Black Toes

Trail running, running, and hiking in Colorado's Front Range.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

so tired...

So I missed my long run today (75 minutes). I've been waking up before 6 am each day to go in for a campus career fair. Tomorrow I have an interview with the US Census bureau at 0830. I really would love to work for them as a mathematical statistician or cartographer.

I'll go running tomorrow after the craziness has ended.

Yesterday, instead of going for a short 30 minute run my wife and I went hiking with the baby at White Ranch. I carried the baby in the backpack a la Yoda & Luke in ESB. We ended up hiking about that, but my wife got sick half-way in because she forgot to eat lunch. I guess that she thought that chocolate mousse had more calories than it does.

It was pretty fun though, and my wife asked me: "you actually run here? I would cry if I had to run this". Guess I have a masochistic streak in me.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

interval day

I tried doing intervals, but didn't know that you aren't supposed to go all out. I think I hit my LT in the middle of the second set, and I had to stop. My legs felt like they were seizing up. Next time I'll wear my HRM and watch it. In retrospect I think had the pace right the first interval (~ mid 7:00 min/mi). I tried to push it into the 6:00 min/mi pace, and therein was my mistake.

I'll do some research before I do my intervals next week. Thankfully I have a 75 minute endurance pace run.

Oh, and if you ever get the chance - taking a bath with an infant is one of the greatest experiences on earth. My son has started figuring out that he can splash the water. My bathroom has been invaded by small colorful plastic toys.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Interesting Idea

I've started reading I'm Running out of Lifetimes. I like her idea of taking some photos and measurements of myself and posting it on here. It'll be interesting for me to look at this in a while and see how my body has changed. I'll try to use this as an excuse to get the combo body fat measurement/VO2 max test for $50 at a gym in Lakewood.

I think publicily humiliating myself on here might be a good impetus to run more, too.

White Ranch Open Space

Today was the day for my 2 hour long run. Instead of running on the road like I've been doing lately, I decided to hit the trail. White Ranch Open Space is a beautiful sprawling county open space park with 20 miles of runnable trails. It varies from high plains carriage trails that are wide and rocky to narrow single track with brutal climbs over large sharp rocks. All the while, you have gorgeous views of the plains and mountains. The one thing about White Rance is the climbing. There's lots of it.

My run today started out with the aptly named Belcher Hill Trail:

From there you can see North Table Mountain (which I happen to live on the side of):

Belcher Hill Trail is aptly named because it's a steady 2 mile climb (and it's not even the worst of the climbing). It's an unrelenting ascent and unsheltered from the sun, but it's not nearly the worst part of the climbing (there's plenty more).

Imagine 2 miles of nothing but this:

There were a couple sections that I had to walk, because it was just too rocky and steep. I'll keep running it for the next couple weeks and hopefully I'll be able to make it. There's a trail race here in September that I'm hoping to do. The nice thing about the second half of the run is the descent. You get to bomb down the trail, and get wierd looks from the hikers.

I finally finished the run. I was met by my wife and son:

The mark of a good run:

It was sunset when I finished, and I was able to get a picture of some Mie scattering from the sunlight over the mountains.

To the north, you can see towards Boulder, and see the slip strike fault between Golden and Boulder.

distance: 10.25 mi
pace: 11.30 min/mi
vert. distance: ~2500 ft (up)

Friday, January 21, 2005

little rant

I weighed myself lately, and for the last couple months I've been stuck at 190 lbs. No matter how much I run or how little I eat, I stay at this weight (I'm 5'10"). I've even lost my belly, but the weight has figured out how to hide on my body.

When I was finishing up college, I weight 165 lbs, but was unheathily skinny - you could see my ribs and I always getting strep throat.

I'm wondering how much of my inability to get past this plateau is really that I've started eating more nutritious foods than I did in college. Could it be that I have muscle in my legs?

I guess I'll have to go and get my body fat tested. The lowest I ever got to was 8 % in 1998. I peaked out at around 15 % two years ago. I'm wondering where I am now. It would be interesting to see where I've come from last year. The first two years of graduate school really did a number on my body.

running with the cows

I did today's run at South Boulder Creek Open Space-

As you can see, it's at the base of the foothills and is a pleasant run through semi-rural southern Boulder county. Plus, it's really flat, which is sort of rare here right along the foothills. My run was a 55 minute overdistance workout.
What was great about it was my pace increased from my last week of runs. Today I was able to run 6.2 miles in 55 minutes (or 10 km). I guess that works out to about 8:52 min/mi, which is very good for me (I'm not built like most runners - I wrestled in high school and played rugby in college). When I started back up again last spring I was doing 11 min/mi, so I think I'm moving up nicely. That's quite a drop from my last long run (12 mi) that I think I did at about 9:30 min/mi on a very hilly course. We'll see what I can do tomorrow. I'm still not sure if I should do my long run on trail or do it on the road. I'll wait and see what the weather will do tomorrow.

