Liverwurst sandwich

I stopped by King Soopers after my long run to get a few groceries. Do you ever, because you're ravenously hungry, buy things you didn't know you needed until you see them? I brought home some liverwurst and made a sandwich of it.

Liverwurst, pepper jack, red onion, pickle, whole grain mustard, on sourdough bread

Eating this reminds me of driving from Logan (Utah) to Salt Lake City with my family to have Sunday dinners with my dad's parents and grandparents. The older Gillieses and Clines almost always had liverwurst and crackers for an appetizer. I don't remember ever disliking it.

Superior training week six recap

Week six was a productive one with four days of running. One tough speed workout, a tempo run in the hills, and one long run along the first ridge on the east edge of the Rocky Mountains. Here are the numbers.

  • 7 hours, 42 minutes running

  • 37.5 miles

  • 4396 ft D+

Saturday I helped at Quad Rock. I transported drop bags from the starting line to the Horsetooth aid station (miles 10 and 40) and then spent 12 hours at the aid station with a stint of watching a tricky trail intersection a mile upstream.

Starting line, 5:15 a.m.

Horsetooth aid station, 6:40 a.m.

Mid-day it was warm, about 85° F (30° C). Every runner coming into the aid station a second time looked overheated to some degree, and still had one final climb to go with much of it in full sun. We cooled them down; put ice in water bottles, bandanas, hats; and handed out popsicles. It was super satisfying to see energy and smiles come back to the runners. According to OpenSplitTime, everyone who left our aid station finished. We had one person drop and 4 who didn't make the time cut.

After the trail sweepers came in from the previous station, I helped pack up, and then transported drop bags and the DNF runners to the finish.

Rain fell early Sunday. I waited for it to stop and then went out for an extremely easy 15-mile trail run bracketed by 3-mile bike rides from and to home. I saw lots of kids hiking with their moms.

Finally a hint of green

Superior training week five recap

Dry and windy weather continues here on Colorado's Front Range. I'm not a big fan of running in mud, but we really need some steady, soaking rain here. This dry and desiccating spring is unusual and is challenging our drought-tolerant environment. Many plants are still semi-dormant and the landscape is still mostly a midwinter yellow-brown color and flowers are slow to appear. One exception is the white blossom of the tough-as-nails sand lily (Leucocrinum montanum). This plant is in full bloom locally, as plentiful as ever. I was surprised to learn today that sand lilies are in the same family as asparagus. I saw one clematis blossom in a wetter spot this week, and a few bluebells here and there. In other years, these are erupting everywhere.

Here are the numbers for week five. Season highs all around. I'll go double this distance and 2.5 times the time and climbing one week in July.

  • 8 hours, 35 minutes

  • 43 miles

  • 6010 ft D+

Six days of running, my first substantial speed workout, and two runs with plenty of hills. I'm mostly hiking up the hills and trying to flow down them without braking. In a few weeks I'll start to push it more on the ascents. 5 minute uphill intervals with 1 minute of recovery do amazing things for my fitness.

Saturday, May 7, I will be volunteering all day for the Quad Rock race and will you see you if you pass through the Horsetooth aid station. It's at the 10 and 40 mile marks for the race courses. I'm looking forward to helping you 25 milers settle into the middle of your course and helping you 50 milers get the fuel and what you need for your finish.

Day off (Cubano sandwich)

I have the day off work today. After saying goodbye to my mother-in-law, who has been visiting, and making lunches for my kids, I drove to Lory State Park for a very nice, hilly trail run (7.75 miles, 1876 ft D+, average grade 4.4% including downhills). I listened to the new King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard double album, Omnium Gatherum, on the drive and laughed out loud a few times. It's so good. And self-indulgent, which is exactly my mood today.

It's important to refuel after a hard run, so when I got home I made an extra loaded, extra buttery, grilled Cubano-ish sandwich. Did you know the Lucerne cheese company is selling ghost pepper jack? When I saw it in the store I had to grab it. Honestly, it could be hotter.

Black Forest ham, ghost pepper jack, red onion, dill pickle, and mustard on white bread.

