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

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Guest Author Blog Post - "Running Sucks"

Yes, today's post is by a guest author, so to speak. I (Kathleen) have been in Blogger Hibernation the last few months but am slowly waking up, and a little cranky at that. I had to bare my teeth at Steve and wrestle the keyboard from his grasp in order to do this rant, er, I mean, post. And yep, you read the title correctly - running sucks. That phrase is what was on the ticker tape rolling through my head while we were out on our run today. In fact, halfway through our run, I had committed myself to go home, throw all of my many pairs of running shoes into a great big box (it would need to be a BIG box because I have lots of shoes), torch those puppies, and have a great big bonfire in the backyard (a shame, really, because I LOVE shoes). I had also made the commitment to become a full time cyclist again because running sucks. Put your hearts at rest, though, as it was only a moment of weakness and I have come back to my senses (a little coaxing and bribery of an extra chocolate-y iced mocha from Steve helped). Here's what happened:

Because we were LAZY and didn't want to do a post- holing run in snow on some of our favorite REAL and FUN local trails, we headed over to the Santa Fe Trail for some good aerobic miles. The Santa Fe Trail is a true local gem, on most days. It is fairly flat, for local standards, and is perfect for distance aerobic training on foot as well as on the bike. We have utilized it extensively over the years and it is a jewel - except for today. Today, for me, from the first step, was an exercise of torture. The trail represented a wide dirt freeway - BORING and MONOTONOUS. Yuck. That consistent ticking of an even foot turnover is the pits. Even the iPod couldn't save me. I tried to "think positive" but the positive-thinking mantra wasn't working. With every step, the thought "I hate this" echoed in my head.
Our goal was 14 miles on the frick'in wide dirt freeway but we settled for a measly, pathetic, and paltry 10. Did I mention I hated every step???

I have come to a self realization. I need interest. Scenery. Variety. Uphills. Downhills. Twists and turns. Singletrack. Running A.D.D.? Maybe. I am not commited enough to slog through long boring runs "just because" it's on the training schedule. Nope, not for me. If that leaves me in the realm of mediocrity, so be it. Life's too short to waste much time on BORING. I know, I know, it's a mind and focus thing but we (very thankfully) live in an area where we don't have to "settle" for boring runs. I love Santa Fe Trail but in most cases, it will have to be in short, fast segments - Git'er done - or speeding over it on a bike. Maybe I am not a REAL runner quite yet.

When we got home, I noticed Steve gathering up all of the matches, presumably to hide. I think we do have a local fire ban on shoes. I also caught him trying to hide Mountain Bike magazine Buyer's Guide under his arm (again, presumably to keep away from me in my frothing state. No worries - I can sniff out his hiding place). Hmmm, a shoe bonfire AND a shiny new mountain bike might not be so bad . . .
At the EVIL trailhead parking lot; Blodgett Peak is in the foreground with Pikes Peak sneaking up behind.
I LOOK happy here - it is an optical illusion.
Steve is genuinely smiling. He enjoyed himself. He had a marvelous run. My smile is really a grimace through clenched teeth.
A view from the trail across the USAFA. At least Pikes Peak is pretty.
Yep, it felt like 45 miles. When will the misery end???!!!

Ok, I have recovered from my earlier meltdown. I am not burning my running shoes (yet). I am not going shopping for a new mountain bike (maybe). Actually, I am feeling pretty good post run. I am certainly thankful for a patient hubby who still saw the beauty in the boring (and coaxed me back to reality that life is good and running is good). It certainly IS a beautiful thing just to be ABLE bodied and GET OUT, regardless.

And hopefully, those of you who really know me, also know I am just having a little fun messing with you! :-) Ha, ha! Fact is, I really LOVE the Santa Fe Trail and I truly was smiling, sometimes!

Get out, whether it's on pavement (sorry), a wide dirt freeway, or luscious singletrack - it's good to be alive - and have HAPPY TRAILS this week! :-)

Shoes: Asics Gel Trabuco - both

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sun and Fun at CMSP

With the warm temps on deck again today, we headed to Cheyenne Mountain State Park for some fine trails. Did the long climb from the base all the way up to the top of Talon North, so the first time the camera came out was near the top. No time for pics when you are barely holding your lung in on the climb!!!
It is March and 70 degrees - any questions?
Kathleen coming through the forest on Talon North.
Awesome view of the southwestern flank of Cheyenne Mountain from Talon North.
Almost to the summit of Talon North...
... and over the top we go!
The mountains meet the plains - looking south and east over Fort Carson from the Talon trail.
Steve catching some rays through the pines on Talon South.
Alert from command central - humans approaching!
Kathleen cruising down the Boulder Run.
Finishing up on Coyote Run - it was a good day with 12 miles out on the trails! We wanted 14 or so, but 12 felt like plenty today. With sun and 70 degrees, we did not want the day to end. Happy Trails for sure!

