Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Same as Last Time, Only Shorter

 Worked and goofed all day and ended up running in the dark. Returned to Alderfer-Three Sisters for another varied loop o' fun.

Time: 6.1 miles
Distance: 57 minutes
Effort: Easy
Body: Poor
Weather: Cloudy & cool

Following a highly competitive bowling session down in Lakewood with my nine-year-old son, I dashed out around 6:30 p.m. to get in a few more miles with the dog at Alderfer-Three Sisters.  Given my current state of creakiness, the modest grades and mostly forgiving terrain at this open space park is much to my liking.

Started with Maya from the upper lot and ran the mountainside loop on Evergreen Mountain counterclockwise, crossed Buffalo Park Road and ran the Sisters Trail to Bearberry and cruised that back to the parking lot.  Finished the run in the dark.

Still no improvement on the back/hip thing. Working on stretching more and icing is a regular evening ritual (the hard part is deciding what to ice first...).

996 feet o' elevation gain.

Check out these new ways to view blogs that use the Blogger platform.  Just type the usual name of the blog and add /view/flipcard (or one of the other ones below) to the end of the current URL.  Pretty cool.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Definitely Not a Tempo Run

A modest-paced loop around Alderfer-Three Sisters and Evergreen Mountain during the twilight hours.

Time: 1:18
Distance: 8.01 miles
Effort: Easy
Body: Poor
Weather: Mostly cloudy and cool

Didn't get out until after 5 p.m., but that turned out to be just fine as I pretty much had the entirety of Alderfer-Three Sisters Open Space park to myself (well, myself and Maya the dog).

From the upper lot, I ran north to the Mountain Muhly Trail and followed it around to the park's northwest and northeast corners before ascending to Bearberry and over to the Sisters Trail which heads up over a ridge next to the park's three namesake rock formations (the Three Sisters).  

We then descended down to the lower lot, crossed Buffalo Park Road and ran up the Evergreen Mountain East Trail (past the Brother, another rock formation) and back down to the upper lot via the Evergreen Mountain West trail.

The whole time out on the trails, we passed one mountain biker and saw two other people off in the distance. The upper lot was empty when we got back to the truck.  Sorta cool to be the King of the Park for an evening.

My back/left hip is slowly improving.  Still have a fair bit of steady discomfort, and there's no way I'm leaping for a frisbee right now, but moderate-effort running is doable. Running, at least, doesn't appear to make things worse.  Will make a return trip to the PT after the kids' spring break week is over.

Maya, on the other hand, is running solid. Endurance is building. She had no trouble with the eight miles and the evening's elevation gain.  That said, she zonked out post-run while I made a quick trip into the local library.

1,341 feet o' elevation gain.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Bergen Peak - Summit

After a day off to again rest the back, twas time to test things out again and see where things stood.

Time:  2 hours (AM) 2:06 (PM)
Distance: 4.06 miles (AM) 11.44 miles (PM)
Effort: Easy
Body: Poor
Weather: Mostly cloudy and cool

The AM time/miles was a hike up Elephant Butte with CP. We had a great time in the morning sun hiking to the top of this rocky, bulbous geographic protuberance that rises from the banks of Bear Creek and looms above the meadows at JeffCo's Alderfer-Three Sisters Open Space.

1,444 feet o' elevation gain.

Elephant Butte from the parking lot at Alderfer-Three Sisters
CP signs the register at the top of Elephant Butte
Looking west towards Mt. Evans from the summit. A weather front was building on the divide.

Looking southeast back down to the Alderfer meadow.
Maya. Must have more hiking!
Late afternoon (after a nap and much lounging), I snuck out for a run up Bergen Peak. My back/whatever was still aching, but was feeling better than Friday (Saturday was a day off). So, time to test things out again.

Was never able to run without some amount of sharp pain, just a lot of background aching. Ran through the lower meadow in a counter-clockwise direction up to the junction with the Too Long Trail. Once again, the legs felt solid and aerobically all was well. Flew by a mountain biker about 100 yards up the trail and continued motoring on trying to ignore the discomfort.

