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

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Palmer Park Run (What a Difference a Week Makes...)

So back up a week and gather some background on why there was no posting here.  It was butt cold.  I was too frozen to type.  Last Saturday, I had quite possibly the coldest experience ever on a run.  I finished with the wool undershirt I was wearing frozen (as in sheet of ice) from my chest to my waist.  Hands frozen too.  Almost called a cab to get home.  Thought about changing the blog to Unhappy Trails.  Sunday was not much better, so we headed over to Ute Valley Park hoping to avoid the bone chilling wind.  We had some snow, but for the most part have missed out on what the Northern Regions received (Denver, Boulder, Ft Collins).  So with the mercury at 20 and wind chill temporarily above 10, we headed over to Ute.
 Kathleen drops in off the west ridge
 Tried to stay down in the valley and out of the wind
Weather moving in fast and we're headed home!

While we mostly avoided the wind, we did not outsmart the cold.  At 7.5 miles, we threw in the towel, cried Uncle, whatever you want to call it.  Judging by the peace and tranquility on the trails, most (sane) folks hopped on a treadmill in a warm room somewhere.  A venti Italian Roast at Starbucks at least made a segue into warming me up post-run.

Shoes - K Nike LunarFly Trail
S -Nike Pegasus

Now for the good stuff!
 Sweet, technical, DRY trails beckoning us 

Today, under vastly different conditions, we headed over to Palmer Park to get in some great trails.  This used to be our summer post-work run.  However, rampant riff-raff and various seedy issues have caused us to avoid evening visits to this park.  Sad how "that" element of society can dictate public use of such an awesome park but it is what it is.  With an inviting cerulean sky and beautiful trails awaiting we took off on what we hoped to be a great run.  
 Kathleen gets things rolling early on the run
 Doesn't look like we're right in the middle of the city?

Palmer Park is one of those rare gems - a rustic, mostly undeveloped park with unbelievable trails that is right in the middle of the city.  Land locked in between neighborhoods and heavy traffic, this jewel has  awesome trails and great rock formations.  Many of the trails are on the techy side, so there are a lot of hardcore mountain bikers that frequent the trails here as well.
 Unlimited views
 Some snow hanging on the northern trails
 Kathleen rocks the final , sunny descent

As we had hoped, the weather was fantastic and the 40's felt like summer after last weekend.  We were able to get in 12 miles on some premiere trails and absolutely enjoyed our run.  Days like this in December are special and we often squeeze out of them the maximum we can for the day because it could be zero next weekend.  But it wasn't today, life is good!

Happy Trails this week!

Shoes - K Nike LunarFly Trail
S - Saucony Peregrine

Mid-Week Special

Wednesday evening, we had tickets to see a screening of "Unbreakable" to benefit Friends of the Incline.  Great cause, and a good reason to get out and see a well done documentary covering the 2010 Western States 100 race.  If you get the chance to see a screening of it in your area, we would highly recommend it.  It is being released on DVD next week as well - link to the website from the caption under the video.  After the film, we were privileged to have these two guys spend a little time doing QnA - good times:
Geoff Roes and Tony Krupicka (in case you didn't recognize them...)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Good Tempo Run (and some reading material)

It started out cold this morning, but warmed nicely into the 40's by the time we were running.  We headed out for a tempo run on the Santa Fe Trail (postponed from yesterday), and judging by how the legs felt, the bike intervals tuned them up pretty well!  I wasn't sure what to expect, but the turnover felt really good out of the box and I settled in to a nice steady pace.  The section of Santa Fe Trail we normally use for these runs heads north from Woodmen Road onto the US Air Force Academy.  It is a gradual climb out, but somewhat "rolling up" with a couple hills out past the 4 mile mark.  So the inbound trip is generally "rolling descent" which makes for a good setup to negative split the return...usually.  Today was a challenge as I turned around at the 5 mile out mark, there was a pleasant headwind (sarcastic italics applied...).  Anyway, the run was good and there were lots of people out after the COLD yesterday (guess I should not have been gloating on the 67 degrees Thursday...).  Pushed pretty good on the out and then fought hard to negative split the return trip with the wind.  Ended up having my best pace for this 10 mile section at 7:21/mi.  Here are the splits:

