Adventures in Trainingland

It’s peculiar that the majority of coverage is centered around an individual’s race experiences.  While, yes, I understand the ramifications of racing and competition, but I tend to lean towards my training runs when I think about favorite trails and running moments.

It’s not that I don’t like competition – anyone that knows me well enough can attest – but I tend to correlate pressure and standards with competition which can lead to a somewhat negative race experience.  I’ve been battling this theme for some time now, which has not only changed the way I race, but it’s changed the way I train too.

With all that said, I’m happy to declare 2012 as the best year of training I’ve ever had (what’s funny about this is that 2012 also marked my first TWO DNF’s as well as ZERO PR’s for me, but I’ll get into that in my next post).

I took on trails and training runs that were both mentally and physically challenging; I took in some of the most beautiful and aesthetically appealing vistas that I coined a new term called “eyegasms;” I reached my limits and then went past them.  And the best part?  I smiled through the majority of those training runs.

I have to give a shout out and a huge thank you to my brother – Ben – who was a catalyst in many of these new training experiences.  We trained for the Leadville Silver Rush 50 Mile together and took on many of these runs together.  I’m still not sure which was better: the new trail experiences or just being/running/training with my brother.

Regardless, after the 50 Ben decided to turn his main focus on mountain biking.  Hallelujah!  This meant I could still tag along!

Okay, I’m getting verbose, let’s get on with it, shall we?  The list below has been compiled based on my favorite training experiences.  Enjoy!

#1. R2R2R - Grand Canyon, 52 Miles

#1. R2R2R – Grand Canyon, 52 Miles

No surprise here, really.  The R2R2R experience back in June/July was by far the most amazing trail running adventure I’ve ever been on.  From its overall wonder to the extreme difficulty and heat to the sheer magnitude of it all, running the Grand Canyon has a very special place in my heart.

Running the Pacific Northwest, 80+ Miles

#2. Running the Pacific Northwest, 80+ Miles

This is a hard one to categorize.  Why?  Because this just wasn’t ONE run, it was DOZENS of runs, all over the Pacific Northwest.  It doesn’t matter though, because I still rank each and every one of them pretty high up there.  From the shores of Orcas Island to the top of Mount Constitution, I loved each and every step I took on that trip.  Maybe even better was that I was able to experience it all with my sister-in-law, Molly, AND I wrote my first feature in a publication – Colorado Runner – that ran in July/August 2012.  This one also has a piece of my heart.

#3. Copper Mountain to Vail Village, 21 Miles

#3. Copper Mountain to Vail Village, 21 Miles

I’m not really sure why this run ranks so high on my training run list.  I think it ranks up there simply due to the fact that my serotonin and dopamine levels were on fire during the entire run.  I started at Copper Mountain and took the paved trail that climbs up Vail Pass from the east and then dumps you out on the road, pictured above, where cars are not allowed.  It’s then a 14-mile descent down into Vail Village where I met up with the mountain biking crew.  Not only did I kill the ascent, but I flew down that pass and loved every second of it.

#4. The Colorado Trail: Kenosha Pass to Georgia Pass, 18 Miles

#4. The Colorado Trail: Segment 6 at Kenosha Pass, 18 Miles

Ben and I explored the Colorado Trail quite a bit this summer while we trained for Leadville together.  I’ve listed this training run on Segment 6 of the Colorado Trail as my favorite for two reasons: it was absolutely STUNNING and it was REALLY FREAKING HARD.  The stunning part I’m sure is understandable – from Kenosha Pass to Georgia Pass you zigzag through forests but also have wide open spaces where you can see the outlying mountains and gorgeous scenery.  The reason this one was so difficult for Ben and I is that we were both coming off heavy training weeks.  I had just ran Grandma’s Marathon the weekend before and Ben had rode like 50 miles in the past few days.  Why not take on 18 miles of technical single track in the mountains?  Let’s just say that I’m pretty sure Ben and I were hallucinating by the end – we had actually come up with a song about milk and lemonade (I was craving lemonade and Ben wanted milk, and we were both out of water).  At the time it sucked balls, but looking back it was awesome to hit those limits with Ben and just push through to the end.

The remainder of the training runs on my list I can’t really put in order – they were all fabulous!

Waterton Canyon, 9 Miles

Waterton Canyon, 9 Miles

If you’re a trail runner in Colorado, I’m sure you’ve heard of this trail.  Well, I hadn’t.  So Ben took me out on a Friday afternoon after it finally reopened to the public back in March.  I absolutely loved this run.  The road is nice and firm and quick on the feet.  It’s also mesmerizing to wind your way inside the canyon and watch the running water.  Ending at the first segment of the Colorado Trail is pretty cool too!

Trail run in Breckenridge, 6 Miles

Trail run in Breckenridge, 6 Miles

Obviously this picture isn’t from the run – I didn’t snap one at the time.  However, Ben, Amy and I had a good time running around Breckenridge on a work retreat and I just love this picture.  The next day Amy and I decided to head out for a run and ended up finding this amazing trail that follows a stream along Highway 9.  It’s not overly technical, nor is it very difficult.  Its exposure is actually quite nice because you can get lost in the surroundings.

Ascent of Keystone Mountain, 5 Miles

Ascent of Keystone Mountain, 6 Miles

When someone mentioned to me that during the summer the ski hills are open to anyone I’m pretty sure I peed a little.  Sweet!  Bring it on!  This particular run was at Keystone, and I decided to ascend the mountain without following any roads, which took about 2 miles.  I then descended on the jeep road which added an additional 2 miles.  I think I loved this run because I recognized the mountain from all the times I’ve rode down it on a snowboard.  It was so cool to see the mountain in a different light.  Plus, the altitude and difficult terrain was pretty fun too :).

Rabbit Mountain, Boulder, Unknown Mileage

Rabbit Mountain, Boulder, Unknown Mileage

This was a fun one for a couple of different reasons.  First, the trail is great to just fly on – not too technical but nice and undulating.  You also get some great views of Boulder and the outlying mountains.  The final reason I loved this trail run so much is that smack dab in the middle of it a storm came in and dumped on us with rain and wind.  Then, it was gone.  Gotta love Colorado weather!



Road run in Prescott, AZ, Unknown Mileage

This is the view from Pete’s Dad’s cabin in Prescott, AZ.  I’m not sure which mountain this is but really, who cares?!  The cabin sits on a mountainside that tops out around 7,100′ and features winding roads with views such as this one.

Bear Creek Lake Park, 12 Miles

Ahhh, Bear Creek Lake Park, one of my all-time favorite trails to explore.  This picture is from a course preview run before the Bear Chase put on by Race Director and Runners Edge of the Rockies Coach David Manthey.  Great group, fabulous run, amazing trails.

Green Mountain, ’nuff said

I’ve always had a love affair with Green Mountain.  Always will.  To me, it’s one of the best trail runs in Colorado.  I should start counting the mileage I put on that mountain.

3 Sisters/Alderfer

Ben introduced me to this fabulous trail run just about a month ago.  I loved everything about it – from the challenging climb to the top to flying down the east side and navigating switchbacks and mountain bikers at the same time.

I think that about does it.  I’d love to hear your input on these trails and if you have any recommendations on others I should investigate.  Happy trails :).

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