If you’re lucky enough to be in the mountains, you’re lucky enough!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Plan B, Part II

We had planned a 13 mile run today, however, Kathleen was having a little leg "issue" again this morning and we decided to play it safe and ride instead. (It helps to be multisport, right?) So we ditched the running gear, threw the road bikes in the truck, and headed to the US Air Force Academy. The road riding at the Academy is some of the best in Colorado Springs for several reasons. Their road has a wide bike shoulder for a majority of the route and the surface is always in great shape. Also, the traffic is very well controlled as you can earn a swift exit from the base if you drive like a moron! Note of interest to cycling fans - the 1986 World Road Cycling Championship was held on a variation of the loop we rode today.
Looking down at the cadet living area from an overlook on top of the Academy grounds.
Since this is a military base, it must maintain some self sufficiency. There are several reservoirs on the Academy although most are more "hidden" than this. There are a few others we pass when on the trail as well. Back to the ride - we did one counter-clockwise and one clockwise loop for a total of 30 miles of great riding. The route is rolling with a couple good climbs in each direction. Great day in the saddle!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Change of plans...

We had intended to drive to Frisco, Colorado today to try out the race course for the Salomon Equinox trail race in September. We want to try the 12 mile, and there are also 6 mi, 6 hour and 12 hour events. However, we live in Colorado and the weather man can be inaccurate 97% of the time and be considered good! We woke to a "beautiful" gray blanket of cloud cover, with Frisco at 42 degrees and threatening rain. 42 is a welcome temperature in the dead of winter but this is July and we are not up for that yet - we get 6 months of cold as is!!!
So we headed to one of our favorites - Red Rock Canyon Open Space. Red Rock is a reclaimed quarry, as you can see from this area where granite was harvested in blocks years ago. That hard, quality rock base is what attracts climbers to this park and makes it one of the "must climb" areas in Southern Colorado.
We waited a bit too long for the cloud cover to lift (partially because we wanted to see the time trial unfold at the Tour de France!) and when the sun arrived, we had heat and humidity to greet us on the trail. It remained partially hazy and we were in and out of clouds for our run but the earlier weather pattern left us with light traffic on the trails - sweet! The view down the back canyon from the rim - you can see the trail at the bottom of the canyon. You can also see the saddle in the background that we will climb to reach the outer rim of the park - it runs just above the open "meadow" area. Those nice trail posts always give us a spot to set the camera for a "group" photo.
Looking back across the canyon as Steve ascends the saddle to the outer rim of the park.
Kathleen's turn at the ridge - almost two miles of sweet downhill from here - awesome!!!
Even with the haze, the landscape views from the rim of Red Rock are awesome. That is the Garden of the Gods in the background. We had an awesome day, even with our plan B schedule. 10 miles of fantastic Colorado trail running always makes for good times!!!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Mountain bike ride at Greenland/Spruce Mountain

Today, Becky and I headed over to one of our favorite mountain bike and trail running areas, the Greenland/Spruce Mountain loop. It was a gorgeous, sunny morning with temperatures forecasted for the low 90's. We got out early to beat the heat!
The loop is virtually non-technical and passes through lots of rolling, open prairie grassland (the Greenland portion). The "prettier" part is Spruce Mountain. The trail on top of Spruce Mountain (above) passes by beautiful rock outcroppings and travels through a shady conifer forest, a nice relief from the intense sun of the shadeless prairie.
Kathleen reveling in the beautiful day, stunning views, and fun trail!!!!
Smiling for the camera!
View from the top looking toward Greenland.

We ended the day with a loop just under 27 miles and satisfied grins on our faces following another fun day in the saddle!!!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Red Rock Canyon

This morning, we headed over to one of favorite trail running areas in town, Red Rock Canyon. We arrrived at the trailhead a little later than planned - around 8:00. We had hoped to start around 7:00 - since it was supposed to be hot, in the low 90's today - but we lolly-gagged a bit before we made it out the door. In spite of our later start, the temp ended up being A-OK.

