Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Product Review: Treksta Evolution Trail Shoe


I am always looking to try new products, especially trail running gear. While perusing Trail Runner magazine several months ago, I came across an ad for an unusual looking trail shoe, made by Treksta USA. Being shameless, I wrote and asked for a pair to test and review on the blog and just like that, they were on their way! Treksta, based in Moscow, Idaho, is a company born out of the frustration of having to buy a different shoe for each season. They logged countless hours hiking and running in various terrains containing hard pack, roots, loose dirt, mud, ice and snow to develop our all season, all terrain shoes. They scanned thousands of feet and created a last that… believe this… actually mimics the human foot.

First Impressions

I wrote that they are unusual looking, because they are. The whole shoe seems to curve inward and the front boasts a bumper that mimics the appearance of toes. The lacing is offset, further reinforcing the curved effect. They are thick and tough-looking and appear that one could run over anything and everything! Did I mention these are pretty tough-looking?

I was kind of surprised, though, to see that Treksta had sent me a pair in size 12.5 and hurriedly shot off an email, certain they had sent the wrong size. You know the feeling you get when you open a birthday present and it is just so not you? That's how I felt about the wrong-sized shoes. Almost immediately (and it also states this on a website, doh!), they let me know that they had discovered that that most people fit best in a half size smaller than what they typically wear. I slipped them on and what do you know, they were right, the shoes fit! The website has 2 color options for this shoe - I received the "mushroom" colored pair (actually gray/olive), rather than the sexier reddish-orange. Both are nice options.


Materials

IceLock/HyperGrip sole provides traction in any condition. Lightweight, variable density Zero Gravity™ EVA midsole. Variable density EVA insole supports the arch, cushions key strike zones, and strengthens your stride. TPU heel counter protects against shock and provides torsional support for your ankles.
Highly breathable synthetic upper keeps your feet cool and dries quickly.

Technology
  • IceLock is a patent pending technology that dramatically increases traction on ice. Micro-glass filaments are electrostatically aligned in the rubber compound creating slip-stopping surface tension.
  • HyperGrips innovative patented technology also gives their soles outstanding properties for tension, tear, elasticity and strength; plus almost no breaming (a phenomenon where rubber turns white). If you desire both stability and durability, HyperGrip is your clear choice.
  • 3D NestFIT:
    •  The upper is built around a last designed by measuring the curves and contours of 20,000 different feet. The last mirrors the contact points of the leading portion of the big toe, the curve along the other four toes and the indentation of the arch and instep.
    • The NestFIT last is designed to account for every contour of the human foot, eliminating unnecessary gaps and pressure points.
    • The insole matches the curves and contours of the bottom of the foot, eliminating gaps for unmatched comfort. Three different densities of EVA polymer give the correct amount of support to each area of the foot.
    • The variable density midsole compliments the insole to give you that “walking on a cloud” feeling.
    • The top of the outsole matches the midsole rubber profile for a seamless supportive whole. The slight heel and forefoot “rocker” eases the impact of the initial foot “strike: and suppers the natural progression of the step.

Nest-Fit exploded view

Testing Conditions

These shoes were worn in varying weather conditions on cement, asphalt, dirt, gravel, grass and singletrack. I also wore them during the Red Bull Trail Daze race.

Overall Impressions

The Treksta Evolutions are not your ordinary shoe, either in fit or construction. While initially unusual to look at, they definitely grow on you, especially when combined with their performance.

Fit

As mentioned, Treksta shoes run a half size smaller than normally worn. When slipping the shoes on, the foot gets a feeling of being both coddled and supported, as well as protected. It is almost like a cocoon for the foot, if the cocoon was made out of tank-grade material that would crush everything in its path.


Hypergrip sole

Performance

The Evolutions are a shoe that came out of the box quite stiff. However, the stiffness was markedly and noticeably abated after the first run, though the initial stiffness returned for all subsequent runs. These shoes appear to mold themselves to the foot very quickly, giving almost a custom feel to them, remarkable for a pair of shoes one can buy off the shelf. As mentioned, the shoes were put through their paces over a variety of surfaces and performed admirably on all of them, though, as is appropriate for a trail shoe, were happiest on the singletrack.

