Saturday, January 14, 2012

I am a trail runner...

Today I ran the first of 4 races in the Pikes Peak Road Runners Winter Series.  I entered the short series, which included today's 3.3M run, and to be followed by a 4M, 5M, and 10K spaced out two weeks apart.

The course this morning was at Cheyenne Mountain State Park,  and it was a great trail that kind of worked its way up into the foothills, had some ups and downs, and the dropped back down to the finish.  It was a really beautiful sunny morning, with temps in the high 40's.  The trail was reported to be 20% covered in snow/ice, so it was also a great opportunity to log more miles on the Vivobarefoot Neo Trails that I did an initial review on here.

The run itself was a little crowded at the start, and there was a bit of single file walking up the icy single-tracks, with no opportunity to pass. Granted, a few times I wasn't complaining, but at others I could have moved faster but was not able to.  Regardless, what dawned on me as I was negotiating the single track, the ups and downs, the ice, snow, dirt, rocks, and frozen rutted mud... was that I simply LOVE trail running.  Perhaps it is because two days before I ran the same distance in our neighborhood, running a loop along the roads, and it was more of a struggle, and not nearly as enjoyable.

I think there is something about negotiating varied terrain, the proximity to nature (sometimes too close), and the mystery of what lies around each bend.  Also, I am not a fast runner by any stretch of the imagination (think of a turtle on Valium), but plodding along a technical single-track gives you that impression of speed with the trees and various natural obstacles seeming to whiz by.

AND... I also learned that I truly love to run downhill, and although I am a plodder on the flats and uphills, I know one of my few strengths at this early stage of my running life is running downhill trails. I attribute that to all the time spent coming down the Barr Trail after climbing the Manitou Incline.  I guess it goes to say that most people would probably prefer running downhill, but maybe not.  In today's race it gave me the opportunity to both make up time, and recover at the same time... a double bonus.

The rest of the Series are on trails that are not nearly as "trail-like" as this one was, so I guess I'm going to have to work on making more road-type runs a little more enjoyable.  But of course, I'll just keep at the Incline and Lovell Gulch Trail , and find others to get my trail fix :-)

As for the Neo Trails?  They performed very well.  About 3/4 of a mile into the race, the uphill climbs on ice packed trail started, so I popped on my YakTrax for extra traction on the ice, which was very helpful.  I also appreciated it on the downhills towards the finish which were also ice covered.  I was concerned about how they would feel through the minimal sole on the Neo's, but I didn't notice them much at all until hitting a little pavement at the finish.  So far I've logged close to 40 miles on them, so will probably look to provide an updated review after getting closer to 75 miles in them.

And before I forget, I wanted to give a shout out to Tim Bergsten, and Pikes Peak Sports.  It's great to see Tim out there snapping great pics, video, and providing encouragement to everyone participating.

Well, thanks for tuning in again..  I'm hoping that the conditions for the 4M in two weeks are such that I can get back into my Invisible Shoes huaraches...  I love the Neo Trails, but I do miss the near barefoot freedom of the sandals.

Have a great weekend, and drop me a comment if you have any feedback, comments, jokes, or random thoughts... thanks!



  1. Wow Jeff, that looked (and sounded) like great fun. Keep us updated on th rest of your runs and watch for them patches of black ice :)

  2. I keep wondering about Yak Trax. It is only truly icy a few times a year here, but I keep thinking I'll be the only 36 year old in history to break a hip on the ice.

    You write great recaps. Loved it.

  3. Thanks! As for the YakTrax, for about $18 (cheaper than a new hip) they are a great investment. They are pretty easy to carry along too if you don't need them, but when you do, you'll be really happy you brought them.

  4. Glad the Neo Trails are working for you.
    All the best from the VIVOBAREFOOT Team.

  5. I checked out the link for those shoes and they look really great! I bet they were nice to run in! I'm getting ready to do a trail race on Jan 28th so you'll have to check out my blog after that! I'm kinda interested in how it'll go. It's the half marathon distance but in the woods at night.

    1. Oh wow.. that would be so cool! A lot of my trail running is before sunrise, so I love running through the woods in the dark.. except when I imagine seeing bears :-) Look forward to hearing about your race!


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