Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Week That Was...December 12-18, 2011

Way delayed in posting this incredibly important data. Not an impressive week. Took a biz trip to D.C. Didn't run for three days in order to clear the system before a blood test.

Monday - Upper Bear Creek Road - 9.4 miles; 1:15 - Tempo run. Ran from the lake house with Steve F. for a couple miles before letting him dash on ahead. My legs were floundering due to the 17-mile tempo(is) run the evening prior. Got about 4.5 miles up the road when I met up again with Steve. Turned around and ran three miles of tempo with (OK, a few feet behind) him. Legs protested a lot, but held pace (6:18; 6:14; 6:08). Interesting experiment to run hard on such tired legs. Felt good (mentally).

Tuesday - Off - Travel to D.C.

Wednesday - Off - D.C. Needed to take two days off in prep for a blood test related to last summer's brachial plexus neuropathy.

Thursday - Off - Traveled home.

Friday - Hiwan Roads - 5:13; 43:24; 524 feet o' elevation gain. Easy run through one of the local subdivisions.  Got the blood test in the a.m.  Results at January doc appointment.

Saturday -  Mt. Falcon Open Space - 16 miles; 2:56; 3,122 feet o' elevation gain.  Hooked up with Woody A. for a 6 a.m. start. Plan was to run the v1 route (Woody was planning to double it.)  We ran steady the whole time on snow-packed trails. Conditions were very good, with just a bit of ice here and there.  We doubled the Ute Trail figure eight in hopes of finding Jaime Y. who was planning on running the same route, but started an hour later. We never came across him. I was pretty pooped by the time we got back to the lower lot. Watched with great respect as Woody set off again for the long climb back up to the picnic shelter.  Went home and took a nap.

Sunday - Elk Meadow Open Space - 5.71 miles; 51:17; 844 feet o' elevation gain. Ran the Meadow View+ route from home. Easy.

Overall, a rather unimpressive week. That said, the Monday Upper Bear tempo w/ Steve was a lot of fun.  And, the Saturday Mt. Falcon expedition with Woody was challenging and satisfying.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Week That Was...December 5-11, 2011

Pretty happy with the week, minus the unplanned days off (the increasingly common refrain...I know).  Good quality efforts with some light intensity on Monday, more on Wednesday, a solid mountain run on Friday and a long, hard 17-mile tempo(ish) run on Sunday.

Strangely, I have been enjoying the road miles, something I have had a definite aversion to for years. I think I'm liking mostly because they aren't snow-covered, as the trails are up here. That said, I'm really enjoying the steady and quick turnover on the roads.

Anyway, this is what last week looked like:

Monday - Treadmill - 1:15; 10 miles - (all at 1 percent grade) one mile warm-up, then 8 miles at 6:58 pace followed by a 1-mile cool down. Felt great on this one. Started saying, I'll do 5 miles at the 6:58 pace. Got there, and said....OK, a 10K. Hit that. How about 8 miles. No problem. Could have gone for a lot more.

Tuesday - Off 

Wednesday - Neighborhood loop; 1:09; 9.06 miles - Started from the house in the dark. Ran hilly route through a couple of the local subdivisions all while listening to Lucho on Endurance Planet describe smarter workouts than the one I was doing. Did make me up the intensity throughout the run, though.  811 feet o' elevation gain.

Thursday - Off

Friday - Green Mountain - Bear Canyon Loop. 1:47; 9.01 miles - Ran from Chautauqua to the top of Green Mountain via the backside. Great snow conditions on the Green trails - packed, dry snow, very little ice. Hit the summit rock in just over 41 minutes (disappointed with the time given the effort I put in). Headed back down to the four-way and cruised through a knee deep snow trough down into Bear Canyon. Only a couple handfuls of people had been down that trail since the last snow. Made steady progress down the canyon to the Mesa Trail and back to the car. Felt darn tuckered after this one. 2,849 feet o' elevation gain.

Saturday - Evergreen Lake - Hiwan Hills Loop - 1:09; 6.69 miles - Easy jog from the house down the Peoples' Path to Evergreen Lake and back via Hiwan Hills 'hood. 799 feet o' elevation gain.  Still feeling the Friday mountain run.

Sunday - Golden and Clear Creek Bike Paths - 2:02; 17 miles - Long tempo(ish) run starting in downtown Golden. Wound my way around the Coors plant and picked up the Clear Creek concrete bike path. Ran it deep into Wheat Ridge and returned. Started around 4 p.m. and was quickly running in the dark. Decided to make this a pretty hard run. Average pace for the 17 miles was 7:09, including a one-mile w/u and c/d. Pretty happy w/ this one.  461 feet o' elevation gain.

Yesterday, Monday, I had plans to meet up with Steve F. in the a.m. for some tempo work on Upper Bear Creek Road. I was feeling a bit wrecked from Sunday night's long run, but still kept the man-date. I warned him at the onset I likely wouldn't do the tempo work. After the four mile jog up the road, I changed my mind. Decided to see if I could make the tired legs go. We ran three miles of tempo (6:18; 6:14; 6:08). Legs weren't happy, but I sure was after it was over. Felt good to push through the fatigue.

