Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Colorado Trail segment 5- Memorial Day 2012

Memorial Day fun!

Sean and I decided to take a week off of racing and went for a nice trail run instead of doing the Bolder Boulder.  While it was very sad to see the fun times we had missed on facebook, we had an awesome day.  Instead of the crazy driving of 2 cars into the mountains and all the shuttling around, we decided to ride together and to just do an out and back course.  It might take twice as long this way, but it was a more enjoyable experience than driving around so much by ourselves. 

We had actually planned to run segment 4 in reverse to get to the point we had to quit last time due to weather conditions, but we ended up running toward Kenosha Pass instead.  Segment 5 goes from Long gulch to Kenosha Pass and is 15.1 miles long and stays around 10,000 feet of elevation (1540 feet of elevation gain total).   It continues on through the Lost Creek Wilderness from segment 4.  The weather was perfect, the aspen were beautiful, and the company and conversation was great.  This will be a beautiful run in the fall when the aspen leaves are changing.

We made it to mile 10 when we decided to turn around, we were both a little fatigued from either the marathon last week or that we were running out of water.  I had iodine tablets to purify the creek water from Rock Creek at mile 7.3, but after remembering Sean's shellfish allergy we were very nervous for him to drink any of the water.  Sean plans on doing some 40-50 mile unsupported runs on the trails this summer and this was a lesson on what he will need to pack.  Iodine tablets are not an option. 

On the way home we stopped by Coney Island in Bailey to get dinner.  I have seen and liked the place for years,  but had never actually eaten there.  We scanned the menu to make sure there was some vegetarian option before waiting in the crazy line.  I got a veggie burger and Sean got veggie dogs and fries and copious amounts of water.  It tasted amazing after a 20 mile run. 

Colorado Trail segments 1-4

One of Sean and I's goals is to Run or backpack the entire Colorado Trail.  The Colorado Trail is 468 miles running from Denver to Durango. 
We started running it on March 24-25 and have been doing segments on weekends when he have time. 

Segment 1: Waterton Canyon to South Platte Canyon
Peak Elevation: 7520ft.
Date: 3/24/12
We parked one car at the start of segment 2 and one at Waterton canyon, then we ran from Waterton Canyon to our car and then drove to pick up the car at Waterton and moved it to the end of segment 3 and then drove back to the start of segment 2 to camp.  Segment 1 was 16.8 miles from Waterton Canyon to South Platte Canyon.    It starts at 5520 feet and ends at 6120 feet of elevation.  The first 6.7 miles is the Waterton Canyon road which then becomes a singletrack through the forest.  There was still a little snow in places, but nothing that slowed us down much. 

Peak elevation 7520 ft: mile 12.6
Setting up camp by moonlight and headlamp and dinner under the stars.

Segment 2: South Platte Canyon to Little Scraggy Trailhead
Peak Elevation: 7840ft.
Date: 3/25/12
Segment 2 is 11.5 miles and runs by the Buffalo Creek fire area.  It starts at 6120 feet and ends at 7840 feet of elevation.  We got a late start again and were running during the peak heat of the day.  There was one tiny patch of snow but the trail was clear.  It was pretty warm that day and due to the Buffalo Creek fire in 1996 there was only small patches of shade.  Seeing the impact of the fire was impressive; it looked like a tree cemetary with only tree skeletons left.  The trees were in sharp contrast to the red sand and rocks.  The burn area has an unique beauty. The day after we finished segment 2 a huge fire broke out which was thought to have started from a controlled burn a few days prior.  We are very grateful to have not been there on the day the fire started. 

Segment 3: Little Scraggy Trail head to Rolling Creek Trailhead
Peak Elevation: 8280ft.
Date: 4/7/12
Segment 3 is 12.2 miles and starts at 7840 feet and ends at 8280 feet of elevation.  Compared to segment 2 this was a shady paradise with many stream crossings.
Lazy girl recliner.

Segment 4: Rolling Creek Trailhead to Long Gulch
Peak Elevation: 10,880ft.
Date: 4/14/12.
We made it to mile 5 before the snow started to get very deep and the trail was very difficult to follow.  We post-holed around for a while and tried to run from trail marker to trail marker, but we were unable to follow the trail.  Our feet were wet, we couldn't see the trail, it started snowing and we had no idea how much further it would be before the snow cleared.  We were both wearing shorts and wet socks and had run out of food and were moving very slowly because we couldn't see the trail.  We made the smart decision to turn around at around mile 5.5.

