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

Sunday, March 28, 2010


March 28, 2010 - Reuters - Colorado:  A normally peaceful, quiet, and happy-go-lucky Colorado couple snaps and goes on a rampage, driving their SUV wildly through muddy parks after winter continues to bludgeon their trail running efforts...More details at 10.

This could have been us.  Three spring dumps in 8 days has taken it's mental toll.  We're tired of winter and this ain't whining any more.  Just plain done with it!
Photo from I-25 from this last storm - not even funny Old Man Winter!

So when the dust, umm Powder, cleared from Friday's storm and the weather report for Saturday was continued flurries, Happy Trails was at the breaking point.  We got in a 5 miler yesterday and that was all we could take - 35 - 45 mph winds, temp 31 with 15 wind chill is just plain wrong for March 27!!!
Well, Sunday dawned with sunny skies and expected temps in the low 50's.  Good sun, good temp, however - lots o' mud.  We did not care - if we did not get the miles today, the short 50 mile drive to the state mental hospital in Pueblo was on our to-do list!!!  We headed over to the North entrance of the Air Force Academy to start our run on the Santa Fe trail - not singletrack, but it is dirt and kept us off the pavement!
Nice view of Mt Baldy holding a good stash of spring freshies.
Lots and lots of water running through the Academy streams!
There was no way we were running in knickers, even with the 40 degree start - Kathleen sporting a wonderful pink ensemble.  Go away winter, we want warm trail running!!!  Nice view of Pikes Peak-ing out over Blodgett Peak.
Air Force Falcon Stadium on a beautiful day.
Good full view of Pikes - note the sign on the left:  Definitely don't want low flying aircraft while we are running!!!
MUCH Happier Trails today - regardless of the shoe swallowing mud at times, sun and an eventual 50 degrees puts a smile on our face.  (Now we just need to work on the tan lines....)
More snow being held on the north end but we did not care.  The run was just what the Dr. ordered today and we had a great time out on the trail.  We were able to run 12.5 miles, enjoy the sun, renew our will to live - you know, all the things that happen on a good spring run after shoveling 2 feet of snow in the past week!  It was good to be out - and most of the whining is tongue-in-cheek, just FYI!!!  (Although that could change if we get Armageddon Snow week again - stole that line from Jill, who feels our pain too!!!)  Have a great week and Happy Trails!

Shoes - Asics 2150 Trail

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sun and fun on Monday!

I was completely ecstatic for the forecast for today - lots of sunshine and a high in the mid-60's.  Well Mr. Weatherman, you spoke the truth and came through - I love you!!!!

Consequently, I gleefully headed out for my run mid morning (50's but glorious full sun and bluebird skies!).  Stayed on the maintained dirt paths around our neighborhood which are beginning to dry out nicely.  The route I did today is one of my basic, "normal" routes - nothing especially spectacular or noteworthy but good - I do it frequently and generally don't get too tired of it.
Up and over Flying W to 30th, turn around and head back over, loop around Starbucks, then head home.  The nice thing about this route is that there are quite a few options to change it up for variety and add mileage and elevation - mostly on dirt.  I stuck with the standard route of 8 miles and 1100 feet of elevation.  It's good.
After I got home, made myself an iced decaf non-fat mocha, leashed up The Girl, and headed right back out the door for a walk.  After a lovely walk and my recovery mocha drink, it was time to load up the road bike to meet my dear friend, Deb, at the Air Force Academy for a "first ride" of the season.  The AFA is one of our favorite places to ride - wide, clean shoulders, and controlled traffic.  It was WONDERFUL!  I felt very good and fairly strong - certainly not top notch, in-season strong - but I could feel the potential lurking beneath the surface and that made me HAPPY, particularly since there have been zero miles outside on the bike in the past few months.  The hills felt good and there are enough on the Academy to work it.  Deb and I always enjoy our time together, although it isn't nearly frequent enough.  She is a local high school track coach and teacher.  Interestingly enough, she was telling me about how she has been running almost exclusively (when weather permits) in Vibram's Five Fingers for the past 6 months.  When the weather is fowl, she runs in the Nike Free.  I have known Deb for many years and most of those years she has been a passionate proponent of barefoot drills so the switch to the Five Fingers was a fairly easy adjustment.  But she did it gradually, one mile at a time.
I'm still not sold, although I understand the philosophy behind it.  Anyway, after expounding on the pros and cons of Five Fingers, barefoot running, and the interesting aspects of coaching high schoolers,we ended up with 33 high quality miles and about 3000 ft (??? - I don't totally remember - I need to get the altimeter back on my bike) of climbing.  AWESOME!  I was REALLY hungry during the entire ride (because I forgot to eat much after my recovery mocha other than yogurt and blueberries) and ended up sidling up to the energy food buffet - 3 Strawberry Banana Power Gels and 2 packs of Honey Stinger blocks.  I always carry LOTS of food with me - my friends know that if they get hungry, my Camel Bak is a rolling/running energy food grocery store! 

