Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Red Bull Trail Daze

Thanksgiving has come and gone. Now it's December.

Racing season has officially ended. Well, maybe.

Red Bull Trail Daze was held on December 10th at 10am in Pulaski Woods in Palos.

After learning a few friends had signed up, I decided to as well.

Race morning was chilly. The alley was slippery. I scrapped a light layer of ice off the windshield.

Then I headed to Palos, where it wasn't getting any warmer.

On the drive down, I thought about the race format. All runners would start as one group and run the first quarter or so mile together. Then each runner would have to choose a trail - easy, medium or hard. The easy trail would be a longer distance. The hard trail, the shortest. The goal was that you'd finish around the same time regardless of what path you chose.

Since this was my first attempt at a trail run, and, because I am so prone to falling on flat pavement, I'd choose the easy trail, of course. Then again, if I wanted easy, I could have just done a quick run from my place and I'd be home and out of the cold already. So maybe I'll do medium.

I went back and forth between the two until arriving at the start line with Kim, Jen and Sara. After some discussion, Sara and Jen planned on doing the medium. Kim, who ran Trail Daze last year, was going to go for the gold.

We were all bundled up in layers of running gear. I was never happier than I bought a pair of fleece lined running tights at Universal Sole a few weeks ago! As the race started, it quickly became hard to recognize runners, and I lost Jen and Sara. Kim was right in front of me. As we approached the split in the path, I decided to go with Kim.

After a short stretch of what I thought was somewhat challenging terrain, we met the real trail. The trail was narrow, pitched, slick, full of tree roots, down branches and trees. If that wasn't enough, some loose rocks and hills were added in to the mix.

The question now wasn't if I was going to fall, it was when. And after I fell the first time, which I was bound to do, would I fall again?

Kim was a good lead as we trekked through with a small steady group. Then we hit oncoming traffic. Our path was a partial out and back. We gave way to the faster runners and tried our best to keep our footing.

Just as we were wondering where the turn around was, we saw a very steep hill. We were to climb the hill and then come straight down it. On the way up, we looked for steady footing. At the top, we feared falling down before we had a chance to brace ourselves. On the way down, we grabbed for branches and tree trunks to slow down. Somehow we made it. It was one of a few truly challenging areas of the path.

Not to discount the trail's overall rating of hard. By the end of the 4 mile trail, I felt as if I'd gone twice as far due to the terrain. I was also mentally worn out from all the decision making that went with the run to keep the best forward momentum.

First Trail Daze = success
Number of falls = 2
Injuries = One bruised shin
Post run breakfast = french toast

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