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

Sunday, January 29, 2012

FUN!!! Red Rock Canyon

The forecast for today was 59 degrees and full, brilliant sun.  Jumping from bed this morning, I peeled up the blinds with great expectation and lo and behold, no sun BUT we did have our familiar howling winds to greet us.  No worries.  After a week and a half of battling the crud (and, being the kind and generous person I strive to be, shared aforementioned  crud with Steve - oops), we were chomping at the bit to get out for a good trail run.  FUN was the rule for today. Not TRAINING but FUN.  And Red Rock Canyon fulfilled our requirement.
It was a windy and wild hair day.
Steve on what we call the "Fruita" trail (the REAL name is Codell Trail).  Very desert-like.
Looped around the bluff and now descending the Fruita trail
The trail surface and color has changed.....  Garden of the Gods is perched magnificently in the background.
Great open spaces - This is an area with a great network of trails.  Behind Steve, where the line of red rocks ends, is the connection over to Intemann and Section 16 which can connect to a whole other trail area in Cheyenne Canon.  Miles and miles of high quality trail to be explored........
I love the color contrast - red-orange rock mixed with the dark green.  Brilliant blue sky would have completed the contrast nicely.
Team HT at the Quarry
It's enjoyable rolling the constant undulations.  Nothing flat here, thankfully.  I would get bored with straight and flat.
Contouring one the hillsides
The fun zig-zag of the trail....  Red Rock Canyon offers a diverse landscape - from the red and green canyons up close in this photo, to the gray rock and and more open tread of the Fruita trail that starts at the bluff in the distance at the top of this photo.
The red arrow points out our local stairmaster workout (and Pikes Peak looming on the left) - the beloved Incline.  2000 feet elevation gain in 1 mile with 3000 steps.  It is a great, fast, well-rounded workout.  Good climb up, nice descent on Barr Trail on the way back.
Finished up with another quick pass on Fruita.  Great day on great trails with great company (Steve).  Because of the crud thing this past week and neither of us feeling overly peppy yet, we didn't want to push too much and were happy with a fun 10 miles for the day.  Traditionally, December and January have always been our "slacker" months.  February marks the start of ramping back up on miles and intensity (hopefully!).  Headed home and re-fueled with Monte Cristo crepes (gluten-free!) - scrambled eggs, black forest ham, swiss cheese, covered with a fresh stawberry-blueberry puree.  GOOD STUFF!!!
Happy Trails this week!!!
Shoes:  S - Nike Pegasus 
K- Nike Lunarfly Trail

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Flying Solo on Falcon Trail

With all the crazy restrictions and the all-too-confusing DEFCON color coordinated alert scales used at the local military installations, it has been a LONG time since we have been on the Falcon Trail. I heard from a trustworthy source that Falcon was in good shape AND had a green light for civi's.  With Kathleen having caught the crud from a coworker, I decided to tackle the long route on Saturday since it is so close to home.  Normally we would park at the stadium trailhead and run this as a loop, but for some reason I had it in to run in from the horse trails up on Blodgett, run the loop, and then CLIMB back out to finish.  It would be a good test of the winter fitness and the ice-induced hip strain I have been nursing.
 Over the ridge from Blodgett, the USAFA in the distance

Starting from this area, there is about a 2 mile drop in on a variety of dirt roads and horse trails to link up with the Falcon Trail.  Given our bizarre winter to date, there were rare patches of snow and almost no mud.  It was gray and cool at the start but forecast was for some sun and upper 50's so I was optimistic that the finish would be much warmer.
 Finally on Falcon - nice luge trail through the rocks
 Nice views along the creek
 That cave could be emergency shelter in a storm!
 Center of campus - Chapel on the skyline
Circa 1860's - not sure if it is the "original" glass, though!

It was indeed good conditions on the trail.  The back side was completely dry and I encountered no ice until dropping out of the Stanley Canyon trailhead to the northeast.  Down from there to the road there were a couple sketchy spots that required some mindful attention.  With the temperature in the mid 40's, there was just enough of a slimy surface on the ice to make it snot slick.  I have been enjoying the consolidated snow traction on the Saucony Peregrine, but it is definitely NOT an ice shoe (not many are...).  I traded places quite a few times with guys on bikes - passing on the climbs, getting passed on the descents.  it was such a great day to be out and the forecast high winds we have endured lately took the day off.  So it was definitely a good day to be out on the bike - a couple guys made mention that they left early to beat the wind but were wishing they would have started an hour later for warmer temps!!  

