Thursday, December 31, 2009

Thursday, December 31 - The Ridge - Hiwan - Home

Time: 45.02
Distance:  6.23 miles
Effort: Tempo
Body: Good
Weather: Sunny and cool

Had to drop JP's car off to (finally) get snow tires put on it.  Ran home via a roundabout route through The Ridge and Hiwan neighborhoods.  Ran tempo effort.  Average pace was 7:14 over a hilly course with 907 feet of elevation gain (and a significant amount of downhill too).

Wednesday, December 30 - Hiwan - The Ridge Loop

Time: 1:28
Distance:  10.01 miles
Effort: Easy
Body: Fair
Weather: Sunny and cool

Out the door this morning at 7:15 a.m. to meet DW for a loop through the local 'hoods. Met DW at his place in the Hiwan neighborhood. Together we ran an easy-paced seven miles on the hilly roads of Hiwan and The Ridge subdivisions. It was a brisk, but beautiful early morning. 935 feet of elevation gain.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Monday, December 28 - Hiwan Hills - Downtown Loop

Time: 1:19
Distance:  9.89 miles
Effort: Moderate
Body: Good
Weather: Sunny and cool

Late afternoon hilly loop from the house through the El Pinal and Hiwan Hills neighborhoods.  From Hiwan Hills, I dropped down to Bear Creek, ran through downtown, did a quick loop around the south side of Evergreen Lake, up through Dedisse Park and back home along the People's Path parallel to Evergreen Parkway.  Finished the run in the dark.

Pushed the pace here and there, but just aimed to run a steady, consistent and moderate effort throughout.

1,195 feet of elevation gain.  Average pace was 8:04.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sunday, December 27 - Elk Meadow Open Space

Time: Who cares?
Distance:  2.6 miles
Effort: Hike
Body: Good
Weather: Sunny and cool

Late morning hike with visiting family, ages 7 - 72.  Great to be out on the trails with the gang.  Kids loved being pulling through the woods on their plastic sled.  And, a few of us got a respectable workout doing the pulling.  A great way to end what J & C are calling "the best Christmas ever!"

Saturday, December 26 -- North Evergreen Neighborhoods Loop

Time:  2:31
Distance:  17.07 miles
Effort: Easy
Body: Good
Weather: Cool and dark

After a great day eating, ice skating and hanging out with family, I stole out of the house around 3 p.m. for a long(ish) run.  I decided to do a loop through the three major neighborhoods of north Evergreen - Hiwan, The Ridge and Soda Creek.  

With all the roads snaking through these neighborhoods, there are innumerable options for stringing together loops of varying lengths. The roads were a mix of packed snow and bare pavement.  The route was pretty darn hilly, with a total of 2,025 feet of elevation gain over the 17 miles.  I ended the run on the snowy trails on the east side of Elk Meadow Open Space.  Got home just as the last vestiges of daylight were disappearing behind Mt. Evans. 

Friday, December 25, 2009

Thursday, December 24 - Elk Meadow Open Space

Distance:  3.97 miles
Effort: Moderate
Body: Good
Weather: Cool and dark

Snuck out late afternoon after a final trip to the grocery store in preparation for a Christmas Eve and Christmas Day feast with family in from far flung places (England, Kansas, Arkansas, Texas).  Tough to get out, given time constraints and the desire to spend as much time as possible with people you don't get to see nearly often enough.

Ran a short loop through the neighborhood, including the Sleepy-S, Elk Run, Meadow View loop in Elk Meadow Open Space.  Trails were, of course, snow-packed.  It was really nice to run on the snowy trails under the light of the moon.  One of the many splendors of a snow-covered landscape is how little moonlight you need to run at night, since the snow reflects all available light.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tuesday, December 22 - Upper Bear Road - Stagecoach Loop

Distance:  11.23 miles
Effort: Moderate
Body: Fair
Weather: Cool and dark

Late (too late) afternoon loop here in north Evergreen.  Ran from home, down Evergreen Parkway, up Upper Bear Creek Road, then up Whittier Gulch and Greystone Road to Stagecoach Road and back home through the southern park of Elk Meadow Open Space. 

With the winter solstice having just come and gone, I was hoping those two extra minutes before the sun set would permit me to complete this run before darkness set in. As has been the case too many times since the time change, I overestimated my speed and underestimated the rate at which the sun would set.  Ended up running about half of this run in the dark. At least I had the good sense to wear a reflective vest.

