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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
7 hours, 58 minutes
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
2854 ft D+
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'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
4626 ft D+
And for week two, in which I did my first back-to-back long runs.
8 hours, 0 minutes
5026 ft D+
April has been sort of cold and windy. I'm looking forward to milder weather.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
We'll be coming back to Colorado National Monument. There are a lot of canyons
and arches to see and trails to be run.
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 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.
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.
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
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.