Thursday, July 26, 2018

Trail Review: Deer Mountain, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

From one of the first points to look out over the Beaver Meadows Valley.

Earlier in the month I had the opportunity to go on a trip to Colorado with extended family that put us in Estes Park, CO, right down the road about a mile or so from the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park.  This is the first of several trail reviews from that week!  Enjoy!


Getting ready to rumble!!!

It's 5:45am MST and I am out of my car and parked alongside the Deer Mountain Trail Junction ready to tackle the 6 mile +/- hike/trail run, round trip.  I did this exact run 10 years ago and remember it wiping me out for the day.  Back then, while I had youth, I didn't have as much running wisdom and experience as I do now.  This run/hike is only about 3 miles each way, but includes about about 1200 feet of gain to the summit and starts out at around 8900 ft above see level, topping off at somewhere just over 10,000 ft.  Since I had been in Colorado less than 24 hours, altitude could play an issue, but I was ready to go gangbusters right out of the blocks on my first day!


The trail on Deer Mountain continues upward before the start of the switchbacks.


One of the beautiful views I caught that morning on Deer Mountain.


A couple of cairns marking the turns of one of the switchbacks so you don't go off trail!!!

The trail on Deer Mountain from the road goes up a few trail steps and then is flat and wide before hitting the first uphill which puts you out on another flat section with an overlook off to the right probably within the first quarter mile or so.  From there the trail rolls a bit and stays wider than single track but not quite double wide.  Then, as it runs along the side paralleling the road, the trail takes a sharp switchback turn and the climbing really begins.  At first it's just as the trail climbs alongside the mountain, but eventually this gives way to several switchbacks.  The trail then stays straight for a bit before starting another series of switchbacks that eventually puts you up at a high point from which there is probably a .5 mile of descent back through the woods until you come to the sign in the 3rd picture below:


Another view of the mountains to the west of Deer Mountain.


I love peaking through the trees as a natural frame for the mountains behind them in this pic and the one above it.


This sign is around .2-.3 from the summit of Deer Mountain.  Sorry, no horses allowed!  (But plenty of horse poop on the trail before this!)

As you can see in the pic above, the final .2-.3 miles of trail is a series of "natural steps" as you regain the elevation you lost in the previous .5 mile.  


The marker denoting the top of the mountain!

The top of the mountain is a large open area of rock with a pile of rocks right near the marker on the west side of the area.   



Another nice view, this time from the top!


I added a tiny rock on the top of this pile, not sure how long it will survive up there!!!


Like the brave souls who venture to the top of mountains, there are always some pretty cool looking trees weathering the top as well!!!







Looking SW from the top of Deer Mountain.


The way back down!

This young tree was starting it's life up at the top!





The marker under my foot and the elevation on my watch!


Taking a moment at the top.

After going back down the steps, some of that .5 mile that you descend on the way to the top, is actually almost if not, gritty sand, not uncommon on many sections of trail I have encountered over the years near mountain/hill tops.  






If you look very closely, you will see several mini-cairns on these rocks at a switchback.











I love this picture, an no, you are not drunk...and the Aspen trees are not swaying!


Towards the end of the trail!

I am not really sure is I was faster or slower than 10 years ago, (I flew down the descent as much as possible getting several looks from other hikers, and appreciative ones too!)  but I know I must have handled it better, because I was able to hike around at elevations higher than this later in the day with my kids, adding probably another 2-2.25 miles for the day. While at the top I got to enjoy the view and have a few minutes to pray for each member of my immediate family including my wife, each of my 6 kids, as well as other things.  The beauty of God's Creation was awesome and I hope I can do this run a 3rd time somewhere in the future!

This hike/trail run came out at about 6.03 miles which I did in 1:42:23 (movement time---not including a few short stops for pics, etc., and a short break at the top)  Elevation change was 2546 feet, 1250 down, 1296 up.