After much deliberation during the climb, I opted to go all the way to the summit and hung a right at the Summit Trail junction for the one-mile ascent to the mountain's apex.  There was still a good amount of ice in the trees on the mountain's east side. I tagged the summit sign and turned around for the descent.

About a quarter of the way down, I had slowed to a jog. Just not feeling good. Then, the mountain biker I passed about 45 minutes prior passed me (he must have been crawling up Too Long since he didn't do the Summit Trail). Being passed put a bit of life in my legs as I picked up the pace to keep the biker in sight. After about 3/4 mile, though, he was gone. I slowed back down and realized how tired my glutes and lower back muscles had become. I felt like I had just run 35 miles.

I shuffled my way back down to the Meadow View Trail and back home marveling at the amount of fatigue I felt after just 11 miles.

2,270 feet o' elevation gain.

The good news is that nothing hurts worse than before I started. The bad news, obviously, is that things are no better. Damn frustrating.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Mt. Sanitas - Loopin'

Testing out the body after a couple days off and a trip to see a Dr. Richey for a bit of physical therapy.

Time: 1:04
Distance: 5.02 miles
Effort: Easy
Body: Poor
Weather: Sunny and cool

Got back from Washington, D.C. late Thursday morning and headed straight to Boulder for a session with Dr. Richey at High Altitude Spine and Sport. Somewhere, sometime last week I tweaked something connecting my lower back and left hip, which has left me pretty much aching all the time and grunting with just about any movement.

The PT session was good, with Richey working all sorts of tendons, muscles, capsules and who-knows-what-else buried deep in the netherworld of my insides. We wrapped up the session with the application of some k-tape above my left pelvic bone.

By Friday, though, I was more sore than doubt due to the prodding and miscellaneous adjustments.  Out I went, though.

With Maya (the dog) in tow, or maybe it was the other way around, we set off from the parking lot across the road from Mt. Sanitas and ran up the Dakota Ridge Trail to the top of the valley then continued on up to the Sanitas summit via the East Ridge Trail. Legs felt OK and the breathing was easy, but there was just too much tension in the mid-section.  I presume everything is tight as assorted muscles contract to protect whatever is out of place.

From the summit, we descended down toward the northwest to Sunshine Canyon via a series of social trails, then jogged down the road a bit before picked up the nice singletrack trail that parallels the road on the south side.  Cruised back to the truck from there.

Overall, glad to be out...not glad to be hurtin' so bad, though.

1,394 feet o' elevation gain.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Back to It...Running in VA

After a few days off and a flight to D.C., jumped back into things with a 15-mile jaunt on just about every surface available...asphalt, concrete, dirt, rocks, gravel....

Distance: 15 miles
Time: 2:11
Effort: Moderate
Body: Fair
Weather: Cloudy and warm

Ran from the hotel about 3.5 miles down the Curtis Custis Trail, a paved bike path along I-66, to Rosslyn and hopped on the Potomac Heritage Trail for 4+ miles of dirt.  The PHT runs along the Potomac River through this part of VA and is the closet part of an evolving 800-mile collection of trails in the Potomac River watershed.

This part of the PHT is a rock and root-strewn stretch of singletrack that runs between the river and the George Washington Memorial Parkway above. The trees are still leafless here, so the views down to the river were unobstructed and beautiful. I scared up about half-dozen great blue herons and saw my first belted kingfisher of the year. Spring is coming quick here. Today's temps were in the 60s, warm enough to run shirtless, particularly with the humidity.

Ran the PHT to Chain Bridge, hung a right and ran across the bridge and descended down to the C&O Towpath, a wide crushed gravel path that parallels an old canal. Picked up the pace a bit along this long, flat stretch and ticked off the four mile trek back to Key Bridge in Georgetown at just below a 7-minute pace.

