The Epic Double

Illini Chill

Saturday morning was the annual Illini Chill winter bike ride in St. Joe. I rode it last year for the first time in some horrible weather. It was a pleasant surprise to see the forecast for this year indicated the high temperature would be in the 50’s.

I learned the hard way last year that the included lumberjack breakfast actually isn’t pancakes. Luckily, Melissa and I filled up on pancakes Friday night at IHOP.

Short stack

Melissa & I ate our own “lumberjack breakfast” the night before the ride at IHOP

The ride start in St. Joe is only 12 miles from my house in Urbana. Since the weather was so nice I just decided to ride over there. I had a nice cross-tailwind to help push me along the whole way.

Illini Chill

Don, Karl, Greg, & Gene at the ride start

The regular route was a 22 mile loop from St. Joe to Royal and back. There was a 20+ mile long route addition, which I assumed we would do. We started heading north with a strong tailwind. Before I new it we were in Royal and we kept going on the long route–still heading North. We were 15-20 miles north of St. Joe when we finally turned west and hit the first headwind. It was tough. Eight of us took turns leading the way, but our speed still slowed from 25 to 15 mph.

Illini Chill map

my Illini Chill route

We wound our way back to St. Joe, mostly into the headwind. I realized that 20+ miles actually meant 28 miles. That put me at 60 for the day… so far. I was fairly exhausted by the time we returned to St. Joe for the pasta lunch and I was dreading the final 12 miles into the headwind back to Urbana. Fortunately, one of my friends also rode over from Urbana and we were able to ride back together.

It took 4:30 to travel 72 miles. Not great, but it’s only February. This one ride was more than half as far as my total January mileage.

Clinton Lake

I returned home, showered, took a 30 minute nap, ate a snack, then started to prepare for my second adventure. A different group of friends was planning to run 10 miles at the Clinton Lake trail on Saturday night. Clinton Lake is one of the harder area trails to run under normal circumstances. At night (using headlamps and flashlights) it was going to be a new challenge. Additionally, we realized pretty quickly that the entire trail was covered in several inches of mud.

Clinton Lake trail map

Clinton Lake trail

There was a big turnout–18 or so runners. It was kind of neat in the early miles to turn around and see 15 flashlights lining the trail behind me. We slid all over the place. A few people fell. I managed to stay upright, though one time I took a step and when I lifted my foot up my shoe stayed in the mud.

Trail running

my muddy shoes this morning

Somehow I was way overdressed. I started with pants, a long sleeve shirt, and gloves. I took the gloves off almost immediately. Later I pushed up my sleeves and unzipped my shirt. Then I pulled up my pant legs above my knees. I was on the verge of taking my shirt off. I don’t know what the deal was… I’ve never been that hot when it was 45˚ before.

This trail usually takes me less than 1:30, but last night it took 2:20. There was an awful lot of hiking going on at times rather than running. After 6:50 of aerobic exercise in one day I was utterly exhausted.

After the run we all grabbed dinner at Dos Reales, where I consumed copious quantities of chips, salsa, & water. While I was nearly the last person to receive my order, I’m pretty sure I was the first to finish.

Needless to say I had no trouble sleeping last night.

2 thoughts on “The Epic Double”

  1. Nice job. I would have joined the Illini Chill, but did a slalom ski race in the greater Chicago area that day instead. I would not have had to battle quite the headwind to get back home (about 1 mile from start/finish). I have a lot of early season training to do just to be able to stay connected with y’all in southern IL in 6 weeks or so. :-o

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