Hope you can get out there sometime and enjoy it as well!!!  If you hike and/or trail run at all, Deer Mountain should be no problem.  Yes, the altitude and the elevation gain might be a bit of a challenge for some, but it's not too hard to overcome.  It will be well worth it!  Enjoy!








Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Product Review: NuGo Egg White Protein Bars

A dozen NuGo Egg White Protein Bars for me to try!!!  Woohoo!!!
Disclaimer: I received a variety box of NuGo Egg White Protein Bars. to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to find and write race reviews. 

Made from very few ingredients and able to fit into a variety of lifestyles, the NuGo Egg White Protein Bars are rich in protein.  Each bar contains 12-14 grams of protein and is non-GMO, gluten free, Paleo (except for the peanut butter bar), and Kosher Pareve.

I have been using these bars over the last several weeks, including a week of intense trail running/hiking at altitude in the Rocky Mountains.  They are a good source of healthy calories, dense and rich in protein.  They have no added sugars, no dairy, soy, or artificial ingredients.  They use only real fruits and nuts as well as non-GMO egg whites, (3 to a bar as noted on the wrapper!), making these bars virtually fat free and cholesterol free.

They come in 4 flavors: Dark Chocolate Sea Salt, Blueberry, Maple Pecan, and Peanut Butter.  Shortly after these bars arrived, I did a taste test with a selected panel from my family.  


Tester number 1 leads an active lifestyle and has been known to split boards in half with his bare hands!!!
Tester number 2 has a picky palate and as such adds distinct credibility to this professional scientific research we are about to share with you as potential consumers.
Tester number 3 is currently doing computer coding for a video game world he shares with his siblings...when not looking to show off his rugged good looks!
We are still questioning the sanity of tester number 4.  While being a beautiful, fun, and friendly woman, she just might be crazy being married to a man who regularly considers it fun to torture his body at various running race distances across all types of terrain in the U.S.A.  She has also been known to make up songs about how she's a Hula Girl.








Tester number 5 is an animal lover, already having 4 pets and constantly trying to push her father into buying more!!!  Oh, and we believe she ate dog food when she was younger!!!  (So her taste in food might be questionable for this research!)  




Finally, tester number 6 has the smile and twinkling eyes of a secret genius.  Her siblings fear that her future self will be one of power and mayhem over all of our lives...oh wait, this is just a taste test...she likes things that are sweet...like herself!!!








THE PROFESSIONAL TASTE TEST RESULTS!!!

This scientific, highly proclaimed academic exercise of tastiness occurred the afternoon of July 1, 2018 in an undisclosed location of Western New York State.  The professional who prepared the samples of NuGo Egg White Bars, (whom we shall in further statements simply call the Sampler), prepared one bar of each of four flavors, including: Dark Chocolate Sea Salt, Maple Pecan, Peanut Butter, and Blueberry.  Note scientific and professional pictures below:  


The bar wrappers with their appropriate bar designation before hiding such flavors from our testers.

The bars prepared.

Is the Sampler drinking beer in that Pilsner SiliPint?


While I cannot share all the data and research that was discovered that day, nor how exactly it was retrieved, I am able to share with the mass consumerdom who read this post, the following results:

Tester number 1, Mr. Active Lifestyle, loved bar D, Dark Chocolate Sea Salt and proclaimed it the best.  He also enjoyed bar A, Peanut Butter, saying it was sweet.

Tester number 2, Miss Picky Palate, also loved bar bar D, stating that it "tastes like a chocolate coffee," or "really good brownies."  Her second choice was bar C, Maple Pecan, saying it had strong flavor and she really liked it, especially the taste of the nuts.

Tester number 3, Computer Model Man, also liked bar D, noting that it had a good after taste, however, he also enjoyed bar C, especially the cashews.

Tester number 4, Hula Girl, though originally skeptical, this tester was perhaps the most sharp on her analysis, noting every little taste and questioning various things.  Result: a bit surprising, but she went with bar A, noting the nutty taste and good consistency.  Bar D was also acceptable, as she commented the chocolate taste kicks in afterwards.