Anyway, here's a picture of the Flatirons from the trail:

The South Boulder Creek trail goes through active grazing space, so I snapped a picture of some friendly cows along the way at mile 5:

There was also an old barn from the early farming days of Boulder:

What was really nice about this run was the weather today, too. About 65F with very light winds. I was able run in shorts and a coolmax t-shirt.

Today started nicely, too. Here's the sunrise from this morning over North Table Mountain:

Today's Run summary:
time: 55 minutes
distance: 6.2 miles
pace: 8:52 min/mi
measured with GPS

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Running flava!

Here's a link to a place that makes Pimp Cups.

I'm thinking of getting one that says Runna (like playa).

Or get one that says Pre.
I'm using the Serious Training for Endurance Athletes training plan, so I found out that I wasn't allowed to run today since my snowshoeing counted for 2 hours of overdistance training. Sweet! Instead, my family and I traded in my digital camera (which had been deleting pictures) for a new Olympus. So, I will post pics of my runs now that I don't have to send anything in for repairs.

Tonight I did something I consider risky: carried my baby around a store for 15 minutes with no diapere on. He liked it pretty well and cooed the entire time. Sigh- I remember when I thought doing something risky was:

a) hucking 15 foot cornices on my snowboard
b) building huge ramps and snowboarding down them on St. Mary's Glacier
c) bouldering and scambling scree fields with my friend Karl.

Now it's walking around with a baby whose going commando. I'm running towards old age.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

A quick poll

For my 120 minute run this week - should I run it on the trail or do it on the road?

What do you think?

finally running

Went for a nice run this evening. It's been around 60F out here in the front range due to a nice high pressure ridge sitting over the Rockies. Did 65 minutes - I tried using my Tailwind distance meter, but it wasn't working (said I was doing 22:50 min/mi). Luckily my iPod Shuffle worked flawlessly during the entire run. I think I was probably doing about 9:30 min/mi today. We'll see tomorrow...

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

rest day

I decided that after two hours of snowshoeing & carrying a baby - perhaps it was the smart thing to take today off. Tomorrow: endurance pace workout for an hour...

Monday, January 17, 2005

cross training

Well, I had photos, but my digital camera deleted them when I got home. The family and I went snowshoeing at Eldora nordic center. We went for two hours and it was pretty awesome. There was plenty of climbing, and I was fortunate enough to tow the baby behind me in his trailer. He slept the entire time, even when we were doing some crazy tail crossings and portages across rocky sections.

Want a good workout? Haul a 6 month old in a trailer at 9000 ft for about a mile.

Rayleigh scattering at it's best

I'm going running later today, but my wife woke me up to get some pictures of the clouds (I'm a meteorologist). Here's this mornings clouds: some cirrus, mountain wave clouds (to the west), and cumulus clouds. It's red because of Rayleigh scattering: all the shorter wavelengths get scattered out by the photons passing through a lot of the atmosphere. All that's left is the longer wavelengths:

These three are facing SE. You can see some cirrus in the top of the photos.

Here's the top of the mesas here in Golden:

Finally, facing west towards Mt. Galbraith open space (which has some awesome trail running - very technical in parts with 2000' of vertical in 4 miles.

Friday, January 14, 2005

not a running type day

Well, my schedule got the better of me today, and I missed my run. No matter - with my change in career goals (MS vs. PhD), I'm going to change my goals for this spring. I don't really have the time to do a 50 km - or rather, train for one. Instead, I'll try to focus on half-marathons and trail races. I'll have to find a cool half-marathon out here in the Front Range to do in a couple of months. I might be able to get my time below 9:10 for it (which would put me sub 2 hours). It'll take some playing around with my training plan, but perhaps I'll be able to do more races in the half-marathon range.

Anyway, here are some picture of my new iPod Shuffle:

It's hard to believe that music actually comes out of that thing. There's a warning on the Apple page not to eat them. I'll take it out for a 6 mile test run tomorrow and report how it works out...


I was given some money for my birthday from my mom, which I used to buy an iPod Shuffle.

