Sunday, August 21, 2016

Running Colorado: Lair 'o the Bear Park

Technically we visited Lair o’ the Bear for a hike, but it would work well for a trail run as well, even though the Bear Creek Trail is less than 2 miles long.

We’ve passed by the trailhead countless times, so I was particularly happy to check this one off earlier this summer. The trail is just west of Idledale; about a 40 minute drive from our house in Denver and part of the Jefferson County Open Space system.

The trailhead is off I-74 (Bear Creek Road) on the left when coming from Denver and down below the highway. There’s a sizable parking lot but it fills up fast with porta-potties and several areas for picnicking. It seems like a great little spot for a picnic along the Bear Creek - either to make a day out of it or bring a picnic for after your run or hike. Fishing is allowed here (with a license and a 2 fish maximum), so we saw a number of fly fishers enjoying the day and the fast-flowing water. 

Lair o' the Bear Park - Early Morning Run blog

The first mile and a half out of the parking lot is flat and wide, following along Bear Creek; perfect for families and an easy start to a longer excursion. I’d like to bring visitors back here for a short walk as it gets you into the mountains and would be comfortable for those who aren’t used to elevation. It's possible to hear traffic noise from the highway above but the rushing water of Bear Creek covers it well for the most part, and near the end of this section is Dunafon Castle - an elaborate residence/wedding venue - on the other side of the creek. While a bit out of place, it is pretty to look at. 

Where this section of the trail comes to and end, another trail veers left and starts to climb. It’s good to know that this area has a ton of interconnecting parks via the trails. You can venture into Corwina, O’Fallon, and Mt Falcon parks with seemingly endless trails to explore. The path we took seamlessly connected into Corwina Park and while the trail is substantially shaded, there are sections without cover and with a lot of sun, where the temperature can rise quickly. While this trail isn’t far into the foothills, it does start around 6,500 feet and rises from there, so the thin air is nothing to take lightly. Hydration and sunblock are a must.

Lair o' the Bear and Corwina Park - Early Morning Run blog

On numerous occasions we had to jump to the side of the trail as mountain bikers passed by. While technically bikers are to yield to hikers and runners, it’s much easier for us to wait for them, than for them to stop, especially on steep or rocky terrain or narrow passes, as is the case for much of this trail. This would have been a bit annoying if we had been running - it seems to be a popular trail with mountain bikers, likely due to the proximity to Denver - but as we were hiking it was fine.

Lair o' the Bear Park - Early Morning Run blog

We went about 7 miles out and back, which provided a solid workout with some serious climbs and beautiful views of the mountains. We were glad to have some snacks with us and a good amount of water, as we took a bit of a break half way through to enjoy the view and refuel for the trip back to the car. The flat section along the creek on the way back was welcomed and all I wanted to do was put my feet in the cold rushing water! 

Sitting by Bear Creek at the end of the hike - Early Morning Run blog

What to know if you go:
  • Go early for a parking spot or else you might end up along the entrance road
  • Take plenty of water, a snack (if you’ll be out for a while), sun block, and a hat
  • Snap a photo of the big trail map at the trailhead to have on your phone - but know that this only covers the small Lair o’ the Bear Park and not the surrounding trails (you’ll want to take screenshots of those maps on your phone before you head out)
  • Porta-potties are available at the trailhead but no water
  • Be ready to get out of the way of mountain bikers
  • There are nice picnic tables & grills for a post-run picnic
  • If you’re not up for a picnic, Lariat Lodge Brewing in Evergreen is a great spot for post-run brunch and beer
What's your favorite running or hiking trail near Denver? * Do you ever run trails alone?

Sunday, July 10, 2016

A Totally [US Olympic Team] Trials 2016 Recap

To say I was exhausted Thursday morning would be an understatement. The day was spent in a haze that can only be described as a Totally Trials Hangover.

While there are a lot of questions and concerns surrounding the Rio Olympics, one thing is for certain: thousands (maybe hundreds of thousands) of athletes have spent years training and dreaming about those two weeks in August.

Wrapping up today has been a week of track and field events in Eugene, Oregon which have determined Team USA. A week that has seen all the emotions.

Tracktown USA 16 - Hayward Field

Matt and I were lucky enough to spend the start of the week in Eugene and attend 2 days of the Trials at Historic Hayward Field. This was our first trip to Eugene and our first time attending Trials - for any sport. And let me say, it was amazing.

Oiselle was out in force, and Matt and I were proud to be part of the crew! While we all know Nike is everywhere when it comes to USATF, I don't think I'm biased when I say Oiselle was in close second when it came to strength of presence in the crowd. We were loud. We were excited. We were certainly the best dressed.

[You may have seen some of the news coverage and social media posts about Oiselle's latest run in with the USOC. The situation is ridiculous, to say the least. While I could write an entire post on the topic, I'll point you to THIS solid article if you're interested in reading more.]

And we were there to support the 14 Oiselle athletes who showed incredible grace, strength, grit, power, and incredible talent!

Track and Field Trials 16 - Women's Steeple
Oiselle Birds Megan Rolland, Shalaya Kipp, and Mel Lawrence in the Steeple 3000M first round. Each of these 3 women achieved PRs!