Tester number 5, Animal Lover/Dog Food Consumer, ranked all four bars in terms of her favorite flavor, bar D, bar B, (blueberry, heretofore not mentioned by the other testers as of yet) (or is as of yet what heretofore means?  Is it okay to randomlyrunwords togetherwhen everIwant?)  Anyway, bar D, bar B, bar C, bar A.

Tester number 6, Future Queen of Earth, while little was said, (there were comments we cannot publish for fear of future reprisals from the FQE), however, the FQE did pass judgment...Bar A was liked best with Bar C a close second.  

Conclusion

Well, scientific data has been known to be highly questionable, typically being more hypothetical and usually having a large statistic probability +/-.  But, if you haven't realized by now...this may not be the highly scientific, advanced academic research that many of you are use to reading and inquiring for when considering consumable purchases for athletic endeavors of endurance.  That said...I think the the Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt Nugo Egg White Bar was the winner!!!

In concluding conclusion of this heretofore but not yet finished conclusion...you can save 15% off of NuGo Egg White Protein Bars now through August 3 with code BIBRAVE.  Enjoy!!!

P.S. The following pictures are of me eating NuGo Egg White Bars while trail running/hiking in the mountains.  Please, unless you are professionally trained, do not eat NuGo Egg White Bars while running in the mountains.  Doing so could lead to pure taste enjoyment while not watching your footing and...well, the earth can come up at you at really fast speeds even if you are very slow in falling...











Saturday, July 7, 2018

2018 Racing Season: Charlie's Old Goat Trail Run, Victor, NY, June 30, 2018

A return to Charlie's Old Goat Trail Run meant another bottle of champagne!!!
A week ago I returned to a race I did the first year we moved here to Western New York State, Charlie's Old Goat Trail Run held at the Ganondagan State Historical Site in Victor, NY.  This is the only NYS historic site dedicated to a Native American theme and sitting on the original site of a 17th century Seneca Indian town.  

While this site provides the setting and location, the true beauty here is the trails surrounding the historic site, and while this race might only be 5 miles in 2018, it is a 5 mile course that keeps you focused on your footwork, working on some good tough hills, while enveloped in natural beauty and overflowing with good food, good times, and good friends.  

Two years ago, we hadn't even moved into our house when I did this race and I was staying with my sister as I awaited the arrival of the rest of my family.  Now, two years later, I showed up at the race and felt much more at ease as I knew several of the runners, knew the entire course, and was prepared to have fun...

Until, I realized as I drove over, that I forgot my hydro-quiver.  Now, you might think, really?  You need a water bottle for a 5 mile race?  Well, one, I've learned at Charlies, that the race distance is #ish.  It might be 5, it might be 4, then again, it could be 6.  Plus, we were in the beginning of the heat wave that was striking much of the country and it seemed smart to have something even if there was a water stop we passed twice.

So, how do I improvise and carry my large bottle with no pack?  I took my Bangtail Divide 38K half Buff and wrapped it around the body of the bottle and then stuck my hand through, twisting the BUFF twice in the section in between the bottle and my hand in order to make a handheld for the bottle.  I've tried enough handhelds over the years that I thought this just might work.  And...it did!!!  In fact, in some ways, it almost works better than some of the handhelds I've used over the years!!!


Improvisation!!!

The interesting thing about Charlie's Old Goat Trail Run is that you run a nice diversity of open field, hills, and woods.  There's actually not a lot of flat running except for maybe the opening and closing 1/4-1/2 mile.  One stretch of trail wooded/hill running is actually made up of several switchbacks so you get the idea of climbing a major hill/small mountain.  Then you run out into the open, come around the side of the rest of the hill and hit a vertical wall that most of us have to walk up only to arrive at the top and a beautiful view of the valley!!!

