Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Nordic Trails (minus the snow) - Pagosa Springs, CO

Kind of un-wintry in Pagosa right now
Made time for a flash-trip up to Pagosa over the weekend. Heard they may get snow so I had to make the executive decision to work like crazy then dash up for some Sunday morning skiing. Rolled into town Sat. evening with some wild expectation that there would be skiable snow on the nordic trails in town which I had been wanting to check out all winter. Made my way to the Reservoir Hill trails just off the main drag and was shocked for some reason to find no snow whatsoever. Like the ground wasn't even muddy from the melt. Hah. Probably due to the 60deg weather we've been having, something I had not factored into this mastermind trip I had planned. Snow was required so now I'm screwed. That's life sometimes.

I figured I'd scout the trails real quick since winter will be coming our way again in another seven months. They were cool, no singletrack but they should have had loads of snow on them so it wouldn't apply anyhow. In fact the trail markers were way up on the trees reminding me that they were designed to be read while standing on several feet of snowpack.

Kip's Cantina - Provider of beers, food, and good company
I huffed along on trail no. 2 for a while, then got on no 7 for a bit, then zigged through some trees on think I was on no. 11. This would be fun on skis. According to the map there are 2-3mi loops in here. I kind of cut through some parts, and when I found myself on a vehicle access road I decided to run the trees along side instead. A little recon. action. Got turned around some but found my way back to the car after 'checking out' about 3mi of trail.

So, no skiing, but I now know that in a pinch my Garmont hikers work just as well for running as a pair of trainers, and jeans make a decent substitute for shorts, and a down ski coat works just fine in place of a zip-top except you will sweat like crazy, and running in the dark is a good substitute for not having a hat. And if your recovery beer is in a fridge 160mi away what you want to do is go back out to Hwy 160, hang a right, and drive a mile up the road to Kip's Cantina where you can have a beer with patrolman Sutt. Love Kip's.

Running however isn't really a good substitute for not having snow when that's all you've been thinking about.

  - Part II of Nordic Skiing Pagosa 

View Reservoir Nordic Trails - Pagosa Springs, CO in a larger map

Friday, March 25, 2011

Banff Film Festival 2011 - Santa Fe

Been pretty busy lately. Like no-getting-out-on-the-trails busy. I can usually make time by sleeping less but the math on all that won't work this week so I'll take a few days off and get back into it when things settle down.

I did take a quick work break to make it to Banff at the Lensic last (Wed.) night. Between my days in Boulder and my move back to Santa Fe this has to be about the 10th Banff Film that I've attended. Steve Bing with Sangre de Cristo Mountain Works is the local sponsor that brings this event to town every year and this year they brought us two nights of film which is pretty sweet. I was all ready for some crazy adrenaline-pumping video shorts for added motivation to crush it in April, but I must have picked the more melancholy night of the two which was unfortunate.

The scene at intermission
The scene from left balcony - intermission
There was a clever biking spot with kids, there was a film about a legless vet training for the Para-olympics, an interesting film about caving and one about fly-fishing Kamchatcka Russia. The feature film was about an alpine guide coping with an avalanche that caused the deaths of several clients. The winning spot for me was a five minute film on skiing. I'll need to youtube some of the winners from year's past to get the adrenaline back up. This one with climber Alex Honnold still has me shaking my head.

In addition to being something I look forward to every year, this year's event was also a benefit to the Santa Fe Conservation Trust. So get out and support these guys if you get an opportunity. Saw lots of people there including Lucy Ranney and her husband, Oceana Holton and her friend Leslie, and lots of familiar biking and skiing folks. Had a cold Pacifico even though I haven't trained worth a damn since Saturday. Can't wait till next year.

Postscript:  Can't find any of these video shorts online, but I did find a trailer for Eastern Rises - the short about fly-fishing in Kamchatka which was pretty badass even though I don't fish. Enjoy.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Running the La Tierra Trails - Santa Fe

Before me - sunset over the Jemez
I was out running around on the La Tierra Trails Wed. evening. It certainly feels like summer is here and the winter has left us. I'd planned on a moderate run of 5mi , but being that it was La Tierra I got lost for a while and ending up running closer to 8. I love those trails but don't think I've ever not gotten lost out there. It's the Bermuda Triangle of Santa Fe running trails. Being lost in a network of singletrack is actually not a very horrible experience.

