May 11, 2009

Where the buffalo roam


The 19-mile Red Sleep Mountain Drive at the National Bison Range opened for the season over the weekend, so we took our first trip there this year to see the wildlife, wildflowers and scenic views.

There were a handful of bison roaming around the road where it parallels Mission Creek, but we probably saw more pronghorn antelope and turtles. We also heard of, but didn't see, a black bear and two year-old cubs.

There were also plenty of wildflowers. On the drive up the west side of the mountain, we saw plenty of shooting stars, yellowbells and prairie smoke. Down on the north side, fields of arrowleaf balsamroot are making their way up the hills.

See the photos here.

Distance: 19-mile loop drive. Near the top of the mountain, there are two short trails: the half-mile round-trip Bitterroot Trail and the 1-mile round-trip High Point Trail.

Trailhead: From Missoula, drive 35 miles north on U.S. Highway 93 to Ravalli, then turn west on Highway 200. After about 6 miles, turn north on Highway 212 and drive about 4.5 miles to the entrance at Moiese.

May 6, 2009

Half-marathon man

I'm six weeks into the training plan for my first marathon - the Missoula Marathon on July 12 - and so far, so good. If only the weather were better.

Distancewise, I'm a little more than halfway there. Last week, I did my long run of 13 miles in about one hour, 50 minutes with snow falling the whole way. This week, it was 14 miles in about two hours, the final three miles into a cold downpour.

Actually, it's not that bad considering the alternative: the treadmill in the same dingy, gray basement room at work that houses the building's sump pump. After running 10 miles down there one night, I decided that mentally I couldn't do my long run on a machine anymore.

I've been steadily adding a mile a week to my long run, but that's about to change as I'm scheduled for 16 next week. And my four short runs a week are increasing to the five- to six- mile range from three to four miles.

There have been a few minor strains and pains as I adjust to the increased mileage - I had to take a few days off at one point after running too hard the week before - but my body seems to be adjusting and is recovering quicker now.

Check back for more progress reports, and I'll see you at the finish line.