Thursday, April 26, 2012

Warrior Princess Trail Run

It was only the first mile marker and I felt like crap. The ego was running through the usual excuses: started too fast, too tired, it was too hot, should've brought some gels, didn't train enough. What am I even doing here, I asked myself. And all of a sudden it occurred to me. Here I was, doing what I love to do, running on trails through the woods, and I'm doing everything to avoid the experience. And so I slowed down, relaxed the muscles and keyed in to my surroundings. In the present moment. And not a moment too soon either! As I turned the bend I almost ran over a huge rattlesnake!

It was slow going from there on out. But I was having fun again, doing what I love to do.

Elite ultrarunner Geoff Roes got some heat for writing on his blog that 2011 was his most enjoyable running year, even though he suffered some of the greatest competitive disappointments of his running career. I can understand that distinction. Objectively, I performed poorly last night, and yet I am satisfied with how things turned out.

The Warrior Princess Trail Run is a fun little race put on by the Whitten family to raise money for babies with Trisomy disease and their families. There are 10 mile and10k races and a 1 mile fun run. They did an excellent job drumming up excitement for both the cause and the race. The volunteers were great; you got cheered on like a rock star each time you passed through the start/finish area. I was a little disappointed to hear the the rattlesnake was killed, the poor guy was guilty of nothing other than crossing a trail at the wrong time.  About half of the 10 miler was on the fairly level but rocky mountain bike trails just East of Keystone State Park, while the second leg is out and back on the mostly abandoned Old Route 51 that follows the Arkansas River. I hope this race will be with us for many  years to come!

Sierra Nevada Torpedo "Extra" IPA for the recovery. In 16 oz. cans. This beer reminds me of the Great Divide Titan IPA, piney and floral hops with a substantial malt backbone. Not sure what is extra about it, but its decent all the same.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The discipline of procrastination

I have this goal to ride a century this year, but, to be honest, have been taking my sweet time getting there. With the baby coming, it probably won't be possible until the Fall anyway, but I also don't want to feel like a complete wreck at the end. Actually, since I ran my first half marathon a few years back on a whim with no training, I vowed to be over prepared for any race or major physical challenge I take on. I'm no medieval flagellant. There's just no fun in beating up my body for its own sake.With trail running, holding back sometimes requires discipline, but with biking I have no trouble at all being an under- achiever.

On Monday I returned to the Osage Hills North of Sand Springs, this time following Shell Creek Road out to Shell Lake. That added an extra five miles or so to the route, bringing it up to 50 miles more or less. It'll be a while until I even think about 75.

One of the many panoramas on the road up to Osage Casino. The hills are such a vivid green this time of year.

Shell Lake is a quiet and tranquil place, and like many bodies of water around here, is much larger than it appears from the shoreline.

Monday, April 23, 2012


Ah, Colorado, that magical land flowing with beer and honey. Where microbreweries are as common as churches (and far friendlier) and a sighting of Bud Light is as rare as a mountain lion. Maybe its the high altitude, the pervading culture or the intense competition that ensures that the brews, on the whole, are just a bit tastier there than elsewhere. Or, maybe it’s a grass is greener on the other side kinda thing. Who knows? What I do know is that there is some damn good beer in Colorado. Here are five brews that left me pining for more.

1. Dale's Pale Ale - Oskar Blues Brewing. Dale is the man. He pushes the limits of a pale ale without quite getting into IPA territory. Both smooth and hoppy, with a clean finish. A perfect recovery beer.
2. Redemption Oatmeal Stout - Wild Mountain Brewing. From a cool little brewery in Nederland, their oatmeal stout is nice and creamy with smokey and earthy flavors.
3. American Amber - Twisted Pine Brewing. Had a few of these at the Twisted Pine tap house in Boulder. It's nicely hopped, but maintains the balance and smoothness amber ales should have. Cheers, Sean!
4. FYIPA - Mountain Sun Brewing. Quite simply a stunning offering from an incredible brewery in Boulder, this one is not for the faint of heart.
5. Resinous Rye - Mountain Sun. A heavier beer, tasting something like the conifer woods that cover the foothills, with a nice toasty fire in the middle to keep you warm.

Redemption in Nederland

Monday, April 16, 2012

Green Mountain

Boulder simply wouldn't be Boulder without Green Mountain. It rises an impressive three thousand feet above downtown and is home to the Flatirons, the picturesque and iconic rock formations that jut out at an acute angle from the mountain's eastern side.

It was Green's summit that I had set in my sights early Saturday morning.

Cutting through a quiet CU campus at dawn with Green in the background.