Mile 1 ~ 7:39
Mile 2 ~ 7:13
Mile 3 ~ 7:33
Mile 4 ~ 7:32
Mile 5 ~ 7:49
Mile 6 ~ 7:28
Mile 7 ~ 7:16
Mile 8 ~ 7:10
Mile 9 ~ 7:05
Mile 10 ~ 6:56

Good day out there - sorry, no photo taking when trying not to cough out a lung ;-)  Will most likely try to continue these as much as possible over the winter as they have certainly ramped up the fitness and improved our overall running!  Kathleen had a decent day - not where she should or wants to be at just over an even 8 average but OK considering she is coming out of a serious funk cycle with the Graves - that roller coaster is getting old, but a post for another time will address those issues :)

Shoes - K Nike Lunarfly Trail
S Saucony Kinvara
I don't often throw out what is on the reading docket but, in the vein of improved overall health, this is the current read, (thanks to ultra runner, Matt Hart, for the recommendation): 

Now, this is potentially dangerous reading for me since my brother in law (and his dad and brother) are king sized wheat farmers.  Ouch.  I would certainly hate to be disowned by part of Kathleen's family.  However, there is some important background info you need to know, just so you don't think I am out on a limb.  Kathleen was having some intestinal distress about 18 months ago (which knowing what we know now may have been partially related to early onset of the Graves) and dietary experimentation ensued - starting with cutting many wheat and gluten products from the diet.   Needless to say, this affected my diet as well (voluntary, mind you) but not nearly to the extent of hers.  There have been several noticeable changes that have resulted from the "gluten-light" diet we adopted.  Aside from the improved intestinal tract health for Kathleen, something unexpected occurred for both of us.  When Kathleen's blood panel was done for Graves in February, her total cholesterol was down 60 points.  Since we have always considered her high-normal level as family linked, we initially thought this drop may have been a side effect of the disease.  But, when I had my annual physical done recently, my total was down 34 points.  Hmmm, head scratcher?  The other significant change for me is that I am carrying 7 to 9 pounds less on average, maintaining a weight I have not seen in over a decade yet gaining on my fitness and strength.  More head scratching...  Now, I am certainly not advocating that everyone drastically changes their diet - we had reasons for it that were our personal choice for experimentation.  However, if you decide to pick up this book and start reading Dr Davis' pages, don't blame me for what might happen.  The documentation he provides is staggering. You might just find yourself thinking about doing this:
Bye, bye wheat....


Last, but not least, more Christmas goods for you.  One of our old faves, David Crowder Band, has been performing this on their farewell tour - their rendition of Christmas Eve-Sarajevo (Carol of the Bells), ala TSO.  There is some talking at the start - music begins at 1:14 in - Enjoy:

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Saturday Bike....

We awoke to lovely blue skies this fine Saturday morning....  lovely blue skies, ferocious winds, and a crisp wind chill of 11.  For those of you who have dogs - have you ever opened the back door for your dog to go "out" on a cold morning, have the critter poke its head out the door, figuratively say 'I don't think so', put it in frantic 'reverse' and hightail back into the house because it didn't want to venture out into the cold?  Well that was the case for Happy Trails this morning (ahem, not the part of needing to go 'out', if you know what I mean).  We were dressed, ready to head over to the trail for our weekend tempo run, despite watching the trees bending over from the gusty wind, opened the door to go out, had that bitter wind hit our faces and put it in immediate reverse back into the cozy, warm confines of the house.

Hmmm, what to do.  We need our 'scheduled' faster paced run in for the week (that's about as structured as we get).  So, being the 'bad', not-so-tough-as nails duo that we are, we changed from running attire to BIKING
attire.  We decided not to run in the cold but ride instead.  Yes, RIDE.  While it was gale force windy out.  While it was 'we're not ready for the cold' cold out.  Yes, we rode.  Indoors.  On the trainers.  In a warm, cozy house (with some artificial wind - a fan blowing on us - to make us think we were really outside, sort of).  Threw in a Carmichael Training video - Climbing Speed - and proceeded to sweat profusely by doing repeats of Over and Under climbing threshold intervals.  It was all good.  We got a great workout in despite missing our tempo day.  Tomorrow we are hoping to redeem ourselves with a LONG run.... 