Superior training weeks three and four recap

In week three I did six consecutive days of running. Track intervals on Wednesday. Singletrack tempo on Thursday. Back-to-back 2+ hour runs Saturday and Sunday. The weather was cool and windy and I fought with a sinus infection for motivation. Happily, 30 minutes of running never failed to make me feel better.

  • 7 hours, 58 minutes

  • 40.5 miles

  • 5262 ft D+

Half of my week four training was in San Francisco. Tuesday I went along the Embarcadero and up the Filbert Steps to the Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill. Wednesday I went to Christmas Tree Point on the north summit (922 ft) of the Twin Peaks via Corona Heights.

  • 5 hours, 8 minutes

  • 28.3 miles

  • 2854 ft D+

Downtown San Francisco from Corona Heights

The little peak of Corona Heights is made out of chert, a dense and glassy rock. A quarry has uncovered an unusually large section of rock polished by fault motion. Geologists call this a slickenside. I saw a coyote at the base of the hill. I've seen signs warning about them around the city before, but this was the first time I've seen a coyote in San Francisco. Tom MacWright gave Corona Heights a 5 for its views. The view of the city and bay is great, but there's no view of the ocean, so I might give it a 4.8.

I concur with Tom's 6/5 score for running at Twin Peaks. The access from the north, at least, is still car free. There's a longish 8% grade that is super satisfying to finish. I try to make it up there every time I visit San Francisco.

Superior training weeks one and two recap

I'm a little behind on running blogging. I'm going to summarize the first two weeks of my season in one post.

The only race I've signed up for so far is the 50 mile Superior Fall Trail Race. I've got lodging reserved at the finish line in Lutzen, Minnesota, tickets to Duluth, rental car reservations. Now I just need to get in shape. 24 weeks of training is my plan. Five four-week blocks of building endurance and one block of fine tuning, tapering, and racing. In the first block I'm ramping up from 2-3 days of running each week to five and doing some higher intensity workouts.

In week one I ran five days, including one speed workout, and one long run with people getting a preview of the Quad Rock course. It was fun being an ambassador of sorts for the event. After running it three of the last four years, I'm taking a year off. I'll be volunteering at an aid station instead. Here are the numbers for week one.

  • 7 hours, 19 minutes

  • 36.5 miles

  • 4626 ft D+

And for week two, in which I did my first back-to-back long runs.

  • 8 hours, 0 minutes

  • 39.1 miles

  • 5026 ft D+

April has been sort of cold and windy. I'm looking forward to milder weather.

Spring break

The week before last was Poudre School District's spring break. My family and I took a road trip over the Rocky Mountains to spend 3 days in the desert canyons of Southwestern Colorado and Southeastern Utah.

Our first destination was Goblin Valley State Park on the southeast corner of the San Rafael Swell. We arrived with plenty of time to set up our tents and play hide-and-seek among the sandstone hoodoos. If you've ever watched the movie "Galaxy Quest", you've seen Goblin Valley. It is a remarkable spot and well worth a visit. The campground has a few upgrades since my last visit about 25 years ago. There are showers, a disc golf course, and every campsite has a shade structure.

Goblin Valley, 2022-03-15

Solo goblin

The Goblin Valley S.P. campground was our base for exploring canyons of the nearby San Rafael Reef. I wanted to take my family to Little Wild Horse Canyon and go up the narrows if the weather allowed. I've hiked through it twice, in 1988 and in 2004. Nobody else in my family had been in the canyon before but were intrigued by the hype.

Our first morning was a bit cold and drizzly, but by ten the weather was improving and we loaded into our minivan to drive to the Little Wild Horse Canyon trailhead a few miles southwest of the campground. We arrived in dry and mild weather and determined that we would make a go of the Little Wild Horse and Bell Canyons loop, with the option of turning back early if conditions weren't great.