Needless to say, it absolutely rocks. Three quarters of an ounce and half a GB of memory. I think it'll make today's 5 mile overdistance workout much more fun.

I'll post pictures of it tonight, including my nifty black toe.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Too bad my baby can't go on long runs with me:

my wife rocks!

off day

I had a pretty bad case of insomnia last night, and I couldn't fall asleep until 2 am. It really sucked. So, instead of doing intervals, I'll just be existing and slumming it at my basal metabolic rate today. I'll go for a nice 4 or 5 miler tomorrow, unless I have the same problem tonight.

Lot of stuff happened yesterday, and that combined with a big cup of coffee in the morning might have combined to keep me awake last night - even after a most gnarly run. I decided to get a MS and get started on my career as opposed to keep going on the Ph.D. I guess my heart wasn't in it any more. I love the atmospheric sciences, and I really hope I can get a job at one of the labs around here or with the government doing what I'm doing now. It's just that every time I thought about writting grants or proposals or trying to keep up with publications, a little voice inside of me just went: why?

Anyway, I feel pretty good about my decision. I'm starting to poke around and look for jobs in the atmospheric sciences. I really enjoy programming, and this is a great field for that sort of thing. Plus, I'll get a head start on my career. I've heard of a couple MS scientists that made more than Ph.D's because they were able to start at their jobs sooner.

C'mon government job!

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

"Rocky Flats High" with apologies to John Denver

The Denver metro area (I work in Boulder) got hit with a snowstorm today, so I took the car up to work. This of course meant I was able to go trail running after work! However, by noon the fog had lifted and the snow stopped, and here are two pictures from the back of the building where I work:

Anyway, after work, I decided to go trail running. Originally, I was going to go running at White Ranch Open Space, which is an expansive foothills open space area with lots of climbs and fairly technical sections. It was getting dark by the time I was able to leave work (I was finalizing stuff on my Masters Degree), so I that I didn't want to chance any trailside meetings with mountain lions, so I decided to do a run not quite so tucked away in the mountains. I would love to see a bear one day, but I would be a happy man if I never came across a mountain lion. Particularly since nearly all mountain lion attacks have been on trail runners out here in Colorado.

So, I decided to run at Dowdy Draw open space outside Boulder, about 10 minutes away from work and on the way home. It's also near Rocky Flats: your one stop shop for nuclear bomb triggers and enriched Plutonium.

I decided to do the run for time and not measure pace and distance. It sort of makes the run more fun for me, that way. One thing I like about trail running, especially out here is that it makes me remember why I love running. It also makes me wonder why I'm doing something that makes my legs hurt so much. But life is full of contradictions, I suppose.

Here's a before shot:

Anyway, Dowdy Draw starts out with a gentle climb and then a nice steady flat section that lasts about 0.75 miles. After a couple of cattle gates, it becomes a nice single track section along a ridge, and descends with a couple of switchbacks into a valley. Not many people had been down there since the storm, so I was able to hit plenty of virgin snow in there. It obscured many of the rocks and made for soft foot landings, but there were a couple sections where you really had to watch it, because there was a big rock under a little covering of snow. I kept going down the single track, and then did a stream crossing! It was pretty cool because all the rocks we snow covered and icy, so it made for an interesting break in the running. I decided to turn around at 30 minutes, so as to give a little bit of time to climb back up to the trailhead.

Anyway, I made it back at exactly 60 minutes. I had no idea of my pace, but it was a great run. You know it's a pretty good run when you have icicles on your shoelaces.

I was pretty worn down after all that climbing and descending, and I think I kind of looked like I was doing bong hits rather than trail running after I was done:

All in all, awesome run, beautiful conditions, and nice snowpack. What I like about this part of the front range is that it hasn't been settled. There are little trees and shurbs sparsely scattered around, but for the most part it's all tall grasses and rocks around. I imagine it's what it looked like out here before there were many people out here.

Run: 60 minutes
Pace: ??
Distance: It's a trail run! Who cares!

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

inactive recovery

I thought about going for a run today as part of an active recovery, but then I decided to just shift my training schedule by a day. Besides, I've found that running on Monday afternoons sort of makes for a nice way to start the week. Before that I had been doing my +10 mi runs on Sunday. But between getting downtown to Mass and playing with the baby, it made for a stressful day.