The course then returns the way it came, and hitting those switchbacks on the way back down is pretty sweet.  After passing the water stop on the way back, you continue the way you started in the first half, weaving up and down through the woods until you come back to several of the boardwalks you ran over before, some of which a not real wide.  Then you come back to the big hill right before the open fields, another stout very vertical climb.  At this point it's already getting pretty hot out and for myself, the ice cubes I stuck in my full BUFF I'm wearing on my hear are almost melted and giving me brain freeze on my skull!!!  Then you are back into the field and running toward home and that ever popular free (mini) bottle of Champagne!!!

Charlie's also has a great abundance of food, and as you enter into the foot tent down the hill from the start and on the side of the main exhibit building, they also have a poster with all the raffle prizes that they pull during the race.  Guess who was at the top for prize number 1 and one of the best ones!!!  Me, a $50 gift certificate to a local Thai restaurant!!!  What a nice prize to win!  It was more than the cost of the race and gave my wife and I a nice date out this past week!!!  Very good food, especially the Pad Thai!!! Saks Thai Cuisine!

A pretty simple shirt with the name on the front and the sponsors on the back!  Nice quality!!!

All in all, as in 2016, a great little race with a good turnout of locals.  It was nice to know people this year and get to hang out with them.  People from my trail group were there including one of the members of a relay team I am on later this summer!!!  Anyone say 99 miles in 24 hours!!!???!!!  Anyway, if you are out this way in June some year, give Charlie's a go, it's another one of those great local cross country/trail races that so many love but without all the hype!!!  Classic old school with great competition amongst the front runners!!!  Enjoy!!! 




Drinking my Ginger Berry Sportland Tea before and after instead of coffee on race day!!!

Free champagne for finishing?  I'll take that!!!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

2018 Racing Season: Frost Town Trail Fest 25K, Naples, NY, June 2, 2018

Running thru the pines towards the finish of the inaugural Frost Town Trail Fest.
The inaugural Frost Town Trail Festival 10K & 25K took place on June 2, at the Cummings Nature Center located outside of Naples, NY.  If you don't know this area of Western New York State, it is populated with several lakes, (aka the Finger Lakes), as well as lots of several large hills and valleys.  One of my worst races ever occurred in this region about 2 years ago, (Ontario Trail Summit Half Marathon), so coming back to this region, as well as racing the longest race I have run in since 2015, had me a bit concerned.  


The elevation chart for the Frost Town Trail Fest 25K courtesy of Ironwood Adventure Works.



I am not sure I have heard of a 25K having a cut off, but this one did, and I was a bit concerned to make the 8.4 mile aid station within the time frame.  I was also concerned about the couple of miles right after that aid station that appeared according to the above chart to gain about 1200ft.  Fortunately, as the race got closer, my job changed at work and I started being able to train more regularly including getting in long runs on most weekends, working back up to 14 miles a couple of weeks before the race.

As race week came, the RD sent out an e-mail noting the cut off time and also mentioning that the course is quite RUGGED.  Okay, what does that mean?  I've run everything from the mile to 50K, I've run in heat, cold, across mountains, bush whacked to create my own race course for the Hardin Hill Run...and now I'm scarred?  Just what are these guys from Vermont planning for us?





Race day came a bit overcast and with rain having hit the woods during the previous night.  I saw several people I know from our local trail group which was great.  As we got ready to go, they told us due to the rain some of the course had been shortened and in the end it would knock off about .75 of a mile.  No one really seemed to complain to much, especially as he went on to describe the large descent before the aid station and major ascent at mile 8.4.  He said that the descent was quite rugged and footing was not great.  He promised the ascent would be much better.  

