#60HikesDenverChallenge – Green Mountain and Hayden Trail Loop

(For 2017, I have a goal of getting through all 60 trails in the book “60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Denver”  You’ll see these posts all year-long. You can find a lot of info on each of the trails in the book, but I’ll highlight some things each time in addition to including my experience and opinion on the trail. The number below is associated with how they are labeled in the book if you have it.)

Trail #22 – Green Mountain and Hayden Trail Loop
Completed: 4/3/17 | Mode: Running!
Location: Alameda and Union, Lakewood
Distance: 3.3 miles
Difficulty: Hard, steep climb
Surface: Hard packed dirt with a few bigger rocks in parts
Exposure: No Shade
Facilities: Port-o-potty at Alameda Trailhead, no water

View into Golden!

My Experience:
I have run on Green Mountain more times than I can count. This is the place where I had my first trail run experience many, many years ago and a place I still love to this day. This is also the place that I just about lost it when I saw some people cutting the trail. Green Mountain does get used regularly and it hurts me to see the signs of overuse or people disrespecting the “rules” of nature. In fact, I just drove by the last week and the signs  were marked RED indicating “OVERLY MUDDY CONDITIONS, use not recommended,” and yet the parking lot was still packed. Come to find later in the week, when the trails were finally dry, there was bike tire ruts baked into the trail – NOT FUN for the ankles!

I look grumpy…but I was just squinting.

Anyway, I’ve run all over this mountain, just about every trail that there is. There are all types of trails here: long easy runs, steep hill climbs, a mixture, etc. Plus, it’s close to where I work and live (I coach track right across the street), making it super convenient to get a trail run in without traveling far. About a week before I completed the exact trail from the book, I inadvertently did the trail in reverse as I just ran around aimlessly. I went back to repeat the trail from the book, just because.

Quite the challenge, going the direction the book recommends takes you up, UP and UP for a whole mile without relenting. Not going to like, it was pretty tough. I ran most of it with a little bit of walking, took in the views at the top and ran the downhill (my favorite part) back to my car.

Awesome views of Denver!

Pros:
-All types of running can be found
-Good views in the distance
-Plenty of miles of trails! The full loop is over 6 miles, but can add trails in between.
-Wildflowers for a brief season in the spring

Cons:
-Not particularly beautiful on the trails
-Some parts have really loose, smaller sized rocks, making footing super tricky
-Crowded
-Overused
-TONS of bikers!
-There can be rattlesnakes

Access Road Trail on top

Overall:
While I do really love running here and I do so multiple times a week,  I wouldn’t recommend it for out-of-towners. The trails and park itself aren’t that spectacular to look at. There are some great views of Denver and the nearby foothills, but the whole mountain is brown/yellow in color most of the year.  If you’re looking for a great trail system to get some miles on without going too far out of the city, this is the right place!

Sometimes it’s green…


Join me in my #60HikesDenverChallenge:

Book Review: “RUN!” by Dean Karnazes

My cat reads with me.

My cat reads with me.

I’ve been on a Dean kick!! Once you get started, there’s no turning back!

In the last couple of months, I’ve learned a lot about Dean Karnazes the ultra running legend. I read the Road to Sarta book, watched Desert Runners and I just got the movie “Ultramarathon man: 50 Marathons, 50 states, in 50 Days” on NetFlix DVD (which I did a book review on a long time ago and It turns out I’ve already seen the movie…I realized after I linked the post).

Anyway, I found and read “RUN! 26.2 Stories of Blisters and Bliss.” I love that this book’s chapters are broken down like that of a marathon, including a pre-run stretch and recovery!

20170117_173812

“RUN!” is a collection of short stories by Dean, from his friends, his wife, and his children. There’s even a chapter on funny race signs he’s seen. This book gives us side stories from events we have already seen or read about and a more candid look at Dean’s life. I love this aspect. It makes him seem more real and human rather than the running machine I picture.

My favorite story is either the one about carrying the Olympic torch or when he goes on The Regis and Kelly Show to break the world record for longest run on a treadmill (he met Obama before he was president and because he has vaseline on his hand, he fist bumped him!). I also really love the letter from his wife; it was super sweet and a good view from his family.

I definitely recommend this book to any Dean Karnazes fan. If you’ve never read anything by him before, I suggest starting with his other books.


I checked mine out from the library but you can find it on Amazon HERE:

“To Be a Runner” – Book Review

PhotoGrid_1470008936201Are you looking for inspiration? How about a unique view about why we run? Or, are you looking for a fantastic reflection on your passion? Look no further! Martin Dugard has you covered!

“To Be a Runner” is amazing. Truly. By far one of my favorite running books. Actually by far one of my favorite books. Period. Written by Martin Dugard who writes professionally for Runner’s World, Sport Illustrated and Esquire as well as true-life novels. He also coaches cross-country and has a lifetime of his own running experience.

I had apparently read this book before, not remembering that fact until I was deep into the familiar words. I found quotes and bookmarks previously highlighted from my first read through and adding more as I read along. I don’t read many books more than once, and even after a second time, I’ll most likely read this again… and probably again….

