Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Silverton to Tucson with a trail run on the side

Today, I leave Silverton, Colorado, to head back down to Tucson for some desert running! Very hard to leave Kenny and Silverton, but he'll be home in a few weeks, and I'll be back in Silverton next year to visit.
Bye, bye Silverton! Your snowcapped mountains and brightly hued mountainsides are amazing to look at!

I drove home through Flagstaff, and yes, I stopped off for a little trail run! I did Soldier's Trail, which is located in the Flagstaff Fairgrounds. It is about 5 miles, but I did part of the Flagstaff Urban trail, also, so I ended up running about 6.5 miles, which was great after being in the car for 6 hours. The trail is a combo of single and double track and is located in a beautiful pine forest (Coconino). I didn't see anyone on the trail; just a bunch of huge squirrels! I had one take a picture of me. :)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Silverton, CO - Highland Mary Hike

Highland Mary Trail Hike!
Ken, Dixie and I went on a hike today to Highland Mary Lake near Silverton. We didn't make it all the way to the pass, but we did make it to about 12,000 feet. The snow was getting deep, and we had already trekked through a trail filled with mud and ice from the snowfall that came several days ago, so we were pretty tired. About the time I was reading our hiking book (to decide if we should go further up, which we decided not to) two hikers that were hiking the Continental Divide Trail, which intersects with the Highland Mary trail, came along. They were coming from Canada all the way to Mexico!
All together, we did about 6 miles round trip and saw some beautiful country. When we started, it was below freezing, but we warmed up quick, and I ended up getting a pretty bad sunburn that day. Sunscreen is just not the first thing that comes to mind when I'm freezing, but at altitude, it is so easy to burn. I get to see some amazing places. Thank you, God!

The view on the way back down the mountain was gorgeous, of course. We climbed about 1,500 feet in altitude.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Snowy Stony Pass - Colorado San Juan Mountains

On Sunday, it rained and snowed (at higher elevations), so we didn't do much but eat! Kenny and I got up on Monday morning and bundled up for a ride up over Stony Pass (12,650 feet) to see all of the snow. Here is what I was wearing:

Wind pants
Base layer 'long-john' pants
Sports bra
Hooded base layer
Heavy base layer 'long-john' shirt
Wind jacket
Insulated Soft shell jacket
Neck gaitor
2 ear headbands
Crocheted hat
2 pairs of gloves and 1 pair of insulated mittens
Thick pair of socks
Snow boots
I was still cold in a few spots, which is unbelievable, but we were on the Arctic Cat, and it had to be well below freezing up there. Felt like we were in 'no man's land'. We did finally see someone in a Jeep, but there is a weird isolated feeling up there. It is so quiet and peaceful. The view coming down from the pass was amazing.
Later that day (after bundling up under some blankets for a while watching a movie to try and warm up) I ran the most beautiful 6 mile trail run from our cabin into Silverton along the Animas River with Dixie Dog for the 3rd time this week. After last night's weather, it was an extremely cold and windy run. Regardless, I knew it would be my last run in Silverton this year, so I savored it.
This place will be extremely hard to leave.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Happy Birthday Kenny - Silverton style

Kenny turns 44 today! We celebrated by eating, which we love to do, at the Bent Elbow restaurant with a bunch of Silverton residents. Crab asparagus soup - double YUM!

And, being Saturday, of course I ran! I'm still in Silverton, so I didn't do my usual 'Chiclet' run in Tucson. I couldn't resist doing the repeat 6 mile trail run from the other day, from the cabin to the town of Silverton along the Animas River. Dixie joined me - she is fast and has to patiently wait on mom to catch up. BEAUTIFUL is all I have to say.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Black Canyon of the Gunnison - Colorado

Kenny and I left for the day to head up to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, which is just a couple of hours north of Silverton, Colorado. The river running through it is a beautiful emerald green and is described as 'Class V to unnavigable'. I think we'll skip kayaking that! We did a little hiking on some of the trails there - probably about 4 miles. The wall of rock behind me in the picture looks like it is right behind me, but it is actually in the middle of the canyon, which is quite vast. Then, a little further back, is another wall of rock. We then drove up through the small town of Hotchkiss and then back down to Silverton. The area around Hotchkiss had amazing color - the hillsides were brilliant displays of orange, yellow and burgandy. The changing of the seasons reminds me that NOTHING stays the same. No matter how difficult things get in life, there always seems to be an end to the suffering at some point and then a new beginning - one with fresh hope. Fall reminds me that we all need to take a break, regroup and rethink our life, so come spring, we can be ready to grow again.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

First longer trail run in Silverton, Colorado

The obsession could wait no longer! I had only run 3.5 miles since Saturday. Okay, I have been hiking quite a bit, but I think my endorphin levels had dropped significantly! Today I went on a 6 mile trail run from the cabin we are staying at near Howardsville into Silverton, which was about 6 miles. I ran past the Old 100 Gold Mine through Cunningham Gulch, which has beautiful mountain views, a stream alongside, changing leaves, and no pavement or concrete! Most of the rest of the run is along the Animas River, which flows through Silverton. It was amazing! Running in such beautiful country is such a treat. I was a little winded from the elevation (still getting used to it) but I really enjoyed doing a little longer run. It was not as easy as my desert runs in Tucson, but I could tell I was feeling better. The view going into Silverton was wonderful - Silverton is nestled in a little valley surrounded by huge mountains. Kenny was working at his art gallery in Silverton, so he gave me a ride back to the cabin. I'll be doing this trail run again.

