Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Fort Collins Training Weekend

This past weekend I was supposed to go to New Orleans, LA to visit my mom who was down there on business. Unfortunately my connecting flight to Miami was delayed causing me to miss my flight into NOLA. Believe it or not all other flights going into NOLA were booked too thanks to the conference my mom was attending! I was so disappointed I was not going to get my mini-vaction when the American Airlines personel told me I could try to fly somewhere else. Fly to somewhere else?! So off to the Denver Airport I went! Thanks American Airlines lady!!!!!

Of course I wish I had more time to spend in Denver but I high tailed it to Fort Collins and let my mini-vacation begin! Once I recovered from my flights I suited up for my first and hardest run of the week. Thanks to a cold front in the southeast I was more than prepared to for weather in northern Colorado. Now had it been a week earlier, I probably would not have been able to leave the house but with this run all I needed was a long sleeved running top and a pair of shorts. Yep shorts! Having come from Charleston via Charlotte where greenways are just now the new "it" thing, I can tell you what a pleasure it was running through the streets of Fort Collins, greenways or no greenways. The roads are all super wide with a shoulder AND a bike lane. The sidewalks are clear of debris and have just a gentle slope to the edges and corners. And to top all that off, I had my pick of greenways to run to. If I went west I would hit the Spring Creek Trail and going east would take me to the Power Trail. What a dilemma to have!!!! I opted for the route least likely to get me lost and even less likely to interfere with my workout. I was supposed to do a 5+ mile run with a little tempo effort in the middle. I do not like to stop during the hard parts so I was looking for a long stretch of road for this bit. When my watch went off just about the time I hit the entrance to the Power Trail greenway, I was ready for the tempo. I only had to slow down once for a crossing. I didn't realize all the cars would stop for me!!! How amazing! I did not even bother to slow down the second time through - lesson learned. My legs felt great but my lungs burned a bit afterward. I could tell my breathing was a bit more labored but I felt great and I was just so happy to be out on the open road - and not on an airplane!

My run Sunday was not so pleasant. It had snowed the night before and while the sun was warm and bright the accompanying wind was cold and whipping. One minute I was cold, the next I was hot. Definitely a weather dilemma I would need to get used to. Now I understood it was the sudden winds everyone seemed to be overdressing for. I ran 11 miles on two separate greenways, the Power and Spring Creek Trails. The two are joined by a public recreation facility known as EPIC or the Edora Pool and Ice Center. Pool and ice, ha! But it actually is part rink, part pool. I haven't seen one of those since visiting the Tracy Caukins pool in Nashville, TN (I thought that was weird then too). By the end of the run the snow was melting in the bike lanes, creating a lovely little brown slush I had to run through to get to either the sidewalk or the clearest part of the roads. Not fun. I don't like muddy slush. Patrick told me running in snow was great fun but if this was it then let me tell you running in snow is NOT great fun. Ok ok ok maybe the slush doesn't count as snow . . . but I do think this "hot-weather-the-warmer-the-better" chick did ok surviving CO in February with minimal complaining. Unfortunately for this run it took me a long time to hit a groove. I really did not hit it until mile 8. I am not sure what it was that was throwing me off, the air? the weather? the lift the day before? who knows but I got it down nonetheless!

Small sample of the trail system in Fort Collins, CO.

The drive back to Denver was awesome. I saw a Kestrel (the bird not the bike, silly triathletes), 3 bald eagles and a number of hawks. Since Fort Collins and Denver sit at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, the area is full of wildlife you just don't see on the east coast. The squirrels are freakin huge and orange, instead of our little grey ones. It is not surprising to see a prairie dog "town" right up alongside the greenway trails, complete with barking, signaling, tunneling, the whole 9 yards! And the migrating birds - keep your eyes open because you just don't know what you are going to see! If you are really lucky, you just might see a rare pacific northwest tree octopus (a little lost).