Thursday, January 13, 2011

Running in Santa Fe

Adobe home in Santa Fe, NM
After Albuquerque, I headed north to the capital of New Mexico, Santa Fe.  While Albuquerque takes your breath away at 5,300 ft above sea level, Santa Fe is located at an impressive 7,300 ft.  As a city, it is much smaller than Albuquerque, but it has a rich history, having been established by Spanish missionaries 400 years ago.  The architecture is truly unique, with the majority of the buildings being in the Adobe style of the Native Americans.  I spent two full days in Santa Fe; one skiing and one sight seeing.

Ski Santa Fe base lodge
Ski Santa Fe is located just 15 miles outside of Santa Fe's city center.  While the access road is only 15 miles, it climbs over 3,000 ft to the ski base (10,350 ft).  Ski Santa Fe is a really cute area!  They had gotten several inches of fresh snow, overnight and that morning, which made for great conditions.  However, visibility was somewhat limited while the snow was still falling, and it was COLD (especially for a person living in Austin, TX).  The base was just below 20F (-6C) and the summit was 10F (-12C) without the wind chill.  I found out afterwards that this was unseasonably cold weather for the area, and turned out to be the coldest weather for Santa Fe in well over a year.  Lucky me :)  Getting back on my skis was a lot of fun and I realized after two runs how much I missed it.

On my non-ski day, I managed a nice 7.3 mile run.  I wasn't sure where to go, so I asked the hotel concierge.  A lot of times, that doesn't work out.  The hotel staff either has no idea why I would want to run outside as opposed to on their treadmill, or they detail a 1 mile loop for me (without understanding that I would prefer something in the 5-8 mile range).  This time, however, the concierge handed me a printed and highlighted Santa Fe Running Map!  There were three unique loops, all starting from and ending at the hotel, with street names clearly printed.  The loops had multiple cut-offs with distances ranging from 2 to 7 miles.  It was fantastic!  I headed out on the 7 mile loop, which took me through the historic downtown, and then out along Canyon road, lined with art galleries and colorfully painted adobes.  This road ran next to a beautiful park and winded up towards the mountains.  It was breathtaking!  I was treated to a fantastic sunset as headed back towards downtown Santa Fe, and finished up the run with an average 8:20 min/mile pace - fantastic considering the altitude.

This time around, I definitely noticed the effects of the altitude, which left me feeling winded for the first 20 min of my run.  This part of the run was also a gradual but steady climb up the canyon.  I do think I am adjusting somewhat to the thin air here, and I'll be able to test it again on my next run in Taos, NM.

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