Thursday, May 9, 2013

I Went to the Track, But The Track was Gone

This morning, I woke up early, eagerly anticipating my first speed workout at the North Park University track. It has been about three months since I set foot on a track. After I had recovered from my injury, I did not do any speed work, as I did not want to risk injury during my crash course final six weeks of marathon training.

So after getting ready, I ran a 1.5 mile warm-up to get to the track, mentally preparing for for the workout as I ran.

However, once I got there, I saw a big construction fence encircling the entire track. Sure enough, when I looked over the fence, I saw that the entire track surface had been removed:

The remains of what used to be the North Park University Track.
By the looks of it, they are going to resurface the track. I am all in favor of a new track surface. Many non-runners use the track to launch fireworks and there were several deep burn holes in some of the lanes. Also, lots of people used to ride their bikes around the track, so it has seen lots of wear of the years. However, I am sad that it will be closed just as I wanted to get back out on the track. Also, I'm a little nervous as I see the construction crew is building an actual permanent fence with a gate around the perimeter. Hopefully we don't get locked out!

Trucks working on the Track
So, instead of running my speed workout on the track, I did it over at the Chicago River North Branch trail. During my workout, I waved at some familiar faces from the track who were also using the trail for their workouts.

The North Branch River Trail where I did my workout instead.
It's a little different doing speed workouts on the trail, because there are several mini hills that either slow you down or speed you up, so it can be more of a struggle at times. The effort I need for each interval may have been different, depending on the terrain. Also, you don't get the cushioning of a track as the trail is all asphalt and concrete. Anyway, despite all of that I was able to run my intervals:

2.0 mile warm-up run
1.0 mile @ 5:55, .25 mile walk
.75 miles @ 5:58, .25 mile walk
.50 miles @ 5:54, .20 mile walk
.25 miles @ 5:29
1.1 mile cool-down run

I have a feeling that my legs will be a little extra sore today because I ran a track-like workout on a hard surface. Hopefully, the new-and-improved (i.e. firework proof) track will be fixed and open to the public (i.e. me) again soon!

23 comments:

  1. For some reason I am dying laughing over this. It's too much like a scene from my life - go to the track and its gone! Hopefully resurfacing isn't a timely process...and where are these hoodlums even getting fireworks?

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    1. Yeah, it felt like one of those d'oh! moments, but yes, it probably won't take too long. I think Indiana sells most kinds of fireworks. Maybe some kids (or adults) take road trip there so they can buy fireworks that they use to melt the track when they get home. Hopefully, this is a fireproof track. I'll find out on July 5th! :--)

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  2. Oh man, the hills on the North Branch trail are rough, especially if you're doing speed work! I can barely get up some of them on my bike, let alone running!

    Is the track at Winnemac Park (I think it's Amunsden high school?) open to the public? I think the one in Chase Park is - my gym used to run over there and then do track & field style workouts in the summer, so I'm thinking it might be. But hopefully North Park opens back up soon!

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    1. Yeah, those hills are deceivingly tough on the North Branch trail. Thanks for the alternate running track tips. I think Winnemac Park is the closest track to me. A couple of times I've run up there the track fence was locked. So, it may be hit or miss. Is the track at Chase Park a regulation size track? It seems a little small, but it could just be me! :)

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    2. Oh, so you want a track that's open AND regulation size? Picky Pete! :) My guess is that it's not, it is on the small side. The Park District website makes it sound like the track is open to the public - maybe try calling them to see what's up? It's often locked when I go by too, but it's usually during school hours so maybe that's why?

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    3. Should have clarified - I looked up Winnemac on the CPD website...

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    4. Yeah, I might have seemed a little picky there when I asked if it was a regulation size track. :) I guess it doesn't need to be exactly 400m around for me to get a good workout, all I really need to do is to look at my Garmin for my distances! I might try Winnemac next week, and if it is closed go over to Chase Park. :)

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  3. I've never ran out in that area, but glad to know if I ever move that rail exists!
    Good commitment to your training to make sure its done.

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    1. Thanks. Yes, luckily the trail is available nearby for some uninterrupted fast running.

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  4. Oh gosh. Too funny! Good for you for still doing it! I would've been all "It must be a sign not to do it today!!!" :) Although, I just run speedwork on sidewalks anyway :)

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    1. Yeah, I guess it is kind of a FWP. I'm lucky to have a free track nearby!

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  5. Oh wow! This must've been quite a shock! LOL!

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  6. Ugh, what a bummer! This happened to me a few summers ago, I lived a couple blocks away from Downers Grove North, and they renovated their track. They were doing Downers South at the same time so I had to drive to Westmont High School. At least once it's done, you'll have a fancy new track to run on!!

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    1. Yes, looking forward to a new track! I just read from a twitter post that it will be done in June. Fingers crossed! :)

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  7. That is disappointing that the track is gone, but here is hoping that they do a good job replacing it! It seems like it is more difficult than you would expect to find a track in Chicago that is open to the public. The only track within reasonable vicinity to me is at a private high school about a mile away from my home - but they have fences up so I would be nervous about going in and running on it.

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    1. Yes, I hope they do a good job. It is used by the university, so I would assume they will do at least a respectable NCAA standard job. Luckily, it is open to the public. Yes, it is hard to find a track in the city. I found "my" track one day when I was canoeing down the Chicago River and spotted it near the river! I've been going there ever since!

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  8. This sounds like a bad county song. "I went down to the track an the track was gone." At least it will be refinished. But hopefully you'll be able to use it then!

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  9. Thanks for the update, Pete. That's my Chicago neighborhood track too (I just "discovered" it last summer). I also like to go to the cinder track at Winneman Park. That's usually open. It's slower than North Park, but easier on the legs. If I ever get running again, we'll have to meet up for a workout!

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  10. Oh no, what a bummer about the track. Hopefully it will be back soon even better!

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  12. Any news on if the track is done and still accessible?

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  13. August 12th and still we wait for the North Park track to reopen! (Found your blog when searching for an update.) Another good option--especially with a Garmin--is the paved loop(s) in Horner Park. Like the River path, intervals are too hard on the legs, but at least it's flat. Not too badly crowded in the morning. Impossibly crowded in the afternoon/early evening--at least for consistent intervals.

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