Feb 8, 2016

Hut trippin'

Everyone in the group was delayed by this Colorado traffic jam....
Following along the lines of trying new things in 2016 came our first ski-in hut trip. Sure, we'd done a trial run a while back with snowshoes - but that was very mellow and not really a true back country experience. This time we had a group and we were trecking into Vance's Cabin outside Ski Cooper. It seemed a fairly straight forward route - east from the parking lot, cross the drainage, through the woods then climbing to a saddle, where we would traverse to an open field for a quick descent into the hut. A short 2.5 mile track that promised to be well packed in and easy to follow. Seemed was the optimal word. Shortly after crossing the drainage, we stopped to regroup and shed some layers. Skinning is hard work and getting sweaty not a good idea. There was a group of skiers descending through the deep snow directly above us, but we didn't put it together. The trail appeared to continue heading through the open meadow to the east. So that's the way we headed.

Nick and Todd - our fearless leaders, framed by the snow covered trees
There was a packed in trail in that direction - covered in a few inches of snow, but still a packed in trail. It seemed pretty clear that we on the right track. As we got into the trees, the packed in trail started fading. Not by much, but every few yards the trail got softer and softer. And the terrain got steeper and steeper. We started traversing through the trees, getting further away from the depth of the gully. Then we popped out into a open, snow filled meadow. The packed trail vanished as the tracks we'd been following turned downhill. Not to worry! Our skies floated over the deep power, allowing us to continue our forward and upward momentum. Except for Amber... Her snow shoes were no match for the depths of the snow without the packed trail and she sank to her hips with nearly every step. It took some work and Nick carrying her pack for a while, but we were finally able to get back onto firmer snow where she was able to stay mostly above the surface.

Happy trails for Amber on the firmish trail atop Taylor Hill
A fun little descent and we found ourselves back on the main trail leading to the cabin. Easy skinning again and no breaking through the surface. It didn't take that long to make it to the cabin once we got onto the trail. It was only four miles, but we were all pretty tired and happy to claim bunk space in the expansive basement of the cabin. The other group staying that night had arrived just before us and were already relaxing in the kitchen area. A few of us did another lap or two skinning and skiing, and then it was time for supper. Trying to get 15 people fed and watered on one stove top was an exercise in burner management!. Nick and I joined the other group in a card game before bed time and then everyone crashed. Altitude, adult drinks and exertion took its toll. I got up once to tend the fire, and then slept through the night. A thin mattress and sleeping bag can be quite comfortable when tired!

View from the balcony of Vance's Cabin.
Nick, Nate and Shad on the skin out from the cabin
A decently early start to the trek out had us at the base of Ski Cooper just before lunch. Nick and I opted to stay and resort ski in the fresh - and deep - powder piling up.

Overall, our first skiing hut trip was a success. There are a few things to modify and change to make it a little easier. Our food worked well, but not having a bottle to drink from while in the cabin was a pain. I had two pairs of warm gloves - and was wearing liner gloves most of the trip. Clothing seemed to be spot on for that temperature and effort level with both the climb and descent. We might not get another hut trip in this year, but we will for sure make an effort to do a few next year!




 

Jan 27, 2016

Change of time

Like most runners, I'm a morning person. I'll get up and greet the sun at the end of a run without question. It's a great start to the day and usually the quietest time to run. Very little traffic - empty trails. The city has yet to waken. Yesterday, however, I headed out in the evening. Why? A hoped for call off never happened and I had no choice but to run after work. I hadn't wanted to get up early enough for a long run before work and was willing to take a chance on the evening. 

So when I got home from work, I dashed through with putting away my stuff and changing for my run. A warm layer or two in my Osprey Rev 6 and I was ready to go. And I had a chaperone. Nick was willing to join me on my run, trundling along either ahead or behind me on his fat bike. While I don't usually worry when I run in the morning - after all it's getting lighter and warmer usually - it was nice to have him around. The darkness of night is a different animal then dawn. Light vanishes and the world closes in around you. 


I changed my original plan for the run and stayed mostly on the regional trail in Bear Creek East and West. There was some meandering and a little road, but generally the wide double track of the regional trail. Even so, I was happy for my light - the light snow from on day had covered up the remaining ice in the shadows. I rarely use my Joystick on the high setting for running, but this time I was. The trails - so familler during the day - take on a new life at night. Every stick snapping made me look, even with Nick trailing closely. There was no stopping. I was comfortable running but when I slowed on the hills I could feel the gathering chill. Getting up high off Gold Camp road also highlighted the sprawl of the city.  

