Monday, May 31, 2010

Mueller State Park - Day 2

Sunrises are one of the main reasons why I drag myself out of bed and strap on the shoes most mornings. I was quite comfortable in my sleeping bag when I looked at my watch and saw it was 5:00 a.m. Despite coming up with several good reasons to go back to sleep, I was out on the trail about 20 minutes later. The overcast skies had me thinking it would be a long time before the sun made an appearance, but I was treated to a brief glimpse that was incredible.

Sunday's run was in the south eastern section of the park. The trail map gave no indication of elevation gain/loss, so I planned about a 10 mile run and hoped for mellow elevation changes so my tired legs could just cruise. No such luck. I started laughing after awhile because I would encounter one crazy incline/decline after another. None of them lasted all that long, but they were steep and either forced me into a slow hike up, or fearing for my feet to slip out from under me as I navigated the gravel slide down.

The trails at Mueller are predominantly fire road. They're non-technical, nice to run on, and many are covered with grass. I gather they get more activity from animals than people.

I went about 11.1 miles in 1:53 with about 1600' of elevation.

This run capped off a great week of running. With my run today back at home, I set a monthly PR with 300 miles in May. June won't get that high as I'm lowering my mileage this week in order to compete in a sprint triathlon next Saturday. I also need to focus on shorter midweek runs in order to gear up for a longer weekend run.

Mueller State Park - Day 1

Just returned from a weekend of camping at Mueller. This state park sits just to the west of Pikes Peak. It boasts 55 miles of trails, so I had to check it out some of them to test my lungs & legs at higher altitude. There are no big mountains or climbs. No, you are just constantly bouncing between 9200' and almost 9900'.

This park also warns you extensively of bear activity. You have to keep all your food in your car at night. I've been to other campgrounds that warn of bears, but Mueller seems to ratchet that up a notch. I have never seen a bear in the wild and I have this secret desire to encounter a very safe distance. Needless to say, setting off for a run at dawn had me raising my personal terror alert status to a new color. In two days of running throughout the park here's my count: 0 humans, 0 bears, 5 elk, 1 wild turkey, and about 1000 stumps/bushes/rocks that sure looked like a bear! I'm a little disappointed to say the least. I was well off the beaten path and hoped to see more wildlife.

I set off around 5:20 a.m. on Saturday to bag a long run on all the trails in the northern and western sections of the park. If you're running in Mueller, you better keep a trail map in hand. All trails are named and numbered on the map. Out on the trails, they're just numbered. Unless you excel in keeping track of number sequences, you will come to an intersection of trails, and like me get baffled as to where to go next.

It is a beautiful area of CO as the trails wander through aspen groves, dense pine forests, interesting rock formations, next to ponds, and high alpine meadows.

The highest peak in Mueller is Grouse Mtn (9843'). The climb is very short, but the views of many 14ers are sweet. To the west is Pikes. To the south is the Sangre de Cristo range, and to the west are the Collegiates. No luck seeing anything to the north.

My totals for the day were 20.5 miles, 3:32, and about 2900' of elevation. It was a solid run and gave me another opportunity to refine my hydration/electrolyte/food plan.

This rock was at the end of my run. The picture doesn't do it justice for how large it really is. The massive boulder on the left is balancing on a pedestal below it.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Mt. Falcon Run

This Saturday I planned an early morning run up Mt. Falcon in Morrison. I woke up at 4:00 a.m (about 15 minutes before my alarm was set to go off) and just listened in bed to the wind rattle the house. The forecast had called for strong "afternoon" winds, so I was caught off guard by the pre-dawn ruckus outside.

But like most other times in training, you get up and go and hope that it won't be as bad as it really is. For me days like this are all about building mental and physical toughness, confidence, and not letting excuses rule the day. Once they win, I'm amazed at how their win streak multiplies rapidly.

I got to the trailhead at 5:05 and was on the trail by about 5:15. There was plenty of light as the sun was about 20-30 minutes from rising. My hope for the winds to diminish wasn't to be. I'm sure they were in the 40-50 mph range depending on the gust and at times sustained at those speeds.

Mt. Falcon rises quickly above Red Rocks and then sends you back to a beautiful meadow and then on to views of the Continental Divide. If you hit up all the trails in the park, you can cover about 12 miles with 2400' of elevation gain.

On the ascent I bumped into Pam, the ultrarunner. She's run everything including Silver Rush. We hiked a bit while I took in all the advice she could give me to complete a 50 miler. Anyone who has hung around runners know that even perfect strangers can talk about the minutiae of running for hours. After about 20 minutes of walking and talking we parted ways.

I made it back to the parking lot in about 2.75 hrs, which was longer than I had anticipated. I needed to consult my map a couple of times, took a few short breaks, and my walking with Pam added an extra 30 minutes or so. Since I wanted a longer run, I loaded up my water supply and headed out for a faster round two (2.25 hrs). I skipped one short out & back trail on my second outing, so my total mileage was 23.5.

I'm pleased with my progress on training for Silver Rush. Despite feeling strong on the trails, I'm not that close to being ready to go 50 miles. The next 4-5 weeks should take care of that.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Deer Creek Canyon Run

I made my way over to Deer Creek Canyon for a long trail run last weekend. This park is awesome. The HR trails are great, but when you need some more technical trails with more elevation gain, you can't beat how close Deer Creek is to the metro area.

This park is very popular with mountain bikers, but if you get a few miles back, you find solitude on some delicious singletrack (Homesteader and Red Mesa trails) through the forest with the occasional vista of the eastern plains.

Once I got up to the Red Mesa Loop, I just lapped this 2.5 mile trail three times before backtracking to the parking lot. Total run for the day was 20.5 miles.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Trail Running is Back!

First off...a big shout out to Tanya, Kacey, Meghan, Julie, and Karen as they're all running in the Wine Country Half Marathon tomorrow in Santa Ynez, CA. Good luck ladies!

On my running front, these past two weeks have been a big breath of fresh air. Quite literally. I've been hitting the HR trails in the early mornings and absolutely loving it. I feel I put way too much pressure on myself when I run roads. For some reason, hitting the trails frees me of that and I just have fun.

This year the transition from road to trails has not been as hard on my body as it was last year. Which is good since I have a lot of miles to run and work to do in preparation for the Silver Rush 50 in July. In the meantime, I'm preparing my body for being on my feet for a long time (probably 8.5-9 hours). I'm also learning how to fuel appropriately during a run with food/gels and electrolyte capsules. This is all foreign to me since I always just drank sports drink during marathons. Unfortunately, that ain't gonna cut it when trying to go 50 miles! I can't wait!