Thursday, July 28, 2011
There is a small group of crazies that put on the "Run Uphill" trail racing series.
This is the eye-catching logo of the "Run Uphill Racing" group. The only issue that I have with this logo is the little stick figure is smiling. That just doesn't happen!
I am always looking for a new place to run. On Monday, July 25th, I decided to go to Pine Valley Ranch, which is a popular part of the lavish Jefferson County Open Space Park system. Jefferson County, Colorado, is a affluent suburban county. I live in Park county, which is right next to Jefferson County. Here is the vital statistics:
Park County has 2,210.69 square miles and is roughly the sIze of Delaware. Delaware has a population density of 442.6 people per square mile. Park County, Colorado, has a population density of 5 people per square mile. I had a feeling that this place was getting too crowded!
Jefferson County has 778 square miles and a population density of 683 people per square mile! In other words, Jefferson County has a tax base that Park County can't touch. A huge tax base is the reason why Jefferson County has lavish facilities at 36 open space parks, Five people per square mile is the reason why Park County can manage one porta-potty at a few trail heads.
At any rate, I live close enough to Jefferson County to take advantage of the high-dollar facilities that the good people of Jefferson County so generously provide. Here is a photo essay of my run at Pine Valley Park.
There is a really cool building at the park. I really don't know what the building is for. I think the building is there to hold up the park sign.
This is a shot of one of the rest rooms. This is a "green" facility that turns waste into compost. I am not sure what is done with the compost and I don't want to know.
These are some of the ginormous picnic pavilions at the Pine Valley Park. I think you could feed an army here! Perhaps the park management uses the compost on this grass. Your guess is as good as mine.
The North Fork of the South Platte River runs through the park. The "No Tubing" sign is a good idea. This is a very fast river.
There are three nice bridges over the river. The river is running very high due to runoff from a record snowpack.
Here is an aerial of the race course that the "Run Uphill" club holds at Pine Valley Park in May. The distance is 7.7 miles but there is a lot of uphill segments. Hence the name of the club.
The park has a confusing trail layout. Some trails are wheelchair accessible, which is pretty cool. Some trails are marked "Hiker Only". I noted they didn't say "Runner Only". There is also a lake with great fishing. I don't fish much because I usually fall asleep and feed the fish my bait.
I grabbed a trail map and put it in the pocket of my running shorts. I didn't want to get lost. Besides I started running at 8:00pm. It was likely to be dark by the time I got done.
Pine Valley Trail is relatively flat and is traveled by people enjoying themselves. I don't want to go that way. I turned down Narrow Gauge Trail because my goal is to beat the tar out of myself. I succeeded.
Here is a sign down the trail about 1/2 mile. See there are no other people on this trail. I think that is a good sign.
These clouds are kind of pretty. The clouds would be very pretty if they didn't mean rain, thunder and lightning.
Over the bridge and into the woods. The trail is about to get interesting.
Cool little bridge along the trail. This is pretty flat and I am humming along at 6:04 min/mile pace. The flat stuff lasts about 1/4 mile. Then the trail gets steep - like 30% steep!
I wonder why photos never do a trail justice. This is really steep here. The trail is nice and smooth. My pace had fallen off considerably. The good news is that Pine Valley Park is at a "low" elevation of 7,450 feet. 7,450 feet only costs you about 30% in blood oxygen saturation.
Oh No! A fork in the trail. No worries. I just pull out my trusty trail map and ..... rats! I lost it. I got to get back before dark. Eenie meenie miney mo....
Buck Gulch Trail looks pretty inviting.
Strawberry Jack Trail looks a bit steeper. Which one would you chose? I decided to take Strawberry Jack because it roughly headed back toward the parking lot. This may have been an error.
Strawberry Jack bent around and climbed a mountain. When I checked the trail map back at the car I found that both Buck Gulch and Strawberry Jack trails go off into oblivion. There was no right choice.
I ran through the Buffalo Creek burn area. In 1996 this area was on fire. It looks pretty good now.
