Sunday, February 28, 2010

White Ranch - Slogfest

Time: 2:35
Distance: 13 miles
Effort: Moderate
Body: Poor
Weather: Partly cloudy & cool

Eager to pick up some more vertical for the week, I opted to hit White Ranch, a JeffCo Open Space park northwest of Golden, this a.m. for a "long" run. The plan was to run an outside loop of the park, stringing together the series of trails that take you to nearly every corner of the park, save for a "closed" section in the northwest corner.

Mistake #1 was sleeping in and not starting the run until around 10 a.m. By the time I started, the snow was softening up and the mud was unfreezing. As I headed up from the lower parking lot, about a mile up from Highway 93, the mud was still mostly frozen, making for decent footing as I ascended Belcher Hill.  

Belcher Hill Trail

At about 2.2 miles into the climb, I hung a left onto the Mustang Trail's singletrack. Mistake #2 of the day was assuming the trails of this close-in open space park would be as packed out as those in and around Boulder. They weren't.  On Mustang, I followed two sets of footprints. Fortunately, the day-old tracks appeared to be  from runners, so I basically was able to go step-by-step in  them. Somewhere along this stretch, the theme for the day was set...falling down. I went down twice in this 1.8 miles, not hard...mostly slow-motion, slip-off-the-trail falls. After far too long, I topped out on Belcher Hill and descended down to the road that leads to the park's upper parking lot.

From here, it was more snow, this time on the Rawhide Trail, which runs along the west and north sides of the park. Fortunately, an ATV had been down the road fairly recently and made a decent track to run on. Still, the running was by no means effortless.

Rawhide Trail

Mistake #3 was deciding to add to the run a mile section of trail near the end of Rawhide. This 1-mile stretch had no tracks and was completely snow covered. About a half-mile in, the trail traversed a hillside in an open meadow. Snow had drifted knee-deep over the trail in many places. Slow going. Fortunately, the scenery was beautiful and the views sublime.

Looking northwest from the far northwest corner of the park on the Rawhide Trail

From here, it was more snow along the Longhorn Trail which traversed the hills and dales on the east side of the park, ultimately leading back to a plateau near the old White Ranch headquarters. The trail was better packed from here, but where there wasn't snow there was mud...slippery, sticky, annoying, I-shouldn't-be-running-here mud. The falling-down theme o' the day continued on this stretch as I went down at least three more times. I did manage to pause between tumbles to take in the views of snow-covered North Table Mountain.

North Table Mountain from the Longhorn Trail

The farther down the trail I went, the worse the mud got. By the time I hit the Belcher Hill Trail for the one-mile return to my car, it was a full-on mud wallowing extravaganza. I'm pretty anal about staying on a trail, rather than running around mud or puddles and creating new tracks (I want to keep my singletrack as single tracks!), so through the mud I went. Right in the worst of the mud, and right as I was passing two runners, I slipped and went down. Fortunately, I was able to execute some fine ballet-esque move, kept my feet under me and didn't end up sprawled in the mud.  No doubt stifling a guffaw, one of the runners commented that he couldn't believe I didn't get more mud on me. 

Fatigued and tired of running after only 13 miles, my only response was, "I can't WAIT for summer!"

Saturday, February 27, 2010

People's Path - Hiwan Hills - Easy

Time: 1:15
Distance: 9.03 miles
Effort: Easy
Body: Good
Weather: Cloudy and Cool

Procrastinated all day about whether to go for a run.  Was content just to hang out with the family after being in New Orleans most of the week. About 5 p.m., JP said, "Are you running today?" That was enough to kick my brain back into the "consistency is key" groove.  So, out the door I went.

Easy nine miles on the paved People's Path that parallels Evergreen Parkway to Dedisse Park...then along the closed park road and trails to Evergreen Lake...through downtown Evergreen....then, a winding set of residential roads back to the People's Path.

Despite my slugishness, the minute I started running I was happy to be out and moving. 

