Monday: 10 miles (1:27) 765'
Typical jaunt right outside my home and onto the Shanahan Trail and connecting into South Boulder Creek.
Wednesday: 10.45 miles (1:37) 764'
Same as Monday. I'm ok with this route, although it gets a little boring to me. May have to change this up to only a once/week sort of route.
Thursday: 9.1 miles (1:12) 550'
Was going to go down on Boulder Creek but ended up waking up a little later and wasn't looking forward to competing with all the people down in central Boulder. Found some nice flats around my place and was able to work some intervals.
Friday: 6.1 miles (:54) 442'
An easy Marshall Mesa run before a longer day in Eldo tomorrow.
Saturday: 14.5 miles (3:20) 3677'
Woke up to a misty, cold morning. Put on my merino wool long sleeve, brought my Arc'Teryx rain jacket and clamored inside my car. Somehow, this was my first trip over to Eldo State Park and I have no idea how I haven't visited before today. I drove through the fog covered town and past rock-climbers trying to convince themselves that it was going to be a dry day.
I parked beside Eldorado Canyon Trail and immediately began going up; my heart rate jumped up to searing levels within two minutes of beginning my climb. As I was passing a couple, I was informed that I had just passed a large bull moose. Of course I looked back to see if I could make him out, but I had already climbed too far away to be able to see.
The climb continued into the misty upper reaches of forested mountain fog. After a few brief respites of lower intensity climbs and meter long descents I was greeted by an open view of the canyon below, spreading out into a chain of mountains whose summits I have not yet been acquainted. Somewhere in the blank whiteness beyond the mountains lay the continental divide, which remained invisible. I turned my legs back to the trail and was delighted to find a downhill trail. Technical but runnable.
I arrived down at one of the many entrances to Walker Ranch Loop. The trail to my left held a creek which ran with the force of the rain from the night before and in anticipation of the rain to come. I turned left and began another climb uphill. The singletrack trail that had been my singular route on the Eldo Canyon route turned into a fire road. I trudged uphill and past a few struggling mountain bikers before making it to more level ground and a return of singletrack. There was a distinct change in the temperature as I turned the corner and landed on the side of another mountain. The rain began sprinkling down in small clumps and I decided to put on my rain jacket which was nestled inside my small pack.
I continued in much of the same way, gradually seeing less people as the rain hardened and the skies darkened. This is always my favorite feel. The loneliness and cold and damp and dreary feeling of being alone and feeling complete in one singular moment that means nothing except what I make it mean. This is a feeling I strive for on my runs. A reason why I don't care for the distractions of music---I also have ears that cannot fit any in-ear headphones; the moment allows me to feel free of everything except for how I feel in the moment. And most of the time, that feeling is best described as blissfully burdened by the pain in my legs and the searing in my lungs.
I made my way along one last ridge when I stumbled across some mountain bikers who were looking at a sign next to a diverging path. After a bit of discussion, we both decided to go downhill instead of uphill, and it was the right choice. The downhill was the first time during the loop that I was able to run without struggle for an extended period of time. Easy, simple, relatively nontechnical dirt. Before I knew it, I was back at the trailhead to Eldo Canyon. I climbed up as I had before and landed back in my car within the 30 minutes. I never did see that moose, but what a glorious day it was.
Sunday: 13.1 miles (2:15) 1223'
I woke up late again. This has become a bit of a habit I would like to escape from. There is a bit of life that loses in vigor when a morning begins with a stalled alarm and a head burying back into a pillow which has lost the comfort of the night. But eventually, I woke up to revel once more in the cold mountain air that surrounded me.
My coach told me to take this day "extra chill" and so I decided to go explore some more new trails under the underpass which lays next to Marshall Mesa. The Mesa is typically jam-packed on the weekend, so I was pleasantly surprised to see few cars sitting in the parking lot. The rain had pushed through the previous night and continued in a shy spit as I warmed up and began the small opening climb toward the underpass.
I passed through to the other side of the road and began feeling the heavy clinging of mud on my shoes. The trail was a different kind of soil: a clay like substance left over from the inland sea which used to cover this part of Colorado. With shoes that easily weighed an extra pound or two, I felt heavy. Even heavier on the uphills while I slipped in my shod yet now completely unsticky soles. I was annoyed until I looked up at the cloud-covered trees ahead of me. The mountains disappeared into the clouds and left only the shadows of Ponderosa Pines and Douglas-Firs.
The run became mystical. I felt entranced by the landscape hidden behind the fog and the small details that I could see. I wound my way through trees and across a well manicured bridge which crossed the South Boulder Creek diversion canal out in the middle of seemingly nowhere which was definitely somewhere. The land felt pristine. Beyond the footprints and a single bottle a foot outside of a trash can, there was little evidence of human interference.
The rest of the run blew by in a haze and before I knew it I was involved in an unspoken downhill race with another runner. We both knew of the race and almost involuntarily pressed the pace to our cars. Without exchanging more than a sentence or two, we arrived at our cars and began our post run routines before going back to our separate homes. A wonderful way to end the week.
Two of my good friends had some sweet race results this week. My friend Jax Mariash won the TNF Park City 50 just a few weeks after she competed in a long bike race. My other friend Filippo Rossi was second in a competitive stage race in the Iranian desert.
Music/Video of the Week: