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Three Sisters and Gilligan's Island

Saturday, April 09, 2011

I am really trying hard to find new and interesting places to run. I had read about the Three Sisters in my Trail Runners Guide to Colorado. On Thursday I had an appointment with my chiropractor. On a lark, I decided to undo any good my chiropractor had done for me and go for a run. The Three Sisters are pretty close to my chiropractor's office. My chiropractor even told me how to get there.

I found the Three Sisters and had a great run! This is a very cool place. The trails are steep, treacherous and fun. And I didn't fall once! Here is some photos I took after my run.

This is the sign at the park. This is a big sign. I thought this would be a cake walk.

Here are the three sisters. The three sisters are three massive rock outcrops. This is a pretty place.

A nice clean outhouse was a pleasant surprise. Only slightly less important that running shoes is a good restroom!

I got to find out all about the park from a ranger. This guy was really helpful. The weather was a bit chilly.

The ranger told me this rock outcrop does not have a name but everybody calls it "Gilligan's Island". "Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale...."

This is the trail to get to the trail. This trail is raised and goes over a bog. I was thinking at this point I was going to have a nice easy run. The elevation here is only about 7,800 feet so I was cooking along this nice segment really well.

Turn right a Gilligan's Island and the fun begins. There is really a trail here.

This is what is called a "technical trail", which means you can bite it at any moment. I labeled a root on this photo for further reference.

I put my shoe next to the root for scale. You can see this is a pretty big root.

I ran 5.25 miles on this trail. My average jogging stride length is 54" (which is pretty good considering my stubby legs). I calculated that I took about 7,000 to 8,000 strides during my run. This photo shows very bad foot placement. Chances are really good that if you make this mistake you will take a big tumble. My average pace was 10:06 min/mile. What does all this mean? It means that I have less than 1/10th of one second to decide where my next step has to land. Sometimes the next step has to be sideways to avoid an obstacle. The ability to change direction quickly is really important.

Here is an example of good foot placement. The right foot has landed very close to the rock on the right. When this foot is lifted it has plenty of room to clear the rock that is directly in front of it. Sometimes is is better to keep up a brisk pace over obstacles since it allows for higher vertical and longer horizontal movement. Think of it as being the difference between a standing jump and a running jump.

Quick, you have 1/10 of second to decide how to navigate these rocks. I put my shoe near the rocks for scale.

Did you go the right way? You cannot go to the left because the trail drops off and is covered with loose gravel. You are likely to slip and get hurt. The way to the right is covered with brush. You may be able to squeeze through going to the right but you have to slow down. You can easily scrape your leg on that rock if you move to the right. The best thing to do is to run a tight rope between the rocks. Remember that you are running and your steps are quick. This sequence of steps takes less that a second. You are out of balance but you can catch yourself before you fall.

I am sure you can pick out a good line on this without much difficulty. Here you take the path of least resistance and just run to daylight. There is my shoe again!

This is harder than it looks. The washouts make this a hazardous little stretch.

This is a nasty piece of real estate. Going up is bad. Going down is worse. Why? Nothing here is solid. Everything is loose.

Does this look like fun? Watch it - you have to really launch yourself on each step.

Back at the car and time to go home. I am actually proud I can keep up a 10 min/mile pace on a technical trail and I didn't fall down once!

Thanks for reading my blog.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

RWALTON730 4/10/2011 10:22AM

    Beautiful trail. I probably wouldn't be able to run it, but would love to hike it sometime. I'll have to get my husband to take me there. We live in Jeffco, but I am still rather new and don't know where all the trails and such are yet. Thanks for sharing!


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MAGGIENCALI 4/9/2011 11:05PM

    Looks a little treacherous. Makes my trail run today look like a cake walk compared to yours'.

Thanks for posting such beautiful pics and sharing your adventure! :)

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BANDMAMAPC 4/9/2011 10:18PM

    That was interesting! Loved the way you gave so much detail. You are so right, if I tried this trail, I would definitely have eaten the ground real fast. The closest thing I have to dodge on my trail once was a garden snake. Nice pictures. Thanks for sharing.

