ilanarama: a mountain (mountain)
Moab, in Utah, isn't very far away from Durango. We go there three or four times a year, for the Canyonlands running races in March and October, for the nearby backpacking when our mountains are too snow-covered for access, and for the world-class mountain biking. It takes a bit less than three hours to get there by car; how much less depends on your willingness to exceed the speed limit, and your need for gas and bathroom stops.

Or you can bike there in seven arduous days, over 215 miles of secondary roads, jeep roads, and trails, up mountains and across desert valleys along the route set up by San Juan Huts. (Here is a map Britt put together, showing the route - click "->7.5' Topo Maps" and zoom in to see it more clearly.)

Want to guess what we did? Yeah. Strenuous climbs, scary descents, rain, heat, mud, and mosquitoes - also killer views, deserted roads, and cold beers enjoyed with good friends. I call it a win.

Riding toward Geyser Pass

Day by day trip report, with lots of photos )

All the photos (119!), none of the blahblah

Advice I'd give to anyone contemplating this trip )
ilanarama: me on a bike on the White Rim trail (biking)
I go to a conference every June in Breckenridge, which for me is partly an opportunity to listen to climate modelers talk about just how doomed we are, partly a chance to reconnect with my old friends from Boulder and remind my co-workers that I am more than just a mysterious voice on the conference calls and a response on the other end of the email, and partly an excuse to go mountain biking on some awesome high-elevation trails. :-) Biking in Breck! With photos! )
ilanarama: me on a bike on the White Rim trail (biking)
I've been biking a lot lately. This isn't because I've fallen out of love with running, or because I'm too injured to run - okay, I'm a little injured, but it doesn't keep me from running. But Britt and I, and four friends, will be doing the San Juan Huts Durango to Moab ride at the end of the month: that's 215 miles over 7 days, mostly on secondary dirt road, with a whole lot of elevation gain and loss. So we've been getting our butts in shape by riding a lot of steep high-elevation jeep roads and dirt roads, and a bit of single track.

So have some photos. )
ilanarama: me on a bike on the White Rim trail (biking)
Uh, hi! Remember me? I used to do stuff and post about it!

Last week we joined friends for a White Rim bike trip. This is the same trip we did three years ago (and look, I wrote about it here!) and it was organized by the same couple, though this year it was mostly a different cast of characters, and also in the opposite direction. And also, I have a new bicycle!

Ilana and new bike

For those of you who care about such things )

The ride was to start Wednesday, but Britt had a meeting he couldn't miss and would come later, so I got a lift to the start with some of the other riders. We had lunch at the top of the Mineral Bottom switchbacks and then rode the ~10 miles to the Hardscrabble campground. The road between the bottom of the switchbacks and the camp is often very sandy, which makes for hard riding; due to recent heavy rainfall, it was instead nicely packed, with occasional mud that was mostly avoidable by choosing a path wisely (or briefly leaving the road). Britt rolled in sometime around 8 pm, which was still well before sunset.

In addition to the mud, the rain had made the desert bloom. We rode by orange globe mallow and blue blanketflower, by the pinks and yellows of flowering prickly pear cactus. (Photo by Ryan)

Cactus flower (by Ryan)

Read more... )

All 15 of my photos at Flickr (the ones in this post, plus a few more)

Brendan's photos, which are better than mine, at Google Photos
ilanarama: me on a bike on the White Rim trail (biking)
Well, as you do in southwest Colorado when you're having an unusually warm, dry winter. We usually go skiing every Friday, but we punted the last two weeks because our ski day on January 30 was the last time it snowed up at Purgatory, our local resort. But Valentine's Day fell on a Saturday this year, a great day to take off and do something special with my sweetheart...so why not go mountain biking?

Here in Durango the trails are still muddy, with snow lingering in the shady spots, but I had learned from the website of the local trails advocacy group about trail conditions elsewhere, and so I decided we ought to go to Sand Canyon, in the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, which is about a 1:15 drive from here. The canyons here are south-facing and on a broad mesa about 1200 feet lower than Durango, so it's even warmer and drier. If you scroll down on that link you'll see a map; we rode to the first dotted-line connector trail, then rode around East Rock Creek Trail in a counter-clockwise loop and back to the connector, and back to the trailhead. It was mostly easy riding, but we had to frequently stop to walk through steep, rocky sections, particularly at the head of the canyon.

