Sunday, June 15, 2008

6/15/08 - Little Running Deer

This weekend I was in Chicago with Jen to do some wedding preparation. Since Vermont is only 5 weeks ago, my goal was to fit in some good training around the schedule we had set for the weekend.

You may know this, but Chicago is flat. Insanely flat. There also aren’t lots of good places for ultramarathoners to run. There are some trails around Jen’s house, but they are all paved and relatively short. I finally took the time to research trails nearby and found two promising candidates within a 20 minute drive. The plan was to run one trail Saturday morning and the other Sunday morning.

I was told on Saturday that I had to be back by 10, so I woke up at 5:45 and planned to run as long as I could before I had to go back. I got on the trail at 6:15 and was definitely pleasantly surprised. It was a beautiful forest preserve with lots of double track and single track trail. The forest even had some hills! There were at least 20 mile of trails, so I would have of exploring to do.

Lots of the trail (especially the single track) was very muddy, but I was having a great time. The area is also called Deer Grove, and I can see why. There were deer everywhere! While I was running I had a random thought pop into my head (that happens a lot if you run long enough). I thought back to when I was in Indian Guides with my father. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this, it’s kind of like Boy Scouts (though probably a bit less intense).

So when you’re an Indian Guide, you get to choose your Indian name (not very PC, I know). Most of the kids my age chose fierce things like “mauling bear” or majestic things like “soaring eagle.” Well, I chose “little running deer.” I don’t know why. I didn’t know why then, and I still don’t. But today I felt like it was an appropriate choice. I certainly do a lot of running, and here I was running around with all the deer.

I ended up having time for 22 miles on Saturday. My legs felt more sluggish than I would have liked, but all in all it was a good run.

Sunday was certainly a much more interesting experience. I woke up at 5:45 again to drive to the other trail. The trail looked very promising and seemed very scenic. It also went for over 30 miles in one direction, so I was planning on doing a 30 mile out and back run.

Well about 2 minutes in I came across a section of the trail that had been flooded. And I mean FLOODED. For a few hundred feet it was calf deep water. I started fording my way through it and noticed that there were 18 inch carp swimming around me. It is definitely not a good sign when you are trying to go for a run and fish are swimming around your feet.

I figured I’d just try to power through and hope the rest of the trail was better. After two relatively short sections of flooding there was a monstrously flooded section. It was probably well over waist deep, but I didn’t bother testing it out. Luckily I was able to bypass that section by diverting up to a grassy area.

After this third section it seemed like clear sailing. I had at least a mile of dry trail. Then things took a turn for the worse. It was knee deep for at least half a mile. After fording through this for a while, I decided that was enough. I turned around and found a way back to car that avoided the initial flooded sections.

I figured I had gotten four miles in at best. To finish the run, I was going to drive to the trail I ran the first day for the other 26 miles But now a huge thunderstorm was rolling in. From bad to worse. It started lightning, so I gave up and drove back home. Sad Will.

I drowned my sorrows by eating a really big breakfast. Then all of a sudden the sun came back out. It was still on 8am, so I had plenty of time left to get a good run in. Game on! I drove back to the trail I ran on the first day and started up again with my shoes still soaking from my earlier adventure with the fish.

It did end up pouring again for a little bit on the run, but the lightning stayed a ways off and I was able to keep going (though a bit wetter for it). I actually felt great today, which is a bit unusual since I ran 22 the prior day. I felt so good I decided to make it a 35 mile run. I kicked it in feeling really strong. I drove back to Jen’s house where she had a smoothie waiting for me. Life is good. It was a great end to a day that started out pretty rough.


Laura said...

Ah yes, Deer Grove... I ran many cross country races there (out in Palatine, correct?)

If you want hilly trails in the burbs, try Veteran Acres Park (I think that's the name of it?) in Crystal Lake. You'll have to run loops, since it's not out and back, but my coach made us run there and it was killer by the time you got done with just two loops.

There is another flat out and back trail off of Milwaukee road in Wheeling/Mount Prospect area. Lots of deer there too. Don't know the name of it, all I know is that I parked at a hotel off of Milwaukee Rd. across from a restaurant and accessed the trail there.

Will said...

Thanks Laura! Any idea how long the loop at Veteran Acres Park is?

Laura said...

You know... I can't even remember. I think it's only 3.2 or so, but we did it several times. Otherwise the Footlocker course in Kenosha, WI is also hilly, and you can get up to a 10K loop there. Unfortunately ,like you said, the burbs are pretty much flat :(