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

Sunday, November 28, 2010

What a week!

We had a very special treat for Thanksgiving week - Kathleen's sister Kerrie and her family came to visit from Oregon!  It has been many years since we have been able to spend one of the major holidays with her family as they are all spread out pretty far and travel in the mountains can be precarious at this time of year.  Needless to say, we were very excited to have them come.  Of course, with three nieces in town, it was PLAY TIME!!!  Luckily we have a park around the corner for such frivolities...
 Go Faster!!!  Or not... Does Kathleen look a little green???!!!
 My special little girl!
1, 2, 3 ... GO!
We had a great time on Thursday with turkey and fixin's, lots of good times, and the first round of the Anne of Green Gables marathon .... Wait a minute, how did Kevin and I get hoodwinked on this one???  Blindsided by a 12 year old, a 9 year old, and EVEN the 2 year old got in on hornswoggling their dear old Uncle Steve and their very patient Dad!  Does anyone realize that each one of those 3 stinking DVD's is DOUBLE SIDED?!?!

So Friday was set aside for more touristing (I made that word up...) - they spent the day Wednesday cruising local hotspots while Kathleen and I toiled away at work.  We had The Manitou Cliff Dwellings, Ghost Town Museum, and the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo on tap - however, the zoo got cancelled in lieu of the ladies going shopping in the afternoon.  That meant nap time for the little one and football time for Steve and Kevin - finally some peace in the house :-)
 Cliff Dwellings - not the original transportation parked out front.

The new camera did great as this room was super dark inside.  
 Nice spot to build a home
 Some of the original residents..... Lots of educational reading and artifacts throughout the museum

There were many fascinating displays in the museum.  It was quite interesting to read about the original Anasazi residents of these dwellings who ended up leaving the area after a 20+ year drought.  There are interesting notes if you enlarge the photos.
A Horno oven on display - 30 one pound loaves of bread were cooked at a time in the ovens.
We had another fantastic family day on Friday.  Of course, Friday evening was the end of the amazingly long culmination of the aforementioned Green Gable-athon.  Hallelujah!  Saturday morning we visited for a bit with the family before they were on the road for Oregon.  It was a great visit and the little girls cried because they did not want to leave their favorite Auntie - aaah!  After they peeled out of town, we were torn as to what we wanted to do for a workout.  While we ran short both Thursday and Friday, for some reason we were not overly motivated to run.  What ...?  Add to that the fact that Kathleen has been chomping at the bit to get out on the bike  - she feels a bit boxed-in when she does not have her OPTIONS!!!  So we drug out the road bikes, shimmed one of her one shoes (chiropractor's suggestion), and headed out for a ride.
 South Suburban Reservoirs - Stratton Open Space
 Happy "Wheels"?  Enjoying the view of downtown Colorado Springs
Bundled up for a ride!

We were able to get in a nice bike ride, although it was a bit brisk at times, especially the 4.5 mile descent off of Gold Camp Road - in the shady side of the mountain, BRRRR!  We posed for a pic at the top of Gold Camp while warming in the sun for the cold drop back to Highway 24.  On the way down, we saw a gal coming up the road on roller skis.  Kathleen has always been intrigued by the roller skis and I could see the wheels turning in her head.  Oh. No.  We rode 30 miles and were ready to be inside the warm house when finished - those wind chills are a bit stout on the bike!
Sunday we wanted to try out fresh turf for a run.  We picked one of the staples of the Incline Club running routes - Ute Pass Trail to Waldo Canyon and back.  It is close to home and is a lollipop loop that starts at the Cog Railway Depot in Manitou Springs.  The Ute Pass Trail is part of the Ring The Peak Trail network that is being mapped around the perimeter of Pikes Peak.
 Getting started
 Starting up the Ute Pass Trail - lots of climbing to come!
 Original intersection of the Ute Trail and Ute Wagon Trail

The Ute Pass Trail is actually an abandoned road bed that was part of the original Ute Trail used by Ute Indians to travel in to Manitou Springs from Eastern Utah.  The Utes believed that the gods lived underneath Manitou Springs, and that the bubbling in the spring waters was the breath of the gods coming to the surface. 

 Heading up Waldo Canyon

After the long climb on UPT, we dropped down the connector to Highway 24, crossing over the road to the Waldo Canyon trailhead.  From there, it is back on the climb - theme for the day!  While it was completely sunny and blue sky when we started, weather was pushing in so we had to be diligent with our pacing and not lollygag which we are prone to do!!!  Waldo Canyon is a lollipop loop - 2 miles out, 3.5 mile loop around the canyon, and then the 2 back out.  High point for the run was at the top of the loop ~ 8130 feet.