Britt and alcove ruins Ilana by pillar

More photos and a few more words )
ilanarama: me on a bike on the White Rim trail (biking)
I haven't been posting lately (geez, in over a month!) because I haven't been doing much. After the 1-2 punch (or 2-1, actually!) of the Double and the 50K, my right hamstring and ITB let me know in no uncertain terms that they needed a breather. So I have been taking a break from running in the hopes that I'll be able to start training for the Boston Marathon on schedule at the beginning of December.

In the meantime I've been getting massages and doing strengthening and stretching exercises, and biking a lot, or at least, a lot for me. When the weather is crappy I spin on the recumbent exercise bike in the basement, which is seriously boring, so I can't manage it for very long at a time. When the weather is good, though, I go mountain biking. I am not very good at mountain biking, and there are only two local loops I can do without carrying my bike over large portions of the trail. Fortunately, the more I do it, the less I suck at it - but I still suck!

Here is someone who does not suck. I don't think I could make some of these jumps on foot that he does on a bike! But wow, what amazing scenery porn this is. I would love to hike this mountain ridge (without a bike)!

ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (marathon)
Got up to 50 miles last week, as planned! While all my Facebook running friends were grousing about the snow and/or their treadmills, we had another week of beautiful blue skies.

Monday - 7.3 miles with 5 half mile repeats with 2 min jog recoveries. Not great, not horrible. Definitely slower than they were in autumn, though; the first 4 averaged 7:02 pace and I kinda blew the last one, 7:23.

Tuesday - 4.4 miles trail running with Britt in the afternoon, as I spent the morning judging a middle school science fair. 11:17 pace.

Wednesday - Easy 10.5 up a canyon road and back down, 9:15 average pace.

Thursday - Another of the alternation workouts I linked in my previous post: this one was 2 miles of warm-up followed by 5 miles alternating 0.35M HMP (7:16) and 0.65M HMP+35 (7:50) and then easy running home for a total of 9.7. It was supposed to be 7 but I knew I couldn't do that; this Thursday I'll extend the same workout. Overall average 8:17 pace.

Friday - normally ski day, but we haven't had snow in two weeks, so instead Britt and I took off early from work and bicycled down the Animas River Trail all the way to the southern end, then back up the frontage road to Ska Brewing and had pints of stout. :-) About 12 miles total (which I know because this is one of my running routes - minus the beer).

Saturday - Long easy run, 14 miles at 9:03 pace.

Sunday - Another trail run with Britt, 5.4 miles, average pace 11:32. We stopped at the top of our little in-town ski hill to watch a couple of pairs of racers in a freestyle (moguls and jumps) competition. Weird to see the snow formed on the run with bare hillside all around it!
ilanarama: me on a bike on the White Rim trail (biking)
The White Rim Trail is a well-known 4WD road approximately 100 miles long which loops between the Colorado and Green Rivers through Canyonlands National Park near Moab, Utah: it descends from the 'Island In The Sky' mesa top down to the level of the White Rim sandstone, which was formed during the Permian period 245 to 286 million years ago. Blah blah blah, a picture's worth a thousand words:

edge and pillars

(Okay, I'm cheating here, because I'm not riding on the actual trail but on the sandstone rim. Most of the ride is really not as scary as this makes it look!)

More about our trip, with [occasionally scary] photos )
ilanarama: me on a bike on the White Rim trail (biking)
sandstone stop

On Sunday Britt and I went mountain biking on the Alien Run trail near Aztec, NM. Last year (almost exactly!) I fell hard not much more than 2 miles in, and we took the early turn-around; this year I made it past all the hard parts (well, I walked a few of them!) and only fell once, in deep sand at the top of a climb. Fortunately, sand is a lot softer than rock, and no damage was done. Anyway, we rode the full ten miles and it was loads of fun and we did not get abducted by aliens.