I fatigued noticeably by the time I climbed the ridge above the golf course on the north side of the Academy.  This is, after all, January  and I have not been maintaining the mileage I did in the fall.  I made a conscious effort to ignore the Garmin as I knew at that point I still had 7 or 8 miles to go.  Running out the long meadow below the BX, I passed two cyclists that I had traded spots with 4 times.  They had laid their bikes in the grass and stood beside the trail with their thumbs out as I went by.  I got a good laugh and they shouted encouraging words since they were almost done with their loop!  On the trail above the BX, I caught wind of Burger King.  Now I am not a fast foodie, but why after almost 15 miles does that smell SO GOOD???  I contemplated the emergency cash stash in my Nathan pack and thought about sauntering in to the BK and getting a Whopper, Animal Style, if you know what that is ;-)  Gotta stay clear of the bread, you know???  But alas, with a 2 mile climb out of the Academy staring me in the face, that thought was fleeting...
 Exit gate - depart from the Falcon Trail and head UP
 Blodgett Peak

The next trail beta I need to work out is a route that starts at Blodgett Peak Open Space and gains access to the horse trails I dropped in on today.  That would certainly put this run well over 20 miles and make for a good mid-summer long run bonanza.  I am thinking this might involve connecting to the West Monument Creek Trail, which drops in the "V" on the right side of the photo.  This gets sticky as Colorado Springs Utilities parked a water treatment plant on the creek and "interrupted" access to the trail.  However, there are people who know ways around such things.  :)
 AFA water treatment facility on the hill to the left,
and one of their reservoirs below right
 Can't stand still long - still have to climb out over that ridge
Back over on our side of town - looking over Mt St Francis,
home of The Sisters of Saint Francis of Perpetual Adoration
As you can see, I made it out alive!  17 miles with just under 2600' climb.  That was a long run for me at this time of year, however, I enjoyed the test of fitness and found out that I still have a good base.  If you are in this area, get out and run the trail - it is not often in January that Falcon is this free of snow and ice.  And you never know when they might close access again...  Happy Trails

Shoes - Saucony Peregrine

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Happy Trails in January

It is January, right?  I thought I might check into it since the normal weather cues that usually tip one off to the presence of WINTER are by and large missing in action in these parts of Colorado.  Other than a few decent storms that have left us some seriously icy trails up on the western areas of town, it has been downright balmy.  As any good trail runner would do in this scenario, we have to take advantage of the conditions - sort of that 'Make Hay while the Sun Shines' mentality!! 

As had been ever so briefly mentioned in the previous monologue, a slight issue flared up on the measly 6 miler at Bear Creek Lake which I have had to baby a bit the last few runs.  With that, and the aforementioned icy trails west and up the side of yonder hills, we regretfully passed on the Ponderous Posterior 2012 edition.  It is a great mid-winter, get out and socialize, and mingle with trail luminaries (such as JT) but the thought of spending the entire spring nursing hip/groin issues due to a silly ice incident made the decision easy. 

Saturday was a VERY nice day and we used the sunshine and warm temps to get in a nice flat tempo run on the Santa Fe Trail.  We worked ourselves pretty hard but are enjoying the continued attention to maintaining a bit of speed.  We also met some new trail running folks while we were out that have been at some of the same races we have - always nice to have some familiar faces to pass while out doing what we love!

When we woke today to brilliant gray skies, I must say we were less than enthusiastic about getting the motor running and hitting the trails.  Seriously now, gray sky and 50 degrees in January, in Colorado no less, is worthy of a bit of sour puss, right???  We decided to head over to Palmer Park again as we had thoroughly enjoyed our run there back in the start of December.  It was readily apparent from our first miles that the gray skies had been no deterrent to the throng of other trail users - it was game on!  Mountain bikers, trail runners, hikers, a bazillion dogs - everyone was jockeying for their piece of the outdoor space with the 50 plus degree weather.

While we both felt less than stellar (even talked about driving back home :-o ) taking the first steps from the trailhead, we gave it the "couple mile" grace period before passing judgement on the legs and are glad we did.  Despite the lack of dopamine generated by the gloomy skies, we warmed up nicely and got into a nice mellow rhythm, enjoying the trails, chatting with other trail users and their pups, and soaking up a pleasant vibe from the pure delight of running sweet trails - ever have that transcendent feeling on your runs?  I must say, Jim's post from earlier in the week replayed in my head a time or two and brought a smile to my face as we tread across the technical terrain at Palmer Park. 

