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High country mountain slogging: A Run on The Fourth of July on the seventh of July

July 7, 2012

13.73 miles (though convinced Garmin 305 is a bastard liar) in 3:03, including pee stops, some walking with an injured runner, tromping through creeks and bogs trying to find my way back to the group when I inevitably went off-trail, and pauses to collect stray runners at trail crossings, with a whole lot of climbing for a CO newbie.  

Today’s photos, courtesy of an assortment of fellow runners.

I got back up to the high country today with the Boulder Trail Running Breakfast Club.  18 of us set off for a route described on the site as follows:

Another attempt at a high country epic run again. We will be starting at Hessie Trailhead and running into the Indian Peaks Wilderness area. We will plan to run up the Devils Thumb trail until the Diamond Lake turnoff and up to the Arapaho trail. The plan is a loop returning via the 4th of July road (and Trail Head). The loop is 14+ , with the last few miles downhill on the dirt road to get us back to Hessie.

Photo credit: me

I don’t know about “epic” but is was a fun run with lots of climbing (3-4k’?) and chilly temps up top where the clouds hovered low enough to have our visibility  at right about the length of a nipple.  Well, my nipple length and they are kind of puny.

Photo credit:  Matt W.

Running in a big group outside of a race environment is really good for me.  Along with all the nice social aspects it gives a range of runners to try to keep up with or even pull ahead of when I’m feeling good and some encouragement from the mid-packers when I’m dragging.  And it is really interesting to see what others are up to as far as gear and training strategies.

Photo credit:  Marcy Willerton

For example, I now am completely sold on hiking the climbs even when I’m strong enough to run them after seeing that I often actually pull away from strong runners who insist on running the ups, leaving me with more energy to bomb down the descents and salvage a reasonable pace on the flats.

With the relatively lower mileage the past few days (amazing to me that a 61-mile week now feels light), I felt good from the start this morning.  That rarely happens any more and I didn’t want to waste the good vibes or mojo or perhaps just somewhat rested legs.

Photo credit:  Marcy Willerton

About 10 miles into the run, after running from the back of the pack after taking a wrong turn from the front, I came across one of our runners who had tweaked an ankle.  We walked together for a bit to make sure the ankle would be able to keep her moving forward then I ran ahead to let the rest of the group know she’d be coming in slowly.  The group decided to have someone run ahead to the cars – about 4 miles away – and drive back to pick her up.  My rare stretch of front-running resulted in me being that someone but I recruited a few others to come with me for something like a 4-mile “tempo fun run”.  2.5+ hours into running through the wet, up the hills, squishing in the marshes, and across the creeks had us all somewhat worn but we set off with purpose.  Yeah, it was down hill and, yeah, it wasn’t technical and, yeah, it didn’t look pretty but one fellow runner and I covered the final stretch really fast.  Really fast for not-too-fast trail runners in under 7min/mile pace – we weren’t setting any records but my Garmin was showing 6:30-ish pace for a good chunk of that part.

Photo credit:  Andy Montgomery

So, I got in some unexpected speedish work that I neither planned for nor particularly wanted but it felt good – really good – to run quicker for even a few miles when so much of my recent training has been without any pushing.  And I was able to help a hobbled runner, which means a lot as I’ve been an injured runner quite a bit and maybe karma is real and probably it isn’t but it can’t hurt to be nice.

Yet another good day on the mountain(s).  Happy to come back home to a house full of kids and neighbor friends.  Even if it means endless crumbs and an afternoon of Transformers (Prime, horrible cartoon).  Nice family evening ahead and back on the trails in about 14 hours!

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