The cardinal rule in the HT household has been "No Christmas music until December 1".  I (Kathleen - and yes, I finally did a post) am bad all the way around lately - no run today AND starting Christmas music overload way early.  Oh yeah, adding to my string of badness - I just made a batch of gluten free butter cookies with Nutella sandwiched in between.  We are hoping to post a Christmas playlist with some of our faves but have had trouble getting a full list to download.  So here's one good song to start you off.  

Happy Trails!

Enjoy "The Christmas Song" by Michael Tait

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Summer returns on Thanksgiving Day!

Just realized this is only the third post on this page in November - where has the time gone???  Of course for some, that may be reason to give thanks :)  In all seriousness, today we stop to be thankful for what we have in life.  For us, this is ongoing through the year, not just on this one day, and any attempt to make a list of what we give thanks for would fill the pages of many blogs.  For too many, it is just the holiday we have to "get through" to make it to Christmas - their loss in my opinion... 

On a smaller note, one of the endless list of things we are thankful for is the ability to get out and run fabulous trails within close proximity to home.  In lieu of the ubiquitous Turkey Trot, we opted to take full advantage of the unbelievable weather and go for a great trail run.  With sun and temps in the mid 50's before we even started, it was startling to think that it is almost the end of November.  We headed over this morning to Red Rock Canyon Open Space to get rolling.
 Early stop on Roundup trail for a HT group shot

We had the unique position this year to be footloose and fancy free for Thanksgiving day.  Last year we had the privilege to have Kathleen's sister and family out to visit from Oregon, and we normally spend it with my sister's family who lives here.  However, our niece is engaged and now there are "obligations" to the future in-laws for them.  So they had to travel north, leaving us to do as we would with our entire day!  So with fresh legs under us and no schedule, we decided to do a tough run by looping through Red Rock Canyon, linking to Section 16 via the Intemann Trail, rolling the S16 loop, then coming back through RRC.  So we were off...
 Kathleen on the Intemann Trail
 View from the Intemann link to Section 16

After climbing to the top rim in Red Rock, we connected over on the Intemann to Section 16 trail.  Here, the climbing really gets after it.  In 1.3 miles, you climb 1200 feet which leaves you somewhat breathless and tired, but it is worth it.  The reward is about 3.5 miles of flowing descent, steep at times, but manageable and FUN!  
 Almost to the top of the climb on Section 16

We were surprised once we got down the trail and dropped onto High Drive at the amount of ice already packed in for the season.  With no sun during the day, this will keep until late spring and made for a few spots of tricky footing.  Definitely not ready for traction aids with the kind of weather we've been enjoying.  No slips or falls, though, so that was all good and we popped out to Gold Camp Road and started the short climb back up into S16 to find our way over to Intemann again.
 Back up high on S16 - looking down at Red Rock Canyon sprawled out below
 Catching some good rays on S16 - awesome day!
 It does not get much better in November
 The old rock quarry - we're headed through that notch
 Close up on the Quarry Pass Trail

We dropped back down into RRC and decided to do a trail we have rarely been on.  Quarry Pass Trail climbs up and through the square notch in the rocks, then drops out on the other side and continue on through another hillside before joining the Mesa Trail.  The legs were tired from the hard climb and long descent, but we couldn't leave without enjoying a little more trail and soaking up a bit more of the rays!
Parting shot - looking down at the old reservoir from Quarry Pass Trail

We finished out with 11.5 miles and a cool 3000' of climbing, but with that terrain it seems you cover more ground.  Great day out there altogether and we finished with the mercury touching 67 degrees - how sweet is that???  Looking forward to some more good running in the next few days, so watch for a few more pics to show up this week.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Shoes - K Nike LunarFly Trail
S Nike Pegasus

BTW, Kathleen broke the cardinal rule of Thanksgiving day in the HT household and started listening to Christmas music already!  The shame....