Threw the bike in the back of the Pilot (the Pilot has a pretty voluminous rear area - I crammed the bike in without even taking off the front tire or needing to fold down the rear seats!), raced over to Borders to pick up my new cookbook (above), hit Natural Grocers for a few supplies and then headed home.  I was excited to get home to try out this recipe for dinner, of course, out of the new book.  Yes, I am going gluten free - more on the why and how at a later date.  Suffice to say, my periodic indulgence of hubcap size cinnamon rolls from the Donut Mill in Woodland Park after long runs or rides is a thing of the past.  Sigh.  Weep for me Slomo...   :-)

What can I say???  It was a GREAT day all around - did a good run, a fantastic ride with a dear friend, got lots accomplished, and had awesome weather as icing on the cake.  Life is always good, despite some occasional bumps in the road.  Those bumps just serve as character builders and are refining tools.  Happy Trails to everyone this week!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Nice Week

Celebrate The Time Change!
Tuesday night we headed over to Palmer Park after work for our annual first evening run after the time change - no worries about losing an hour, just great to have post-work light for running!  Bonus on top of that - it was high 50's and clear skies.  Palmer Park has not held the snow, either, so it was relatively mud free.  Shot from Grandview Trail overlooking the Palmer Park Stables.
It was awesome to stretch out the legs after work WITHOUT a headlamp strapped on!  We were able to roll up 7 miles of sweet trail running and squeeze every drop of daylight - nice sunset bonus!  It was also good to get dry trails as impending weather was on the horizon for the end of the week...

Shoes - K Asics 2150 Trail
S - LaSportiva Wildcat

Saturday...after the storm
Well, the weather prediction was accurate.  After spiking to 68 degrees Thursday early afternoon, we got hit with wet snow starting Friday morning that kept coming down all day.  Nothing like wetting down all our trails and then stacking snow on top!  We ended up with around 5" that stuck at the house, with varying amounts as usual about town.  Then it got COLD.  Saturday AM it was 5 with sub-zero windchill.  Kathleen had to work, so we opted to set up the trainers - BAD MOVE!!  After 20 mins, we said "forget this!" and the trainers are now neatly stored away for the season!  So once it "warmed" to the high 20's, I headed out solo for a run, trying for anything that was not ankle deep mud or continuously paved - good luck.  Nice thing about mountain UV, the snow was quickly dwindling by the afternoon.  Nice Peak sighting from 30th street...
... and from the multi-use path farther down 30th.
Good shot of Glen Eyrie, home of the Glen Eyrie Conference Center & Castle.
Castle at Glen Eyrie.
The "ladies" out for the all-you-can-eat buffet grazing!!!
I was able to squeeze in just over 9 miles on a cool spring day with blue skies and wonderful sun. 

Shoes - Brooks Ravenna

Sunny Sunday jaunt
Ditto on the weather for Sunday but much warmer - 50's, blue sky, sun - aaaaah!  We did a similar route to what I ran yesterday, just a bit longer.  Utilized the Flying W trail over to 30th, caught the path up to the top of Mesa Rd where we got this sweet picture of the Peak and the north end of Garden of the Gods.
Kathleen stretching out the legs.
Another angle on the Peak from Flying W Ranch road.  Took a little detour over from the trail to check out the start of the Hole In The Wall trails from the Colorado Springs Trails page.  It will be worth some investigating, just not today.  With fresh snow melted down into it, ankle deep mud was on tap!
Finished up and got a group photo at one of our neighborhood parks.  Almost all the snow melted - woo hoo!  We were able to get 11 miles in and start getting back to a nice routine after a few "off" weeks.  Got to get busy preparing for Greenland 25k in 5 weeks!

Shoes - Asics 2150 Trail
Leashed up the "hairy beast", aka Miss Sage, and walked over to our Starbucks for a little "recovery hydration".  It was so awesome out, we did not want to waste the sunshine!

Congratulations Tim!
Also wanted to give a quick shout out to our friend Tim on his win AND course record yesterday at the Diablo Trails Challenge 50k in Walnut Creek, CA - awesome job Tim!!!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Back Home!!!