Heading up Little Wild Horse Canyon, 2022-03-16

Little Wild Horse Canyon's existence is almost impossible. Because it is just steep enough and sees enough water flow, stretches of it are entirely scoured of sand and soil, bare sculpted sandstone is the only surface. But no part of it requires ropes or other technical gear or swimming. It's unique in this way. There are more less steep and less thrilling canyons and a few more thrilling and more technical canyons on the edge of the San Rafael Swell. See this Zero Gravity canyon video for example. But there are no other canyons with such easy access to miles of narrow, twisting sandstone slots.

Though Little Wild Horse Canyon is dry most of the time, flash flooding is a real hazard. I've seen videos on YouTube showing people hiking through knee-deep running water. And there was a tragic, fatal accident as recently as May, 2020.

Crossing a puddle deep in the narrows

After a few miles, Little Wild Horse Canyon ends, and the trail climbs out of Little Wild Horse Creek and over to the next drainage, Bell Creek. This creek also carves its way through the San Rafael Reef's Navaho sandstone formation. The narrows are shorter than Little Wild Horse's, but are still a lot of fun.

Hiking out Bell Canyon

We got out of the canyons about 30 minutes before serious rain started on the Swell. A strong storm cell passed north of our campground after we returned and started cooking dinner. Intense lightning lit up this storm and there was obviously some heavy precipitation along with it. I don't know whether these storms caused any flooding in the canyons we hiked.

Late afternoon thunderstorm

The next morning we broke camp, did some more hiking and running in the area, and drove to spend a night in Fruita, Colorado, at the base of Colorado National Monument. Fruita is a town we've driven by many times. This was our first stay. I like the place a lot. After some beer, pizza, Netflix (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings), and sleep, we packed up and left Fruita to drive the road around the rim of the Monument's canyons.

Monument Rock, Colorado National Mounument, 2022-03-17

Ruth did the driving because she has nerves of steel and I get vertigo. Going counter-clockwise, as we did, puts you on the inside of the road. If you go the other direction, it's 25 miles of winding road with nothing but hundreds of feet of air just inches from your right wheels. Exciting! The views are amazing.

The Coke Ovens

We'll be coming back to Colorado National Monument. There are a lot of canyons and arches to see and trails to be run.

Late winter at Horsetooth

On the second day of spring I'm reflecting on winter running. I ran just for fun, no serious workouts, and one long run in the hills each week at most.

The Spring Creek, Mill Creek, Towers Trail intersection, 2022-02-26

The second half of winter was rather snowy, but also had some breaks of sunny and mild weather. Running on freshly packed snow under a blue sky is a lot of fun. The traction is good and the crunching sound is pleasing and there are lots of interesting animal tracks.

Mountain lion tracks, 2022-02-26

On this particular day I saw mountain lion tracks all over the Towers summit. Several adult cats or one very busy individual using the hiking trail and circling off to follow deer tracks or do other feline business. If I'd been up there a few hours earlier I might have awkwardly bumped into them. Being bigger and more stinky than the average runner, I'm relatively safe, but still, the hair on the back of my neck was standing up as I trotted to the top and immediately turned around and went back down, not too quickly, not too slowly.

End of summer race plans

I was not selected in the CCC lottery and got the news in my inbox this morning. I have been selected for the Superior 50 miler on September 10 and will be planning my training around that event.

The UTMB organization is changing things up and I don't see yet how I'll be able to qualify to enter the 2023 lottery unless races like Never Summer and Superior are retroactively made into UTMB series races for the new running stone system.

Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr

Civil rights activist and Baptist minister Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929 and was assassinated on April 4, 1968. Today was the official US holiday honoring King and his legacy, the 35th year we've done so in Colorado.

White Americans are highly selective in how they remember and honor King. Many of us think only of the following, pat ourselves on the back while thinking of the non-white musicians, comedians, athletes, celebrities who entertain us, and consider King's work done.

I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was an anti-racist, anti-capitalist, and anti-militarist, and was aiming beyond today's state of color-blindness for the well off, towards a truly equitable world. One where your family's wealth didn't depend on your skin color. One where workers were fairly compensated for their labor and treated with respect. One where education was prioritized over jets, bombs, drones, and extravagant military adventures. I implore you to read up on this and push back on people who try to whitewash King's legacy.