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

Monday, February 28, 2011

Gray day on the Academy

While we have mountain biked the high side of the Academy horse area many times to get back out into our part of town without having to ride all the way around,  we have been wanting to find the connection down to the Falcon Trail to provide a longer run than the 13 mile loop.   Because of the reservoir system on the southwest side of the Academy, security has been buckled down pretty tight in recent years over in that corner of the installation.  With some blech gray skies and cool weather greeting us this morning, we decided to give it a try on the navigation side and do a little recon.  Most of this side of the Academy is a labyrinth of horse trails as the Riding Stables are the predominant source of traffic on the southern edge of the base.  Since we know the main trails/roads on top, we just had to follow around until we found the connectors to the regular trail system.  The stables are open to the public, so it is not like this is off limits for those of you already swirling conspiracy theories in your devilish minds.  It just gets a little dicey if you end up making a wrong turn and find yourself "uncomfortably" close to stuff they don't want you around...
Dropping in for some new stash
Off the road and onto some singletrack - note the reservoir below
Finally on the good stuff

After a little less than a mile drop on the dirt road, you pass through a gate onto some nice singletrack.  A lot of this is still mainly horse and rider terrain (and horse emptying too...).  There is a nice stretch above the reservoir on a ridge and then you drop down toward the road and the intersection with the Falcon Trail right around 2 miles in.
Almost down - the BX is on the far ridge - with a good wind, you might smell Burger King!!
The road - and the Falcon Trail - wait below

Given the drop off the ridge of about 600' elevation, it may not have been the best day to wing it as Kathleen was feeling pretty fatigued.  We headed out to the west on Falcon for a bit and noticed that the temps were dropping.  Started to wonder if an unexpected front was moving in, which would have been a drag.  Weather held out pretty good, though, aside from a drop of about 8 degrees while we were out.
Kathleen runs along a cliff on Falcon Trail
Group shot - K had the tired look today for sure!!!

We turned back toward the south from the base of the big climb on the backside of Falcon.  Kathleen was quite spent and decided to start her trek back up to the ridge and I ran with her to the horse gate at the base of the climb.  From there, I ran up and over the rim at the BX and then over to the stadium.  With a bit of fatigue left over from the long run yesterday, I pulled the plug here and made the turn back, knowing I had 4.5 miles with nearly 1000 feet elevation to climb back out.  There were quite a few bikes out today and I had numerous passings back and forth along the way - the trail is in unbelievable condition for late February.  This is good and bad - awesome for recreation, however, the double edged sword of sparse precipitation could haunt us this summer...
Deep single-trench, er, singletrack, heading out of the valley

It was a good slog back out to the rim but it is all runnable with some patience.  Aside from a few 15% pitches on the road heading out, the grade is manageable and makes for a good addition to the "normal" way we have run the Falcon Trail.  Plus, the trail starts only 4 minutes from our house, whereas our normal spot to park for running Falcon Trail ends up being 20 to 25 minutes after going through security check at the front gate.  That helps too - longer run, less driving!   With the partial loop today, I still got in 13 miles with 2000' of climb again.  So it was similar to running the loop proper, just with some new stash thrown in.  Next time, it's the whole enchilada - all 17 miles.  Then we'll see if there is a different opinion of that climb out...  Happy Trails!

Shoes - K Saucony Xodus
S Pearl Izumi SyncroFuel XC

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Awesome day at the Garden!

 Kathleen soaking the sun on Dakota Trail

With fantastic sunshine and heinous 50+ mph wind gusts on Saturday, we decided to stay close to some shelter and get in some time on the trails at the Garden of the Gods.  I braved the wind (brave or stupid, not sure) and ran from home to the Garden and met Kathleen there.  With a general tailwind heading down, I knew the return trip could be sketchy...  It was, however, one of the better days for photos we have had in a while!
 Some of the local bighorns were out munching
 Nice textures in this view
 Looking down from the Palmer Trail
 Niobrara Trail with nice views over the shoulder

I didn't necessarily buy them for this kind of run, but what the heck - I ran in my new blinding-white Saucony Mirage shoes and they performed quite well on the trails considering they are a lightweight road trainer.  If I like them, I'll do some sort of review in the near future as they are a minimal heel-to-toe drop at only 4mm differential.  Nothing seemed weird and cushion was great, so we'll see...
 Everything is sunny except the Peak
 Blue skies and singletrack...
 ... and more singletrack!!
 Cannot run out of views at Garden of the Gods!!!
 (no caption needed...)
 Kathleen and Tammy...
 ...Cruising through the trees

We had a nice surprise when we ran into Tammy out on the trails.  Considering this is basically her (& her Hubby) "backyard" trails, it is weird that we have never run into them before now when running here.  She was out for her long run trail marathon prep, so she did a couple small loops with Kathleen and I peeled off toward home.   
Historic Blair Bridge on the way home

While the wind was everything I expected and more on the way home, it was manageable for the most part.  The gusts were the worst part - at times I was running in place when it was a headwind, and then there were moments of running sprint pace up hill with the tailwind.  It was a nice long run though, and the sunshine was awesome.  I ended up at 15 miles for the round trip with 2000' climbing.  Post soon to follow about today's run - another good one!!!