Aaaah . . . . back home to our wonderful Colorado with my awesome hubby!  Being a "mountain girl" at heart, I was eagerly watching out of the airplane's window, waiting for a first glimpse of my beloved Rocky Mountains.  Southwest Airlines tag line is "Wanna Getaway?" - at this point, NO, just get me home!!!!
First of all, I want to give all of our wonderful blog reader friends a BIG THANK YOU for your care, prayers, and warm wishes following the passing of my mom.  A heartbreaking event is always made more tolerable by the "hugs" from friends - thank you - it was wonderful, very meaningful, and appreciated!

We arrived home from Iowa yesterday and basically collapsed and slept wonderfully (first good sleep in a few weeks!!!).  So nice to be in our own comfy, warm bed.  Jumped out of bed this morning ready for a "shake out the legs" run, get back into a training groove, and start regaining some of the red blood cells (natural EPO) I lost being down at sea level for almost two weeks!  Of course, we laced up and headed out the door to our little neighborhood gem, UVP.  Below, we are just heading into the park.  Notice - no snow on the ground (yet).
As the run progressed, so did the snow.  It didn't matter. It wasn't cold, I was home, I was running on real trails and I felt like I was in heaven.  Bring it on!
It's all good!
Lots of varied terrain in UVP.

Steve stretching his legs on a flat section. The snow is picking up!
Tiptoeing carefully down the wet rocks.
Did a few loop-de-loops through the park and then headed for home.
We had to run past our favorite Starbucks on the way back.

After it was all said and done, we ended up with 8.6 miles - decent for a 'shake out the legs' run, and fairly wet.  It felt great to be out on the trails again.  Hopefully I will be able to "catch up" on training quickly as Greenland 25k is in six weeks.  If not, it will be a good spring-board of training for a couple of potential events coming up soon after.  The Sageburner 25k is the end of May and the Turkey Tracks Trail Half Marathon is June 12.  We'll see what happens!  Glad to be home and would like to wish a smile and Happy Trails to everyone this week!

S & K - Asics Trail 2150

Sunday, March 7, 2010

In Memoriam

Carolyn N ~ 1944-2010

We generally don't put much up on the blog aside from running, but this morning I need to have a few minutes to write out some thoughts about my mother-in-law after she passed from this life today.  For the past seventeen months, Carolyn has battled appendix cancer which is very rare and, as we would find out in the process, a very disgusting disease.  I have thought of many things over these past months that I would say about cancer, but none of them seem appropriate now.  It is a beast, it steals life from the strong and weak alike, and I honor the men and women who devote their lives to matching wits against it.  Yet cancer reveals things below the surface that may stay hidden otherwise.  Carolyn's indomitable will to live in the face of a grim outlook and horrific suffering confirmed a character that we knew all along.  As I mentioned yesterday, it was a battle of the titans between her and cancer and her legacy was cemented by the fierce battle she waged.  When she finally put down the sword, there was nothing left to give to the fight.  Though robed in sadness at our loss, we are proud of her and will be forever.  
As I mused the past few days over the colossal clash unfolding, I was drawn time and again to one of the epic poems of the English language, Milton's Paradise Lost, as he attempted to describe what the battle in the heavens of good versus evil might look like, and I relate it in my mind to the battle between life and cancer:

Excerpt from Paradise Lost, Book VI:

... The horrid shock. Now storming fury rose,
And clamour such as heard in Heaven till now
Was never; arms on armour clashing brayed
Horrible discord, and the madding wheels
Of brazen chariots raged; dire was the noise
Of conflict; over head the dismal hiss
Of fiery darts in flaming vollies flew,
And flying vaulted either host with fire.
So under fiery cope together rushed
Both battles main, with ruinous assault
And inextinguishable rage. All Heaven
Resounded; and had Earth been then, all Earth
Had to her center shook. What wonder? when
Millions of fierce encountering Angels fought
On either side, the least of whom could wield
These elements, and arm him with the force
Of all their regions: How much more of power
Army against army numberless to raise
Dreadful combustion warring, and disturb,
Though not destroy, their happy native seat;
Had not the Eternal King Omnipotent,
From his strong hold of Heaven, high over-ruled
And limited their might; though numbered such
As each divided legion might have seemed
A numerous host; in strength each armed hand
A legion; led in fight, yet leader seemed
Each warriour single as in chief, expert
When to advance, or stand, or turn the sway
Of battle, open when, and when to close
The ridges of grim war: No thought of flight,
None of retreat, no unbecoming deed
That argued fear; each on himself relied,
As only in his arm the moment lay
Of victory: Deeds of eternal fame
Were done, but infinite...

