Mountain bike trails are evil

ORN: 2 hours, no clue on exact distance, but it feels like it was somewhere between 12 and 13 miles.

I was a bit late in getting up and going this morning, but finally found myself at today's destination: Fort Custer Recreation Area. My original plan was to run both the red trail and the yellow trail (in that order). It's a good thing I did, as you'll see later.

As you can see from the map, the red trail has a lot of switchbacks, while the yellow trail is pretty straightforward. The map doesn't even begin to do the red trail justice, however - it's all uphill or downhill, with a lot of potentially treacherous footing, some steep drops, tough climbs, and you rarely get a break. It was great, and I loved it. A little too much, actually - I started a little faster than I wanted to, and it hurt me a bit in the back stretch, though not as much as the cummulative effect of the constant hills.

There were a few other people out there, most notably three bikers. I could pass them (and did) on the switchbacks and the uphill sections (since they were often waiting for the third biker), but every time there was a downhill stretch, they would whiz past me, always with an apology and a thanks. They were great guys, and I finished the red section not too far behind them; probably about 4-5 minutes, but I started after they did too. (I did tarry a couple minutes to talk with another dad, whose son I had passed just before the trail ended). Anyway, the red trail (which the liars say is just under 8 miles) took about 75 minutes, including that stop, a Gu break, and some slow spots for water.

The yellow trail, actually is the one that gave me the problems. I refilled my water bottles, used the facilities at the trail head, and headed out onto the yellow trail, which is supposedly simple and should have let me make up some time. Instead, I missed a turn, and got lost. Not seriously lost - I mean, I'm running along various trails, so sooner or later, I'd come back to the trail head or find someone who could show me the way, but eventually, after realizing that I had (1) missed a turn; and (2) probably could retrace my steps and get going; and (3) I was only planning on running for about 2 hours today anyway, I just kept going until I had gone about 20 minutes from the start, then turned around and headed back.

I made my time goal of a medium, two-hour run, and I'm mildly happy with the whole thing, especially given some of the terrain conditions on that red trail. I'm thinking about going back a couple of times next week for revenge - I know that I can do that trail faster than I did today. Besides, even though the EC Trail marathon is basically flat (since it follows the Des Plains River Trail), training on hills is sure to strengthen my performance on a flat course.

Plus, it's muddy, branches come at you out of nowhere, and the trail is often not much wider than your shoes, with a steep drop on one side. How could it not be fun?


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