Sunday, March 1, 2009

On the Trail I get it. That is, why so many people like trail running. I haven't done much of this in the past, just some trails in Boulder while training for my marathon.

Today, in the interest of preparing for the Horsetooth Half Marathon in Ft. Collins, CO in April, I figured I needed to get in some serious elevation gain. I've heard the Horsetooth half can be kind of a bitch - it starts out with a 6.4% then 9.2% grade hill for two miles. Total elevation gain in just these two miles is 500 ft. That's a lot for someone like me who finds 30 seconds at a 5% grade on the treadmill challenging.

I did today's run at Rabbit Mountain, which is a trail head outside of Lyons, CO. It's mostly known for hiking and mountain biking. It's a pretty scenic site coming up the trail head as Rabbit Mountain is an uplift of sedimentary rock that was formed when much of the Great Plains consisted of an inland sea. Ken and the kids came along to hike while I ran.

The route took me up a very steep 4x4 road for the first 1/2 mile. I then veered off on a single track and very rocky trail for 2.5 miles. I ended up back at the 4x4 road and got onto another trail that headed straight up. This one was incredibly rocky and I almost lost my footing several times. This area is very known for rattlesnakes and mountain lines and that combined with almost biting it made me think I should have brought my phone. There were very few people out there and absolutely no runners. I was wondering if when I wear my GPS watch I can be located if I got lost or hurt. Like in Mall Cop, since that was such a realistic movie.

It occurred to me as I took in vast views of Longs Peak and the continental divide how what I was doing at that exact moment was combining two things I love: running and Colorado. Being away from the cars and the asphalt and out in the open space was amazing and inspiring all at once. One of the cool things about this trail run was that it was so incredibly rocky that you couldn't go too fast. I was so focused on my footing that I forgot to feel tired. I also loved that I couldn't go any faster, because usually during my runs I beat myself up for not going fast enough. In total it was six miles, but I definitely felt these miles were harder earned than the ones I do on the paths and streets near my house.
It's runs like this that remind me so much why I love running: the simplicity of it, the meditative quality of it, the ability to go almost anywhere (geographically and in your mind).


  1. wow...even if I did trail running.. it's not nearly so pretty here

  2. Very nice pics! I am a wuss about trail running...the snakes alone would be enough to keep me away. :)

    I loved Kevin James in King of Queens. Did you see Mall Cop? I wasn't impressed with the reviews. Did you like it?

  3. Great pictures (wow)! What a beautiful place to run, however I could do without the snakes, they scare the crap out of me. You certainly are forced to do elevation training with that trail, I could use some of that.

    How is the Garmin working out for you?

  4. Sounds like a great run - you're lucky to have such a beautiful place to run. A hard six miles like that should be equal to about 12 in my book!