Behind me - the Sangre de Cristos at dusk

A few notes for the weekend:
  • Santa Fe has a new and growing mountain biking club, the SF Fat Tire Society. I mention this because the club has arranged a three day visit from the IMBA trail team in May. Together they're going to be conducting trail maintenance clinics and will actually be building out a new trail in La Tierra. I like new trails. Also there will be a barbecue which I intend to be at.
A moon to light the way when I'm lost
  • Tessa's Ascension ski climb is being held up at Ski Santa Fe this Sunday. Skin to the top of the Quad and descend back down. Prizes and raffle may lure me up there. Last year's winning time was 28min. Registration ends at 430pm. 
  • Tonight is a full moon. The second straight full moon with high wind and moon-blocking clouds. 
  • The May issue of Outside magazine is running a sweet article (Fair Chase - May '11) on some New Mexico area runners including Marc Esposito, Kris Houghton, Abebe Yimmer, Jonathan Ndambuki, Andrew Musava, and Jae-Young Hyung who put together an attempted antelope hunt/chase near Mosquero, NM last Fall. The idea was to see if they could chase an antelope to exhaustion. It sounds like they just about did it.
  • World Cross Country Champs are tomorrow in Punta Umbra, Spain. Our men's squad is absent all of our best men which doesn't make any sense to me, but the women's squad may surprise. Shalane Flanagan has an outside shot at the podium.

Enjoy the weekend.

Related Post:
 - The La Tierra Trails, 10-7-10

View La Tierra Trails - Santa Fe in a larger map

Monday, March 14, 2011

Running the Santa Fe Canyon Preserve and Dale Ball Trails

Santa Fe Canyon Preserve, looking east
Spent a beautiful Sunday evening up on the Dale Ball Trail. I had meant to be up early on my bike and join a group of runners at St. John's College for some running in the hills, but rolled out of bed a bit late for that.

I rallied-up and made it out to the Preserve before sundown. As always, I had the place/trails to myself. I like to warm-up around the SF reservoir which is mostly flat and very scenic. It's one of the few places in Santa Fe for some reason where you see (and hear) birds and other wildlife, like the beavers that have been marauding the tree-stands up there for a few years now. No dogs permitted however, and no bikes. The loop around the Preserve might be ~1.25mi, in any case it makes for a great warm-up or I have on occasion just run interval loops around it.

Beaver construction

Picacho Peak
Thompson Peak to the east still holding their snow
To the north, the Preserve trail exits to the Dale Ball Trail system. Lovely running up and through some challenging switchbacks. I used to find this first section of switchbacks difficult to clean without stopping but no longer, not even with a four month layoff. A second steeper section minus the switchbacks is even more trying but my happy bike legs zipped right up it. Sadly, few signs of snow were visible. The heart shaped chutes on Thompson Peak still reflected white, and I could see a small patch on the north of Picacho. As warm as it seemed to be there was still a bit of Spring chill in the air and I was glad to have worn two zippys on top. I almost could've used some light gloves.

Switchback fun

Trees and sunset in the Santa Fe Canyon
 I felt pretty smooth flying through the faster sections of singletrack, but I cut the loop short due to caution. I cheated left to the west section of trails at marker 16 and looped back to the Preserve on the more moderate terrain. The complete Dale Ball loop is something like 9.5mi, my partial loop plus warm-up around the reservoir was about 5.5mi, 50min. Had such a nice outing I didn't want to stop, and detoured a half mile west down the Santa Fe River in an extension of the Canyon Preserve trails, then back to the truck. What a great evening. I love running.

Upper Canyon Rd at sunset

View Santa Fe Canyon Preserve in a larger map

View South Dale Ball Trail Loop in a larger map

Friday, March 11, 2011

Muralistas and the Taos Gorge

Alright, I'm busy and was going to flake on a Friday post but I was goaded into it by one of my many readers.

