|Elevation Gain||6,650 feet|
After last week’s peak assault, I felt bad that I hadn’t gotten out all week. My running sucked all week. I needed something to break it up. With the Leadville Trail Marathon only 2 weeks away, I needed to get my heart pumping for about 4 hours consistently. Why not combine some of the peaks from last week and run them as a group? The locals call this the Boulder Skyline Traverse. Usually, you park at one end and run all 4 peaks (SoBo, Bear, Green, Flag, and Sanitas). I didn’t have the shuttle back so I decided to cut down the number and do it round-trip style. I woke up at 5:45, left at 6, and was on the trail at 6:30 or so. Parked at Chautauqua. I decided to take Mesa down to Shadow Canyon. That would be 4 miles of running before starting to climb. Seemed like the better way to do the loop so I wouldn’t be spent coming back on the Mesa.
No video today. No camera. Just running. But I did have my iPhone. I thought I would tweet my progress. So I snapped a few trails shots here and there just to prove I was out there. Nice red dirt around NCAR on the way to Shadow Canyon.
Always a little uneasy on new trails since I don’t know exactly where I am going. But Mesa is really nice and straightforward to follow. After a couple miles, I got back to familiar territory from last week and headed up Shadow. I had my HR monitor on so I was really curious what it was going to do up the canyon. I was doing my best to hold something in the 140s most of the time to keep that aerobic level pumping. I started up the canyon with my power hike. I feel like I move pretty fast. Never stopping. 150s! Tolerable at a hike though so I stayed with it. A short time later, I was on SoBo with no one around.
I knew the trip to Bear would be quick so I flew over and did the climb to the summit for full points. I wasn’t alone on Bear at all. The morning commuters were up and at ’em now.
Time to head to Green. This was the only part I was sort of dreading. Figured I would be in bonk territory on the way over. And I thought I was going to lose a lot of elevation. Ugh. So I started to descend down and went to the saddle for Fern Canyon! Where is the turn? Whoops! I got lost in the moment and descended to the saddle of Bear — which is the wrong way to go! The trail I needed was at the summit. Shit. Shit. Fuck. So I took a seat on a rock near the sign at the saddle and gathered myself. Could just go down Fern and then go back up Bear Canyon? Or I could climb Bear again and fix the mistake? I decided on Bear. The bad news is that climb back up is a bitch. Probably the steepest stuff all day. I had passed a ton of people coming down as they went up. Now I started back up and was catching them all. Suddenly the comments turned to “Doing it, again, huh?” and then this old dude I saw on the way down asked me, “Are you training for the Olympics or something?”. That made me smile. I wish, buddy.
I was back at the top and I found the trail I needed and then started down the correct descent. Never had been on this trail so wasn’t sure what to expect. The trail ended up only getting down to maybe 7200 feet so the elevation hung in there pretty nicely. At the junction of Bear West Ridge and Bear/Green, there was a “Bear Activity” sign posted from a week ago. Eww. Luckily, there were a lot of people on the trail now so I kept the tunes pumping and didn’t have to really worry about anything messing up my day. I started bonking on my way up Green. Wasn’t hard, but I was just getting weary at that point. I sat at the top of Green for a minute and the proceeded down.
I looked at my overall time and I was starting to get close to the end of my alone time for the day. Needed to get home. Will have been gone for about 6 hours round trip from home at this point. So I decided not to make the run over to Flag. I wasn’t doing Sanitas anyway. So I called it. Probably could have gotten Flag if I hadn’t done Bear one and half times. One the way down, I was moving quick through some tough footwork sections on Greenman. Felt like I looked good. Then my feet got tired and sloppy and I was tripping up so I slowed it down. Came to Saddle, then Amp, and down to Baseline. Small fast run to the car to finish up. I looked back and had to break for one last photo of the Flatirons. I suddenly had this thought pop into my head: This is my playground.
Here is the split data with distances and HRs. #1 was Chautauqua->Mesa->Shadow. #2 was Shadow->SoBo. #3 was an extra button push. #4 was SoBo to Bear. #5 was Bear to Fern Saddle. #6 was Fern Saddle back to Bear. #7 was Bear to Green. #8 was Green to Chautauqua.
My watch showed 13.2 miles at the end. So I sort of felt like I just won the inaugural Boulder Skyline Traverse Half-Marathon. Felt like a good outing pre-Leadville. I wasn’t drinking enough so I need to continue to push the water. I also was short on salt so need to put down more tablets pre-run. Everything else checked out OK. Getting excited!