Yesterday, I got to explore a new trail (for me) that’s super-close. The trailhead we started at is probably 2 miles from my house, but I’ve been nervous about trying it and didn’t know many people who ran it…so I’ve driven to other running paths, but I realize now how much I’ve been missing out! I’ve run the Des Plaines River Trail Races (marathon last year), but that was picking up the trail way north. Years ago, I biked the trail closer to home but found it poorly maintained and a bit rough. More recently, people implied that it was a bit sketchy (as a woman) to run it alone so I never ventured and didn’t want to waste a long run opportunity on a potentially dubious route. While I don’t think I would do my 20 miler on it, it was a great experience overall!
For local folks, the trailhead and parking lot are across from the Menard’s on North Ave, just east of the store, Sunset Ridge Meadow. I met my friend Amy, who is going to do the 50k, and Ayesha of Run Ayesha. Amy and I have been wanting to tackle some trails together, and Ayesha had run the trail before and offered to take us. I know I’m making myself sound like the biggest wimp ever. Anyhow, it was mostly crushed limestone with some bits of gravel, concrete, and dirt path. There was one section with a downed tree that we had to walk over, but it was pretty decent otherwise. Not alot of roots. The gravel got a little scrabble-ish in parts, and I can see how if it were raining the dirt would be a total mudfest. I was pleasantly surprised, though, by how runnable it was. Ha, one thing about the “urban suburban” nature of such a trail is that you will see natural beauty. Alongside an abandoned shopping cart. This was just shy of 3 miles into the run.
We did about 7 miles total, and this was the other side of the bridge coming back. I liked the “True Love Waits” graffiti on the trestle. I’m not sure if it’s a no sex before marriage message or if they meant to write a message of hope, in which case, the grammarian in me would have suggested “True Love Awaits.” Yeah, you can’t take the English teacher anywhere…Ayesha took some better photos than I, which included an action shot! Do you like the matching hydration vests Amy and I are wearing. Another friend of ours, Bianca, had posted it on super-sale on Backcountry’s website, so 4 of us in BFF got it. Sadly, only one color was on sale so we will be super matchy. It was both of our first times running with a vest. I found it okay. I had a bladder in the pack. I liked the ease of drinking from a bladder, but I felt like my back was getting warm where the bladder was pressing on it. Bianca actually suggested not using the bladder and sticking with bottles in the front pockets (because of the weight and difficulty of refilling a bladder). I didn’t see that until after the run, though…
I always like it when road/sidewalks/paths meander around a tree.
It was in the 70s, so perfect weather for a fall run in the woods. It’s always good to escape the traffic, concrete, and urban life. It’s good for strengthening my legs to deal with different conditions. I worry a little bit because I tend to have weaker ankles, but I feel like they need some conditioning on milder trails to build up their strength. Well, that and I really should start doing some more home exercises. I even bought a wobble board forever ago that I should use. Bianca also suggested some ladder drills or footwork…too lazy to Google it yet, so I would gladly take suggestions 🙂
I definitely felt the trail in my legs, or maybe it’s post-marathon tiredness still? While it was beautiful and great chatting with Amy and Ayesha, it did make think about whether the ultra really IS a good idea. I’m going to try a longer run this weekend and see how it feels. I’m not planning on registering for a bit anyway so I have time (and I am monitoring registration to make sure it doesn’t sell out).
Got any footwork or ladder drills I can do?
Do you ever run with a hydration pack (and with or without bladder)? How do you like it compared to the waist belt?