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

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Snowy Days.....

Saturday Snow Time in Ute Valley!
A little over a month ago, we had a surprise visitor to the blog inquiring about our snow running and whether we had used Yaktrax before.  We have seen folks use them for years, but had never tried them out.  So, wouldn't you know it, we had a little box show up at the house with a couple pairs of Yaktrax Pro traction devices to try out and review.  Sweet!  Only problem was, it quit snowing ...  and we just had cold, no snow, and probably had our secret contact wondering what the heck happened... 
We began to wonder if the Yaks jinxed our snowfall!  Not to worry, Old Man Winter came calling again this week - uninvited joker that he is!!!  Snowed some Thursday, then acted like it would let us have a break for the weekend, then BAM - have that - Saturday morning dawned with 3 - 4" of freshies on top of the crusty remnants of the mid-week snow.  Yaktrax time!
Suited up for the cold and snow Saturday morn, and headed off to Ute Valley Park to put these babies through the ultimate test - snow covered, technical singletrack - woohoo! 
Kathleen going straight up the rocks entering Ute Valley's front side.
It was to be another one of those gray, monochromatic weekends - flat light and snow, with a little "running color" thrown in!  It was soooo quiet down in Ute Valley as the fog-like air and snow covered earth muffle most outside noise and narrow your senses to the crunching underfoot and the stark scenery.
Bundled runner comin' through!
Cold but happy to be out running!
Kathleen slaloms through the boulders.  It was great to be out on such a nasty day, running through beautiful scenery like this snow covered landscape.  We finished with 10 miles and VERY tired legs.  For those of you who are not "privileged" to run regularly (or ever) on fresh snow, the additional toll on the body is somewhat hard to describe.  Of course, we generally don't deal with much above-80 degree heat and humidity, so it is not like others don't have their challenges.  But the snow runs are quite draining.

As for the Yaktrax, they earned an initial 4 thumbs up from Happy Trails.  We have run quite a bit in screw shoes for icy conditions, however, there has always been that need for something that works in fresh snow and packed snow.  These devices definitely shined in the snow and snowpack conditions in which we ran Saturday.  We look forward to some more testing, although hopefully not MUCH MORE this year - we're ready for sun and warmer weather...!

Shoes- K Asics 2150 Trail
S Brooks Cascadia
Temp - 24 feels like 16
  The Snow Continues...
A snowy front has camped out on top of Colorado and is refusing to leave. It is one of those pesky, nuisance fronts that lightly drops snow for a few hours, lets up a bit, then fires right back up. Because of this, the accumulation has not really stacked up in highly visible areas but has made a cumulative impact on our trails. I won't go on any kind of rant about this, as quite frankly, we have had an un-Colorado winter thus far in the precipitation department. It has been cold, and got that way early, but the southern Front Range has been a bit pinched on moisture. When we get the snow it does, however, put a crimp in the trail running - but since we have the gear for it (and no treadmill) we suck it up and head out. Snow fell lightly through the night Saturday night and dusted over what had packed down Saturday. Kathleen was not feeling like slogging through the snow and cold today and opted for an indoor ride on the trainer. So I bundled up and headed out for a solo run at Garden of the Gods. :-(  Photo above is the nice view looking north from the visitor center parking area.
Untracked ribbon of singletrack, just waiting for me to drop in!  It was 18 feels like 3 when I left the warm confines of Happy Trails Central - ouch.  Over the years, you build a repertoire of outerwear to enable adrenaline inspired efforts to continue under such conditions, however, it's always that first step out the door of your home (or vehicle if convening at a trailhead) that causes some loathing of the cold. 
Yucca and Yaktrax.
Top rim of the park - dropping in!
Stopped for a photo under the Giant Footprints.
I never get tired of the inspiring views around the Siamese Twins arch.
The snow traces ribbons of trail through the stark winter landscape, while the fog backdrop creates almost 3-dimensional photography.  It was eerily quiet in the park.  I saw 1 horse rider, 4 hikers, and 3 runners in an hour and a half - spooky for a weekend in this park!
Desert meets winter!  There was enough snow to bury the cactus but the Yucca were pleading for sunshine!

I was able to knock out 10.5 miles in this beautiful winter wonderland, though the legs were barking at me a bit the last couple miles.  The cumulative onset of fatigue of two days running on fresh snow was quite apparent nearing the end of the run.  I was happy with the effort although the pace on snow runs is a "learned acceptance" that better times are had on dry trails.  C'est la Vie.

Shoes - La Sportiva Wildcat
Temp 18 feels like 3

Once again today, I give two thumbs up to the Yaktrax.  I think they do great on packed snow and untracked snow.  On chunked up, heavy traffic spots they do OK but I don't know of anything else that does better.  I am a bit reserved about ice - both road crossings were sheets of ice and left me debating between these and screws.  More to come on that when there is more ice to play with...

Got home from the run, fed my tired legs, and headed out for a walk in the snow with my color coordinated girls!  Can you see Sage smiling?    
Happy Trails this week!

THIS JUST IN:  Matt Hart just posted his new Ultrarunning video for 2009 on his Coaching Endurance blog - If you have not seen his stuff, this guy puts together a presentation that makes you want to forget whatever you have going on, and just go run!  
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