Took today off.

Must admit to being a little bummed I shelled out the bucks for the Leadville 100 now that the Run Rabbit Run 100 is being offered. I really enjoyed the Run Rabbit Run 50 in 2010. Fantastic terrain around Steamboat Springs. That said, I'm still very much looking forward to the Leadville experience.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Dog Tired...




View to the west from the Elk Meadow Dog Park.

Maya wondering if that noise was a squirrel.

You Never Write...You Never Call...You Never Post...

Slowly setting back into the running routine. Consistency is getting a wee bit better, but still struggling schedule-wise.

Quick recap of the fortnight that was:

Monday, November 21:  Off

Tuesday, November 22:  Drove to Woody Creek (just down-valley from Aspen) for Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 23:  Rio Grande and Sunnyside Trails - 20.81 miles; 3:31; 3,711 feet o' elevation gain.  From the rental house, I ran up the gentle grade of the Rio Grande Trail, which is an old railroad bed, to Aspen. As I was running along the Roaring Fork River in town, I saw a sign pointing to a singletrack trail that climbed to the east. Sunnyside. The trail, aptly named for it's on the sunny side of the valley (less snow/mud!), beckoned me with an alluring coo.

So, I started climbing. Glorious. Big views. Nice temps. I figured the trail would climb for a while, then drop down Smugglers Mountain and back to town. To make a long story short, the trail never dropped, but the sun did. After slogging through snow, abandoning an ill-fated attempt to bushwhack down in hopes of meeting the family at the pre-arranged time/location (I already was 30 minutes behind schedule), I finally admitted my trail sense was failing me and I turned around and ran back down the way I came. I was a good hour and a half late.  And, it was now dark. The plan was to meet at the Aspen Recreation Center. I had to ask directions from a guy driving a Ritz Carlton Hotel van. "Where's the rec center?," I asked. "Just a quarter-mile up Maroon Creek Road," he replied. Turns out its quite a bit further than that. The good news is, he picked me up as I was slogging up the road and gave me a ride the rest of the way.

By the time JP returned from the rental house to pick me up (they gave up and went home), I was a muddy, bloody (lots of fun traipsing through brambles during the aborted bushwhack attempt) and starving mess (no calories on this run). Definitely learned a few things about admitting defeat sooner and not digging oneself deeper into an already head-height hole. I had a lot of apologizing to do.

Thursday, November 24:  Rio Grande Trail - 6.01 miles; 51 minutes; 361 feet o' elevation gain. Headed south on the Rio Grande Trail from the rental house. Easy, recovery pace (definitely feeling the previous day's run). Three-mile out-and-back. Didn't get lost.

Friday, November 25th:  Rim Trail, Snowmass - 6.4 miles, 1:18, 1,100 feet o' elevation gain. Dropped CP and jP and my nephew off to ski at the upper village at Snowmass. Put on the running shoes and headed out from the skiing parking area. Found a trail that headed up and took it. Turns out it accessed the Rim Trail, a great ridge-top trail the runs along the spine of the mountains surrounding parts of Snowmass. Snow and mud were prevalent, but not too bad. Topped out at an interesting polished granite circle with a yin/yang symbol in the center. Wasn't expecting to find that on a trail run.

Steve HappyTrails makes good use of granite yin/yang thingy during warmer months.  Photo credit: HappyTrails
Saturday, November 26th:  Off. The whole family went to Ajax to watch the Women's World Cup ski race. Today was the giant slalom. (The slalom race was the next day - Sunday.) This was a LOT more fun than I was expecting. Very exciting to watch the skiers fly down the mountain, weaving in and out of the gates.

The finals were rip-roaring fun to watch. A large timer told you what the skiers' splits were at different points, so the excitement would build as racers vied for the best combined time of their two runs. American Julia Mancuso made the podium with third. Lindsey Vonn was 12th. 

The gang awaits the final giant slalom runs.
By the second runs, the bottom of the mountain was in the shadows.
Another highlight was I won a free parka by answering a trivia question shouted out by the race announcer:  "How many world cup victories does Lindsey Vonn have?" I threw up my arm...I was called on...and with great authority (I was guessing) I shouted, "Three!"  Right. Who knew?

Sunday, November 27th:  Troublesome Gulch/Elk Meadow - 9.62 miles; 1:25; 1,123 feet o' elevation gain. Easy jog.

Monday, November 28:  Treadmill - 8.25 miles. Squats/leg press, etc...

Tuesday, November 29:  Upper Bear Creek Road - Tempo - 10.01 miles; 1:16; 334 feet o' elevation gain.  Met up w/ Steve F. We jogged up five miles, ran down one mile then started the tempo portion of the day's program. Ran three miles at 6:02 pace. Felt very solid. Could have done (one) more.

Wednesday, November 30:  North Table Mountain - 6 miles; 59 minutes; 874 feet o' elevation gain. Easy run.