At this point, the race was on to see if I could finish the run before my back, which has been bugging me for the last five or so days and was the reason I took off Thursday - Sunday, tightened up too much and forced me to lope home.  Fortunately, things held up and I was able to run steady the last four miles back over Key Bridge and up the Curtis Trail back to the hotel.

After a quick shower, I immediately headed out the door for some food and walked for another two miles to keep the blood going to hopefully hasten a return to a more normal running schedule.

Post walk and post-refueling, I returned to the hotel and started icing. Not sure what happened to tweak the back so bad.  The discomfort has centered around the an area just to the left of the spine with some modest pain radiating into the left glute and around the left side into the region around the top left front of my pelvis.  Been a bit anxious that I did something to my hip, but there's no impact-related pain. So, for now, I figure its just some annoying (really annoying) muscle strain.

Eager to see how things feel tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Bergen Peak - Upper Loop

Modest jog up and around the upper loop on Bergen Peak. Was nice to get back to some elevation gain, but the body wasn't doing much more than going along for the ride.

Time:  1:34
Distance: 8.21
Effort: Easy
Body: Poor
Weather: Sunny and warm

Dashed out at the end of the day with dog in tow for a run around the upper loop at Bergen Peak, part of the Elk Meadow Open Space.  I enjoyed being out in the spring-like temps, but the run was a tough one.

My lower back has been barking at me this week. Despite a two-hour session of Thai and traditional massage last night, things hadn't improved much this morning. I hoped a run would shake things out, or at least not make things worse.

Things were fine (but slow) on the ups, but on the downs, I caught a toe on a rock, which thrust me forward and tweaked my already tweaked back...right where the lower back meets the pelvis on the left side.  I didn't go down, but whatever was tweaked was pushed further. Not good.

Still, it was good to be out. Maya certainly thought so. She made good use of the remaining snow banks.

A few pics from the run.

Heading up the Bergen Peak Trai 
View of the Mt. Evans group from the Bergen Peak Trail
Another snow bank at the top of the upper ridge off the Bergen Peak Trail
Pikes Peak from the Too Long Trail
Yet another snow bank.
Looking down toward Elk Meadow from the Too Long Trail
A lot of elk were grazing in Elk Meadow this afternoon.
Ended the run at the kids' school. We all walked home together.

Also, I signed up today for August's Pikes Peak Marathon.  Decided to skip the Ascent this year. I put my projected finish time as 4:50.  I ran a 5:11 last year the day after running the Ascent. I had a poor ascent during the marathon, hitting the summit a good 22 minutes slower than the day before.

1,635 feet o' elevation gain.

A New Ultrarunning Relay on Wasatch 100 Course

This new ultra relay on the Wasatch 100 course looks interesting.  Multiple options for team composition.  142.5 miles.  Six runners.  Each runner runs two legs. Race is mid-July on the 14th and 15th.

The race is called the Heaven and Hell Ultra Relay.  Race Web site here.

Anyone have any interest?

Also am looking at this new race, the Aspen Backcountry Marathon.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Run With a Fast Female

Hoofed it up Evergreen Mountain late this afternoon chasing after Maya who repeatedly mocked my pedestrian pace and literally ran circles around me.

Time: 1:45
Distance: 6 miles (Evergreen Mountain); 2 miles (Elk Meadow Off-leash Area)
Effort: Easy
Weather: Sunny and warm

Maya (the new addition to the P family) had been patiently waiting all day while I pounded away at the keyboard and talked on the phone. She gave me "are you ready yet" eye now and then, but otherwise bided her time, for she knew her time would come.

Round about 4 p.m., her time came. So, off we went to the lower lot at Alderfer-Three Sister Open Space for a run up Evergreen Mountain.  Maya's previous long run had been just a hair over four miles, so I was interested to see how she'd do with six miles and some elevation gain.

