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...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Weekend Run Plans - Anyone?

Anyone interested in doing the Backside Loop described below, courtesy of a Buzz Burrell post on the Boulder Trail Runners listserv? I likely will do this run Saturday, starting around 6 - 6:30 a.m. at Chautauqua.


This little cut-off into Eldorado Springs enables numerous of other
great loops to exist. You are referring below to the "Backside
Loop". It's almost always done CCW, so I'll describe it thus:

* Start Chautauqua
* Go across Meadow, then up Gregory Canyon
* At the top, turn left, then right, and go up Long Canyon (I just
came down it a couple hours ago; Long Cyn is very nice and the water
is great to drink right now)
* Where Long Canyon meets the paved road, turn directly left uphill
(this is the original roadbed up here, and tho almost reclaimed by
nature, is readily followed up to the last switchback on the main road)
* Go up only 300 M or so to the crest.
* If you were to turn left onto the 2nd gravel road, then turn S off
that at the exact correct spot, you would run downhill on a sweet and
barely discernible road grade that spits you out on Pika Rd right as
it starts uphill to the Walker Ranch parking. However, this route is
partially on pvt property so I can't recommend it or say any more.
* Instead, run the pavement all the way down to Walker Ranch. If you
want more miles, you can make a nice loop in an out of the Walker West
section: after making the sharp left turn on the downhill
switchbacks, in just 30M there is an obvious old track heading
straight west (right). This will amazingly take you into Walker Ranch
West with no trespassing. Meander around in there and eventually find
the Walker Cut-off; a very nice new single track that bounces you
right back onto the road at the Walker East entrance. Cool.
* Now run downhill on the ex-road, almost to South Boulder Creek.
* Turn left, up the Eldorado Canyon Trail. This puppy is only 3 miles
long, but it really works you at this point in the run. (The road you
just left actually continues all the way - all downhill - into
Eldorado Cyn State park, but it's gated off. Don't you wish we were
more active in trail access issues 25 years ago so we could just run
downhill at this point? :-)
* Anyway, the Eldorado Cyn Tr spits you out in the State Park. Run
down the road and out of the Park.
* Just past the Entrance Station, turn left across the big bridge,
then turn right behind the big decaying swimming pool building. There
are 3 driveways in front of you. Take the middle. It will flatten
out, then after a few trailers, will turn 90d left (as a small house
for sale). Go straight up, straight into a pvt driveway, and 50' up
this will be an obvious but unmarked trail heading steeply up right.
That's the Old Mesa Trail, aka the Eldo Cutoff.
* It will take you to Shadow Cyn, where the Shadow Cyn cutoff will
easily take you to the Mesa Trail proper, and back home.

Wednesday, November 11 - Elk Meadow - Troublesome Gulch

Run: Elk Meadow - Troublesome Gulch Lollipop
Distance: 8 miles
Effort: Easy
Body: Poor - legs tired
Weather: Cool and clear

Late afternoon run from home, through Elk Meadow, down Troublesome Gulch, back uphill along Lewis Ridge Road and back home. Garmin battery died mid-way through, so mileage and time are guesses.

Body was feeling sluggish today. May not have been recovered enough yesterday from the Sunday Tour de Bear Canyon Parks for the tempo run. Feeling something I was running in mud.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tuesday, November 10 - Elk Meadow Run

Run: Elk Meadow - Bergen Park
Time: 1:03
Distance: 8.31 miles
Effort: Moderate
Body: Good
Weather: Cool and clear

Late afternoon run through Elk Meadow Open Space. Ran Painter's Pause Trail down to Troublesome Gulch, under the bridge, past the rec center and did a fast loop on the new paved trails in Bergen Park.

I returned to Elk Meadow the same way, but made my way home via the Meadow View Trail.

It was shirtsleeves only weather today. Twas a bit chilly in the woods, since the sun was already to the west of Bergen Peak.

Saw four runners and two bikers on the trails today, about twice as many as usual. The good weather is luring folks out, I reckon.

The plan today was to do a tempo(ish) run. This route is a bit hilly, so I was focused on a tempo effort, rather than a particular per mile pace. Still, managed a few sub-7 miles and several in the low 7s. A whopping 691 feet of elevation gain today.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sunday, November 8 - Tour de Bear Canyon Parks

Run: Mt. Falcon - Lair O' the Bear Loop
Time: 3:04
Distance: 19.31 miles
Effort: Easy
Body: Good
Weather: Cool and clear

Started thinking early Sunday morning about where to run today. I had some ideas about what I was looking for...I wanted to run long...wanted to run as much as possible on snow-free trails...wanted to hit something new. After a bit of back-and-forth, I decided on a loop I'd been thinking about doing for a couple of years, but had never gotten around to - a loop run through a series of Jefferson County Open Space parks and Denver Mountain Parks, beginning and ending in Morrison -- the Tour de Bear Canyon Parks.