Thursday, December 1:  Off

Friday, December 2:  Flatirons' Doorstep Run - 7.37 miles; 1:15; 1,269 feet o' elevation gain. Post-work run from Chautauqua up to the Mesa Trail, over to Bear Canyon and down. Then ran a bunch of trails just above the 'hoods to get back to the mesa just south of Chautauqua. Lots of snow. Finished in the dark.

Saturday, December 3:  Alderfer-Three Sisters - 6.10 miles; 1:08; 914 feet o' elevation gain. Figured it was time to give Maya a double dose of fun - trail run and fresh snow. A good eight inches of fresh powder greeted us. Maya loves this stuff. Me...not so much. She runs full speed and buries her snout in the powder as she cruises along. It's heart-warming to see that kind of joy from a dog. Slogged out six miles in the snow, breaking trail in a lot of places. Very cold out.

In other news, due to the fact that kisses from JP were getting fewer and fewer, I gave up the no-shave November facial hair on Saturday. No one, including me, missed it.


Monday, November 21, 2011

The Week That Was...November 14-20

Were it not for the schedule-induced (er...the "I hate running early during the week") gaps, this would have been a solid week.  If not solid from a mileage standpoint, the week was solid from a quality standpoint with some tempo and a good long run.

Monday - 7.1 miles; 50:56 - Worked from the LoDo office. Got out on the Cherry Creek bike path, pressed for time, just as it was getting dark. Was feeling a bit lackadaisical, but decided to get after it a wee bit. No warm-up. Just started going.  The miles went like this (7:16, 7:00; 7:09; 7:15; 6:33; 6:20).

Tuesday - 7.2 miles; 60:00(ish) - Long day at work, but managed a trip to the rec center around 7:30 p.m.  Hopped on the treadmill.  Did five miles at 8:06 pace at 1%, 4%, 1%, 5%, 1%, than a mile at 6:58 at 1% and a c/d mile at 9:5 at 1%.  Jumped into a lower body workout post-run (squats, abductor/adductor, dumbell lunges, etc...)

Wednesday - off

Thursday - 5.26 miles; 36:37 - Squeezed in a quick run from the LoDo office on the Cherry Creek and South Platte bike paths. Just aimed for getting in five miles (7:22, 6:59; 6:35; 6:42; 6:23; .26 c/d) before I had to leave to head back to Evergreen for a land trust board meeting.

Friday - Planned on running. Even had the shorts on for most of the afternoon. Just couldn't get away. Frustrating.

Saturday - 20.48 miles; 3:03; 1,455 feet o' elevation gain - Woody A. hosted a fabulous run at his place in Highlands Ranch. A great group of 16 area runners gathered for a jaunt in the Highlands Ranch Backcountry. True to word, there actually is some backcountry there. Tons of trails, too.  I was surprised at how much there is to run out beyond and within that vast subdivision. We were treated to a post-run feast at Woody's place.  Many, many thanks to Tanya and Woody for hosting us all. It was really great to re-connect with friends and make new ones. And, it was swell to put a few new faces to blog personas - Chris B., Wyatt H.

Most of crew pauses for a pic at the tail-end of Saturday's run.
Sunday - 8.39 miles; 1:44; 1,693 feet o' elevation gain - A.M. - JP and I went to a morning yoga class, my first-ever exercise class of any kind...ever.  Hell of a workout. Tons of stretching, sweating and core work. Very satisfying, and humbling.  P.M. - Early evening run up and around the upper loop on Bergen Peak. Took Maya with me. Got about 30 minutes in and had to break out the headlamp. Ran easy due to snow/ice in the trees and upper ridge. I was amazed at how well Maya navigated the dark trail (and surrounding environs) in the dark. Sure would be great to have eyes that functioned that well in the darkness.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Week That Was...

Starting to get back into some structure and a wee bit o' consistency, albeit with some scheduling struggles. Solid week with a couple of quality days and some good runs in between.

Did all the runs this week in a pair of Saucony Peregrines. I've had these shoes since early summer, but haven't run much in them. Used them mostly as walking around kicks. Decided to try them out again since I was doing a fair bit of non-technical running (Sunday being the exception). I really like them...light weight, minimal heel drop.

Monday - off

Tuesday - Tempo - Upper Bear Creek Road - 1:13; 10 miles; 434 feet o' elevation gain. Jogged five miles up the road from the Evergreen Lakehouse, the turned around and headed back.  Stuck in two miles at 6:10 - 6:15 on the way back. Perfect chilly, sunny Colorado day.

Wednesday - off (unplanned) - Work schedule got the best of me and wasn't able to get the run in.

Thursday - Hill repeats - Quarterhorse Road - 4.64 miles; 40:18; 706 feet o' elevation gain. Pressed for time. Hauled myself the mile or so over to the bottom of Quarterhorse Road and did 3x3-minute hill repeats. Each was about .4 mile in length on a fairly steep dirt road. The plan was for 6x3-minute, but time was fleeting and had to cut things short.

Friday - Easy - Buchanan Rec Center - Troublesome Gulch - 55:20; 6.12 miles; 540 feet o' elevation gain. Easy jog with Steve F. Felt really solid and fresh. Great feeling. Hit the weights at the rec center post-run. Long series of squats, Bosu ball/dumbell squats, dumbell lunges, leg press, hip adductor/abductor machine, back extensions and calf raises.