 Running along and then this view opens up - Nice! 
 More Climbing....
  Kathleen enjoys the sun
 Overlook from Waldo to the highway
Heading down from Waldo

We had a great time on Waldo.  After dropping down the last section, it was back across Hwy 24 and then up more hills on UPT before the final descent into Manitou.  If we become serious about mountain running, this route will become a staple of ours as well.  Mostly runnable, with a few hiking spots thrown in for good measure.  The route was a bit over thirteen miles with 3700' accumulated elevation gain.  It was a great fresh route and will be on our favorite list before long!!  Elevation profile is below.  Quite a week - we are tired.  Happy Trails!!!

Monday, November 22, 2010


Beautiful sunshine and blue skies greeted us this morning although the gusty winds remained.  Steve blazed off to work and I set about to putzing around the house immersing myself in completely meaningless activities that included vaccuming, cleaning the bathrooms and kitchen, and de-cluttering the paper "pile" (where does all that paper stuff come from anyway???).  After mindlessly slaving away for an hour or so on the meaningless chores, I glanced out the window and noticed the azure blue skies were taking on a more gray hue.  Cloud cover was moving in.  Uh-oh.  Alarm set in as I snapped out of my "responsible person" stupor  -  what am I doing???  Lollygagging around and wasting a beautiful morning on mundane household chores - when did my PRIORITIES become so askew?  Who needs a clean house anyway? Aren't  clean houses a bit over rated?  It's time to hit the trail!

Not in the mood for a normal trail run, I headed off for a little change of pace - the Manitou Incline!  I love the climb up the Incline and the subsequent run down Barr Trail.  Steve isn't as big a fan as me so I am FORCED to SNEAK over on Mondays occasionally.  SNEAK is the operative word because Steve is not fond of me going there by myself as he is fearful of four-legged animals and two-legged animals 'getting me'.  I "forgot" (ahem) to call and inform him of my plan on the short drive over .  Oops, my bad.  I was thoughtful enough, however, to leave him a note on the kitchen counter, before I left, telling him how awesome he is, that I love him, and that BTW, I went to the Incline - just in case one of the species of animals did 'get me' - they would know the approximate vicinity to search for my whereabouts.   

Anyway, I found a nice parking spot and headed up to the start.  Rumors have been floating around the past few weeks of a 'gestapo' squad issuing citations to the hordes participating in the fun of trespassing climbing the Incline (parts of the Incline are privately and publicly owned).  There is ongoing work being done between the various landowners and managers to make climbing the Incline legal.  I had visions of being hauled kicking and screaming (ie: resisting arrest) down the mountain by the 'gestapo' squad and Steve getting a call from me, his sweet wife, incarcerated at our local pokey, pleading for a bailout.  Busted in more ways than one.......  My fears were quickly put to rest, though, as I caught up to a group of firemen from one of our local departments who were training on the Incline today (with big, weight vests and shirts boldly naming their department, I might add). There was comfort in knowing the fine company I was keeping in my choice of criminal mischief exercise and figured to be safe from being hauled in if I stayed close to them.  :-)

It was a good climb today.  My fastest time EVER was quite a few years ago, when I was in good bike shape - 32 minutes - fairly respectable.  I've come close to matching it but not quite.  Today I did it in 33 minutes, 30 seconds.  Very happy since I am coming back from a few down months.  I will get it, again, one of these days. 

Took the new camera to play with today - a Canon SD 960 Digital Elph.  Unfortunately, I didn't do it justice as I managed to wash out any color that was available on a mostly gray day.  Steve will be giving me his tips and tricks on focus and teaching me about the different settings. 
Eager to start the march upward
Expansive views from the top - one mile and 2000 feet elevation gain
Peering through the trees to Garden of the Gods

Snow dusted switchback on Barr Trail

Dilapidated flume near the trail
Old engine

It ended up a most excellent day.  I enjoy the peace and quiet solitude the trail affords.  It allows me to think about life and people.  I have quiet conversations with God (I should probably talk less and listen more!).  I ponder with a heart of gratitude the countless blessings that enrich my life daily from my wonderful husband to dear family and friends and all the 'stuff' that fills it in and makes it full and complete.  Life's not always perfect but it most often is good.  I am thankful, indeed.  Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Trails to everyone this week!


Here are a couple of 'Go Fast Up the Incline' songs that rev me up!  :-)


And if you need a dose of BIG TIME winter sports, go watch this video - This.Is.Sick:


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Taking what they're giving!!