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GSCOTTC 4/9/2011 9:22PM

    I had to laugh every time I saw the shoe pictures. That is dedication to tracking your runs. Did you bring a spare shoe or did you stop and take off your shoe each time. Either way it still makes me laugh.

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    Oh I love trail running! And I love your photos! Thank you for sharing them with us. Three Sisters looks like a great place for a run and you did super on the timing!

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ELYMWX 4/9/2011 8:17PM

    Love the pictures!

(unfortunately now I have images in my mind of you hopping around on one foot getting those pictures of your shoe!)

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ELISA322 4/9/2011 8:07PM

    That is just beautiful, I would LOVE to run out there. I've always wanted to try trail running but knowing me I would trip over a big tree root. When I do decide to run a trail I will also come back to this blog.

10 min pace on the trails, wow... you did an awesome job!!

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TEDDYBABE 4/9/2011 6:48PM

    Now I understand why you like this type of running You are not able to go to sleep. You stay "mental" through the whole thing. Wow that looks great. I want to try a trail some day! Great great blog! Thanks so much.

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KKINNEA 4/9/2011 6:25PM

    That looks pretty tough. My impression of a lot of places in CO is that they have unexpected surprises. 10 min/mi and tumbling over no obstacles is no mean feat!

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RRP546 4/9/2011 5:49PM

  very cool

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SUZWARNR 4/9/2011 5:42PM

    I love the pictures and your descriptions on navigating the trails. It could come in handy for me later. I went for a run a few hours ago and the only thing I had to deal with was loose rocks on the dirt road. Thanks for bringing us along!

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Strollers, Costumes, Mountains and Bandages

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

I really enjoy reading the blogs of Spark runners that have done things I haven't done. I try to imagine what it would be like to run with 30,000 other runners. I think that running a race along an ocean would be fun. I like to hear about races where people push strollers or wear costumes. I wonder what it would be like to run with people that are having fun in nice sunny places.

I live in a different world. I am a born mountain trail racer.

I have raced on glare ice and in deep mud. I have had to dance over roots and rocks. I have bounded up slippery dirt stairs. I have had to push through willow bushes that stung my arms and face. I have raced in freezing temperatures and icy winds. I have crossed a finish line smeared with sweaty blood and needing a few bandages. I run races that are at 9,000+ feet of elevation over rough terrain. Most of the time there are only a handful of participants at these races.

I sometimes think my blogs about running and racing are remote, and not very accessible. I wonder if anyone reads my blogs says, “I know exactly what he is talking about.” I count on the support of my SparkFriends, even though I am an oddball runner. On my last blog “Up” I mentioned that I ran a "pokey" 11:36 min/mile pace for 3.25 miles. The fact is that 11:36 min/mile pace up a 20% grade at an elevation of 11,000 feet is actually blazing fast! It just sounds slow.

I could register for lighter races. I even know how to find these races.

Here is one that is on Sunday, April 10th.
3rd Annual Flying Pig 5K Charity Run/Walk

Fee includes tee-shirt, individual picture, AND pigs in a blanket” pancake breakfast

Even though flying pigs are cute, a race is a race. There is a starting line and a finish line separated by 3.11 miles. There are many races like this one every weekend. I keep thinking I should run a “fun” race. I just don’t want to.

I like mountain runners. These people are friendly, relaxed and usually very fit. There is an easy camaraderie before, during and after the race. The race is against the mountain and we are not competitors, we are a team.

The good news for me is that the race organizers always have a few bandages at the finish line.

Thanks for reading my blog.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MAGGIENCALI 4/9/2011 11:12AM

    I run by the Bay, I run with strollers, people in costumes, and people with just about nothing on at all. I do the race thing for the comeraderie and the t-shirt, not the time. I also try to get out of the BIG city rat race and enjoy the peace and quiet of a good trail run.

Everyone has a place where they run that is brings them peace and contentment. You just keep doing what makes you happiest. :)

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ELYMWX 4/9/2011 3:09AM

    I run next to the ocean.

I've seen costumes, but I've yet to see a stroller in a race.

I run on hills, but yours put mine to shame. I probably would run more, and higher, but I live where I live.

Oh, and I read your blogs too, Bruce!