Glance to your left there and you will see an image of the badass mural on Guadalupe St. I really enjoy Mexican-influenced Chicano-style murals, I wish I knew who the artist was. This mural is a particular favorite of mine with the Taos Gorge and the southern Colorado peaks on the right of the timeline. It says to me, 'where have you been, don't you want to come play?'. Conversely it tells me, 'it's alright if you're busy, we'll be here for another 100,000 years, there will be time'. I hope they never paint over this mural.

A few observations and notes for the weekend:
  • Sipapu is hosting the Black Diamond annual Telefest telemark Festival tomorrow and Sunday (Mar 12/13). There will be demos, clinics, tours, a race (with prizes including new skis), and a film screening. All events are free. The event coincides with spring break (spring what?) and the first annual Micro Brew Ski Week, specials, tastings, and giveaways all week. Telefest sounds cool if we had more snow, but micro-brew week might even that out some.
  • Jacob over at the Santa Fe Trail Runner has a terrific post up this week not about which beers aid best in recovery, but rather about incorporating a pub crawl of area breweries into his trail marathon training. He bookends his weekend pub crawl with a long run to get used to training on tired legs and exhaustion. This marvel of a post includes illustrative photos and a listing of recommended beer selections as well as which ones to avoid. What a guy. Cheers to sacrificing the body for endurance training research. This would be a shoe-in for the running post of the week, but we'll have to go with this one which includes a photo of his new daughter Viola Ashley. Congrats man.
  • And lastly, a video sent to me of the Cross Country Skiing World Championships in Norway this last week. The race is the men's sprint relay. First thing to notice, these guys are motoring at a comical speed. I was shocked at how fast these guys are moving, and in comparison how pathetically slow I am. Second thing to notice, there are tens of thousands of spectators howling at these racers from the sidelines. Why do they even bother holding the winter Olympic Games outside of northern Europe? That is their home. Are they too good for their home? The only guy I know in the race is Norway's anchor Petter Northug, the best skier on the planet and the guy that's going to deliver for the Norwegians. The Canucks apparently see things differently and ice these guys (and the Finns, and the Swedes, and the Ruskies) in front of a stunned home crowd. North America ftmfw. Incredible finish.

Be awesome this weekend.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sunrise Cross Laps at Ski Santa Fe

Open Slope at dawn
Lap skiing before work this morning. The early light is going to disappear next week with the time change so there's no sense in finding excuses to put off an outing for another few days. The snow up there on the loop is terrific because it's graded and groomed every day, nonetheless it's damn difficult to distract oneself from the obvious lack of snow every where but beneath your skis. That right there is what 30yrs of alpine skiing will do to your mindset. Foolishness.

The laps around Totemoffs are maybe 800m 600m of climbing then a quick 800m 600m descent down Easy Street. I skied off four laps, then thinking better of a fifth since it was time to head home I climbed 1/3 of the way up Easy Street and descended. Just about to wrap it up I thought, 'damn, I've got to leave this to go into work? To hell with that', and I skied another loop. I am proud of this. My judgment is sound.

Skate tracks

Tried to grab a burrito on the way into work and found out that both Kaune's and Chicago Dog Express don't open before 8am. Too bad. Recovered with some muffins and a hot cinnamon roll at Dulce. Yum. Time to throw down some tax intervals, endurance training of a different sort.

Sunrise over the valley, Tetilla Peak-R, Cerrillos Hills and Sandia Peak-L

View Nordic Skiing Ski Santa Fe in a larger map

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I Heart Snow

Got up this morning with the idea of going for a swim or a ride, but then saw the snow. Snow!  I jammed on the running shoes without haste and dashed out for a quick loop through the arroyos. Every tree, rock and trail section was wearing their nice new white hat of crystals. Then the sun came up to make it all beam and sparkle. The early spring birds that have been out for a couple weeks now flitted around chirping their morning songs which I imagined on this morning to be, ...wtf? ...wtf?... wtf?...

Wtf-awesome you dumb snow-hating birds. Is there anything more fun than running through new fallen snow!? The only valid answer here is no. No there is not.

Snow for the win.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Brilliance in Everyday Places

Madonna del Arroyo Chamiso
An image of unexpected brilliance that I happened across in the arroyo not long ago. The photo was taken from an overhead pedestrian bridge so the actual Madonna and Child were about 25ft high. Inspirational urban sand artist, now that's what I'm talking about. Don't know if it's the same creative mind who put up hidden poetry on the railroad rails south of town, but their genius is to be commended either way.