There were a few people out early, including a couple of groups of rock climbers, but the trails were empty for us to enjoy by ourselves!
Red Rock Canyon has a mixture of dry desert-like landscape, lush shaded green areas, and spectacular red rock formations. We will get some pics of the red rocks for a future post.

Below, Steve has Garden of the Gods as a back drop in the distance (another of our favorite areas!).
We ended the day with 10.5 very fun, smile inducing miles. We cooled off with a cold leg soak when we got home. Our toes turned blue! Yikes!

Next weekend, we may take a day trip up to the mountains to preview a race route we may do in September. We'll see how the week goes. Kathleen has had a little bit of ache in her lower legs the past 5 weeks or so - medial tibial stress (shin splint)? We are not sure. She hasn't increased her weekly mileage and her shoes are good (a shoe lover has lots of options in the rotation!) so we aren't quite sure what has caused/is causing the ache. Has been doing some strengthening, stretching, icing, and massaging, and will be doing more biking these next few weeks. She has always been told she is a "neutral" runner but we are wondering if she over pronates slightly more than we have thought. The legs didn't feel too bad after today's run - we will keep our fingers crossed!

We love Colorado and are so thankful for the many fun places we get to enjoy right in our own backyard!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Some Leg rest ... and a mid week run

After a nice block of running in the mountains, we gave our legs some different turnover for a bit. Saturday we did some nice mountain biking on the Santa Fe trail to the north boundary of the US Air Force Academy. It was a pleasantly mild day after the Front Range posting mid-90's for a week solid. We had a strong headwind on the way back, which hindered the whole leg recovery theme - welcome to Colorado! We rode 21 miles and had a good day of spinning.
Sunday we did a very nice road loop on the quiet roads on the northwest side of town. We had to do some climbs but we REALLY enjoy not riding in traffic. It is especially nice to ride early on Sundays as there is even less car volume on the roads. Surprisingly, the running is really keeping our legs strong even when we hop on the bikes. The spinning endurance has dropped some but the climbing power is still quite respectable. That is the trail running advantage - strong legs from the hills and uneven terrain! It is interesting that on most of our road riding routes on the west side of Colorado Springs, we average about 1000' climb per 10 miles of riding. That is right where we ended up Sunday - 20 miles with about 2000' climb. Good day in the saddle and the legs are really adapting well to the increased load.

Kathleen was able to ride with Becky on Monday on the trails around Mt Herman in Monument. That is always good times for them - some single track and a long climb, mountain biking at it's best!!!

Thursday night, Steve snuck in a trail run at Garden of the Gods - about 6.5 miles. Ran a good loop on the outer perimeter of the park. There was some cloud cover, which made the heat dissipate nicely. It was surprising to see 6 or 8 other runners out on the trail, about a dozen hikers, and some horses (and their riders) leaving their calling cards.

Anyone watching the Tour De France? We always enjoy watching and the racing has been good this year. The two American sponsored teams, Garmin-Chipotle and Columbia are doing quite well. The speedy little British sprinter from Team Columbia, Mark Cavendish, picked up his 4th sprint stage win today - WOW! And wily American veteran, Christian VandeVelde from the Garmin squad sits in 3rd place overall after 13 stages. Also of note - the dopers. What on earth is up with these morons? The cycling federations and Tour organizers have promised an all out assault to weed out the dopers and these guys are still taking stuff. Complete idiots. And then their responses are priceless - I have no idea how the EPO got into my body... unless of course those "vitamin" shots I have been taking have something in them!!! Guess there will always be cheaters, but we're happy that cycling is taking a stand to get them out of the sport.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Day 5 in Winter Park