The ridges of grim war.  No thought of flight?  That was mom's heroic stand.
When I first met Kathleen's mom in December 1987 on a Christmas break trip to California, I knew from day one she was a tough cookie!  She was at times both a ferociously protective mother and a kind, caring woman.  Over the years, I cannot say that her stubbornness had not caused a spot of friction here or there.  I don't believe anyone has freedom from that in a family dynamic.  And though at times her tough exterior persona kept her emotions under the surface, Kathleen and I both knew that if things ever got sideways with anything, anywhere in our lives, she would step to the front of the line to fight to the end for us.  So now, we move on with part of Carolyn woven into the fabric of our daily living and we are better for that thread in us.  Over the last years, we did not see Kathleen's parents frequently as they moved several times trying to find the right fit for their retired years.  But we were always able to fit in a trip here or there where we could meet up and enjoy some down time with them.
Here we are in Estes Park, Colorado a few years back.  We met there and spent some time in Rocky Mountain National Park. 
Our last big trip before cancer - We met up in South Dakota for some time in the Black Hills.  Great trip, awesome memories, and for the 4 of us, the first time ever to Mount Rushmore.  There was a point on this trip with some issues at the cabins where we were staying that involved Carolyn about to throw down with the people who owned them because she thought they insulted her daughter.  The stubborn fighter was always there!  The last couple trips have been more somber.  With her not being able to travel far, we were resigned to visits in Iowa and a growing knowledge with each visit that long-term would no longer be measured by years, but days and months.  When I got Kathleen and Kerrie ready to fly from Denver Tuesday, I knew when we parted that the next time I saw my love she would be starting to mend the hole in her heart left from a daughter losing her mom.  I am ready for the task at hand.  We miss you mom - rest easy and suffer no more!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Touch of Spring

Something certainly snapped free this week in the weather pattern as we have received a very nice taste of Spring - and we approve!  While it is not guaranteed to last, as March can be our snowiest month of the year, we will have all of it we can get when it is here.  Had to run solo today and headed out to Red Rock Canyon Open Space to try and find generally mud-less trails.  (Sitting snow + sun and warmer = mud festival)  It was 49 when I started and 53 when I finished - yes that is a numeral "5" at the start of the temp - WOO HOO!
From the Red Rock Rim trail, looking out across the namesake sea of red rocks!! I had a little problem that was evident as I stepped from my truck - I left the wonderfully addictive Garmin on the counter when I left to drive over. What - run without my wonderful, endless supplier of numbers to quantify all things running????  Oh well, I kept time with my phone and know the mileages of almost everything at Red Rock, so could be worse.  Well, that is, until my iPod died at mile 4....
The trails were generally in fantastic shape aside from the areas nearest the main trailhead.  I do have a bit of a beef with "some" trail users.  When it is muddy enough to sink in to your shoe laces or up on the rims of your mountain bike, go somewhere else until it firms up.  And yes I can speak to both - 15+ years of hardcore mountain biking gives me freedom to speak into that world too!!  I don't get it - coming home with 5 pound shoes or an extra 10 pounds on the bike is not fun.  And the crusty, lumpy carnage left behind when it dries - Ay Carumba!  Anywho, enough ranting, back to the run... where was I?  Ah yes, Pikes Peak on a glorious day - enough said!
Beautiful, snow-free, fabulous, red dirt trail...Cruising up the Sand Canyon Trail.
Taking a "Peak" through the trees!
All downhill from here...  Snapped a "group" photo at the top of the trail heading out to the main parking.  It was a fantastic day, yet I had no legs - crud.  I was able to get 10.5 miles but had nothing else to give - on such a sunny day, what?  Well it has been a long week, but unfortunately longer for the lovely Kathleen.  As I am writing this, she sits at the hospital bedside of her mom in Iowa, nearing the end of an epic clash of the titans with cancer.  Friends, this courageous woman will not drop the sword, which I admire, yet the family suffers to watch the end drag out.  Send thoughts and prayers their way for me!  So my sadness and the fact that my love is so many miles away probably contributed to slow legs - strangely, however, running is therapeutic and I feel almost re-energized as I type this post.  Low 50's again tomorrow - can't wait. 

Shoes- Asics 2150 Trail - first time out and now muddy!
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