Sunday, June 27, 2010

Welcome to Red Rocks Park

Red Rocks Park is a state park about 15 miles west of Denver, in a unique transitional zone where the Great Plains meet the Rocky Mountains. The park is full of those cool red sandstone rocks which I gave a little geology lesson about a couple blogs ago when I ran Garden of the Gods 10-miler. Same rocks here, I believe (same formation), just now we're just 60 miles to the north. Inside the park is "Red Rocks Amphitheater", famous for its great summer concert lineup and film series (Film on the Rocks). The open-air amphitheater is anchored by two large sandstone rocks reaching three hundred-feet high, offering natural acoustics and is why it's well...famous. It also has unbelievable panoramic views of the city (that'd be Denver). I believe Wide Spread Panic played there this afternoon.

Inside the park, it's 868 acres are filled of abundant trails and lots of winding roads, and like it's cousin, Garden of the Gods, it's HILLY! And the Amplitheater is full of stairs, of course, while are a popular destination for those wanting a great workout. Hills and stairs. Tons of hills, tons of stairs. Get where this is going? My friend, Jim, asked me yesterday, while I was gagging on a lung at Athletic Training class, if I had any interest in running the hills and the stairs at Red Rocks today. I've never run over there but sounds exactly like the kinda of challenge I'm seeking right now. I'm in.

Jim picked me up at 7 this morning...thankfully the 99 degrees, which set a record high on Friday, vacated the state, and it was a nice and cool 70 for our run. Didn't seem like it, seemed like 90, but I've been avoiding the heat of the day running, evident by my pasty-white skin, which is usually pretty tan by now, so 70 is about as hot I will run lately. The heat zaps me and well, I don't want to spend any excess time recovering more than I have to right now, so I've been either getting up at 5a.m. to run or doing the TM thing. Anyhoo, I told Jim when we got there that he was to do his thing and I'd do mine, I didn't want to slow him down and I had no idea how far I was going to run. The idea was to run around the hilly park awhile and then get to the amplitheater and run the bleachers and the stairs. So that's what I did. 6 miles I ran around the park, with about 600' in a couple miles, so definitely some good hills.

I like this hole in the rock, which I ran through a few times, on my hilly road run. Once, going through the hole, a beer truck was passing me coming up (getting ready for the big gig, I suppose) and a car was coming from the top down....the 3 of us in that little hole was kinda...um...freaky!

When I reached the amplitheather, I kinda stood there at the top and looked at what the protocol was for running this thing. Apparently, there are like 66 rows of bleachers, which are just all solid stone, and each bleacher are about 4' wide. It appears that people just ran back and forth along the bleachers. Back and forth 66 times. Someone told me the entire bleacher run was equivalent to a 5K, but a few of the front rows were closed off due to the upcoming concert so I think the distance I ran the bleachers was about 2.8 miles.
Running back and forth on these bleachers was kinda interesting. And rather ... um....monotonous. Back and forth, back and forth. But it also makes it "different" from the norm of everyday miles and watching all the people and the various things they were doing was kind of fun. One group of extremely well fit studs and studettes (in other words: I'd never fit in!) were sprinting the entire length one way and then doing various drills on the way back. I was sort of stuck in the middle of this group because they'd outrun me on the sprints but I'd outrun them on their drills...but that's okay, they were so inspirational with their well-cut muscly bods, which I was so envious of. ugh.
Bleacher running. Run one length, climb up two steps, run back the other way. Repeat 33 more times. View of Denver in the waaaaay background.