Final Thoughts

These shoes will definitely remain in my rotation, as they give a wonderful sense of competence and protection while running. They were so comfortable and supportive, that I suggested them to Jill from Run With Jill, who has been struggling with a heel issue. She got a pair and I'm crossing my fingers that they will help alleviate her discomfort.

I wish these shoes were lighter. It isn't so pronounced that it's a problem and I suppose it's a trade off for the protection both underfoot and around the sides of the shoe. However, if you are looking for a minimalist shoe, this is not it. They do make a model called the Sidewinder, which is described as nimble and lightweight.

What I covet: the Kisatchie Multisport (maybe I can get a pair to review in the spring?):

If you need support, comfort, and protection, go and buy a pair of Trekstas!

(Disclaimer: I was sent this product for free to review on my blog - courtesy of Treksta USA. I did not pay for the item, receive payment for this review, or agree to give a positive review. Aside from information gleaned from the company website, the opinions are my own.)

Have a product you'd like reviewed? Contact me at lakotega@yahoo.com.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Bonfield Express 5K Race Report, 1st CHUGS run, XOOD Giveaway, Monday Weigh-In

Check-In!

Teo walking for the camera

Thursday, Thanksgiving, the morning bloomed wet but not overly cold or windy, which was a decent way to run the Bonfield Express 5K. We had thought about running together, but with such a variety of speeds, we became spread out pretty quickly. Added to that was approximately 3000 runners/walkers, who made it extremely difficult to pass by walking 5, 6, 7, or 8 abreast (yes, that is a lot of breasts), staggered so that our Kelty stroller had little room to maneuver. I ran ahead for awhile, catching Teo so that I could get his photo. He ran most of the race himself, as he did not need many walking breaks.

Gaja walking for the camera

Most of my time was spent with my daughter, who delighted in tormenting me by running the uphills and walking the downhills, clearly not an ultra runner as of yet.

Laima running with 45 pounds+ in the stroller

Eventually Laima, Gaja, Mantas, Aleksas and I ran together for much of the distance. Mantas would take off at a dead sprint, then, worn out, hitch a ride on the front of the stroller and then, at a most inopportune time, announce he was ready to run again. As we zigzagged our way through slower folks, we gave ground whenever Mantas had to climb in or out of the stroller, so we saw the same other people over and over again. Gaja would run along happily, then decide to walk, so we got passed and had to repass people during those times as well. At around 2 1/2 miles, Mantas announced that he would run the rest of the way in, so I took Aleksas in the stroller, caught up to Gaja, and we ran it all the way in.

The Bonfield Express 5K is our town race, so it was fun to see neighbors and friends during and after the race. Next year we'll do a better job of coordinating with others so that we can send the kids off with their friends and then just meet up at the end.

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Sunday I met up for the first time with the Chicago Ultrarunners (CHUGS) for a group run at Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve. It was a small group, lots of people out of town and some sick, but nonetheless a great introduction to this group. They are an incredibly active group, with training runs, fatass events, socials, and lots of racing. Looking forward to meeting up with them again, training and learning about completing ultras.

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Just a quick reminder that the XOOD pack giveaway is still going on. For the product review and information on how to enter, head over to the XOOD post.

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Monday Weigh-In results:


Weight: (Goal of 165) - 193.6
BF: (Goal of 11-22) - 12.6
TBW: (Goal of 50-65) - 57.4
VF: (Goal of 1-12) - 6

Considering this was a holiday weekend, the one pound weight gain is insignificant related to the massive amount of food and wine I ingested. More telling is the 1+% body fat increase. I feel sluggish and slow, and will turn it around this week. Blood work and six month doctor check-up coming up very soon, hoping I can ditch some or all the supplements, but it won't happen if these poor choices continue.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Coaching Endurance UltraRunning 2010 Part 1


There is nothing quite like a video set to good music to get one excited about lacing them up and heading out. For trails and ultras, one of the best at inspiring me is Matt Hart, endurance athlete and coach. "Originally from the East Coast, Matt Hart made the move to Seattle in 1998 to work for Microsoft Corp.  After seven years as a software test engineer, coaching, ultra distance racing and training had slowly taken over his life.  In December of 2005 Matt left his desk job to pursue a career in coaching and athletics." Check out his blog, Coaching Endurance, as well as his services.




