Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Return to Shadow Canyon

I hadn't run Shadow Canyon since early July before I fractured my foot. I hadn't planned on going there but to get Alex to run with me it has to be more interesting than our nearby open space trails. I invited him to Eldorado Springs and from there gave him a couple of options and he chose the steeper one. The temperature was about at freezing and Alex suffers from exercise induced asthma when it's cold. We actually stopped by the pharmacy to get a refill on his inhaler prescription before going but it had expired. We took it easy and even hiked some sections but the narrow rocky trails higher up just want to be run. We still complete the 5 miles in a tad over an hour. I was disappointed the last time I posted video on here but I'm going to try it again.

You may want to mute the volume so you don't have to hear me grunting about filming and watching my steps at the same time. And this is different footage from what I posted of Facebook.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Runner is Born

At the alternative high school where I teach we have experiential learning outings at the end of each six week term for students who pass all of their classes. Yesterday, they chose from a vertical wind tunnel, a tour of Invesco Field where the Denver Broncos play, slam poetry at downtown cafe, a scavenger hunt at the Denver Museum of Natural History, or mountain trail running with me. Needless to say, my offering wasn't many kids' first choice. They had to rank their choices 1-5. I didn't ask but it occurred to me that maybe the four that signed up for me got mixed up on whether 1 was the top choice or 5 was the top choice; I know I've done that on surveys before. By the departure time yesterday morning, two had been disqualified, one showed up after we had left to catch the bus, so it was just one student and I.

We took public transportation to Boulder and were in downtown at 9:50AM. We dumped our backpacks where I store our vending cart, made a pit stop, and head out walking and connected up with the Boulder Creek Path. We reached Settler's Park where we were going pick up mountain park trails but they were all blocked with police tape because a helicopter was loading power line parts and flying off with them. We bypassed the whole area by walking through a historic Boulder neighborhood.

We arrived at the Mt. Sanitas Trailhead and started to jog. My running buddy for the day had run the Bolder Boulder when he was in middle school so although he wasn't in runner shape, what to expect was not unfamiliar to him. We alternated between jogging, walk, climbing, hiking, and taking an occasional brief breather. At one point after I took off jogging on a flatter part of the trail I noticed he hadn't followed. When he caught up, he said he didn't feel so well, that maybe he should have eaten something. I had advised him beforehand and also offered the option again before heading out. I gave him a gel, which he didn't enjoy but it seemed to revive him. Before too long we finished our ascent of 1400 feet at the summit of Mt. Sanitas. We caught our breath and started down a steeper trail than we had taken going up. In some places we had to climb down facing the mountain to avoid slipping and becoming our own personal mini avalanche.

We made it down without incident and took the gently sloped Dakota Ridge valley access road down to the trailhead. At one point as we're cruising down the path he punches out at the air and declares, "I feel like Rocky".

Perfect. Mission Accomplished.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Bonus Days

Being able to run after work this week was like finding a three dollar chocolate truffle after eating your way through the trick or treat candy that filled your pillow case. It had to be savoured. Daylight savings starts tomorrow so any runs after work for the next few months will be in the dark and cold. The temperatures have been in the seventies all week but with the last hour of daylight they slipped into the sixties; what a treat to run on a November afternoon in shorts and a T-shirt.

I had run a lot last weekend so on Monday afternoon I was content to just get out and take Elliott for a stroll around the neighborhood as the trees began to cast long shadows across their golden leaves that lay underfoot. Tuesday and Wednesday were marathon teaching days with four hours of adult classes each evening after my regular workday with the alternative education congregation. I was content to have chat quick meal and a beer while catching up with Ruth and being entertained by Elliott for a few minutes before going succumbing to slumber.

Thursday, was the kind of day you want to tell everyone you know to get outside and enjoy the day so before changing into summer running clothes I poked my head into Valerie's hazmat zone where she was seated at her little desk with books propped open around her littered with bite-sized candy bar wrappers, the radio on, the laptop in front of her, and cell phone in hand. She swung around, clearly having an OMG moment and knowing she was going to surprise me said,"I've been thinking I want to run cross country next year, but that would mean starting to run so I decided that they next time you invited me I would go, but I have too much homework right, the next time." Wow, what a surprise. I enjoyed the sunny late afternoon running all the streets and cul-de-sacs of the adjoining multi-million dollar-homed neighborhood feeling so fortunate that I felt like I was slumming there.

Yesterday afternoon I was drawn directly home by the prospect of savouring the last sunny post-work run of the Indian summer for this year. I texted Valerie on the way home,"Run?" "X_X....Maybe" I texted back,"fuel hydrate". When I arrived she was already in running shorts, a T-shirt, and her like-new Asics from last year. :)

I had a couple of things to take care of first; Valerie went out for a quick mile and a quarter warm up around the neighborhood. I wanted her reacquaintance with running to be more than just plodding along on pavement so we drove around to get near the open space trails that I usually run to from the house. "We jogged and chatted side by side until we came to the single track and Valerie went ahead to set the pace. Before we reached the high point of our trail the sun had ducked behind Bear Mountain and the air felt cooler although we occasionally passed through warm pockets of air. Valerie sprinted up to the summit and I pushed as well, thinking about how she'd feel the today. We stopped for a minute enjoying the view of almost the entire county before coasting back down to the truck.

Many runners lament their children not following in their foot steps. Who knows if Valerie will join me again but yesterday's 2.3 miles was better than a three dollar truffle at the bottom of a trick or treat bag.