Tax season has gotten a hold of me so it's getting a bit more difficult to chronicle any trail sojourns this week. The weekend is also looking a bit cramped but I expect to get in a decent ride with the October weather we're having.

Being that it's now March, race season is fast approaching meaning that it's time to crank it up a bit. Both the La Tierra Torture and the Atomic Man duathlons are scheduled for the end of next month, along with the Boston Marathon. Ran that sucker last year and have been meaning to write up a race report before this year's running so hopefully I'll get on that one of these days, just not today.

A few observations and notes for the weekend:
  • Rob Watson over at le Blog du Rob put together the running post of the week even though it's several months old.  He explains his moderately successful yet agonizing 'fast-to-the-front-then-fade' racing strategy. The money quote:  "Conservative and smart running? get that shit outta my face, I do one thing and one thing only. I get to the front...and I fade."  Everything Rob writes is funny as hell but this one may be his best. His posts are even funnier in the context that he's a Canadian elite who ran the steeple in Berlin and recently 'faded' to a 2hr16m debut marathon.
  • In shades of the recent Boston Marathon registration stampede, registration for May's Jemez Mountain Trail Runs (50mi/50K/13.1mi) have all filled in record time and are now closed. Race organizers are still looking for volunteers if that kind of thing floats your boat.
  • The Atomic Man Duathlon (May 1st), is offering $10 off early registration through March 15th. With all the non-running I've been doing this winter I'm thinking this race may be my 2011 season opener.
  • Sangre de Cristo Mountain Works is currently having an end of year ski sale. Lots of great deals on big fat happy boards (30% off).
  • SDC Mountain Works has also announced that the upcoming Banff Film Festival screening has been expanded to two nights this year, March 22nd and 23rd. Each night will have a separate selection of films from this year's Banff award winners.
  • Lastly, March is Irish beer month at the Second St Brewery. A good Irish stout will give you strength - I don't care what my wine-drinking friends may say.  They're a bunch of pikers anyway and shouldn't be trusted.

    Wednesday, March 2, 2011

    Trail Running on Winsor - Santa Fe

    Lower Winsor
    Got in a run up at Winsor Trail this weekend, starting in blowing snow and finishing in a glowing pink sunset. My gimpy leg has been coming around and I've tentatively started running on it once again. I first tested it out on the Spur Trail with Herman a few weeks ago, and again with Antonio on Museum Hill and St. John's. Eh, I seemed to be fine but I could still feel the tendinitis sort of lingering, this after four months without any kind of running. I was walking with a limp back in October and sort of thought I was going to need surgery so I'm counting this as progress.

    Storm in the hills above Tesuque

    Mud not cooperating with an otherwise fine day

    Mud and snow
    I gotta keep the running to a minimum so what I figured I'd do to get in a decent outing was ride out to Bishop's Lodge/Winsor - run up along the trail and back - and ride home. My bike computer is smashed but it was 45min (~8mi) each way via the RailTrail and Bishop's Lodge Rd, and a very moderate half hour trail run up to the Chamisa Meadows and then back down.

    It was cold as hell and the wind was blowing when I left the house. Snow was falling by the time I passed by SDC Mountain Works. Felt pretty tough riding up Bishop's Lodge Rd. and the views of the snow coming down in the foothills were a pleasant sight. The snow-mud combination near Bishop's Lodge suuuuhcked. Climbed a bit then changed into my running shoes and locked the bike up behind some trees. Up, up, up. Saw nobody up there of course.

    The Big Tesuque in winter
    Creek window

    The Tesuque Creek stream crossings were bridged with ice which was pretty sweet, I guess it had been a while since the last time I was up there. The muffling effect of the snow made it so that all I could hear was the tumble of the stream, my breathing, and my footfalls. Returning down the trail, the clouds broke and revealed a sunset more spectacular than the run. It can be tough living in New Mexico.

    Got a little snowy up there before the meadows

    Sunset on cottonwoods

     Blue Corn Brewery Stout for recovery
    Related Links
     - Trail Running Santa Fe Baldy and Three Peaks

    View Winsor Trail w/ Rail Trail Approach in a larger map


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