Sunday, March 27, 2011

Falcon Trail Run

In a few weeks I'm running the Cheyenne Mountain 25k trail race (that's 15.5 miles). So when I have a 2hr 45min endurance run on the schedule, I better be hitting the trails. Today I decided to check out Falcon Trail at the Air Force Academy. It's not too far from my house and should be a good 13 mile loop. So off I drove to the trailhead of a spur near the B-52 lot (and yes, there is a big B-52 there). I got my bottles ready, put on my jacket, hat and gloves, as it was very foggy and probably only 35 degrees, if even that. I walked to the trailhead and it was closed. There is some construction going on and this short access trail apparently goes right through that. So...back in the car I went and drove up the hill to the main trailhead. Made sure I was ready again and off I went. 

The main trailhead is up at the top of the hill, so I knew the first part of the trail wouldn't be too bad. It was actually a gorgeous run. I only saw a couple people the entire time I was out there, and the views (what I could see through the fog) were phenomenal!  The first half felt good and my legs were hanging in there. I'm at the end of a 3 week block so my legs were already pretty beat up. Riding my bike over here yesterday on the roads with Team In Training on my first climbing session in about 6 months didn't help much either. 

Some highlights...
Last week I ran 2:30 without any calories - just electrolytes. Today I stopped around mile 7 and ate half a LaraBar. I felt better and trotted along. I was also popping Hammer Endurolytes. I felt any bit of a hill and walked quite a bit between mile 9 and 11. Had a Mint Chocolate Gu somewhere in there as well.  It gave me a little more energy, but my legs were just feeling toasted and roasted! Once the trail started slightly downhill again, I was able to pick up the pace and chug along to the finish. Glad to be back at the car - a great workout to end a 3-week block of training...and I do hope my recovery week is a good one! But I'll definitely be back on this trail, either running or with my mountain bike in the future!
Here's the Garmin Data.

Here are some photos from the trailhead - I didn't bring my phone on the trail to take pictures.

the clouds and mountains above the AFA
it was foggy/snowy/rainy
imagine the view without the fog...
clouds couldn't make up their mind


I started this last Saturday and never published it...

Juno in her youth
Today was the dreaded day. You know it's going to come but when it finally does, you never know how hard it will hit. Today we put down our dog Juno. She was getting up there in years, almost 13, and for a Rottweiler that's pretty old. She's been struggling with some health issues the last year, but for the most part we were able to control it with medication. That medication, prednisone, causes other issues. She'd gone from over 70 pounds to 60. She'd recently caught some sort of infection and antibiotics just couldn't kick it. We did what we could to try to help her out, but once we realized she wasn't going to get any better, it was time to let her go easy. I will miss her tremendously. Juno was our first dog and was treated very well (spoiled). Hard to believe we had her for 12 years.

Tim and I had just moved into a small house in Urbana, IL, and as I was a grad student working long hours, Tim thought getting a dog would be a good idea to keep him company. I had dogs as a kid, so I was up for getting a furry friend. He wanted a Rottweiler due to their characteristics, so we contacted the Champaign County Rottweiler Rescue and initiated the process. They called us that they had a sweet 10 month old dog named Precious. We visited the dog and said "we'll take her!" It took us a week or so to figure out a new name (Precious just wasn't going to cut it) and we decided on Juno, the Roman Goddess of Heaven. We had to learn how to handle a dog and she had to get used to her new home.

Juno was food motivated and because Rotties are dominant dogs, we read it was a good thing to give them a command before feeding them so they knew who was in charge. So we taught her to bring us her bowl (it was a plastic one at the time) and then we would feed her. Worked great - until she was bored or hungry and would just randomly bring us her bowl and drop it at our feet. Feed me!

Then there was the time we were at a small lake with some friends and their dogs. Juno definitely liked the water, although she didn't really swim. But she'd splash and play around. The lake had a small and short floating dock so we walked out to the edge. The water level was only a few inches below the dock so Juno just walked right of the end of it! She was panicked for a few seconds until she figured out she could doggy paddle and I helped get her over to the shore. She didn't spend much time on the dock after that.

Juno also successfully made it through two ACL surgeries. When she was about 5 years old she blew one knee out just running at a dog park. As that one was healing and we were ready give her a little more freedom as it was healing, the other one went out. She didn't run so well after that, but she still was able to scramble around rocks and such when we went hiking. You'd never really know she had double knee surgery.

Our move out to Colorado allowed Juno (and Mars) opportunity to enjoy the outdoors even more. We bought some property in the mountains and would take them up regularly. We took Juno up one last time last weekend. We grilled steak and salmon and she enjoyed that very much! We'd hike around and let her play in the stream that was near by. She showed no fear climbing up some rocks and looking out over the edge and the views.

Juno in her favorite spot - right next to the kitchen table...
Juno enjoyed car rides and feeling the rush of the wind in her face with her head out the window. Her favorite toy was a kong because we'd put food in it for her. It replaced the bowl as the item randomly dropped at our feet. She'd walk up to us with that kong in her jaw, squeeze it a few times, and then - thud - it'd be at our feet. If we ignored her she'd pick it up and try again, this time making sure it landed with a louder thud. They myocitis affected her jaw and her ability to open her mouth, so the last few months she couldn't enjoy her kongs.
Here comes the kong!


happy dog with kongs near by!

rough day - need a nap!

Juno - the best poochie ever!

We're really going to miss Juno. She was a very sweet dog and kept us company for 12 years. The house just isn't quite the same without her...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

5k on St. Pat's Day Race Report

The race that is the kick-off to the Colorado Springs Grand Prix of Running is my favorite 5k race. There are several reasons for this:
1) It's a flat course, and for Colorado that's rare!
2) It's a community event - over 2000 people come out wearing green and other fun St. Pat's Day spirit wear.

no lack of St. Patty's Day Spirit here!

Today started off pretty typical. I met the TNT team at Monument Valley Park for a run. I do this every year....they run 50-60 minutes, and I run 30-40 as a warm-up, along with anyone else running in the 5k. After my warm-up, I walk over to the starting line, which is less than a mile away in downtown Colorado Springs. Temps were near 50 and sunny with a bit of a cool breeze.
Chris, Coach (me), Kisti, Bridget - awesome TNTers!
I get to the packet pickup and within 1 minute I have my packet and get my bib and chip squared away. This year the race is start and finish chip timed.
Race number 1598. Love my rainbow injinji socks.
I then head over to the port-o-potty line and it is LONG! But moves quickly. When I'm done there I have 3 minutes until the start. I squeeze myself into a spot near the front and find Ken Boggs from Runner's Roost. He's wearing bib #1! He told me the store did it to him as a joke. I think he's coming off an injury and told me I'd likely beat him. Yeah right, I said. (but I did...)

The gun goes off and the crowd surges forward. I ran a 23:32 last year, so I'd like to match that. I haven't been doing any real speed work - lots of base miles - so I didn't know what to expect. Going into the race I was recovering from a cold from 2 weeks prior and not enough sleep. But my legs felt strong during the warm-up so I was hoping for a strong performance.

And here's what I got:

Here's the link to the file:
Garmin GPS/HR data

My time was 23:12 but the chip time was 23:08. A 20+ second PR over last year's race and a 5th place age group finish. I'll take it!

Here are a few more pictures of the day:
bouncy things for the kids
guys with bagpipes
hanging out before the race with Pikes Peak in the background
runners almost to the finish
gorilla bouncy thing...
people in green heading towards the finish

And a link to full coverage of the event on