Before heading out to run some errands with JP and the kids, I jumped on Map my Run to see if I could get a fair guesstimate about mileage (Map My Run doesn't show trails). After a bit of tinkering, I came up with a guess of 16-20 miles. Perfect.

I parked my car in downtown Morrison around 2:45 p.m. and headed out uphill on Highway 8 south and made quick work of the 1.5 miles or so to the Mt. Falcon Open Space parking lot. I jumped on the Castle Trail and climbed about four miles and 2,000 feet to the upper parking lot. From here is was downhill on a series of paved and dirt roads to the small community of Indian Hills. I ran through town on Parmalee Gulch/Meyers Gulch Road, past Pence Park, a 320-acre Denver Mountain Park acquired by the city in 1914.

Directly across from Pence Park, I hopped on the Bear Creek Trail (BCT), a five-mile or so undulating singletrack trail though a gorgeous collection of ponderosa pine forests and meadows. The BCT runs through O'Fallon and Corwina Parks (two more Denver Mountain Parks, acquired in 1938 and 1916 respectively) before dropping down to Bear Creek Canyon and JeffCo's Lair o' the Bear Open Space. (Trail map of the area here.) Here, the trail runs along Bear Creek for three miles or so, including a stretch across from the surprising Dunafon Castle, a residential property used for weddings and such.

By the time I hit the main Lair o' the Bear parking lot, it was pretty much dark. I continued along the BCT until it dumped out into yet another Denver Mountain Park. This time, it was the 400-acre Little Park, acquired in 1914, and located near the Bear Creek Canyon community of Idledale. From here, it was pavement time.

As it was now dark, I once again had to question my thinking...wearing all black while running in the dark down a winding, two-lane canyon road, just like last weekend. I gotta start planning better.

Feeling a bit anxious about the darkness, I picked up the pace (last three miles were 7:28, 7:08 and 7:03) and made relatively quick work of the four miles from Little Park back down to Morrison. There was a decent shoulder most of the way, but enough of a squeeze to keep me constantly looking over my shoulder for cars racing down the canyon. Incidentally, the stretch of Bear Creek Canyon Road (Highway 74) from Little Park to Morrison is actually yet another Denver Mountain Park, acquired in 1928. It's called Bear Creek Canyon Park and is comprised of a 400-foot strip of land (130 acres) that follows the road.

So, for the day that was seven parks, 19.38 miles, 3,411 feet of elevation gain, three gels, two bottles of water and one great work out.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Week in Review - November 1-7, 2009

Total miles for the week were 46.19, with two days off. I'm working now on just building a stronger base. Want to get long runs up to about 28 miles by early January in preparation for February's Moab Red Hot 50K. I'm expecting the cold winter days ahead will present some motivational challenges. Hopefully, having a goal race in the middle of the winter will help.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Saturday, November 7 - Bergen Peak

Run: Bergen Peak - Elk Meadow Open Space
Time: 1:45
Distance: 10.3 miles
Effort: Moderate
Body: Good
Weather: Unseasonably warm and clear

Nice steady run on the trails of Elk Meadow Open Space to the 9,708-foot summit of Bergen Peak. The trails were in pretty good shape. The two feet of snow we got a week-and-a-half ago is mostly gone at lower elevations after so many days of unseasonably warm weather.

I took the Sleepy-S, Elk Ridge, Meadow View, Too Long, Summit Trail route up, and returned via Bergen Peak Trail, Meadow View, Elk Ridge and Sleepy S. The only significant snow was on the upper reaches of the Summit Trail, where the trail winds around the north/northeast side of the mountain, and on the upper reaches of the Bergen Peak Trail and in the trees through the switchbacks. It was all runnable, but it requires one to put the brakes on a fair bit.

Hit the summit sign (pic) in 1:02, about eight minutes off my PR. 40 minutes on the return. Was taking it relatively easy today in order to save a bit for a long run tomorrow. A little disappointed I didn't keep the ascent under an hour, but will blame the snow for that.

3,110 feet in elevation gain, says the watch.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thursday, November 5 -- Boulder Rez & Boulder Valley Ranch

Run: Boulder Reservoir - Boulder Valley Ranch
Time: 1:08
Distance: 9:03 miles
Effort: Moderate
Body: Good
Weather: Unseasonably warm and clear

Mid-afternoon escape on a remarkably warm and beautiful November day.

Did a loop around the Boulder Reservoir and then did a quick loop through Boulder Valley Ranch open space. Felt really good today, just cruising along at a comfortable pace (average for the run was 7:28).

Had a relatively mellow mix on the iPod (Avett Brothers, Drag the River, Son Volt, Mark Kozelek, Mike Doughty, Death Cab for Cutie, and so on...), which added to the great vibe out there today.