Saturday - Easy - Buchanan Rec Center - Elk Meadow - Troublesome Gulch - 1:28; 9.01 miles; 928 feet o' elevation gain. Early morning run around the Meadow View trail in Elk Meadow followed by a run down Lewis Ridge Road and up Troublesome Gulch to complete the loop.  Ran with Steve F. and Steve G. Wind really started kicking up the last couple of miles.  Major stop-in-your-tracks gusts testing our mettle.

Sunday - Moderate - Bergen Peak Upper Loop - 1:35; 9.41 miles; 1,868 feet o' elevation gain. From the house, ran up the neighborhood access trail to the upper lot at Elk Meadow Open Space. Ran the upper loop clockwise. Trail conditions were pretty good with the icy sections confined to the dense tree sections. Hit the Summit Trail intersection in 49 minutes flat. Steady, but not hard effort. Felt great.  Back down via Too Long, Meadow View and Painter's Pause. Finished up in the dark with a mile of pavement.

I really enjoyed and respected Aaron K.'s pursuit of the Free Fall Marathon course record. Not only did he nab the CR, he also set a marathon PR in the face of some fierce Colorado winds.

With a month and a half to go in 2011, is it too early to declare the top 25 beers of the year?  Apparently not.  My favorite most-feared...the Mangalitsa Pig Porter, brewed with five cold-smoked pig heads and a bag of pig bones.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Weekend Jogging

I'm trying to recommit to working on my body's weaknesses, which pretty much means everything. So, at least twice a week to the rec center gym will be part of the routine through the winter and into the spring.

I did this two years ago, and had some good results from core work and over all strengthening...fewer injuries, form holding up longer during epic runs, etc... This past year, well, not so much...

So, a new commitment.

In that spirit, I hit the gym twice this week, but really only hit the weights once, which was Saturday evening. After a six-mile treadmill run (8:30; 7:30x2; 6:30; 8:30x2), I stepped into the squat rack (3 easy sets of  10 reps at 135 lbs), 3 sets of lunges with dumbells, then onto the hip abductor machine and the quad raise machine. (Then the sauna.) Figured that was enough for a start. Didn't want to be too sore for the Sunday morning long run.


Today's long(ish) run was 16 easy miles (2:34; 1,672 feet o' elevation gain) with Steve F. looping southeast from Elk Meadow's lower lot through the Ridge subdivision and into hills above Kittredge via an unmarked connector. Once down to Bear Creek, we ran a few miles through a neighborhood and into O'Fallon Open Space before ascending Kerr Gulch Road and sneaking back into the Ridge via another unmarked connector. Jogged back to the cars via roads through the Ridge and Hiwan 'hoods.

The pace was very easy, but it didn't feel that way. After the first six miles, my glutes and groin muscles were barking at me, "Why the squats and the hip abductor machine before a long run, you idiot?!"

Still, made it through the run. Everything will feel much better, and I'll be glad to have the first workout soreness bit done. Eager to see if I can stick with the plan. I'm sure it will pay dividends by the time summer rolls around. Wouldn't mind some additional muscle strength for that double crossing of Hope Pass.


Headed out in mid-afternoon for a hike in the Mt. Vernon/Beaver Brook Open Space off the Genessee Exit off I-70 with J and C, along with Cisco and Maya. We did a bunch of exploring down an old two-track, which C named the "Old Bridge Road" for the rotten remains of an old bridge we came across.  We probably hiked a good four miles with a significant amount of on and off-trail elevation gain. We had a really great time...letting the dogs roam, romp and explore while we did the same. Good times.

Juniper berries. Photo: CP 
C & J and Cisco.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Knowing Your Limits...or Not

So, yesterday I posted that signing up for the Leadville 100 trail run scared me. It isn't Leadville, per se, that scares me. I'd likely feel much the same had I signed up for any other 100. And, it's not the distance that scares me, although I certainly have a healthy dose of respect for it.

What scares me about the 100-mile distance is the mental aspect.

I think I have the mental toughness to grind out 100 miles, mind you. I worry, though, about whether I have the perspective required to know when to quit.

Last year at the San Juan Solstice 50, I out-ran my training and finished better than I should have given the work I'd put in. In the process, I ended up a shaking, shivering, aching mass of skin and bones at the finish line. I could barely move. The woman offering free massages at the finish ordered me off her table into a chair and she practically force-fed me electrolytes. My piss was a lovely earth tone color. Not good.

A few days later, I spent two days in a hotel room bed in D.C. wracked with the worst flu I think I've ever had. A few days after that, I was having an MRI on my cervical spine to try and figure out why I had intense pain that felt like someone had dumped hot lead on my shoulders and let it drip down my arms.

Fast forward to November and I'm still recovering from a gem of an auto-immune-connected brachial plexus neuropathy, which basically means my body turned on itself and started treating nerve cells in a nerve cluster beneath my right collarbone as the enemy. In the process, I chewed up some of my very own (and important) nerve cells, causing all sorts of issues down my right arm...loss of strength and fine motor skills, odd tingling and the long-since-gone pain.  Fortunately, the body has slowly been doing its repair work and things are 85 percent or more back to normal.