Another bleacher pic, this time you can see the amplitheater in the middle

I finally reached the top, I was totally dehydrated so I got some more water at the visitor center and went back to the bleachers to watch Jim doing his bleacher running. I then decided it was time to run the stairs. The stairs are on each side of amplitheater....and they're steep. I ran up and down the stairs 4 times. 218 steps up = one time. Let's not forget I did this times 4. I ran up them, though, and never stopped. Yay for me. I'm kinda stair/hill wimpy so I was pretty pleased.
The stairs run along side of this massive red sandstone formation.
All said and done, I did about 9.3 miles of hills and stairs. I'm tired! And I think my calves grew about 8" in diameter with all this hill stuff I've been doing. :/
But all this crazy hill work serves a purpose, of course: it's making me stronger (I hope??). I've been all over the map this past week - do I run SF, or do I not and if I do should I bump down to the half or is that admitting defeat? One minute I'd think one thing only for the next day to come and my thoughts would stray the other way, and vise-versa. I'm not one to give up or give in easily, but I know it's not wise to run 26 miles on a bum heel. I am confident the heel issue is not Plantar Faciitis; it's not stiff or sore when I wake-up, it just hurts when I run on it after about mile 10. I have not been to a dr., due to insurance issues, but I've run long enough to know it's not a normal ache and pain from training....like sore quads or something. Still, I have an extremely high tolerance for pain and from what my long-time running guru friends have told me, whatever it is it's probably healing itself ... I just need to keep off the point of pain. Which the new shoes seems to be helping do. I don't know, I don't have all the answers, and I'm sure my "run yourself into the ground until you totally ruin your entire running career" friends don't either...but a few good runs this week, with a good 20-miler on Friday, makes me think that yes, I can do the full in San Francisco. 4 weeks from today. No, I'm not in the shape I wish I were in, and no I will not race this for any specific time, but I need to find out if the heel can handle the distance on concrete so I will know if I, upon return from SF, can start to train hard for the Chicago Marathon in October... or if I need to scrap Chicago and let the heel heal more. San Francisco will be the perfect test. And SF is a hilly course, which freaks me a little considering I have not trained to the best of my ability with the heel putting a halt to major training after Boston ... but I AM getting stronger physically and more importantly, mentally...and if I didn't have SF to shoot for, then my training would start to slack. That's how I work: I train/run better with a purpose behind it. I have 4 more weeks, and I'm going to work hard, and I'll just see what I can do in SF. I'm actually getting a tad excited!! So bring SF on, I'm ready to give it a shot....and I'm going to continue with my hilly path to get there. Stay tuned, I have lots of crazy incline ideas to tackle in the upcoming weeks!
A couple more pics from my run around the park before I did the stairs and bleachers run.
This is a little blurry, I have no idea why, but it's just a parking lot in the park where I was running.

The Amplitheater is in the cut-out section of the rocks, just off to the left a little. Sorry, I don't own skills to put a little arrow in there like Adam, at IAMBORING, can do.

Just some rock formations in the park

And that'd be me, running. Sort of running.

And I have to share! While I was at my Athletic Training class getting my butt kicked Saturday, my boys climbed another 14er. Mt. Democrat, elevation 14, 148'. Both the boys went up with their dad. They rose at the wee-hour of 4:30 and out the door by 5:00. They tell me it's about a class 2 climb but a few sections are a class 3 and 4. I'm guessing that's pretty hard. They said it was really windy at the top but overall a beautiful day (though they didn't stay on top too long as they could see a storm approaching). I have some video they took but am having problems loading it - I'm a little blog challenged with nifty cool stuff like most of you guys. Maybe I'll figure it out this week, but probably not. But here's a couple pictures. Enjoy.


43 comments:

marathonmaiden said...

wow absolutely stunning! i keep meaning to take pictures of the areas that i run but pictures like yours will only just put me to shame! :)

and bleacher running? you are SO hardcore!

HappyTrails said...

You ARE hardcore! Here's a quote from Ken Chlouber of the Leadville Trail 100: "You are better than you think you are and you can do more than you think you can." Enough said. :-)
K

AM-GoalsfortheWeek! said...

oh! so much to comment on! love it! first... those bleachers w/the mountains actually look cool. good diversion and style of running.
and you know what I think about your heel (get an xray! just so you know what the ek it is!). Taping my foot has been awesome, and i just got my new orthotics which seem fine too.
hope to connect w/you and Meg in SF in 4 wks;-)

Meg said...

