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

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunshine and Trails!!!

US Air Force Academy - Falcon Trail

Woke up Saturday morning to sunny skies and thought maybe it was not the weekend, given our string of marginal weather weekends! It appears La Nina is off schedule this week - too bad for her! Kathleen had to work but she did get a nice 5 mile run in beforehand. I decided to head over to the Air Force Academy and run the Falcon Trail.
"Follow the Falcon" is right - he will take you on a sweet singletrack run!
Ever have one of those runs where early on you think you might have to just call it a day and try again tomorrow? I started out with the legs feeling like lead and was not sure if they would come around. Early on I passed a group of four very fit looking trail runners, which is odd because we hardly ever see many runners on Falcon. I found out later they were part of Team CRUD's Saturday long run group - cool! After about 2 miles, I started getting a little turnover going in the legs and I was also really enjoying the SUN! It can get pretty hot on Falcon but after our E X T E N D E D Spring, I was not concerned. This is the spot where you can always cool off on the bike with a splash in the creek. I don't like to run with wet feet, so I ran the plank!
Out on the back side, approaching the big climb to the Stanley Canyon trailhead, I had this "carrot" pass me. Now I am by no means a fast runner, especially on long climbs, but I know the climbs when I can most certainly pass a flailing mountain biker and this is one of those hills. The sheer physics of the route play in favor of a decent runner. There are two steep ramps of about 15%, followed by a hard right turn and a couple of long switchbacks before the climb lets up. On the second steep, I made my move. I thought at first it would be temporary because he was recovering after the steep part, but then I never saw him until halfway down the front side - sweeeet!
In fact, I even stopped to take a couple photos on the climb... Here is the view of Blodgett Peak and one of the water treatment sites on the Academy. Over the ridge and down a couple miles is home, but it will be a bit before we make that as a complete run. Some day...
It was great being out on the trail - I was really glad the legs came around because I started to get into a nice running groove after the climb. Good thing I didn't pull the plug earlier!
The cadet commons with the beautiful chapel - if you ever get the chance to visit Colorado Springs, this is a worthwhile stop. The chapel is an architectural masterpiece.
Summiting the second to last climb - feeling good!
Tee Time?
Feeling good at the finish (OK, a little wiped out but good nonetheless!) I was glad that I continued my run - I set a new PR by over 4 minutes. I never used to believe the chatter that racing and race preparation make you faster - I always thought that was racer-talk to stroke the ego. However, I have definitely noticed a level of improvement after training for Greenland and concentrating on running a bit more "uncomfortable", rather than always running in the comfort zone. Now I guess I need to shoot for another race - and this time Kathleen will be ready...

Spruce Meadows/ Spruce Mountain...
...and a bit of Greenland

Sun again - Weather Jackpot!!! Kathleen and I headed out to Spruce Meadows trailhead Sunday morning to get in some nice sun-soaked miles. Spruce Meadows, Spruce Mountain, and Greenland Open Space are mostly interconnected and have a nice variety of trails. We were starting out across Spruce Meadows (more like prairie than meadow) and then heading up onto Spruce Mountain.
Nice shot of Pikes Peak from the start - yes, that IS a fresh layer of snow!!!
We hit the base of Spruce Mountain and it was already warming up - we won't complain about that! If her form held up, this would be the first long test for Kathleen in 8 weeks - looking really strong here, I'd say!
Looking south from the lower flank of Spruce Mountain toward Pikes Peak.
There were a lot of people out on Spruce Mountain today - we were surprised. Plus we saw at least 20 horses on trail - this is a popular horse area, they are usually just 1 or 2 at a time. Steve is cruising along near the top of the climb and enjoying the rays again today.
Looking down on the Larkspur area, north of Greenland, home of the Colorado Renaissance Festival held every summer. Still a lot of wide open spaces in Colorado, one of the things we love about our state.
On top of Spruce, Kathleen is enjoying her run on the Mountain Top Loop. We really enjoy the little loop on top - it is just a cool place to run! Kathleen's friend B was accosted by a wild turkey on this loop recently while mountain biking and also spooked a bear - we were happy to encounter no such beasts on our run!
Group photo, running style, thanks to an evenly cut stump!
We stopped for a pose on top of Spruce before heading down. With such great views, it is hard to leave! We cruised back to the Spruce trailhead and I decided to get in a few more miles over at Greenland. Kathleen finished with a bit over 10 miles, her longest run in 9 weeks, and had as many miles this week as she had the previous two combined - promising development I would say! Tomorrow she plans to get out for some road biking, so things are moving forward and I am thankful.
Looking back up the Greenland Trail as I was finishing, with the all too familiar afternoon clouds building behind the mountains - We did not care because we had sun the entire time we were out! I was able to push a little past 15 miles and had a solid training block this week thanks to an extra full day on Monday and two evening runs. Happy Trails and enjoy your week!

Shoes - K Montrail Odyssey (Sat) Asics Trabuco (Sun)
S - Asics Trabuco
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