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

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Snow, Cheyenne Mountain, Biking, and Palmer Lake

Time to get caught up on some posts here.  This will be a two week wrap up so let's get rolling.  Aside from some current busy-ness outside of running, we have done some different running of late.  I realized that I spent a good portion of late Spring and most of Summer getting in some great long trail runs at a pretty casual pace.  It dawned on me that I may have sacrificed some level of fitness doing so, so we started a few weeks before Leadville trying to get in one "tempo" (and I use that word lightly...) run per weekend in place of a gorgeous, spectacular trail run like we would normally do.  We don't geek out on numbers much, but since some of our normal handful of readers dig that stuff, we're talking in the 8-12 mile range, 7:15's to 7:35's pace for Mr HT (no details will be divulged by me for the other HT, except to say these days are mostly gone and she is getting some Mojo back...), on Santa Fe trail which is flattish as it gets around here and mostly coarse granite surface. And I did say "we" as Kathleen is certainly improving overall in the health category, for which I am most grateful!  Needless to say, this has put a serious dent in the photography files as I have no intention of carrying a camera on bust-out runs :))  So, on to the running!
Snow capped Pikes Peak

About a week and a half ago we had rain - 4.5 inches in 24 hours, an all time record  - and there was a foot of snow at the summit house of Pikes Peak - welcome Fall!  Considering we average 17.40 inches annually, that is big time for 24 hours!

Cheyenne Mountain on an awesome fall day!
Kathleen passes through the rock garden on Zook Trail

A week ago we high tailed it down to Cheyenne Mountain State Park to get in some superb trails under (once again) unbelievably blue skies.  It was downright warm for mid-September, for which there will be no complaints from these happy trail runners!  It was actually busy at the park compared to most visits, which would certainly be attributed to the fantastic day.  Of course we were in denial as to the yellows and oranges beginning to show in some trees, as that is the all-too-familiar sign that snow in these parts is "around the corner".  So, as always, we have to take full advantage of great days like these!  We followed for the most part the Xterra Half Marathon course, then threw in some extra at the end.

A little video coverage at the top of North Talon trail - very sweet trails up there! 
Kathleen cruises North Talon
Did we mention the views?  Wouldn't you like to run here...?
First taste of Fall
Rolling the Blackmer Trail - did I mention it was awesome out?

We rolled up some of the best trails in the park, mostly staying up on the hardier terrain to avoid the "don't wander far from the trailhead" types.  It was all we could do to drag ourselves down off these trails on such a great day.  So, we just kept going - soaking in as much as we could while the legs held out, banking some quality time ahead of "those months" when runs like this are a distant memory!
Kathleen on Blackmer, Cheyenne Mountain on the horizon
One of the few smooth parts of Medicine Wheel Trail
I have my eye on you ... by the way, you got any snacks????
Stopped for a group photo before heading down

After dropping down to park level, I headed out for a final small loop, not wanting the day to end.  The combo of Medicine Wheel, Zook, Turkey Trot and Talon were just enough to finish off the legs and let me call it a day.  It is hard to come up with additional superlatives to describe both the day and the run - awesome!  Kathleen finished with 14 miles and 2500' gain, and I snuck in an extra two for 16 miles and 2750' gain.  Definite good times!

Shoes - K Nike LunarFly Trail
S Brooks Cascadia

Kathleen's view from high up on a road biking loop - we live in a pretty sweet place!

Monday's have been road bike days for Kathleen - it has been helping keep the body leveled out and also helping to relieve a little of the pounding while the medication for Graves Disease gets completely dialed in.  It has been a great mix, and with views like the one above, who wouldn't want to get out on the bike???

Out today - running Santa Fe Trail in Monument, CO

Skip forward a week, and this morning we headed a short trip north to park at the Baptist Road trailhead for the Santa Fe Trail.  We were looking to get in a longer, steady run, something that is also generally lacking from our repertoire.    If you have ever run the Pikes Peak Road Runners Winter Series, we started where Race 3 always commences.  This is going to sound like a broken record but who cares - it was flat out fantastic today - crystal-clear blue skies, with temps in the high 70's - bring it on!
 Santa Fe Trail heading toward Palmer Lake
Palmer Lake, CO

Our goal for the day was to run out to Palmer Lake - the northern terminus of the Santa Fe Trail - and see how we were feeling.  We ran the loop around the lake while we were there, then headed back down.  As almost always on this end of SF Trail, it was a headwind going out, combined with uphill.  So, you can almost always negative split your run, which is good mental training to keep it rolling and not lollygag on your return trip!  It was starting to get fairly warm, especially for late September, on the way back but we rolled it out nicely, making sure to enjoy the splendid day. 
Back at the trailhead, mission accomplished

We were able to get in an even 13 miles at a nice, steady pace, which went absolutely according to plan.  It is quite difficult to explain how great it was today and how good both of us felt on the run.  It was definitely a Happy Trails kind of day :))  It was made even better by running into our friend Jon at the trailhead, as he was rolling through at the finish of another epic mountain bike loop.  Shortly after that photo was taken at Cheyenne Mountain last year, Jon's back went out completely on a ride, so it was great to see him out getting big-time mountain rides in!!!

Shoes - K Nike LunarFly Trail
S Brooks Cascadia

We even threw in some really odd activity for this pair - this afternoon we went over to Colorado College, where I ran 2 miles on their sweet synthetic track so that I could try out some new kicks before soiling them!  So I even got in a track workout, then we topped it off by running some barefoot strides on the astroturf soccer field to relax the feet.  How's that for diversity?  All in all, it has been a great couple weeks and we are hoping for some good Fall running to continue - have an awesome week!
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