Shoes - K Saucony Xodus
S Saucony Mirage
I have been trying out some McDavid True Compression Recovery Pants after the last 5 runs I have done.  Our friend Tim is their flagship endurance athlete and has been quite emphatic about the recovery virtues of their product.  So far, I would have to say that wearing these for about an hour after the run is about the equivalent of a cold soak - minus the teeth chattering, shivering, and hours of hypothermia!   One of the things I have also noticed is that the tight keeps your muscles warm for an extended period post-run, which allows for multiple stretching sessions without the worry of over stretching cold muscles.  I definitely think they work well for recovery, and now I am going to pick up a pair of their True Compression leg sleeves to use during the run.  More to come on that... 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Just running along...

Planned ahead for the weekend and had a run scheduled with Tim up in Boulder.  It was a good week to run with him as he just placed 2nd at the Cool 50k+ last weekend (actually 34.2 miles), so he was still recovering which meant I could run with him without coughing out a lung ;-)  Watch for some stellar results from Tim this year - visit his blog to check out a pretty stout race schedule he has planned!  Kathleen had to work and had a planned weekend off from running, so it was a solo trip up north.  (If my math is right, Senor Long now owes us a trip or two south....)

So the plan was to run out on the northeast part of Boulder in the Teller Farms trail network, which is new for me and basically runs right out of Tim's doorstep.  Goal was to run 15 miles on rolling trails at a fairly controlled clip - sounds good!  After getting gear ready and checking for some early race reports form Moab Red Hot, it was off and running.  We hit the weather jackpot - upper 40's, sun, and NO WIND.  Sweet.
 Expansive mountain views...
 ...from just about every angle

We had a great run - chatting about everything under the sun.  (Then I found out Tim doesn't like to talk much while running - uh, oh!!!)  In the course of conversation, however, Kathleen and I officially signed up as crew for Tim's run at Leadville 100 - sounds like some fun in August awaits!!  At least for us - we'll be driving around, wearing down sweaters when it's freezing cold, eating real food, etc.  Oh, and NOT running 100 miles above 10,000 feet elevation :-)  We logged a very solid 15 miles and then headed over to an awesome neighborhood restaurant - Serranos.  An enormous Breakfast burrito was just the ticket after a good run!  Check them out if you are over near Boulder Reservoir and need some grub.  Good times!

Shoes - Pearl Izumi SyncroFuel XC

Follow Up Run

Headed over to Ute Valley Park this morning, not sure what to expect from the legs after a solid effort yesterday.  Since it is a relatively contained park, it is always easy to cut it short if you have no legs.  Pleasantly for me, after a little initial creakiness warmed over, I had pretty decent legs today.  While it was nice and sunny again, there was a crisp reminder in the air that a little bit o'winter is still in the neighborhood and a nice stout breeze to accompany that reminder!
 Freshies on the Peak
 Run the gauntlet
 Trail on Ice or under water - your choice!
 Who can resist singletrack and blue skies???
Mini-Iceberg blocks the trail

Had a great run again with 11 miles and enjoyed another splendid "winter" day.  It has been an off couple of weeks, with a lot of stuff going on - hoping to get back in the swing next week!  Happy Trails...