Weatherman is calling for 2-5 inches in the foothills tomorrow. Paging springtime!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Green Mountain - Ups

Time: 1:12
Distance: 5.10 miles
Effort: Moderate
Body: Good
Weather: Sunny & cool

Work got away from me today, so only had time to squeeze in a run at the end of the day before driving home from Boulder. But, now that the days are getting longer, starting a run up Green Mountain at 4:30 p.m. is no longer a recipe for descending in the dark.

I ran up the Gregory-Ranger route, and descended via Green-Saddle-Ampi.

After five days in New Orleans at (or below) sea level, I was eager for a bit of vertical, so Green Mountain it was. Felt pretty good the whole way up. Messed up watch settings, so didn't get a split for the summit. Also, forgot traction devices, so I did a fair bit of slipping and sliding. It's funny how slipping when you're running steady up something steep immediately sends a momentary wave of fatigue through your legs. After a few steps, the wave dissipates and you continue on. Too much slipping on the ups, though, takes its toll. Fortunately, the snow today was in pretty good shape and the slipping was kept to a minimum, at least on the ups.  The descent, however, was slow going. It seemed like I slid down a foot for every 20 I ran. I fell twice, once on my butt and once just down onto one knee when I slipped off the side of the trail.

Had a great time on the mountain today. Just glad to be out. Thought a lot about how fortunate we are to have virtually unfettered (undoubtedly some would take issue with my "unfettered" characterization) access to such splendid landscapes. I also recalled a brewery and beer I once had in Asheville, North Carolina, one of my all-time favorite towns in the East (and the place JP and I got married).

Maybe the mountain needs an official beer.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

New Orleans - Garden District - Easy

Time: 49 minutes
Distance: 5.75 miles
Effort: Easy
Body: Good
Weather: Sunny & cool

Easy run through the back streets of the Garden District here in New Orleans. Such a great collection of old, stately houses and huge, old trees. Pace was very easy, averaging 8:33. Home tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

New Orleans - French Quarter

Time: 45 minutes
Distance: 6 miles
Effort: Easy
Body: Good
Weather: Cloudy & coo

Squeezed a quick six miles in with CB between all-day meeting and dinner. We ran south along the levee next to the Mississippi River, past the French Quarter then down a long straight road that separated a poor neighborhood from a railroad track and some old docks. Great to see a bit more of New Orleans. The pace was easy, but quick. We probably ran most of it around a 7:30ish pace.

Monday, February 22, 2010

New Orleans - Exploration

Time: 1:45
Distance: 14 miles
Effort: Moderate
Body: Fair
Weather: Sunny/balmy

After a 7 a.m. meeting, I headed out from my hotel, which is located right on the Mississippi River, about 1/2 mile from the French Quarter. I ran though the warehouse district to St. Charles Avenue, which is a long, straight road with a wide median and streetcars running down the middle.  St. Charles runs through the Garden District, with its tall live oak trees and antebellum mansions.

You'd think that there would be a path/sidewalk running alongside the streetcar tracks, but you'd be wrong. People just run down the middle of the tracks, as did I. Whenever a streetcar was approaching, I'd just jump to the next track over and keep running. The nice thing was that the singletrack path between the rails had a soft, yet packed sand/dirt surface...really nice on the feet. 

Photo: Infrogmation

I followed St. Charles about five miles, past Loyola and Tulane Universities and the Audubon Zoo. Where the avenue took a hard right in front of the levees separating the Mississippi River from the Garden District, I found a bike path atop the levee and followed that back in the direction of my hotel until the path ended. From there, I ran on sidewalks along a number of side streets about a block from the river through poor neighborhoods and industrial areas. It's too bad the city and neighborhoods along this section are so separated from the river. Design-wise, it sucks that people can't access such a desirable resource.

The weather this a.m. was sunny and warm...warm enough to run shirtless and sweat! Hard to believe it was 20 degrees and snowing when I left Denver yesterday.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Upper Bear Creek Road - Easy

Time: 1:25
Distance: 10.2 miles
Effort: Easy
Body: Good
Weather: Cold and overcast

Early morning meet-up with Chris A. and Steve G. for 10 mile out-and-back on Upper Bear Creek Road. Started at 6:30 a.m. at the Evergreen Lakehouse and ran to the five-mile post a bit past Whittier Gulch Road. Easy pace up, around 8:30, and back down, around 8:00.