There were no strawberries on Strawberry Jack trail but there were some wild raspberries. When I took this photo it was starting to get dark.
By the time I finished running it was bitch black. Here is a rock in the middle of the trail that I did not trip over. I was at the top of Strawberry Trail as the sun started to set. I decided to turn around and go down the way I came up. I thought that back tracking was a lot safer then trying to dead reckon my way back to the base in the dark.
How did I do?
I ran 5.2 miles in 45:34 at an average pace of 8:45 minutes/mile. My fastest pace was 6:04 minutes/mile. Granted the trail was at 6,800 to 7,450 feet in elevation, which is lower than I usually run. The maximum grade was 35%. However, the average grade was a more manageable 13%. I think all the trail running and biking is starting to payoff. I am losing weight and getting stronger.
Now if I can just stay healthy and keep from hurting myself, I think I will be ready for the Leadville 10K two weeks from now.
Thanks for reading my blog.
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Mountain runners have a saying:
"The closer you get to Heaven the more it feels like Hell!"
I am training for the Leadville 10K that is scheduled for August 14th. I am really trying hard not to hurt myself again. About a month ago I started to rehab my left knee. I had partially torn my ACL by stepping in a hole while running on Webster pass in April. I ran a couple of races on my wobbly knee and did not do well. About the time my knee started feeling better, I injured my back! As a result of my injuries, I missed the Mount Evans Ascent on June 18th . I could not run a step from May 29th to June 26th. Completely out of shape, I started running again doing the C25K program.
Sheesh, as I wrote the above "story of my life", I started thinking all this stuff sounds pretty pathetic.
I am trying to train smarter. I started riding my bike a lot more on pretty easy terrain. I started doing a lot more stretching. I was taking it easy with my running by doing sensible interval training on the nice soft track at the local high school.
All this sensible stuff just sucked! I hit technical trails on my bike. As a result I managed to get a few minor flesh wounds. But the hard trails were fun! If it ain't fun, I have a hard time getting motivated.
I knew my conservative running schedule was not going to help me get up the hill at the Leadville 10k. This race starts at 10,000 feet of elevation and goes up from there. I hit the trails. I ran the Flying J trails and had an enjoyable 5k run in beautiful surroundings.
I got new shoes a couple days ago and had to break them in right. I headed for Beaver Ranch. First, let me say I am fine and didn't break, bang or destroy any critical body parts. The following is a photo essay of my training run.
Beaver ranch is not a high-dollar part of the Jefferson County open space park system. This is a normal Park County low-dollar trail that is "technical" because nature is trying to push out the invaders and nobody is fighting back!
There is a porta-potty at the trail head that is reasonably clean. Beggars cannot be choosers. Compare this to a typical Jefferson County facility.
This is the modern restroom at the Flying J. However, lots of people use the Flying J, justifying the cost. The advantage of Beaver Ranch is solitude.
Here is my trusty Corolla all by its lonesome.
A silent winter warrior stands ready to do its duty. Rusty and beat up,this truck is worth its weight in gold when the snow starts to fly.
My new shoes are ready for action!
Nike Zoom Vomeros are not trail shoes. I find trail shoes are too heavy in size 13.
This is a nice set of trails. However, trying to find the overgrown routes can be a challenge.
This trail map does not say "you are here". The map does show "P" for parking or porta-potty. Really doesn't matter which one.
This is a new and welcome sign. I think this blew the entire yearly budget.
Of course, I got a good idea why this sign is here. The trail looks inviting to a 4x4.
Obligatory sign warning of bears and mountain lions.
I find it interesting that there are no beavers at Beaver Ranch. There is a beaver up on Kenosa pass that we have named "Bridgestone". Bridgestone is bent on flooding the Kenosha valley and depriving Denver of its water source. Bridgestone is a brave little rodent for taking on the mighty Denver Water Board! Now if Bridgestone could dam the Colorado River California would become a budget wasteland and Vegas would become a desert supported by gambling and prostitution. No wait... never mind.