Felt pretty good, but there was definitely some lingering fatigue in the legs from Saturday's 35-miler.  Pushed the pace a bit on the middle section on Upper Bear Creek Road, which only gains about 300 feet over five miles.  I ran those miles at a 7:15 - 7:25 pace.

Average pace was 8:09 with 1,377 feet of elevation gain.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Saturday, December 19 -- HIghline Canal

Time: 5:35

Distance: 35 miles
Effort: Easy
Body: Good
Weather: Cool and sunny

Today's run was the longest run I've ever done...35 miles.  Left the house around 5 a.m. to meet up with Steve G. for a long run on Denver's Highline Canal Trail.  This mid-December run is an annual tradition with Steve and Kris L.  Well, it's a budding tradition since this is the second annual Winter Highline Canal 50-mile Run.  My plan was to run 30-35 miles, figuring biting off 50 miles at this stage of my training wouldn't be wise (and, I don't know that I could have made it another 15 miles, without entering the realm of pure agony).

Steve and I dropped my car at the 22-mile mark and headed over to the Highlands Ranch area where we hooked up with Kris, Phil K. and Thad, a friend of Steve's who was joining us for the first 13 miles.  We set off together right around 6:30 a.m., with the morning light just beginning to kiss the eastern sky.

Our goal was to keep the pace easy, with a target pace of 9:20. Steve's wife, Kathi, was going to meet us at a couple of spots along the route for reprovisioning.  The first 12 miles or so went quick and before I knew it we were at the Goodson Rec Center in Greenwood Village. We picked up some food, dropped some gear with Kathi and headed off. The sun now was up and the air was beginning to warm. It sure felt good to be running in shorts again.

Around the 20-mile mark, the dirt path along the canal turned to pavement.  Kathi met us again around mile 23, near the location where I'd parked my car a few hours prior.  My plan was to run a few more miles with the crew and turn around and run back to my car.  Soon after setting off from rendezvous #2, I decided to aim for an even 35 miles.  So, seven more miles on the pavement.  When the Garmin clicked 29 miles, I said farewell to Steve, Kris and Phil and returned to my car.  Those three were going the whole distance...50 miles. I managed to hold a low-to-mid 9 minute pace back to the car, but the last three miles were pretty damn uncomfortable. I was ready to be done.

Just over five and a half hours after we started, I was back at my car and pining for a burrito and the protein dosage it would provide.

I'm glad to know I can run for 35 miles, since the February Moab 50K is right about that distance (34 miles). The catch, of course, is that the Highline Canal is flat and the Moab course most certainly is not.

Can't wait to hear how the last 21 miles went for Steve, Kris and Phil.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Thursday, December 17 - Soda Creek Loop

Time: 36 minutes
Distance: 4.71 miles
Effort: Moderate
Body: Good
Weather: Cool and sunny

Racing back up the mountain to pick up J & C at the end of the second of two day-long meetings, I was very tempted to call it a night and get home. But, I had my running gear in the car...I had 30-40 minutes of available time...  Yes.  I am going to get in a couple of quick miles.  I ran a hilly loop through part of the Soda Creek neighborhood in Evergreen.  This high-end 'hood has a nice variety of options for loops.  Today's route was a mix of paved and dirt roads in the southern end of the subdivision.  Felt good to get out and dust out the cobwebs resulting from working into the wee hours last night.  654 feet of elevation gain.  Average pace:  7:47.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tuesday, December 15 - Whitter Gulch Road

Time: 51:33 
Distance: 6.29 miles
Effort: Moderate
Body: Good
Weather: Cool and sunny

Mid-afternoon run up Whittier Gulch Road from Stagecoach Road to Squaw Pass Road.  Total climb was 1,514 feet over 3.17 miles on a mix of pavement (1 mile) and hard packed dirt/snow.  Running at moderate effort, I made it to the stop sign at the top (9,260 feet) in 33:41.

Perfect day to run.  Sunny.  Only chilly.  No wind.  Great day.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009 - Boulder Loop

Time: 1:05 minutes
Distance: 8 miles
Effort: Moderate
Body: Very Good
Weather: Cool

Quick afternoon loop in Boulder up Mapleton, over the hump to Eben G. Fine park, up the ridge to the first picnic area on Flagstaff Road, down Flagstaff and Baseline to Broadway, through the CU Campus and back to the office via Folsom.  Body felt great today.  Felt like I wanted to push it, but kept things moderate to keep heart rate down.  1,484 feet of elevation gain.  8:11 average pace.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Saturday, December 12 - Elk Meadow - Hiwan Loop