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TEDDYBABE 4/8/2011 6:52AM

    Great blog! I think alot of us envy your running area. Have to tell you I met an Ultra runner last week. He is 67 and consistently runs 50 and 100 milers. Awesome man. I had limited time to visit with him, but felt like I had met a Rock Star! He looked like he was 52. Had been running for 28 years. Awesome visit!

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KKINNEA 4/6/2011 10:35AM

    Your ankles and lung capacity are most likely far better than mine! You can tell us about the trails and we'll let you know about the roads.

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ROOT4HOME 4/6/2011 10:18AM

    I don't think I'd have much fun being a trail runner but that's exactly why I enjoy reading your blogs! You give me a glimpse of what its like and I guess, one should never say "never", huh? Who knows, one day, a good trail run could be just what I need! Keep running the races you enjoy and sharing them w/us!! emoticon

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ANMRUNNER 4/6/2011 9:34AM

    I'm a road racer and I'm always in awe of your blogs.. I would LOVE to race on a trail or up a mountain or anything else besides the road, but I live in Texas where it's flat so road races are pretty much the only thing available within many miles of me. I did a walk/run on a trail once but the only real dangers were bikers..no roots to jump over, puddles to run around, or animals to watch out for. Someday I will run a cool race and be proud of it. But for now, I'll just sit back and watch you do it. (:

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BLACKROSE_222 4/6/2011 9:17AM

    Wow, great blog! Do what you love... and if the flying pig just isn't in the cards, than that's that! emoticon

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Sunday, April 03, 2011

I found a good place to train for the Mount Evans Ascent - Mount Evans! I decided to scope out where the race will start. The race starts at Echo lake on Squaw Pass. Squaw Pass is plowed and I could easily drive to Echo Lake. The Mount Evans Road branches off Squaw Pass. The Mount Evans road is closed. I parked at the base of Mount Evans. To my surprise, I could see that part of the Mount Evans road was partially clear.

Mount Evans Ascent Race Course.


I did not intend to run but I had my running stuff with me. I found a cranny and changed. It was a bit cold and windy but I had two shirts with me. I layered the two shirts and wore my running shorts. I was plenty toasty.

I started from Echo Lake at 10,600 feet. I ran the mile from Echo Lake to the start of the Mount Evans road. I climbed over a snow bank and hopped the gate blocking the road. Oh my, that is a steep road. I ran until a wall of snow blocked my path. I started at 10,500 feet and ran 3.25 miles to an elevation of 11,000 feet.

This was really hard! My pace was a pokey 11:36 min/mile. Although it was windy and cold, I could feel the blazing sun baking my skin. I kept thinking of a line from the poem High Flight "Up, up the long delirious, burning blue". The good news is that I had no trace of High Altitude Pulmonary Edema.

This short little run taught me a few things:

(1) I got to start hitting the weights really hard. I found running up this road feels like a continuous leg press.

(2) I have lost 12 pounds since I starting training. I need to accelerate this weight loss. I need to drop another 30 pounds.

(3) I have to find a good place to train that is 10,000+ feet that is not covered with snow.

(4) I need to run hills and more hills.

(5) I got to get faster and faster -then faster.

(6) This is easy one - I got a hydration belt. I have been getting very thirsty on long runs.

This is a Nathan Trail Mix Titanium Belt with 10 oz Flasks

I need to get lighter, faster, stronger and improve my endurance. Did I miss anything?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LKEITHO 4/3/2011 10:59PM

    Sounds like you have your work cut out for you! Go for it!

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MAGGIENCALI 4/3/2011 5:55PM

    You've got your mountains and I've got my hills. Right now I'm trying to tackle Russian Hill. I've got a lot of learning to do too. It's good to experience these "teachable moments" because it better prepares us for success. You rock!!!

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TREEBW 4/3/2011 11:14AM

    Great job! A lot of my friends that run swear by those gel drinks to keep them going during marathons and such. Lots of good carbs and the like to keep you hydrated.

