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

Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Most Wonderful Time

For those who have not been reading our blog that long, one year ago today I "embarrassed" my sweetheart Kathleen with this anniversary post.  I promised not to do it again, so here we are at Christmas enjoying family and friends.  Hope it does not scare anyone to see us in a non-running scenario!!!  We have not even posted our Christmas day run photos, which was cold but great at Garden of the Gods.  Twenty One years ago today Kathleen and I were married and she is to this day the love of my life and a treasure beyond worth.  Happy Anniversary honey!!

Happy New Years to all and Happy Trails!  Company moves on today, so we'll get some running material up soon!

Monday, December 21, 2009


I feel a bit like a "guest" blog author today. I have been in a "knitting frenzy" trying to get a couple of big projects finished for our moms for Christmas, punctuated by a few small projects for friends. Consequently, I have been fairly MIA in terms of bloggie activity - tonight I have secured control of the keyboard.
Below is a piece of "graffiti art" I found in the super clearance section of Pier 1.  It grabbed my attention as I started to hurry past and brought me to a skidding halt.  I love it - it sums up so much.  I handed the nice sales lady $15 and skipped merrily out the door with my new treasure.

My hope is that you can garner some of the same inspiration from the word that I do.  Sometimes we forget to "live" in the face of the mundane hustle and bustle of life, terminal illnesses, tragic accidents, financial woes, relationship hurts - you fill in the blank.  But next time you are out on your run or ride, I hope you can pause for a moment and remember to live. It's always worth living despite the hurdles encountered.  What a blessing to be able to get out and move (regardless of how slow or fast!), and breathe!

I got out and lived today - on my road bike.  It was not a pretty sight but it was good.  The legs felt super tired, for some reason.  The original plan of being "Queen of the Mountains" ("attack the hills" type of day) was scrapped and replaced by spinning a fast cadence in small gears - "small" being key since there was absolutely NO leg umph in my possession.  Mere survival was the name of the game.  It didn't matter that I was slow as molasses today.  Hey, it was sunny and I was in knickers. Yay!
Plus, this time of year is our "off" season.  We try to maintain some decent fitness but there's no pressure.  If we feel like a 13 mile run, good.  If we feel like a 3 miler, that's good too.  Fast, slow, whatever goes.  We take a few months to chill a little - I think it's beneficial to give the body as well as the mind a break from the normal fitness routine.  We do enough to stay in reasonable shape but relax a bit. I marvel at the folks who are motivated to train hard through winter for a big race in January or February.  Wow.  I couldn't do it.


Well, here it is - our beautiful wreath from Ken and Dana - hung in the perfect spot above the entertainment center for everyone to see!  It is awesome!

One last thing - today is the shortest day of the year - another big YAY!  Steve and I joke that today or tomorrow (can't decide which day) should be a celebratory holiday - everything will start to look brighter from here.  I REALLY dislike the dark days of winter - hibernation sounds pretty good. Bring on the light!!!

Steve and I would like to wish everyone a very blessed Christmas!  And remember to LIVE each day!  Happy Trails!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sunny Days

Days like these are why we tolerate the sometimes abusive Colorado winter weather - beautiful sunny skies, with temps in the high 30's to start and that turbo-charged, high altitude UV making it feel nice and "relatively" toasty on the trails.  After running Saturday in the 12 degree early morning air, we headed out (a little later) to Red Rock Canyon Open Space today - one of our many favorites.  Red Rock's trails are generally not going to be horrific on the mud so it was a good bet for a sunny day.

