Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Desert interlude...


Time for the annual trek to visit the in-laws in Albuquerque.  I was here last in December 2010 and not running too much since I was post marathon and the legs weren't all that happy.  This time around was a great running visit. We got out to the Albuquerque foothills and happily did a short run/scramble following the myriad of trails in the area.  We mostly stuck to the 365 trail except when we got off of it purely by accident and ended up scrambling up and down a bit following a trail which runs under power lines.  The altitude at 6k (seen on my watch in the upper left corner) is something else!  We are used to 0 - 1000 feet at our local foothills so you could definitely feel a bit of gasping when climbing those hills. 

The trails, of course, are so different than the Seattle. Dry and sandy with some rocks and roots but nothing as technical as my favorite trail haunts in the Seattle area.  The landscape especially in mid-winter is quite dry and dull looking.  Spring is still a fair bit away as it gets below freezing every night.  That doesn't mean the sparse landscape isn't beautiful.  It's just different in it's own way. 

For a change of pace, we then went to the Paseo del Bosque area which is along the river Rio Grande which bisects Albququerque north to south on it's way towards Mexico.  I've not been along this area in Albuquerque in years and years.  We parked at the Rio Grande Nature Center and found sandy trails that went through the cottonwood forests along the bank of the river. I'd never seen the river from a bank so that was a real treat.  it was moving pretty quick with all the snow melt. 

The trails through the cottonwood forests during the winter are quite spooky looking during the day.  There are no leaves on the trees and very little undergrowth.  It is so sandy that it's hard to believe that trees can actually survive here but then that's what cottonwoods like.  We saw just a few people out walking and did follow some bike tracks.  That would be hard going biking over that sand!  This little section was a nice diversion until we got up onto the main Paseo del Bosque bike trail which runs for 16 miles along the river and connects with other bike trails.  It's a paved path plus a wide gravel area next to the path.  It's obviously a great place to get runs in as we saw some speedy people obviously getting in some speed work. 

Great idea I thought!  I'd planned on doing some intervals on this day if I was feeling good and I was.  So after the trails and a couple easy miles on the path, I did some 4 x 400s (quarter miles) with quarter mile recoveries.  I think this is one of the first times I've been in Albuquerque and running and actually felt good with the altitude and was able to get a quality workout in.  Yes, you can tell the difference in breathing as you gasp a bit louder for oxygen but it didn't feel any harder which I find remarkable.  Finally, I think possibly, i have better iron levels.  Low iron levels can compound the effects of altitude it seems. 

Of course, training at altitude here would be countered by the great eating we do here.  Carne adovada, green chile papitas, sopapillas...mmm, the list goes on!  K's parents' cat below (Bisquit but he is the size of a large loaf) is obviously ready for his meal too. 

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