And so the race began and we ran the first loop of around 3 miles of so to the East of the road and nature center as seen below:



I realized during this stretch that the weather from the previous night had left the woods in an interesting weather condition, the air was coolish but damp, making for a kind of tropical rain forest feel.  It wasn't too bad, but I also noticed that these logging roads...well...they hadn't really been used...like for quite a while!!!  Though you could definitely follow the trail, even these were a bit rough.  We ascended towards the top of this climb, not quite topping out before heading back down.  Trails here were not bad, but certainly not buttery smooth.  Remember, lots of logging roads are kind of like overgrown Jeep trails.  

The next section of trail was through the Cummings Nature Center trails before splitting off at one point to begin the descent towards the 8.4 mile aid station.  Once the trails split off from the 10K, they definitely started to seem more remote and as the descent started, I actually almost lost the trail at one point.  The trail started descending the 1200 ft or so and thus began the toughest section of the race.  

This long section seemed to be carved out of the forest as you cut down the side of the hill.  That's not entirely true...again, some of this seemed to follow along older logging roads and/or a thin stream/wet drainage type area.  Speed for me was tough to gain here as the footing was often muddy, unstable, rocky, or dense.  Mostly it was the mud.  At one point I as I crossed a gash in the trail leading downwards, which I thought was the trail as it was wide like a stream, I almost missed the flag on the other side of the bank leading a different direction.  Towards the final half mile or so, a friend of mine, Brooke, passed me seeming to run downhill more like a deer while I had the footing of...well, not a deer!  Finally I came into the 8.4 mile aid station, (with no concern for the cutoff as I was well under it), got some grub and headed straight up.

The ascent I was so worried about...became my redemption...a Godsend!!!  I actually enjoyed it.  It was more stable footing, grassed for a lot of it, and at just the right angle that I could hike it pretty steady.  I passed two people during this long stretch, including Brooke, and gained time on both.  I know it might sound crazy, but I think the ascent was my favorite part of the race.  I actually felt good on it.  


Towards the top of the climb.  This looks flat, but there's more angle here than the camera tells.

The very top wove around a bit and then broke out of the woods for a short span giving a nice view of the neighboring valley and hill as seen in this picture:




After descending a little bit more, I arrived at the last aid station to hear that the finish was like less than 2 miles away.  I thought, "That can't be right."  So I asked again.  They seemed pretty confident, but I've raced long enough to know that a lot of race volunteers say things like this and actually have no clue...or just say things like it to make racers feel better!  But, I also know that they said it would be .75 miles short.  So, I concluded, that if the course distance ended up being the full 25K, I'd have like 3.5 miles left, if the RD was right, I had like 2.75 miles left, and if the volunteers was right, I had less than 2.  That made for an interesting finishing couple of miles as I tried to figure out just where I was.  As I started weaving my way back through the nature center trails, I started wondering even more...and then I finally saw these:


Beautiful, tall pine trees!!!  I'd been waiting for this view!!!

I stopped to take a couple of pics as I came to this awesome stretch of trail, and then as I ran through it, I started hearing music and seeing people eating...I was almost done!!!

Then I rounded a corner, ran a bit more, popped through the woods, and crossed the line.  Time was okay for the course, though nothing to write home about, (I was 42nd out of 52), course was about 22K in length, but within moments, I had a full pilsner glass of local craft brew.  In fact, our race registration included entry into the brew fest which included around 5 breweries and a local kombucha brewing company as well.  Food was from a well known local restaurant and their chili rocked!


Frost Town Swag!!!


All in all, a tough race course but a good time.  I enjoyed hanging out with people from our local trail group afterwards, sampling several local brews, and then snagging a raffle prize out of the air, (a race shirt from one of the races the RD puts on in VT).  Not a course for those who want buttery smooth trails or who like to stay clean.  This is rugged trail running where footing is important.  But, a great conclusion and time in the woods made for a great race.  Enjoy!!!





Featured Post

2019 Week 9 Review: TrailsRoc 7th Birthday, My Facebook Rant, Weekly Stats, Trail Running Tip

7th Birthday TrailsRoc Group pic, courtesy of Chris O'Brien. A good week, though mileage is still not super high, I got out for fo...