Did I miss during the run signs that I was doing more than the usual damage? Did I find my limit and kept going? Or, did I simply get a dose of bad post-race luck, picking up a virus thanks to an immune system depressed by the exertion of running 50 miles and hitting the jackpot in terms of the rare auto-immune response to the virus?

No real way to know.

Undoubtedly, though, it's all connected to the race.

So, will I put in the time and effort to get to Leadville in the kind of condition necessary to meet my yet-unstated goals? Will I manage to run to my potential, or better? Will my body endure the torture without another rebellion? Will I have the mental strength to quit if the signs point in that direction?

You know...come to think of it, answering those questions is exactly why I signed up for this race.

Nevermind. I'm not scared, I'm excited!

P.S. 8 miles yesterday late afternoon in Elk Meadow running the Meadow View-Plus route in the mud, slush and snow.

Friday, November 4, 2011

This scares me.

When my beautiful wife got home tonight, I told her I'd done something that scared me (and it had nothing to do with the $15 "service fee."

More to come.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


There's little doubt that consistency is a key to running success.  I have been incredibly consistent lately when it comes to running.

The problem is that what's been consistent is my inconsistency.

Work/family commitments have kept me running in place...kid activities, work projects, board meetings, late nights, early mornings... It all adds up to fewer and fewer places to squeeze in the daily run.

So, I've been trying to make the most out of the times I can run.  Most runs, when they happen, fit into the "quality" category - tempo runs, intervals, long runs, etc...

Last week, for example, during a trip to Washington, D.C., I got in a nice 20-mile jog from my hotel up into the upper reaches of Rock Creek Park.  Two days later, on Tuesday, I ran did an eight-mile bike path run with 4x800-meter repeats (3:00; 2:50: 2:50; 2:39) in the middle.  Got in a couple local jogs, too.

So far this week I managed a 14-mile hilly jog on Sunday and the first treadmill workout since last winter.  I actually enjoyed the 'mill yesterday.  I did 2 miles@7:30 w/u followed by 1x1 mile at 5:49; 1x1 mile at 6:30; and, 1x2 miles at 7:30; 1x1 mile at 8:30 and wrapped it up with a half-mile speed hike at 14 percent grade. Nice workout, but I could feel effects of the inconsistency and depressed mileage. My plans to do three mile repeats under 6 were scrapped after the first one. My fitness is just too far off.  Felt good, though, to sweat. And, the local rec center has new treadmills. The one I used can go up to a 30 percent grade. Very solid, impressive machine, as treadmills go.

I realize I need to make a commitment to getting up and running early in the morning, at least on the day's when JP's and my schedules align and the early mornings are available. Consistency takes commitment...and that's what I need to work on.

Looking Ahead

I've also just begun thinking about what I want to do running-wise next year. I've been mulling over giving the Leadville 100 a shot. I remain interested in tackling a 100-mile race. I'm not excited about the course, but it's local(ish) and logistically much easier to manage.  By the time I make a decision, though, I'm sure the race will be filled.

I also might toss my hat again into the Wasatch 100 ring and see if the Lottery Gods like me this year.

Or, I might just stick with the marathon (Pikes Peak) and 50-mile distance (Run Rabbit Run). It's looking like I will not be around in June for a return to the San Juan Solstice. That's a bit of a bummer as I'm keen on trying to break 10 hours on the non-snow course.  There's a good chance, though, that I will run the Safaricom Marathon in Northern Kenya at the end of June instead. Fingers crossed on that one.

Time to go for a run.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thursday Jogging

Easy early afternoon jog around Elk Meadow Open Space.

Distance: 7.2 miles
Time: 1:04
Effort: Easy
Body:  Fair
Weather:  Sunny and warm(ish)

Completely uninteresting (compared to what, oh Exciting One!?) jog around the Meadow View loop at Elk Meadow Open Space.  Ran today with Steve F.  Definitely feeling the effects today of a series of lunges I did post-run yesterday. My ass glutes is are sore! Reminds me of how badly I need to get back to the gym now and then. That's what winter's for, I guess.

The easy pace had me looking around at a summer's worth of trail impacts.

The crushed gravel Painter's Pause trail, which already was a good four feet across and smooth, now has a hard dirt singletrack trail running alongside it, separated from the main trail by about three inches of grass.  Seeing that got me to wondering...why do people walk on the side of perfectly good, smooth, well-maintained trails?  Surely I'm not the only one that likes single track singletrack, am I?  Don't other people hate seeing braided trails?  Don't others' hearts sing when they see a single ribbon of dirt heading off through a meadow, over a hill or across a vast stretch of tundra?  Am I in the minority on this?

Which leads me to another question I've been wondered about for a while.  Why are there not regular volunteer trail days at individual JeffCo Open Space parks?  (I know they have occasional volunteer days  here and there, such as the recent one at North Table Mountain.) Elk Meadow has a resident ranger. That park is the centerpiece of North Evergreen.  Surely there are many people like me that would jump at the opportunity to donate some sweat equity several times a year to our beloved trails system.