Back at No Beaver Ranch there is even a trail head sign.
Not pretty but effective. The scenery is pretty. We have been getting lots of rain. The fire danger is low and everything is nice and green.
One runner (moi), 65 degrees, 8280 feet elevation, light breeze, crystal clean air, new shoes, great scenery, good legs, hydration belt, wild flowers in bloom and birds singing. Does it get better than this? I think not!
About a mile down the smooth trail is this rustic bridge. At this point I am flying down the trail at an 8 min/mile pace. The nice smooth trail is about to go bye-bye. The new shoes feel great.
Gracious, these stairs are new. Is there no end to the lavish spending on improvement?
I am curious why the stairs are wide at the bottom and narrow at the top. I suspect half way up they starting running out of money and had to economize. Just a theory.
Up the stairs and up the hill. My pace is about to get a lot slower.
I took this shot in attempt to show that the trail is sort of steep at this point.
There are a few more steps up the trail a bit.
There is a Frisbee golf course along the trail. I think that is weird.
Now the trail gets interesting.
Steep and rocky. My pace gets even slower.
This is a long and treacherous uphill stretch. I decided to go up the hill. There is an option to go around the hill. Still have to climb but it is a lot safer.
There is a part of this trail that is so overgrown that it disappears for 1/4 mile. This is not "technical".
The down hill is steep and has a few hazards.
This is the beginning of the descent. The trail profile is all up then all down. The trail does not "roll" up and down. Legs feel like rubber here
This is looking "up" the downhill section. I wanted to get a good shot of the roots. The way I get these shots is to go over the trail once I finish running. I slowly jog or walk parts of the trail to take photos. My photos tend to be of the beginning and end of the trail. I often don't want to do the trail all over again. Carrying my camera helps me cool down.
How did I do on my run? I ran 4 miles in 42 minutes. My average pace was about 10:30 min/mile. With my left knee pretty much healed, I could roll on the downhill sections. My fastest pace was 5:42 min/mile. The steepest part of the trail was a 45% grade. I felt pretty strong during my run. However, I am a long way from be able to do well during the Leadville 10K. I still have a little time to train.
The parking lot is actually pretty big.
This gives me an idea. I think I could organize a trail race here at Beaver Ranch. There is ample parking. I can rent another porta-potty. I have five grown children that can work the race. I have a canopy and long folding table for registration. We have several laptops and printers to help with registration. The trail has just a few technical parts but could be routed to minimize the difficult terrain. My daughter is graduating with a degree in communications and would know how to advertise and promote the race. We have big water jugs. My wife likes to do this sort of stuff. The trail is wide with only a few choke points. I know where to get bib numbers. I know everybody around here and could get sponsors pretty easily. The course is almost exactly 4 miles. 8,200 feet of elevation is not ridiculously high. My good friend John organizes the Long Scraggy trail race and could give me pointers.
I would have to think up a name like the "Beaver Ranch 4 Mile Trail Race". There are tons of good charities that are hungry for money.
Would any of you be up for a trail race?
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
As most of you know, I live in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Last Saturday I wanted to go to Mount Evans and run the Chicago Lakes trail. I can see Mount Evans (14,260 feet) from my house. There were serious storm clouds on the peak. Not good!
I decided to go for an easy run at Flying J Ranch nearby. I have been trying to rehab a bad knee by doing the C25K training program. I had been running on the local high school track, which has a beautiful resilient surface. Running in a circle is boring. The Flying J trails are well maintained. I have included some photos of the Flying J.
This sign tells a little bit about the Flying J Ranch. This is not raw wilderness any longer.
I think it is always good to know where you are and where you are going.
Bears and lions live in the Rocky Mountains - well duh! I didn't think this sign was referring to Chicago or Detroit!
I personally prefer Squirrels to lions and bears. Squirrels are my favorite animals. Some people around here call Squirrels "Tree Rats". I think Squirrels are hilarious!
The Squirrel pictured above is an Abert's Squirrel. They live around here and are pretty rare elsewhere.