As is generally the case, the eastern side of the park was mostly dry in the open areas, with a bit of snowpack left in the shade or northern exposure sections.  Kathleen is climbing the Red Rock Rim trail, high above the red granite walls that were the heart of the old quarry operations.  The park is far enough west that in many places you can just see Pikes Peak poking up above the foothills.
The western side of Red Rock was another story.  From the northern part of Sand Canyon trail all the way up to the rim on the Mesa trail, we ran mostly on hardpack snow and ice for the whole climb.  Here I am approaching the top of the Roundup trail, carefully navigating the snowy singletrack.  Believe it or not, we saw a brave guy on a cyclocross bike climbing one of these sections - very tricky!
Nice view down the back canyon from the Greenlee trail.  Cut into the hillside in the distance is Lion trail - our next climb!
Kathleen cruises out the snowpack at the bottom of the Roundup trail.  These cold canyon bottoms are easier to run because the cold snow is somewhat tacky on the surface.
Steve absorbing all-natural vitamin D up on the Red Rock Rim.
On top of Lion trail's hogback for the second time and the last climb of the day completed.  Looking out across the park toward the Rampart Range - it was a beautiful day!  Time to roll it in.

Nearing the eastern trailhead on top of the Hogback Rim, trying to avoid the big drop on my left!!  From this shot, you would never know we've had snow.  We could not have asked for a much better late December day for a trail run.  (Well, we could, but we won't get greedy...)  It was nice to be on some good trails and have familiar dirt under foot after some weeks of a lot of snowy runs.  Over half of the 13 mile run was snow-free, which is a bonus that we'll take while it is here!  Weather forecast is for cold, but not white, Christmas day.  More than likely, you will see us out on the trails somewhere - if you do, say Hello.  Happy Trails and Merry Christmas!

Shoes - Asics Trabuco

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Santa's Little Helper (or the Postal Carrier...)

Headed out for a quick night run - with temps around 40, why pass it up?  Almost all of our neighborhood trails (wide dirt paths) are snow free, which is good in the dark!  The reflective piping on Kathleen's knickers played some tricks on the camera - or maybe it was the blazing speed ...???

Had to do a quick note on the new headlamp.  I took a tip from the Trail Zombie and picked up a Princeton Tec Corona headlamp.  I never notice it in daylight, but I have an annoying head bounce when I run.  This is bad with a spot beam as the bouncy light produces a strange sensation similar to being seasick - cool, eh?  So this blowtorch has 8 LED's and a bunch of combinations of light and power settings, all in more of a flood pattern ~ no bouncing, no nausea!  Needless to say, more is better so I don't mess with the lightweight stuff, but go straight for HIGH POWER.  Definitely recommended for those who run at night.  Anxious for spring, as I think you could easily run technical at night with this.
 Some neighborhood lights - their deer is fake...
... Ours were NOT!  These guys were slurping out of our bird feeder and did not even care that we came home from our run.  When I got the camera out, this doe came walking over thinking I was going to feed her right out of my hand!!!  I had to shut the door before she tried to walk in the house.  We must have naughty neighbors who are feeding the wildlife...
Lo and behold, Santa's Little Helper, aka the postal carrier, left a little surprise on the porch while we were out.  Now it seems some very, very dear friends from a bit east of here (say, maybe, Tulsa area...) were sneaky (and thoughtful) and sent us a beautiful Christmas wreath.  We will have to post a pic when we get it hung in just the right spot.  Spreading Christmas Cheer - Thank You - Friends like you are a blessing!

Also, playing on iTunes while I type - Mercy Me "The Christmas Sessions".  Check it out if you need some fresh Christmas music.  Happy Trails!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Fresh Powder