We will have to return to segment 4 in the future to complete the portions we missed.
We met some fascinating people Monday night (5/28/12) at the end of segment 4 who are backpacking the entire trail this summer- they said that segment 4 was completely clear.  You can follow their journey on facebook at "Conquering the Colorado Trail."

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Colfax Marathon

It has already been more than a week since the Colfax Marathon on 5/20/12.  Sean loves this race as it is really is the "ultimate urban tour" just like the race directors say.  The course travels from City park to colfax, west on colfax to run through a fire station, along the cherry creek trail and the platte, through Mile High stadium (I believe it is Sports Authority Field this week), around Sloan's lake, by Casa Bonita, around the  Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design, and then turns around in the Glens neighborhood.  

Pre-Race Photo by Bret Stevens.

Sean had a great race and PR'd by 10 minutes with a finish time of 3:12:52.  He was hoping to qualify for Boston and needed to run under a 3:10, but it didn't happen that day.  I guess it is one more excuse to run another marathon.  There were a few factors that may have contributed to the 2 minute and 53 seconds including: going out way too fast, starting the race with wet feet from the rain the day before and developing a huge blister by mile 3, stopping to "drop a deuce" by Casa Bonita, and the forgotten impact of running on pavement instead of trail. 
I had a rocky start to the race.  I fell and scraped my knee pretty badly before mile one.   My feet were really cold at the start of the race from getting wet in the grass by the port-a-potties and were numb and I caught my toe on the blacktop at City Park.  I didn't realize how bad my leg looked until I went to the bathroom at Sloan's lake at mile 9ish, then I realized that there was blood dripping down my entire leg, soaking my sock, and the tongue of my shoe was crispy from the dried blood, not to mention the splatter all over my other leg.  By mile 13, I was starting to get tired and my legs were starting to feel fatigued probably from my sore knee limp.  I was able to maintain my pace at about 8 minute miles for the first half, but I fatigued early due to all the compensating I was doing.  By the end of the race my back was the most painful part of my body and my piriformis syndrome was returning.  After the race, I actually felt decent except that I couldn't really bend my right knee and that it was pretty swollen and bruised.  My calves, upper body, and back were all pretty tired and sore the next day.  I ended up finishing in 3:45:50. 
Photo by Bret Stevens

Photo by Phil Snyder
Phil thinks that I need to get my tetanus shot updated and to be checked for STDs after the fall and no I didn't find any hypodermic needles embedded in my knee. 

photo by Bret Stevens
I have a collection of bloody trail running photos~ now I have a good collection of road rash photos.

Aside from the bumps in the road for both of us~ it was a good day.  It was great to see friends and runner's roost teammates along the course both running, cheering, or volunteering at Sloan's lake, Mile High, and the finish line.   Sean had a great PR (he had a 10 minute PR at that race the year before also).  If he keeps this up, he will definitely qualify next time.

Update 6/6/12: After having my knee hurt with every step for the last 2 weeks and noticing a bony prominence I never had before, I decided to get my knee x-rayed at work.   Turns out that I avulsed a piece of my tibia and it is now sitting by my fibular head.  Luckily, it doesn't hurt when I am running anymore and doesn't seem to be moving so I will just leave it there.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Herman Gulch

Sean and I had a whole day to spend together with no real agenda.  So we went to Herman Gulch for a little altitude training and a trail run. I had a sinus infection and breathing alone was a workout, so it turned into a hike.  

Herman gulch is supposed to be one of the best wildflower hikes in Colorado, but the peak season doesn't start until July.   The trail starts at approximately 10,000 feet  and leads up to a lake at approximately 12,000 feet. 

The views on the hike were amazing.  The trail was in great condition until about 11,200 feet where the snow remained.  The trail was supposed to be 5 miles total, but it turned out to be almost 7 miles after we lost the trail in the snowbank.   We tried to walk on top of the snow, but the snow was starting to melt and we end up post holing through some deep snow.  

Cute boy I found on the trail.  Oh wait, it is Sean.

Tiny wildflowers.
Waist deep snow.

After our hike we stopped in Georgetown for dinner.   We stopped at three places and read through the menus before deciding on Mountainbuzz Cafe & Pizzaria. 

mountainbuzz Cafe & Pizzeria

  It was a cute little restaurant that looked something like an old train car. There was Jazz playing and the owner was whistling along. Mountain signs and stickers were everywhere. The entire back wall of the restaurant was the menu written on it with chalk.  We almost walked out because we only saw the pizza portion of the wall-  but then we found the panini section and we were very glad we stayed.   There was an awesome collection of outdoorsy magazines and trail and recreation guides to browse through while eating or enjoying some coffee. 