Started the day's run on Chainsaw trail, another prime moose area - but the moose were hiding from us this trip!
We then ran up Flume trail, which follows an old logging flume along the stream - remnants of the flume remain beside the trail.
Kathleen is blazing down the Creekside trail with a nice view of the St Louis Creek flowing behind her. There is a lot of water moving through the valley still with all the snow left on the mountains!
Steve runs through one of the rocky sections on Creekside - fancy footwork came in handy on these trails.
We could not resist another shot from the Byers Peak overlook.
Bringing it home on the final section of Creekside trail. We ran 7.5 miles and once again it was Good Times!!! We picked up Sage from playing with her new friends at Mountain Dawg, stopped off at Rocky Mountain Roastery for some jet fuel (local coffee roaster with some of the best beans Steve has sampled), and headed home!!! We are blessed to have abundant recreational opportunities so close to home and we always make an effort to be thankful and not take them for granted!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Day 4 in Winter Park

We went easy on our legs after the 13 miler, linking a couple of shorter trails near the Elk Creek Road trailhead. Our route started on Elk Creek, turning up the hillside onto what we thought was Sunken Bridges trail. However, we ended up running one of the locals' "contraband" trails - secret stashes of premium singletrack that are "yet to be released" to the public! It was an accidental discovery and was quite enjoyable to run.
We then connected to Zoom trail. As you might expect from the name, hang on for this one. Zoom is one of those trails with the perfect balance of sustainable downhill and wind in your hair that puts a "permagrin" smile on your face. We finished on the bottom end of Chainsaw trail and a short 4.5 mile run. Just enough to move a little blood through the legs and recover from our long run!
It was a perfect day and Byers Peak had a wonderful bluebird backdrop across the meadow. We went for a nice hike with Sage at the Bonfils-Stanton Outdoor Center, which is built with elevated boardwalk-style trails over some wetland areas. There are also parts that are dirt trail, but the neat thing is that the entire main loop is handicap accessible by wheelchair. Winter Park is home to the National Sports Center for the Disabled which provides adaptive recreational outlets for disabled athletes.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Day 3 in Winter Park

We set out for our long run of the trip today, tackling part of one of the classic rides in this area - Tipperary Creek. These trails are the setting for an annual mountain bike race, The King of the Rockies, but we would be running only a portion of the course. The nice thing about the Winter Park trail system is that there are many options to customize your run or ride to whatever length you choose. When we ride this, it is a 30 - 40 mile loop with 4000 - 5000' of elevation gain. But today we put together a 13 mile loop, with about 2000' gain, which was quite sufficient for running!!! We warmed up with the Northwest Passage trail, followed by a jaunt up Church Park Road to the Tipperary trailhead.
Kathleen is in the zone, concentrating on her climb up Tipperary Creek trail. The climb is sustained for 3.25 miles, gaining about 1500' before reaching Morse Pass, followed by a 2 mile fast and furious descent on Spruce Creek trail with lots of loose scree under foot!
The Spruce Creek trail has several very wet, lush areas to pass through on the way to the bottom - these are prime moose sighting areas but we saw none the whole trip! Once off the slopes of Morse Mountain, we picked up the Creekside trail in the opposite direction from the previous day's run. We were ready for a cold soak in the pool and some rest for our feet - it was an epic run for us and good times for the memory bank!!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Day 2 in Winter Park

After dropping Sage off at Mountain Dawg Outfitters in Fraser for a few hours of doggie daycare, we headed for the St Louis Creek trailhead to start our run. Kathleen is running the Creekside trail, following St Louis Creek west from Fraser.
Creekside trail is very rocky and has many roots to navigate.
There is a nice overlook on the Flume trail with views of the creek and a good look at Byer's Peak. Notice the amount of snow still on the face of the peak - very strange for this late in the summer. Winter Park and the Fraser Valley had a very long and COLD winter this year.
We finished our run near the Rodeo Grounds and, although hazy, had a nice view across the Continental Divide. We ran 8.5 miles today on the Givelo, Creekside, and Flume trails, and had a lot of fun!
Later in the day, we took a nice hike with Sage up Little Vasquez road to Chickadee trail so she could play in the stream for a bit - she gets really hot with the black fur coat!!!
She is quite photogenic, and the smile on her face lets you in on her appreciation of such "deluxe" walks!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Trip to the Mountains - Day 1 in Winter Park