I even gave the Cascadia's a shot at a redemption run today.  While they have spectacular ice traction, they do irritate my toes a fair amount and Brooks was far less than helpful when I contacted them after the Barr Trail disaster in them.  I doubt I will  wear this beast many more times and will most likely send it's slightly used carcass on to a worthy cause for "re-issue".   Worse things happen I suppose.  All told, it ended up being a really nice run and we enjoyed the day, even though we had contemplated bagging the run before it ever started.  Sometimes you just have to give the mind a chance to "warm up", along with the legs and lungs.  Once engaged, it turned out to be a great day to run after all!

12 miles
Shoes - K Nike Lunarfly Trail
S Brooks Cascadia

Enjoy some pics from the day:
Kathleen getting things rolling
Surveying the landscape from Grandview Overlook - note Garden of the Gods in the distance
Cruising below the Grandview mesa
Perspective is everything...
This was only two feet to the left of where the above photo was snapped.
Yeah... photography geek moment there...
Enjoying the sandstone singletrack
The pink really stands out on a gray day!!!
Running the sweet cliffside on Kinnickinick Trail
Heading out - just about done for the day
Parting shot - Happy Trails!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Funk-y PR

Wow - has it really been 32 days since a key was tapped on this domain???  As a matter of fact, it has and it marks the longest period of inactivity here since we started this blog in 2008.  So what in the world is going on?...

Generally and for the most part, business as usual.  Still running, though at times not nearly as much.  And some good runs - we have photos to prove it  Fairly healthy, though challenged as it has been the whole last year.  Then the holidays were mixed in there.  My (Steve) folks were out for 10 days, and as always is the case with them, they ran us ragged - 24/7 motion for them at 69 & 66 yrs old!  But it was a great visit as always.

Closed out the old year with 1440 miles run, another 350 or so on the bike, along with some XC ski and snowshoe outings and it was a pretty good 2011.  Fulfilled my obligation to race at least once in the calendar year, so I got that monkey off my back.  A good overall year on the feet.  Hoping for more of the same this year, but wishing to combine it with much better health for the better half of HT (and more company from her on some long runs!!). 

So here's some flashbacks from the previous 768 hours - enjoy:

Kathleen enjoying 60 degree temps at Cheyennne Mtn in December??
The joy of Winter running

Great day on the trails
Cheyenne Mtn State Park run  - 14.5 miles, awesome day and we finished at 62 degrees!!

Christmas Eve - a little different story
The Garden in dress whites

After 11 inches of snow at our place on the 23rd, our Christmas Eve run was mostly bike path and multi-use trails.  Nice 11 miler!
A New Venue
Arkansas Riverwalk Trail - Canon City, CO - notice the ice floating down stream
Bridge near the end of the trail
Royal Gorge Route train depot
Plenty of ice on the river

We had to make a quick trip to Canon City the day after Christmas, so we brought some shoes and took a quick run on the Arkansas Riverwalk trail before heading home.  Nice little 6 mile diversion that we squeezed in to a short time window we had available - nothing spectacular as far as trail goes, just a totally new venue for us!  It was also in the upper 50's again.

Bear creek Lake Park - cold and super windy!!!
50 mph wind gusts and they're out ice fishing???
Small inlet at the lake

New Year's Eve (23rd Anniversary, if you are counting!!!) we had to make a trip up to Morrison, so we planned to shoe horn a run in at Bear Creek Lake Park while we were in the area.  It was 48 at 8 am when we left home.  By the time we hit Morrison, it was 31, spitting snow, and howling wind.  Problem was, we were dressed for 48....  We made the 6 mile Mt Carbon Loop and called it a day - we had to get in the car and head back to Colorado Springs!!  Lots of ice and big, frozen post-hole tracks in the trail on the north side of the creek.  Strained an old nagging groin injury that has been gone for more than a year - might keep me off the ice/snowpack trails for a while.  We saw two semis blown over on their sides on C-470 on our way out of Denver - sheesh!

Very cold early with some inversion - must have been "warm" on the peak!!
Pikes, majestic as always
Kathleen runs past the Siamese Twins
Cabin Canyon Trail
Niobrara Trail with stunning views!

This past Sunday we ran the Garden - ah, familiar trails and favorite places!!  It was fairly cold but manageable and there was barely any snow to be found, with just a few testy ice patches here and there in the shade and north facing trails.  After a double on Saturday for me, I was not sure what to expect.  I ran from home and met Kathleen at the Garden.  We had a great day and enjoyed the bright sunshine, ending up with 15 miles and maybe a little spark returning to the runs.  

Happy Trails!
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