Shoes - Pearl Izumi SyncroFuel XC

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Last week, for some reason, I started musing about doing the Silver Rush 50 Mile Mountain Bike Race  on July 16.  I did it years ago and ended up having one of those Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad days.  I (we) trained hard that year.  The course starts at an altitude of 10,000 feet and goes up from there.  Riders hit the 12,700 foot mark four times on the out and back course.  We trained on parts of the course three times before the race, spent lots of time over the weekends riding at altitude in Winter Park and Breckenridge ranging in altitudes from 9000 to 12,000 feet.  I drug Steve on so many 40+ mountain bike rides it's not even funny (he is a good sport).  Most were fun and scenic, and some were not-so-fun," just get-er-done, rack-up-the-hard miles" kind of rides.  Quite frankly, I was well trained, confident (which I normally am not), and expecting a good ride.  My goal time was 6 hours, 15 minutes, which was quite realistic and doable on an average good day.  My "secret" goal time was 6 hours (5:59, really) - possible on a perfectly fantastic day which I thought COULD happen!  Long story short, it wasn't a good day.  Among a few other little maladies, altitude sickness was the "big one" that got the best of me which was odd considering the amount of altitude training we did.  My actual ride time recorded on the bike computer WAS 6:15 but the elapsed/finish time was 55 minutes over my goal time.  Embarrassed and demoralized,  I tried to put on a happy face but was feeling far from the gracious countenance I tried to project.  Bummer.  Big time. 
Deerfield Reservoir - Black Hills, SD
Over this past year, I finally realized that the poor ride  that day was the sub-conscious catalyst for my move away from the bike. So now, I MIGHT be ready to get back on the bike and redeem myself - never mind I haven't been on a bike for over two months.  We'll have to hope for intelligent muscle memory, right?  :-)  Who knows - once I get a few rides in (hopefully it warms up soon),  this whole notion of redemption and Silver Rush might get thrown out the window - my desire to ride just hasn't been there much over the past years.  But, maybe the desire won't wane and the bike training might commence.  My initial "training" plan will be to trail run 3 or 4 times a week and ride twice - starting first on the road bike, concentrating on just building miles in the legs (and bottom side) - one long mileage day and one shorter.  We'll see if two days on the bike is sufficient.  And hills.  Lots of hills.  We live in a great area for hill training.  I used to be a decent climber - hopefully this older body can re-capture some of that efficiency.   Eventually, the mountain bike will be the main tool for the long ride.   Of course, we will be FORCED to do lots of rides and runs up high - a fantastic excuse to head to the mountains!
 Mid Mountain Trail - Park City, UT
Now we'll see.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  I reserve the right to change my mind.  Possibly several times.  :-)

Happy Trails this week!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Good Riddance Global Warming

Quite the volatile weather week we had - talk about some wild swings in temperature and conditions!  After a marginal 7 mile run on mostly dry and icy trails Saturday morning, we were treated to 4" of freshies on the trail Sunday morning to start our run.  Thought for a while about going over to do a trial at the local gym and just run treadmill - but naw, vetoed that idea after thinking about it for thirty seconds or so.  We bundled up, headed out, and timed it right to get some nice sunshine in during the run - which was great as it was the only window of good sun we had all day!
 Checking out the neighborhood snow situation
Group Photo - Traction devices ready!
 Nothing like first tracks

So with the wind blowing pretty good, we opted out of any exposed routes and headed over to Ute Valley Park.  Need to be sharp running technical trails covered in fresh snow, so this would be a good mental as well as physical workout - all while staying predominantly out of the wind.  Since we have not had an abundance of snow this year, it was a nice change of pace to crunch through the fresh powder on a cool morning, all while enjoying the bright sunshine that has been absent from Colorado (and many other states) for most of the week.  (Dang Canadians sending all their crappy cold fronts down here...)
 Dropping in below the rim - and out of the wind!
 Great day for a run
 Basking in the sun
Not many tracks on the technical stuff - most stayed on the wide trails
You can tell the dog tracks - following their "own" trail!!!
Kathleen coming through the trees
Ute Valley, with Blodgett Peak falling prey to the incoming cloudcover
Not sure what's going on here.  The City did a bunch of drainage type work here late summer and into fall, and tore up a lot of trails in the process.  They still have this closed for whatever reason - nuclear waste maybe???  Might have to be forced to investigate past the fence when the snow leaves....
Untouched blanket of snow - peaceful
Parting shot - and clouds rolling in

We had a couple light periods of snow falling during the run, increasing in frequency as we started to head toward home.  The clouds came in pretty quickly, and stayed with us most of the day.  It is "funny" how fresh snow on the ground makes it a little more mentally tolerable to have cold temperatures.  While 20 degrees is quite balmy after our nice subzero stretch mid-week, it seems less irritating when there is some snow to show for it.  Must be one of those mental trickery issues.  It was nice to get out for 11 miles of trail/snow running, even though the fresh snow gets to be a little like running in sand.  Bracing right now for another round of negative temps, although this week's installment is scheduled for shorter duration and we may get back to some 50's by this weekend - gotta love the Rockies!!!  Happy Trails!

Shoes - K Asics 2150 Trail
S Pearl Izumi SyncroFuel XC

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

So this is "The Catch"?

62 to -17  in 72 hours....

When you have a day in January like we had Saturday, where all is right in the running universe and warm rays of the blazing solar orb radiate across your running form as your well-oiled machine effortlessly glides across the trails, sauntering through a glorious mid-winter run - you take pause to stop and think, I live in the Rocky Mountains and this IS winter - there must be a catch...

And did you notice - close to a 100 degree temperature shift between a balmy 62 to -35 windchill???!!!
Welcome to the Rockies!

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