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

Sunday, January 25, 2009

(COLD) Reality Bites!

We really enjoyed our 10 day run of WAY above average temperatures and probably got a little spoiled by the warm running... OK, not probably, we just expect it now! However, there is a slight problem in that we live in Colorado and it IS January - the TROPICS have left the building!!! So when the mercury could not top 35 Friday and the expected 40's for this weekend disappeared by Friday night's weather forecast, we knew it was back to bundled up running.
We woke to light snow falling again this morning and when the sun finally peeled back the clouds, we decided to head out for some leg turnover on the Santa Fe trail. We have been very lucky that we have not been required to tap Santa Fe much this winter - it is mostly wide open and generally never gets too muddy, so it is occasionally a winter staple. While "flat" for Colorado trail running standards, it still requires a good effort to maintain some speed. The other issue becomes one of boredom - not much in the way of the regular spectacular scenery we get to enjoy on our runs. So we hooked up some tunes and set out for a run. It was quite cold when we started but the sun helped. You always have to be careful on this trail when it's cold because there is NO shelter from the wind.
We made the turn around point we had decided on in really good time and still had some sun. What we had not realized was that our good pace out was not iPod induced, but rather tailwind induced. We had not paid much attention to that because it was quite cold on the way out. Shortly after the photo above, we lost the sun, the wind kicked up hard, and flurries started. Now we have run some cold days this year and done very well maintaining a positive attitude, but this last 4 miles today was a character building event. The wind got so cold that Kathleen started to have blurred vision from her eyeballs freezing and we did not have much conversation on the way back - our mouths and faces were frozen stiff! What a difference 1/2 hour can make in the mountains. We finished with an amazingly respectable time for a mid-winter, frozen jaunt, decided to SKIP the cool down walk because we were FROZEN, and immediately jumped into our rental vehicle (see yesterday's post for that jolly time). It was an interesting scene - I had Ice-locks - my hair was frozen solid from the sweat on the way out and my wool headband was frozen stiff!!! But, it was quite a good run and it was one of those efforts that pays dividends in Spring and Summer when you think about bailing on a run because of cheesy stuff like lack of motivation, wind, or cloudy days. That is ultimately why we run when many don't - earn your fitness now and enjoy the base you build in three months when others are trying to get in shape! BTW, we saw 5 other humans while out for 10 miles.
By the time we made the 5 minute drive home from the trail head, this was the view of the mountains from our driveway - well, they ARE there, you just cannot see them!!! Needless to say, the caffeine production equipment kicked into high gear when we got home - jet black, steaming espresso helps thaw out the body after a frigid outing. We got in a good ten miler and then parked it in front of the "Lance Returns" special on Versus - nothing like Lance for some good motivation! (We're glad he is back!) Good Times!

Shoes - K Asics Trail Sensor
S- Asics Gel Trabuco

Saturday, January 24, 2009

From Mundane to TOO MUCH Excitement!

We woke to fresh snow and 13 degree temps this morning and headed over early for a loop through Ute Valley Park. It was crisp and slick and we were decked out with screw shoes for firm footing on the ice. It was a pretty "normal" 6 mile run before Kathleen needed to head off to work.


A few minutes after she left, I picked up the phone to hear words that made my heart sink, "Honey, I need help, I just crashed my truck!" Talk about putting a lump in the back of your throat. Luckily, Kathleen was not hurt at all which is the only thing that matters. Cars can be replaced. This is a notorious bend in the road on a downhill that we have driven every day for the 15 years we've been at our house. Today was just one of those days with hardcore black ice and when she got sideways, it was all over. It was only 1/2 mile down from our house, so I ran (again) down there while on the cell phone with our insurance agent. I was stunned to see how hard she hit and then to realize she was not hurt - what a blessing!!! I took some pictures when I went back to meet the tow truck about 2 hours later. We are glad no one was in the passenger seat because it took a beating! The mail box post was cement filled steel, set into the sidewalk, and I think it saved her from rolling the vehicle - another blessing, even though it did a number on the truck! We were glad the truck took the impact as well as it did and kept my honey safe - that's all I cared about and I am SOOOOO thankful she's OK. We're just sad our trusty trail-finding friend may not be with us any longer on our adventures :-(

Happy Trails and hope we have Happy Pictures tomorrow from a good, long trail run!!!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Early Morning USAFA Road Ride

My friend, D, and I headed out early this morning for a couple of laps on our road bikes at the USAFA. It was a gorgeous bluebird sky morning although we were a couple of crispy critters as it was quite cool at the start. I thought I had been a bit overly zealous wearing my knickers but after about 30 minutes, we warmed up to a comfortable state. We were having our doubts at the beginning, though!
It was great to be able to ride with D - it's been awhile. A few years back, there was a nice group of us girls who would meet on Mondays for mostly mountain bike rides, sometimes road rides (I am off on Mondays!!!) - there usually were about 3 to 5 of us, sometimes 7 or so. That ended a year or so back when everyone got their priorities messed up (except for Becky as she works mostly from home but was skiing with the fam today) and decided to GET JOBS or go BACK TO SCHOOL. Go figure. D was one of those "messed up" friends, LOL! So we had fun today!