The trail, just across Buffalo Park Road from the parking lot, was in fair shape...a bit of mud and lots of melting ice. Fortunately, the ice was well on its way to melting and the footing was pretty good. Maya spent a lot of time dashing ahead, stopping to check something out as I passed then sprinting ahead to the next interesting thing (which often included leisurely rolls in the softening snow). I never had to stop to call her or wait for her. She hung right with me.

We hit the summit, did the short loop at the top and returned down the Evergreen Mountain West Trail to the upper lot at Alderfer and ran the completely dry Silver Fox and Ponderosa Trails back to the truck. Great run with the budding trail dog.

Post-run, we picked up jP at school and headed over to the off-leash part of Elk Meadow Open Space where the three of us jogged a couple of miles around the park, then spent a good hour watching Maya horse around with other dogs in the fenced area.  jP got a new pair of kicks yesterday and was eager to get in a run. He loves his new Nike Freedom Lites. Swears he can run faster and jump higher with 'em. I couldn't have agreed more.

Speaking of new kicks...I ran today in the new Saucony Peregrines I got yesterday. I really am liking them so far. I'll say a bit more about them after a couple more runs. So good.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Week (or weak) in March

The plan for the week was to take it down a notch from last week's 94 miles, knowing that I'm not prepped (yet?) to handle many back-to-back 90+ mile weeks.  Stuck to that plan.  Good thing, because other than the Thursday run, I wasn't feeling very peppy.

Two days off...Sunday (planned: following the previous day's 28 miles) and Monday (unplanned: an overly busy day).  Had a couple days of solid climbing (Flagstaff and Sanitas) and a very good Thursday tempo run (Upper Bear Creek Road).  Saturday's long run was a bit of a slogfest, but got it done.

Miles for the week: 61.94
Time for the week: 9:53
Elevation gain: 8,872 feet

The early part of this week looks like fantastic weather, so I may try to up the mileage a bit and return to Upper Bear Creek Road for a Thursday tempo run.

Picked up a pair of Saucony Peregrines today. Eager to get in some easy miles in them this week. I'll definitely be easing into 'em. I think the heel drop is something like 4mm, a bit different than 10mm drop of my beloved La Sportiva Crosslites.

I also bought a new bladder for my Nathan pack - my third bladder. The first two went down due to the remarkably crappy bite valve.  The new one has a redesigned bite valve. Hoping this one is easier to use and survives at least through the summer.

Really enjoyed this recollection from GZ.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

One of Those Days...Green Mountain (Lakewood)

Ever have one of those....scratch that.  Everyone's HAS had one of those days. Today was my turn during a double loop around Lakewood's Green Mountain.

Time: 2:59
Distance: 19.01
Effort: Easy (but hard)
Body: Poor
Weather: Sunny, then cloudy, warm(ish)

Had grand plans to get up early and head over to Buffalo Creek, but a poor night's sleep and a dog looking at me that way conspired to convince me to lend the early morning to the NY Times over breakfast and an hour at the dog park.

So, Plan B was something local.

A couple week's back, I really enjoyed running around the trails of Lakewood's 2,400-acre Green Mountain, formally known as the William Frederick Hayden Park.  Seemed like a good plan to head back there for a couple loops.

From the get-go, the legs weren't there. Everything felt hard. In response, I adjusted expectations, put my head down and slogged out three hours of up and down.  I ran the first loop of about 8.5 miles around the mountain counter-clockwise and the second the other way, adding on some trail sections to the northeast that I'd never been on before.

By the time I was jogging along the final stretch of trail back to the car, I was cooked. I was moving OK, but the mind and body definitely wanted to be somewhere else (like on a massage table).

I can say that I'm glad to have gotten it done, but that's about the only good thing I can say.

2,726 feet o' elevation gain.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Twice Around Betasso

A quiet evening, no plans and a pair of running shoes = two times around the Canyon Loop at Boulder County's Betasso Preserve.

Time: 1:25
Distance: 9 miles
Effort: Easy
Body: Fair
Weather: Windy and warm(ish)

Set off around 5 p.m. from the small parking lot for the Betasso Connector Trail just before the tunnel up Boulder Canyon.  Jogged easy up the early steeps, then just set the autopilot on "low heart rate run" and ran up to the main part of the Betasso Preserve to the start of the 3.3-mile Canyon Loop.