But I digress. Instead, my legs decided that today would be my resting day. But I will leave you with some pictures. One of my socks that I really like after yesterday's dusty run:

And here's a sunrise picture I took:

Have a good night, and I'll fill you in on my run tomorrow. I think it'll be a trail run, but I don't know where. Maybe even a snowy trail run, which are quite fun.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Tour de Golden

I'm fortunate to live at around 6000', in the town of Golden. It's where they make Coors, and the town has a permanent scent of hops. Ok, maybe I'm not fortunate that the town where I live smells of beer, but it is at a nice altitude that makes training nice. It's great when I go down to Chicago or somewhere low where I can sustain 8'14" for about 8 miles.

Anyway, I went for my long run today. I've had a lot to think about lately, especially all the crap with grad school and my advisors. So, needless to say I had lots of pent up energy.

I managed to take a couple pictures with my new camera during my run. Here's a picture of Golden with lots of water vapor in the air. The photo was taken after a series of long hills (which are plentiful here in Golden):

Last weeks 11 mile run looked much the same. We got hit with about a foot of snow the next day. Here's me at 11.6 miles, looking sweaty but no worse for the wear:

It was a great run. I ran 12.49 miles in 1 hour, 58 minutes and 31 seconds. It works out to around 9'29" for the whole run, which I think is pretty good considering all the climbing one has to put up with running around here. Maybe I'll be able to break 4:00 for a marathon if I'm lucky. I'm really hoping I can break 5 hours for my 50 km race in April. I'm not a particularly fast person, so I'm hoping that my build will help me in 50 km, 100 km, and 50 mi races. I wish I was a greyhound, but alas I'm not...

Sunday, January 09, 2005

don't put off writting your thesis...

Today I was supposed to do a 12 mile run, but sadly I was forced to move my long run to Monday (which also happened last week) to finish part of my MS thesis. I'll tell you right now that writting a MS thesis on your birthday is a pretty crappy way to spend it. What was cool was Mass tonight at the Archbishop's service at the Cathedral, and dinner. We're lucky enough to have Good Times out here. It's a Colorado fast food restaurant that only uses free-range natural beef. Their burgers are awesome, and their fries are pretty tasty too. It was a nice way to finish off the night, and between that and the pizza last night I'll have more than made up from my deep caloric defecit of yesterday.

I'll have to try out my inertial speed meter tomorrow after I properly install it.

Saturday, January 08, 2005


Today started pretty well - my wife had a 5k at the Lafayette Oatmeal Festival, and did better than she expected - by 2 min/mi!

We feasted on oatmeal and oat-derived foodstuffs after the race, then went back home. Sadly, I had to return to Boulder to finish some work up, so I decided to run up there and try out to new birthday presents - my new Fuelbelt hydration system and my inertial distance/speed instrument. Unfortunately, I forgot to calibrate the instrument - then I bonked at the turn-around. I realized I probably ate under 1000 kCal today, so that explains it. That and I spent a good part of the morning walking around the town of Lafayette. So the family and I went out to get some tasty pizza - I think with the amount of pizza that was consumed tonight I won't have any problems with my 12 mile run tomorrow.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Last night I decided to try trail running at night. I headed out with the Denver Trail Runners group and about 5 of us did the Red Rocks/Morrison Slide trail. I never knew that trail running snow-covered technical trails could be so fun! The only thing I would do differently - wear trail shoes.

All in all, I think I'm going to do this more often. What was particularly nice was that the guys I was running with were all quite fast, but they waited for me at the trail junctions. Hopefully running with them for the winter will kick my butt into shape.

A change in the focus of this blog

I have to admit I've been pretty bad about posting anything to this blog lately. I've been preparing for my PhD comprehensive exam (in two weeks), and it's been brutal to say the least.

I'm not going to do any more stuff regarding religion, politics, etc. There are many other blogs that do those subjects and do them quite well - much better than I ever could.

What I am going to write about is one of my hobbies - running. I've been running on and off since high school. It got me through some of my hardest years in college, and if it wasn't for a six mile tempo run I did in Albuquerque I wouldn't have met my wife (or have a beautiful 6 month old!).

Now running has been helping (with some help from Lexapro) keep my depression and anxiety at bay. I'm hoping to start doing ultra distance stuff in the near future. There's a run called the Greenland Trail 50k run. It might be a little longer than a marathon but it's a meager start.

Anyway, here's my newest acquisition to help me keep hydrated on these long runs building up to 50 km.

It's an awesome trail running specific hydration backpack. Plus it holds my new digital camera that I'll be using to post pictures on here of my epic runs.