D rode one+ lap with me and then had to hightail it off to a meeting at school. She is a track and cross country coach at one of the local high schools. The wind decided to whip itself into a frenzy halfway through my second lap. I have a strong dislike for riding in the wind and hate the feeling of getting blown around, which was happening on the west and northern side. But, ahhh, I made the turn onto Stadium Drive and oh how LOVELY are strong tailwinds! I can't remember riding down this flat to rolling stretch of road as fast as I did today, in a long time. The speed never fell below 26 mph and maxxed at 34mph. H-O-L-Y C-O-W. For me, on the flats, that is fast. I generally don't have the power to push the big gears on the flats but that big tailwind was sure a thing of beauty!
It pushed me the last 6 miles to my truck. I ended the day with 30 miles and a big smile on my face!

C invited me to join her and another friend later this afternoon for a ride as that was the only time they could go. I hate to ever pass up getting to ride or run with friends and fully intended on joining them as the legs felt pretty good in spite of the hilly terrain of the AFA. I figured why not go ahead and completely toast the legs with a 2nd hilly ride in our neighborhood? But alas, the SISSY GIRL that I am, bailed, as I just wasn't too motivated to endure the gusty winds! :-)

Another awesome weather day today - we hit the low 60's (too bad D and I missed those temps this morning!). It felt great to get out on the bike. My running muscles always feel more "balanced" after a good ride. Happy trails to all this week . . .

Shoes: Sidis

Sunday, January 18, 2009

58 Degrees in January ... Enough Said!

A quarter mile into the run at Garden of the Gods confirmed that we were NOT in the desert today! A week of above average temps, followed by near record highs the past two days, and our previously snow covered trails are "attempting" to dry out. Any areas with shade we had to be careful but the open areas were pretty dry today.
It was an absolutely beautiful day, almost warm in fact! Kathleen is cruising the Dakota trail while climbing into the park.
Stopped for a group photo on Buckskin Charlie trail. Special thanks to the kind rock that held the camera for us!
An awesome view of some of the park's famous rock formations frame the background as Kathleen runs along the Niobrara trail.
Pikes Peak looming large behind Steve as he runs along the Scotsman trail. The legs were a bit flat after yesterday's long run, so we cut off the run at about 7.5 miles. It was a spectacular weekend, though, with unimaginable weather for January and a great test for our winter fitness level. We both agreed that this is some of best fitness we have had in recent years in January - looking good for 2009!
While we were cooling down the legs, we posed for a photo with the Kissing Camels over our shoulder. Definitely Good Times!

Shoes - Montrail Odyssey for both.

On a side note, check out Sporthill's home page - if you watch the flash rotator on the home page, you will eventually see a photo of Kathleen running in Ute Valley Park and Steve running in Section 16 (of course, sporting our 3SP gear). Sweet!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Lake Pueblo South Shore Trails

The weather forecast was calling for 50's in Pueblo ... so it was road trip day!!! We headed 45 miles south on I-25 to Pueblo, Colorado and out to Lake Pueblo State Park's South Shore trail system. Although developed for mountain biking, the trails are absolutely perfect for running - classic desert singletrack! You could potentially put together a high-quality 25 - 35+ mile run (if you can run that far!) on the trails here. Plus, according to state park's web page, there are about 15 more miles of singletrack in the development stage. Pretty cool!
We started on the Cuatro Cinco trail, winding our way down toward Rock Canyon and the South Shore. We have not had dry and snow-free trails near home in a while now, so we were in heaven running the rocky and dusty trails today - absolutely dry!
Kathleen crosses a small creek between Cuatro Cinco and the start of Pedro's Point.
We climbed up onto Pedro's Point trail and then took Pronghorn trail over to the Outer Limits. This is an awesome singletrack that weaves along the canyon rim above one of the reservoir's large inlets. Surprisingly, there is more water now than there was when we were here in October.
Calm waters. Far off in the distance you can see the snowcapped top of Pikes Peak.
Kathleen rolls along the Outer Limits trail...
... and Steve is not far behind.
After reaching the end of the Outer Limits trail, we headed back in on the Pedro's Point trail. When we reached the crossing of Pedro's and Waterfall, we headed down off of the mesa, back toward the South Shore.
Kathleen descending some of the step-downs on Waterfall.
And Steve coming over several of the rock slabs.
Nearing the drop out into the South Shore from Waterfall.
One more look back up the trail before heading over to the Rock Canyon trail. The climb back out to the trailhead on Rock Canyon is about 1 mile and ascends a dry wash, layered with broken shale and mounds of bubbly igneous rock. It is tricky footing on tired legs!
We finished our day with almost 13 miles of fantastic desert singletrack and uninterrupted sunshine! If you would like to see the aerial map on Google, click here. It was 61 degrees when we left the trailhead and we were wishing we could stay for more of the same tomorrow. It was nice to get a long run in without mud, snow, or ice in the middle of January but we know it is a bit too early to get used to that yet. It felt rather odd to not be wearing multiple layers of clothing or gloves in the middle of winter - but we'll take it if we can! Happy Trails!!!