With sun and 30's chasing the icebox weather out of our region for a bit, we hit the "trails" at Cheyenne Mountain State Park Saturday.  We think the trails were there, although we had some nice powdery snow coating the surface and not too many tracks had been made there when we reached the park.  In fact, we were one of only two cars at the main trailhead - and the other diehard folks were on mountain bikes!  Kathleen is just starting up Sundance trail - feet dry but not for long...
 There was actually quite a bit more untracked snow than we expected at the park.  We probably could have done a nice snowshoe run had we brought our gear - another day for that!  The mountain was looking great against the crystal clear Colorado sky.
Steve running through the Talon / Sundance intersection.  This was one of the few packed areas as a couple folks had been through on snowshoes and made a nice path.  In most places that were not packed, snow was about ankle deep - enough to soak the shoes by about mile 3.
 Kathleen running through the old tree on Sundance...
... and climbing Blackmer with an awesome backdrop.  By this point in the run, we were nearing about 40 degrees but the wind chill was still brisk.  The sun, however, was softening the surface a bit and making the climbs quite slick and cumbersome.  Luckily, we had the Trabuco screw shoes on or it would have been tough.  (If you run snow and ice, grab some sheet metal screws, a cordless driver, and get your tutorial here.)
 Dodging the boulders on Soaring Kestrel trail.
Near the bottom of Coyote Run, the snow was a little thinner and will probably start to reveal a bit of mud in the coming days.  Some of the higher trails are probably going to keep snow and ice for some time now, though.  Not good news for race 1 of the winter series - going up high on the Talons could be slippery times on race day!!!
Grabbed a nice snowy group photo before calling it a day.  We picked up 8.5 miles on fresh snow, which always leaves the legs feeling like you ran a lot more!!!  It was a great day to be out after a week in the freezer!

Today we headed out in different conditions.  We had a nice high wind warning in effect and beautiful gray skies, so we stayed close to home.  No sense being far away if you decide to pull the plug early, right?  We decided to just step out the door and loop around the Flying W area on the neighborhood dirt trails and see what happened.
 We were able to avoid the worst of the winds by getting out early, though it was gusting to 40 mph by the time we finished, according to our neighborhood weather station.  Kathleen summits Flying W road above - good thing it was gray, as our legs were bright pink from the wind!!!!  They had plowed on Thursday and Friday, so the sun had exposed some nice stretches of the trail and our feet were happy to find dirt!!!  We were able to squeeze out 10 miles before football even started - woo hoo!
Happy Trails!

Shoes - Saturday Asics Trabuco with screws
Sunday - K Asics Trabuco
               S Nike Structure Triax

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Triple-Dog Dare Ya'

It's time to say "Uncle" - this is waaaaaaaaay too COLD!!!

If you see us outside, we'll look similar to this!! Happy Trails and stay warm!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Frozen Trails

Got up a little behind schedule on Saturday morning (hey, it's winter...) so we had to squeeze in a quick, COLD run before Kathleen had to head to the office for a while.  We were able to do about 5.5 miles, starting in a half-sleep stupor, but awakening quickly in the chill of a gray winter morning.  The weatherman was "threatening" some sunshine ahead of another arctic air mass and snow on Sunday.  Since we already had two days in the teens for highs this week, any hint of sunshine and balmy 30 degree temps was enough to get the hopes up!

So after Kathleen headed out, the sun "sort of" came out and I put some dry clothing on and scooted over to the Santa Fe trail to get a second run in, just in case Sunday's storm materialized and limited the running possibilities.  Most of Santa Fe was lightly snow covered, as seen here with Pikes Peak behind, and there were some tricky areas that had solid ice hidden below the top coat of snow.

But, for the most part, it was some snow with very tiny patches of exposed dirt.  Although only in the 30's, I went for the shorts as the forecast was for the next 5 days being below 27 degrees.  It was good but you would not want to stand around - keep it moving!

Awesome ice flow under the railroad drainage - that is almost 2 foot thick already!

I was able to sneak out another 8 miles and felt pretty good at the finish.  I liked this shot of Monument Creek partially frozen near the end of the run.  It was a good day, although I am not quite used to the double run thing.

Shoes - Asics Trabuco on early run
 S - Brooks Ravenna on run #2

Sunday Duathlon ... sort of

We're always nervous when the weather forecast is for 1 - 2" of snow.  That can mean you wake up to sunshine, or you're buried in it - but mostly somewhere in between.  The cold part they got right - woke up to 14 degrees with 1 degree wind chill.  There was already 4" fresh down when we decided to bundle up and still get in some semblance of a run.  So we cruised over to Ute Valley to give it a shot, with fresh snow falling the whole time we were out.  It is always quiet and peaceful to run on mornings like this.  The falling snow muffles all the environmental noises and the rhythmic crunch of snow underfoot sounds out the cadence of your run.   

