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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

New Trail Review-and a couple things I dig

So, today I had a meeting in McHenry IL-early.  Its about a 1 hour drive due west for me (I live in Lake Bluff, named for the bluffs overlooking lake MI). I have been out there several times and noted a week or so ago a sign for Moraine Hills State Park.  I figred, hmmmm, hills?  Park?  Maybe they have trails?  So with out doing any home work, I threw a bag together to hopefully do a Clark Kent in the car and get some quality miles after my meeting.

My meeting took me to 11 am, and I stepped out of the hospital and was instantly assaulted by a very frigid blast of wind coming directly from the west.  I got in the car and debated if I shouldn't just head home and dreadmill, or at least go home and put on running tights and long sleeves.  I had packed a soft shell vest, a tech tee, and shorts, some Salomon XO calf sleeves and my Rogue Racers.  I also forgot a water bottle.
Well, as I neared the road that had the sign posted to turn, I figured why not just check it out, if it sucks I will just go home.
So, as I wound around some country road, I noticed the terrain get hilly.  I got excited.  Finally, I turned into the park.  It looked promising.
I took the main road and noticed a gravel path that seemed to weave in and out from the hills and along the numerous lakes along the road.  Finally, after a phone call and driving half way back to the hilliest section.  I pulled off at a section called "Opossum Run", as I sat in the car, disrobing and listening to the wind howl, I spotted what appeared to be a mowed trail that disappeared into the woods.  I WAS FIRED UP.
I stepped out of the car...that totally unfired me up.  It was so cold, my skin reacted instantly to the freezing blast. Oh well, I figured, Ill just do a loop and see what the trail was about.  It began winding up a few hills and I noticed some small single track connectors up into the depths of the hilly woods.  My kind of place!
as I followed this about .8 miles, it popped me back out on the mowed trail, I took this back up the way I came from and it looped out into this really cool roller section through a canopy of pines.  The trail was a bed of pine needles...I am going to dream about that section, it was effortless, smelled devine, and felt so wonderful underfoot.
After another 2 miles of this, I figured Id just call it a day, I was cold and felt lethargic from the damn cookie gorgefest I had on Sunday/Monday night.  I saw some old dude run between my car and the lake...I thought, hmmm, Ill check it out.  I took this trail and it crossed the road.  I came to the first trail map, on the map, I saw a variety of maps. I chose the red trail.  This trail wound around the main lake (Defiance), and connected to the whole exterior systems of trails.

There was a strange mix of crushed gravel trails, and seemingly random asphalt sections.  I pretty much chose to run on the side of the trail/roads the whole time to run in the leaves and grass.  The Northwest side of the park is very isolated and more hilly.  This area had tons of little single track connectors and loops.  Not sure if these are game trails or what, but I LOVE THEM.

I would rate this as a 3.5 out of 5.  I need to do some more exploring to understand how to get the most out of the terrain.
Seeing this is about 45 minutes from my door, its not likely I will drive there specifically as I can get to the Secret Spot sooner and the hills there dwarf these.

I have to say, since Christmas, I have been wearing a few select items from Solomon namely-XT softshell vest, XR Jacket, and two versions of their running shorts.  Man, this stuff RULES.  Today, if I didn't have the softshell vest, I would have FROZEN.  I wish I had my XR jacket, as it is very wind proof but sheds water and vents unlike any jacket I've worn.
BUT....the shorts are in a class of their own.  I got two pairs of the XT shorts, which have built in compression boxers, which, keep everything cradled in pampered comfort, and uses a unique single layer in the inner thigh area of spandex, which disallows any chafing. It has the largest rear zip pocket I've ever seen.  You could stuff like 10 gels, or a whole baguette of sourdough in there.  The other shorts are their "trail" shorts, which are nearly as comfy (I wore these today), blows my Nike shorts out of the water.

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