Saturday, April 19, 2014

Greyrock Mnt Trail and the Coop

A few things on our "Colorado bucket list" were:
growing Hops (check)
having a huge above the ground garden (check)
having edible things all throughout the yard (check)
...and getting organic chickens (as of today: check)

We found this adoption program, where 2 year old chickens, who no longer produce at a 100 % rate, get retired from this organic farm and you can adopt them. So we adopted 3. Brunhilde, Gertrud and one that still needs a name :-)

 Catching the chickens was fun. I have never attempted to catch one. Those little creatures are fast!!! Luckily I found some gloves from nursing school in the truck to catch them and hold onto them better.
 I knew that I would need these someday. 
 Bringing the chickens home was very exciting for Jack. 
 He wasn't sure if they were playmates, so he stared at them and barked a little.
 He loves sticking his nose in the course only with supervision.
 Their temporary home...
 Jack is making sure his new friends don't go anywhere...
 We connected the chicken coop to a space behind our garden house...they seem to love it as they explored the area all day. 
 They already laid two eggs, I am guessing it is a thank you for the new home (that's at least what I tell myself).
 In the afternoon it was time to explore. My friend Pam gave me an incredible book for christmas and I have the goal of hiking (or running) all the Northern Colorado Trails from the book and writing feedback and taking pics. 
 Today's run was Greyrock Mountain. It is just about 20 min outside of Ft Collins up the Poudre Canyon. The trailhead is easy to find and great for dogs and hikers. The loop is about 6 miles long (we skipped running up Greyrock, that this is STEEEEEEP). The trail was very very rocky and very steep. The first two miles were so steep that we had to walk some. Our average pace was 12 min/miles, little did we know that the elevation gain was 1500 ft on the way up and another 1500 ft on the way down. Yikes. We will be sore tomorrow. 
 This is the picture from the book. That was the flattest and least rocky part of the trails. I would recommend the trail for day hikes, overnight hikes, dog hikes (multiple streams available) and especially for practice if you plan on hiking the Grand Canyon!!! We will need to come back and hike this trail with backpacks!!! 
Tomorrow's adventure: Bacon Loop 10 miler and Carter Lake bike ride :-) 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Off to a fresh start...

I struggled to leave Ft Collins after Christmas...1 more semester had to be done. I thought it would be fun to take my snow shoes and XC skis, but Flagstaff was pretty much winter-less, except for one day (and it melted the next day again). My friend Amber had just won the National Snowshoe title and I was super motivated to go out and try it out...

 It absolutely kicked my butt. She is an animal on those things, I don't know how she can run that fast on these things :-) It was a great workout and I can't wait for more snow shoe snow. 

The semester ended up going by faster then expected and once we hit spring break we started having the "DONE" mentality.
I had to come back to AZ for my capstone in the Emergency room in Show Low, but I came back with scrubs only. 
Good bye Flagstaff, it was nice, but I am so happy to go to Colorado.
 It was nice to get a warm welcome in Colorado with our great friends. We "cruisered" around town and celebrated being reunited (and St Patties day ;-).

 The week went by way too fast. I got a lot of yard work done, a lot of running, no riding or swimming...
 Then I was off to Show Low, AZ. The drive was loooong, but I was lucky and only had 11 days in Show Low. One more time driving through an AZ sand storm:

 I worked the night shift, but had the goal of still running 2 times a day. I would get off work at 6:30 am, run, sleep 8-12, eat, sleep 1-4, run, go to work. It was fantastic. My times got slower with the lack of sleep, so halfway through I decided to leave the Garmin at home :-) Happy running only. 
 I had a fantastic experience in the ER. The high paced environment was exactly what I wanted. I met so many people and it was great to see people get better and even go home after spending time in the ER. 
My shift was done Tuesday morning at 6:30 am and I sat in the car and drove for 11 hrs to Ft Collins. Finally home. 
Since then I have been doing the following:

Enjoy watching JR become a hunter...

 Building a 12 ft by 12 ft organic garden...
Get a job (YAY)...

And sign up for a triathlon...

Yep, training started today. I have 6 weeks to get my butt in shape for the return to triathlon. Today I went swimming. It wasn't petty. The nice thing is that I can take the cruiser and be at Mulberry pool in 1 minute. No excuses. Tomorrow I will join the CSU triathlon team for track practice and on Wednesday I will join the weekly group ride. I will most likely get dropped like a hot potato, but I am excited. 

