Bradley's View

Bradley's View

Monday, April 30, 2012

Off To Leadville

       After spending a lovely night in Colorado Springs with some family Melissa, Luke (cousin), and I went on a run in Garden of the Gods.  We covered about 4-5 miles, did a good bit of exploration and had a great time in a truly whimsical setting.

         Heading away from Co. Springs we went through the first major pass of our journey, the Wilkerson Pass.  After a substantial amount of elevation gain it looked as if we were going to drop of the edge of the earth, but instead it opened up into a vast plain with snowcapped peaks rising in the distance.  Through this stretch we had the pleasure of seeing a pronged horned antelope, which is said to be the second fastest land animal, reaching speeds somewhere between 45-60 mph?!

       We passed another pass and before us, serving as the backdrop to the town of Buena Vista, stood the Collegiate Peaks, all of which stand above 14,000 ft.  I can't recall which this is, but pretty incredible looking given the cloud cover.

     Leadville was the day's destination.  A lovely city embodying nearly every stereotype a "wild-west" town could have, was on our map mainly due to the fantastic reputation for trails/running it has forged over the years.  It is situated at 10,152 ft, making it a great place to train.  I had the pleasure of touching base with a local runner, Donna, who was able to guide us to the trailhead for the Boudlers trail before the sun set for the day.  

       A 5 mile run on the Boulders trail brought us to the "Upper Deck".  This was a platform situated on the side of a hill, sitting around 11,000 ft, providing the optimum view of the surrounding peaks.

       After enjoying these views on the Boulders Trail we headed to the Silver Dollar Saloon, opened 1883, to soak up some of the history of this classic mining town, which happened to be where wild-west gunslinger/icon Doc Halladay killed his last...

       The next morning, upon Donna's recommendation, we headed down to Turquoise Lake.  It was brisk with the wind sweeping across the lake and snow fell in spurts, but we dressed appropriately and were able to enjoy a couple of hours on the perimeter trail, which is part of the first and last 13 miles of the Leadville 100 race that takes place every summer.  I was able to cover just shy of 13 miles in this time.

     From the shore of the lake we witnessed impecable views of Colorado's two highest peaks, Mt Elbert and Mt Massive.  We certainly look forward to returning the summer when the snow is gone so that we can soak in the view from the top of these mammoth peaks.

     We  visited the Leadville National Fish Hatchery and saw b-e-a-utiful trout by the hundreds- we'll look forward to coming back with fishing rods!

     Thus ended our first trip to Leadville.  We had the privilege of meeting a lot of really great folks in town that may well give us good reason to stay a lot longer next time...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Headed West

    We left Winston-Salem after saying goodbye to family and Luna.  Headed to Asheville for an evening where we bid farewell to a few more friends and a city that has meant so much to us for so long.

      After Mel and I ran 4.5 miles on trails and through fields around the University Of Southern Indiana, we met up with our friend Blake (roommate from Spain last summer), and followed the "pizza brick road" to Turoni's Brewery in Evansville, Indiana.

      After starting a long day of driving leaving Indiana and passing through Illinois we drove through St Louis, where they have this arch.  The gateway to the West.  Appropriate.

     Eventually we made it out of Missouri and into Kansas.  Above is a picture of the Monroe School in Topeka the school attended by Linda Brown herself that was ultimately integrated following the Supreme Court's ruling in Brown vs Board of Education.  The National Park Service does a great job maintaining the museum and spreading the message of equality to those who stop by.  A must-see if you ever drive through Topeka.

      We spent a while in Kansas and found it exceedingly beautiful.  Once the sun had set stars speckled the sky creating quite the spectacle.   We made it through Kansas and into Colorado.  The road got the best of us and we slept for a few hours at a rest area before finishing the final few hours to Colorado Springs, where we arrived around 6:30.

     With no delay we headed to the parking area (7,085 ft) at the base of Blodgett Peak (9,380 ft).  The peak is only a couple of miles from my aunt and uncle's place where we're staying, and had caught my eye a year and a half ago when we were there, so I thought of this as unfinished business.