Weather, that is.  Forecast was for Cloudy with high winds today.  We woke up to bright sun (plus) but still high winds (we'll tolerate it - it IS November).  It would make it up to around 50ish while we were out, however with wind gusts recorded up to 48 mph, it never felt anywhere near that.  No worries - snow is not flying, so we're taking advantage of dry trails!!!  We've also been testing some new pocket cameras and geeking out over the pros/cons of various models.  We decided on a new Canon and are sad to semi-retire the little Nikon we've been toting around since we started this blog.  Hope you like the pics!!!
 Red Rock Rim trail

Headed over this morning to Red Rock Canyon, hoping to at least find occasional reprieve from the wind.  It proved to be an acceptable choice ~ climbing up canyon was headwind, but the descents were with tailwind which is always good.  Guess the wind scared off the crowds as it was surprisingly serene on the trails for a Sunday at this park.
 Kathleen tries out some newer cut of singletrack
 Steve farther down the new trail - we approve!
 Straight down the middle of Red Rock Canyon
 Kathleen crests the ridge on Codell trail

It was one of "those" days where we did not really have a plan outside of - trails, ambulatory movement along such trails, and enjoying the day.  The wind caused some early ebb in the motivation levels, to be quite honest.  I mean, let's be real here - who enjoys running (or riding, or walking etc.) in 48 mph wind gusts?  However, the flow of the trails combined with the strong sun eventually lured the mind into a nice groove and allowed the run to establish a good rhythm.   It is always a bonus to latch onto some good running vibe in the middle of a run you thought about cutting short early on - it sort of leaves you with a good taste post-run that builds an anticipation of workouts to come.
 Dropping down into Hogback Valley
 Looking down the Canyon Path to the duck pond - beautiful day!
 Top of the Canyon with some wind-blown do!
 Passed our own shadow along the way
Kathleen rolls out the Roundup trail - view from a couple switchbacks up.

We really ended up enjoying what we thought at first may be a truncated run.  We were able to squeeze in 11 miles and not get blown all the way to Kansas in the process!!  While the Jekyll and Hyde weather continues, we'll be happy for days like this where the bright sun chases out the frigid air early in the day.  If we could request those days to have no wind, we would ~ but hey, greed is not an attractive virtue.  So we'll take what we get and Run with it! 

11 Miles, 1600' climb
Shoes - K Asics Trabuco
S Pearl Izumi SyncroFuel XC

Heading west on Pikes Peak Ave. - with the namesake looming ahead!

Post-run, we headed over to Manitou Springs to get some grub at The Maté Factor.  They use organic fare, have great kettle chips, and can make sandwiches with gluten-free bread for Kathleen!  We enjoyed the Deli Rose (smoked turkey, tomato, spicy sauce, onions and Pepper Jack cheese - Yum!) and Kathleen had an iced Peach Maté.   Next up, we "had" to make a stop at Title Nine downtown, so I conveniently detoured to Starbucks while Kathleen browsed.  We had a great day.  Happy Trails and safe holiday travels to you!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Good Morning Run

Friday morning as I was getting ready to run go to work,  we had just the right cloud cover for a spectacular orange sunrise and I was able to click off a few shots before heading to the grind.  The photo above is untouched, right out of the camera, as our shots always are.
This photo, however, I shot with the white balance adjusted for cloudy skies and forced the ISO to 80, requiring a steady hand with little light, but also producing a brilliantly saturated sunrise, helped out a bit by technology, just like photographers have done for years.  I think both are awesome, and had I not been in Dockers and street shoes, probably would have inspired a good run....

Saturday morning Kathleen had to work.  We were ambitious for a good pre-work run (yes, WE - I did not wait for the good weather...) and got out right away in some brisk, cool air to head up and over Flying W road ~ on the trail of course...
We ran up to the top of Mesa Road and had some great early morning sun looking over the Garden of the Gods - makes you wish for more time to run those trails, too!!!
Happy Trails - Queen's Canyon off in the distance....
Better look at Queen's Canyon with the "Scar" on the right...
... And the BIG view - Queen's all the way out to Blodgett Peak on the right

We were surveying the lay of the land overlooking Queen's Canyon as we are interested in getting back in there for a run.  The folks from Team C.R.U.D. ran there recently and we missed out, however, one of them posted some good photos here.  We'll be finding out about that route and you should see some photos shortly!  So we ended up doing a fairly standard route of ours totaling 10 miles - pretty good effort for getting it done before K had to blaze to work.  We did a double crossing of Flying W, starting with the 9.5% grade from our side, then coming back over the longer approach with a little lighter grade on the way home.  It was a great perceived effort and we made some good tracks to get it packed in pre-work.  Definitely a nice jaunt!  

Hope everyone out there has a great week coming up - if you are starting some holiday travels, have a great Thanksgiving and keep running to burn off those turkey dinners and pumpkin pies!

10 miles, 1200' climb
Shoes - K Asics 2150
S New Balance 1064
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