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"Toughness is not how strong you are, but what you can endure. " - Jim Bonfield

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Bonfield Express 5K


Today, as a family, we will be running the Bonfield Express 5K. On Saturday, we ran as a family at the Oldfield Oaks Forest Preserve as a training run and new entry into the Trail Running Project. It worked out pretty well.

The 5k race starts on Main Street in downtown Downers Grove.  It loops around the downtown area for the first mile before entering the beautiful, wooded neighborhood of Denburn Woods.  After exiting Denburn Woods, the course completes another small neighborhood loop before returning to downtown for the finish. 




The race is run in memory of Jim Bonfield who passed away in 2003 due to complications of Hodgkin’s Disease, Leukemia, and Rheumatoid Arthritis.  His accomplishments in life were many, as a father, teacher, coach and dean of students for more than three decades at Downers Grove South High School.  He was an example to the children he encountered on the playing field and in his office, always encouraging with positive motivation.  But his influence as a person went far beyond his professional career. His students became his friends for life and his lifetime friends became his fans.  He is remembered for his smile and optimistic nature, for his love of family, for his appreciation of our community and for his devotion to wringing every moment of value from life.  Jim danced until his feet could no longer hold him up.

The Bonfield Express Foundation is a fast-growing local charity working to build character and community commitment in high school students.  The foundation does this by hosting programs and providing scholarship assistance to high school seniors, building future community leaders.

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Interested in participating in a bloggy gift exchange? Head over to Run With Jill, who is organizing one in lieu of posting more often! I believe that whoever is partnered with Em gets her buckle! I prefer a RUN IMEZ shirt. Offer valid thru December 8th or until all blogger buddies are taken. Open to residents of planet Earth.



Julie at Hotlegs Runner is having a Thanksgiving Blog Hop! Head over to her blog to share your Thanksgiving Day posts of greetings and gratitude.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Product Review and Giveaway: XOOD Natural Healthy Endurance Drink


Many moons ago (not like mooning a camera Beth), I won a pack of products from XOOD on Thomas' blog, Beyond Fatigue, Pain and ACTN3. When the box came, I was beyond amazed at all the stuff they had sent (a true sign of a quality company):


In a change that is heartening to those of us that don't like the sugary, cloying endurance drinks currently on the market, XOOD provides a natural, light, refreshing taste and comes in 3 flavors: Green Tea-Lemon, Pomegranate, and Mangosteen. I spent the last several weeks trying out this product.

Initial Impressions:

XOOD has simple, modern packaging that is appealing to the eyes. Since  XOOD is pulverized into an ultra-fine powder for easy mixing, you see and smell a puff when you open the container, and it has a simple, appealing smell.

Ingredients:

Two-to-one ratio of maltodextrin and fructose, ultra-fine whey protein, sodium, calcium, chloride, magnesium and potassium, vitamins C, D, E, B6, B12, ribloflavin and folic acid

"XOOD performance drinks are the first in a series of all-natural products to be introduced by HeartWise Fitness & Nutrition. The company was founded by two cardiologists who are completely passionate about providing endurance athletes with products that improve their performance through high-quality all-natural heart-healthy ingredients. Everything that goes into XOOD comes directly from nature. The sugars, carbs, proteins and other ingredients are derived from natural sources. There are no artificial sweeteners, colorings, flavorings or chemicals of any kind. XOOD doesn't even depend on traditional additives to make it dissolve. We pulverize XOOD into an ultra-fine powder for easy mixing. That's why you'll see a puff when you open the container. XOOD gives you everything you need and nothing you don't. With no artificial flavors or sweeteners XOOD has a light, satisfying taste. It's not sickeningly sweet and doesn't leave an aftertaste or unpleasant mouth coating."

Observations:

XOOD powder mixes easily and has a flavor that stays true to itself regardless of how much water is added, so should appeal to a broad range of endurance enthusiasts. The 3 flavors are markedly different from each other - I appreciated the Green Tea-Lemon and Pomegranate, but did not like the Mangosteen (and neither did anyone else in the family). Mangosteen is one of my favorite fruits, not easily found, so this is a double disappointment. However, as with all things, tastes vary and the Mangosteen could very well be your favorite.