Shoes- Asics Gel Trabuco for both of us.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

2009 Race ... umm, "Event", Musings

Fuel for running ... almost brings tears to my eyes!!!

Nothing like a great stash of coffee to show up in the middle of winter to help with the blah's of the short, dark days. Since my dad loves good java as much as I do, I did a little stocking up - some for me, some to send off to NY. This is quite the dark coffee drinker's dream lineup: Beans from Rocky Mountain Roastery - Fraser, Colorado; Aroma Coffee - Santa Fe, New Mexico; and Steamboat Coffee Roasters, Steamboat Springs, Colorado (no web, but I know "the number" if you're itching for some!!!). Currently on deck is the Blacklightning from Aroma - dark and buttery smooth going down!

Well, 2008 was our first official, full-time trail running year. We had run winters between cycling seasons for 4 years and last spring we just kept going for some reason. It was a good year, although we took the mileage buildup slow as we want to be able to continue running. The running has agreed with us both as our health is very good this year. It was odd vacationing this year without transporting bicycles and all the gear that goes along with it. Trail running definitely lends to packing lightly!

So now we're looking at the 2009 calendar and musing about some "events" that could interest us. We'll try to avoid calling them races at this point. We already started 2009 off on the right foot by doing the Rescue Run on New Year's Day. While we have no aspirations of becoming ultramarathoners, we would like to attempt some trail half-marathon's and/or a couple of 25k trail runs. We already know we can run those distances, racing them is another story. But, that's what goals are for, right? It seems like the thing to do in Blogland! So here's our short list:

January 1 Rescue Run 10k, Colorado Springs, CO - Done and Fun - 700+ runners!

May 23
Sageburner 25k, Gunnison, CO - we've mountain biked these trails and they are AWESOME.

June 6 Turkey Track Trail 1/2 Marathon, Pagosa Springs, CO - never been there...but we like discovering NEW trails.

June 13 Joe Colton's Off Road Adventure 10 Mile, Rollinsville, CO - Our FIRST race we ever ran last year - 10 miler on dirt roads with awesome Continental Divide views!

July 5 Summer Roundup Trail Run 12k, Colorado Springs, CO - Another repeat and well worth it - great race put on by the folks that do the Pikes Peak Acent & Marathon.

July 12 Barr Trail Mountain Race 12+ Mile, Manitou Springs, CO - more Kathleen's list than Steve's - straight up Barr Trail to Barr Camp, then straight back down - but hey, it's in our backyard.

July 18 Devil Mountain Trail 1/2 Marathon, Pagosa Springs, CO - IF we do Turkey Track and like it, we might go back for this one - we'll see. BTMR might do us in for a couple weeks!!!

September 20 Lead King Loop 25k, Marble, CO - If we have legs left, this is supposed to be unbelievable scenery.

September 26 Golden Leaf Trail 1/2 Marathon, Aspen, CO - We've never run in Aspen but have ridden there in the fall - unreal scenic value and the Government Trail is supposed to be a Classic! Even before we knew we could run 13 miles, we had been eyeing this one.

October TBD Blue Sky Trail 1/2 Marathon, Fort Collins, CO - All trail and looks very interesting.

OF COURSE, we reserve the right to change our minds, run them all, run only one, or none, or probably find somewhere in between!!! :-) Part of the fun is the musing...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Snow + Ice + Mud + Sun = Good Winter Trail Run

