Friday, March 11, 2011
I make no secret that I like running on dirt. I live in the Colorado Rockies so running on dirt pretty easy to do. Pavement is actually in short supply. I get bored running the same old places. I have two races coming up: the Long Scraggy Ranch 4 mile and the Lake George "Flatlander" 5K. I also want to sign up for the Leadville LT100 10K. These are all pretty high races from 8,000 to 11,500 feet in elevation.
Anyway, I want to share with you a great new place I found to run. The place is called the Valley Trail in Beaver Ranch. Valley Trail is not a technical trail and is relatively flat. The elevation of the trail is 8,350 feet. During my run the temperature was 22.8 °F; humidity was 54%; and the wind was 8 mph. There also was intermittent snow. In other words, near perfect conditions for March in the Colorado Mountains.
I tooled along at about a 10 minute per mile pace. I ran about 3.5 miles in 35:36. A little bit before I was done running a snow flurry started. I had on a windbreaker, light gloves and a headband so I was comfortable. I love running on a new trail. I just don’t know what is beyond the next bend, which gives a little lightness to my step.
A nice sign like this is dead give away that the trail is not technical. (Technical means a trail has loose rocks, logs, steep hills, cliffs, streams and is not clearly defined.)
Unfortunately, a lot of the terrain on this map is still covered with deep snow. There is plenty of terrain that is runnable!
Warning about bears and lions. All through my run I didn't see any other creature. Solitude, sweet solitude.
Run this way.
Watch for the ice and snow here and there. There are few loose rocks but nothing even remotely dangerous.
Trail goes off into the distance. Beckoning you on. I'm going that way. Up and down little hills like a roller coaster.
This is a mountain trail so there are hills. "Relatively flat" is a loose term.
22 degrees F is still warm enough for shorts. I hate to run with anything on my legs. I often get asked what type of trail shoes I like. I don't wear trail shoes. I just wear running shoes. I find trail shoes are too stiff and clunky.
Snow can accumulate quickly. The snow is coming down sideways.
Time to go home after a good run. My lonely little Toyota Corolla is waiting for me. The car and I are the only ones there. Very dirty little car waiting for a runner with very dirty shoes.
Saturday, March 05, 2011
My favorite type of blog is when a fellow Sparker finds their "inner athlete". These people have a story about feeling physically inadequate most of their lives. Usually these feelings stem from bad experiences in gym class while in school.
I had a little different experience.
In grade school I was a big clumsy kid with two left feet. I fell down a lot and always had bruises on my knees. I was slow, uncoordinated and couldn't hit a ball with a bat to save my life. I remember one time in 6th grade I got up to bat during a softball game. I was determined to clobber the ball over the fence. I took a mighty swing as the ball neared the plate. I missed the ball, lost my balance and fell down on my back in a cloud of dust. The girls that were present burst into laughter. A teacher came over and asked me if I was alright. I shook my head and was sent behind the backstop at the end of the line. I hoped and prayed I would not have to get up to bat again. My prayers were answered.
In 7th grade we were all tested for the Presidential physical fitness award. Part of the testing process was to see how many chin-ups we could do. On the chin-up bar I hung there like a useless lump. The kind gym teacher told me if I could manage to bend my arms he would count it as one chin-up. I couldn't even bend my arms. I had a man-sized body with boy sized muscles. The gym teacher put me down for one chin-up anyway.
In 8th grade I got a paper route. I struggled to pedal my big heavy fat-tire bike up hills with the bike loaded with papers. In the summer my friends and I would race our bikes to the swimming pool and swim all day long. I traded my old Tonka trucks for a weight set. My dad was a welder and he built me a sturdy weight bench. I bought a book about weight lifting. I did curls, reverse curls, bench press, butterflies and military press. I did 3 sets of 10 reps just like the book said. By the way, I still have some of those weights even today.