Would I do another long run after work? Not without company. And I'm not yet training training for a race that requires night running. But it was nice to know that I could and it's just as peaceful only different at night. 

Jan 19, 2016

Playing in the snow - WS1

After the debacle that was the Rescue Run, I was honesty a little worried about the first race in the Winter Series. I knew the course would be challenging, with patches of black ice in spots. I knew the hills - both up and down - would be stressful for my hamstring. I didn't know how bad thought - I'd done a few super short, super slow runs over the week and I could feel my hamstring on every stride. In short, I had no expectations at all and was feeling rather concerned about having decided to do the long series.

And then the snow came. Friday we got nearly five inches in the Canyon and instead of being smart, Nick and I went and played on the Fatties. Fun sometimes overwhelms smarts... And with the snow, the entire race picture changed for Saturday. The races wasn't going to be fast at all. It would be decided on who's was the smartest and most prepared for playing in the fresh snow. I wasn't so worried about my hamstring and was looking forward to the challenges that awaited. 

First thing I noticed when we got the CMSP was the footware of most racers. It seemed trail shoes and Kahtoola or Yaktraxs were the first choice. A few brave souls were opting to go with acre shoes, hoping the trail would be packed down enough for those to be sufficient. Me? I completely bucked the trend. Sure, I was sporting my brand new, super sharp Kahtoolas, but not on trail shoes. I figured if I was going to race with the weight of the Kahtoolas, I was going to wear my lightest a shoes possible. After all, the spikes would be the primary traction - not my shoes. I was given some odd locks, but no matter! Some of the races are all in the name of having fun and trying new things!

Gun went off and I started a little harder then I really wanted. I knew the trail was narrow to start with and that the packed in line would be very narrow. So I figured - maybe a little rudely - it would be easier for me to step aside and let people pass then for me to surge and get around. Found myself in third, feeling pretty good. The hamstring was there, so I slowed up a little. I dropped down into fifth as we turned  onto the Talon climb. But that was okay. I was having fun, enjoying the challenge of the conditions and the terrain. I ended up power hiking most of the Talon climb. I was going almost as fast hiking as the runners around me. I was hopeful that once I hit the downhill the sharp spikes of my Kahtoolas would give me an advantage. As long as my hamstring cooperated... We hit the back loop of Talon and I found my footing on the rolling hills. Yay! Freedom to fly - at least to float a little. The descent had me giggling - a combination of sliding in the snow and ice and barreling down the steep hills. I had the sixth place woman in my sights and the competitive drive welled up. I could catch her. This is a series after all and if I could limit my loses in the first race, I might have a chance for a good showing. As we merged into the short course runners, I made the catch and did my best to loose myself in the crowds. My hamstring was twinging a little, but I could keep the pace up. 

As the finish approached, I could see two more women in the distance. I would catch them, I'd run out of trail. But I had succeeded in keeping them close. Close enough that if I can tame that hamstring, I may have a chance. We shall see. I have to behave, even if that means running smart and not fast. 

Jan 3, 2016

The Nightmare on Paseo St - Rescue Run 2016

We've all that that nightmare of showing up for a race and somehow missing the start. Get busy talking, stuck in the portapottie line - whatever. You watch your event take off from the starting line, helpless to catch up and be a part of it. I know I've had that dream many times and always make sure I get to the venue with enough time to take care of business prior to the start. So I'm not entirely sure what happened on Friday... My time management skills need a bit of work!

Nick, Cam, Amber and I got to the park with plenty of time. I headed out for my warmup, wanting to make sure my right hamstring was as loose and warm as I could get it in the 15* weather. I knew I'd have to run smart and probably quite a bit easier then I'm used to at the Rescue Run. The warmup went well. I actually felt pretty good with just a little tightness in my hamstring. Feeling optimistic, I was jogging past the fenced in dog run area when I decided to glance at the time. Yikes!!  9:55.... The 10k started at 10! And I had at least half a mile to run to get to the start! I still had all my warmup clothes on - my heavy gloves, my hat and my puffy coat... It was during my sprint to the start that my hamstring twinged again - not enough to stop me in my tracks but enough to force me to change my stride and hobble to the line. My leg was sending me the message loud and clear that I could run - but don't try to run fast. I was tempted to try to drop to the 5k as I was hurriedly giving Nick my clothes, but by then it was too late. We were about to start. I found a spot in the crowd, a little further back then usual and waited the few seconds until the gun went off. 