    From the parking area there is a little network of mapped trails, none of which lead to the peak.  Melissa and I meandered through these gaining and gaining elevation until she went her separate way to do some exploration.  It turned into a pretty serious bushwhack for a while, then morphed into a boulder scramble that went on and on.

Heading up

     The view from the summit was grand, to say the least.  The 2.5ish miles to the top took me 1:02.   The weather was prefect and Pike's Peak seemed to be beckoning in the distance... Next time.

     I picked a more direct route for the descent, which quickly proved to be foolhardy. I descended gingerly through loose boulders and oversized gravel, slipping and sliding, grabbing what I could to help manage the terrain.  I eventually made it back into the trail system and enjoyed a lovely last 1.5 miles of running. 

     I embedded a couple of video clips below to share some other vantage points.   
     I could definitely feel the effects of higher elevations, even at 7,000, needless to say at almost 9,400...  My apologies for breathing hard and talking weird in the videos, I will acclimate...

     Next stop, Leadville.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Two 5ks In 6 Days

     When I started running a couple of years ago I had little to no interest in running for speed.  Upon entry to this world of running I was mesmerized with thoughts of spending as much time as possible running, in the woods, working hard; thus, I chose to pursue longer and longer distances (running a half marathon after 3 weeks of running, a 50 miler after only a year) without much attention paid to how fast I was moving.  Only on one or two occasions have I gone out to the track and done formal speedwork, but that is all about to change- maybe.

     It started the Sunday before last, April 1st, in Knoxville, TN where my family,  coaxed me into day-before registration for a 5k race.  You can read a little more about that here.  In summary, I achieved a 7 second PR from my last and first 5k attempt, the Turkey Strut, in which I finished in 19:14.

     A couple of days after this race I had worked up some real soreness in my shins.  This was likely due in part to the fact that my legs are not accustomed to running quickly or on roads, but could have something to do with the running on the beach that took place in the days following the race.  Sand tends to aggravate my lower legs...

     The Bunny Hop 5k in Kill Devil Hills, NC (Outer Banks) was scheduled for Saturday (4/7), and I figured to give it a go despite the lingering soreness and see if I could drop the time down to 19 minutes.

     The gun fired and, as always, I wondered why everyone was running so stinking quickly and why I felt the need to keep up with them...  A quarter mile in, however, I had dropped back behind the 5 leaders with another guy at my side.  It was a pleasure to run next to someone and develop a bit of a relationship in the short time we spent together.  Just under the 1st mile mark he was breathing pretty frantically so I decided to speak to him, "Keep your body moving smoothly right on my heels, but focus your mind on your breathing and get that in check".  In about 30 seconds he had re-calibrated his respiration and, having a watch, was able to share our mile split with me, a 5:52.  It was faster than I had anticipated, especially given the amount of time early on in which we were victim to the morning's 20 mph winds.

      I did most of the pulling for the next mile, cruising down a hill with the wind at our backs, winding alongside the sound until we reached a greenway.  I think we were both surprised to see that our second mile had been run in 6:11- we felt we'd been working harder than that.  About half a mile later we came to a turn around on the greenway.  I was slow to accelerate after making an about-face and he snagged a couple of seconds on me right away.  An uphill into the strong gusts welcomed us as we turned off the greenway and it made my partner-turned-rival seem lightyears away.  After the climb my legs felt as if all the speed had been sucked out of them so I enlisted all the support I could garner from my core and just focused on pumping my legs through the final bit.  I'm not sure exactly in what time the 3rd mile was run, but it was faster than the second and I was able to finish 7th overall and grab a 40 second PR, making my time 18:27.