Great time catching up with Steve G. about his race at the Rocky Raccoon 50.  Congrats, Steve, on being the fastest-ever finishing 44-year-old - a CR for that age!

Also, signed up this week for next month's Salida Run Through Time Marathon. I figure I'll plan on using the race as a weekly long run. I'll just head down there with the intent to see some new ground,  enjoy the race vibe and knock out 26.2 miles in a place I've never run. A change of scenery for a long run will be swell. Plus, Salida is a great town.

Last week's Moab Red Hot 50 was, by far, the longest race I'd run. The next longest was in 2008 at the Breckenridge Crest Marathon, which was actually 24.5 miles. So, running in Salida will give me some more race experience, which should help a bit in the build-up to June's San Juan Solstice 50.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Treadmill - Easy

Time: 50:56
Distance: 6.7 miles
Effort: Easy
Body: Fair
Weather: Indoors

Snowy and cold, so twas the treadmill today.  Did six miles at 6:58 pace at one percent grade.  .5 w/u and .2 c/d.

The kids and I had a great time seeing President Obama speak yesterday.  Both kids were patient w/ the long security line. We had good balcony seats with a fine view of the speakers' platform. J & C were really enthusiastic about getting to see the president. Hopefully, that will be a memory that endures.

That's President Obama at the lectern and Senator Michael Bennett standing behind him.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Treadmill - Easy Run

Time: 50:00
Distance: 6.2 miles
Effort: Easy
Body: Fair
Weather: Indoors

Cloudy and cold weather was particularly uninspiring today, so I headed to the rec center for a spell on the treadmill. Did six miles at 8:00 pace at one percent grade. Heart rate was about 10 beats on average higher than where it should be. Will take it easy another couple of days. Headed downtown tomorrow with the kids to see President Obama speak at the Filmore Auditorium. Probably will take the day off from running.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Hiwan - Elk Meadow Loop - Easy(ish)

Time: 52:58
Distance: 6.79 miles
Effort: Easy
Body: Fair
Weather: Sunny and cool

Late afternoon hilly loop from home through the nearby Hiwan neighborhood, returning on the Painter's Pause Trail through Elk Meadow Open Space. 

Legs felt pretty good, although the first couple of miles it felt like I was running into a headwind despite the fact there was nary a breeze. 

Average pace: 7:48.  Elevation gain: 650 feet.

Moab Red Hot 50K - Race Report

Time: 5:16
Distance: 32.4 miles
Effort: Moderate
Body: Good
Weather: Sunny and cool

The Moab Red Hot 50K had it all...snow, mud, slickrock, trails, jeep roads, ATV tracks and cross-country stretches.  And, it had a fair bit of ups and downs, and not just as it relates to the terrain.

The race start was at the Gemini Bridges trailhead across Highway 191 from Arches National Park, on a snowy, cold jeep road. John S., Scooter and I arrived about an hour early, picked up our race packets and quickly retreated to the warmth of the car. As I wandered around later trying to decide what to wear for the race, I managed to miss the pre-race briefing. Fortunately, John S. picked up the most salient point: pink good; blue bad. Pink ribbons meant "go this way." Blue ribbons meant "don't go this way." Got it.

Just a bit before the 50K race start (50K started at 8 a.m.; 33K at 8:30 a.m.), the sun finally peeked over the distant La Sal Mountains and began its steady march down the mesa wall above us. It was shaping up to be a beautiful sunny winter day in the desert. Trouble was, at the start, it was butt cold. So, despite John S.' best counsel, I overdressed.

Right at 8 a.m., with Bananarama blaring on the PA system ( was almost surreal), the 50K crowd suddenly started running. It was a rather uneventful start. No gun. No guy with a megaphone yelling, "Go!" Or, maybe there was and I missed that too. Nonetheless, we set off running up a well-packed, snow-covered jeep road that climbed gently up through the mesa wall above.