Time: 45 minutes
Distance: 5.5 miles
Effort: Easy
Body: Fair
Weather: Cool

Quick late afternoon easy run up the Elk Meadow trail that parallels Evergreen Parkway.  Returned home via Bergen Parkway, Hiwan Drive and Bergen Peak Drive.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thursday, December 10 - C&O Canal - Crescent Trail

Time: 1:33
Distance: 12 miles
Effort: Easy
Body: Good
Weather: Cool

After a busy day at the HQ in Arlington, VA, I dashed back to my hotel, threw on the running clothes and hit the streets.  As I ran across Key Bridge over the Potomac River toward Georgetown, a cold wind was howling.  Once across the bridge, I dropped down to the towpath along the old Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and headed toward Maryland.

As I left Georgetown behind, the wind died down, the traffic noise faded and I settled into an easy 7:50 pace groove. I followed the towpath to just past Fletcher's Boathouse where the Capital Crescent Trail, a paved rails-to-trails path that runs all the way to Silver Spring.  I followed the Crescent Trail for about 2.5 miles to the run's six-mile mark.  I turned around here and retraced my steps back to the hotel.

I was really surprised at the number of bike commuters using the Crescent Trail.  There also were a surprising number of headlight-wearing runners on last two miles or so of the portion I ran.  I reckon I passed 10-12 runners headed the opposite way. I was passed at one point, as the trail climbed from the canal to the bluffs above.  I was so tempted to go with the guy, What made this especially hard was that I was passed on a climb. My mental conversation went like this:  "I run in the mountains!  I shouldn't be passed on a hill at sea level, right?" I managed to resist the temptation (and perhaps embarrassment) of overtaking him and stick with my plan to keep the heart rate low, since I've decided to do some focused work on building my aerobic base.  

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

December 9, 2009 - Washington, D.C.

Time: 1:41
Distance: 12.6 miles
Effort: Easy
Body: Good
Weather: Cool

Got off the plane today in Washington, D.C. thrilled to see the sun and to not be immediately chilled to the bone. With temps in the 40s, I knew right away a long run was in the offing. 

After work, I ran from my hotel in the Rosslyn 'hood of Arlington, VA, which is right across the Potomac River from Georgetown, bound for Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. The first couple of miles were along the west side of the river. There must have been some big rains around here because the river was lapping at the top of its banks.  I quickly made my way over Memorial Bridge, by the Lincoln Memorial and then onto the sidewalk that parallels Lincoln's reflecting pool.  I continued down the mall, past the WWII memorial and the Washington Monument.  

After I crossed 14th Street, I was running straight at the Capitol building. The light atop the dome was illuminated, signalling that Congress was in session.  I made my way past the many museums of the Smithsonian. As I approached Capitol Hill (it really is a small hill), I paused to have a look at the brightly lit congressional Christmas tree.  Beautiful.  Now on the Hill, I ran down East Capitol Street about a mile and a half and did a quick loop around Lincoln Park.

After a brief stop at a friend's house, I wound through some side streets and ran by a row house on Maryland Avenue, NE that I lived in for eight years in the 1990s.  Was surprised to see that the little Baptist church that used to be next door had been torn down and replaced by a couple of new row houses.  After passing Stanton Park, I made my way to Pennsylvania Avenue and ran that to the ellipse in front of the White House.  I paused here to join the phalanx of tourists and gaze at the White House Christmas tree.  (Not nearly as nice looking as the congressional tree).

Next I made my way back to the Potomac River and ran the bike path past the Kennedy Center and into lower Georgetown.  Once in Georgetown, I ran along a stretch of the C&O Canal towpath before hoping on Key Bridge to cross the river and return to Rosslyn and my hotel.

It was really nice to run again in shorts.  Took it easy on this run. My goal tonight was to run easy, keep the heart rate low and get in some miles. Mission accomplished.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Monday, December 7 - Treadmill

Time: 50 minutes
Distance: 8 miles
Effort: Moderate
Body: Good
Weather: Indoors

Dear Climate:

You've made your point that Mother Nature is not to be messed with.  We get it. She can, at any time, drop some weather on us that will disrupt our lives, plans and, in some cases, our safety. Sure, we sometimes forget how cold it can get. I know we in Colorado often are spoiled by our relatively moderate weather. Still, we haven't forgotten how to be tough when we need to be. And, you've forced us to exercise our toughness. So, enough with the frigid weather already. Please bring back the sun, and temperatures above least along the Front Range.

