Sunday Trail Run

I decided to do a trail run for my long run this weekend and take advantage of the decent weather. The cold front forecasted for Sunday didn’t materialize as drastically and the sun was still decently warm. Since this was an easy 16 miles, doing a trail run seemed like a good idea – get away from the cars and the people rushing round like crazy. Running on time in the woods is also a good way to make sure that the run is actually easy. No mile markers or split locations to tempt a faster then needed pace.
We’re also pretty lucky – just a few minutes out of town Cheyenne Mountain State Park (http://parks.state.co.us/Parks/cheyennemountain) has miles of trails for running and riding. It’s one of the newest state parks in Colorado and still really quiet. There are some technical trails in terms of rock gardens or climbs, some really good sustained climbs and generally rolling trails. It’s impossible to get lost even with the amount of trails and intersections. Every intersection is marked with a trail map and all the trails have markers at specific GPS points. Not being the super tech savvy type, I just ignore the GPS markers. But the park is fabulous and a great place to train.
Sunday was no exception. Started running up hill, away from the road, away from traffic and found myself in the foothills of Cheyenne Mountain. It was a great day to get outside and just run. The trails were perfectly dry on the south facing slopes and just muddy where the sun didn’t shine as strong. It was great to just run, focus on my breathing and how I was moving. I haven’t done a trail run like that in years. No worries about time or pace – just pick a trail and run. During the whole two hours, I only saw one other person. I’d love to say that the only sounds I heard were the leaves and the birds, but the park is too close to the highway. But the birds were there, as were the squirrels. I startled a few of them and got scolded several times. I also startled a small herd of deer on top of the hill. I knew the herd was around after following footprints and other markings, but didn’t expect to see the deer munching right on the trail. They certainly didn’t expect to see me. But the surprise was short lived and the herd simply returned to eating after I passed.
Returning to the car, I was happy that I’d decided to get away from the roads. I’m focusing on Xterra and need to get better on the trails. Running at CMSP will help with the speed and coordination needed for speed on the Xterra run. There is mileage given for all the trails, so I can actually do repeats and intervals in race situations. The sustained climbs will help with my strength and my power on the bike, leading to a more well-rounded athlete.

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