This is a Pine Squirrel. Predictably, these little guys live in pine trees.
Pine Squirrels are very noisy and chatter like crazy. They also bombard you with pine cones. I told you Squirrels are funny little animals.
Rocket J. Squirrel in action! I think if Squirrels were just half the size of bears they would be invincible!
This is a pretty trail at the Flying Ranch Park where I ran on Saturday.
People ride their mountain bikes on this trail. A few roots and an occasional rock make this a nice trail for a bike. Everybody you meet on these trails are friendly.
I think this trail looks inviting. You can see it disappear into the distance. Although this trail is quite smooth, I can still fall down.
Near the parking lot are picnic pavilions. It was raining when I finished my run. I did my post-cardio stretching on a picnic table. Rain in Colorado is about one degree above freezing.
There is even a great outhouse that is heated and has flushing toilets. I would rather to go to places where Daniel Boone would go to get away from it all. Although I have to admit that the Flying J has all the comforts of home.
So how did I do running? I didn't wound myself! I ran 3 miles in 33 minutes, which is not setting the World on fire. But I felt pretty good after this short run. I am also riding my bike on days when I am not running. Sunday I took my "safe" bike for a ride.
I have names for my bikes. Stumpy is my Specialized Stumpjumper. Big Red is my Giant Boulder Se. Big Red has 21-speeds, aluminum frame, solid components, and adjustable forks. This bike is pretty good on dirt roads and easy trails. At $380 this is a lot of bike for the money.
I always wear a helmet. A few scrapes and bruises on a leg is nothing compared to a whack on the head.
Thanks for reading my blog!
Saturday, July 16, 2011
I am pretty banged-up. My wife told me that if I were a horse I would have to put down! My latest adventure was about a week ago. I fell off my bike. I have a Specialized Stumpjumper mountain bike I call "Stumpy". This is a pretty fast bike, which is not what I really need.
I bought some new cleats for my bike shoes. Although I am pretty sure it is a bad idea to use pedal clips where I ride, I like the little bit of extra "umph" the clips give me. The cleats are Shimano SH56 SPD that are supposed to release in multiple directions. I had just been using the single direction-release cleats.
Armed with my new cool cleats, I headed to Slaughter House trail. I have found there are are certain places to avoid based on the name. Any ski slope nick- named the "Jaws of Death" is likely to be a unique experience. Trails named after fighter planes, outlaws or train wrecks may also tend to be difficult. Certainly a trail with the word "Slaughter" in the title should be avoided like the plague!
Of course, I am attracted to such places like a moth to a flame! With much the same results - crash and burn!
I tried the new cleats in the garage on Stumpy. Everything was great. I didn't even take any tools to adjust the pedal tension. Rookie mistake! I think the new cleats were just a tad bigger than my old cleats. at a critical juncture, there was a slight delay as I tried to kickout of my right cleat. Here is a photo essay.
This is Stumpy. Stumpy is a Plain-Jane bike that has subtle silver graphics. Bikes from discount stores are prettier.
Slaughter House trail is actually in very pretty country. I tad steep but very scenic.
Trail conditions on Slaughter House go to mildly rocky.
To insanely rocky. My Garmin shows that Stumpy and me hit 36.5 mph over some of this terrain.
Here are the predictable results. My right foot needed to come out of the pedal clip. The right foot did not come out of the pedal clip because the clip spring tension was too tight. By the time I kicked my heel out of the pedal, it was too late.
Here is another photo of my leg. This sorta hurt! The bruises are not quite visible.
I came home and adjusted the spring tension on the pedal. The spring tension was way too tight. Me and Stumpy are having fun. Today, I need to do some high-altitude running. I plan to run to Chicago Lakes on Mount Evans. The trailhead starts at 10,650 feet and tops out at 12,000 feet. I am pretty well healed. I few stumbles on the rocky Chicago Lake Trail will take care of my recovery.
Moth to a flame! Thanks for reading my Blog.
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