Saturday, July 17, 2010

Running again at sea level

Pike's Peak at sunset

Exploring the Manitou cliff dwellings

Nearing the top of Pike's Peak

The Emerging Runner visits the Colorado Running Company

Weight room at US Olympic Training Center. Fence (above) was put in to prevent athletes from sneaking in after hours to train

Western view of the mountains at night

Along the regional trail at Bear Creek. A big deer stands guard

Picked up this pebble in my shoe during the Bear Creek trail run (actual size)

Rotating sculpture at America the Beautiful Park

Hawks circling at the incredible Garden of the Gods Park

Balanced Rock at GOTG

Early morning view of the Helen Hunt Falls

Today's run (street): 4.2 miles at 9:27

For me, the worst part of any vacation is the travel to and from our destination. The flight into Denver was punctuated by long periods of moderate turbulence and I was very happy to touch down a mile higher than where we'd started. We prepared for our return but spent almost as much time at the airport as we did on our flight due to a two hour, weather related, departure delay. By the time we had settled back in at home it was close to midnight and we were all asleep within minutes of shutting off the lights. Even though I was still on Rocky Mountain time I woke up early and went out for a run. I was curious to see if the richer air would yield any performance benefits. The lower altitude did present easier breathing but the high humidity (compared to what we'd experienced throughout the week) offset that advantage. I ran 9:18 for my first mile this morning and lost about ten seconds on the second and third before picking up the pace on the 4th. The breathing part was easy but I was tired. I guess I can claim travel fatigue but I'd rather blame the humidity. It was the first run I'd done on the street since last Saturday and I did miss the surface of the trails, even the tough ones.

We covered a lot of ground during our Colorado explorations. After our trek through Bear Creek Park on Thursday morning we headed to the America the Beautiful Park that features a huge revolving sculpture that serves as the worlds coolest water sprinkler. The kids took off their shoes and enjoyed cooling off under the hot sun. After dinner we returned to Garden of the Gods park to check out some areas we didn't get to on Monday, including Balanced Rock where we took lots of pictures. We saw so many deer in the park that night that my kids began to roll their eyes every time my wife and I would announce another sighting.  Friday morning we returned to the Helen Hunt Falls and spent some time scrambling on the rocks and enjoying the views. The visitor's center had many articles about tourists falling because they didn't heed safety warnings. Despite that danger, it's a place that we'd love to visit for days if we had time.

Oft ignored sign at Helen Hunt Falls
 It's nice to be home but the memory of our trip will last for a long time. We probably took 500 pictures between our three cameras and my iPhone. I'm looking forward to seeing the photo book my wife is making. I may head to Stillwell tomorrow to return to the trails once more. The vegetation may be different and there will be no mountains in the distance but it's my trail running home and I miss it nonetheless.

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