Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Running on the Grid

Every good endurance training plan has elements of distance as well as speedwork.
Like many, I dread speedwork. Precisely for that reason, I figure it's good for me, and have brought back 8x800's on Tuesday's, ensuring that I feel like crap for the rest of the afternoon.

Speed, of course, is comprised of two components: distance and time. Time is easy enough: wear my wife's light blue $10 women's watch, or carry one of the numerous freebie plastic caribiner watches, plastered with logos of pharmaceuticals or obscure electrical engineering software tools, that I've somehow acquired. Distance -- ay, there's the rub.

Luckily, Ft. Collins has numerous resources for easy distance/pacing. Fort Collins's flatness, and Western new infrastructure, lends itself to a grid of square miles between major intersections. Many folks already have their favorite spots, but I thought I'd share for newbies and visitors.
Here are some of my favorite resources for "gridwork," without being plugged into the technological grid via treadmill or satellite. (OK, so you still need a digital timepiece, so my metaphor kind of breaks down quickly...)

* Urban multi-use trail system
The Poudre, Spring Creek, and Powerline Trails are numbered per quarter-mile. The Poudre and Spring Creek trails are centered on College Ave, with "E" and "W" designating East and West, respectively. For example, "PE3" is the Poudre Trail 3/4 miles east of college.
Also, the Boyd Lake trail is a fantastic resource between South FC and Loveland. Loveland's trail system also has quarter-mile numbering.
This numbering is also helpful in locating for emergencies or just for meeting spots.

* Major road intersections
Overland/Taft/Shields/College/Lemay/Timberline/Ziegler/(Strauss Cabin)
are *generally* a mile apart -- YMMV based on slight road curves and tangents.

Combining these two facts, besides the quarter-mile markers, there is a nice stretch of generally flat trail on the Powerline and Mason Trail, between Drake and Horsetooth.

* Minor road intersections
Since thousands of folks work and live in the SE corner of town, near HP, Avago, Intel, AMD, etc., it's worth noting the nice, popular grid around here:
- Harmony to Rock Creek is a perfect 1/2 mile along Lady Moon or Ziegler;
- Lady Moon to Ziegler is also a 1/2 mile
- Harmony/Strauss Cabin-Horsetooth-Ziegler-Harmony is a perfect 3-mile, with a nice hill in the middle

* Track
The track, of course, is a great way to pound out reliable speedwork. Some of the more popular options:
- CSU track: 800M track (inside lane) open to general public unless an event is going on. Tuesday mornings and evenings seem to be popular.
- CSU indoor track: Students only, at the rec center. 1/8th mile in the middle lane. If you're taking a class and don't otherwise think about the rec center, it's a great place for bad weather days
- Fossil Ridge HS track: Rock Creek and Lady Moon, open to public when not in use. Frequently locked, but you can acquire a key from the Poudre School District with proper forms and a deposit.

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