Since this was my first-ever race of this length, my plan was to run conservatively and just let things unfold. Run steady. Walk the steep stuff. Stay on top of nutrition. Finish strong. Even with the aforementioned ups and downs, that's pretty much the way things happened.

After the initial climb, the road descended a bit into a valley before climbing again to the top of the mesa. Here we continued following a relatively flat, snow-covered road, but now the road had few tracks on it. The snow was frozen on top with fine, dry power beneath. Following the fluttering pink ribbons, we soon hung a right onto a completely untracked (save for the 20 or so sets of footprints from the runners ahead of me) ATV path. The snow now became a factor. In some places, the snow was firm enough to run on, in others it gave way and you were up to your ankles in crusty snow. Every now and then, a few patches of red dirt or rocks appeared as islands of running sanctuary. 

Before too long, the race route left the ATV path and began to circle around toward the northeast, giving us views down toward Highway 191. Here the snow got deep, calf-deep. I was running and trading positions at this point with a group of four guys. One of us would stop to walk through the deep snow to conserve energy (or ease frustration) and someone would pass. We continued like this for 3-4 miles. This was not fun running. Sure, the scenery was beautiful, especially with the snow against all the red rocks, but in places it was a slog. Thankfully, the front runners had broken trail (and the crust) and we were able to follow in their footsteps. 

Finally, the race route dumped us back onto the jeep trail we'd turned off of and we ran south for a good bit on a nice flat two-track, which alternated between dry dirt, mud and snow.  Before too long, and after an aid station, the road descended a bit and led us through a beautiful area with some gentle climbs and descents. Here I met up with a guy from Denver. We ran together for a bit and he shared a bit of beta on the San Juan Solstice 50. As the course climbed toward slickrock, I slowed down to conserve some energy and to stop and quickly slap some moleskin a couple of hot spots on my left foot and let the guy go.

I think in this part of the course, we were following the Golden Spike jeep trail, which was marked using white dashes painted right on the rock. Here the running was tough, given all the rock and off-camber slopes. Route finding in here was a bit challenging. Several times I had to stop to look around for the next pink ribbon.  Still, I held a fairly steady pace and made it through this long stretch in decent shape and with the four guys generally in sight.

After the slickrock section, the course turned flat again and we raced across a wide-open scrubby area with views in every direction. There was some mud through this part, but not bad. I set a steady pace and focused on reeling in the runners ahead of me I could see.  Over the next three miles or so, I picked off three runners, including the Denver guy.

I knew from reading others' race reports that this stretch of road took runners to the edge of the Poison Spider Mesa, where we would begin our descent down to the Colorado River and the race's finish at the Poison Spider trailhead. So, I knew downhill awaited. That was the good news.

The bad news was that just where the trail was to begin its descent, I went off course. I followed the last two runners I had in my sights during the preceding road run. They hung a right, following a few footprints and I followed suit. I remember starting to get a feeling that this wasn't right. Not enough footprints, no pink ribbons. Sure enough, after three minutes or so, I saw the two guys coming back toward me. Off course.

I was pissed. I'd been in a groove...making up time...steadily reeling in guys. I quickly turned around and returned to the last pink ribbon. I ran into the Denver guy again here and asked him which way (he'd run the race a couple of times). We were joined by the other two guys right as the Denver guy spotted pink ribbons over and below the small rise in front of us. 

I took off first, fighting the frustration of time lost. I now had that same feeling I'd heard others articulate feeling after they went off course. It knocks you off your game...sends your head somewhere not-so-nice...not-so-productive. And, to top it off, I felt lousy about passing those two guys just because they'd gone a bit further off-course than I did. Not the way I wanted it to I didn't earn it.

What can one do, though? I just kept running. The terrain quickly got more interesting as the course dropped down through some narrow washes. I was running at a good clip, determined to put some distance between me and the other guys. A couple of them looked to be about my age, and I wanted to do as well as possible age group-wise. Then, I did it again. I lost the course.

The race course went right down one wash, I went left down another. After a minute or two, I realized my mistake and turned around and ran back uphill and found the proper course just as a runner went by. The Denver guy and the other two runners now were again ahead of me.

