|GPS Analysis||Garmin Connect|
The anticipation had been building for weeks. The shit talking was getting more intense. It felt like this year would be a great turn-out for the annual event. However, on Wednesday and Thursday of this past week, we got our first major winter storm. A lot of snow fell. People were reporting 2 feet in their backyards in areas. Fellow runners went out on recon runs on Friday to see how the trails held up. The reports mostly involved “a lot of snow” and “don’t know how we can run in this”. Great. No weather could hold us back but we assumed it would be a modified day.
I showed up about 20 minutes before the start to an empty parking lot. Quickly, cars started coming in with runner types. The wind was hollowing. Not something I had planned on. I was in tights with a long sleeve UA shirt. My Pearl water-resistant shoes with big wool socks and gaiters. Had my TNF hydration pack with a bunch of gels and an extra jacket plus my microspikes. I was ready for action!
The boys arrived – 1×1. GZ!
Maybe it was going to be a crazy outing but these guys kept their word and showed. Some of your others — you know how you are! — just didn’t show. Shame on you!
As we stood around, a gentleman appeared and asked us if we would like a flier. Sure! Turns out it is a map. Hey, let’s go run this. OK. Thanks, kind sir.
So we headed off from the start and rounded the first corner. Suddenly, we happened to bump into Justin. He was just out for a jog or something. Imagine that. Wanna run with us?
We headed out some “social path” — that means its not really a trail…just a lot of people go that way. It was full of puddles and about 100 yards in my feet were already wet. Oh well. I figured it was going to happen today but not before mile 1 was on the boards. From there we crossed and tried to work our way up to the Mesa Trail so we could head to Chautauqua for our first checkpoint. The snow was non-existent, then deep, then non-existent. So we went from run, to walk, to waist deep. Repeat!
By this point, I was on fire. Too many layers. Justin hinted that I looked a little warm at the start. I was. I need to remember that I need to be cold when starting because once I get warmed up, I have to inevitably stop and strip down. So I did that and fell to the back of the pack. No worries — this is not a race! Readjusted everything and started back up after the group. Got back up through the pack and found GZ and sat on his heels for a while to chat it up.
We chatted about the Denver Marathon again, next year’s plans, and more. I tried to convince him to do Leadville but he didn’t budge. I could tell his heart wasn’t in it today so I decided to see if I could close the gap and get back up to the peloton. GZ ended up dropping a little further up after realizing this was retarded — today.
From this point, I tried to make up time. I would occasionally catch a glimpse of the pack but then come over the ridge not to find them. Not sure if I was gaining or not. But I kept at it. As I reached the end of the Mesa Trail, I found JP waiting for me. He had seen me back there and probably figured he would run it into Chautauqua with me. So we found the first piece of pavement for the day and ran like 6:XX downhill into our checkpoint. It was a pleasant surprise to find the pack, including Justin, waiting there. A regroup! Good stuff. Some people bailed. Some backtracked. We heard JV and some other guy named Ben were already off from here. I stripped down again to just shorts because I was burning up. Justin saw me mid-change and asked me if I was going to run in my underwear? I had shorts in my pack.
A bunch of us decided that we made it this far, let’s go get at least one summit today. So Justin told me to lead us out, so I charged up Chautauqua hill and over to Ski Jump Trail so we could ascend Green Mountain via Gregory/Ranger. We were moving good for the first chunk but then the snow began to build underfoot and it wasn’t so runnable. No traction. So I went to a power hike and kept on it.
Near the 4-way, we saw JV and Ben descending. They said they tried to do the whole loop as the map called for but it was waist deep on Green/Bear Trail. After being out this long, everyone figured it would take twice that to get that loop done. So JV headed back down the way that he came up and we continued on to the summit of Green Mountain. The trail wasn’t bad the rest of the way. More snow but the trail was pretty well tracked so we just followed it up.
Not really sure what my split time was up that route but for sure (cause of the Mesa Trail), it was my longest ascent of Green ever. Was a bit cold in the toes and kind of fatigued at the summit, but we still took our photos.
For some reason, JV told us to take Greenman down so we *might* meet up. So we did. It was instantly much worse than Ranger. It was knee to quad deep snow. I was just barreling through it but my legs were getting cold. At this point, our group was only JP, Justin, and myself. Gave us all a chance to chat it up. We all know each other through the blogs but haven’t spent a lot of time in person. We kept occupied and before long we were back down at the Gregory trailhead. Unfortunately, this was like the furthest point from our cars and the finish. So we now had to make our way all the way back south to finish the day. We opted not to go back to Chautauqua — instead, we cut up Bluebell and got onto Mesa. From there, we stayed on until Enchanted Mesa and then descended in search of drier ground and pavement. That was enough slop for today. We came out on Table Mesa Drive and ran down it for a bit. As we hit the pavement, JP and Justin found their stride and were gone. I bonked. But that was OK with me, I was done. My legs were great but it was my core — my back and abs were shot from all that slip sliding around. So I walked it in — proudly!
As I got to the finish, I looked around and everybody that had finished had bolted. No celebration. Damn it. I had a whole crockpot of arroz con pollo that Kim had made extra for afterward. But I looked at the clock and I was running into my “you better be home by” time. After nearly 5 hours on the snowy sloppy trails, I changed out of my wet shoes, put on my Crocs, and drove home.
The only damage for today was this sucker on the back of my right foot. Nagged me all day. I decided I hate those shoes I wore. Need something better for snowy trail runs.
Thanks everyone (that did!) for coming out. It was a memorable day. And probably my longest (time-wise) run of the entire season. More stories and anecdotes but you had to be there I guess — plus, I gotta get off the computer and take the kids trick-or-treating!
View all photos from this event.