In 9th grade, out of the blue, I got an invitation to go out for freshman football. There was an organizational meeting at the school prior to the season. When I walked into the room for the meeting my heart sank. There was a room full of better athletes than me. There were big kids, fast kids and strong kids all around me. It was standing room only. I went to a huge school. There must have been 75 kids there. I knew I didn't stand a chance.
We got our equipment for the first practice. The helmet was too tight and the shoes were too big. My dad had told me that I should volunteer for everything. He had been a college football player so I figured he knew what he was talking about. Just as a side note, my dad was an outstanding college football player. My mom had been a champion swimmer. I just thought the genetics didn't get passed to me. I was wrong.
Much to my surprise, I was fast and I was strong! I not only made the team, I started at defensive tackle and offensive guard. I was good. Really good. After football season was over I wrestled at heavy weight. I ran the 1/2 mile in track and was competitive. I was beating guys that were 50 pounds lighter than me. In 10th grade we were again testing for the Presidential physical fitness award. I got it! I was recruited to play college football. I decided to go to an elite smallish engineering school where I became a starter as a freshman.
But I still saw myself as a big clumsy kid. When I was senior in high school we played our arch rival in a football game. We beat the stuffing out of them. I was the blind side offensive tackle. After the game, some of the other players talked me into going to a pizzeria that was a local hang-out. As we walked through the door I saw the place was loaded with girls. They broke into clapping and cheering. Some of these girls were the same ones that had laughed at me in 6th grade when I fell down playing softball. I told my friends, "See ya", and walked out the door.
I just couldn't stand being treated like a hero by the same people that took so much pleasure in watching me fall down 6 years earlier. I never thought that athletic prowess made anyone special. I hung out with kids that had been my friends even when I was a clumsy athletic lost cause. Most of my friends were not part of the “in” crowd. But they were true hearted with lots of character.
Character is everything.
This is me in 1974. My hair was pretty short by 1970's standards. That kid weighed over 200 pounds and was really quick.
I threw the shot and discus and ran the 1/2 mile. To this day I still have real speed in the half mile. I would trade speed for endurance though!
Sunday, February 27, 2011
I have decided to run the Long Scraggy race, which is scheduled for April 30th. My friend John is the race organizer. He called me to clue me in about the race . The Long Scraggy starts off with a 20% grade for 1.4 miles and then it gets hard. My friend John is hardcore. He is training for THE race - the fearsome Hardrock 100 mile trail race. Take a look at this bad boy:
The Hardrock 100 is one of the "Rocky Mountain Slam" series. Other "Slam" races include: Leadville Trail 100, Bear 100 Mile Endurance Run, the Bighorn 100, or the Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run.
Here is a blurb from the Leadville Trail 100:
"The legendary "Race Across The Sky" 100-mile Run is where it all started 29 years ago.
This is it. The race where legends are created — and spirits are crushed. 100 miles of extreme Colorado Rockies"
Take a look at the Leadville Trail 100 site:
Thankfully registration is closed for the 100 mile races. I am thinking about doing the LT100 10K run.
I have a lot of work to do to take on the Scraggy and the LT100 10K. I find that registering for a race is a great motivator. I did hill repeats today. On road where I live is a1/2 mile long hill that varies from 20% to 30%. It got pretty cold and windy (20F with 20 mph winds) while I was running. I jumped on the elliptical when I got home. I have also starting watching my nutrition far more carefully.
Here is a quote from the release for the 10K:
".... I have recently had a complete examination, preferably including a stress electrocardiogram, and even if I have, I have been warned that these races require special care. I have also been advised that I may be exposed to physical injury from a number of natural factors, including but not limited to snow on the trail, lack or overabundance of water, lightning, wild animals..."
These factors also include, among other things, the fact that I may become injured or incapacitated in a location where it is difficult or impossible for the event’s management to get required medical aid to me in time to avoid physical injury or even death."
I like the slogan of the Leadville races:
"TEST YOUR STRENGTH. QUESTION YOUR SANITY."
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