Sunday, July 30, 2017

Getting back in that saddle

Or so the saying goes when one gets bucked by the bronc. In my case, today, it was getting back on the trail after getting bucked by roots, rocks and vicious hoop (the latter of which happened on a sidewalk, not a trail, but was by far the worst of the buckings).

Mesa Trail. I can do this, yes I can!

After four falls in a couple of weeks, my fear of falling was reaching an all-time high, and that is just not acceptable. For one, I love the peace, quiet, and beauty that is found on trail runs. And for two, I still have trails to run in 20 states (and D.C.!)  to complete my quest to run a trail in every state. I must raise my trail running confidence. And I figure there's no better way than to get back out there and negotiate those rocks, roots, ups, downs, ruts, and hillocks as light- and sure-footedly as possible. Fortunately, trails abound in Boulder. From my house, I ran a mile or so west then, as scribbled in my running log, up Boomerang to Enchanted Mesa to Mesa down Skunk to NCAR base and on home. Lots of trail. Lots of rocks, roots, and hills. Lots of people and loose dogs to add to the equation. A fair amount of walking amidst the running. And no falling. At one point, during a downhill with my knees and hip protesting from the hoop fall, I wondered what would happen if I fell again and I truly did not know if I'd even be able to walk comfortably afterward. No, I don't want to fall again, but I sure don't want the fear of falling to overwhelm me. A couple of hours out in the sunshine, in the company of deer, rabbits, birdsong, dragonflies above, butterflies flitting around me, long views across the plains and near views of canyons and pines provided a rather positive step forward toward conquering fear.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Twice is two too many!

Today, for the second time in my life while running, I stepped on a metal hoop, flipping it up with one foot, and catching it with my other foot - all in a split second of action. Both times sent me crashing to the ground. Youch!

Bottom of pic shows hoop trickery. Knee-high bit of pic shows just what the evil hoop can do.
My heartfelt appeal to the handful of you who read my blog: if you happen to have a metal hoop in your possession, do please keep track of it! (Apparently they are clever escape artists.) And when you are finished with said metal hoop, please-oh-please dispose of it properly. The middle of a sidewalk or road is simply not a good final resting place for hoops!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Glass 60% full or 40% empty?

When we got back from our June/July trip to Michigan - with a stop in Ohio for the Cuyahoga Valley National Park trail run in my 28th trail-quest-state on the way to Michigan, a run along the North Country trail in Michigan for state #29, and a stop in North Dakota for trail/state #30 - one of my running buddies said "you know you still have 40% of the states to go."  Fortunately, the attitude that had me always believing I would be running into Petoskey from my starting point in Boulder is still going strong with this quest to run a trail in every state. Yep, I've had the delight of running a trail in 30 - THIRTY - states so far during this quest. How cool is that!?!?!

I must admit, though, North Dakota's trail was pretty goofy. We were on a bit of a tight deadline to get back to Boulder so looked for trails toward the eastern side of North Dakota. I found a trail system in the town of Jamestown with a trail that wound some number of miles around the area of the National Buffalo Museum which was of great interest to me, being the University of Colorado Buffaloes fan that I am. When we arrived at the spot where the trail was supposed to start we found a dirt road but no trailhead so down the road we went ("down" being the operative word - steep!). We finally found a trail marker - Yay! - and out I went with the temps in the 90s - Yikes!.  The dirt trail wound through tall prairie grass. I ran along, keeping an eagle eye out for snakes, circled around a little grove of trees and realized the trail seemed to be turning back toward the dirt road. I looked around and saw some bits where the prairie grass was flattened so I followed those and found myself in a bunch of loop-dy-loops ending back at the trail that headed back to the dirt road - so back to the dirt road I went. Following the road back the way we came (since the other way led to a city street and seemed all wrong) I watched closely for more trail signs. Found one! Whoop! But, alas, there was a fence, gate, padlock, and barbed wire between me and what looked to be the trail. I ran alongside the fence a bit but got to a dead end at a large culvert with still no access through the fence to the trail. So - back to the road once again. And, once again, found another little trail marker. This time the trail went up up up and I could see the museum grounds ahead so texted Kendall that I was coming his way running uphill. But, oops! there the trail goes down down down back to the road again. Good golly Miss Molly what the heck?! So back to the road, no more trail signs, and up the hill to be greeted by Kendall and Taz - who wasn't able to run with me due to the heat but loves licking the salt off his favorite runner. So, yes, got a trail run done in North Dakota, and I'm counting it - but I figure I owe North Dakota another visit for a Real Trail.

