5.3 miles and technical, baby!
First real trail run! (In my Running Life 2.0, that is.) I was feeling the need, the need for... mud. And the opposite of speed. So on Memorial Day Monday I got up early and drove out to the Palos Trails - about 30 minutes out of the city, which is what you have to do as a flatlander. I was nervous about running alone, but I followed all good safety rules: my husband knew where I was going, which trail and which direction, I brought a map and my phone and water and a gel. I sussed out the scene at the parking lot and felt comforted by the good amount of people there. Mostly dirt bikers, because that's a thing at Palos apparently, but they seemed good-hearted (despite those scary face mask helmets) and one group of them helped me orient myself at the trailhead. Did some dynamic warm-ups, and hit the Orange trail!
Right away, roots rocks and mud. This trail is a loop through dense forest, well, I wouldn't exactly call it forest. More like close and pressing in bushes. Single track, so just enough for me alone, and I had to hit the shrubs whenever a biker came bombing through - that was probably the main drawback.
I won't even complain about the thick mud and how I slid around on it constantly.
I kept trying to avoid it, worried I'd lose a shoe, by going to the side. But the sloping down of the trail meant that I just slid around anyway. And once I just slid down full out, a nice biff for my first trail run. Luckily there was no one around to witness (or run me over with a bike). I think this is me trying to make a face about falling in the mud:
Physically - aside from wiping out - I definitely found it tougher than I had expected. That was because of the hills of course, lots of up and down small to medium rollers. I did experiment with power hiking, especially when I couldn't see the top of a hill. I think changing gears is something I could definitely work on. I'm much more comfortable locking into a pace and then zoning out. But zoning out is definitely not an option on a rocky hilly trail like that - and I found it hard to constantly shift positions, hop over things, etc. I noticed it was hard to find a steady rhythm. Every once in a while I walked until I could get calmer and slow down my breathing and heart rate.
Definitely the right call to put on bug spray, BTW. Another trail thing, I guess.
Towards the end the trail opened up and I got some nice vistas such as:
By the time I finished the loop I was a little surprised - the first half seemed long and tough, the last half went by too fast. Did I walk too much? Not enough? Anyway, it was a first experience and I'll be curious to see if I can tackle one of the longer trails in the system again later in the summer.