When my hamstring twinged on my dash to the line, my plan changed from trying to be competitive to just running as hard as was comfortable. That was harder mentally then going all out! I had to willingly settle down and back off the pace, watching the women's race run away from me. I was right behind a cluster of four women and kept trying to pick up the pace to catch up. And kept backing off to my steady effort level. Every time I decided to try to run a little faster, my hamstring would soundly overrule me. As long as I kept the pace easy, I was able to run without altering my gait pattern. So easy I kept it, making sure that it was the tension in my leg that was making the speed decisions, not my very competitive nature. One of my friends said I was "squirming" at that pace! But I was able to finish with a decent, however slow time for me. Can't say my hamstring was too happy when I was done!
I look like I'm having more fun then I really am at this point...

Something different this year with the Rescue Run - the 5k started 15 minutes after the 10k. It made the start much nicer and not nearly as congested. But oh my - when we rejoined the 5k course after our loop on Yucca Flats? It was crazy busy. It wasn't like the 5k runners were not aware that we were coming up behind them - it was just that there were so many people that there was nowhere to go! I was doing a lot of dodging and weaving and hoping I wasn't being too rude trying make my way through the crowd. The racers we were catching were moving faster then the walkers that are normally the ones we catch, so it was better then last year. With the numbers of people doing the race now, I don't think there's any good way to split up the fields. Make the 5k wait too long and it's going to be really cold for them. Start them first and it might get really congested as the faster 10kers try to work their way through. I have no solutions other then to expect the crowds. At least in nice weather years! I never thought I'd see this happen, but I think the Rescue Run might be outgrowing Palmer Park! It's such a fun way to start the year though - I try to do whenever I'm not working. 
Team Fieldhouse! Or at least some of us...
And then there's this! Something very new for me this year - participating in the social aspects of running! This time with the Brewers Cup - adding a team element to the races I was already planning on doing and encouraging me to do a few I wouldn't have otherwise. I'm running for Team Fieldhouse, naturally since they have the best GF beer for Nick, beer that I love and a very friendly atmosphere! More on the Brewers Cup later...

Dec 26, 2015

Back to the drawing board

Here we go again - after getting my hamstring healed up during our Utah trip and after, I though I was in the clear to resume intensity and building out my long runs. I got back on the track and started doing some of my speed workouts on the flat trails of Monument Valley park. I was missing the forest for the trees though - with all the little races packed in January and February, I was working too hard to try to reclaim by speed. I should know by know that the runner I was in 2005 no longer exists and trying to find her again is near futile. But I still think I should be able to run as far as fast as I used to too. Everything was going well and I was turning in some good workouts over the past month. I was starting to feel more like the runner I used to be instead of the jogging cyclists I am now. And then Monday, five minutes into my last interval, the hamstring twinged. Nothing major - but noticeable. I attributed to the cold. It was a little nippy and I'd opted to wear shorts. Maybe a mistake as my legs were cold and it took me a little finger going. I could feel the tightness the rest of the day and in the run the following day. But it didn't affect my running - just a little tighter then usual. So I didn't pay much attention to the twinge. I knew it was there - could feel it through most of my activities.

And the came my Christmas Day long run - hoping for 15 miles, nice and easy. Nick started with me, planning on doing 3. I was feeling good, much better then in past days. The pace felt easy. But just shy of 1.5 miles in, my hamstring spasmed. It was worse then the gradual tightening that has happened before. It was a sudden spasming that felt like a loose string going taut. And I was done. There was no way I was going any more then it was going to take me to get back home. Walking was fine, but trying to run? Not so much. I couldn't straighten out my leg for a full stride at all. Pain in the same spot as before, but more intense. I could see my entire January and Feburary falling apart. 

So it's back to the drawing board for my running. I need to cut the mileage down for a few weeks and eliminate all the intensity for at least a month. And when I start feeling better, I need to behave. Even if I feel like I can run fast, keep it chill. It's not going to be easy - I was getting amped up for two very busy months of racing. I'm still going to do the races, but throwing expectations out the door. I think they will have to be my intensity. The expection management will be the hardest part. Still trying to recapture the runner I was, with the expectations that I had whenever I lined up does not fit with me babying my hamstring like it needs. Showing up with a false expection of where I am will only lead to further injury. It's what I have to do if I want to see my entire season through to completion.