I went home to Peoria, IL this weekend because of health and personal issues for my parents. My father is 77 and is separated from my mother, who is 73. Why they are separated is a long story, but not for this blog.
My mother is slowly but surely recovering from a stroke she suffered almost a year ago. From what I understand, she nearly passed away (at least twice), was in a coma for almost a week, and then came out of it. That was late September thru the first couple of weeks in October. She spent October thru January in a nursing home undergoing physical therapy and regaining her mental faculties from her stroke. She went back home in January hand has been gaining her physical strength. She can move her wheelchair and can walk short distances.
The thing that I am most grateful to God for is that she has the heart of a lioness and her mind is sharp as a cutlass. I had one meaningful conversation with her, in the wake of us missing church due to her not feeling well from her dialysis. She spoke for about half an hour, and spoke loud and clear enough to know that she was still alive and that she cared for her children, and was grateful to still be alive.
I saw my father later on that Sunday. I don’t think I have reconciled their separation as well as I thought I did, but I was able to stay silent and let him sat his piece. Whatever his sins, he can still make a delicious set of pork chops.
This past Sunday, I confirmed what I already knew: what I gained from my father was a willingness to fight and be independent, and what I gained from my mother was endurance and the will to survive.
Illinois River Trail (Carl Schmitt Trail)
Just before my workout at the World Gym in Peoria, I took a trip to East Peoria and Morton to scope out the Illinois River Trail.
First, with all due respect to the fine folks at TraiLink, the addresses posted as endpoints for the trail were way off. The East Peoria end of the trail had two possible entry points; one was at a softball field, and the other was at the CVS Pharmacy. I saw no landmarks or signposts declaring this as The Illinois River Trail or the Carl Schmitt Trail; the only way you could confirm this was to ask any of the fellow travelers on the route. The “Illinois River” is also a misnomer; much of the trail is landlocked except for the mile or so going into East Peoria. The “River” looked more like a creek.
After a ten minute drive to Morton, I found the other end of the trail. I also found more confusion. The end of the trail stretched out in front of a local church, and the only actual start/finish marker was planted outside the parking lot to Woodland Park. I took a quick walk to see if there were any more mile markers to mark the course. I found an 0.5 mile marker and walked it to a crosswalk, where I saw a set of pylons that seemed to mark the course (or at least the road crossings). I saw a couple of bicyclists coming from one end of the trail and asked them “is this the Carl Schmitt trail?” They said “yes,” and I walked back to the car and took my leave. I was satisfied that I had done enough of a route recon to do the course. The total length was 7.5 miles, so I figured on doing the course from Morton to East Peoria, then take the last mile before the start/finish as a cool down.
In retrospect, the first mistake I made was forgetting that the first part of the course was a T. According to the map, if I wanted to run the full trail, I had to make a RIGHT at the T. Remembering the riders from yesterday, I took a LEFT. I followed the trail to the end, then followed the bike path that came out from the trail. As I reached the end of the bike trail I realized I had gone the wrong way.
Hash House Harrier runs were more clearly defined than this route.
Anyway, as I rambled back to the T I had realized my mistake and cursed myself for the extra mile and a half that I added to the run. To be fair, the trail was a nice run. It’s an all-asphalt surface that cuts a path through some housing properties, a fairly thick forest, and some recreational areas from East Peoria to Morton. On the first mile of the run, there is a curved hill that goes up and quickly back down before going back up and levelling out. After the two mile marker and the Bloomington Road crosswalk, there is a mile=plus stretch of hill. As you go from Morton to EP it is a brisk downhill; from EP, get ready for a good, steep climb. Including the hill, the course goes mostly on a decline towards EP, and then goes on an incline on the return path.
The trail takes place in neighborhoods, forested areas, through a park or two, and the ‘river” in EP. I read on TraiLink about a couple of ‘close encounters’ with the locals; however, at just after dawn on a Sunday morning I encountered a good deal of runners, bikers, and a few folks out for a stroll. I adopted the rule of “don’t mess with them, and they won’t mess with you.”
Back to my run. After finishing the downhill, I saw only a 4.5 mile marker. Because I didn’t use my $5 pedometer properly (hint: tuck it inside your shirt collar for best results) I had no real idea of how far I had gone. I crossed into East Peoria, and got as far as the East Peoria Water Sanitation Office on Veterans Parkway. I saw no readily visible sign for where to go to next, so I declared that point my turnaround and proceeded back the way I came. Long story short, about ¾ of a mile from the Morton point, I broke down and walked most of the rest of the way back.
After finishing the run, I took off the pedometer; it read 6.29 miles. I had put it in my shirt collar just before the Veterans Parkway “turnaround,” so I figured I had done at least 13 and a half plus (13.58 to be kind of exact). After an odometer run in my car, I found out that my “wrong turn” added 3.2 miles to my journey, bringing my total to 16.78 miles. My smartphone stopwatch read 3:15 before I shut it down on the last quarter mile of the run.
On the way home, I did a quick stop in East Peoria to look for where I was supposed to connect for the rest of the trail. I found a stretch of asphalt with the obligatory pylons. “Oh, look, the rest of the trail that you blew off. How much did you cut off, maybe a half mile?” Whatever I lost in that trail, I made up for it with my “wrong turn”…so I had THAT going for me.
The Illinois River Trail was an excellent running course. Plenty of scenery and friendly people to share the trail with, and the locals don’t mess with you (I did my run in the early morning hours). My main beef with the course is that it’s not well defined; there are no landmarks or signposts that truly identify this as the Illinois River Trail or the Carl Schmitt Trail. Also, there are no true start/finish markers and only one mile marker (the 4.5 mile marker) after the 2.0 mile marker. Lastly, there are no portajohns anywhere on the course. If you have to do a No.1, you better do it in the woods and hope you can recognize when you’re about to step in poison ivy. Oh and hope no one sees you. By the way, this course DOES take place on/near private property; you’ve been warned. No. 2? This is a bad place to have diarrhea.
14’25’’ from Peoria, IL to Lexington Park, MD. 721 miles one way.
Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia/Pennsylvania/WVA, Maryland.
Ohio State Police and Highway Patrol were the most active during the drive home.
Roadwork was being done in nearly every state on the round trip.
I couldn’t get any sports radio outside of Ohio; listened to Colin Cowherd and about two minutes of Jim Rome’s guest host.
What the hell happened to country music? I blame Florida Georgia line and that dunbass crossover they did with Nelly (are meth addicts running the business now? Seriously?)
I got some sports radio and Rush Limbaugh in Ohio…but no Skyline Chili. Dammit!
Note to self: Drive from Illinois until you get inside the Maryland border, then find a hotel. Four plus hours driving through the mountains of MD and WVA? Not if I can help it.
At 2355 EST last Friday night, Major Timothy Wilson, USMC, reported aboard Marine Corps Base Pearly Gates. Semper Fi, old friend…Rest in Peace.
Adrian Cronauer, Mork from Ork, Mrs. Doubtfire…you will be missed Robin Williams. By the way, if you ever get the chance, check out Death to Smootchy. Underrated, funny as hell, and a sleeper classic by Danny DeVito.
Hitting the gym in about an hour; no way was I lifting after a fourteen hour drive. This will be an easy week of running.
A few tunes from the drive home:
Founnd this one on the FIFA 07 soundtrack:
Good band, good song:
Love the video version of this song:
I thought this was an Elvis song:
Played the hell outta this song back in the day (STILL have no idea what he’s saying!):
…aaand some Paul Simon for the dismount: