Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year, New...?

Last night while scrolling through my Facebook updates I came across this and my juices immediately got flowing. While I haven't run in a few months, mostly due to life getting in the way, I wonder if I have enough time to train for the April 21st race date. A quick check of the calendar confirms that I have 19 weeks to go from an active, fit, but non running to race ready. So whaddya think? Think I can do it?

This blog may turn into an online training log from here on out, a chronicling of my training of sorts, culminating in the Earth Day 50K. Who knows, but stay along for the ride, it ought to be fun!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Off To A Great Start

With the steady downpour of rain the day before I was worried the trails would be a mess, but with the below freezing overnight temps I still held out hope. As I neared Maple Lake things were looking up, there was hardly any snow left on the ground and I didn't see any puddles. I parked near the Boating Center again, did a quick stretching session and headed off down Bull Whip. I was quickly met by two facts, one good, the other not so good. First, the ground was frozen just as I had hoped, unfortunately there was also a pretty good amount of ice on the trails, all of it laying in the center of the trails...grrrr!

Despite the abundance of ice, I found that I could sort of leap frog it and run on the "shoulder" of the singletrack, hoping over the ice and switching sides of the trail when need be. This being a new year I also figured I would switch up my route a bit. After clearing Bull Whip I headed left onto the Yellow Trail and towards Out and Back. Thankfully Out and Back was in much better shape, at least what I saw of it. I took the cut off trail and headed over the first stream crossing of the year towards the old warming hut. Up the hill towards the hut and back down the other side to the bottom of Gravity Cavity where I encountered a ton of ice. Leap frogging over the ice, I topped out in the parking lot and headed over to Pipeline, past Crossroads and headed towards Old Argonne. I nearly killed myself going up Stair Steps on an off camber ice covered slope, but came away with a self inflicted bruise on my calf.

Once I was out of Stair Steps I was back on the relatively safe Green Trail where I had the chance to up the pace. From Green I took the Blue Trail down towards Archer Ave. and my favorite climb that just seems to go and go and go. I figure it is around a kilometer long, and with little ice I cleared it in no time at all. After that climb the trail feels like it is more or less down hill back to Wolf Road and the Boating Center parking lot. I was able to get down into the 7:30's on the trail and mid 6:30's once I was back on the dry asphalt. Heading back towards the car I was closing in on 7 miles, and a bit unsure exactly what I had planned for the rest of the run. I knew I wanted to do at least ten, probably twelve, but hadn't really thought about fourteen.

Since I didn't have much of a time restraint, and I was feeling great despite the howling wind, I headed back out Bull Whip and decided to do another lap. In spite of a few near misses with ice and deer I knocked another lap out of the park. I managed to run the entire fourteen miles just 4 seconds per mile off of my goal of 8 minutes per mile. I'll take that as a good sign of things to come. Bring on 2011!       

Thursday, December 30, 2010


The signs were there even before I made it to the trail. With early morning temperatures already hitting 40 degrees, there was no way I was stepping anywhere near the treadmill. Although I should have considered going out for a road run instead. I figured with several inches of snow on the ground the trails would be perfect, with a mix of hard packed snow and maybe just a touch of ice. I couldn't have been farther from the truth. Maybe next time I bring both my road and trail shoes and make my decision once I get there. Back to the omen that I experienced on the way to the trail head though. Heading west on 95th I had just taken my GU like I normally do and was about to take a sip of water from my bottle. I reach down grab the bottle, notice the spout is closed so I use my teeth to pull it up and wooosh! I not only pull the spout up, but I completely take the top right off the bottle, and with it about half the contents of the bottle end up in my lap. Nothing like starting a run soaking wet, and probably cold.

I really could have used a pair of these today!
It turns out that little pre soak had nothing on what I was in for once I left the parking lot. What looked like icy spots on the trail were in fact 1"-2" deep puddles of slush. The sun yesterday and warm over night temps conspired to turn the well groomed trails into one big slush puddle. With every foot strike I splashed the opposite foot as it swung forward. Within the first mile my feet and lower legs were soaked. I tried moving off the trail but that only proved futile as I slipped and slided around every corner. At this point I figured I had two options, turn around and save it for another day or HTFU and press on. Despite cursing out loud at the ridiculousness of trying to run in those conditions for a good 1/2 mile or so, I did indeed press on.