US Track and Field Trials 2016 - Women's 800
Kate Grace (in the center) on the last lap!

US Track and Field Trials 2016 - Kate Grace Wins
That's MF Fast Kate talking victory, Rio and giving major props to her Tribe!
Two things I know for certain after our trip to Eugene:

US Track and Field Trials - Oiselle

1. My love for Oiselle - the people behind the brand and my teammates - is stronger than ever. These are amazing, strong, and inspirational women. Each with their own story and own goals. We come from all walks of life, cover all distances and speeds. We support and push each other to be better, even if we've only just met.

2. I need to go back to Oregon so we can get to the coast and spend more time exploring! What a cool state!

While in Eugene, we did some running of our own - including a Oiselle run on Pre's Trail and the Butte to Butte 10K. Matt got another PR and I had my fastest 10K time in more than 5 years, which I'll attribute to the warm-up led by Lauren Fleshman, and to my teammate Rebekah, who stuck with me to the finish line.

Oiselle runs Pre's Trail

Butte to Butte 10K

Butte to Butte 10K - Lauren Fleshman warmup

We were able to catch quite a few events over two days, including the women's high jump, Men's and Women's 100M and 400M, 2nd Day of the Men's Decathlon, Men's Pole Vault, Men's Javelin, and of course, the Men's & Women's first round 3000M Steeple Chase and the finals for the Men's and Women's 800M. It was just amazing watching these athletes - the best in the country - compete. All of them, whether they're going to Rio or not, are incredible. (And when I say "all", I really mean, all the clean athletes)

The decathlon guys had a little fun and took a dip after Ashton Eaton claimed another national championship.

US Track and Field Trials 2016 - Decathlon water pit

There were also some fast guys in Eugene - including Bernard Lagat and Galen Rupp, who ran this heat for the 5000M first round on July 4. As you likely know, Lagat went on to win the 5000M finals at the age of 41. Pretty incredible.

US Track and Field Trials - 5000M men's - Bernard Lagat
Beyond running, I spent some good times connecting with Birds and we were sure to enjoy Oregon beer and wine (we may have brought some back with us), and visited the Rose Garden in Portland. Just enough time to know we need more time in Oregon!

US Track and Field Trials - Oiselle
King Estates Winery

Portland Oregon Rose Garden

Only one month till the Olympics begin! Let's hope for everyone's sake that Rio can get their act in gear and make it a great event for these incredible athletes!

What are your favorite Olympic events to watch?

Check out Oiselle's final wrap-up of Trials HERE.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

10 Things All Runners Should Do Before a Race

You've been training for weeks (maybe months) and your race is now just a few days away. Whether you're running a 5k or an ultra-marathon, chances are your stomach and mind are churning with a mix of excitement, anxiety, and anticipation.

About to run a race tomorrow morning, I know the feeling well. And based on my amateur participation in races over the past 6-ish years, here are the top 10 things runners should do before every race.

Week Before

  • Pay closer attention to your diet and H2O intake. Make sure you're fueling your body appropriately so you're getting all the nutrients you need to get across the finish line. Tips: carry a water bottle with you wherever you go (and drink water from it) and make your plates as colorful as possible.
  • Roll out each night. Do this catching up on Netflix, listening to a podcast or while your quinoa is cooking. A few minutes go a long way. 
  • Keep running and strength training, but not too much. You don't want sore legs from an epic set of squats holding you back on race day, but maintaining your plank-a-day streak is a-okay.
  • Get as much sleep as possible. Chances are you won't sleep well the night before the race, but as long as you get solid sleeps earlier in the week you should be okay.
Running gear ready for the race

Day Before
  • Make sure you know where you're going and what time the race it. This might sound obvious but it can be easy to overlook. If you can, pick up your race pack and ask questions like where to park and if there's a bag check.
  • Don't eat anything crazy. Everyone has different needs and preferences when it comes to pre-race meals but pretty much across the board it's best for runners not to try anything crazy or new the night before a race. Even the cleanest of Porta-Potties are not where you want to spend race morning.
  • Get ready for the morning. Walk through your pre-race routine and get as much of it out and set as possible. Clothes, breakfast, tea, race bib, keys, phone, watch, sunblock. Check the weather forecast. Write a list of everything else you need and put it where you'll be sure to see it when you're getting ready still half asleep. 
  • Trust in your training and preparation. You've worked hard for this, and you're ready for what comes. And in that off chance that training didn't go as well as you had planned because, well, life happens, then have Plan B and maybe Plan C in mind. 
Race Morning
  • Wake early and leave early. Sprinting to the start line is no way to start a race.
  • Follow your normal routine - don't try anything too different from what you know works. That's what training runs are for.
  • Get to the race location with plenty of time to do what you need to do - dynamic stretches, Porta-Potty stops, catch a satellite on your watch, get pumped up for the race.

Endurance Race Series Finish

Do all this and you'll get to the start line feeling ready for a great race. In my opinion, the most important thing is that I have fun when I'm racing, that I push myself and feel accomplished and proud at the finish. Even if a race doesn't go exactly how I'd hoped for (it happens to everyone now and then) at least I can say that I did my best on that day. 

What are your pre-race tips? * What races are on your calendar this year? * Do you race to win or race for fun? (or somewhere in the middle)