820 feet o' elevation gain.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Tuesday Tempo on Wednesday

I like alliteration, so I'm sticking with the Tuesday tempo run, even if I have to do it on Wednesday.

Distance: 8.2 miles
Time: 58:44
Effort: Hard
Body: Fair
Weather:  Sunny & Cool

Last week was the first decent week of consistent running since the mysterious neuropathy issue popped up following the mid-June San Juan Solstice 50.  It wasn't a big week mileage-wise, but it felt solid with six days on the trails.  It looked like this:  53.76 miles; 11:30; 12,578 feet o' elevation gain.

Following Sunday's 24-miler in the Lost Creek Wilderness, I was pretty whooped. Took Monday off to recover a bit. Ended up taking Tuesday off as well due to work/family schedule issues.  So, time to get after it a bit today.

Headed over to Teller Farms in Boulder to get in a bit of turn-over at a tempo effort.  The plan was to run tempo for 45 minutes.

Parked at the lot off of Arapahoe and started quick right off the bat due to time constraints.  I must admit to still feeling the effects of the Sunday run...even with two days off. The fitness is still proving to be elusive.

Did my best to hold a tempo pace along the old farm roads, past lakes, cows and fields.  Hit Valmont Road and ran a quarter mile west and picked up the continuation of the trail and proceeded on until about the four-mile mark.

Turned around and continued the tempo effort (if not pace) up to the 47-minute mark in the run (the extra two minutes to make up for a brief bathroom stop and having to wait on a flagman on Valmont Road (the whole road is being re-done).

Never felt good on the run, but got it done. Perfect running temps.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Add This to Your Must-Run Loops List

The Goose Creek Loop in the Lost Creek Wilderness Area should be on every Colorado trail runner's to-do list, especially in the fall. Spectacular scenery, great trails and a decent amount of elevation gain.

Distance: 24.27 miles
Time: 6:16
Effort: Easy
Body: Poor
Weather: Perfect - sunny and cool

I've been eyeing the Lost Creek Wilderness Area for a long run for a couple of years now. It's a rare low-elevation wilderness area (8,000 - 12,400 feet), standing in stark contrast to many Colorado wilderness areas dominated by alpine habitat types. Plus, the LCWA is just a hop, skip and a jump from the Denver metro area.  The LCWA was created by Congress in 1980 and is comprised of 120,000 acres (187.5 square miles).

On Friday I did a little online research, typing "Lost Creek Wilderness Area, loop" into Google. Out spit the Goose Creek Loop, which begins and ends at the Goose Creek Trailhead near Deckers.  I saw a few pics from several backpacking reports and I was sold.

I was up and out of the house by about 5:20 a.m. on Sunday, bound for Goose Creek. By sunrise, I was driving up a washboarded dirt road through the Hayman fire burn area above Cheeseman Reservoir.  (The 2002 Hayman Fire burned 138,000 acres.) The trailhead is about 12 miles from pavement on a very windy, but good (washboarded sections notwithstanding) Forest Service road.
Sunrise over the Hayman burn area en route to Goose Creek Trailhead.
There were a half-dozen cars in the large parking lot when I arrived, but no one was stirring. I figured the cars belonged to backpackers.  With the rising sun casting a red glow on the Tarryall Mountains ahead, I set off down a buff, crushed granite-covered trail.  The initial quarter mile winds through a burned section of forest.

Let the fun begin!
After that quarter mile, the loop begins with a choice. Go left up the forested Hankins Pass Trail, or right up the Goose Creek Trail. I figured any trail with "pass" in it's name would indicate climbing, so I figured I'd do that section first. Turns out, it was a good choice. I definitely recommend running this loop clockwise.

Typical Hankins Pass Trail scene - aspen, meadows and coniferous forests.
 The Hankins Pass Trail heads up Hankins Gulch, repeatedly (at least in the opening couple of miles) crosses a small (unnamed on my map - Hankins Creek?) creek. At 4.5 miles is the first trail junction of the day.

At the junction, I hung a right on the Lake Park Trail, which climbed steadily up and over a few humps offering great views to the northwest into South Park.

South Park in the far distance.
 After a couple miles, one enters the trail's namesake, Lake Park, an open meadow surrounded by mountains and granite outcroppings.

Lake Park. The sign reads "Lake Park.  Elevation 10,880 feet."
 After a bit of downhill through Lake Park, the trail climbs again to a saddle filled with amazing slabs of granite - a mere hint of the scenery to come.  I think this saddle was the day's high-point at something like 11K feet and change.

I'd be running down the distant valley above in another hour or so.
 From the saddle, the trail dropped down a north-facing, snow-covered slope. This was the only real snow I encountered all day.

Lake Fork Trail down a north-facing slope.
After the snow-covered descent, one hits another trail junction.

My NatGeo/Trails Illustrated map says I should have hit the McCurdy Trail, rather than Brookside.  The map shows Brookside ending at an intersection further south with the "McCurdy Trail." Still, it was easy to figure out that I needed to turn right, regardless of the trail's name.  (UPDATE: Map shows the trail as "Brookside-McCurdy Trail.")