After taking one year off from swim and bike training (or actually even more), it is fun to look forward to a race. Without limits made it possible for me to race Xterra's and Triathlons that they put on in Northern Colorado and I can't wait. Just pure fun and exhaustion. Since I am starting from scratch, I am totally looking forward to wobbly legs coming out of the water, forgetting where my bike is and how to take off the wetsuit, and simply pure exhaustion during the race. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Cross training in snowy conditions - no problem

All runners, triathletes, cyclists,... have THAT problem. What to do when mother nature doesn't allow for the usual training. I say: instead of frowning, we should embrace it and be excited to explore new options of endurance activities. 

Living in Colorado (until next week) leaves me LOTS of options, and I am not scared to try them out AND still get quality training in.

Back country skiing:
The weather was super cold and I wanted to run twice that day. I ended up doing a 1 hr run in the morning and followed it up with 3.5 hrs of backcountry skiing in the afternoon (with J.R., Pam and Jason). We went into Poudre Canyon, to Montgomery Pass, not sure what to expect. After a 1.5 mile uphill climb (EXHAUSTING) through the forest we made it.

 Deep snow, cold weather, steep grade AND 10.000-11.000 feet elevation makes a GREAT workout.
 J.R. leading the way.
 Pam and Jason going strong.
 Taking off layers and layers, backcountry skiing is a ton of work and a great way to cross train.
 The top. Beautiful conditions and snow belly deep. No taking the skis off here or you disappear in the snow :-)

 The walk up around the "slope".
 I wonder what is under all that snow.

 The reward: DOWNHILL!!! 
 Sure enough, the UP takes about 1.5 hrs,  plus the time to go up and down the ski hill. The down takes 20 min :-) We were exhausted. Back country skiing is great: endurance and strength are definitely needed.

Next attempt: downhill skiing.
JR and I got our run in early in the morning again, not skipping a workout. Downhill skiing is a ton of fun :-) The cardiovascular effort is much less, compared to skate skiing, snowshoeing and backcountry skiing, but man, doing squats all day is no joke at all. Taking the lift up and skiing down is a fun change and off course we were exhausted from being out there in the cold having fun all day. J.R. and I were happy to report no bruises by the end of the day :-)

Classic cross country skiing:
well, backcountry/cross country :-) JR and I got to Dillon later then we expected. After finishing a track workout in the am (800 m repeats on the track), we ended up breaking trail and cross country skiing for 2 hrs. The wind was brutal and the snow ranged from ankle deep to belly deep. 

 We created a figure eight loop, which ended up being really fun!!!
 Jack had a ton of fun too, despite the snow balls on his fur :-)
 I also got to try out my snowshoes and got super exhausting 20 min of running on them. Snowshoe running brings working out to an entirely new level. Doing knee lifts (to beat the deep snow) for 20 min was EXHAUSTING. 
Snowshoeing is amazing, because strength, endurance AND coordination are challenged.
Classic XC skiing in the back country was less exhausting then back country because my equipment is much lighter and therefore it wasn't as challenging. Once we got the trail established, we got some great classic skiing in!!!
 Jack was also exhausted and napped and napped and napped.

Keystone Nordic Center:
Fresh powder and snowy conditions made it a tough and slow day for skate skiing. J.R. and I skated for 35 km on green, blue and black tracks. 

 The black tracks involved some really steep uphills and some very fast downhills. 

 I was excited to try my new skate skis. They were fast and fun. To me the effort of skating and the effort of running are very similar. You can skate for endurance (aka the long run), you can do hill repeats, sprints, very much like what runners do. We tried everything and also included lots of drills to improve our technique. 
 This was only our 2nd time skating, so we were really pleased to get 35 km in. Quads, glutes, core, everything was being used during skating. 

The next morning we went back to our "little loop" to run the puppies. Pam and I had snowshoes and Shaula broke new trail with her XC skis.
Pam and her puppies having fun!!!

 It was minus 4 degrees when we started. I decided to run run run to stay warm, make the puppy tired and get better with snowshoes.

At 9 am J.R. and I went to Frisco Nordic Center to skate ski. So far we have tried Eldora, Keystone and Frisco. Frisco is AMAZING. Their groomed trails are as wide as an interstate. The conditions were  tough again with lots of wind, very cold temps and new snow coming down. We skied 25 km and were exhausted.


We were supposed to attend a biathlon safety clinic, but the clinic got cancelled due to -20 degree temps in the mountains. J.R. and I simply included our own little practice by using our pole as a rifle :-) We are goofy...

Cross training was great. I am excited to go on my run today to check how my body is feeling after 60 km in 2 days.

3 more days in Ft Collins til I have to return back to Flag for school. But one thing is sure: the skate skis are coming with :-) Lets see what challenges the Flagstaff Nordic Center provides.