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

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Winter Maintenance

Aside from Kathleen's race last week, we have had a pretty low key month for running.  That was mostly by design - a little mental and physical break.  I logged 1340 miles (wow...I know, staggering) for 2010, not bad for the third year of being a runner, and basically a 2 (sometimes 3) day per week runner at that.  I really would like to remain healthy, so a little ease up was a good plan.  Plus, been doing some runs with no Nathan pack/no camera/no frills/no blog....what?

My folks were here and stayed with us for 2 weeks during the Christmas break, after enduring extreme amounts of travel crap from (in my opinion) an inept Delta Airlines.  I mean, canceling 500+ flights in one day for an inch of snow in Atlanta?  Pansies.  Then sending them through Salt Lake City to come to Colorado and missing the last flight of the day? ... Don't get me started!

Anyhoo, the couple diversions like snowshoe and ski outings really help during the cold months.  It is tough to maintain really consistent training on the trails at this time of year with our weather being back in the standard El Colorado pattern.  For those residing in normal, predictable weather climates, El Colorado is a trend of unseasonably warm days (usually during one's work week) followed by a dramatic plummet in temperatures and the coinciding unstable weather such mercurial plunges produce.  It is not uncommon to have 50+ degree temperature changes in a daylight period when said disturbance rears its head.  And it just so happens, we're in the middle of one of those fine meteorological wonders today.  Saturday we ran early before Kathleen went to work but it was already a balmy 26 degrees with no wind and sunny skies.  Six miles and a nice run.  Take my word for it - no pics.   It got all the way to 56 degrees and after an afternoon errand, I got a wild hair, donned shorts and headed over to Ute Valley for run #2 ahead of Sunday's predicted arctic plunge.  Another 6 miles of sweet, muddy/icy, slimy trails - it was great!  Everyone else had the same bug as the trails were packed - bikes, runners, hikers, dogs - calm before the storm!
El Colorado moving in...Notice the crow hovering overhead,
hoping for a runner's carcass that stayed out too long in the cold!!!

So this morning, on cue, we had clouds smothering down on the front range, with the early temp of 33 degrees quickly dropping to 26 feels like 14 at run start.  Gotta get moving!  From the start, it was spitting the fine snow crystals which are easy to ignore while running.  We headed over to Ute Valley Park in order to stay out of the wind and, for the most part, it was quite comfortable.
Heading up from the arch
 Cold and gray - and empty park trails...
 Snowy singletrack

Unlike yesterday's freeway traffic on the trails, it was quiet and peaceful in Ute today.  It is enjoyable to run with the lightly falling snow - sounds are muffled and the crunch of your footsteps allow an almost metronomic trance to fall over your run.  About half way through the run, the snow started to pick up a bit and a noticeable temperature drop ensued.  With the change came some new slickness to the already re-frozen mud from Saturday and a layer of white to hide the ice.  It was time to enter the winter run mantra zone - soft footfalls, close attention to feedback from the trail, watch for the light sandstone caps to skip across, avoid the ice flows....  This is a good zone as it recaptures the mental attention and brings a close connection to the trail.
 Watch that ice!!!
Peaceful run

We had a great day on the trails and are starting to have a bit of renewed energy for the runs.  We will continue to keep it a bit calm for the next few weeks, including a potential ski or two and another snowshoe outing.  It is good to mix it up for the winter months.  We finished with 11 miles and a satisfying cold run in the snow.  Hope your winter training is going well - Happy Trails!

Shoes - K Asics 2150 Trail
S Pearl Izumi SyncroFuel XC
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