Thanks to your cold air, I yesterday confined my run again to the treadmill at the Buchanan Recreation Center in Evergreen.  I managed to warm up after about 1/2 mile of easy running, then ran six miles at a 7:24 pace. I cooled down with another  mile or so.  Despite the chill outside, I felt pretty good, but the time on the 'mill went slooooooow. I am eager to get back outside to run, especially since I bagged a long outside run on Sunday due to the cold.

So, again, bring back the sun and a bit of warmth.  Please.  Some of us have miles we need/want to run...outdoors!

Your Friend,


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Saturday, December 5 - Hiwan - El Pinal Loop

Time: 42:32
Distance: 4.98 miles
Effort: Easy
Body: Good
Weather: Cold

With darkness settling in, I was resigned to the fact I had let the day slip by as household chores had filled what was a pretty decent day. Yet, about the time the clock hit 5 p.m., I was struck by a dose of motivation.  Fearing the feeling wouldn't last, I quickly threw on cold weather gear (including reflective vest) and headed outside to bang out a few miles on the cold pavement.

Ran through parts of the Hiwan and El Pinal neighborhoods, taking note of the collection of X-mas lights dotting both neighborhoods.

Managed just under five miles with 609 feet of elevation gain. Glad to have gotten in a few miles, but disappointed I let the day slip away.  Will have to make up the mileage on a long run tomorrow.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thursday, December 3 - Treadmill

Time: 1:30 (estimated)
Distance: 10 miles
Effort: Hard - 5 x 1 mile
Body: Very good
Weather: Indoors

After three long days of meetings in a windowless conference room, I was eager for a hard run. After today's meeting, I headed to Buchanan Recreation Center here in Evergreen for a treadmill tempo workout. Ran 5 x 1 mile at a 6 minute pace with 800 meter recovery between intervals, plus one mile warm-up and one mile cool down.  Felt great for all five 1-mile sets.

iPod was blasting with a mix of Fountains of Wayne, Descendents, All, Bob Mould, Bouncing Souls, Armchair Martian and a half dozen other power pop ditties.  Made the time go by quickly.  

Typically, I find treadmill runs virtually intolerable. Today, though I really enjoyed it. I think having a plan for what I wanted to accomplish helped. Plus, I was eager to blow out the doors after those days sitting on my arse in meetings (albeit highly productive meetings).

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wednesday, December 2 - Elk Meadow - Hiwan Loop

Time: 54;07
Distance: 6:32 miles
Effort: Easy
Body: Good
Weather: Cold/Fresh Snow

Knowing today would the the second of three all-day meeting days, I decided to get up early and get in a run pre-work. Alarm went off at 5:45 a.m. Looked out the window and noted the three inches of fresh snow. And, it looked cooooold!

Managed to pry myself out of bed and slip on cold weather running gear. With headlamp in hand, I stepped out into the eerie silence that accompanies the fresh, new and pre-dawn world of the mountains in winter. For the first mile, with the wind gnawing at my cheeks and ears, I questioned the decision to get out of bed. After a mile, about the time I stepped onto the snow-covered Painter's Pause Trail in Elk Meadow, I was glad to be out. Suddenly, the focus that was devoted to the chill, now was redirected to the plethora of critter footprints that crossed the trail every 10-15 meters, to the squench...squench...squench...squench sounds my shoes made in the snow and to the muffled sounds car tires made on the normally noisy Evergreen Parkway.

These sights and sounds stole my mind away as my legs churned up the steady climb and short descent to the Buchanan Recreation Center ponds. I soon was winding my way through the Hiwan neighborhood. I was greeted first by a fox, then several men and women up early shoveling their driveways. Bad weather always seems to make people more friendly, at least when they are home safe.

It's supposed to be even colder tomorrow morning.  May have to jump on the treadmill for the first time this winter. That means another way early morning.  Ugh.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunday, November 29 - Hiwan - Troublesome Gulch Loop

Time: 47:20
Distance: 5.34 miles
Effort: Easy/recovery
Body: Good
Weather: Chilly

Easy loop through the Hiwan neighborhood via the Troublesome Gulch trail with David W. this afternoon. Twas a good opportunity to shake out the aches and fatigue of the 22-miler yesterday. Felt surprisingly spry, despite some lingering soreness in the quads and hips.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Saturday, November 28 - Highline Canal

Time: 3:05
Distance: 22 miles
Effort: Easy
Body: Good
Weather: Chilly

Got up early and met Steve G. and Kathy G. at 6 a.m. for a run on Denver's Highline Canal, a 66-mile canal, constructed from 1880-3, that runs northeast from Waterton Canyon to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal near Denver International Airport.

