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The Real Illinois – Entry 5

Another week has gone by which means its time for the next installment of The Real Illinois. This is the first week where it seems like summer is starting to fly by. There is one more week until August and a couple more weeks of work. This week we are checking back in with Henry and Jackie. Unfortunately, we do not have another blurb from someone else like last week, but hopefully you will still enjoy the tales of this week and then look forward to what the future will bring.

Henry Wolf

Hello again. Where to start? I’m doing the same things that I was doing in my last writing. I have been very busy between running, working, commuting and managing EXPO. This week I worked 50 hours. I will work 50 next week too and probably until schools starts. We are getting started on our big project; the design for the reconstruction of a seven-mile stretch of the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90). Our contract for this project is about $20 million and we’re pushing to get through it as quickly as possible to keep up with an ambitious construction start set by the tollway.

Although I was expecting to do mostly tollway work this week I wound up spending about half of my week on our Fairfield Road project. This work involved working on the temporary traffic signals used during the various stages of construction. In this system there are cameras that are posted on top of traffic lights that are focused on these detection zones (red boxes in picture below). “As your vehicle enters … (these zones) … within the camera’s field of view, the camera’s processor detects a change in the ‘zone’. An output is sent to the traffic signal’s controller (the computerized ‘brain’ housed in a nearby metallic cabinet controlling the intersection’s timing) that says a vehicle is requesting green time for its direction.”  I arranged the detection zones according to past plans and standards defined by the client. It was very interesting and I learned a lot. I had learned about this method of traffic control in CEE 310 (Transportation Engineering) last semester and it was really cool to have things learned in class carry over to real work. I also love the feeling that I had an important role in making plans that will eventually be constructed (pending approval). Who knows, maybe my placement of these detection zones ends up saving lives (or at least time).

 Running is better than last time. I checked my log and over the past two weeks I only said I felt bad in about half of my entries. We had our first workout of the season this past Tuesday. It went better than anticipated. Mark, our new coach and longtime training group partner, lives in the area so we get to do workouts together. I use the term “together” as loosely as possible because I spent the whole workout trying to keep up with him. I am very fortunate to have him living nearby and Ben upstairs, they both have helped keep me motivated through the summer doldrums. My legs are feeling better and don’t bother me as much during runs any more. Hopefully I continue to stay healthy. Now that I’ve got my legs under me a bit I hope to increase my mileage a bit and continue to build from there to my original goal of 60-65 miles a week.

I’ve definitely been sleeping less lately and am very tired. This week we worked from 8:30 am to 7 pm, which meant that we would leave home around 7:30 am and return around 8 pm. When I get back home I eat dinner and check the EXPO e-mail account. After that I try to play guitar and read a little bit before I go to sleep. It has been difficult to feel like I’m doing much. I had a list of things I wanted to do this summer and I haven’t been able to do many of them. I hope that this doesn’t become the norm for my life; I don’t want to find that the real world is where dreams are squelched.

That’s it from me for a fortnight . Please watch this video. It is quite good.

Jackie Newell

Since the last update things have definitely turned around for me both in running and at my internship. I think I was just really stressed about keeping up with mileage and work was overwhelming. Now though, I am back in control. These past two weeks I logged 65 miles and 64 miles, and honestly it was surprisingly easy. Once I accepted the fact that I was going to be doubling 5 days a week… I just did it.  My workouts have also been going much better. I always do them at 5:00am on Tuesday mornings and the routineness of that has made me much more mentally prepared for the hard effort.  What I look foreward to most though is long runs. The meat and potatoes of a solid summer of training.  I’ve been running them at “medium” pace and its been going so well! Last weekend Zach and I conquered some hills and ran about 10 miles of our 12 miler at 7:30 pace. Then this weekend we ran in the Chicago Rock n Roll Half Marathon. It was so awesome to see all of the people who are so enthusiastic about running. We sang One Direction, fist pumped to Avicii, and Zach kept yelling out random Nicholas Cage quotes. The race itself though proves how far I’ve come over the past year. Last year I ran 1:39:40, this year 1:35:19 on the same course. I can’t wait to start racing in the fall, I’m looking to do big things and the hard work I’ve put in the past few months is going to help me get there.

Early in the race: still all smiles

It’s so nice to be optimistic about my running again. I also read a book called, Racing Weight (definitely recommend it for anyone interested in the science behind peak performance). I didn’t agree with some of the eating philosophies that the author preached but I think that in order to figure out what is best for me personally I need to listen what other people have to say, and then evaluate what I want to do with that information. Likewise, I adjusted my Monday, Wednesday, Friday lifting routine accordingly. The author claims that power lifting is better than endurance lifting because it works the muscles in a different way. I was very intruiged by this so now I lift heavier for less reps. Goal for the end of summer: 1 pull up. Sidenote: My 16 year old brother and I decided to do them the other day… he did 17 and I did 0.5.


“Rock N’ Rollin”

My internship is also going a lot better. This is mostly because I’m done in 2 weeks! The challenges I face at work are making me much better at it, and I can appreciate that. Furthermore the internship isn’t so bad now because they are starting to trust me to actually do my own work. I’ve also learned to trouble shoot the questions they ask me that I normally wouldn’t know the answer to by referring my supervisor to my careful notes. Some days I even get let out early! On those days I always come home and watch a little How I Met Your Mother before I venture onto the roads for an easy 3 mile double.

Well that’s about all that’s going on right now for me. I hope everyone has a great week of training; remember to stay tough and reach those goals.

Post Race- The Trial of Miles


Because there is nobody giving their own personal testimony this week, I figured I would hop on my soapbox momentarily. For a couple years, I volunteered at the Chicago Marathon and while I thought it was interesting, I did not necessarily fine it attracting. The marathon experience was something that I figured I would do at some point to try it out — maybe as a post-collegiate option for motivation to stay in shape. Today I ran the Rock N’ Roll Half Marathon with Jackie. It was an experience unlike any other that I have had in running. While I did not race it, I still found myself riding the Runner’s High literally the entire time until I crossed the finish line. The set-up, the support, the camaraderie- its all spectacular and I really encourage people to try if not a marathon, then at least a half marathon. I will probably write more about it in my next post.

A couple extra things:

Jackie mentioned Racing Weight, here is the link to the site: There are a lot of articles on there with a good amount of information that I am sure someone will find interesting.

I have been hearing a lot as of late about the “Paleo Diet.” Otherwise known as the caveman diet, it is a nutritional plan based on the foods that the early hominids we came from chose to eat… you know, the ones that were all supplanted by Homo sapiens. Anyway, here is a link belittling the diet:

That is all I have for this week. It is not necessarily as dense as last week, but I hope that readers were able to gain something from it. Next week, look forward to the perspectives of Andrew and Zach and, perhaps, somebody new. Stay tuned.

“I don’t think about the miles that are coming down the road, I don’t think about the mile I’m on right now, I don’t think about the miles I’ve already covered. I think about what I’m doing right now, just being lost in the moment.” – Ryan Hall


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