobbly bridge that lead to the corkscrew pole, in which, of course, I had to spin down.

The memories of taking the kids to this park when they were young came flooding back.  Having to hold hands as they made it across the wobbly bridge; lifting Ben up to the monkey bars to help him get around; giving ‘underdogs’ to all three of them on the swings; to even our dog Lucky, teaching him how to climb the steps to take a trip down the slide.  We maybe spent five minutes playing around before heading home.

IMG_0513
2009 – Ashley on the playground
IMG_0512
2009 – Rebecca on the springy dinosaur we naturally called Barney

Today I started my noontime run, which takes me past that very same park, and I was shocked to discover it was gone.  All of the equipment removed.

IMG_7546
2018 – No more park

It was surreal to me.  The park was now surrounded by some plastic caution tape, acting as a barrier to keep others away.  But it was almost like crime scene tape to me – someone had stolen the park that had generated all those memories that we had just recalled.  For the next 7 miles, I thought only about that park and the times I spent there with the kids.

I’m sure the park district has plans to replace the park with newer equipment, equipment that will be just as much fun to the kids of today as the old stuff was to my kids.  But the memories of playing at our park, will now just be what we have stored in our minds, with no physical equipment to hop on to rekindle those memories.

I am glad I made that stop at the park last night.  It was like being drawn there to say goodbye to an old friend, without even knowing they were leaving.  I wish I had more pictures to remember it by.