We had a REALLY long week this week and we were looking forward to hitting the trails this weekend to help get some sense of "normal" back to our routine. We had to run early Saturday, so we ran our Flying W loop from home for a quick outing. So we were anxious for some "real" running today - aka, TRAILS!!!
We headed down to Cheyenne Mountain State Park hoping for some good dirt under foot. When we first discovered this gem in the fall, we were hoping that it would be a winter paradise as it is on the southern-most part of town and generally has good sun exposure. We ran into a bit more snow and ice than we anticipated today, though, mixed with quite a bit of gooey mud. A good recipe for some nice winter trail running!
Aside from using extra caution on the ice (no screw shoes today) it was really some nice running out there. We started on the Zook trail and then headed up onto the Blackmer Loop. Although the sun made itself available for part of the run, it was quite cool and the upper areas of the park, like Blackmer, had a lot less mud. Kathleen is making her way through some snow and boulders on the way up.
There were some areas of dry trail where sun exposure is high for long periods of the day, but generally there was more snowpack. Oddly enough, on the higher portions of Blackmer, we saw more bike tracks than footprints - I hope they are riding low pressures and/or studs because the ice could be unforgiving at bike speeds!!! Steve is catching some rays as he negotiates a passage through the rocks.
Cheyenne Mountain bathing in the Colorado sun - awesome view from the trail!
Kathleen runs onto the top section of Medicine Wheel - we had to turn back, though, as the packed clay that makes up most of this trail was unmanageable where not covered by snow. We'll save it for another day - no sense causing unnecessary damage to the trail system.
This is the tricky part of running trails in the middle of winter - you wish for warmer days, however when those days arrive, you alternate your run between ice and mud - a transition highlighted in this photo. It is still better than being under snow ALL THE TIME, like we were last Sunday!!!
Next we headed down to Zook and across to the Sundance Trail. Sundance is lower, so we had some mud to contend with but far less ice and only minimal snowpack.
We did not see many prairie dogs out today on Sundance - they must not like the cold weather. Usually they are spectators lining the course as we run by but today they must have been staying warm in their "homes" below ground. We had a nice 8.5 mile run, enjoyed some sunshine, and were thankful for our ability to hit the trails - Good Times! Hope everyone has a great week!!!

Sunday, January 4, 2009


We were surprised to wake up and see that our 1 - 3" forecast was actually 9 inches by 7:30 am and grew to a foot before tapering off to flurries the rest of the day. So a trail run was logistically not feasible and we decided to drag out the snowshoes and take off right from the front door.
We are lucky to have Pike National Forest access around 1/2 mile up the trail from our neighborhood. We rounded up Sage and headed out for some snow adventure. Sage absolutely loves to be out in the snow, and since we were not running, she was all for the trip!

My girls breakin' trail!
Steve and Sage taking a break before plowing ahead.
In the trees, near the top of the climb.
Trail just waiting to be broken!

The abominable snow beast! Sage likes to follow right on the tails of whoever is leading, and therefore, gets scoops of snow in her face. We had to continually wipe her face clean!
Almost back down.

We covered about 4 miles, mostly climbing out and descent all the way home - just the way to plan it! It was fun for a change to break out the snow gear and play in the fresh powder.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Garden of the Gods Saturday

We were in need of a quick outing this morning (due to Steve's folks staying with us over the holidays) so we hopped in the truck and blazed down the road a few miles to the very familiar Garden of the Gods.
Sun and blue skies greeted us - it looks warm but it was fairly windy and the wind had a sharp bite to it. A bonus (one of many) to running trails - being able to get a little shelter from the wind! Dark storm clouds were looming to the north with a little snow in the forecast. We'll see . . .
Savoring the sun and dirt . . .
The storm clouds are building to the north behind Steve.
The majesty of Pikes Peak rises in the distance. The beauty of this mountain never gets old. We ended the day with a quick 7.5 miles. Our schedule the last few weeks has been a little discombobulated (is that a real word???) due to the holidays, company, and family get-togethers and outings but it's all good. We treasure the precious time we get to spend with family and friends, some of whom we don't get to see often enough.

We came home from our run and were in the process of caffeinating ourselves when we received a heartbreaking phone call. Steve has worked for a local small business for 18 years (the owners treat him like family) and the owner, Ron, died suddenly late this morning from a heart attack. We did the post run turbo shower thing and spent most of the afternoon at the hospital with their family. Ron's wife is a 16 year liver transplant survivor. Another heart rending part of the surreal afternoon was seeing Ron's son, his son's wife, and their two little boys come into the hospital, returning from a road trip to Kansas and being told of his dad's passing. Because the son and his young family were on the road home, the family had refrained from telling him that his dad had died, only that he was in serious condition. When he was told, it was a highly emotionally charged time, to say the least. Witnessing the sudden and abrupt end to life is a stinging slap to the face or a punch to the stomach - it knocks the wind right out of you. It is also another reminder and chance to cherish each moment we have. Life can be fleeting and fragile. My little whinings about life seem completely trivial and ridiculous. They are out the window.

Tonight, I am thanking God for my countless blessings. Tomorrow, I will thank Him again for my wonderful blessings and the opportunity to celebrate life with a run on a beautiful trail . . . Celebrate life and happy trails . . .
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