We parked at the Goodson Recreation Center in Greenwood Village and ran northeast on the canal path for 10.75 miles before turning around and running back to the car.

I'd never before been on the canal trail, but will be back soon. The path, which drops in elevation only about 32 feet over its entire 66-mile length, is nearly flat (a few very short and gentle hills are on the path, but not the canal) and the surface is dirt and crushed gravel. Aside from a few bike tire ruts now frozen in what was mud, it's a perfect running surface. A nice change from the hilly routes I've been doing recently for my long runs.

Steve and I ran the 22 miles at an easy, conversational pace, ending with an 8:35 per mile average pace. And, since we started the run so early, we were done and home by 10:30 a.m. or so.

Many thanks, Steve, for introducing me to the Highline Canal trail.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday, November 27 - Elk Meadow

Run: Elk Meadow Loop
Time: 55:14
Distance: 6.51 miles
Effort: Easy
Body: Good
Weather: Warm

Quick afternoon loop through Elk Meadow Open Space. Beautiful day. Trails in good condition out in the open, icy and snow-packed in the trees. Long run on the Highline Canal planned tomorrow. 6 a.m. departure.

Wednesday, November 25 - Big Ivy - Pisgah National Forest

Run: FS Road 74 - Upper Corner Rock Trail - Elk Pen Trail

Time: 1:03
Distance: 6.69 miles
Effort: Easy
Body: Good
Weather: A Bit Chilly, Sunny

Since Pop had the kids paddling around his pond in a john boat, complete with life jackets and fishing poles, JP and I figured the time was ripe to make a quick sojourn back to the nearby Big Ivy area of the Pisgah National Forest. We drove to the end of Dillingham Road, where it enters the national forest and becomes Forest Road 74. FS74, like the road I ran on Tuesday, steadily climbs the flanks of the mountains, but this road ends at the Craggy Gardens area off the Blue Ridge Parkway.

We parked just below the entrance to the Elk Pen Trail, which is cleverly named for Elk Pens erected to house said animals during the filming of "Last of the Mohicans." JP was hiking and I was running so we parted ways at the truck, promising to meet at the truck in an hour. We both headed uphill. Her plan was to climb the road to where it intersects with the Elk Pen trail and return via the singletrack. My plan was to run up 40 minutes and return.

Two miles up the road, Elk Pen and Upper Corner Rock trails meet the road. I hung a left and ran up Upper Corner Rock another mile and a half. The trail, which follows an old logging roadbed, was in good condition, albeit totally covered in multiple layers of crunchy brown leaves. The leaves provided a soft running surface, but also camouflaged rocks and frequent boggy areas. Still, the scenery was beautiful...such a change from the ponderosa and lodgepole pine forests of Colorado. Again, creeks, springs and seeps were everywhere, providing eye candy at every turn.

Had an interesting moment when I came around a blind corner and startled two hunters hiking out after a day in the woods. Both were carrying rifles and wearing blaze orange. To my surprise, neither had heard me coming, even with each of my running footfalls creating a loud leafy crunch. I scared them again on my return, even though I called out a friendly warning of my approach. With ears like that, no wonder they were walking out empty-handed.

Once back at FS74, I crossed the road and ran down the Elk Pen Trail. This trail snakes in and out of hollow after hollow as it drops back down the mountainside. I made good time down this 1.5 mile stretch, only slowing for rocky spots and creek crossings. Another great run in the oxygen-rich North Carolina mountains. Makes me want to run the Mount Mitchell Challenge.

Monday, November 23 - Pisgah National Forest - NC

Run: Big Ivy Area - Pisgah National Forest - North Carolina
Time: 49:13
Distance: 6.04 miles
Effort: Moderate - Uphill Tempo
Body: Good
Weather: Slightly chilly

From the deck at my father-in-law's place in western North Carolina, one is treated to a full-on view of the Appalachian Mountains ridge on whose shoulders runs the famous Blue Ridge Parkway. With the trees now bare of their leaves, one can just make out the thin, unnatural line of the road from his place, just 15 miles away.

To a trail runner, though, the hint of the parkway through the leafless trees is not the dominant lure. Where there's national forest and mountains, there's bound to be trails and dirt roads. The Big Ivy or Coleman Boundary part of North Carolina's Pisgah National Forest does not disappoint. This 10,000 acre (or so) area hosts several trails and two well-maintained dirt roads that climb from the valley below to the Blue Ridge Parkway above.