What’s great about this book is there is a chapter, page or quote that will apply to every type of runner, at any given point in their running life. Reading it a second time, I am finding the previous quotes I highlighted don’t apply and I’m adding new underlines in places that I can relate to now. I’m willing to bet, on my next read through, I’ll highlight even more quotes, a different part of the book speaking to me.

Martin J. Dugard - AuthorI’m guessing the first time I read this book was before I was a cross-country coach. Now, reading through Dugald’s coaching experiences, I am finding excellent sources of  encouragement I intend to pull out and use with my kiddos like, “excuses limit us and prevent us from being the best possible versions of ourselves.

I’m also finding words to describe my love of trail running: “On those trails, nagging riddles and problems have a way of uncomplicating themselves, revealing to me in step-by-step detail how they might be resolved.”

As I read on, I find myself completely lost in this book…. smiling, crying, laughing, shaking my head in agreement. I find myself wishing I too could write like this to describe my life and love of running.

10814907One of my favorites quotes comes from the chapter “Run Date” where the author tells about how he and his wife catch up and get away together on runs: “The loneliness of the long-distance runner in overrated. Like all the best things in life, a great run becomes even more wondrous when shared with someone you love.” This quote is a perfect representation of my boyfriend and I.

I don’t remember quite what I got out this book the first time, but this time, I get the feeling that I’m not quite sure what I want from running. I fell like I’m missing something that the author has. I feel lost, but I want to find it again, that passion, so that I can write like this as well. I get the urge to get outside and find it, right now!

I will leave you with one last quote; this quote being pretty close to how I’ve been viewing the current running world and why I feel like an outsider:

One of the great downfalls of the modern running movement is how anal and joyless some of its leading voices have made it. Think of me as that great voice in the wilderness that says it’s okay to have fun out there.

Throw the logbook away. Stop pausing you watch at stop lights. Go right when you meant to go left.

Wander.”

“Running & Being” – Book Review

20160615_113345

If only you could see how worn this book became after I finished it.

I’m not sure what I was expecting when I bought this book, but whatever it was, I was surprised. I think what I wanted was a more holistic approach to running. After all, this was supposedly the book that “got the world into running.” With a title like “Running & Being” I thought for sure I would get words of wisdom for a simplistic approach to running.

It was a good book, just not was I was expecting and thus made it hard to get through. Instead of a holistic approach to running, I was greeted with the philosophy of running. It wasn’t a “how-to” guide. I should have read the back cover, it literally says the book became the “philosophical bible for runners worldwide.”

Original Cover

Despite the unexpected, I did enjoy the read, and took a few things from the book before I put it back on my shelf.

Written by George Sheehan, a cardiologist and runner himself, “Running & Being” ties Sheehan’s own philosophy to ideas from great thinkers and athletes all relating to running.

I previously started this book and this was a second attempt to finish it. I found my book mark in chapter two. Starting over, I realized why it got stuck there. The first few chapters is like a walk through and over grown forest for my mind. Cluttered, in my opinion, and hard to read through the “he said, she said quotes” by people half of which I’ve never even heard of.

159826._UY200_

I had heard Sheehan was a great writer and all running-readers recommend this book, but I wanted HIS wisdom, not other people’s quotes, most of which were never about running in the first place. Sifting through the random stories, metaphors, quotes and creativeness, I did pull out a few take-ways that were integrated in between the philosophy.

  1. Go back to the fork (find where you went wrong or where the injury happened)
  2. Have fun and PLAY!
  3. Do the Magic 6 (3 stretches – Calves, hamstrings, lower back; and 3 strength exercises – Shins, quadriceps, and abs)
  4. Follow your own food rules (whatever works for you)
  5. Use fitness markers (like resting heart rate to monitor fitness and over-training)
  6. Most injures are due to overuse on a bad biological body (i.e. get your form evaluated and corrected with proper shoes)
  7. Create a running ditty bag (for races)
  8. Let it all hangout! (Wear your feelings on your sleeve while running)
  9. Learn when to kick and never look back!
  10. Become one with your run and embrace the loneliness of a long-distance runner.

The major thing I pulled away from this book was Sheehan’s comparison of running to religion. This is relatable to me as I am not a church going person but still believe something must be out there. He makes sure to say that running is not meant to be a replacement for a God but more a supplement or a way to express your beliefs. It would be a way to relate to the world and show your appreciation for the Earth.

Is the book worth the read? Depends on your mood and reading style. If you read a lot and are looking for a philosophy on running, read away! If you don’t read much and may get lost in descriptive writing, put this book back on the shelf. Will I read it again? Probably not, but I will definitely remember my takeaways.

13260129_10102798522086293_256744746296188083_n

I leave you with this, my favorite quote from the book, referring to the idea of “play:”

“Run only if you must. If running is an imperative that comes from inside you and not from your doctor. Otherwise, head the inner calling in your own Play. Listen if you can to the person you were and are and can be. Then do what you do best and feel best at. Something you would do for nothing. Something that gives you security and self-acceptance and a feeling of completion; even with moments when you are fused with your universe and your Creator. When you find it, build your life around it.”

About George Sheehan