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

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Longest...Run...Yet

It has already been a good week of running and the weekend, the source of the majority of my quality runs, is only half done.  With the DST bringing wonderful daylight to my post-work hours, two nice runs were already in the bank before the weekend hit, including a good outing Wednesday where Kathleen and I enjoyed 64 degree running temps after 6 PM.   After that run, we were talking at dinner and I said - I think I'll shoot for 20 Saturday.  Now, for most of you, that is no big deal.  However, for quite some time "20" has been one of those mental blocks.  You must remember, most of our mileage is exclusively on dirt and there is nothing flat in Colorado, so this is not your average long run number.  Anyhoo, I had it in mind all week to break through that ceiling and the weatherman was really helping my cause with the weekend forecast, now I just had to decide where I wanted to run.  Kathleen had to work and so it was going to be a solo outing, so non-boring had to be a part of the equation.  Originally I had eyeballed Spruce Mtn / Greenland area because the big loops provide an easy outlet for long training runs.  However, I decided to run from our front door, through the Garden and up into Pike Nat'l Forest, then catch Rampart Range Road, back through the Garden and home.  I was hoping my calculations would work out, and was glad we hopped in on this run back in January as it provided beta on some extra goods above the Garden that we never knew about.
New singletrack in Blair Bridge Open Space
Above the beaten path

So the run starts out a bit on the urban side, following the trail along Flying W road up and over, then catching the bike path along 30th street to get over to the Garden.  For whatever reason, I always dislike running the blacktop bike path, so I hopped off onto some fresh singletrack we have seen in passing which headed up to the trail connector for the Blair Bridge Open Space.  There was a nice view from the ridge and it helped cut out 1/2 mile of pavement so that was cool.  I was wearing the pod early on for a little distraction, but when I crossed under 30th and dropped onto the trails in the Garden, that got stashed in the pack. 
Weathered remnant
Looks like the Peak is just over the crest...

After exiting the Garden above the Palmer trail, I continued on the trudge up to gain the ridge above Queen's Canyon.  Certainly the most taxing climb of the day, I was reluctant to push hard because I was only 5 miles in.  So I hiked a coupled of the game trails that go straight up the ridges.  It wasn't long before I turned back to these views:
Far above the Garden on the ridge
And to the north, Queen's Canyon and Glen Eyrie - 
the Castle is almost dead center of the photo if you can pick it out!
Over the hill, and there is snowcapped majesty

Made my way up the ridge and over to the lookout for Queen's.  Then it was a steep drop down past the water tank (off the right edge of the photo above), and I rolled out onto Rampart Range Road.  This is an old dirt road that starts in the Garden and travels along the spine of the Rampart Range all the way to Sedalia, just southwest of Denver.  It is of variable surface, but generally is not a regular car road.  It is mostly frequented by:  A - Recreational users headed for various rec use areas.  B - Those members of society looking for a place to hang out and get drunk, stoned, or otherwise abuse their bodies.  C - Worthless punks looking for natural scenic wonders to deface with graffiti, whose hands I would most likely cut off if caught in the act, but that's another story for a different post.   Since B & C are generally out under cover of dusk, mostly was watching out for A as those folks are sometimes distracted by destination rather than focused on other people on the road (ie, me!)   It is about a 3 mile descent on RRR and then you are back in the Garden.
The first balanced rocks you see on RRR - not many tourists 
here because you have to walk more than 20 feet from your car.
Then the Balanced Rock that everyone visits!
Sorry Renee, but this is the best Saguaro I could come up with :-) Kathleen was impressed!
Ah, the Garden!

It was good to be back down in the Garden.  I had a pretzel shaped loop in mind to run in order to snag some of the favorite trails.  It was also quite warm.  I started at 38 degrees and had ditched the light wool long sleeve up on RRR.  (When I finished, it was 65 at the house - sweet!)  It was surprisingly light for traffic on the trails considering the awesome conditions.  Rumor has it around 15 miles, I hit a low spot.  However, since I was by myself, this cannot be confirmed....
View from the Vistor's Center front door - good office view, eh???

I stopped by the visitor's center to fill my pack as I had gone dry about a mile back.  Ran into a mountain biker filling his bottles and we chatted up about the unfreakingbelievable weather.  Ate a gel, plugged back in to some tunes, and headed out of the Garden and back toward home.  I was growing a bit tired, and still had a bit of climb before hitting HT central, so I still had some work left.  The mile and a quarter grind up Flying W was certainly rough.  However, the haunting riffs from Mark Knopfler's frets on Dire Strait's "Brothers in Arms" soothed my mind on the climb and pulled me over the top.  Then some serious blistering tunes (including something from the Scorpions I haven't listened to in 20+ yrs...) drug me the rest of the way home. 
Home at last - these puppies carried me 21.03 miles
 Profile of the run
50,000 foot perspective

Made it home and stopped the Garmin at 21.03 miles - longest ever by far.  It was a great run and, while tired, nothing hurt and I was in relatively good shape!  I really enjoyed this, and it probably helped cement in my mind that I'll try out a 50k trail race this summer.  Seems kind of odd to skip a marathon in the progression, but since I'm not a pavement afficianado, such is life.  There is a possibility that this guy might even tackle the formidably frustrating task of attempting to coach a  non-structured runner such as myself through just such an event....we'll see ;-)  It was a great day - nothing spectacular for a lot of you I realize, but I had a blast and jumped that "hurdle"!!  Hopefully the next one will include my lovely bride!!!  Not sure what the legs will have today, but it's all icing after yesterday...
Speaking of icing, Kathleen stopped at Boonzaaijer's on the way home.... A little
Black Forest Roulade to congratulate and help "recovery" efforts

Shoes - Pearl Izumi SyncroFuel XC
Wore the McDavid Sleeves again - very nice
Stats: 21.03 Miles, 3479' elevation gain

17 comments:

Jennifer said...

