The Blonde Runs

Colorado lovin'


…week 3: Greenland Trail 50k Training

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Week 3 total: 47.88 miles

Monday: 5.7 miles
A weak storm brought some snow to the area right at the end of my school day. It made for a WET run with all those big snowflakes falling. I actually like running in the snow. There is something peaceful and ethereal about it. A loud silence.

Tuesday: 5.72 miles
A little ironic that this intentionally hilly run ended up being the same mileage as the day before. I’m just following the schedule, people! A pack of coyotes had made a recent kill, alerting me with their very nearby howls. Coyotes attack people in Colorado, as of late, so we are all a little more aware of them now.

Wednesday: 10.2 miles
It’s been really windy lately. And I don’t mean measly 5-10mph winds. I mean 20-35mph winds and gusts. Needless to say, Wednesday was one of those days. So, I was dreading this “long” run because of it. I chose a path where I would be somewhat sheltered from the winds with trees, but I still felt it so much on the run. However, I ended up with a 7:50 pace. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Thursday: off
My 3rd graders had a music program, so I opted out of a run for today, so I could by sweat-residue-less for the big event.

Friday: 5 miles
Just a quick run on my way home from work. Epic-less.

Saturday: 7.26 miles
I had intended to long run today, but the boy and I ended up running a morning errand, which turned into errands most of the day. C’mon! We ALL know it happens! So, by the time we got home mid-afternoon, I was less than excited to suit up and drive an hour for a long run. I decided to switch my weekend runs. Chase joined me. He loves it. But, I can tell he’s only running once a week with me. I had to drag him the last two miles! He certainly isn’t ready for 18 milers again any time soon.

Sunday: 14 miles
Chose a new trail in Fort Collins since I was going solo. This one paralleled Horsetooth Reservoir. The water was partially frozen, and you could hear the water/ice settling and moving around. Moaning like a baby whale. At least what I assume a baby whale moans like.


I’m following a basic “first” 50k program, but reference some of my previous marathon training plans off and on. I’m actually putting in fewer miles right now, at week 3, for a 50k than I typically do at week 3 for a marathon! I’m not sure if this should worry me or not.




…week 2: Greenland Trail 50k Training

Oops. I’m already behind. This is what happens when you work full time, are in the midst of training, and are also attempting a somewhat social/normal life. The blogosphere becomes part of the backgroundsophere.

Here are the week 2 updates from 50k training:

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Week 2 Total: 45.74 miles

Monday: 5.66 miles
I had MLKJr. day off from work (thanks, Government!), so I spent the majority of the day painting the inside of the house. I was partially waiting for it to warm up a bit. Once mid afternoon hit, I took Chase for a 50 minute jaunt around the neighborhood. I was feeling pretty sluggish from the weekend, but we made it just fine.

Tuesday: off

Wednesday: 6.85 miles
3x600m hill repeats were on the schedule, so I joined Erika at a local trail with some decent hills. She had 8x400m repeats to complete, so I just added a little more of a cool down while I waited a few extra minutes for her to complete her workout. Perfect! 2:40, 2:42, 2:46

Thursday: 9.15 miles
I was shocked at my 8:11 pace for this run! The winds were at a ridiculous 24mph and with my workout the day before, I thought this run would have been much slower. I would have been okay with that! But low and behold, my legs felt great, so I went with it.

Friday: 5 miles
I slowed it down a lot for this one. I knew my legs were probably more tired than I realized after the previous two days and I wanted to save something for the next day’s long run.

Saturday: 12 miles
This run was completed at Lory State Park in Fort Collins. I hadn’t been to this area before, but had read many great things about trail running in the area. The open space extends to the west behind Horsetooth Reservoir. It ended up the being a beautiful “mostly cloudy” morning. The trail was primarily muddy, which caused a lot of slipping, but coupled with the rolling hills and I was in for a great workout.


Sunday: 7.08 miles
Stuck around the neighborhood so I could bring Chase. Pretty uneventful. We both felt pretty good!

I’m always happy to run with friends. Especially for those tough workouts! Erika is so supportive and encouraging in all of my running endeavors that any workout with her is a good one. I was also happy to run in a new location! Lory State Park is a must-do. I have plenty of long runs ahead of me, so I’ll be back!