The recommended usage is to mix one scoop (or single-serving packet) of XOOD with 16 - 24 ounces of water or beverage of your choice. As mentioned, the flavor stays true across the range of dilution, though I found it more appealing in the mid to higher range (around 21 ounces or so) - I did mix it into two 16 ounce bottles as an experiment, but wanted the flavor stronger than the result.



XOOD claims to benefit athletes through a quick boost of energy and then long lasting endurance, while formulated to cause less digestive problems. I didn't really notice the quick energy, but did feel that XOOD positively impacted me on my longer runs and rides.

XOOD also sponsors endurance athletes of all types, including Chris "Big Sexy" McDonald (how would like that nickname?), Pam Reed, and others. While I am definitely not at that level, if XOOD were to send me their kit (see below), I'd be happy to wear, very cool looking, no?


On to the giveaway! Cris from XOOD has graciously agreed to send samples of XOOD to a lucky follower of this blog. As usual, there are myriad ways to earn multiple entries:
  1. Be a follower.
  2. Follow the blog on FB.
  3. Follow me on Twitter.
  4. Retweet, FB this, link on your blog, or write a fawning tribute to "The Mighty Kovas" on your site (worth at least 2 entries, depending on the level of sycopanthy).
  5. Like XOOD on Facebook.
  6. Follow XOOD on Twitter.
  7. Cash is king. Email me for the account routing info.
Leave a comment for each thing that you do. Contest will run through Thursday, December 2nd, 2010, winner chosen using random.org and  posted Friday, December 3rd.

(Disclaimer: I won this product and chose to review on my blog. I did not pay for the item, receive payment for this review, or agree to give it a positive review. Aside from information gleaned from the company website, the opinions are my own. Product giveaway is courtesy of Cris at XOOD.)

Have a product you'd like reviewed? Contact me at lakotega@yahoo.com.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Red Bull Trail Daze Race Report


Saturday, I fed my trail running demon by participating in the inaugural Red Bull Trail Daze race, held in Palos Forest Preserve. I've run at Palos before, but this race gave me the opportunity to try out some trails I had not gotten to yet, on the northwest side. This race had a unique format, in that all racers started together and then, after a half mile, split onto one of 3 options. Three options: easy but long; medium but tricky, hard but short. Though my preference would have been stiff and long, I opted for the hard but short.
Simply a gorgeous day for a run, especially a trail run through the woods.  It was 40 degrees Fahrenheit and windy at the start, which was cold, but perfect once I got warmed up. The course I opted for was 90% singletrack, which was great for running, not so good for racing. I spent some time trapped behind some slower runners, but it did keep me from going faster than I should. A group of us missed an unmarked turnoff (the marshal had wandered off) and ended up running an extra mile. I got to pass a bunch of people twice!


This was a really enjoyable race in a great location, and well-worth adding to the calendar for next year if they run it. Apart from a delayed start and the unmarked turn, this was also a decently run race from the race management perspective. No-frills but with good energy, this is a good addition to the trail race options here in the Chicagoland area.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sewer Sticker, Sixty Million Step Program, Trail Running Project


Well look what showed up this weekend! My own personal "sewer" sticker from Beth at Shut Up and Run. In an admirable combination of woman's intuition, intelligence, and striking good looks, Beth addressed the envelope to "The Mighty" Kovas. Thanks Beth, this will look great stuck on my toilet!

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An opportunity to support one of our own and a good read to boot, Chasing the Runner's High: My Sixty Million-Step Program  "is the story of how Ray Charbonneau pushed his addiction to running up to, and then past, his limits. Ray shares what he learned, what he should have learned, and what he still has to learn from running." Ray's personal website is at Y42K, which asks the question "Why a Marathon?" (26.2 miles = 42K), or "Why stop at a marathon?"

Like some of us, Ray's story is one of a typical youth, then by a sedentary life with insidious weight gain, realization things can change, and a slow trek back to fitness. The path followed is familiar, with initial struggles, the first race, getting hooked on feeling good, and then looking forward to other challenges. Ray has run a variety of events, up to and including multiple marathons and ultras.

