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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Found a new spot...SWEET

My parents have been visiting for the past few days.  My Dad (I was adopted, so I do not share the running genes here) has been a runner for the past 35 years, so I always look forward to his visits so we can run together.
He tends to run slow and runs for a few hours at a time. Growing up, we lived in WA state, my two brothers still live there and run in the mountains all the time.  This, doesn't really work well for Pops (both their pace and taste for gnarly trails are not a good match for pops), so its nice to have him here and run with him and see him comfortable.  We ran 12 miles in the rain yesterday, most of my pace was pretty good (mid 7 minute miles, some low and 2 in the high 6 MM range), however, I would stop and let him catch up.  The trails in Middlefork were trashed from MTB'ers ripping through in wet/soft conditions and ensuing freezing that happens this year, the ruts are horrific and destroy the feet of all that run on it.  My feet really felt it this morning.
Also, today is the retirement day for my trusty last pair of Saucony Kinvara (original version), that have over 500 miles on them!

(I loved these shoes!  the worn tread on these bad boys made the muddy sections quite challenging)

After driving to Old School forest preserve and seeing the same conditions on those trails, I asked if he felt adventuresome....he was game.
We headed North to Independence Grove Forest Preserve where I had read about some single track that had been closed to MTB'ers a few years ago.  I knew the general area they might be located, but really didn't know what to expect.  So, we parked at an area that is a self contained dog trail (bizarre concept, but keeps the poop off the other trails), ran down the road to another entrance to the forest preserve and I began scoping for any and all single track branches off the main Des Plaines River Trail.  After about 3/4 of a mile and one river crossing, I found what I was looking for.
We wove through the woods along the river, came across a photographer taking pictures of birds in the woods and knew we were in the right area.  The general state of the trail was old and un maintained with many large trees fallen over the trail, but some faint bypasses that were generally followable.

(Pops running up to the prairie at the top of the hill, on the left was the river, to the right was some technical trails we hit, LOVED it)
after about 2 miles, the trail began to creep up hill, as we followed, the trail became more technical, rocky, rooty, and generally more fun!   Eventually, we popped out at the top and were in the most amazing glade of golden tall grass and spaced trees with what looked like an old horse trail winding the ridge of the hill.
  After observing some very strange vestiges of civilization, we tracked back into the woods and headed back down into the river flats.

(very old school fire hydrant in the middle of a pristine prairie)

 Pops asked for some easier terrain, so we blazed through the woods to where I thought the Des Plaines River Trail would be, and followed this back to our point of origin.  We encountered many thorn bushes on our way out to the main trail...having not worn tights today, I lots of reminders of what happens when you just run willy nilly through the woods!
As we were about to pop out on the road, I found another single track that followed the other side of the river, we took this for another 1/2 mile.  It was 100% mud, which was fun but slow.
We went about 6.1 miles or so, not really sure as my GPS conked a few times.
We had an absolute blast discovering some amazing trails that are very much not used, and due to pops not wearing his glasses, we ran mostly together out of necessity.
My Kinvara's also were put to rest in proper form, aka-total destruction.  I will wear my inov8's next time and run alone so I can rip in this gem of an area.

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