Steve making fresh tracks at UVP.

Another cool part of snow runs is the monochromatic imagery of the photographs that are snapped.  It is almost as if the colors of your gear are superimposed on a grayscale background.  We just did a short loop in Ute and then did some flat trails to the west of the park.  The flat light that fresh snow creates, along with the depth of the fresh powder, made the technical running a bit on the sketchy side.  No need to sprain an ankle on a day like this.  We finished with about 6 miles and fatigued legs - snow runs, especially when you break trail most of the way, are quite taxing on the legs.

Shoes - Asics Trabuco with screws

We got cleaned up and headed over to the Peak Grille for a late morning breakfast date!  Breakfast burritos after a snowy run - mmmmmmmmmm!  Then it was home and Kathleen was on the frantic knitting schedule - trying to get some things "sewn up" for the mothers' for Christmas and time is slim!  Since our run was short, we saddled up for a road ride, er um, make that a trainer ride in the afternoon.  Get in a little duathlon training on a cold day, right?

For those who don't ride, the contraption pictured above is a trainer.  You hook your bike up in front of the TV, set some resistance, and ride indoors.  Comes in handy in the winter, but to be quite honest, is a bit on the boring side.  Never ran on a treadmill, but could be similar I guess - outdoors is always better.  (Unless outdoors is covered in 7 inches of freshies and now sub-10 degrees.)  All in all, it was a good day.  Happy Trails - and anyone who wants some snow is more than welcome to take it!!!!!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Give Thanks and Run Trails!

Started off the Thanksgiving long weekend right by heading out to dinner Wednesday night with wonderful, long-time friends we don't get to see often enough.  Lots of laughs and good times, as always.  Geared up Thanksgiving Day and headed to Greenland Open Space, this time departing from the upper trailhead at Palmer Lake.  Sunny skies and temps in the 50's were perfect for a nice trail run on turkey day.  For many years now, we always start off our Thanksgiving day with a run or ride - it is a tradition for us.

Kathleen lacing up for a run!

Getting our dose of train activity - had two go by while we were out.

We had hoped for some dryness on the trails as Greenland is pretty open, but we had no such luck.  At least the trails here have a lot of sand, so the mud does not cake up on the shoes very much.  As you can see off on the far hill, there is still some snow that needs to melt.  Kathleen is nearing the top of the Kipps Loop climb. 

Picking my way through the melting snow/mud transitions on Kipps Loop.

These big fellas are from the Mile High Bison Ranch, which borders Greenland Open Space.  Steak anyone?

Kathleen is cruising back toward Palmer Lake on the Greenland Trail.  In the distance is another of our favorites, Spruce Mountain Open Space, however its trails were untouchable under the current conditions.  Though muddy most of our route, we still got in 10.5 miles, had an awesome day for a run, and headed home to get cleaned up for dinner with family.  We ate with Steve's sister and family, and his younger brother, all of whom live in Colorado Springs.  It was great to get together and be thankful for all our blessings, including dear family, friends, and good health!


Black Friday dawned and we did what we always do - anything to avoid SHOPPING!  The color we were looking for was more azure, and the sky was painted with it - bingo!  Now, people will drive hundreds of miles, elbow their way through lines at malls, even sleep overnight in parking lots - just to buy junk that will end up in their attic 6 months from now.  Not us.  With unseasonably warm temps ahead of an impending weekend snow storm, it was trail time!!!

Last weekend, we ran something new in Pueblo.  This weekend, we went for more familiar terrain there - sweet desert singletrack on the south shore at Pueblo Reservoir.  Unlike our trails that cannot currently shake the freeze/melt/mud pattern, the narrow twisty trails at the reservoir were in perfect form.  We started at the Red Gate trailhead and jumped onto Cuatro Cinco - which Kathleen is running above.

