Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Running some hills

Time to post about last weekend's hill training.

Saturday I headed to the Palos Forest Preserve in Cook County to run and hike on the yellow trail at Palos Sag Valley which is south of Rt 83 and locals know it for the "closed" toboggan hill with the big stair climb to the side. I've only been to this part of Palo FP once before generally opting for the north section by Bullfrog Lake. I love the north section; full of fine single track and wider trails created and maintained by and home to the DeTonty 50k but Saturday was time to go back to Sag Valley. SV has plenty of single track but bikes are banned from riding them (wide trails are legal) and so the single track is not mapped. I stuck to the wide yellow trail which has plenty of hills. The trails I believe are supposed to be covered in limestone but due to lack of maintenance are more dirt and gravel now, perfect for me. Also last time here was after a big rain storm so the trials that time where a tad muddy with swollen stream crossings; this weekend they were dry and hot. Parking at the base of the toboggan hill I strapped on my Camelbak and set of eastward (clockwise) where I promptly got attacked by a swarm of cicadas when walking to the tail head by a big tree. Just has I got to the trail I see a runner heading away from me and a biker passes by; it's only 7am so I know it is going to be busier than most Palos trips. Without going into to much detail of the trail, mainly because I can never recall where all the hills, streams, ridges,flat bits come along the way by the time I am done (how do people write such detailed training and race reports!) the yellow trail has plenty of hills, some stretches of flat and many cicadas. Part I do remember is the first stream crossing that was a swollen river last time was basically bone dry and the park people are building a bridge over it (marked ford on some maps). Within a few miles of this section is also the biggest hill in the area known per Brenda Barrera's book as Big Bertha. This hill just goes up at a steep incline, or decline if you come from the other direction, oh and it is not the first hill you encounter after the current ford soon to be bridge crossing. It is near Palos Park Woods (south) on the map. As you go along the trail there are more hills and some of the trail reminds me of Kettle Moraine although not as hilly and they don't have cicadas. I made it back to the car in one piece, cicadas are really nice bugs and they only attacked me that one time. Saw one deer on the first part of the trial which crossed the trail in front of me then stopped and just starred at me. If I had my camera it would have been a great photo. I'd recommend this 8.1 mile loop for anyone wanting some serious Chicaogoland hills training (bring dry shoes/socks if wet).

Saturday afternoon I got in some time in the heat and sun when Laura and I went to Fullersberg Preserve, Oak Brook mall and La Grange (for Elephants on Parade - think Chicago Cows on Parade).

Sunday I slept in and then went to the nearby Blackwell FP to do hill repeats on My Hoy. This is a former rubbish dump now owned by Du Page FP and part of a good forest preserve that I like running in. According to gmap and Du Page website the hills is 105 feet in gain and a round trip from the road edge along the gravel service road to the 836 foot summit is 0.5 miles approximately. There is also a teepier but tad short grassy side that is used for tubing in the winter and both sides are very exposed to the sun. More great heat training for Badwater plus maybe the hill repeats would be good for climbing Mt Whitney (14497 feet) after the Badwater race!! Not sure how many repeats I completed but I did 30 minutes on the gravely road and then 30 minutes on the grassy slope. It was a great tough work out and I think more of the sme will be very beneficial not just for Badwater but my fittest level and towards my 2007 goal race, HOBO 25k. I did drink a lot of water at Mt Hoy, maybe more than I did the day before - might have been due to the sun, Palos is all shaded. From the summit of Mt Hoy there is a great view of Du Page, so many trees and water towers plus good view of Fermilab's office towers. A number of egrets and herons flew over plus I saw a deer running along the base of the hill past the archery range and into the wooded area. Guess the deer was speed training passed the archery range!

Got home in time to shower then watch Englishman Lewis Hamilton win the USA Formula One Grand Prix then Real Madrid clinch the Spanish league title

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