Happy Trails' comment and quote said it all, Jill. You are really working your little tail off and it's all going to help you in SF and Chicago! I cracked up at the bleacher running with the huge, gorgeous mountains in the background. With hills and trails like you have, so many choose to run the bleachers! I get the need for the great workout but it just made me giggle. We'd LOVE to have your trails and weather right now, you are truly blessed!
Keep up the nice work this week and your kids look so happy out there on on the mountain. It must be TOUGH hiking on the rocks, ugh!!
Hugs,
meg

Julie said...

Hi Jill,
Wow, Red Rocks Park looks like a gorgeous place to run and explore! The amplitheater with all of the stone bleachers looks amazing...what a view! Nice work on doing the stairs...did you feel the burn? Whenever I do stairs I always feel the burn:) It looks like you had a great workout and beautiful day!

Also, I think that it is great that your boys are into mountain climbing:) Way to tackle Mt. Democrat boys! Lovely pictures:)

Jill, I hope that you have a wonderful week!

Laura said...

WOW, wow, wow! This looks amazing as are you. Bleachers? Whoa..

Jennifer said...

Wow! Don't know where to start, what a post! Red Rocks- I visited there and hiked around a bit years ago, was not a runner then, need to go back and visit, but gosh I have such a problem with alltitude. Some great training there Jill, very happy to hear that your heel is feeling better, keep being cautious and SF will be in the bag! Cheers!

Running and living said...

Did you get an Xray on the heel? I think you should at this point, just for peace of mind. Still, it seems like it is getting better. Love the pics, and your boys are amazing!

Mark said...

Really good post, Jill! I bet you could bet the studs & studettes in the marathon!!!

C2Iowa said...

Great post. I do believe that you are about to conquer SF in style. Just as Happy Trails stated, I think that you are better than you think you are...

Cool pics

DRog said...

I think this is my first experience viewing Red Rocks sober?! :) Was your 20miler Friday a lot of pain? It sounds like intuitively your heel is healing, thats encouraging. The fact you can train like you have lately with 6 to 10 milers with lots of hills / stairs / benches / trails is a really good sign no?!

lol @ kind of monotonous...hahaha

Have a great week!!
-Derek

Teamarcia said...

I'm sitting here reading and ogling the scenery when it dawned on me: isn't Red Rocks where Yanni or John Tesh or someone else new-agey did a concert that was aired on PBS like lightyears ago? I think it was Yanni because I think I remember Linda Evans sitting there all doe-eyed...no maybe that was the Acropolis. I'm totally showing my age here. Can't believe tripe like that occupies my brain space.
Anyway gorgeous running and congrats to your guys on the climb!

Johann said...

That is all so beautiful! I'd love to run there some day. I'd skip the stairs part though.

Staci Dombroski said...

That looks beyond amazing!!! What a great adventure :)

ShutUpandRun said...

Dang girl. That bleacher workout looks way harder than the Congo 5K!! Glad you got in a good workout on such a beautiful Denver day.

Christi said...

Red Rocks is a challenging workout! Congrats to you for doing it! Good luck with the rest of your training and I hope the heel heals very quickly!

Anne said...

That bleacher running looks like so much fun. And what an awesome place to train. I'm a wee bit jealous. High fives to your men for their mountain climb too. That is some serious scrabble they had to scramble up.

Hannah said...

Your pictures were gorgeous! Your bleacher workout actually sounds like fun to me. Did you ever get dizzy or feel like you were going to fall?

misszippy said...

Pretty sure the hills of S.F. will have nothing on you after that workout! So beautiful. I was there years ago, but was preggo, so no bleacher running for me that trip! You are really lucky to have such scenery in which to train.

Marlene said...

WOW, those views are incredible!

Awesome job on the run and stair-climbing (HARDCORE).

Genesis said...

hey those bleachers may be the same one that was in a Self issue or was it Shape? cant remember. I would love to have an amazing area to run through. Loved all your pictures too.

Katie A. said...

You are amazing - I keep telling you that but you won't seem to listen! You are HARDCORE! And you have to promise me, when I come you HAVE to take me there - it's just breath taking!
Oh, and we won't be doing any bleechers, I'm a klutz and would fall down all 66 of them! LOL!
Love ya! And great job! So jealous of your beautiful running options (beats my egg slingling road!)