At the bottom of a particularly steep little descent in this area was an aid station. Since I was running with a Nathan hydration pack, I blew through this aid station -- as I had done at all but one of the others -- leaving the three guys behind.  Being ahead of them now felt a little more legit.

Now back running on slickrock, I could see two more people ahead, one woman and one guy that clearly was in my age group. After a bit, I passed the woman, then the guy. The guy asked me "how much further?" That question lifted my spirits. He appeared done. There were still six or seven miles to go.

Somewhere in here we started passing the tail-end of the 33K runners. I don't know where they joined up, but the other runners were a welcome sight, since they provided mini-objectives as they appeared ahead. Ahhh...another runner to catch. Everyone was in great spirits, calling out "good job" and "keep it up" as I went by. 

I was now determined to make damn sure I didn't get caught from behind. I just kept a focus on moving as quick as possible.

At long last, I heard cheering...a voice from below. It was JP, CP and John S. shouting from about 100 feet and several long serpentine switchbacks below. Seeing them lifted my spirits and put some badly needed energy into my increasingly sore and tired legs.

I ran by them with a big smile (almost finished!) on my face, crested a small rise and saw the finish ahead. I cruised in alone in 5:16.

After fueling up on race-provided potato-leek soup and bread and Coke, we headed back to town to clean up.

Eager to know who won and where I placed, I left the crew in town and headed back to the race finish for the award ceremony. I saw several folks and award winners whose names I recognized...i.e. Keri Nelson, Karl Meltzer. I ended up in 18th place (at least according to my count...the race results are not provided in an overall list.  It's broken down by male/female and non-masters/masters). And, to my great surprise I ended up in third place in the men's masters division. For that I got a trophy, a $35 gift certificate to and a La Sportiva running hat. Made my night...hell, it made my year.

Overall, I really liked this race. Yeah, it's a tough course to follow (especially for the front runners) in spots since some of it is run across rocks and doesn't always follow a clearly-defined trail. Still, the aid stations were well-stocked, the volunteers were really supportive, the race food was fine and the vibe was positive, fun and low-key. I'd definitely run it again. My one criticism, other than a gentle nudge to keep improving course marking, is to get results posted on the race Web site more quickly. I only found the results (below) via a link on Karl M.'s site.

Final results here.

We spent the rest of the long weekend hanging in Moab with a great set of friends (complete with 13 kids between us), hiking in Arches National Park and Slickrock, eating great home-cooked food and drinking Colorado beer. A perfect weekend.

Thanks to Scooter for the first three pics!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Moab Red Hot 50K - Brief Update

Good race. Fair bit of snow and mud.

18th overall. 5:17 (unofficial). 3rd place in masters division.

Race report on Tuesday.

Karl M. won the 50K.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Quarterhorse Road - Hill Repeats

Time: 41 minutes
Distance: 4.6 miles
Effort: Moderate
Body: Good
Weather: Chilly and cloudy

Another low mileage day, this time with some hill repeats thrown in to keep the quality up in advance of running 34 miles on Saturday. Did 6x1 minute repeats on Quarterhorse Road. Repeats were about .16 of a mile at 6:15(ish) pace. All felt good.

Day off tomorrow due to work obligations and a late-afternoon six-hour drive to Moab.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Boulder Loop - Easy Run

Time: 42 minutes
Distance: 5.3 miles
Effort: Easy
Body: Good
Weather: Chilly and partly sunny

Easy jog from the office on a combo of Boulder streets, bike paths and sidewalks. 

Highlight, er, lowlight was being greeted by a bike rider that looked hauntingly like an overweight version of Malcolm McDowell's character in A Clockwork Orange, complete with bowler hat and a creepy grin. Still shaking that one off.

Average pace:  7:57.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Treadmill - Speedwork

Time: 1:02
Distance: 8 miles
Effort: Hard
Body: Good
Weather: Indoors

After a day off yesterday to give my left knee a break, I was ready to run hard today. I decided to do workout on the treadmill, figuring that the relatively cushy surface would be the best thing right now for the knee.

I did two miles w/u at 8:00, then 4x1 mile at one percent grade at 5:56, 5:56, 5:56 and 5:46. Followed it up with one mile c/d at 8:20. 