Shoes - Asics Gel Trabuco


This post has been marinating since Sunday night, but finally was released to the wild on Wednesday. We are currently under a Winter Storm Warning through Friday evening - if it pans out, we could be running (or not) on snow for a while! We'll see what happens.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Spring in the Garden

The gateway to the Garden of the Gods framing Pikes Peak - I could photograph this a million times and there is always something about it that gets me. If it ever gets old, I'll throw away the camera and stay inside.
It was another unusually warm day for March and we headed over to one of the favorite playgrounds to get some trails in. It was an interesting contrast of lighting today - everything north had clouds for a backlight; everything south was clear blue! Kathleen is climbing the Palmer trail - notice that she was eager to bare those arms! It was so nice it was hard to imagine that it could dump snow next week.
Looking north across the valley - hard to believe now that the grassy area used to be a reservoir.
Steve, under some cloud cover, runs up Palmer trail with Cathedral Rock and the Sleeping Giant in the background. It was no surprise that the Garden was PACKED today. There were people, horses, and dogs all over the trails and roads. It was a great day to be out enjoying life!
High up on the Palmer trail, looking down on the North and South Gateway Rocks.
Kathleen is dwarfed by the Siamese Twins Arch.
Kathleen running on the Galloway-Homestead Trail, South Gateway to the right and Cathedral Spires directly in line with the trail. You really have to see these rocks to appreciate the layering and textures - it is a magnificent park and you often get distracted by the beauty of nature while running there.
Cathedral Rock and Cathedral Spires provide a perfect frame for Pikes Peak. The park will soon start to green as the Gamble oaks are getting buds (wow - pollen season already!) and will be adding some color and texture to the landscape.
Nearing the end of the run on the Valley Reservoir trail. The clouds almost give a three dimensional texture to the photographs as the layers of the landscape in the distance become more prominent. It was another great day on the trails with about 10 miles for the run. We are expecting one more day of really warm temps, so we should get a really nice run in on Sunday as well. Happy Trails!

Shoes- K Asics Trail Sensor
S - Asics Gel Trabuco

Sunday, March 15, 2009

"Warm" Singletrack at Lake Pueblo!!!

Got up this morning and looked at the forecast for Pueblo - 70, sunny, and windy. Two out of three ... hmmmm ... road trip to Lake Pueblo State Park! At this point in the year, we would probably run in a hurricane to get 70 degrees, so a little wind was tolerable. We are not sure if it hit 70 - it was 68 when we left the trailhead to head north again - but it sure felt GOOD to be out in the warm sun. Now there is a bit of a trade off as you can see in the photo of Kathleen above on Pedro's Point: this is high desert with lots of rolling ... well, rolling desert!
It was nice to be running around all the water again. The water in the resrvoir was higher than when we last visited in January by six to eight feet. The park report was showing 36 degree water temp, so although we saw many boats out today, we saw NO water skiers! Steve is on the Outer Limits trail and you can see several boats in the inlet behind.
There were good views of Pikes Peak from pretty much everywhere on the trails today with the clear skies.
By this point on Outer Limits, we were heading more easterly toward Pedro's Point and we were beginning to gain a little shelter from the wind. Pretty much the first 7 or 8 miles we were running more into the wind than away from it - however we were warm at the same time, so it was all good!
The evergreens always have color, but we did notice that the deciduous trees are getting their leaves already in Pueblo - wow. The cactus are also blooming so spring must be around the corner - woo hoo!
CAUTION: Please do not step off the trail.
Kathleen is all grins as she cruises down the waterfall trail. How could you not be smiling on a day like this with buff desert singletrack under foot?
Coming out of the Waterfall trail and ready for the climb out to the trailhead. You really don't want days like this to end when it is March.
The view heading up Rock Canyon trail. Lots of loose shale and big rocks - appropriately named trail. The running here is a nice change from our normal alpine type runs - lots of sharp ups and downs, not many long climbs or descents, and plenty of loose talus and shale to keep your eyes focused on the trail. Oh, SAND too!!!
We will probably have the grin on our faces even when we wake up tomorrow. We were able to run a bit over 13 miles of awesome high desert trail. We had to take a little drive to get there, but it was well worth the trip. It was one more step to thaw the winter fog off and get charged up for a new season! Happy Trails to all this week and hope you begin to thaw out as well!

Shoes - Asics Gel Trabuco

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Good day for a ride!