Ran this easy and fun loop twice in the counter clockwise direction and returned back to the truck via the Connector Trail. All the trails were in great shape. Just a few wet spots and a couple of very short, sections of rapidly melting ice. Most of the bikers were friendly. Glad I waited until the end of the day to run. The wind had died down quite a bit by the time I was out there, but there was still some steady blowing from the west when one hit the preserve's open areas.  Nice and quiet down in the trees and canyons.  That was a far cry from last night when the massive wind gusts buffeted our house and kept JP and I awake from about 2 - 4 a.m.

Legs were a bit heavy from yesterday's tempo run (and last night's poor sleep, no doubt). I really enjoyed the mellow pace, but had to remind myself several times not to get carried away and to keep things mellow.

Eager for the opening of the four-mile Benjamin Trail at Betasso, which is supposed to open up this spring. Will be nice to have some more dirt to run on here.  Map of new trail here.

Good luck to everyone running the Salida Run Through Time Marathon tomorrow morning.

1,478 feet o' elevation gain.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Upper Bear Creek Road - Tempo

Very nice tempo run on Evergreen's Upper Bear Creek Road on a near-perfect spring-like morning.  Also got in a late-morning dog jog at Elk Meadow Open Space.

Time:  1:35 (run #1); 30 minutes (run #2)
Distance: 12.3 miles (run #1); 2.6 miles (run #2)
Effort: Hard and Easy
Body: Good
Weather: Sunny and warm

Hooked up with Steve F. and Mara in the a.m. at the Wulf Rec Center.  We jogged the mile from the rec center to the Evergreen Lakehouse as a w/u, then set off up Upper Bear Creek Road at an easy 8-9 minute pace.  The plan was to run to the five-mile post, then tempo back to the lake.

The jog up was easy, but my legs felt flat. I was not looking forward to the tempo run back.  Mara turned around at about 4.5 miles and Steve and I continued to the post.  After a quick bio break, Steve hit his watch and off we went.

As we got up to a 6:15 pace, I started thinking "Uh-oh."  6:15 felt fast...hard.  After about half-mile, my breathing eased up and I settled into pace, as Steve and I strode down this scenic road side-by-side. Still, things felt harder than they should have as we passed the two-mile mark.  Somewhere in here, though, things started clicking.  My legs suddenly felt solid under me, the breathing was steady, but measured and the pace was holding.

We caught Mara at about the 3.5 mile mark and kept chugging along. I gapped Steve a bit in the last mile and just focused on maintaining pace back to the lake. The last little uphill next to the golf course hurt a bit, but I held on fine.

The miles looked like this: 6:10; 6:11; 6:14; 6:04; 6:00.

After re-grouping, we did a one-mile c/d back to the rec center.

I was pretty happy with this run.  It's been a couple weeks since I've done such a high-quality, structured run. Most runs of late have been longish and steady mountain runs. I enjoy the latter much more, but know there's a lot of benefit to be gained by the former. Definitely need to add more quality in the weeks ahead.

Late morning, I grabbed the dog formally known as the Dog to be Named Later, now named Maya (My-Yuh), and did an easy 2.6 mile dog jog in the eastern part of Elk Meadow Open Space.

14.9 miles on the day. 850 feet o' elevation gain for both runs.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sanitas - Ups

Late afternoon run in the sun from the office to the summit of Mt. Sanitas and back.

Time: 1:28
Distance: 8.25 miles
Effort: Moderate
Body: Average
Weather: Sunny and windy

Lesson learned today:  Don't run after eating a big black bean burger and onion rings for lunch, even if the restaurant is solely powered by the wind (green marketing at its finest).

Never felt very good on this run. Legs were a bit heavy. Stomach was churning a bit. But, it was sunny and it was warm. Take away the wind, and it's one hell of a day.  And, there's more on the way.