Ray also shares some basic training and gear information, really useful for the beginning runner. He makes sure to identify the people, groups, and races that he has encountered and have helped him on his journey.

The book is available for purchase from the website, Chasing the Runner's High. Pretty much every standard format is covered: Trade paperback ($12.99), .epub digital edition (standard eBook format) , .mobi digital edition (Kindle format), and .pdf digital edition (Adobe PDF format). You can also request another digital format if needed. Kind of a cool thing is that you can "Name your own price" for the digital editions - on the checkout page you can set the price to whatever you think is fair. The suggested price is $5. A portion of all proceeds goes to the charity you select.

So help out a fellow endurance athlete, do some xmas shopping early, and help out a charity. Win-win-win.

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The whole family ran yesterday at Oldfield Oaks Forest Preserve!
Read more over at the Trail Running Project.

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Monday Weigh-In results:

Weight: (Goal of 165) - 191.4
BF: (Goal of 11-22) - 11.3
TBW: (Goal of 50-65) - 58.3
VF: (Goal of 1-12) - 5

Another week not logging my calories in. Couple of partial days, but somehow it tapered off, especially if dinner was not something easily broken down into its components. Need to get back on track or push more to control my eating on my own. On the positive side, lost a pound since last week, so it appears I'm okay even without LoseIt! at maintaining weight. Goal is still to lose, not maintain.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Trail Running Project: Oldfield Oaks Forest Preserve


Trail Running Project outing #4 took place today at Oldfield Oaks Forest Preserve. Oldfield Oaks is located in Darien, Illinois, not far off Interstate 55, an easy drive west of Chicago. "Oldfield Oaks is an excellent example of an intact, mature oak woodland, natural wetland, and restored prairie. With this diverse mix of ecosystems, the preserve is home to a variety of wildlife, from foxes to great horned owls to western chorus frogs. Wildlife conservation activities such as amphibian monitoring and bird counts take place at the preserve. Two miles of looped limestone footpaths meander through mature oak woodlands and open prairies, the perfect setting to see coyotes, foxes, and a variety of nesting and migratory birds. Horse traffic is not allowed at Oldfield Oaks." Today's trail run was a nice surprise, as the whole family participated!

Oldfield Oaks is made up of two connected loops, with the main loop approximately 1.1 miles and a side trail of .7 miles. We ran the main loop and side loop, then walked the main loop for an outing of almost 3 miles. This coming Thursday, Thanksgiving morning, we will be running the Bonfield Express 5K as a family. The Bonfield is a race held in our town of Downers Grove, so we hope to make it an annual tradition. Laima and Teo ran last year with relatives and friends; hopefully in years to come we can gather up some bigger groups as well.

Oldfield Oaks Forest Trail overlooking prairie

Tazer (9): Today my family and I went to Oldfield Oaks.  We chose this trail because it was close to home and not too long. This was a training run fro the Bonfield Express.

I got out of the car and saw strange fruit on the ground under the trees. It was about the size of a grapefruit and sort of a yellow green color. It was soft on the inside and on the outside looked like a big brain.

We started running and my dad and I took photos. Oldfield Oaks has crushed gravel trails and good scenery, like tall grasses blowing in the wind, and would look really cool with snow covering everything. In the woods there are a lot of curves and hills. We saw a few people and one couple we saw at least 3 times!

Oldfield Oaks is a very relaxing running trail - my brother Aleks even fell asleep in his stroller! I think this is a great trail and I hope you will too!


Guy-guy (8): "My Practice for the Bonfield": Today was a beautiful day for a run, even though it was a bit chilly. And that's why I was happy when my whole family went for a run. As soon as we got out of the car, we saw tall stalks of grass. Once we ran a little bit, we came to a place that had so many twisting turning swerving curves! It was so much fun running down and down and down. Well, we were also turning around and around down the path! As we were on the trail, we saw lots of fallen and cut-down trees and we even thought that maybe one of them was struck by lightning because it looked like it was burned. There was a lot of uphill and a lot of downhill. It was a nice open trail. I love running on trails!

When you get tired, hitch a ride!