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MOMJMGR 4/3/2011 11:12AM

    Nothing gives you a better idea of what you have signed up for, than going TO the course site! Good job on giving it a little trial run where you could to see how it would feel. I need to do all of the same things. Great job on loosing weight!! I had a belt similar to yours, only had 4 flasks. I tend to be a heavy drinker (not the alcohol kind..lol) and decided to go with the camel pack kind....even still I get thirsty at the end of a run longer than 10 miles.

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ELISA322 4/3/2011 11:04AM

    Oh man, if you ever find a flat course race to run, you'll be flying through it!

Congrats on the weight loss!!

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SUZWARNR 4/3/2011 7:44AM

    Good luck with your training! Sounds like you have a great plan in place.

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TEDDYBABE 4/3/2011 7:38AM

    Love the way your mind works. Great planning, great progress!

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    Learning is good! RUN ON! You are doing great!

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IRONGRANNIE 4/3/2011 5:10AM


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I know how to pick 'em

Monday, March 28, 2011

I got to Grand Junction on Saturday early enough to go running. I was going to head down to a paved trail along the Colorado River. I ran this trail in the Fall. The trail had some rolling hills but nothing really steep. The elevati0n would be 4,700 feet so there would be more air than I am used to. I was looking forward to a fast 10K.

I never got there. Not even close.

My nephew's wife, Meghan, insisted that there were many good running trails in her neighborhood. My wife wanted to see the baby. Meghan wanted to show off little Alora. I was out voted by a landslide! I have to admit that Alora was a doll and a happy little thing.

Four month old Alora with wild blond hair and big blue eyes.

After holding the baby, making her laugh and getting drooled on, I put on my running stuff and left the house to run the beautiful trails Mehgan had told me about. I never found the trails that Mehgan had described. I did find a dirt trail. I started up the trail. Bad idea!

It turns out the trail went over desolate bluffs. This was also a technical trail strewn with boulders, rocks and loose gravel. Parts of the trail were plastered on the sides of steep hills. Other parts ran along cliffs. Here is a shot of the trail. I put some dots on the photo so you could make out the trail.

Dusty and rocky - this trail was brutal. So much for an easy run along the Colorado River.

I ran 6.5 miles on this trail. At 5.6 miles I stumbled on a rock and went down. I will spare you a photo of my bloody hands and banged-up right knee. I had dodged a hundred rocks. Unfortunately, I needed to dodge one-hundred and one!

I only managed an 11:24 min/mile pace over this mean chunk of wasteland. There were hills on this trail that were steep even by my standards at 30%+. The vertical rise in 6.5 miles was close to 2,000 feet.

I am ready to hop on a plane and go where the weather is nice, the terrain is flat and the biggest obstacle is an errant water sprinkler!

Thanks for reading my rant.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ELYMWX 3/28/2011 9:46AM

    You're welcome to come up here!

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BANDMAMAPC 3/28/2011 8:00AM

    You're welcome to use my trail. Flat and the only thing you might have to deal with are garden snakes and maybe a few moms with running strollers. emoticon What a cute baby and name. I love unique names.

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MARATHON_MOM 3/28/2011 6:19AM

    What a precious baby!!! She's a doll!
So sorry the trail was so brutal and you missed out on doing the one that you REALLY wanted to do. And I'm more sorry that you got hurt in the process! Way to shake it off, though! And I don't blame you for looking forward to the only danger of a run being a sprinkler! LOL

I have a trail marathon coming up in May (my first trail one) and I am a bit nervous. I have done one trail 5K and it was something else... so this should be interesting... even though the race website says the trails are "fast and forgiving...."

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TEDDYBABE 3/28/2011 5:54AM

    Alora is a doll. Sorry about the trail from hell. Take that one off the list. Great effort though.

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SUZWARNR 3/28/2011 5:12AM

    Sorry you didn't get to go on the trail you had wanted to do. Sounds like this one was quite awful. I'm glad you survived. Sorry you got hurt. You can come to Maine and run in lower elevation We have hills too, but probably nothing like yours. BTW, the baby is adorable!

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The Battle With The Big Hill and Myself

Saturday, March 26, 2011

I live in the Rocky Mountains. I run hills. I have no choice.

Sometimes I wistfully think I would like to run where it is flat. I also would like to run where there is air. I am just feeling sorry for myself. I didn't go running today because the weather was very cold and extremely windy.

