Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Glowing Eyes

What do you do when you're running in the wee hours of the morning and see this...

Or this...

I've come quite accustomed to seeing glowing eyes this fall and winter as most of my runs have been in the dark.  But lately, the glowing eyes on the trails I run have multiplied.

This is due to HR letting about 50 cows graze the Backcountry.  They posted this on Facebook last week:

ATTENTION TRAIL USERS...We will be grazing the Highlands Point Trail in the HRCA Backcountry Wilderness Area beginning this week. Cows can be expected to be in this area through the middle of December. Do not approach or harass the cows. There are no bulls or calves, just peaceful, happy cows. They will avoid you. Should one be in the middle of the trail simply give them your best cowboy yell and wave your hands to get them moving.  Grazing is beneficial to the grasses and habitat and is a fantastic fire mitigation tool.

Brought the camera on my 5 AM run today.

I'm comfortable with seeing the glow of deer or coyote eyes as they scamper away from me.  But stick several 500+ lb. beasts right next to the trail and it's very nerve-racking.  I have not partaken in cow harassment, but I'm certainly approaching them with waving hands.  A few haven't budged and I had to pass within feet of these massive creatures!  I'd be a pancake if they ganged up and charged.

This is a "lightened" version of the two eyes above.

This is the best I could get showing them right on the edge of the trail.

I understand the part about the grazing being good for the land due to fire mitigation.  But is it really worth it?  Almost every stretch of trail now looks like the one below.  Not to mention all the trampled vegetation and broken branches I've seen since this started.

Cow patties....lots of patties.

For perspective, this pile is the size of a large pizza and 5" high.
It looks like I've got about two more weeks to enjoy my mornings with these "peaceful, happy cows."  I'm guessing the piles on the trails are going to last much longer than that.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

HR Turkey Day 5k

I got out this morning for my first 5k in three years and set a PR at 19:15. 

I thought for sure I was going to be one of those guys that drops dead from a heart attack just before the finish line.  Holy cow was that tough and unpleasant!  With ultras, there's a long delay before the anguish & pain flare up.  Today, that all began about thirty seconds in.  It probably didn't help that I ran my fastest mile ever (5:54) to kick off the suffering.  Mile two was uphill and into the wind.  Mile three is a complete blur as I was looking to make sure the paramedics were available when I went down.

Okay, it was just a little fun.  But if it takes me another three years to race a 5k, I won't be sad.  To those that go out and rock these short & fast races regularly, my hat is tipped to you.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

HR Pancake Trail 20

Early last week, I decided to throw an invite out to some friends to see who would be game for a 20 mile run on my local trails.  I love the Highland Ranch trails, but when compared to those in the mountains and foothills, they're flat as a lumpy pancake.  I wasn't sure anyone would take me up on the offer, so to sweeten the deal, I offered a post-race non-lumpy pancake breakfast.

To my surprise, 15 people came out and provided me with one of the most enjoyable runs of the year.  I run these trails all year long, and on occasion get to head out with another person, but never a group of friends.  From Parker to Boulder to Evergreen to Roxborough, runners piled into my kitchen at 7am to warm up before heading back out into the 25 degree air.

And we're off!
The forecasted winds of 25-30 mph never materialized and the sun eventually poked it's head out of the clouds and gave us a near perfect day to run.  I led the group through all the twists and turns, zigs and zags, and eventually we made it back to my house.

Thanks for snapping this pic Chris!  I was hoping for an action shot on the trails.

This was my first time leading a group run like this and let's just say I paced it a bit too fast.  I was distracted while chatting and simply didn't think to look at my watch and slow it down.  Thankfully, no one got lost, everyone finished, and in the process worked up a good appetite for breakfast.

Left to Right:  Chris B, Troy H, Donnie H, Wyatt H, Aaron K, Jaime Y, Todd G, Scott J, Jim P, Scott B, Joe Z, Leila D.  (Out on the trail:  Patrick G & Brad)
When I walked into the house, the smell of coffee, pancakes, sausage, and syrup filled the air.  I've never smelled something so fragrant and desirable after a long run.  Tanya had been working away while we were out running and put out an awesome spread.  I think she flipped 70-80 pancakes!  Later that day she joined some friends for a well deserved ladies night out with dinner and a movie.