We did not get up early and run this morning - single digits and below zero wind chill. IT'S.THE.MIDDLE.OF.MARCH and that crud is no longer tolerable!!! I guess we're getting a bit soft as we age - we'll leave that harsh cold stuff to the real hardcores like these folks up in Canada! Kathleen had to work, so after it finally warmed a bit, I headed over to the Santa Fe trail to get some revolutions in on the mountain bike. They started putting up these fancy mile posts a while back that mark off the mileage for the whole Front Range Trail system.
A little change of pace actually was just what the doctor ordered. I have had a little "issue" on and off with some IT band and ankle/foot crabbiness on the left leg. This was the result of a little snowshoe incident in January (involving my clumsiness on 27" long feet!!) and I'm ready for it to be gone. So I am hoping to mix in a few rides this spring to balance out the leg muscles a bit. Kathleen has already been getting some Monday rides in again (and even a few Bricks!).
It was a crisp, beautiful bluebird day with awesome views as always. On the left is Baldy and the right is the familiar Pikes Peak, as seen from the Santa Fe Trail halfway through the Air Force Academy. It was a nice change to be clipping off 4 minute miles - you'll never catch me doing that on foot FOR SURE!
I turned around at the gate for the north boundary of the Academy. This is looking north to Mount Herman in Monument - plenty of great trails up there also, but save those for another day. I have not been on the bike in at least 4 or 5 months, except for a handful of trainer rides indoors this winter. So you don't want to overdo it on that first one - sore butts are no fun!!!
Cool view of Pikes Peak through the barbed wire.
In other words, don't mess around once you go through the gate! Even though you are passing through on a public access trail, you have plenty of reminders that you ARE ON AIR FORCE TURF.
Falcon Stadium, home to your Air Force Falcon football squad. Skirting the ridge line right behind the press boxes on top of the stadium is the prime singletrack Falcon Trail - one of our favorite runs. We love using the Academy grounds and we have a great deal of respect for what happens here. There are plenty of future leaders training on these grounds and we are thankful for their service. It was pretty nice to get out on the bike and have some different activity for the legs today. I was able to get in 20 miles and aside from sore "sit muscles", feel pretty good post ride. Looking forward to a good run tomorrow with the possibility of some unseasonably warm temps again - sweet! Happy Trails!

Shoes - Sidi Dominator (just for AJB in SC!)

PS - Kathleen came home from work and peeled off a quick 5 miler to make up for skipping the morning run - cool!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Bear Creek and Section 16

It's time to start building the climbing legs again, so we headed over to Bear Creek Regional Park to do some familiar trails. Only today we put them together in a new route. The theme was climb the first half, descend the second half - and it was a loooong climb (at least for us!!!)
The sun was awesome as we hit the trails and as ordered, the blue sky was plentiful - Gotta love Colorado! Kathleen is running the bear Creek Regional trail here on our way out to Section 16.
Section 16 is a general name for an open space area above Gold Camp Road and we run the Palmer and Red Rock trails that form a loop around the circumference of Section 16. Once again, this steep rock slab looks flat in pictures - can't figure that out.
The start of the mile long section of 13 - 16 percent grade - ouch! There was still a bit of snow left, but not much and we definitely need some. We don't want to dry up and blow away (or worse, burn away) this summer.
Nearing the summit of the long climb on Section 16, we were awarded with the views over Red Rock Canyon Open Space (one of our fav's) and out across the city. It was so clear, the vistas stretched forever today.
Kathleen cruises along the rolling saddle atop Section 16, nearing the start of the reward for all that climb - 5.5 miles of almost continuous descent (and burnt quads!).
Steve cruising along at the exit of Section 16 onto High Drive, a steep dirt road that is only open to traffic one direction and only in summer. From this point, we still had over 3 miles of descending to the trailhead - sweet!!!
Colorado Springs stretches out in the background as Steve runs the Bear Creek Regional trail on the way down. Not too many "skyscrapers" to speak of and we like it that way.
Back down in the desert terrain of Bear Creek park, Kathleen is finishing strong. This trail is part of the race course for the Summer Roundup race we did last year. If we are in town, we'll do that one again this year.
We ended up running just shy of 11 miles with an accumulated 2800' elevation gain. As the graph shows, that second half of the long climb about causes you to hack up a lung!!! This will be a good route to get the climbing legs in gear. We would normally choose to climb the opposite direction but we were not sure of the snow/ice situation and that steep side is almost impassible in the downhill direction with ice. Now that most of the ice is gone, our next visit will be in the opposite approach. It was great fun out there and we even enjoyed the burnt quads! Happy Trails!!!

Shoes - K Montrail Odyssey
S - Brooks Cascadia
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