If you also want to start early, check out Mac Powell's distinctive vocals with Third Day - one of our faves:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKX3eyYuJ9c

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Blown away, bruised toes, and such....

There was a high wind warning in effect for our area that started posting yesterday for the entire day today.  Now, when you live in (or even near) the mountains, weather reports, predictions, dire warnings, etc. are always taken with a grain of salt.  Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn't.  Well, let's just say they weren't joking.  It was not freezing cold this morning, however, it was 20 - 30mph winds with gusts to 50mph.  Sweet.  I love wind.  And sarcasm.   I waited for a bit to see if it would die down.  As if.  I would be running solo, as Kathleen had to do some labs early before work.  Now, if you are going to run in sucky wind, it is always "nicer" to have someone suffering with you, right???  OK, off to run and hopefully not be blown away.  I dropped in to Ute Valley Park hoping for at least some periods of shelter from the wind gusts.
 Theme for the day - see dust cloud coming, turn back to it and squint until it passes!!!
 Been a while since I ran here - love these trails and the sights along them!
 Walk the Plank!

I took the side spur out toward I25 at the bottom of Ute Valley Park, hoping to stay in the ravine for a bit and out of the wind.  This trail seems to be in the middle of nowhere, then out of nowhere you end up looking up at I25.  That is the great thing about unimproved parks in the middle of town.
 The trail skirts along the ravine on the right - I25 is straight ahead but you wouldn't know
 Not sure who put this up in the park boundary?
 Storm shelter... or wildlife hostel

I ran through the disc golf course, surprised to see a couple guys out tossing discs in gale force winds!  As I rolled past the cave above, which we have run by many times, it came to mind that this would be a great little shelter if some freak weather blitz hits while out on a run.  Although, the mountain lion and/or bear that frequently uses it may take issue with the occupancy!
 Always have to run past the favorite arch
As always, fabulous.

I had many opportunities to gaze on Pikes Peak during the run.  The wind was howling up there, as could be seen by the swirling clouds of snow whipping through the many large bowls on the massive granite slab.  I would guess that a run up there today would have been just peachy....  I was not sure what to expect from the day, as I started out the run with the expectation that it may be a short lap, then right back home.  I had just enough shelter in Ute that the run went well and I ended up with 10 miles.  Basically had the park to myself, as I saw three cyclists (still can't figure that) and a guy walking a couple dogs.  That's it.  So it turned out pretty good for a day that I could have easily passed on!

Shoes - Nike Pegasus

In the Can't Ever Find the Perfect Shoe department, I had a strange occurrence after our great run to Barr Camp a few weeks back.  After feeling pretty stellar throughout that whole run, including the big descent, I got out of the chair late that evening and my left big toe area felt like it had been smashed.  Nothing happened on any previous runs, so what gives?  No trips, no stubbed toes, nothing.  So I remove my sock, and whoa nelly - the whole side of the big toe trunk was purple.  I wasn't sure if I sprained it (is that possible?), broke it,  or any number of other things that run through your mind when the side of your foot is heinously discolored...  I took the whole following week off as a precaution but basically felt fine by Saturday morning.  I was set for a long trail run, so I laced up the Cascadias, just as I had on Barr, but felt a strangely familiar pain in the big toe less than a half mile in.  So I circled back to the homestead and did a little investigation.  When lining up the epicenter of the formerly purpleized area over the shoe, lo and behold it was exactly centered above this point:
Scene of the crime.....

So I am taking a few weeks reprieve from donning said torture device, hoping to not retire an expensive shoe WAY TOO EARLY.  We'll see.  On the run in question, I swapped over to the Saucony Peregrine and proceeded to run 16 miles on the Garden trails and part of the Ponderous Posterior route without incident, so I am leary.  I am interested if anyone else has had this issue with the new Cascadia, since it is the first model year to have the front wedge added to the medial side of the shoe...????   Remains to be seen.