From the junction, the trail winds through some heavily treed area and then emerges in McCurdy Park, another open meadow with a creek ambling through. This meadow was gorgeous, with big rock outcroppings out in its middle. Off to the right were other amazing rock formations, including an ominous looking granite sawtooth, the McCurdy Park Tower, which the maps marks as a climbing location.

McCurdy Park Tower
McCurdy Park.
McCurdy Park. Log cabin ruins at base of granite rock outcropping.
After McCurdy Park, the trail switchbacks down the eastern side of a long valley. The sounds of falling water are all around as the creek that flows through McCurdy Park tumbles down to meet up with Lost Creek at the valley's bottom.  Lost Creek, the wilderness area's namesake, gets its name because it "disappears" a couple dozen times beneath the ubiquitous granite and reappears again downstream. Once Lost Creek emerges from the valley and all the granite, it becomes Goose Creek.

As one gets near the bottom of the valley, the views open up and the most sublime scenery of the trip unfold below. This area feel unworldly, or at least un-Colorado. It sorta feels like Utah, with granite instead of sandstone. Big rocks. Canyons. Incredible.  It was here that I saw my first people of the run, two backpackers who were shocked (!) to learn I was running their multi-day loop in far less than a day.

There were a lot of yellow left on the aspens, but the leaves were falling fast.

A spot on Lost Creek where the creek emerges from granite near Refrigerator Gulch
There are lots of places where small tunnels or arches are created by the haphazardly placed rocks and boulders. 

From the head of the valley down which Lost Creek flows, the trail initially hugs close to the creek. Soon, though, the trail climbs the north side of the valley to get around major rock outcroppings.  It drops and rises multiple times, quickly padding the elevation gain totals.

After several miles, the Goose Creek Trail enters from the north and the McCurdy Trail ends.  After several more miles of ups and downs now on the Goose Creek Trail, one passes a trail spur that leads down towards the creek to some historic buildings, the remnants of a failed attempt to dam the creek (the area dodged a bullet there!).  I by-passed the buildings due to time and flagging energy.

Once past the spur, the trail opens up and follows an old (wagon?) road bed, the grade and surface of which reminded me of the Bob's Road section of the Barr Trail.

Soon, the trail dropped back down to the creek, flattened out and suggested the homestretch was near.

Sure enough, after crossing a solid footbridge over Goose Creek, I re-entered a Hayman fire burned section and soon was standing at the Goose Creek/Hankins Pass trail sign. Another quarter mile climb and I was exiting the wilderness area.

Looking back down toward the Goose Creek/Hankins Pass junction.
This has got to be one of the best long trail loop runs I've done in Colorado. Sure, it doesn't have the grandeur and high altitude of the Four Pass Loop in the Snowmass-Maroon Bells Wilderness, but it has such unique scenery that it should be on the list of any Colorado trail runner.  And, fall has got to be the absolute best time to run here. When I was there, the aspens were a week or so past peak, but still spectacularly ablaze with color. I strongly recommend running this one!

My legs today had no pep and I walked a LOT more than I normally would, plus I had an hour of picture-taking/scenery gazing/bathroom breaks.  So, a more reasonable run time would easily be in the five-hour range.

Pikes Peak was visible at several places on the run. This pic from the road on the drive back to pavement.
There's still time to hit this one before the snow flies. 

5,840 feet o' elevation gain.

Friday, October 14, 2011


"May I see your registration and driver's license, please"

This guy was roadside as I drove the kids to school this morning.  He was standing along Bergen Peak Drive, about 1/4 mile from the house.  He was keeping watch over 10 or so cows, who were on the left side of the car grazing on the other side of the road.

Beats dealing with road rage-filled drivers on I-25!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Red and Green

Red and Green?  The question a waiter asks when you order enchiladas?  Nope.  Shorthand for the last two days of running.

Wednesday - Red

Distance:  6 miles
Time:  54 minutes
Effort:  Hard(ish)
Body: Average
Weather: Sunny and warm

Afternoon run squeezed in between work and family stuff.  I was pressed for time and figured I could squeeze in a run right off I-70. So, I pulled off and parked in the park-and-ride just west of the hogback.

I headed up a steep trail to the ridge line of the hogback and started heading south on the rugged, very-rocky trail.  I figured I had enough time to loop over to Red Rocks, pick up the Red Rocks Trail and cruise back to the car via Matthew Winters Open Space.

I dropped down off the hogback on a now-closed paved road and ran over to Red Rocks.  I forgot I had about another mile of road running to get to the trail that would lead me back north. Now I was going to be late.

What was supposed to be an easy-paced effort quickly morphed into a tempo effort run up around the Fountain Formation rock outcropping and up to the Red Rocks Trail.  Once on the trail, the real cruising began as the trail flattens out with some easy undulation.

Made it back to the car about 10 minutes behind schedule.  Nothing some creative driving couldn't cure.

879 feet o' elevation gain.