Some days this run bores me to tears. There's not much up and down, the reservoir ain't all that pretty and the dirt roads can be a bit tedious, compared to a mountain trail. Today, though, the miles rolled by, the stillness of the Rez was awe-inspiring and the fields of brown grass and leafless cottonwoods in the open space were somehow as welcome as a visit from an old friend.

A very good day.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wednesday, November 4 - Mesa Trail

Run: Chautauqua - Mesa Trail
Time: 1:01
Distance: 6.60 miles
Effort: Moderate
Body: Average
Weather: Cool and clear

Got out for a quick out-and-back on the Mesa Trail this afternoon. Ran from Chautauqua, up Bluebell to the Mesa Trail. Ran Mesa out about 35 minutes and did a few minutes of the Fern Canyon trail before turning around and returning the way I came. The trail was in pretty good shape, about 90 percent snow/ice free. There was a bit of mud here and there, but not too bad.

Speaking of mud, I am often surprised and always chagrined to see people walking around muddy trail sections and creating new social trails. I love single track singletrack. From my perspective, if a little water/mud is a problem, stick to the sidewalks...don't create wide, braided trails just to keep your shoes clean and socks dry.

Another gorgeous day. Tomorrow promises to be even warmer. Elevation gain today was 1,670 feet.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tuesday, November 3, 2009 - Mt. Sanitas

Run: Office - Mt. Sanitas Summit
Time: 1:08
Distance: 6.38 miles
Effort: Easy - Hard - Easy
Body: Poor
Weather: Warm and clear

Headed out mid-afternoon from the office, located near Spruce and Folsom in Boulder, bound for the summit of Mt. Sanitas.

Sitting at my desk, I was mentally ready for this run. I envisioned light footsteps carrying me up the many rock stairs on the Mount Sanitas Trail. Once I got outside and started running, an alternative physical reality took over. By the first block, I could tell today wasn't going to be one of those magical running days where everything just feels right. The legs were heavy.

I took a round-about way through the streets to the base of Sanitas, hoping a few hills and a few flats might miraculously put some pep back into the legs. After 18:15 of warm-up, I hit the split button on the watch at the trail sign pole near the Sanitas picnic shelter and took off up the Mount Sanitas Trail.

Through the first series of steps and steeps getting around to the west side of Sanitas, I thought I might have found the missing pep, but, alas, twas not to be. I soon was in the red zone and the pep was rapidly diminishing. After the first flat-ish section, I was feeling downright lousy.

Kept my eyes off the watch and moved as best I could. Hit the summit sign in 19:51. Not awful...but not what I was imaging while sitting at my desk. By comparison, Peter Bawkin's FKT site says Rickey Gates ran it once in 14:38. Bill Wright's FKT site has Scott Elliot at 14:40. My best is around 18:20. There's a hell of a long way from 14:38 to 18:20. Would love to watch someone dash up that trail at a sub-15:00-to-summit pace. I just wonder what that looks like...

Still, what a day! It was warm enough to run shirtless. Lot's of folks out on the trail.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sunday, November 1 - West Evergreen Loop

Run: Stagecoach - Upper Bear Creek Road Loop

Time: 1:47
Distance: 13.88 miles
Effort: Hard
Body: Very Good
Weather: Clear and cool

Due to the usual weekend business, I didn't get out the door until around 4:30 p.m. (including the weekend time change). On the sage advice of JP, I wore a reflective vest. She is wise beyond my years.

From the house, I headed west up Stagecoach Road about five miles to Whittier Gulch. From there, I ran up past King-Murphy Elementary School and wound my way via assorted single-named dirt roads (i.e. David Road; Elizabeth Road) down to Upper Bear Creek Road. As I climbed up from Whittier Gulch, the clouds to the west were ablaze with the fading sunlight from the west. Once on Upper Bear Creek Road and headed east, I was running straight at the full moon. A beautiful sight, to be sure.

Once on the relatively flat, and often subtly downhill Upper Bear Creek Road, I picked up the pace, eager to get done with the six or so miles of this winding paved road as quickly as possible. By the time I hit the intersection with Whittier Gulch, the sun had pretty much set and darkness was afoot. (I mis-timed the darkness severely and was running in the dark the whole way to Evergreen Lake. I'm sure the drivers that passed me were wondering what the hell I was doing running in the dark wearing black shorts and a black zip-neck long-sleeve tech shirt. That goodness JP reminded me to bring the reflective vest.) I did the five-plus miles on Upper Bear in pretty quick fashion, ranging from a high of 7:06 to a low of 6:20. The miles clicked by pretty quick. I was just running by feel and felt darn good.

Once at Evergreen Lake, I made the long climb up to the high point on Evergreen Parkway before descending back to Stagecoach Road and, finally, back up to the house on the ridge above.

All-in-all, I great outing. Ran steady on the uphills and hard on the flats. Had a total of 1,467 feet of elevation gain.