Happy Trails to all - hope to run tomorrow, sans wind, with the lovely Mrs HT!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday Sunrise

I couldn't pass up sharing this awesome sunrise - have a great Friday!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Incline and Barr Camp

We had thought about trying some new trails up north a ways on Sunday, but decided with the great weather - and the prediction that it would be leaving town - we might rather enjoy the awesome day closer to home and leave the 3 hours in the car for another weekend.  So we pulled a random one from the hat and decided to hit the Manitou Incline and then head up to Barr Camp.  Some may be shocked by this, but in 20+ years living in the shadow of Pikes Peak, I have had never been to the iconic Barr Camp.  In fact, I have never been on the summit of Pikes Peak.  Kathleen has done both, but not me.  Of course, I have only been on one 14er period, as I have ear troubles that high, but I see this mountain every.day.of.the.year.  Given that it was forecast for sunny skies and 70 in town, what better day to see some new turf.
Manitou Incline looks so innocent from far away
Step and Repeat ... approaching the 68% grade and looking up to the false summit
Kathleen summits with Colorado Springs west side sprawling below

As was expected, the Incline was a freeway - lots and lots of 'traffic' to weave through, which is not easy on 3000 railroad ties going straight up.  I'll try not to rant, but there were a fair amount of inconsiderate folk out Sunday who did not want to move out of the way, which is very annoying.  This was the case coming back down Barr later in the route as well.  Let's be honest here - if you are going to be out on the Incline and/or Barr Trail on a weekend, there are going to be lots of folks out.  A good handful of them will be runners and fast hikers.  If you get your snuff ruffled by having to move aside for traffic to go through, probably not a good place for you.  Just a public service announcement....  Anywho, where was I???  So we made our way up the Incline, not pushing to quite our normal extent as we needed to have a good reserve for the continuing climb to Barr Camp.
Kathleen feeling invincible at the top of the Incline!!!
Shooting over the connector trail to Barr
Lots of stellar views of this rock on Sunday!
Happy Trails indeed - not too shabby for a photo backdrop!
Making our way up to Camp
Up here, the leaves were long gone...
Made it to Barr Camp

We hopped onto Barr Trail from the Incline connector and had just under 4 miles to the camp.  Along this section, there are a couple stretches which are the "flattest" parts of Barr Trail and made for some nice running.  It was shaping up to be a phenomenal day and we were soaking it in, taking tons of pictures, and enjoying the treat that it is to live in the place we call home!  It was probably in the low to mid 50's as we approached Barr Camp, but the intensity of the sun at 10,200' made it quite balmy.  We sat out on the deck for a bit, refueling and chatting with the gracious caretakers.  It was pretty sweet hanging out there and probably won't be the last visit to that deck on a sunny day .....  After fueling up and getting a short rest, it was time for some raging downhill.  Aside from several short climbs on the way down, you are looking at 6.5 miles of mostly decline heading back into Manitou Springs.   Hang on!
Sunny day and feeling good
Looking out from the W's across to the Garden - awesome!
Back down at the Cog Railway Depot - spectacular fall day!
Our 11.25 mile route - quite the gaudy first mile, eh?

The Incline shaves a bit of mileage off the round trip number, but who is really counting miles on this kind of run?  11.25 miles with accumulated gain and subsequent descent of 4100' made for some tired legs (and sore quads!!) by the time we were done.  It was a blast and we had some stellar weather to be out enjoying the lower part of the Pikes Peak Massif.  

Shoes - K Nike LunarFly Trail
S Brooks Cascadia

We were not done with our visit to Manitou Springs, however, as it was time to refuel at Coquette's Bistro & Bakery.  Check out these plates:
Kathleen went for the Fat Frenchie
And I had the Monte Cristo Crepe - plate was not full for long!
Manitou was hopping on this fantastic fall day
Monday, Kathleen enjoyed near record temps out on the road bike touring the hills above our neighborhoods.  She was once again treated to some awesome views on a 25 mile loop with overlooks such as this:
Not bad views for a Monday ride?
Great day for a walk in the park, too!!

Happy Trails!
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