With dusk falling, I headed up Dillingham Road in Pop's truck and parked about eight miles away in a pull-off just inside the Forest Service boundary off Stony Brook Road. The two Forest Service roads off Dillingham Road in the Big Ivy area are perfect for running. They climb steadily, but not precipitously. The surface is firm, smooth packed dirt/gravel. What makes this area really remarkable (particularly to a Westerner more accustomed to water scarcity) is that one is rarely out of earshot of falling water. Creeks,springs and seeps flow down from the hills above seemingly everywhere. This time of year, the abundant waters are visible through the leafless trees.

Today's run was meant to be a modest uphill tempo run. With little (if any) warm-up, the plan was to run up three miles and turn around in order to get back in time for dinner. I averaged about a 10 minutes pace on the ups and just under 6 minutes on the return. Elevation gain on the run was 2,400 feet. The most welcome surprise, though, was how easy that elevation gain felt. There's so much oxygen in North Carolina!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Saturday, November 21 - Lookout Mountain Wandering

Run: Lookout Mountain - All Over
Time: 2:51
Distance: 19.67 miles
Effort: Easy, Long
Body: Good
Weather: A Bit Chilly, Sunny

Did the long run on Saturday again, this time due to an out-of-town trip scheduled to begin tomorrow. Started at the park-and-ride lot just north of the Genesee Exit bridge off I-70. Since the trails around here are snow-covered and/or muddy, I figured a little wandering around the Lookout Mountain community was in order.

The area I refer to as Lookout Mountain is the vast collection of cabins, cottages, 70s houses and McMansions cloistered between I-70 to the south and Golden to the north.

From the park-and-ride, I headed north into the Mt. Vernon Country Club neighborhood and wound around a collection of dirt roads leading to older houses, some with dramatic views down into Clear Creek Canyon and the Beaver Brook watershed. I then headed down to Lookout Mountain Road and followed that and another off-shoot up to Jeffco's Boettcher Mansion and Lookout Mountain Nature Center. Paused at the nature center to refill my water bottle and use the facilities.

I then headed downhill looking for a neighborhood I knew border JeffCo's Apex Open Space. After a few wrong turns, ending at peoples' driveways, I finally found a promising road, complete with a sign that said "Private Road," but included a picture of a hiker and an equestrian. I figured that meant I could enter this small gated subdivision. Sure enough, there was an official JeffCo access trail down this road.

Now in Apex, I made my way up the Pick-and-Sledge trail and then dropped down the northeast face of the foothills following the trail down to the main canyon trail. Just past the little amusement park at the base of Apex, I jumped on Highway 93 and ran up to its intersection with Highway 40 and I-70. With darkness, once again fast approaching, I began the long climb up Hwy 40, which pretty much parallels I-70, to Lookout Mountain Road. I hung a right, then re-entered the Mt. Vernon Country Club property and followed that road back to the high point and descended back to my car. My car, I must admit, was a very welcome sight after that long, end-of-the-run climb.

I'm thinking my next long run is going to be down in Denver on something flat. I was pretty wrecked by the end of this run. Reminds me that I have a long way to go before I'm ready to tackle the Red Hot 50K in Moab in February.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday, November 20 - Elk Meadow Loop

Run: Elk Meadow Dog Park/Open Space Loop
Time: 1:04
Distance: 6.8 miles
Effort: Way Easy
Body: Fair
Weather: A Bit Chilly, Sunny

Very easy run to and through Elk Meadow Open Space, entering from Quarterhorse Road and winding through the dog park parcel, across Stagecoach Road and then running Meadow View - Founder's - Painter's Pause before leaving the park and taking the roads back home.

Today was very much a recovery run. Stayed up way late last night. The lack of sleep, plus the hard run yesterday, left me feeling pretty worked today. My goal today was just to run easy. Put on the heart rate monitor strap today and decided to aim for an average heart rate for the run of less than 140. Came in just under with an average heart rate of 139 with an average pace of 9:31 and 960 feet of elevation gain.

Can't remember the last time, save for a weekend long run, when I took it that easy. It was kinda nice, but a bit boring. Lots of snow on the trail today, too.

Thursday, November 19 - Sanitas - Linden Loop

Run: Work - Sanitas - Linden Avenue
Time: 1:36
Distance: 10.31 miles
Effort: Moderate
Body: Very Good
Weather: Chilly, Sunny

After three days of business travel and little time to run, I was eager to get out for a few miles this afternoon. Headed out from work and decided to hit Mt. Sanitas.