Yay!!! What a cool run and look at that elevation change. Phew, you must have been tired. Sounds you had a great day and jeez, Brothers in Arms, funny I just listened to that recently too, what a great tune. 50K!? Go for it!

Generation X (Slomohusky) said...

WOW! can have one of those? - the nice 20 miler capped off with tastee baked treat. Great effort and looked pretty scenic as usual for ya. Barrier Shattered!!!

GZ said...

Wow! Awesome. Great stuff for March.

The run, that is. The cake too, but mostly about the run.

mtnrunner2 said...

HappyTrails - Great job, and terrific pics as usual! The weather was just awesome yesterday.

I met footfeathers (and GZ) yesterday on GZ's very long run. Nice guy, great runner (obviously), funny.

Little Miss Runshine said...

What a beautiful run!
I treat myself to treats after long runs too! Yesterday it was a cannoli! :)

ajh said...

You know I like those recovery treats! Awesome job. I never take 20 miles for granted. You did it on hard, hilly trails and surpassed the distance. Great pics. I love the ones looking down on the Garden. And yes that is some office shot. Do you see snakes at this time of year?

HappyTrails said...

Jen- Tired but good...

GenX - when you're in town, it's my treat ;-)

GZ - try the cake, you'll be hooked.

LMR - thanks for stopping by - mmm, cannoli!!!

AJH - snakes will come in about a month - we'll be sure to email photos of the first sightings!!!

Footfeathers said...

Rock solid, Steve! Shoot you're just a short jog short of a marathon and a regular old run away from a 50k. Looking good in your calf sleeves too. You and I wore identical gear (right down to the color of our Fuels) from the knees down yesterday.

Meg said...

Yummy, I'd run for cupcakes any day!!

Congrats on the 20 miles and I love the blue skies in the background of your photos. Priceless.

K-we ran by the skirt store today and the new color is PURPLE. Socks, skirts, tops...very YOU and very cute!!!

HappyTrails said...

mtnrunner2- Tim is a bona fide good guy and outstanding runner. Only met GZ briefly in January, but after reading his blog for 2+ years I would say he is credible too!!

Tim- the sleeves are pretty good and make a noticeable difference when you trash the legs like that.

Meg- K likes purple!!!

Average A said...

Congrats! 20 is a HUGE number, and nevermind the fact you're doing it on trails! I can hardly run 20 on the flattest of flat roads - and right now I run 3 on trails and FEEL like I did 20 on the road -so this is VERY impressive! I applaud you. :)

Too funny about tourists needing to walk 20 feet from their cars. Ugh. Some gorgeous views they are missing out on!

I signed up for my first official trail race! :) It's a half marathon in December, so hopefully I'll have plenty of time of getting my legs used to the terrain and the climbing. I totally thought of you two as I signed up. You've been great an encouraging my running on the hills out here, but I still have that terrain barrier. The race I'm doing also had a marathon, 50k, and 50-miler, but I opted for the 'cute' distance as my starting point. Super excited & am sure I'll be asking for tips as I start training for it later this year!

Hope you had a good weekend. :)
A

Jill said...

That Kathleen is always thinking .. perfect celebration for an excellent run. I thought you may be thinking 50K in the back of your mind, and it's not a big deal to skip the marathon (there are some trail marathons though, too :)), you'll be a natural at the longer distance!

Enjoy the nice weather - at least through Monday!

runningredrocks said...

Awesome run Steve! I'm in PA visiting family, and ran an awesome 12.75mi. On the Appalachian trail yesterday -6 mi. up to an amazing overlook.... Wait til you see the pics.... Just fabulous! J and I are back on our training schedule for the Sageburner 50k, and we use the Santa Clarita schedule.... We really like it and it sure paid off for us at the Greenland 50k last year.... It builds your long runs up to 24 miles before you taper, and you do consecutive weekends of 20, 22, 24..... You just put in the date of your ultra and it will do the rest for you.... This weekend was only 12/8 ..... Which was nice after the mt. Marathon last
week...... This weekend is 14/8.... you should check it out if you haven't seen this schedule yet...:)

Christi said...

Awesome run! And what a great way to round out the day with some sweets!

Paige said...

GREAT job HT!!!

Glenn Jones said...

Wow. That "little" hill between 4.5 and 6.5 certainly would have had my heart racing!

Ace said...

Awesomeness! Well done. I love hitting those milestone numbers. 21 trail miles, mmm tasty.

Related Posts with Thumbnails