Since I don't have any big running-race plans this spring, I think I'll try to work on my mtb skills a couple of times a week. (Also, I should update my biking icon with my current bicycle, duh.)

The snow-covered mountains behind my head are the La Platas just outside Durango. The high country's still got winter, but it's definitely springtime in the desert!
ilanarama: me in Escalante (yatta!)
Ilana running canyonlands half marathon 2013 Friday afternoon Britt and I drove out to Moab with the bikes in the truck; we had a pleasant dinner at Miguel's with our friends Kevin and Nora (as per tradition) and I drank a margarita (also as per tradition), then went back to the motel (the Gonzo Inn, where Karah and I usually stay) and took a soak in the hot tub (you guessed it). It was a lot more fun to have Britt along, which was not not as per tradition, but I hope it becomes one.

In the morning we got up and had coffee and breakfast cookies with Kevin and Nora (yep), then caught our respective buses for our respective starts. I was running the Canyonlands Half for my fourth time, and Britt would be running the five-miler; he's not really into racing, but he runs four miles with me a couple of times a week, so I figured he'd be fine.

It was a relatively warm but cloudy day, with only a light breeze - welcome weather after the ferocious headwinds of 2011 and 2012. After a quick porta-potty stop, I found Karah and the rest of the Grand Junction girls, and we chatted, resting among the red rocks while waiting to be allowed to move up the canyon to the start.

I lined up a bit in front of the 1:40 pacer; based on my last few tempo runs of around 7:32 pace, and my average mileage of around 44mpw, I figured 1:38-ish would be a good goal. Maybe I had a shot at a PR, under 1:37. My plan was to go no faster than 7:20 for the first mile (it's sharply downhill and oh-so-easy to go too fast - last year I ran 7:20 that mile, and the year before, 7:18) and no faster than 7:24 (1:37 pace) for the next three miles, then play by ear.

The race )

And then we went mountain biking. And eating. And biking again. )

Anyway, it was a fabulous weekend, A+ would run (and bike) again!
ilanarama: me on a bike on the White Rim trail (biking)
P1020236

Durango's been all abuzz for months about the USA Pro Challenge, a cycling stage race across the pretty part of Colorado that this year (its second) was to start here in town. We got a new piece of public art, a road through our college that was to be part of the course was repaved, and all kinds of events were scheduled for the several days before the start of the race.

Britt and I participated in a 'bike parade' from a downtown park to one of our local brewpubs just south of town - it was supposed to be a costume event with everyone wearing tutus, but we just showed up in normal clothes as did about half the other riders. It was great fun, though, with about 300 riders including the city manager (in a tutu) and several of our city council members, and we got to drink beer and listen to music at the end!

On Sunday there was a citizen's ride that happened to go on the same country road I was doing my 18-mile run on. It was nifty to see all the cyclists, probably more than I had ever seen around here at one time.

And then Monday morning the race began. I staked out a switchback on the hill going up to the college, and then after the riders went by I ran down a seekrit ditch trail that goes right to my house and came out on the course again to watch them go by again (right by my house!). And then they went through the rest of town and on to Telluride. Bye-bye, bicycles!

A couple more photos )

Eight total on Flickr.
ilanarama: me on a bike on the White Rim trail (biking)
It's been pretty hot here in SW Colorado, so Britt and I decided that if we were going to go mountain biking (which we wanted to do) we'd have to gain some altitude to do it. So we drove up to Molas Pass to ride the Colorado Trail. Which was awesome.

Ilana riding

You know the drill... )
ilanarama: me on a bike on the White Rim trail (biking)
First mountain bike ride of the year! (Also, first mountain bike crash of the year, but I'm okay; I've got a couple of scrapes on my hands and arms, and a knot the size of an egg on my right shin. I feel it with every step. I expect I will turn all sorts of pretty colors tomorrow.)

Because the trails here are still too snowy or muddy to ride, we drove just over the border into New Mexico to find the Alien Run Trail in Aztec NM. Amusingly, out of 12 cars in the parking lot, all but one had CO plates. Aliens!