Climbing the hill on Baseline Road to the historic Chataqua Park, where the trails begin.

The beautiful meadows of Chataqua.

The climbing begins in earnest on the Ampitheatre trail. It's like the Stairmaster with uneven steps.

After Aphitheatre, I took the Saddle and Greenman trails on up to the summit. This cone stands at the top, although the true summit is the rock seen at the corner of the photo.

The summit commands sweeping views of the Great Divide to the West.

On the top of the marker there is a plaque that tells you the names of the peaks

Long's Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park.

The Indian Peaks Wilderness above Nederland.

Eventually I had to pull myself away a get to a wedding, the real reason for our stay in Boulder. While it took me about an hour and a half get up Green, I flew down the mountain in less than forty minutes. Tons of fun, but my quads were jello by the time I got back to the hotel.

I was in a crunch to get back but snuck in one more pick of the Flatirons.

About 10 miles total from the hotel and back. Over 3,000 feet of elevation gain.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Run to Castle Rock

Castle Rock, a butte projecting from South Table Mesa, is a prominent landmark above the city of Golden. In the early 1900s, the rock was a recreational center, with a cable railway up the side and a dance hall on the top. Later, the Klan burned crosses from the top in the dark of night , presumably to scare blacks, Jews and Catholics.  Today it stands empty but for the occasional hiker or runner.

My run begins by the Golden Community Gardens North of dowtown. Castle Rock stands in the background.

I cross the picturesque Clear Creek that cuts through the heart of town.

Kayakers play in the whitewater park.

Eventually, the pavement ends and the trail ascends straight up to the Rock. No switchbacks here. 

The view from the top. The Coors Brewery is in the foreground, downtown Golden to the left. The Flatirons of Boulder barely visibile on the right.

8 miles total. Contrary to all expectations, my knee continues to hold up.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Craft beer lovers of the world, if you ever end up in Golden with time to kill, skip the touristy main drag on Washigton Ave. and head West a few blocks to the quiet Chyenne Street. Here you will find a gem. At first glance, with people standing out on a patio and ordering from a window, one could take this place for a custard or hamburger stand.

No ice cream served here, kids. This is Golden's "Second Largest Brewery", the Golden City Brewery. Order a pint from the window and have a seat in the beer garden.

Sit back, soak up the sun and watch the runners, bikers pass through. Or join in a conversation with some of the regulars. Its that kind of place. If you get here in the evening be ready for standing room only.

The brews could be just ok and this place would still rock. It just so happens that many of them are above average. Evolution IPA and the Lookout Stout are stellar, in my view.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Golden Gate Canyon State Park lies about fifteen miles West of Golden Colorado, nestled in the foothills in their climb up to the Great Divide. It was here that I headed yesterday, hoping to run trails that were close enough to 14ers for some awesome views, but relatively free of snow.

The more rugged section of the park that happens to have the only summit trail is open to hunting this time of year. I parked at the hunter free Horseshoe trailhead and started running, with no plan beyond heading West in search of a few nice views.

I immediately felt like rubbish and slowed to a shuffle. My legs were eager but the heart was not. It was like a lead weight was in my chest. Maybe it was the cumulative lack of sleep from the last week, or perhaps it was the altitude adjustment, but I was soon wondering if this adventurere was such a good idea on my first day in Colorado.

The trail followed a small gultch up into the hills.

Beyond a few patches in shaded groves, the area was free of snow.

This dried out pond was one of the many signs of a dry winter.

The trail climbed out of the gultch onto more exposed area. There were a few tantalizing glimpses of the Divide peaking up behind the surrounding foothills, but definitely not enough to hit the spot. I slogged onward.

There was a trail junction, with no obvious options or marked vistas to head for. I needed a goal to keep moving, so I headed North for "Dude's fishing hole."

The trail descended into a dark conifer forest. A truly enchanted spot. It was around here that my spirits improved and my pace quickened.

I came out of the wood into a small valley with an old settlement.

Moving on to the Dude's fishing hole.

Not a bad hole for fishing, I'd say. There was a prominent outcropping above the lake that looked like it commanded incredible views. While there was no trail, the slope was a fairly open boulder slide that looked manageable. Feeling completely recovered at this point, breathing easily and nearly euphoric, I was ready to tackle this.

The boulder slide ended at this daunting face. Thankfully, I found an easier route up the backside.

And the top. The 14ers were tucked behind the opposing hills, but the view was still pretty sweet.

13 miles total. Truly amazing, how my body managed a kind of resurrection from the dead in a matter of minutes.