Heil Valley Ranch has a few rocks on the trail. I advised the gang to run from the south trail head this morning. It’s a bit shorter drive. There’s no risk of a speeding ticket from Lyon’s finest. And I believe the Wapiti Trail is less rocky than the Picture Rock Trail.
I started out trailing on the climb up to ensure I could run slow. I need to carefully warm up to avoid straining anything. This is the inherent benefit running mountain trails. An uphill start forces you to run slow. You might still be breathing hard, but it’s more gentle on your muscles. Plus we need the hill workouts. Today’s gang consisted of Keith and Allison – in the first pic. Me. And Jen and Steve in the third pic. The five of us are joining five others to run the Flaming Foliage Relay in September. Covering 170 miles from Idaho Springs to Buena Vista, it crosses three mountain passes. The time to train on hills is now.
I hope the Flaming Foliage Relay runs over less technical trails. I covered some of it when I hiked the 500 mile Colorado Trail in 2011 and I remember the trails being perfect for running. The top of Heil Valley Ranch presents two loops – the Ponderosa Trail and the Wild Turkey Loop. I prefer Wild Turkey because it’s less rocky. I run it clockwise because I believe this optimizes the correlation of smooth trail to downhill segments. Trust me, you don’t want to run downhill on rocky segments.
Still, Wild Turkey Loop has its share of rocky trail segments. I loosened up after reaching the top and lengthened my stride on the smooth runs. But I had to be careful. Blades of shadow cut across the trail obscuring the jagged teeth of red rock stones. I tweaked my ankle a tad after stepping on one pointy rock. I still have my trail legs and maintained good footwork to keep a strong pace. But those hidden rocks would nip at the inside of my arches and bite my ankles like wading through a pool of piranha. Only once did I stumble. It was from hitting my left foot on a rock and it tore at my strained abdomen. This was on the final two miles coming back down Wapiti Trail and I slowed down afterward to keep it safe.
Keith did fall but didn’t hurt himself. I swear, I think it’s better to fall than to stumble and strain your stomach maintaining balance. I took the time to stretch afterward. Something I just never do but am working at lately. I feel good now and associate that with the cool down and stretching. The run turned out to be just under ten miles. Longer than planned but slow enough that it won’t leave me fatigued for the Bolder Boulder on Monday. I’ll taper with an easy three tomorrow.