…week 1: Greenland Trail 50k Training

The week before training began, I was fortunate to be able to meet up with some of my fellow Oiselle teammates. Some from Colorado, some from out of state. And we all seemed to come from different running backgrounds with different running interests. Steeplechasers, distance runners, and everything in between. I think that’s the beauty of running. Each can find their niche in the extensive realm of running. No one distance/event is better than the other. We all just have this unspoken understanding of the beauty of running. The time on our legs together was refreshing and rejuvenating. It rekindled my passion for running and was a timely reminder of why I love what I do.

Sarah (MT), Amanda (CO), Meggie (NY), Yours Truly (CO), Jess (CO)


In my somewhat extensive research of a 50k training plan, it seemed the same program kept coming up. After much debate and comparison of my previous marathon training plans, I decided to go ahead and use it as an initial guideline, with the flexibility of tweaking it along the way.

This program is different from any other I’ve followed, as it is based on “minutes” vs. “miles.” This will take some mind re-training! In general, the first few weeks look very similar to my past marathon training plans. There is a minute range that I will increase upon gradually. While I won’t follow each workout on the exact day, I will get in each of the runs required for the week.

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Week 1 Total: 41 miles

Monday: 5.22 miles
It’s been cold here in Colorado. A brief deep freeze before we return to our traditional 40’s and 50’s. Erika and I ran a well known trail in 12 degree weather. There just weren’t enough layers!

Tuesday: 5.2 miles
This was supposed to be a hilly run and I’d say the .8 and .7 mile hills on this route were satisfactory. I’ve run this path many times and the hills are long and gradual. The downhill is fast and faster!

Wednesday: 8.5 miles
Finally in the 50’s! This mid-week long(ish) run felt “easy.” Seeing the CU track team on the trail wasn’t so bad either. Made me feel old, though.

Thursday: off

Friday: 5 miles
A quick out and back in VERY windy conditions. This trail by my work is notorious for being windy. It feels like a wind tunnel. Almost as though it has its own weather system! Post run, I joined my staff for a Holiday Happy Hour.

Saturday: 10 miles
I’ve been running 12 mile long runs in my base training, so it was nice to have a little bit of a cut back before the mileage increases over the next 15 weeks. Erika and I ran Coyote Ridge, south of Fort Collins. This is a hilly, rocky trail, but great practice that will only make us stronger!


Sunday: 7.08 miles
The boy and I have just started remodeling the interior of his house. Yesterday and today was primarily spent with paint roller in hand. He was working on taking off the old oak trim, around the floorboards and doors, and replacing them with new white trim.


My run took place after a 2nd coat of paint in the great room. By the time I left, it was warm enough for shorts. Chase was anxious to get out of the house, as he had been secluded to only one room of the house.

Knowing I was SO close to a round number of 41 miles even, I made sure I got the .08 that I needed to make it happen. I’m particular. A little.

I’m happy with week 1. I’m watching my food intake, as far as less junk and more proteins/veggies/fruits. I’m anxious to explore more trails in Colorado, as I want all of my long runs to resemble the race course. And, come payday, I need to register for the race! ūüôā


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…Soapstone Prairie Natural Area

I was fortunate to finally have the chance to run in a new area yesterday. With a week off of work and absolutely gorgeous mid-60’s weather, I have loved my late morning/early afternoon runs! And with that, I headed northwest, about 30 miles, to the Soapstone Prairie Natural Area. Keep in mind that I’m already living a mere 20 miles from the Colorado/Wyoming border.

Soapstone Prairie offers over 50 miles of trails, some of which extend into Wyoming. This is the ideal area for train runners, hikers, bikers, and equestrians; single track trails over rolling hills, arroyos, and grasslands. As a natural area, there is a great opportunity for views of wildlife, including rattlesnakes (which I didn’t see). Due to the preservation of the area, dogs are not permitted. At all. Not even to hang out in the car. Chase was none too happy with me.