The 2011 running season is almost in the books, and Saturday's run was a great way to wind things down.  It has been another memorable year running with friends and building community.  I'm a lucky guy to have so many quality people in my life.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Buffalo Creek Run

Last weekend, I met up with Donnie and Leila for a run around Buffalo Creek.  I was last there in March and was bummed it took me so long to get back.  The running is superb and the company on this outing was equally as good.

Donnie was getting in his last big run before the Hellgate 100k, and Leila just knocks these long runs out of the park for no reason at all.  This long run was perfect timing for my Bandera training.  It was also a good wake up call.  For some reason, I tend to think I don't really need to fuel well on group runs.  I'm not focused on it and I nibble to get by.  Well, with about 3-4 miles to go, I faded fast.  Lesson once again learned!

I may be weird, but I really enjoy cruising through the burn areas.

Why does this picture make me look 8' tall?

We had dry trails all day except for several miles in the forest.  Leila said my Hokas sounds like snow boots!

The wind started picking up in the afternoon, but it could have been so much worse.

D & L still crankin' hard several hours into the run!

There are tons of cool boulders and rock structures scattered all round Buff Creek.

Run Stats

Saturday, November 5, 2011

It's All About Perspective

Here's a bunch of random stuff from the last few weeks...

1.  Jumbo Medal - I got a package in the mail last week from the NH Marathon organization.  I guess I won the male open division (20-39).  I knew I finished in 6th place overall, but didn't think about age group awards.  I'm more excited that the five guys that finished ahead me were all in the 40's!  I'll be there soon enough, so it's always great to be reminded that there are some solid running days ahead!  The actual award is somewhat funny.  It's a jumbo version of the finishers medal with "Men's Marathon Open First" inscribed on the back.  Hey, I'll take it!

2.  Perspective Change  - I've kept my running up these last few weeks, but it has been a real test of discipline and determination since mustering up motivation has been a challenge.  The recent wintery weather has really got me down.  I can deal with the dark mornings, but I'm not ready for the consistent temps in the low 20's with wind and snow we've been seeing.  I revisited a simple poem (Whether the Weather) I posted last year and realized I need to toughen up and accept that the only thing I can control is my response to the conditions.  My morning run yesterday was the first after my perspective change.  I ran 9 miles in almost 1.5 hours.  It was slow-going on the trails, but I had a great time simply because I decided before the run that I wanted to.  Good mental training and there's some life application built in there too!

What I'm missing and longing for!  (photo: Jaime)

Reality:  Snow run at Deer Creek last weekend.
3.  The Daily Grind - I was thinking about the fact that I really haven't taken a break from running in the last three years.  I don't feel I need to as I'm having fun, staying healthy, and avoiding burn-out.  I also have resonated with those talking about consistency over the years (here and here).

4.  Bundling Up - I've been thinking a bit about what Lucho has said recently regarding keeping warm.  A large part of my motivation issues are due to the early season cold temps & wind.  I usually wear just enough to get me through a run without getting too hot or cold.  That first mile is always brutal trying to warm up.  I'm going to give his suggestions a try by layering more than usual.

5.  Bandera Prep - My training started about 2-3 weeks ago.  I'm ramping up mileage and trying to get over to the foothills once a week.  I started my training for Bandera last year around 11/1 and put in two big months of running before racing on 1/8.  In hindsight, I ran way too much in December and really didn't taper much at all. Thus, the earlier start this year.  I'd like to get in a double at Deer Creek or Falcon this month and then tackle el Chubbo Grande in December before the taper commences.

6.  Numbers Game - I recently crossed the 10,000 mile mark a few weeks ago.  I started keeping track of mileage in 2006 when I recorded just over 400 miles that year.  I'm about 125 miles from passing my total from last year and only 380 away from cracking 3000 for the year.  It's a little goofy to be chasing numbers, but it's just one of many small motivating factors that gets me up early in the morning to head out for a run!

7.  Leadville 2012 - It's on!  This didn't make the Redemption Tour since I felt like none was needed.  But I am looking forward to seeing what I can do here with one under my belt.  Now, if I get into Hardrock??  Yikes.