High in Colorado

High in Colorado
Photo: Mandy Lea Photo

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Chasing the Boulder Sunset

On my New Year’s Eve run I did something to tweak my left calf, which resulted in me taking several unwanted days off over the past week. During a visit from friends last weekend I did some hiking with a few sudden outbursts of “running” while showing them all Boulder has to offer.  After a few days of this hiking with limited running I really wanted to get out there, hit the trails, and see what I could do. 

So I decided to have a race with the sunset up Green Mountain. I rolled into work around 6:30 in the morning to get out early and have some daylight. After eating lunch at my desk and busting my ass to get things done I hit the door running at 2:45 PM. I rushed home (praying I wouldn’t get my second speeding ticket in less than a week), jumped into my running clothes (which wasn’t much since it was such an amazing day outside), and hit the trails at 3:15 PM. 

I crossed Canyon, hoped down on the Creek Path, and made my way to the Viewpoint trail on Arapahoe. My legs felt pretty sluggish heading up Viewpoint, which forced me to stop and hike on the second steep staircase. To my surprise I reached Panorama Point in about 12:45, which is not too far off from my PR time. I decided to pass on the usual stop at Panorama Point and keep on moving. Although my legs continued to feel like crap I kept making great time up Flagstaff. 

The trails leading up Flagstaff were nearly dry, which made for some quick running. Along the way I resorted to hiking in some sections that I usually run with relative ease. I’m not sure if my legs were tired or if they just weren’t used to going up a mountain quickly since taking a few days off. Regardless, they felt like crap but I just pushed on anyways. 

As I neared the top of Flagstaff I realized that I had potential to PR my ascent to Flagstaff from my apartment. So, naturally I pushed it on the last big staircase and topped out in 35:15 (a new PR by 30 seconds).  After taking a quick 30 second breather I pushed it down the Ute trail to go connect with the Ranger trail and ride it up to the summit of Green. 

I ran the first ¼ - ½ mile of the Ranger trail before falling into a quick hike up the mountain. I kept the pace pretty hard the entire way up since noticing the potential to PR the ascent to Green via Ranger/Flagstaff/Viewpoint from my apartment. 

At the trail junction of Ranger/Green Mountain West Ridge/Green Bear I broke out into a run again for the majority of the remaining ascent to the summit. I reached the summit, naturally out of breath, and looked at my watch with a smile on my face. I topped out on Green’s summit in 1:12:05, which beat my previous PR for this route by 2:55. I hopped onto the summit rock and sat for about 15 minutes or so to watch the sunset and take in the always awesome mountain views. Once the sun settled in behind the mountains I decided to race the onset of darkness back to my apartment with the goal of not having to turn on my lamp. Now the race was on…

Sunset from Green Mountain Summit
Mountain Views :)
Since I brought a brand-new pair of spikes with me I really didn’t want to risk dulling them on the descent. From the summit to the trail junction for Ranger was a mix of exposed rock, some covered in ice, and slushy snow. After taking two nose dives on the descent I finally conceded and put on the damn spikes. This allowed for a relatively quick and carefree descent. At the Greenman trail turnoff I ditched the spikes and hammered out the rest of the descent without them. 

I knocked out the remainder of Ranger and made my way to the Ute trailhead relatively quick.  The initial uphill section of Ute brought me to the last hiking section of my run. As I neared the junction for the Flagstaff trail I started to see the sunsets effect on the surrounding clouds/terrain, which I felt compelled to photograph. Eventually I reached the Flagstaff trail junction in 1:34:35. 

View from Ute Trail near Flagstaff Trail junction
Initially, the thought of PR’ing my Flagstaff descent crept into mind (current PR is 19:00ish), but I soon realized that visibility was somewhat limited on the trails due to tree cover. So I resolved to maintain a quick pace without getting too crazy. One section of trail has a series of a couple of switchbacks where three deer decided to hangout. I approached them in hopes they would run off, but they weren’t budging. So I ran off trail for a bit to go around them. 

After a few more minutes of running I reached Panorama Point. Since I run this short section of trail everyday I’m relatively familiar with it even without a light. So I picked up the pace here. I ended up knocking out the mile from Panorama Point to my apartment in about 7:30 (not a PR, but not bad). I looked down to realize I made the round trip ascent of Green in 1:56:50, which shaved 8:10 off my previous PR. Not too shabby…
Made it back to my place with some daylight to spare. Never turned on the headlamp.
This was my first real test wearing my new 110’s. The 110’s combined with the excellent trail conditions meant I was able to do the entire ascent without putting on my spikes. I’m fairly certain with the amazing tread on the 110’s I could have made the descent without spikes as well, but I likely would have been a little more timid. The 110 is definitely living up to my expectations and even exceeding them.

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