Later that evening, we drove up to Clear Lake, which is on the other side of Silverton. To get there, you have to travel on a 4WD road that has a lot of switchbacks. It is about 4 miles up the mountain, but it took us over an hour to get up there and about an hour to get back down. The lake itself is not that impressive (it is above treeline - sparse vegetation at the top) but the drive was spectacular. A storm was brewing off in the distance, so I took some interesting pictures of the activity over the mountains.
Afterwards, we finished the day off with some dinner (yum, sweet potato french fries) at The Pickle Barrel in Silverton.
I just don't sit still for long. I love DOING. However, I always take time in the morning to BE before I head out for the day and DO. When I do that, I seem to be helpful to those around me.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

10 mile hike, Colorado style

Today, Kenny, Dixie and I went on a 10 mile hike near Silverton. Part of it was on the Colorado trail and a lot of it was on the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad tracks.The train was done running for the day, so we were safe. The section of the Colorado trail that we hiked was mostly downhill, although it was plenty challenging with the elevation and the steepness of the area. The picture of me on the trail with the backdrop of the mountains looks so unreal! It almost looks like I'm in an Olan Mills picture studio! We were still fairly high on the trail heading down to the tracks when the picture was taken, so the view was just incredible. The tracks were very hard to walk on - almost like a step workout! We found lots of old discarded railroad spikes and the valley was gorgeous. Our hike took us a little over 3 hours and we were plenty tired when we were done. We had to park one vehicle at the end of the hike and another we drove up to the trailhead. Crossing some of the railroad bridges was a little scary... looks like from the picture that we were actually 'trespassers'.
Colorado is so unbelievably pretty, don't you think?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A mountain hike and run - Silverton, Colorado

I arrived in colorful Silverton, Colorado (at elevation 9,318 ft.) on Sunday after a 10 hour drive from Tucson. After a day of rest on Monday to get used to the altitude, Kenny, Dixie and I went on a hike up Stony Gulch, heading up to the Old 100 boarding house. It was a pretty steep hike, so we didn't make it to the top, but we still got in about 1:45. I felt like we were on top of the world! I could see for miles and miles. There was quite a bit of fog that day in the valley - we are at about 11,000 feet (guess) in the picture. The landscape views from up high almost look fake! Dixie was very happy to see me and really enjoyed the hike. It is great to finally be with Kenny - we don't get to see each other much over the summer. He is going to get us in some good hikes this week to get me ready for the Bisbee Stair Climb race in October.

Later that afternoon, Dixie and I went on a 3.5 mile run around Cunningham Gulch, which is beautiful! We are staying in a cabin up there, which is near the Old 100 Gold Mine. The leaves are changing and are a sign that fall has arrived. All the pine trees, mountains and streams make it just an amazing place to run. I was pretty winded from that run - the elevation near the cabin is even higher than Silverton, and my lungs were trying to adjust! It always takes a few days to get a little acclimated. I like a little bit of a longer run, but I was trying to take it easy until I was fully acclimated. It was a little cool, but Dixie didn't notice - she was playing in the creek. She loves the water, no matter how cold it is!
I feel very connected spiritually up here. It is just too beautiful for words. Thank you God for the changing leaves, the majestic mountains, the deer and the marmots, and for bringing people (and dogs) into my life that love and cherish me!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Douglas Springs Trail Run

I decided to check out part of the Douglas Springs Trail this morning, which is located at the base of the Rincon mountains, which are on the East side of Tucson. Nestled in the Saguaro Wilderness area, it is mostly high desert vegetation. I needed a trail run!
At the trailhead, there was a volunteer Park Ranger who informed me that there had been mountain lion sightings out on the trails and to be on the lookout and be careful. She then said, "don't run". I thought, well, this is the whole point of coming out here - to run! She must have seen the puzzled look on my face, so she said, "Don't run if you see a mountain lion, because they will chase you." Oh, okay! I wasn't headed to the Garwood Dam area, which is where she said they had been seen - they are thirsty and looking for water.
So I head
ed down the trail, which had a beautiful view and gentle rolling hills for about .6 mile until I hit the stairs (see the picture on the left). The trail is pretty much one granite rock step after another for the next mile so it wasn't very runnable in those areas. However, with all the stairs (there were at least a couple of hundred!) even when I had to hike and not run, I felt like it was very good training for the Bisbee Stair Climb Race, which is coming up on October 20th - my birthday! I was also fairly tired and sore from yesterday's run, which was about 12 miles, and I got a late start this morning, so it was very hot! Who knows, maybe I'll conquer this trail of stairs someday and run the heck out of them!