The trail is named for the alleged UFO crash site it encircles. It's a great trail, lots of swoops and swirls alternating between packed (and sometimes loose) sand and slickrock. Alas, it was a short steep slickrock uphill that got me, and because my hand and shin ached, we cut the ride short and opted for the 5 mile rather than the 10 mile option. Still, it was a good time, a nice ride, not too hard (mostly!) and yay for getting out and riding!
ilanarama: me on a bike on the White Rim trail (biking)
DSC00226

I left for Moab around 10am Saturday morning with my mountain bike strapped into the bed of my pickup truck. Ordinarily the day before a half marathon is a day for rest, maybe a couple easy miles with strides at most, but I knew I wasn't in shape for a PR, and Britt was off in the mountains hunting elk, so I had the whole weekend to myself, and I wanted to have fun.

And so I had fun! )

Race report next! I promise!
ilanarama: me in Escalante (yatta!)
So far this week (which I count as beginning on Monday) I have mountain biked on three different trail systems, hiked, gone for a run, and rowed my raft down the river through town - and only the last activity required use of a vehicle. (In addition to my bicycle - I dropped off Britt and the boats at the put-in, drove to the take-out with my bike, left the truck and hopped on the bike and rode back up the rec path to the put-in, locked my bike, and got on my boat! Pedal powered shuttle FTW!)

And it's only Thursday. :-)

(This is also why I love having a job where I telecommute and set my own hours.)
ilanarama: profile of me backpacking.  Woo. (hiking)
Biking: in addition to the Log Chutes ride last Saturday, Britt and I drove out to near Pagosa Springs, about 45 minutes from here, and rode up Devil Mountain, which has a rough and rocky road leading to a cleared summit that used to have a fire lookout tower. Not quite 12 miles up and 3500 vertical feet, woohoo! A few photos are here.

Running: I can run again! Sort of! My PT has given me clearance to alternate 5 minutes of slow running with 5 minutes of walking, after a walking warm-up. I did this 3x on Thursday and 4x this morning, and it's not causing the tendinitis to flare up, hooray! It's still going to be a long road to where I was as a runner, though.

Argh: I am annoyed more than I should be by people who email me - at an address that includes my name - and then misspell my name in the body of the email. ARGH. Also I am annoyed by people who are told that the deadline for the political newsletter I send out is Thursday noon, who then email me on Thursday at 2:30 pm with their news release prefaced by, "Thank you for holding the newsletter for this information." (It should not surprise anyone that someone has committed both these annoyances simultaneously. Also that I did not, in fact, hold the newsletter for that information.)

Fun: The newsletter deadline was Thursday noon because Thursday afternoon we drove out to Montezuma Creek, Utah to start a river trip on the San Juan. An exciting and scenic weekend that was not ruined by the roughly fifty bazillion gnats that each took a bite of my tender flesh. More details when I get the photos off the camera.

Administrivia: If you have a Dreamwidth journal and a LJ, I preferentially will read you at DW and will subtly filter you out at LJ. I also filter out those I read through another journal. If I read you at DW and you read me at DW you are welcome to defriend me at LJ. I don't do the subscribe-and-filter thing at Dreamwidth since there are separate access and subscription filters, but if the asymmetry bothers you, let me know, and I will cheerfully subscribe to you and then ignore you. Okay, not really, but you know what I mean.

And now I am off to a political thingy that didn't get into the newsletter. I will try to be polite to the campaign manager who annoyed me, see above.
ilanarama: me on a bike on the White Rim trail (biking)
This morning I got up early and rode down to the Farmer's Market, and also watched the start of the citizen's ride of the Iron Horse. Then at midday, I did some riding of my own. Britt's still a little sick but wanted to get out, so we decided to do the Log Chutes trail (which I rode solo two weeks ago). This time, I brought a picnic lunch and a camera.

Silver Mtn

A few more photos: )
ilanarama: me on a bike on the White Rim trail (biking)
The park where I've been doing most of my mountain biking lately is called Horse Gulch - it's a big hunk of city and private land on the southeast side of town. (Incidentally, this is also where I do my trail running - when I can run trails!) It's a very high desert-y climate, rocks and sand and scrub, but it's particularly nice in the spring because of the wildflowers.

bluebonnet in Horse Gulch meadow

I think this is bluebonnet, a kind of lupine. Phlox and paintbrush... )
ilanarama: my footies in my finnies (snorkeling)
I have a truly spectacular fist-sized bruise on my right buttcheek. Ow ow mc owie.