Thursday - Green

Distance:  6.02 miles
Time:  1:19
Effort: Easy
Body: Fair
Weather:  Sunny and warm

Looked at the day's calendar on the way into Boulder and realized the only chance I'd have to run was first thing in the morning (gotta remember that for the future...who knew?).  So, I hung a left at Baseline and soon was parking at Chautauqua and gazing up at Green Mountain.

I had hoped to run the loop up Bear Canyon to the top of Green and down the backside, but there wasn't time.  Instead, I opted to head up the frontside and down the back.

I took it easy on the ascent, knowing there was no point in punishing myself after the last two days of fairly hard running.  Hiked a lot, ran the flattish stuff.  Tagged the summit marker in about 41 and change.

Had a really nice time on the descent. Weather/temps were perfect.  Surprisingly, I came across a lot of uncommunicative, grumpy hikers.  Decided it must have been Dour Day on Green today.

Great way to start the day.

2,506 feet o' elevation gain.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

One of Those Runs...

Yesterday was one of those days out on the trails.  You know the kind...a day when the leg muscles feel way more impressive than they are...when one's endurance feels limitless...when you look forward to the hard parts...and time seems to fly by way too fast.  Yesterday was one of those days.

Distance:  6.46 miles
Time:  54 minutes
Effort:  Hard
Body:  Good
Weather:  Sunny and cool

I left the house planning on a hard effort.  I jogged about a mile to Elk Meadow Open Space and up the spur from the lower lot to the Painter's Pause Trail.  At the junction, I started five miles of alternating one minute hard, one minute easy.

The first couple hard minutes felt...hard, but soon I was in a rhythm and the hard minutes felt good and the easy minutes were simply time gaps between the fun stuff.  A few times I was tempted to keep rolling with the hard pace and skip the easy, but managed to stick with the plan for the 45 minutes (or so) of the 1/h x 1/e.

Ran an extended version of the Meadow View loop and finished up with a c/d jog through an adjacent neighborhood and down the hillside behind the house.  Had an enthusiastic greeting from Maya and Cisco, who were rambling around the newly-fenced backyard.

Felt just great after the run, as well.  One of those days...

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Weekend Fun

This was a tough week for running.  Let's just say the work/life balance was non-existant this week.  Any breaks I took from work were for post-school day family stuff.  One and two a.m. bed times were the norm.  As a result, I didn't run Mon. - Thurs.  I can't remember a time when I missed four days due to work/family commitments.

The days off were made more difficult given the fabulous weather and the knowledge that it couldn't last.

And, it didn't.

We got the first snow of the year yesterday up here at 7,600 feet in the foothills.  jP burst into our room around 7 a.m. yesterday morning proclaiming loudly, "It snowed!"

While I was grinning from groggy ear to groggy ear at his enthusiasm, I can't say I was glad to see the snow.

Thankfully, I got out Friday around 4 p.m. in the sun for a dash around the upper loop on Bergen Peak (8.2 miles; 1,631 feet o' elevation gain).  Maya was along for the ride and showed no ill effects from her running lay-off.  She was bounding ahead and exploring at will, easily adding another mile or so to her day.

After a Saturday morning of snow, the sun finally came out around mid-day, which was enough encouragement to get me our for an extended version of the Meadow View Loop at Elk Meadow Open Space (6.3 miles, 820 feet o' elevation gain).

This morning, I was up a bit early to meet up with David W. for a run at Alderfer-Three Sisters Open Space.  We started easy from the lower parking lot and ran the eastern loop through the old Blair Ranch property and over to Elephant Butte, a Denver Mountain Park property.

We picked our way up the well-defined trail to the hump's summit.  We spent a good 10 minutes soaking up the SPECTACULAR views to the west of the Mt. Evans group.  Perfect morning.

We finished up with a couple more miles on the Alderfer trail system before piling back into the cars and getting on with the non-running parts of our days (6.2 miles, 1,597 feet o' elevation gain).

A few pics from the morning:

Early morning view of Evergreen Lake with mist rising.
Obligatory summit pic atop Elephant Butte with Mt. Evans in the distance.
The Mt. Evans Group. 
Bergen Peak.
Looking south to Evergreen Mountain with upper Alderfer meadow in the foreground.
Elephant Butte from upper Alderfer meadow.
View of the Three Sisters rock formations from the upper meadow at Alderfer-Three Sisters Open Space
Hoping to get back into more regular posting here.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Maxwell Falls

A nice clear-out-the-body-and-get-over-an-early-season-cold jog at Maxwell Falls, a local, hidden Forest Service gem.

Easy five miles on the trails around the Maxwell Falls parcel off Brook Forest Road. The trails were damp and tacky following a late afternoon rain shower. The sun peeked out a few times, brightening the trail and opening up the views here and there.  Maya enjoyed the creeks and the easy romp.

Looking northwest from the Cliff Trail Loop

Looking northeast from the cliffs off the Cliff Trail Loop

Can't tell a dog to not look down.

Saw this feller on the way home, standing about 30 yards from busy Evergreen Parkway.  His harem of cows was off to the right.
The bonus for this run is that I think it helped me finally kick the cold that's been hammering me since Monday.  Onwards!