Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tinton Trail Picture Tour

I have two "go-to" local trails for running on: Lookout Mtn and the Tinton Trail.  Lookout's main advantage is that it's convenient...I can see it from my office window and it's about a mile's worth of warmup running on city streets from my office to the trailhead.  Tinton is a out of town a bit, but features gentler, longer, more runnable and generally more scenic trails (while still offering some elevation gain).  Both are user-created trails, the primary "user" in both cases being local mountain bikers, but Tinton tends to be much better maintained (some of the Lookout trails get kind of overgrown in summer due to lack of maintenance/use).  This is primarily due to the fact that Tinton gets much more use and is partly the venue for the Dakote Five-O mountain bike race on Labor Day weekend.

This time of year is the best time to be on Tinton, with the cool weather and fall colors in full display (well, almost full display).  With a day off on Friday, I decided to head out for a medium distance run (ended up being 13 miles total) and took my iphone along with me.  As you will see, I just updated to the new iOS and discovered that my camera now has a panoramic option.  So, I've been taking panoramics of pretty much everything.  I was hoping to get some good shots of the aspens in full blazing yellow, but was unfortunately a good week or two too late for that as they had mostly dropped their leaves already.  

Lower on the trail you go through some open, recently harvested pine stands (I actually had to go cross country about a mile in to skirt around some loggers cutting right alongside the trail).  A little further up, the trail transitions into a mix of pine and burr oak, as seen in the first picture (and you can see that the oak has gone brown....again, a week or two too late). This first pic is also very near the site where I saw a coyote chasing a deer fawn early in the morning a couple of months ago.  Straight outta National Geographic.

The next pic is 4 miles up the trail, in a dense, dark stand of pine. This is where the name "Black" Hills comes from.  As you can see, I was starting to get into some snow at this point as I gained elevation.

My favorite part of the trail doesn't come until you're about 5 or 6 miles up.  After running up a drainage, where the trail meanders back and forth across an intermittent stream, you come out into an open area with large stands of old growth aspen mixed in with pine and meadows.

This last pic is just up the trail from the previous one, after the trail cuts directly into the aspen stand.  It would've been a much better pic if the aspen were still in full bloom, but alas...

Monday, October 1, 2012

Win some, lose some

Two weeks, two races.  Last weekend was the Sundance 50K across the border in Wyoming.  I was horribly under-prepared for running a good 50K and it showed.  I was cruising along fairly well at sub-6 pace (my goal) for the first 25 miles or so, but ran spectacularly head-first into The Wall on a steep section of uphill after the last aid station.  As I hiked along at an almost impossibly slow pace I watched the average pace on my Garmin climb higher and higher until it was obvious that sub-6 was a pipe dream.  I did make a bit of a recovery on the last couple of miles of downhill, but it was too little too late at that point.  Ended up with a 6:24 finish in 6th place (only 20 or so finishers).  Beautiful course, especially with the fall colors in full effect, and a bit tougher than I had expected.  Would definitely like to give it another go with a more solid training cycle under me.  And, for the life of me, I don't know why this race gets so little attention....there should be more than 20-some entrants for this one if the word gets out.  Paul does a great job with it and sounds like he'll be adding a 30K option next year (in addition to the existing 10K, which gets a much better turnout than the 50K).

A week later, this past Saturday, I ran a very different race.  My wife signed me up for the inaugural Firefly 5K in Belle Fourche, a fundraiser for a scholarship fund that was scheduled for a nighttime start (started at 8:00).  I'm not big into road 5Ks, but I thought the night running idea was a cool one, especially under the full moon, so I didn't complain too much about being thrust into the field.  As it turns out, good thing she did sign me up as I ended winning the damn thing.  Of course, it's more impressive if I just leave it at that and not mention my time or how many other runners there were.  Actually, I'm not even sure how many runners there were...I think the total field was over 60 people, but many were walkers.  My time was 20:40, not blazing fast, but actually faster than I really expected given the fact that I haven't done any fast running since.....uh...probably the Hayfever race in Belle back in June (where I finished 2nd to a high school cross country runner....damn punk kids). In any case, it was fast enough and earned me a cool $10 to spend at Subway.  Not a bad way to spend a Saturday night.