On the other hand, today I took another ride - what is becoming my "regular loop", about 8.5 easy/moderate miles, mostly singletrack - and for the first time, completed it 100% on the bike, with no walking over scary spots or even dabbing my foot down. AND no falling on my butt. I count that as a WIN.
ilanarama: me on a bike on the White Rim trail (biking)
Britt and I had been planning on going backpacking in Utah this weekend, but early in the week he came down with a cold, and he was miserable enough by Thursday, our planned departure day, that it was clearly a no-go. So instead yesterday I did yard work, and today I went mountain biking.

I have been riding my mountain bike (not the one in the icon; I have a fancier newer one, that was part of the deal when we bought our Sportsmobile, as the seller owned a bike store and was more willing to throw in a couple of bikes than lower the price) a lot lately as I am taking a break from running to let my peroneal tendinitis heal. The tendinitis seems mostly unaffected by cycling, probably because my foot is locked into place by the clipless pedal (which, of course, my shoe clips into - weird terminology!) and my PT said any exercise is good as it increases the blood flow.

I started out a couple of weeks ago doing the shortest, easiest loop in the Horse Gulch system (where I used to trail run, and hopefully will again soon) and have been gradually extending my rides and increasing their difficulty. I've been trying to apply my lessons from last summer's MTB clinic, in particular trying to attack technical and/or steep sections rather than just assuming I can't ride them and bailing ahead of time. This has resulted in my riding over things that I never would have thought I could do - plus a few fall-down-go-booms and new bruises on my legs.

Today I wanted to do something a bit longer, so I rode up Junction Creek to the Log Chutes trail, about 5 miles of pavement and 2 miles of gravel/dirt road to get there, pretty much all uphill with a few quite steep spots. I'd never ridden this trail and knew only that there were a couple of "intermediate" loops, 4 and 7 miles. When I got there, I found no signage at all, and no people to ask, just two parked vehicles, so I took a guess and rode out the dirt road at the back of the parking lot, which had a barrier for vehicles but which bikes clearly had ridden around.

It turned out to be my favorite kind of mountain biking - a narrow, bumpy rock-and-dirt closed Forest Service road, a little uphill and then a little down. Using the best maze-solving philosophy I turned left at the first intersection, where it became narrower and more steeply uphill, and then left again when a singletrack trail (marked by tree blazes, and a post with a green circle for difficulty, but no map or name) veered off into the woods. (I was wearing my wrist GPS which I use for after-the-fact mapping and for mileage and speed tracking, and theoretically I think I could have used it to figure out how to get back to known territory, but I have never actually used the GPS functions so I'm not really sure how.) The trail was a little trickier but perfectly rideable, even for a wimp like me, although someone needs to go through with a pair of pruning shears and lop off the encroaching willows. I did have a few nervous moments on some of the rockier sections, and I walked across one boggy bit, and I fell at a creek crossing followed by a steep and loose uphill I couldn't quite negotiate. But otherwise, it was an awesome ride, and right at 4 miles I spotted the Junction Creek road ahead of me.

Total of 19 miles at a blazing 8mph average, although that hides the variance; on the paved part of the downhill I zoomed at 16-20mph, and my average over the actual Log Chutes trail was 5mph, or about trail running speed. I'm looking forward to riding it again (and trying the right fork, which I think leads to the longer loop; and bringing a camera, 'cause it's pretty!) with Britt once he gets over his ick.

Then I came home, took a shower, and went to the Taste of Durango street fair where I stuffed my face on tapas and mini-plates from our finest restaurants, washed down with a beer and a margarita. A perfect Sunday!

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ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (Default)
Ilana

March 2017

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My running PRs:

5K: 21:03 (downhill) 21:43 (loop)
10K: 43:06 (downhill)
10M: 1:12:59
13.1M: 1:35:55
26.2M: 3:23:31

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