With my feet sopping wet and my morale slowly sinking I tried my best to pick up the pace and salvage an otherwise lousy run. But try as I might, the trails were having none of it. Every time I would start to find a good tempo I would nearly end up going down as my foot slid out on an off camber section of trail. Despite my best efforts I was reduced to just trudging along in the sometimes boggy conditions, looking for a bit of high ground and respite from the splashing. Having already decided to cut my run short, I exited back into the parking lot, deciding to put in some decent times on the ashpalt back to the car. Once back on solid dry ground, I put the last 4.5 miles behind me and focused on this last mile. I quickly found a tempo that didn't hurt too bad down in the 6:15 range, and did an out and back towards Bullfrog Lake. Down around the cul de sac and back up towards Wolf Rd where a nice little downhill had me clocking 5:40 for the first time in a while. Finally up a short stretch and back to the car.

Thank god for that last mile, which turned an otherwise miserable run into something a bit more positive. With temperatures expected to be even warmer throughout the day today and tomorrow, it looks like I will be putting in some road miles instead.          

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

2010 Rock Cut 15k

More info for the 2011 Survivor Series can be found here at the Rockford Road Runners Club. With distances ranging from the 5k up to the 15k and races held in January, February and March, you really don't have any good reason to not make the drive out west this Spring. Do yourself a favor, sign up and see if you are a Survivor!

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Perfect Example

This Sundays 10 miler at Maple Lake proved to me why we need to have group runs scheduled so we can all get out out there and share in the joy(pain). During the hour and twenty minutes that I was out there I came across over a dozen trail runners! While all of them may not have wanted to run with others, I am sure some of them would have enjoyed the company of running with someone. Which leads to me to something else that I rarely see on the trails, a little common courtesy. Since we are both out there running, and are both obviously runners, and therefore have something in common, a quick "hello" or even just a nod would do. Would it really kill some people to acknowledge another trail user, let alone a trail runner? Of the 12 or 13 runners I came across it was about a 50% rate of whether a greeting was offered, and the 50% who did say "hi" only did so when I said "hi" first. I really don't get it.

Anyway, back to the idea of group running events. Group runs do a few things for runners, trail runners in particular. First off you get to learn new trails rather than run the same loop that you always run. Secondly, just about every runner I meet is always seeking out new info, be it new trails, new gear or different training ideas. Why not share what you know with others? Trail running groups could also offer those new to the trails a chance to learn the areas that we love to run in without fear of getting lost, or even hurt. When I first started going to Maple Lake back in the mid 90's I tried to go with as many people as possible and pick their brain the entire time. Knowledge can be underestimated, and the more I have, the more comfortable I am. Share what you know with others and keep your ears open, you never know what you might learn.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Group Runs Anyone?

In an effort to reach as many runners as possible, as well as to bring in runners new to the trail running experience, Chicago Trail Running is looking to schedule group runs in area forest preserves. Our goal at CRT is to not only log as many trail miles as possible, but to spread the word on the joys of trail running. By training with a large and diverse group of runners, those with more experience can share their wealth of knowledge with those newer to trail running.
Many newer trail runners may also fear getting lost as they head deeper into unknown territory, but with the guidance of other runners they will soon be travelling far away from area trail heads.

By reaching out to our audience, we hope to to be able to schedule group runs at a variety of locations, as well as at times that work for the most amount of runners. With the days being shorter than most of us would like, for the time being I would suggest that most runs be scheduled for Saturday and Sunday mornings. However for anyone who is lucky enough to their days and mornings free (myself included) feel free to call a weekday run.

For those with a truly adventurous spirit, you might want to consider night trail running. Strap on your headlamp, lace up your shoes and head out for an otherworldly experience. You might have a favorite trail that you feel you know like the back of your hand. But run that trail at night with only a headlamp to guide your way and that same trail takes on a whole new look. Give it a try once, and you will be hooked!

So leave us a comment as to what time you would like to set up a group run and we will compile a list based on location. If anyone has any further questions drop us a line at chicagotrailrunning@yahoo.com

Monday, December 13, 2010

New 50k for the Spring?

Inside sources tell me that there is a new 50k trail run in the works for the spring in 2011. While I am not at liberty to fully disclose too many details, look for the race to be held near Chicago (within 30 minutes of downtown) and will be held entirely on limestone.

With a tentative date set of Saturday, April 9th, we are just a mere 17 weeks away. If you were looking for a low key way to start your spring, then this new race may be your ticket. Check back often for new info as it becomes available.