Got to the base of the mountain feeling pretty good. Decided to try a different tactic today...head out slowish, run steady and avoid entering the red zone. Felt great the whole way up. Ran many of the sections I typically speed hike. Just motoring up...steady. Was convinced I was going to hit the summit in the low 19s. Hit the top, instead, in 20:17. (Didn't check the split until I got back to the office. I was surprised it was that slow. Still...felt great.)

From the top of Sanitas, I headed north off the summit and followed the ridge line for a bit looking for the trail that would take me around the slopes facing Sunshine Canyon. Missed the trail and ended up bushwhacking for a bit until I hit a well-used and well-maintained trail that led me up to a neighborhood up off Linden Avenue. I made my way from Alder Lane to Pine Tree Lane to Timber Lane (so many lanes, so little time...)and, finally, to Linden Avenue. Headed back to Mapleton via Fourth Street and then pretty much retraced my steps back to the office.

This was a great run. Legs felt great. Body moving well. Couldn't have asked for a better run. Heck, I even covered some new trails and roads. Can't beat that.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Running Makes Brain Resistant to Stress

Some interesting new research on the stress and anxiety reduction benefits of sustained aerobic exercise. Written up here in the NY Times:

A few choice quotes from the piece, which cited research from U. of Colorado (emphasis added):

"For years, both in popular imagination and in scientific circles, it has been a given that exercise enhances mood. But how exercise, a physiological activity, might directly affect mood and anxiety — psychological states — was unclear. Now, thanks in no small part to improved research techniques and a growing understanding of the biochemistry and the genetics of thought itself, scientists are beginning to tease out how exercise remodels the brain, making it more resistant to stress."

And this:

Keep running or cycling or swimming. (Animal experiments have focused exclusively on aerobic, endurance-type activities.) You may not feel a magical reduction of stress after your first jog, if you haven’t been exercising. But the molecular biochemical changes will begin, Dr. Greenwood says. And eventually, he says, they become “profound.”

Here's to "profound" changes...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tuesday, November 17 - Washington, D.C.

Run: Capitol Hill Easy
Time: 30:15
Distance: 3.4 miles
Effort: Very Easy
Body: Good
Weather: Chilly, Dark

Been in D.C. on business trip since Monday. Days filled with work. Evenings filled with reconnecting with old friends. Mornings filled with sleep. That basically means running has taken a back seat to other stuff so far this week. Did get out for an easy 3.5 miles with Matt A. Ran from his new place on Capitol Hill down to the Capitol building, around the reflecting pool and back. Just a good opportunity to stretch the legs, catch up with a good friend and get the metabolism fired up for what was a great home-cooked meal and a fine Virginia IPA...the kind of meal one never gets when travelling. Thanks Matt and Corrie!

Home tonight.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Saturday, November 14 - Backside Loop

Run: Backside Loop - Boulder

Time: 3:52
Distance: 20.3 miles
Effort: Easy
Body: Fair
Weather: Chilly, Socked-in

Left the house this morning around 5:30 a.m. bound for Chautauqua in Boulder. Upon opening my garage door, I was greeted by the hooting of a distant owl. Such a great way to start a day. On the agenda on this chilly morning was the Backside Loop, an approximately 20-mile route that circumnavigates the dramatic Flatirons, the mountainous backdrop to the city of Boulder.

After the 50-minute drive from home and a quick stop for a bagel, I hit Chautauqua and was the first and only car in the parking lot. I strapped on my North Face hydration pack, stuffed with water and four gels, and headed out across the meadow toward Gregory Canyon.

I ran up Gregory Canyon to the ranger cottage, then jumped on the Long Canyon trail. The trees throughout the canyon were covered with a thin layer of snow, the product of a cold front that moved in the day before,swapping our 70-degree weather for temps this morning in the low 30s. The trail, thankfully, was clear of snow and the only white stuff I ran through was on the bridges, plus a bit in the north-facing depths of the canyon lingering from the snow storm of two weeks ago.

Up the first two canyons, I followed a solitary pair of footprints, but my only company on these two trails were the dark-eyed juncos that flitted about as I approached and a small flock of wild turkeys near the top where Long Canyon meets Flagstaff Road. The light dusting of snow seemed to absorb any and all sounds, save for the cacophonous cackle of the occasional magpie.