You gotta love a restaurant that asks you to remove your crampons before entering.

Super funny sign on the bathroom door.

Think they meant to spell Kilimanjaro like Kill a Man?  I hope not, because that is what Sean ordered.
Mt. Olympus sandwich.   Amazing.
It was an amazing day together. Beautiful hike, great food, and great company.  Sean and I want to go back when I can actually run the trail and after the snow melts and the wildflowers bloom.  I am sure it will also be beautiful in the fall with all the aspens lining the trail.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Crazy Legs 10K+

We were asked to run this race as ninjas and bribed with free entry fees. (I would be willing to run almost any race dressed as a ninja for a free entry- but I will be buying a new balaclava that isn't made for 20 below).  

We did have to get up painfully early- 4am to be exact- but it was worth it.  We both felt completely recovered from the 50K from last weekend.  

It was an amazing hidden gem of a race run by Paul Stofko (@crazylegs121) who comes back from Indiana every year to organize it.  Paul is an ultrarunner as well as a really great guy.  He also organizes many trail races in Northern Indiana.  The race was in Loveland at Devil's Backbone Open Space.

The trail connects to Horsetooth mountain trail and the Blue Sky Trail.  The trail was approximately 50% packed dirt and approximately 50% rock.  The trail is a geologic marvel if you like rocks. Beautiful views of sandstone in the distance and sedimentary rock layers on a slant to make running a little more interesting.   I found a great blog that talks about it in detail:  It was an awesome race- not extremely fast due to the canted rocks, but fun and beautiful. 

photo by Paul Stofko @crazylegs121

photo by Paul Stofko @crazylegs121

Here is a great race report video from Jerry Armstrong at trail and

We both ended up having great races and both finished 2nd in our age groups.  

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Greenland 50K

Yesterday was our first official 50K in Larkspur, Colorado.

The course is on all dirt double track trails.  There was a gradual ascent from miles 1-5 and then a descent for 3 miles with a maximal elevation of 7400 feet.  The 50K did 4 loops. 

I went there on the way home from work one day and it didn't seem quite so hilly.  I just thought I was tired that day and blamed it on the elevation and standing all day.  Turns out the hills there are for real. 

It was a beautiful day with great panoramic views of the mountains and farmland.  It did get pretty toasty as there are no trees on the course (according to our friend Matt- A. there was 1 tree).  We also forgot to bring sunscreen, so now I radiate heat like a furnace.  

Thanks to all of our amazing friends who came out and volunteered at the aid stations and to cheer us on and to Milan for giving me his last electrolyte tabs so I could keep moving.  

I started out at what felt like a comfortable pace for me, but it may have been too fast for that long of a distance.  Sean and I stayed together for approximately the first 4 miles and then he took off.  I felt great the first lap and didn't drink enough.  I did force myself to eat an evil gel at mile 8.  By the second lap, I started drinking at least a cup from every aid station, but it may have been too late.

By the third lap, I was cramping really bad.  My hamstrings, butt, and calves felt like rocks and I could barely move. Even when I was running downhill, I felt like my legs were just stiff poles but that they couldn't respond to catch me if they needed to.  I laid on the ground to try to stretch for a little bit, which helped for a couple miles. Milan saw me slowing down and passed me and gave me his last electrolyte tabs and some water.   I thought I was doing really badly as I had been power walking for a while. I made it to the aid station very tempted to quit, but instead I drank a ton, had more electrolyte tabs and a gel and kept going.  I got to the aid station and had some more water and electrolytes and felt like I could actually attempt to run again.  I ran up the rest of the hill and then back down toward the finish and then I saw Sean running to meet me about 0.5 miles from the finish. It was great to see him, he still looked good and I finally was feeling like myself again.  It was great being able to run into the finish with a smile. 

I prefer to have minimal stuff and run with as little as possible, but clearly my plan didn't work.  I just might be running with more water and electrolyte tabs at the next race. 

Sean had a great race, got a little tired during the 4th lap, but who didn't. 

         Overall Place        Avg Pace.      Total Time        Gender position         Division position
Sean    12                         8:37                   4:27                    11                              5
Laura   70                        10:53                  5:37                    18                              6
Stretching and happy to be done.

 Finisher Medal.                                                                                    

Dirty feet on the drive home. 

Then we went home, showered, and went to pick up the boys for more fun.

We took a little trip to the dog park, the kid park, Tokyo Joes (Sean was the featured athlete April 2012- so last month), and the book store. 

and fell into bed very tired.