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

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Chugging Along

Oops... it appears we missed the month of March.  Well, not really, but apparently we missed the urge to put up a post in the month of March :)  We are still getting out on the trails, albeit less mileage for Kathleen, but we are still out chugging along.  And it certainly helps that the weather has been unseasonably phenomenal in Colorado for this time of year.  Before we get to the weekend's activities, here are a few images from the prior month:
Group photo from a great run at Cheyenne Mtn State Park -
65 degrees on March 4!
 It has been nice enough that we have been out on the bikes too
 Since Daylight Savings Time, I have been chasing "daylight" quite a few nights post-work
Sunset on the Grandview Mesa - Palmer Park

Greenland Trail - Saturday

Now for current events, we headed out to Greenland Open Space on Saturday morning.  I have still been hitting some tempo training, and some harder trail outings, and have been thinking about taking another crack at the Greenland 25k race.  Twice previous, I have crashed and burned on lap 2 after going out over my head here.  So I have been training in an attempt to go out hot, and then hold it for both laps.  I have been encouraged by the fitness I carried over the winter months, and had a couple recent runs last weekend that had me salivating for a little redemption up north: - a first ever sub-7 pace tempo run and a 3 1/2 minute PR on the Falcon Trail at the US Air Force Academy.  So one of my goals for the day was to test the legs on Greenland and decide if I was in.  The weather forecast was for calm Saturday and WINDY Sunday - they lied.  We arrived at the parking area with some nice wind already pasting the hillsides, but there is a good chance for that on race day too, so it was put up or shut up.
Climbing the Kipps Loop switchbacks, overlooking Spruce Mountain Road - 
Kathleen in the center of the photo

Kathleen had no idea when I took the above photo that from my vantage point, I could see 2 runners on the climb below her.  Even in her post-RAI-dying-thyroid-slower state, they never caught her on the climb (or at all for that matter).  She was stoked later when I pointed it out! ;-)
Spruce Mountain from Kipps

Lap one for the course starts out an old doubletrack road that is quite sandy.  It is a gradual climb to the base of Kipps Loop (mile 3.5), which then switchbacks to the high point on course (mile 5).  Off the back saddle of Kipps, it is mostly descent to the finish, if you are on the 8 M course.  The 25k and 50k go most of the way back to the start, before doubling back over the Greenland trail to the dirt road and repeating the Kipps Loop.  So lap 2 of the 25k (and 3 & 4 of the 50k) are slightly different than lap 1.  Both previous attempts at this race, I have cramped badly on lap 2, especially coming off the saddle on the descent, which is where you make up time from the climbs.  Saturday I guessed at the turn point (off a little) and hit it at 59:40. 
Great to see Kathleen running!

At the trail junction going back out, I waited for Kathleen coming off the hill as she was finishing the loop out to the trailhead for a nice 8.1 mile jaunt.  She was running great and enjoying the day - 75 degrees in March at Greenland is pretty sweet!  After seeing her off, I headed off for lap 2.  I was pushing pretty hard into the headwind heading out and I was curious to see how I would hold up.  I hoped to simulate the race to see where the fitness was at, of course always hoping for race day to show with NO STINKING WIND.  I was pretty excited to hit the saddle at the top of Kipps on round two at low 8 average pace, and dropped off the back ready to let it roll in to the finish.  Much to my surprise, the legs held out really well until the flat straight heading in to the start.  About half mile out, I had the first alarm go off for calf cramp, shortly followed by more of the same.  However, I was close enough at this point that it didn't matter.  I was short of race distance at 15.12 (race is 15.54) but my time of 2:00:25 put me at a 7:58 pace, cutting 25 seconds per mile off my best race pace there.  Sweet!  So there was only one thing left to do - drive home, log on , and enter.  (Well, that is after BBQ at Broken Bones BBQ in Monument -pulled pork and sweet potato fries - and a Starbucks stop!!!)  So I guess that means I'm in ;-)

Shoes - K Nike LunarGlide
S Saucony Peregrine

Sunday - Red Rock Canyon
 Kathleen running sweet ridgeline singletrack - Codell Trail

Today we got a late start (again) and headed over to Red Rock Canyon Open Space.  It was already mid 70's when we rolled in, so the gusty winds were actually helpful in keeping us cooled off - which is weird to mention on April 1...?   Both of us were fairly tired and had lead in the legs, so it was a day to enjoy the scenery, kick up a little dirt, and be glad to have sweet trails to run.
 Climbing the Quarry Pass Trail
 Nice view of Red Rock Canyon, and the Garden off to the north
Kathleen hits the top of Roundup Trail
 It is funny how light angles change perspective - the water looks like Gatorade from here...
... but just brown from here!  One of the old mining ponds.

We enjoyed our run today - 8 miles and we were done!  And with the carryover from yesterday, we were also quite hungry - and what better way to cure that than to hit Rudy's BBQ which is only a block away.  We could smell the smoker when we were on Codell Trail and I thought about it the whole run!!!  Smoked turkey, green chile stew, and potato salad hit the spot.

Shoes - K Brooks Pure Flow
S Brooks Pure Grit
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