No Honey Buckets in the Midwest…….

Due to the weekend chaos, I decided to try to get a 10 miler in last night instead of this morning.  This wasn’t exactly ideal since by Friday night, I’m usually very tired and just want to chill but I wanted to get it out of the way since the entire week has been less than ideal.  The Wednesday 10 miler turned into a 4, then I have an indoor 5K race on Sunday, and 13.1 Miami Beach next weekend.  Plus I needed to break in those fluorescent pink Saucony Guide’s! 

The weather was good at 28 degrees and there was no snow or wind when I began.  However, that quickly changed.  I parked at Ridgeland, ran east to Matteson and back for my first 4 miles.  It’s very scenic in the first mile east of Ridgeland with a large pond on both sides of the trail.  Very tranquil.

Then I picked up Kate for another 6 miles and by that time it was getting fun.  The snow had started and the wind was ridiculous coming out of the west blowing the snow right into my eyes.  Plus the wind was at the point where I.COULD.HARDLY.STAND.UP.  But, of course, Kate was up for some miles. 

We started off running into the wind to get that out of the way and that first 3 out were tough!  It was hard to talk and we were slightly over a 9 minute mile, which felt like we were moving in slow motion!  Once we hit the turnaround though we were flying until I realized I need a bathroom STAT!  That slowed us considerably while we hunted for one and I had to just totally stop a few times to “refocus”.  Sorry Kate!

This whole process really had me thinking about running in the midwest in the winter.  Personally, as a Midwesterner, almost everything seems better on the west coast.  Port-O-Pots included.  And what was on my mind during last night’s run?  Well, Port-O-Pots cuz I had to “go”.  Several west coast run-bloggers have mentioned their beloved Honey Bucket’s many times over the last several years.  Doesn’t that sound pleasant?

As a winter runner in the midwest, you will find that all of those readily available bathrooms, port-o-pots and water sources that you hit during the spring/summer/fall have all been locked up, or taken away, during the winter.  Well, that doesn’t mean that you still don’t need those resources but alas they are unavailable.  Kate and I were on a quest to find one yesterday when “the urge” hit me late in our run.  So nice to be out running with a friend and have such an issue fun.  Embarrassing but since she will not only be a Ragnar Relay partner but also a Chicago Marathon training partner, I guess she would have eventually realized that I have some “issues”.  Still not ideal though on my part.  😦  And note to self:  Cheese & Crackers pre-run is NOT a good snack.

Of course, all the nice, indoor facilities were locked.  The port-o-pots at the parks had been removed.  And one lonely Waste Management potty was left at Ridgeland Avenue.  Thank goodness for whoever pays for that one to stay and be maintained.  Not only was it open and available but it was also stocked with the necessities. 

And the best part, although those 50-60 mph winds tried their darndest to tip this potty while I was inside, in the pitch black darkness, I got lucky and made it out unscathed.  Some days are definitely better than others!

Anyone want to make a list of port-o-pots that are still available in the winter?  I may need to readjust my running routes to include these places.  So tell us if you know of any potties that are out along Old Plank Trail!

Happy Running,                                                                                                         Amanda – TooTallFritz

4 thoughts on “No Honey Buckets in the Midwest…….

  1. Ha! That same port-o-potty has saved me before! I like your idea of a list of places to “go” in the winter. Kelly ended up going on the side of the trail (in the trees) on Thursday night. We had a laugh about it though.

  2. Ya, I hear ya TTF, a frustrating experience to discover those POL’s that were there in the spring and summer have been removed, and the indoor facilities are locked up. Imagine the Erie-Lackawana Trail in Indiana that I was doing the run-coaching and Sat Long-Runs for Fleet Feet last year – and entire 10+ mile long trail without a single public restroom or POL along the trail….and this is in the spring and summer! I tried contacting various agencies involved but it fell on deaf ears cause I was not an Indiana resident!

    To compensate, I did a through recon of the entire trail route and found all gas stations, restaraunts and such in close proximity that were willing to accomodate use of their RR’s. In one case (a combo laundromat/hot-dog ice-cream stand), the owner indicated they could use the RR as long as they bought some item like a bottle of water or pop. That works and I put that in the notes for the runners. I also mapped out areas of substantial woods that seemed reasonable to head into to relieve ones-self when no other alternatives existed. Still…an embarassing situations to have a 10-mile (no even longer with extension into Crown Point) without a single rest-room facility. You know what there rationale for none was? Vandalism! So what…deal with it!

    In Cook County Forest Preserves and notably in the Palos Preserves where they Yankee Runners do there winter training on streets starting from Palos Rec Center off of 127th, I noticed that every winter the CCFPD remove the POL at 40-acre Woods parking lot off of 119th. It’s there in the spring and summer, and apparently they leave one at Swallow Cliffs parking/access and in the past they always left one by the trail at Yankee Woods. Why they remove the one from 40-acre Woods has always perplexed me!

    I am sure they are trying to cut expenses and must assume there isn’t the public use to justify leaving it there all year round. But, with all those Yankee (and others) out there running down 119th, there is justification to keep the one at 40-Acre Woods. Eventually I plan to contact the CCFPD to inquire about this and campaign for reconsideration.

    This year the Yankee Runners took extra money from their “slush fund” and rented a POL to put outside the Palos Rec Center. Nice! The Palos Rec Center is sometimes open in the winter, but not consistently and when it does open, it is well after the 7 am run start time, and usually about 10 am. That’s nice for going inside to change though!

    There is a Fire Department station at corner of 127th and Forest Lane where Yankee start, but they have frowned upon use of their restroom and in recent times, been outright nasty or won’t answer the door when you knock! Have contemplated contacting them and maybe the club or some of the runners make a “donation” to their fire-house cause for at least access to their RR on limited basis on Sat morns.

    OK…regarding F’N and OPRT sometimes it is just the respective agencies just aren’t aware of how many people use that trail in the winter months. You might want to consider contacting some of the various agencies that own various sections and advise them when there are a lot of runners that use that trail in the winter for training and probably even locals that use it also, enough to justify some strategically located POLs as well as keeping indoor facilities opened, at least on the weekends.

    If that fails, then if your club can muster some donations and/or raise some cash each year (try raffles and other fun-things to raise some extra cash), you can eventually opt to rent your own POL and have it placed somewhere, again with whatever agency that owns the particular section gives ya their blessing.

    Runners want and really need POLs and RR’s year-roung. Runners Unite!

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