Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Backyard Project

For those of you who know me, know that I actually don't have a real backyard.   Although, after working in Lyons for the past 4 1/2 years, I've come to think of the surrounding open space as my own backyard playground.  Within a few miles from work, you have Rabbit Mountain, Picture Rock heading to Heil Valley Ranch, and my favorite of all, Hall Ranch.  All of these provide great hiking, mountain biking, and trail running, with great views from the Front Range to Longs Peak.  I've spent so many hours on these trails, I have become well acquainted with almost every switchback, rock, root, and sweeping view.  Even still, I truly cherish each minute I get to spend moving through these hills and valleys.

With my upcoming climb of Mt. Rainier, I needed some fitness goals to help ensure my preparedness to tackle the highest peak in the continental United States, standing at 14,411 fasl.  With a little inspiration from Anton Krupicka (http://antonkrupicka.blogspot.com/2010/01/green-mountain-project.html) I set a modest goal of running the first section (to the first bench) of Hall Ranch 30 times in 30 days.  I also set a few rules to ensure I stayed on target.  One complete run was from the outhouse to the first bench, which is right at 4 miles and 700 vertical feet.  I could run further (which I did quite often) but it only counted as one single climb.  Although, I could complete what I called '2-fers' which meant I could complete 1 full run in the AM and another in the PM or perform back to back runs (to make up for any missed days).

A surprising warm day after recent snow on Hall.....not a soul on the trail!

This goal was just what I needed to stay on track with training for Rainier and I found that I felt better and better each day.  No day was ever the same.  When I began this little project, the weather would swing drastically from day to day.  I ran in 12 inches of fresh snow, in rain, with 40 mph winds and with the sun beaming down.   Christine joined me for many of my runs and we enjoyed running together, sharing our joy of movement while being in the mountains we love so much.

Christine heading to the top...falling in love with trail running with each stride. 

So, today marked my 30th and last day of the Backyard Project.  It also marks one month before I depart for Seattle and set out to achieve yet another goal in front of me.  It was a modest goal that I had set for myself a month ago, but one I felt would cement a solid foundation of fitness.  During this time, I ran 143.8 miles and climbed approximately 24,100 vertical feet.  There was only 2 days in which I didn't run....1 because I forgotten my shoes so I went on a bike ride and the other because Christine and I were in the mountains (tele-skiing cross-training).

To somewhat celebrate the completion of my project (my 30th was on Sunday), I decided it would be fitting to run Green Mountain in Boulder, in honor of the guy that gave me the inspiration.  The run this afternoon truly showed the modesty of my own goal compared to that of loftier runners, but no less diminished what I had set out to do.  So, from 8,144 ft atop Green Mountain, I took a deep breath, thankful for the ability to move, blessed with the opportunity to run in the mountains, and in awe of the beauty surrounding me.   With that, I sped down the trail toward yet another goal, another mountain, another dream.

From atop Green, looking west toward Bancroft.

Looking Southeast over the Flatirons with Denver in the background.