I was headed to Bridal Wreath Falls, which is an elevation change of 930 feet from the trailhead and 5.2 miles roundtrip. The trail disappeared on the last .3 mile stretch to the Falls. It was just brush and bushes (see the picture on the left), but I was able to find my way alright. We are definitely drying out - there was only a trickle at the Falls (it was such a trickle, that it can hardly be seen in the picture!). I was the only one out there, and it was getting hot, so I figured I better head on back. I made great time back, since I could (sort of) run down the trail steps. Some parts were still too rocky and steep, so I had to take my time on those parts.
I arrived back safely, with no mountain lion sightings! I saw some lizards, rabbits, and a few red birds (not sure what kind). I got a few good scratches from the overgrown brush, but what is the point of a good trail run if there is no blood! I wore my Inov-8 t
rail shoes with my hot pink trail gaiters. I have only worn these shoes when I did my trail runs in North Carolina in June (it has been 2 and half months since I have done a real trail run!) so it was good to try them out on the Tucson trails. They are so comfy! I ran into a hiker that said he could see me a mile away with those hot pink gaiters! I got them at Dirty Girl Gaiters online. I just like them because they are PINK and they keep the dirt and pebbles out.
The views of the Rincon mountains were beautiful today. I am very blessed with many wonderful things in my life - today is just one of many!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Skirt and Sock Review!

Yes, a new skirt. They are all I ever run in! I now have enough that I can go 2 weeks of running without doing laundry! This one is from Skirtsports and is called 'Roller Girl'. It has 'girl shorties', which are just a little more substantial than underwear and have two pockets to put things in. I took the picture from the back, because it is so cute and flouncy in the back! The waistband is silky, and the skirt is all mesh. I wore it on my 12 mile run today and it was very comfortable and I received lots of complements from the running girlfriends (thanks gals, you all make me feel great!). Nancy, Lisa, Laurie (who will be running the many Tucson trails with me starting in November!), Sue and I ran out East today along Old Spanish Trail and through some neighborhoods that were all dirt roads (yes, yes, dirt is good!!!). My body always thanks me for running on trails, sand, or dirt roads. If I had more access to them, I would run trails every day! Tomorrow, I'll be heading out on the Douglas Spring Trail towards Bridal Veil Falls. Can't wait!
I also tried out some Injinji running socks. They look so funny! Yes, like the toe socks from the '70's! Anyone remember those? And of course, they were PINK, so I couldn't pass them up. The fabric was wonderful, and though I was skeptical at first, because my toes felt funny, I forgot I even had them on until I took my shoes off after my run. I'll try them again for my trail run tomorrow - they are supposed to help with blisters, which I don't have too much trouble with, but we'll see what else they can do! Check out this article on the founders of Injinji - very interesting. The article says that the name Injinji comes from the founders' chance meeting with someone who is a drummer. The article quoted the drummer as saying, "...drummers like to achieve a certain level of performance called injinji. It's that pinnacle moment of a traditional drum circle where the dancers and the rhythm of the music become one. Like a trance or acrescendo. You're not thinking. You're in the moment."

And that is one of the best things about running. I'm in the moment. Not thinking about the problems of the day. Present. Alive. Connected.

"When we look back, we realize that the things that came to us when we put ourselves in God's hands were better than anything we could have planned." ~ Bill Wilson

So true! I can relax and take it easy today. Have a good day, ya'll!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Saguaro National Monument 8-mile race FINISHED!

This fabulous Labor Day was the Saguaro National Monument 8 mile race, sponsored by the Southern Arizona Roadrunners (SAR). I am proud of myself, since I did better than last year (and the year before)! Here are my results from today's race and the last 2 years:
2007 - 1:13:11 (9:09 pace)
2006 - 1:15:50 (9:28 pace)
2005 - 1:17:27 (9:41 pace)

Getting better with age!

This race is so darn hilly, with many hills at a 6-7% grade! Whew! They don't call it Labor Day for nothing!

I volunteered for the SAR race registration and packet pick-up at the Running Shop on Saturday with Steve and Sheryl Felde. We were busy the entire time, and we had great fun. If you want to feel a part of something, it is always a good idea to get involved and give freely of your time! Plus, I got a coffee mug at the race as a gift of appreciation (and free lunch during - thanks Sharon from the Running Shop). Here I am posing with the mug after the race (in front of my artistic husband's beautiful bear creation):

The mug is about the same as the race shirt. It has the definition of Saguaro:

Sa-gua-ro 1: an arborescent cactus, 2: National Park in Tucson, Arizona, 3: 38th Annual Labor Day 8-miler, September 3, 2007.

The t-shirt also said "the hardest 8-mile race you'll ever run." Boy, they sure got that right!

Next up: training for the Bisbee stair climb race - stairs, here I come!