(click photo to enlarge)

Since I was brand new to the area, and my cell service was sketchy, I stuck with my simple plan of running a 3 mile loop. I wanted 6 for the day, so I determined to run it twice, even if another trail looked oh-so-tempting. See, I have this problem of going “off-track” based on what I’ve told the boy I’ll run. “Off-track” has come to mean many things, namely “lost” (even though I find my way back to where I want to be). He’s gotten nervous a time or two and has been known to come and look for me (he’s sweet like that). So, I’m trying to be better about sticking to my plan when running solo, even when I don’t want to.

Driving 30 miles northwest, and primarily on dirt roads, lends itself to a fairly desolate trail. It was all mine, save for one truck at the trailhead, and it’s owner I passed in the opposite direction in the first half mile.

I’m not gonna lie. I haven’t run trails since this summer and it totally did a number on me. I mostly sure it was the hills. Probably that mile incline initially! But once I regulated my breathing, slowed down, and found a rhythm, I was loving this trail! The views, the solitude, the hot sun in the middle of November.

I’m happy to have found a new running location. When my trail mileage gets up higher, this would be an ideal place to go for long trail runs since there are so many trail/distance options. And given my potential 50k choices for late spring, the terrain should mimic the course perfectly.

TOMORROW: Turkey Day 10k and my first race as a Oiselle runner!


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…East Crosier Trail

The boy had been searching for a new trail for us to ride/run. On a mountain biking site, he had seen the East Crosier trail mentioned. Since it was to be 90 degrees for the day, and the trail was up the canyon, we thought we’d give it a go hoping for cooler temps. Not to mention the fact that the boasted 3100 foot elevation gain in 4 miles had our interest piqued. The only other trail info we could find was: Steep, rocky trail that can be ridden as an out-and-back, shuttle, or loop with road ride.


We had a later start, at least by my standards. By 1pm, though, some clouds were starting to role in, which cooled everything off a little more.

The incline started immediately and I knew I was in for a tough run.

See that mountain in the background? Yeah, the trail goes right up that. The first mile was a slow, slow jog. After that, the incline was entirely too steep to run. At least based on my amateur trail running experience. And even though the elevation wasn’t ridiculous, it felt as though I were much higher, just due to the steep terrain. Out. Of. Breath. I hiked/ran what I could until the 4 mile point, where Garmin told me I was at 8650 feet. I suppose I could have continued, hoping for that 9100 feet, but my legs were jello after my 14er workout only several days prior. Took me over an hour to make it up. Yikes.

Instead, I decided to get down the mountain, find the boy, and head home for some Beau Jo’s pizza. At about 2.5 miles out from the trailhead, I find him reclining on a rock overlooking the canyon. He said it was one of the worst trails he’s ever ridden. He even ran into other hikers who said they don’t even bother riding it. So there you go.

Once we made it down, I was exhausted and a little out of it. On the way out of the canyon, I was also met with one of those nasty nauseous spells from…well, who knows what.

After resting a bit at home, I forced down some cheesy bread, water, and finally, when feeling 100%, a couple of pieces of pizza. Back to normal.

Needless to say, I highly doubt we’ll hit that trail again. Ouch. And I really want something I am able to run for longer than a mile. I may be a weak trail runner, but I think I am capable of going farther than a mile, just not at that incline. Or, I really need to toughen up!



…the Colorado Trail: Breckenridge

This past Memorial Day weekend the boy and I went camping, along with about 15 others (with a nearly 1:1 human to dog ratio). Some friends had gone up on Thursday, and found a large spot in Breckenridge. The majority of us showed up on Friday afternoon/evening, ready to relax and play.

A lot of people in the group brought their motorized toys: UTV’s, ATV’s, and dirt bikes. While the boy used to have a toy or two himself, he’s downsized to a mountain bike (or two); at least when it comes to summer toys. I am not to blame for the downsizing! So, when it came to play time this weekend, the boy took off on his mountain bike, and I took off on a run.

We had camped less than a quarter mile from an entrance point to the Colorado Trail. It’s a 500 mile trail connecting Denver to Durango. To be honest, I didn’t really know much of the trail until this weekend, and I was anxious to do some elevation/vertical training.

The trail is divided into 28 sections; probably for ease when referencing a certain portion of this gigantic trail. And because of that, I can probably most easily guess that we were nearest section 7.