      I was pretty astonished when I found out the time.  There was no clock at the finish, and my ears probably weren't working when it was announced and I was pushing myself through, but I had figured it was right at 19:--, maybe over maybe under.   Needless to say, this effort did not improve upon the state of my shins and, surprise surprise, worsened them.  But it did open up a door for me to dream, if I complete speedwork with regularity, stay healthy, and run hard, just how fast could I run?  Perhaps after the Run Rabbit Run 100 in September I'll turn my focus toward training for a Turkey Strut, but right now I need to focus on that beast of a race and I don't think that quarter repeats are going to be that integral to my success there.

     Something that caught my interest and excited yet frightened me about running these 5ks is that no matter how well trained I am, as long as I'm running the very hardest my fitness will allow, be it shooting for 19:00, 18:30, or 17:00, it is always going to be, relatively, just as grueling and difficult, every time.  That is awesome, because even though during these 5ks I had cursed the activity more than once, it is so so gratifying to truly bust your gut to try to accomplish something that seems out of reach.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Week In Review: 3/26-4/1/2012, 5k PR, etc...

     This week was filled with unexpected fitness challenges.  I am glad to have embraced them for what they were and look forward to moving forward with the enthusiasm I garnered from them as I look ahead in my training.
     Hiking with a pretty heavy pack up and down the AT on Wednesday and Thursday was really eye-opening for me.  It is a type of exertion my body is not accustomed to; its one thing to run up a mountain, but it takes a different type of endurance to hike up a mountain with extra weight on your shoulders.  Mad props to all the thru-hikers we met out there, and to those who are, have, and will hike the AT...

      Melissa ran her first half marathon this weekend in Knoxville.  She ran super strong and confident the entire time; she is truly the greatest running partner I could ever ask for!  At the packet pick-up my dad and sister, running the half and 5k, respectively, convinced me to run the 5k the following day and I conceded, though I always feel uneasy about running 5ks given how little I practice running quickly.

     The 5k was a blast, though.  It was a hilly course through Knoxville, I breached the startline a few seconds behind the gun, bogged down by the go-get'em-start-off-sprinting people that tend to lead 5ks in the first couple of minutes.  Not wanting to fall far behind I kicked the pace early on through the first climb and within a mile I had passed all but 5 people in the race.  A mile later, on another long climb I passed another, but as it leveled off a woman blitzed by me on the inside, I glanced back to see a pack of 8 runners a few strides off my shoulder and continued grinding through the straight-away.  In the end I was unable to reel in the woman, who proved to be two-time reigning champ of the women's Knoxville Marathon, but staved off and improved the lead on the others trailing behind.  The finish on the 50 yard line of Neyland Stadium was a blast.  I managed a PR on a tough course in a time of 19:07, and finished 6th out of 1,776 runners.

      After the run I dashed over to the Tyson Greenway to catch my dad and Melissa at mile 10.5 of their half marathon.  They both were running strong and went on to run their personal bests at the distance!  A great time was had by all. We then drove to the beaches of NC, where I sit at present.  I certainly won't be getting in much elevation this week, given the terrain, but I do wonder if that 5k PR of mine will be lowered this Saturday...?!

    Cheers!  The week in review:

03/26- Monday
      PM- 4 miles at Azalea Park with Adam, 1 mile barefoot, 35 minutes

03/27- Tuesday
      AM- 8 miles with Mel and Luna in Turkey Pen, 1:45, 1,300 ft.  Lots of swimming!

03/28- Wednesday
      PM- 7 miles hiking to the start of the Bartram Trail with Adam, Mel, and Luna.  Stechoa Gap to Cheowah Bald plus some in 2:20, 2,300 ft.

03/29- Thursday
     AM-  5.5 miles in 2:15, 900 ft back to Stechoa Gap
     PM-  A misadventure from Wayah Bald, back up, back down to Harrison Gap on the Bartram Trail, 9 miles, 1:35, 1,500 ft

03/30- Friday

03/31- Saturday

04/01- Sunday
       AM- 1 mile warm-up, Knoxville 5k, 3 miles after cheering on Mel and my dad in their half marathon, 300 ft?, 1 hour

Totals:  40 miles, 9 hours 30 minutes, 6,300 ft