Ran from the office in Boulder over to Mapleton Avenue and up to the base of Mt. Sanitas. Hit a split here and started the unforgiving ascent up the west side of the mountain. Ran steady, but without much pep. Focused on constant forward motion, limiting the speed walking to just the early steep steps.  Hit the summit marker in an uninspired 20:14.  Lots of runners on the hill today. Must have seen 10 people actually running up there.

Descended back down the west side trail and ran over to Sanitas Valley and ran up this wide gravel path to the trail sign at the top to pick up a bit more vertical.  Came down the Dakota Ridge Trail and dropped down to North Street. Ran back to the office via a round-about series of city streets.

Not a lick of snow on any of the Mt. Sanitas trails I ran on.  Bring on the spring!

Hoping to get some pep back for a morning tempo run tomorrow.  Upper Bear Creek Road is beckoning.

1,671 feet o' elevation gain.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Higher You Go, the Warmer it Gets

An early start to the workday allowed for an extended lunch run today. An inversion was holding the cold, damp air down low, making the upper reaches of the local hills warmer than the bottom.

Time: 1:57
Distance: 10.71 miles
Effort: Easy
Body: Average
Weather: Cool and Cloudy

Ran from the office to Eben G. Fine and up to the summit of Flagstaff Mountain via Viewpoint and Flagstaff Trails. Pace was easy, but steady. Trees, shrubs and grass all were covered in a nice cloak of snow from the overnight dusting. Truly beautiful.

Interestingly, the higher I went, the warmer it got. Apparently there was an inversion holding the cold air down low.  Almost stopped to shed a layer at the top of Flagstaff.

After running around the trail atop Flagstaff over to Flagstaff Road, I jogged down to the Green Mountain Lodge, curious about trail conditions. The trail was icy, but footing wasn't bad due to the bit of snow covering everything. I was in the mood for a bit more vert, so I jogged up Ranger to Greenman, hung a left and ran over to Saddle Rock.  I paused here for a bit and contemplated heading up to tag the summit of Green, but I already was hurting for time, so down I went.

The descent down Saddle Rock took a lot of time and patience. Lots of ice and no traction devices conspired to slow my pace to a crawl in spots. I even had to sit down and inch my way down one particularly steep, rocky and icy drop.  Managed to make it down to the mouth of Gregory Canyon without hitting the deck, although I had multiple close calls.

Jogged through town back to work with a quick stop at Illegal Pete's for a burrito to go.

2,154 feet o' elevation gain.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Rare (and exciting!) Week in Review Post

I don't obsess much over keeping track of my running (no notebooks chronicling volume), so I can't say with any degree of certainty what my highest mileage week has been.  Thanks to the Garmin, which does all the math for me, I can say that this past week may well have been my highest mileage week ever.

The stats looked like this:

94.59 miles
Eight runs
14 hours and 39 minutes o' fun
12,697 feet of elevation gain

The reason for the uncommonly high mileage (for me) was that I did long runs on Sunday (the start of the week) and Saturday (the close). Still, it all felt good.  And, I have to admit to having a hard-to-stifle pull last night to go out and jog 5.41 miles to get the mileage up to 100. After much mental wrestling, I decided that was stupid and training-wise totally pointless.  Although the symmetry of 100 miles certainly had its allure.

I was pushing the mileage a bit this week to see how the body responded, particularly given the niggles of late. Happy to say things are holding up well.

The plan is to make this week an easy week (taking today off) in hopes of absorbing a bit of benefit from last week before giving it another go next week. With the trails melting out a bit, I hope to get in some more elevation gain.

Highlight of the week definitely was the long run yesterday at Buffalo Creek. Everything there is completely runnable, so one is pretty much guaranteed a long, steady effort.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Buffalo Creek - Long Run

Solid 28-mile run around much of the North Fork 50/50K course in the Buffalo Creek area of the Pike National Forest.