At least I don't have to run where it is hot and humid.

My wife ran early in the day before it got really cold. By the time I finished working, the weather was abysmal. She was so happy she had a great run. I just felt lazy and wimpy.

Besides, we are leaving early Saturday to go to visit family on the other side of the mountains in Grand Junction, Colorado. My nephew and his lovely wife have a new baby daughter, named Alora April Leigh Aldridge. That is a lot of name for such a tiny thing.

When Alora was born my wife called my Sister-in-law. My wife said, "Can I call you Old Granny". My sister-in-law laughed and said "Bite me!"

Grand Junction is a lot lower in elevation at 4,500 feet and, while not flat, is a lot flatter than where I live. In the Rocky Mountains, you don't run hills - you collide with them. Here is what I mean:

These are the roads by my house where I train. Look at the hill by the lakes on the right side of the photo. This is a steep hill. Ouch!

Each day that passes gets me closer to June 18th when I am going to take on a really big hill. I am registered for the highest road race in North America. The Mount Evans Ascent. What does 14.5 miles, 4,000 feet of vertical rise, and a finish line at 14,264 feet of elevation look like? A picture is worth a thousand words.

This is the last little bit of the race course. This is steep.

Here is a better shot of the summit.

This is stretch of road on Mount Evans. The weather can be really bad.

Tomorrow in Grand Junction I am going to do a really long run. Just posting these photos has scared me again. Here is my favorite mountain movies quote to motivate me.

Quote from Jeremiah Johnson (1972):
Bear Claw Chris Lapp (Will Geer) to Jeremiah Johnson (Robert Redford)

"Can't cheat the mountain, pilgrim.
Mountain's got its own ways."

On Mount Evans there ain't no way to cheat, there ain't no way to quit, and there ain't no place to hide.


Thanks for reading my blog.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ELYMWX 3/27/2011 4:23PM

    Wow! That's quite the name!

And wow, that's quite the hill! Nay, a mountain. While I do tend to run a lot on the flats, I also run on my local hills. People find out how much I do so, and think I'm hardcore. But I run where there is air. You, sir, are truly hardcore, and I bow to your altitude-adjusted fortitude.

I hope you had a great run...


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RAINTHIEF 3/27/2011 8:32AM

    That's pretty awesome! Even though you have to battle those hills, I'm sure your health is better for it! emoticon

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NEVERMIND2010 3/27/2011 1:55AM

    This is funny! Your hills sure do look like mountains to me. I can NOT run hills. I live in the desert - where it is flat, very very hot, and very humid (go figure). There is air, but it is like breathing pea soup - laced with fine sand - in the summertime (basically, May-October).

Enjoy your runs!

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RWALTON730 3/26/2011 2:04PM

    Congrats on the newest member of the family! And yes, that is a lot of name for such a tiny girl.

Your runs look very intimidating, but I know emoticon

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TEMPEST272002 3/26/2011 2:02PM

    I really enjoyed your blog. Made me LOL at several places - especially "I also would like to run where there is air." I often complain (mostly to myself) about having to run hills. But there's hills... and then there's hills. Wow. Your pics have scared me too. Next time, put on layers, windscreen & a hat and do your run. Good practice for your crazy mountain race! Thanks for helping put my own hills in perspective.

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BANDMAMAPC 3/26/2011 12:36PM

    That is scary! I see a tiny hill and I already get anxious,

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ELISA322 3/26/2011 10:56AM

    Double yikes. There is no way I would last out there. Where I run is almost completely flat, we're talking an elevation gain of no more than 185 ft!

Good luck and have a nice visit with your family.

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MOMJMGR 3/26/2011 9:38AM

    Wow Wow WOW!!! That is very steep! I have to hunt for hills in KS...seriously!! I go to the rolling hills in the country that are probably baby hills to you. Great job and good luck with your long run and race!!!!!

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    Oh boy! I'd be scared looking at those photos too. Achee, Machee! Very intimidating. That's when I get to the grind and say "Power On" and just keep moving.

It looks like an amazing challenge.

Enjoy today's run Speedy!


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