>Last weekend our first Thanksgiving in Colorado. It is a blessing to have family in such close proximity. Earlier in the day Maija and I ran a local Highlands Ranch 5K Turkey Trot. We awoke around 6 A.M to a bitter cold outside. The temperature read somewhere around 10 degrees. We decided to drive over to the start and leave the car in the parking lot. We only live around a half mile from the start but with sub 20 degree temps and no indoor facilities we figured a car could be good post race shelter. Maija and I got our numbers and timing chips and ran back to the house until about 30 minutes before the start. I was freezing running back to the house. Once we started warming up before the start I realized how fast the temperature was rising. At the start I was even contemplating taking off the spandex and long sleeve. 

Too late for any apparel as the trumpet player was finishing up playing the national anthem. Then it was 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1….GO! 

I seem to have no control when it comes to a running race. Cycling on the other hand is a matter of specific calculations, pain tolerance, when to go and when to hold. With running I have somehow chosen to forget about anything in terms of tactics, race analyzation, and realistic pace. Going back to cycling for a second, for the most part you can judge whether the pace of a break is too fast for yourself or too slow for the group chasing. When man and machine collide it spurs a different type of intelligence. Your equilibrium must arbitrate between precise calculations of bicycle balance, speed, endurance, food and water intake, among others details. Now, back to running. The race goes off and I’m already out front running way too fast for my legs. My breathing is erratic, legs start burning, and my eyes goes into tunnel vision. I run past the first mile in a with a way-too-fast-out-of-shape 5:26. 5:26? The last time I ran that fast was for a police physical fitness test. Ouch! By 1.5 miles I was sucking wind like a swamp boat at full speed. Only difference is my swap boat is churning through peanut butter. With 1 mile to go I was totally spent. I had nothing left but a major side stitch and a nagging in my brain which kept placating the reasons behind such a painful effort. I ran the last mile at about at about the same pace of my final mile of the NYC marathon. (Very Slow) I believe my overall time was 19:50. My PR in high school was about a minute faster then that! Back to reality, I didn’t mind being a slow runner as I know my legs were meant to push pedals. The winner ran somewhere in the low to mid 16’s. After checking past race performances online the winners time was rather slow for himself. It was a tough little course I suppose. In any case, Maija and I spent some time chatting with strangers after the race and headed home for some good R&R before a nice Thanksgiving dinner at my Aunt’s. The food and family was totally welcome and it left me a little nostalgic, pondering premonitions of future experiences. 

The next day Maija and I woke up and chose a moderate hike to uncover. Colorado is an open book of adventures and exciting exploits to conquer. If there was a globe of Colorado, I’m sure you could spin your figure and it would almost never land on a trail you have already traveled. Especially if you are new to the area! Maija and I have not ventured too much around the Golden area so we thought it would be a good choice since there are various parks to pick. We left around 10AM after some breakfast and outdoor time with the pups. 

Maija and I have made a conscious effort to eat breakfast together on the weekends. I feel it’s a small yet important entity in our relationship. The one thing I miss about home (NY Home) was weekend morning breakfast with my parents. We would all sit around the kitchen table eating bagels, drinking coffee, and sucking down impeccable black lettered locutions from the NY Times. There would not be much talk in the morning as everyone would always be interested in some compelling segment or anecdote. The only noise to hear was from the rustling of papers, ding of the toaster, or a short newsworthy pivotal statement. Mornings like this would not always occur as I would be running off to a cycling race and my father heading out east (Suffolk County) to the shooting range. But, around this time (Holiday Season) when there we no cycling races or shooting matches to attend so it would be a more common occurrence. 

Back to the hike…

Speaking of the pups this was Mickey’s first “serious” hike with us and he passed with flying colors. He acts in some respects the same way Cooper does off a leash; Better! We put the dog pack on him filled with water. I figured this notion would slow him down on the trail but it seemed to only motivate him even more. Mickey is great off a leash and led us up the mountain almost the whole time. He would scurry down the trail and turn back every now and then to make sure we were right behind him. Mickey was the leader and aside from a few trail corrections he led our pack towards whatever goal lay ahead. Cooper hung back which is usual of him when on a moderate to difficult hike. I kept Frito by my side most of the time. When I let Frito go ahead he would motivate Mickey and the two would be out of our sites within seconds. For now, it’s best to keep Frito next to me. 

As we made our way closer to the top the temperature dropped considerably. The trail also turned from dirt to snow. We had only about 1.7 miles to the top but it took almost a half hour. Every step up the mountain was prolonged by the loosely packed powder. Mickey was still at the front with myself right behind him. Cooper kept eating snow and Frito was licking his cold paws. “Lets go guys!” I would keep saying to keep them motivated. The altitude no longer seemed to be a factor as the steep snowy trail was enough work. 

Finally at the summit the trail turned back to dirt and the sun was out. Windy Peak definitely held it’s name! The wind was in an uproar with gusts would blow my body left and right. We didn’t spend much time at the top. Maija and I enjoyed some views from the peak while we ate a quick snack and made our way running back down. Mickey thought this was a game as he would run at a full sprint until I almost ran into him. A second later and he was back down the trail! Crazy little guy…

The hike was similar to a figure 8 or lollypop loop. The other side of the route provided beautiful spectacles of mountain tops, wheat fields, and other trails. 

Overall it was a beautiful day out in the mountains with Maija and the dogs. 

Until next time….