Time:  4:26
Distance: 28.1 miles
Effort: Easy/Long
Body: Average
Weather: Partly sunny & cool

Met up with Patrick G. at JeffCo's Pine Valley Ranch at 6:30 a.m. Wasn't long at all before we were heading out along an old narrow gauge rail bed and taking a bridge over the North Fork of the South Platte River. We were bound for the day's first climb, the Strawberry Jack Trail, which is part of the North Fork 50/50K course. (This year's race is July 16th).

The plan for the day was to run much of the North Fork course, only backwards. Map here.

At the top of the Strawberry Jack Trail, we hung a left onto Homestead and ran it to its intersection with the Sandy Wash Trail.  Rather than hang a right here to continue on the backwards 50K course, we continued onto Sandy Wash and ran it to Buffalo Creek Road (now closed post-1996 Buffalo Creek fire).  This section is part of the 50-mile course.  We opted to deviate from the 50K course in order to avoid the Gashouse Gulch Trail, which was expected to be icy and treacherous.

Most all the trails in this part of the forest were clear of snow and ice. With so little tree cover left after the Buffalo Creek fire, the area gets PLENTY of sun (just ask anyone that ran last year's race).

After cruising along the road for a couple miles, we hung a left up the Morrison Creek Trail, which is a long, steady climb to a dirt road and an intersection with the Colorado Trail. The CO Trail section had a lot of snow and ice on it. Thankfully, it was all runnable.

Partrick cruising along the upper reaches of the Morrison Creek Trail
Making my way along the Morrison Creek Trail toward the Colorado Trail
After a good bit of ups and downs, we hung a right on Tramway and descended back down to Buffalo Creek Road. Just a few minutes up the road was the day's last climb - Baldy Trail.  Baldy is a fun climb. Its grades are gentle, but steady, and it tops out at a cool rock formation.  From the top, it was a flatish run on a perfect, soft ribbon of singletrack to the Miller Gulch Trail.

Patrick running toward the Baldy Trail junction
A quick re-fueling break at the top of the climb on the Baldy Trail
Somewhere in here we missed a turn and ended up running a couple miles on a dirt road to the Skipper/Buck Gulch Trailhead. Twice near the end of this road, we both involuntarily ducked as gunshots rang out seemingly within range of the road we were on. Turns out there was a dad and his kid (both tricked out in full cammo) shooting at targets next to their truck.

Safely away from weapons, we hopped on the Buck Gulch Trail and began a speedy descent back toward Pine Valley Ranch (passing the only two other trail users we saw all day) through a nice mix of ponderosa and fire-opened lands.  We picked up the pace as we hit the final descent back down to the North Fork of the South Platte River, getting in a couple miles of quality downhill to close out the day.

Felt like this was a very solid run. Body held up well. Still had some energy in the tank at the end. No major rough spots. This was my longest run by about five miles since last October. Feeling comfortably fatigued now.

All-in-all, a great close to a very solid week of running. Really good to get out and share some mileage with Patrick, who is putting up some big miles with the Way Too Cool 50K and Cheyenne Mountain 50K on the near-term race calendar.  Thanks, Patrick, for putting out the call on this one. Good times.

3,836 feet of elevation gain.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Flagstaff Mountain Loop

Late afternoon run up Boulder's Flagstaff Mountain, returned via Boulder Canyon...a loop I hadn't run before.

Time: 1:21
Distance: 8.75 miles
Effort: Moderate
Body: Good
Weather: Mostly sunny and cool

Set out from Eben G. Fine park in Boulder and headed up the Viewpoint Trail to the first pull-out on Flagstaff Road. From there, just kept heading up. Trails were in good condition all the way to the top of Flagstaff.  There were a couple 20 meter sections of snow, but the footing was good.  Just a tad bit of mud here and there.

Ran solid to the top, then as I ran the trail that encircles the unassuming summit of the mountain, I started doing the mental calculations of time and distance. How long to run up to Long Canyon, down to Gregory and back to the car?  Should I just retrace mt steps?  Then, I remembered the long-closed road that descends from the west side of Flagstaff to Boulder Canyon.  I should be able to do that in the allotted time, I figured. So, off I went.