Irene said...

If running up and down all of those bleachers doesn't make you ready for SF, I don't know what will! I love workouts like that, though, hard but so worth it. Yeah, I'd say those bleachers will help to give you Wonder Woman powers. ;) Nice work, Jill.

All Things Jaime said...

Your pictures are always so beautiful! I don't know if I could run back and forth on bleachers for that kind of distance ... but, if I could, that would be the place to do it!

onelittletrigirl said...

I am so jealous of the beauty you are surrounded in!!!!!

The Green Girl said...

Wow, those shots are breathtaking. I love the first one with the bright yellow flowers in front with the jagged rocks in the background. I am so glad the Weather Gods smiled upon you and gave you cooler temperatures.

I like that hole in the rock but I know what you mean bout it getting kind of scary when you're in an enclosed area and big ole cars and trucks go by.

I am very impressed by your bleacher run. Just thinking about it made me tired!

I think you are more than prepared for SF, girl!

Slomohusky said...

Great pix Jill! I used to run bleachers in High school and college. It was always a painful day after.

Sorry about the heel. Good luck and thanks for sharing!

Mikey B said...

Beautiful pics of the amphitheater and the geology of the surrounding area!

Rad Runner said...

Holy warrior?! Those stairs look like agony and you ate em! I will just remind myself of your4x climb when I whine about the up's and downs on the beach stairs by my house, maybe if I go up and down them a couple hundred times, I will come close to your climb :) Red Rock seems glorious!

ajh said...

Excellent pictures. That looks like a hard hard workout! Enjoyed the pictures of your boys!

Aka Alice said...

Thanks for posting the pix. I agree with Irene...bleachers, hills, it's all the same. I think you'll be fine in SF.

Can't believe it's coming up so soon!

Sherri said...

Stunning! Amazing! I can't believe it! Your one tough cookie! Your going to Rock in SF!!!!!

Molly said...

wow oh wow oh wow. My sister went to a concert there last summer, her pictures were beautiful, what a great place to work out. You did a killer run!!

That theory of your heel healing itself makes sense, hope the pain goes away for good..soon!!

Glenn Jones said...

No wonder you've not been around - you've been busy running through God's country! How beautiful! I'm really getting into trail running these days - but all I have to look forward to are dried out chapparal covered hills. Nothing like what you get to run through! Wow.

Hope your heel resolves. See you in a couple weeks!

NY Wolve said...

That is so awesome -- I can't wait to be in Colordao in five days.

I have wanted to go to Red Rocks ever since I was in high school and saw U2's video for Sunday Bloody Sunday. Now, I am not sure I want to run up and down the bleachers there...

runningcommentaries said...

SO pretty! I want to go there so badly for either a concert or running!

AZ said...

The views are great. I've alwys wanted to go to that amphitheater for a concert.

Morgan said...

I've visited Red Rocks and The Garden of Gods a few times when I've visited my Dad. Love it there! So beautiful! That's awesome you got to run through there! Good luck with the heel and San Fran!!!! I can't believe it's only 24 days away!!!

lindsay said...

you are very hardcore. those stairs actually look kind of fun (can't believe i'm saying that). tough, but a good workout! i'm jealous you have a cool place to go do that.

they climbed up all those loose rocks? ohh i feel like i'd wipe out and slide 600' down :)

Petraruns said...

Wow Jill you're absolutely amazing! That is some HARD running and I think you hangout with the pros if you don't realise how amazing these workouts are.


Good going for the boys as well! WHat a family!

shellyrm aka jogging stroller mama said...

Wow! Those are some amazing photos!! I am so jealous. I want to come there and die on those bleachers. Amazing! I don't think I would ever go inside.

You guys are so lucky.

Tina @GottaRunNow said...

I'm so glad you took all of those beautiful photos! Gorgeous place, but what a tough run!

Adam said...

Red Rocks is so amazing. What is NOT amazing however is running back and forth along the bleachers! I had no idea people did that. I got a little dizzy just watching it.