With the temperature eventually reaching 70 before we finished, it was another unreal running day - who would trade this for an elbow-jockey duel in the aisles of Walley World or Best Buy?  Pass.  We connected over to the Outer Limits (seen above) for some nice cliff-hugging trail along one of many inlets of the reservoir.  Way, way out there you can just see the white cap of Pikes Peak.

Last weekend, we turned around on our out-and-back about 100 feet or so below the dam.  Here is today's view from far above the water on Pedro's Point, looking out to the dam - Nice!

Kathleen is topping out on one of many cliffs overlooking the water.

Looking out from the Pedro's Point trail to the marina - water is down a bit, as evidenced by the large sand bars.  While recreation is big here, a lot of people rely on this reservoir for their water supply and the dry fall has it a bit lower than it was on our last visit.

Powering up the Rock Canyon trail - camera makes it look pretty flat, however, it is about 8% grade behind me.  This is a tricky climb, covered in loose rock plates and left over volcanic flow that makes for less-than uniform footing.  It is a great way to finish the run by draining what's left in the tank on the climb out to the ridge.

Not much else to say - great day, another great run!  We were able to do a nice 13.5 mile loop on some fantastic desert trails.  **Almost forgot to mention - set an SKCR for the route today too - running faster is good!  We're thankful - Happy Trails!

Shoes - Asics Trabuco

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Watch this ad....

... Then go for a Trail Run!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

In search of dry trails...

With wet heavy snow that turned to a cement-like crust last weekend, we have had serious issue trying to find something dry to run.  Everything that has had sun is wet all the way through and will just about suck your shoes off your feet!  Yesterday, went over to Santa Fe trail which is usually our go-to trail when everything else is muddy.  No such luck.  Ran 9.5 miles of muck - the only thing not muddy was the snowpack that was still left.  Covered in mud, no photos will be posted!  :-)

So we hit the road this morning, heading south on I-25 to Pueblo and a run along the Arkansas River Trail.  We knew we would have to run some on the paved bike path, but it was dry so we went for it.  We would generally come to Pueblo to run the south shore trails at Pueblo Reservoir, however, today we decided to get a little fast leg turnover on the flat route.   When we made the turn west on Arkansas River Trail, this was the view back to the east under Pueblo Blvd - the Arkansas River looking pretty calm.

After passing by the Nature Center, we were out in the open in Rock Canyon running an abandoned dirt road (which kept us off the cement bike path!!)  Thought this knarled tree was cool looking against the bluff.  The road is a gradual ascent out toward the reservoir, generally following the twists and turns of the river.

Kathleen coming off the dirt road and onto a section of the bike path.  From here, we would be on and off on paved and dirt double track sections all the way out to the dam.  As you can see in the pics, we had a nice sunny day though the cool wind kept temps in the upper 40's. 

After following a large bend in the river, the dam wall comes into view.  On the left, you see one of MANY fly fisherman we saw on the run - they had an awesome day to be out.  If you have seen any of our pics from past runs at Pueblo Reservoir, you know there is a LOT OF WATER behind that dam.

The handiwork of beavers, above, could get ugly on the trail when they are a little further along on their task!

Me - Enjoying the run and NO MUD!

More fishing activity.  Fly fishing always looks peaceful, kind of like trail running!

The satellite view of our out and back run.  Like I said, lots of water behind that cement wall!  We had a nice run of just over 11 miles, though very different for us with continuous leg turnover and faster pace.  Aside from some paved areas, it is a nice mellow run with a total elevation gain of a little under 900 feet - pretty much flat for Colorado.  This is probably the Happy Trails version of a road run :-)  Hope everyone has a great week!

Shoes - K - Nike Structure Triax
S - Brooks Ravenna

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