The early stretches of this road were covered in snow/ice, but once the road emerged from the heavily timbered area up top, it was pure dirt.  I was surprised at what a solid road this was.

Made my way down to the canyon bottom, jumping off the road on a social trail near the bottom to stay away from a private residence. Once across Boulder Creek and on the road, I ran a half-mile or so to the terminus of the Boulder Creek Path and jumped on it for the steady cruise back to Eben G. Fine park in town.

Enjoyed the gentle downhill and quick turnover on the creek path. Felt good to run a 6 minute pace for a bit.

Yesterday was pretty much an off day. Just did a four-mile dog jog at Elk Meadow. The wind was howling, which caused my enthusiasm for a run later in the day to flag. Just as well, I reckon, as the week has been a solid one and a bit of rest was probably in order.

Now...what to do this weekend...

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Exploring Some New Ground

Got out on some new trails (for me) in Boulder yesterday for a 94-minute steady run.

Time:  1:34
Distance: 11.68 miles
Effort: Steady
Body: Average
Weather: Sunny and cool

With the sun shining yet again and the prospect for cooler temps ahead, I was keen to get out for a solid 10+ miles while motivation was high. Connected with Tim L. and he proposed hitting Teller Farms, a City of Boulder Open Space park northeast of town.

I'd never been out that way and was eager for some exploration, so a plan was set.

We met up outside Tim's place, ran over to the open space and spent the next hour-plus running around old farm roads (now trails) through thigh-high grasses.  The temps were perfect for running, with just a hint of wind now and then. The views of the Indian Peaks, Longs Peak and the Flatirons from this park's vantage points were spectacular. At one point, as we were running west, I remarked that it seemed like we were running toward a photograph.

Saw a couple northern harriers prowling the grasslands, winging just above the grasstops hunting for rodents, their distinctive white rump patch visible. Heard a meadowlark at one point.  The sound immediately made me think of spring.

The trails here, save for one stretch of gravel road, were all soft-surfaced dirt.  Perfect for running on.  The trails undulate up and down hills, with no major climbs.  My favorite spot was along Boulder Creek (I think), where there's an old farm homestead and a whole mess o' old, big cottonwood trees.  Beautiful.

These trails are perfect for runs where steady turnover is the order of the day.  I'll be back, for sure.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Double Day and a Weird Feeling

Mild temps, a dog and a desire to get the base mileage back up all conspired to get me out the door twice today.

Time: 39 minutes (a.m.); 1:11 (p.m.) - Total: 1:50
Distance: 4.1 miles (a.m.); 8.45 miles (p.m.) - Total: 12.55 miles
Effort: Easy
Body: Average
Weather: Sunny and cool

This was the third time in my nascent running career where I managed to get out twice in the same day for a run. The presence of the Dog to Be Named Later certainly has been the impetus for the last two doubles. Can't say I particularly enjoy the doubles, but appreciate that they can be valuable, certainly as I try and rebuild my mileage base after a sub-par late fall/winter.

The weird thing, though, after just two doubles, I suddenly am feeling the urge to complain about the lack of prize money in ultrarunning and about race directors that don't offer elite runners coveted entry slots ahead of all those slower guys. This is weird.  I'm sure it will pass. Back to one-a-days tomorrow!

Dog was solid on the a.m. run. She set a nice pace on the leash, never really pulling, expect for a time or two when she really wanted to go meet a dog she could see ahead. I'm enjoying running with the dog. Eager for the Meadow View luge run to melt and dry out so we can do the regular loop at Elk Meadow Open Space.

Evening run was from the house into Elk Meadow, down Sleepy S, up Painters Pause, over to the Rec Center and then down Troublesome Gulch, through the Hiwan 'hood and home via Bergen Peak Drive.

1,373 feet o' elevation gain.