Took a little trip to the mountains this week to visit Winter Park, Colorado - one of our favorite places in Colorado! For years we have enjoyed mountain biking their vast trail network, however, this year we decided to try a new twist and trail run some of our favorite bike routes. We thought it would give us new perspective on familiar trails, and at the same time, provide some altitude training to our running regimen. Most of the trails start around 9000' and go up from there.
Since this was our travel day, we did not have a scheduled Doggie Daycare for Sage, so we did a nice hike on the Givelo and Creekside trails with her. We also needed to rest our legs from Sunday's race!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Summer Roundup Trail Run 12K

Well, today was the big day. We ran the Summer Roundup Trail Run 12K at Bear Creek Regional Park in Colorado Springs. Since we are newer to running, and definitely new to running races - only our second, we had a little nervous energy because of the high level of competition in our area. Just because we are newbies, does not mean we want to be humiliated - we have to make a decent showing, right? The day started with cloudy skies and humidity - unusual for Colorado - and the temp was low 70's at the start. There were a record 667 race finishers. This was race 2 of the Triple Crown of Running series and these folks put on a great event! It is amazing how fast a lot of these people can run. Interesting note, the women's overall winner was Samantha McGlone. For those who follow Ironman Triathlon, she finished second at the World Championships in Hawaii last year! You can see the stunned look of disbelief on Kathleen's face as she received the 1st place trophy for the women's 40-44 age group!! How awesome is that?
We both exceeded our expectations, and more important, we had a blast!!! We might just like this trail running thing after all...
They gave out the coolest trophies - a horseshoe with a brass plate on it. Quite a nice and unique race prize!
Since we are hooked, we might be looking to do the Spring Creek Memorial Trail Race in Steamboat Springs, Colorado later this month. We might get the opportunity to preview the course later this week. If we do, we'll post a report and some photos!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th of July - God Bless America!

America the Beautiful
Written by: Katharine Lee Bates

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!

America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassion'd stress
A thorough fare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness.

America! America!
God mend thine ev'ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law.

O beautiful for heroes prov'd
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life.

America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness,
And ev'ry gain divine.

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears.

America! America!
God shed his grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.

Trail Running on the 4th of July!

We headed out for a short run today at Garden of the Gods. We started a little later than expected and, with the heat coming up early, we knew it would not be a long outing. That is OK since we do have an event to participate in on Sunday morning. It was great to be out on the 4th of July, especially with Pikes Peak - America's Mountain - as the backdrop for our run. For those who don't know, America the Beautiful was penned by Katherine Lee Bates while on a trip west to teach at Colorado College. The poem began to form in her mind while atop Pikes Peak and she finished composing it in her hotel room upon returning. We see it every day and don't ever want to take for granted the majesty of Creation before our eyes!
Back to the heat issue. We have always ridden our bikes in the heat and have learned to manage pretty well. However, we have not done a lot of summer running until this year, so the learning curve is on for running in the heat. The second difficulty is that we had such an extended cold spring that we went from running in long sleeves to figuring how little we can wear - virtually overnight. Part of the "learning" will be to start earlier in the day. 90 degrees at 6000'+ altitude definitely takes a toll. With the speed of biking, especially road biking, there is always the opportunity to have a little built-in wind chill. At our current running pace, wind chill is non-existent!!! :-)
Regardless of heat, it was another spectacular day for hitting the trails. We saw so many people out enjoying the day on our way to the park and while we were there - bicycling, running, hiking, horseback riding, rock climbing - we live in a very recreation oriented community for sure.
We finished our run and headed home for a little ice-bath session to get the legs in recovery mode. It also helps to cool off the engine room on a hot summer day. The run was great and as always - good times!
It is that time of year again - while most sports fanatics are in the doldrums of summer, we will be keeping an eye on the Tour De France starting tomorrow. We're a little disappointed that #1 and #3 from last year's Tour are not there but it should still be interesting.
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