Found the trail marker!

Fence, padlock, and barbed wire between me and the trail. Harumph!

WooHoo! More trail! No fence!
Off the trail and up the hill to Kendall. Trail quest state #30 done!

Roasted, toasted and done!

 Sights at the National Buffalo Museum

The world's largest buffalo: 26-foot tall, 60-ton concrete sculpture, created in 1959. (And Taz, the amazing cattle dog.)

White buffalo, Dakota Miracle, son of White Cloud, the first of the rare albino buffaloes in the herd.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Trail Quest - State #29 - My Home State! Michigan!!!

When we were preparing to embark on our road trip to Michigan, centered on celebrating the Fourth of July in Petoskey, I was delighted to discover that there was going to be a trail race along the North Country trail from Wilderness State Park to Mackinaw City. Ta Dahh!!! My trail for Michigan!!! And what a fantastic race it was - the Waugoshance Trail Marathon & Half-marathon: fewer than 200 runners between the full marathon (which started in Cross Village) and the half-marathon (which I ran). All forested, mostly single-track trail, well-marked with pin flags, and friendly runners appreciating the terrain we were running through. We traversed incredible terrain - trees, ferns, bog-crossings, wild flowers, birds, and a whole lot of quad-busting dipsy doodle ups and downs - steep, steep, steep ranging anywhere from 10 yards to 30-40 yards long. I loved the ups (where I typically gapped anyone who happened to be near me) but was my typical oh-so-cautious on the downs (where I often stepped to the side and let people pass). Because the field of runners was so small, once the pack spread out I found myself running alone much of the time thoroughly enjoying the forest quiet of this lovely portion of the North Country Trail.

Now for the photo essay:
The start line in Wilderness State Park

Because the race was on narrow trails, I attempted to take photos while running (i.e., without stopping), with interesting results. The first photo was taken along a stretch that was entirely fern-covered. Beautiful! The second was as the trail narrowed to single-track and headed into forest and hills.

As the pack stretched out, I was able to actually stop to quickly snap pictures. These photos are of more forest and ferns, and a lovely stretch along French Farm Lake.

 And 13.1 miles later, after about a mile of running bike paths and dirt trails into town, the finish!

When I first read about the race, it described the route as "technical" trails and I wondered what constituted "technical." After the race, I decided that a technical trail is a trail where most of the runners fall down. I managed three falls (all between 8.5 and 10 miles-ish) - at which point I figured my kneecaps probably couldn't handle a fourth fall so switched from racing to easy running until I got on the bike paths leading into town. Afterward the race director chatted with me and mentioned that falling at least a couple times was to be expected along the course - and in fact, lots of folks at the finish had knees that looked a lot like mine! (Note the nifty wood-carved finisher's medal in my right hand!)

Despite the falls, I still came in second in my 60-69 year age group (I suspect out of a total of two in that age group) - and was awarded a beautiful handmade pottery bowl for my efforts! Taz is either proud of my accomplishment - or - is looking for that bowl to be filled with treats!

 Afterward, it was time for some relaxing, first with Taz as we got settled for the ride back to Petoskey, then for a stroll along Petoskey's waterfront by our house. Life Up wonderful....

Monday, July 03, 2017

Catching up with June - Part 2 (and into July): Return to Petoskey

Having grown up in a small north woods, Great Lakes town, I do find Boulder's 4th of July to be rather boring. This year, I declared we would be spending the 4th in Petoskey. And here we are, having driven to Petoskey from the Ohio trail run (with an excellent stop part-way to visit cousin Kathleen in Ann Arbor). I gotta tell ya', there just isn't anything quite like summer on the northern Great Lakes. Ahhhhhhhhh. Here are a few photos that, perhaps, reveal of bit of the reason for my contentment.