It felt really good to complete this session, but the last interval hurt a bit. You know the feeling...time slows down and seconds tick by at a glacial have to fight the urge not to look down every 10 seconds to see how much further is left in the look into the mirror in hopes of being distracted by any movement in the weight room behind you. Finally, the last tenth of a mile rolls by...success!

Interestingly -- at least to me -- to compare HR data from today's and last week's 4x1 mile workouts. Last week I was in Washington, D.C. - about at sea level.  Today, I'm at home at about 7,800 feet.  

Here is the HR data for the two workouts - exactly a week apart:

7,800 feet:

Average HR: 156; Max HR: 181

Max HR in each interval: 169, 178, 178 181

Sea level:

Average HR: 148; Max HR: 178

Max HR in each interval: 168, 168, 173, 178

Not sure what to draw from those numbers, but it's an interesting data comparison nonetheless. Perceived effort was greater today, and I was slower between intervals than I was in Washington, D.C. The two workouts were not identical...pretty darn close though.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Coal Creek Canyon - Long Run

Time: 3:49
Distance: 22 miles
Effort: Very Easy
Body: Good
Weather: Chilly and snowing

Eager for some new ground to cover, I headed over to Coal Creek Canyon to run a long route Lucho mapped out on With a print-out of the turn of the turn-by-turn directions and a small map from mapmyrun, I parked at a retail area in the canyon and headed up Highway 72 20 meters or so to the first of seemingly dozens of mountain roads I would run on today. Here's the link to Lucho's route.

Eager to protect my aching left knee, the plan was to run at a way-easy pace, uphill and downhill. With a moderately heavy snow falling, I began climbing up a series of roads that did a little lollipop before dumping me out on Gross Dam Road. As a harbinger to the rest of the morning, somewhere in this section I managed to lose the little map I brought. 

Following the turn-by-turn directions, I crossed over Highway 72 and ran along a whole mess of minor dirt roads, with names like Divide View Road, Ridge Road and Rudi Lane. With the help of 3-4 locals out walking their dogs here and there, I managed to stay on track...but just barely.

Finally, around 15 miles in...the inevitable happened: several of the roads the directions said I should be seeing never appeared. I'm sure there was some weird disruption in the space-time continuum that made those roads temporarily disappear, since there's no way my sense of direction failed me.

I surrendered to the mountain road gods and just headed downhill, based on a few pointers from Greg and his malamute Tahoe, who happened to be walking by as I was weighing my options. After a mile or two, I was back at Highway 72 and Gross Dam Road.

Eager to get in a few more miles, I headed down Gross Dam Road, crossed the railroad tracks and found myself on the southeast side of Eldorado Canyon State Park/Walker Ranch. Here in the Crescent Meadows part of the state park, there was a trailhead for the 7.2 mile Walker Ranch Loop. This part of the state park doesn't appear to connect to the eastern part of the park, which includes the actual canyon. Walker Ranch connects the two parts, though. I ran a bit up the trail, but decided that since I already was 19 miles into the run, I had better just head back.

I didn't realize that one could access Walker/Eldorado from Coal Creek Canyon. If I had gathered a bit more beta on the area before leaving the house, I would have included the loop in this morning's run. Instead, I did the climb back up Gross Dam Road and wound my way back to the truck via some of the roads on which I began running three-and-a-half hours ago. Hit the truck at exactly 22 miles.

I loved running in the falling snow. The 1/4 to 1/2 inch of fresh powder on the roads provided just enough softness to cushion every footfall and absorb virtually every sound, save for the occasional cackle of a passing crow. Twas a great morning to be out in the sticks.

My left knee felt pretty good today. I definitely could feel the ache at the beginning, but there were long stretches where I never thought about it, which means it wasn't bugging me. I will continue icing it this week in hopes getting past it before the coming weekend and the Moab Red Hot 50K.

I hope to make it back to this area sometime soon to wander a bit into Eldorado/Walker from that side.

Elevation gain: 3,521. Average HR: 139. Average pace: 10:26.