Oldfield Oaks Prairie View

Lots of curves!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Outdoor Blogger Network, Good Running Reads, Red Bull Trail Daze



I recently submitted my blog to the Outdoor Blogger Network, a new site celebrating the great outdoors. They were kind enough to create a new directory category for me, Trail Running Blogs. I see they've also added a Mountain Biking blogs category, and they appear amenable to working with people to get sites involved. Head over and submit your blog, maybe they'll create a general endurance sports category for multisporters?

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(1999, Cambridge, MA: Zoland Books)


Emmaus, PA: Rodale, 2010.

(Self-published 1978) NY: Scribner, 2009.
NY: Breakaway Books, 2007.

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Tomorrow is the Red Bull Trail Daze. I picked up my race packet on Wednesday, thinking I was going to get a Red Bull Beanie like the one pictured above. However, I was mistaken, it's actually a Saucony winter running hat, pictured below. Mixed feelings on not getting the one with the propeller. :)


Have a great weekend, all!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mind Games, Flatout Buddy, Inspiration and an Aussie Giveaway


Alexandra from the Syndicate Media Group sent over a press release for Nike's recent release of Casey Neistat's new short movie 'Mind Games'. Written years ago when Casey first started running, this 2.5 minute short explores the mind games runners face and the ideas one focuses on while the body is giving it all it has to keep them running; or while being committed to any other sport. This film was commissioned to be made while he trained in NYC for the New York Marathon this year, to help celebrate the Nike way of showing creativity through sport. Casey carried a small HD video camera with him on runs for 3 weeks to shoot the movie and the music was done by Jordan Galland, a good friend and long time collaborator of Casey's. Syndicate also markets many upscale products, including Ferrari and Land Rover, which I offered to test drive and review. No response yet, but I have my fingers crossed!

 

Mind Games - directed by Casey Neistat from Nike Sportswear on Vimeo.

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In other news:
  • Jim at Flatout Buddy is hosting a giveaway for a Dara Torres book - enter here.
  • Patrick is still accepting submissions for his Inspiration Page. Apparently if you send him an inspirational tidbit, you get a free shirt. I say apparently because mine must have gotten lost in the mail, along with my arm warmers. I bet I get a t-shirt from Emily or a bumper sticker from Beth before I get anything from Patrick.
  • Barbie is doing an Aussie Giveaway, putting us "Americans" and "Canucks" to shame by offering to ship the items anywhere in the world.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Midwest Trails: McDowell Grove Forest Preserve


Another local forest preserve, another decent trail run. This is an interesting preserve, in that it appears to be cobbled together from a variety of sources, by a disparate group of organizations. First and foremost, this was a Civilian Conservation Corps camp, where people lived while working on various projects. Then  it became the site of a secret radar development HQ. Nifty.

Typical trail view of the Northern out and back

The parking lot is located somewhat in the middle of the preserve, so I decided to head north first, including a side trail that was part singletrack connecting to a grass trail back to the main path.

Side trail

This park runs along the West Branch of the Du Page River, before this I ran near the East Branch (see Greene Valley post). Apart from the river itself, there was quite a bit of other water features, including some streams and lakes.




West Branch DuPage River and transition between gravel and paved paths

Between the parking lot and a road to the north, the path was crushed gravel, but then changed to a paved trail, which was a bicycle trail developed by the state of Illinois. It passed under a street and also the Interstate and was quite a bit more developed than the earlier section of trail, with houses backing right up to it.


It terminated at another road, so I headed back the same way. Coming back towards the parking lot, I found a section of singletrack, which was welcome after the paved section.








Several days before my run, our family took a walk in the preserve, covering several of the southern side loops. From the photos, you can see that our family outing was under blue skies and sun, while my run included clouds and rain.


The southern loop is more open, less wooded and traverses one of the ugliest dams I have ever seen. Such a complete disregard for both nature and aesthetics is not uncommon with dam projects, but this one was more brutal than most.

By running an out and back to the north, including a side loop, then running an out and back to the south (including side loops), I was able to stretch the run to nearly 9 miles, so this is a decent location for a mid-distance run.

The preserve is located near an expressway exit and lies approximately a half hour west of Chicago, making it a decent option for someone looking to run a trail near the city. While not one of my favorites among the preserves I have run, it has some beautiful sections, and the variety of surfaces is a nice change.

Running, Skiing, and Endurance Sports - Patagonia.com

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