Where Long Canyon ends at Flagstaff Road, I headed uphill on an old roadbed, but soon lost the track and did a bit of bushwhacking to just above the last switchback on Flagstaff. After 2-3 miles on the paved, and sometimes icy, Flagstaff Road, I hit Walker Ranch, a 3,778-acre bit of Boulder County Open Space and Bureau of Land Management land.

I can't believe how long it's been since I'd visited Walker Ranch. I used to mountain bike there regularly, when I lived in Boulder. I think it's been about nine years since I'd been up there. A number of things had changed. A fair bit of trail work had been done. And, the Eldorado fire, which burned over 1,000 acres in 2000, was evident with a hillside of charred trees near the western trailhead.

From the Walker Ranch Loop trailhead, I headed northeast cruising up a short uphill section before winding my way
to an east-facing hill and descending on switchbacks through trees to an old two-track that led down to South Boulder Creek and the Eldorado Canyon Trail. After a quick jaunt down to check out the creek, I began the ascent up the Eldorado Canyon Trail. This trail was new to me, as it was built since my last visit to the area. The trail climbs relatively steeply up to a highpoint with normally great views back down into Walker Ranch and down into Eldorado Canyon (I'd run to this high point from Eldorado Canyon earlier this fall). Today, though, the views were obscured by a thick cover of low-lying clouds.

I made pretty quick work of the Eldorado Canyon Trail as it dipped and turned along hillsides and into small sub-drainages. After a few miles and three short climbs, the trail drops suddenly down into Eldorado Canyon via a series of well-built switchbacks. Interestingly, on the last stretch down to the dirt road near the canyon's bottom, I passed five people with a television-style video camera on a tripod. I didn't pause long enough to even make a guess as to what they were shooting, but had to laugh at the strange scene.

From the upper picnic area in the canyon, I followed the road down to the small hamlet of Eldorado Springs. Trying to remember directions I read last night, I headed across a bridge over South Boulder Creek in search of an unmarked trail that would take me up to Shadow Canyon and the Mesa Trail, which I would follow back to Chautauqua.

I knew the trail was past a couple of trailers and up a driveway, but once in the area, the jumble of ramshackle houses, trailers and assorted dirt roads, drives and tracks left me scratching my head. After an ill-fated attempt to find the trail off a driveway clearly marked "No Tresspassing," I was accosted by the owner who just happened to pick that moment to head down his drive in his Honda Civic. Fortunately, he was good natured and understanding and pointed me in the right direction. The trail, it turned out was toward the east end of Baldwin Circle and, as advertised, accessed off a gravel driveway.

The trail began as a pretty rough social trail. After it winds around the edge of a few private property lines, it climbs steadily up a long grassy valley to the intersection with the Shadow Canyon Trail. I imagine this stretch of trail would be absolutely gorgeous in the summer, when the grass is green and tall.

I took Shadow Canyon to the Mesa Trail and ran Mesa all the way back to Chautauqua. Once back at Chautauqua, I did a quick loop through the meadow and did once around the paved road by the dining hall to get the total mileage just over 20 miles for the day.

This is a great loop, with excellent and well-marked trails (save for the jaunt up from Eldorado Springs) and just a little bit of pavement. As I write this here at 7,800 feet in Evergreen, it's snowing pretty hard, making me even more grateful to have had at least one last opportunity to do a long run on snow-free trails this late in the season.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday, November 13 - Elk Meadow

Run: Elk Meadow
Time: 43:03
Distance: 4.5 miles
Effort: Way Easy
Body: Very good
Weather: Cold, Socked-in

Following an afternoon meeting of the Kids Rodeo Stampede race committee, I headed out for a slooooow, easy loop through Elk Meadow Open Space. To a training junkie, these would no doubt have been labeled "junk" miles. For me, though, it was a welcome opportunity to spend a little quality time on the local trails.

The Kids Rodeo Stampede is a local running race for kids (50-yard dash, 1-mile and 2-mile races) here in Evergreen. The purpose of the race is to "help kids experience the many positive benefits of running and exercise in their lives." The race organizers even put together a race training plan the kids can use. The race raises some money for a couple of great organizations, including Children's Hospital Rehabilitation Department and the Runzillas, a kids running group up here in the foothills. The race will be run next summer on June 5th.

With the body feeling a little out-of-balance, I took yesterday off. With the cold, gray day we had today, I sorta regret not getting out. Still, I've been working hard to listen more intently to my body. And, yesterday, it was telling me to chill out.

I will be keeping a close eye on the weather tonight and in the morning. I'm hoping the heavy snow holds off long enough to let me get in a big loop in Boulder's Flatirons. Fingers crossed...