Happy Taz! Ready to pounce at those feisty waves

Stop taking pictures - we gotta get to that water! Woof!
Weehaw! Time to run!!!

I see those ducks....

Happy running!  
At the Petoskey Waterfront - which I pass through almost daily

The (old) PHS track/football stadium

My route from home to the track

 Wildflowers along river and lake

 Sights along the run around the Bay (Petoskey to Harbor Springs)

Top of Michigan Trails Council - my heroes!

 Wonderful leisure time
My reading spot the other day
In front of our house - where we take Taz for a stroll many times each day

An All Hands On Deck gathering was held along the Bay by our house in support of the Great Lakes - one of many gatherings in communities along the Great Lakes in both the U.S. and Canada - where all lined the lakes and held hands at 10 a.m., July 3 

Murphey cousins, breaking bread in our now ready-to-be-lived-in Petoskey home

And, of course, the sunsets for which Petoskey/Little Traverse Bay is so famous

Keyakers at sunset

Rock sculpture in the suns

Catching Up With June - Part 1: Trail Quest State #28!

I may have mentioned in the past that I've been running with a bunch of guys on Saturdays for the last 20 or so years. Well, one of those guys, Shawn, works with the National Park Service as a lawyer getting polluters to clean up sites that are within National Park boundaries. One of the cases he worked on involved the Krejci Dump Site in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. We ran a lot of miles together while he talked about the investigation into the dump site and waxed poetically about Cuyahoga Valley National Park and the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail. This trail has been on my list for Ohio from the get-go.

This part of Ohio was most pleasant surprise - rolling, forested, rural. Really beautiful. And the trail was absolutely fantastic, following the towpath, forests on both sides, wildflowers galore, a multitude of birds including a bald eagle and a crane - and the biggest surprise: a trail full of some of the friendliest and most polite people. All but three cyclists (and there were lots of cyclists) gave a friendly warning as they were coming up from behind, and just as many people coming toward me gave a greeting. If you're passing through Ohio and looking for a run, do visit this park and trail!

Ready to run! From the Boston Station of the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail

About half-way and Taz spots Kendall. Time to sprint! (Then Taz goes with K and I'm on my own.)

The finish - and Taz spots pj. Time to catch a sprinter!
Ohio! Cuyahoga Valley National Park! A fantastic trail - thank you!!!!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Bolder Boulder Done! On to some fun!

Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy running the Bolder Boulder - one of the most fun races ever. And I really like training with my running buddies through the spring, getting ready for Boulder's Memorial Day 10k. But my running preference, by far, is sightseeing by foot via the roads and trails of whatever our world has to offer. So as soon as I crossed the 2017 BB finish line, my running ramble recommenced. Weeehawww!

The Bolder Boulder wrap-up in photos:
Frank Shorter statue greets runners at the last hill to the stadium finish

Darned serious at that stadium finish

And darned happy afterward! (pj, Anita & Connie)

Post-race Memorial Day tribute. Very moving.

Post-race spread at the homestead
The annual VaughanMiller post-BB festivities, going strong after all these years

 So now, with the Bolder Boulder all wrapped up with a bow on top, it's time for some fun running!

Anita, Randall & Connie on the ever-delightful Meadowlark trail

Spring blooms along the Meadowlark trail

Yucca season along the Single Tree trail

Just 'cuz we're not training for a race together doesn't mean we stop our Wednesday workouts. NoSireeBob! Hill repeats on Boomerang. We sure do know how to have fun!
pj, Taz, Anita and Randall on Boomerang Hill

And guess what! Summer is here! Time for more trails! Kendall, Taz, and I hit the road tomorrow pointing ourselves toward Petoskey by way of Ohio and the Ohio and Erie Towpath Trail in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Then it's on to Petoskey for the Fourth of July - Up North where they most certainly know how to celebrate the 4th. I'm psyched! Bonus feature: on July 8 I will be running the Waugoshance Trail Half-Marathon along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan from Wilderness State Park to Mackinaw City. Finally! A trail in my home state - just north of my home town, along what may be the most pristine stretch of Lake Michigan shoreline.

Waugoshance Point - Wilderness State Park - photo by Anderson Aerial Photography