On Saturday, the boy gave very clear directions as to where the trail was off of Tiger Road. And at the time, it seemed easy enough. So, he took off on his mountain bike, and I followed, with Chase, 20 minutes or so after. I guess I didn’t realize how clearly I expected the trail to be marked, because it wasn’t. And I blew right past it. Not being one to necessarily turn around and backtrack, trying to figure out where the trail really was, I just kept running. I was already in that forward motion anyway, so it felt like a shame to stop.

I was on the main road and I decided to just keep going. It was feeling like a pretty decent climb, especially factoring in the 9900 foot elevation start. Chase and I ran all the way to the top of the mountain, which was also the end of the road. 3 miles. After some playing around on my Garmin, I found the button to locate latitude/longitude, as well as elevation. We reached 10,900 feet. I felt that a 1000 foot elevation gain in 3 miles was significant enough, considering my breathing, or lack thereof. We ran down for a total of 6 miles in a little over an hour.

We waited around for about two hours before the boy came back. When he did, he only raved about the epic ride! The elevation gain and vertical climbs; the downhill; the broken bike piece that he MacGyver’d back together. I was immediately curious about the trail that I had so “blondly” missed. So, after an hour, I took back to the trail.

When I finally found the true trail, I was instantly impressed. Maybe it was because of the run only a few hours prior, or maybe it was the vertical climb, but I was winded early on. I pressed through downed trees, stopped bikers, and my own limited lung capacity. I threw in some moments of fast walking/hiking because I was just that out of breath. My goal was two miles. I just wanted to know how much of a climb it was.

When I reached two miles, I checked my watch. I was already at 10,900. The boy easily climbed well over 11,000 in his ride. I ran back down for a total of 4 miles.

It was tough, but I’m definitely wanting more of that kind of training this summer. I guess I need to get back up to the Colorado Trail. And maybe take some pictures so I can show you with a thousand words.



…Coyote Ridge Trail

This past Sunday, the boy and I headed to the trails. Him, with his mountain bike; me, with the only equipment I need: running shoes. Okay, okay. And maybe my Garmin 610. A Type A girl has to know how far she’s gone and how fast she’s going.

We started at the Coyote Ridge Trailhead, in the foothills, where Loveland ends and Fort Collins begins. While this trail alone is just a few miles, it connects to several other trails that can take you north or south for miles on end. My intention was to run 10. First, starting out through Coyote Ridge, and eventually connecting to Rimrock Open Space. Depending on mileage, I would head south at Devil’s Backbone and start the Indian Summer loop. The boy would ride for as long as I would be running. He’s accommodating that way.

While the overall elevation was nothing to speak of, the long vertical climbs were! It was no Rim Rock Marathon, but the first two miles were at a gradual incline; first on dirt road, then on single track trails. This was followed by some reprieve, only to continue the rocky incline to the top of the ridge. Once there, the views were breathtaking, looking down into the valley, and across to the other ridge. So, I just kept going.

The next 1.5 miles included a decent downhill, but then another slow climb along the Indian Summer Trail. At the 5 mile turn-around point, I looked back to where I had just come. Thinking about making that ridge was a little daunting. I wish I had pics to prove it, but I don’t typically run with my phone. Hopefully, that won’t come back to bite me at some point. Risk taker. I would steal borrow some pics from someone else’s site, but then I’d feel bad for a day or two. ¬†And I have enough on my mind right now to wonder if “big brother” is watching and going to get mad and sue-crazy about some stolen borrowed pics of Coyote Ridge. ¬†So, you’ll have to take my word for it. ¬†The incline of the ridge, that is.

But, I’m a tough one, so I headed back with determination. ¬†Mostly determination to pass someone who was already on the ridge, making decent progress in that hot sun. ¬†Don’t worry, I passed her. ¬†My legs might have been totally shot by the time I reached the top, but it was worth it.

By the time I made it back to the trailhead, I was tired. ¬†And sunburnt. ¬†And elated. ¬†Trail running is just that fun. ¬†It works you in ways you didn’t think could be worked. ¬†Brain included. ¬†I couldn’t zone out for this run, but I had to stay alert, so as not to face plant hopping through those rocky sections.

This simple run got me SO excited to do more trail running in preparation for my big summer.

One thing:  I need trail shoes.  Stat.