Sunday, October 14, 2012
Today the family and I participated in the Bullfrog Challenge Run in the southwest suburbs of Chicago. We are all novices when it comes to running in these events and so, we were over dressed for the warm weather.
This is my 3rd race. I did 2 races several years ago and then just stopped doing them for some reason.
Since last March, I've been meeting friends on Saturday mornings to run one of the local forest preserve trails. As the summer has wound down it seems like the motivation has also been waning. I decided to sign up for a series of races to keep me interested in training. After looking around, I decided on the Bullfrog in Willow Springs. I picked this race because it was close to home and would give me a couple of weeks before another run that my friends and I have talked about running. I got over zealous and signed up my daughter and me for the 5.5mile run and my husband for the 5k. I had no idea how hilly, rocky, stumpy, rutty, root covered, wet and muddy this course was going to be. We don't have a lot of hills in Chicago-land and so when they talked about hills in the race information I was picturing something the height of your average free-way overpass. Eh - no. I was wrong; so wrong.
The race started at the bottom of a looooooong uphill run across a thick wide lawn next to Bullfrog lake in Pulaski woods. At the top of the hill we turned and ran into the woods on a wide gravel trail. . . and then the gravel ended. The first water station was at the top of the hill. Yeah, the hill was that crazy. The area was formed during the last ice age when the glaciers scraped all of northern Illinois flat. The stuff that the ice pushed out of the way was shoved south and formed these hills which we were running on. So the mud is simultaneously sandy and gritty and slimy and loaded with little round rocks like you might find on the bottom of a stream. The hills are big. It rained here all day the day before the race so everything was nice and messy. This particular part of the Cook County Forest Preserves offer some of the best mountain biking trails in the Chicago Area. Today I found out why. Once we left the gravel path, the trail wound up and down over the hill and around the lake. Speed was secondary to trying to stay upright and not twist an ankle or trip on a tree root or embedded boulder disguised by fallen leaves. Both the 5.5mile and the 5k runs ended with another run the the really loooooong hill by the lake. Who ends a run going up hill?
Although the trail remained open to mountain bikers during the race, (that would have been another aspect of the challenge course) they opted to stay away until most of the runners had finished. We did see some guys pulling their bikes off their cars as we were leaving. By the time we got home, there was a torrential downpour so I hope they didn't mind having to ride in the rain.
I ran my best time ever for a 5k 43 minutes and called it a day. Although I had signed up for the 5.5mile run, I just didn't have another lap around that mountain bike trail in me. My legs and butt are still on fire 8 hours later. My abs still hurt. I spend a lot of time on the treadmill and I run a 5 k at least once a week and I've never done it that fast or felt this kind of burn. My daughter could have easily finished the 5.5mile run if she would have had better insoles in her shoes. She was having arch pain in her foot so she decided not to push it.
We came home and signed up for more races. Unfortunately they won't be at places that are nearly as interesting to run.