Mount Evans. My most tagged 14er. Usually, in the first few weeks of June, I race up that thing. Last year, after a disappointing finish, I decided to take a break from that race and do something else this June. Enter JV, who is going to race again at Evans this year. So when talk of this Thursday’s pseudo-regular training run came up, his suggestion was obvious: run up Evans. The road is closed still but opens tomorrow morning at 8 AM. So it seemed like a good opportunity to run the road with no cars on it. Plus, I haven’t run up high all year yet and I need to get going on that. Running snow-free at 10,000+ feet isn’t easy in May. That also appealed to Tony so we had a three-some.
I was dreading running early. I don’t sleep well when I have to get up like that. My body just goes on snooze instead of sleep mode. I tossed and turned and finally got out of bed before the alarm had a chance to go off. Left Boulder at 6 AM with everyone in the H2. We were at the closed gate entrance to Evans in about 60+ minutes or so I think. Not too bad. It wasn’t frigid there either. I wore shorts, a compression shirt, and a long sleeve over it. Packed a light jacket and some gloves and we were off. It was a pleasure running the first 1000 feet with those guys but then I was all alone. I knew that would be the case of course. Because of this, I mentally knew I wouldn’t be making it to the summit today. Those guys would be up there long before I would make it and I don’t want them waiting around on me — unless its perfectly warm out. So I took it nice and easy from the start. However, the 10,000+ air instantly got me coughing and I was often on the side of the road hacking up a lung for no particular reason. I just kept on a decent shuffle pace and proceeded up the mountain. The miles seemed to melt away quickly. Jeff is allergic to pavement of course. Here I caught him cheating the course and going right up the face. Zoom in to see a red shirt in the middle of the photo. I am turning this into the race director!
Tony proved to be the bigger (or warmer) man and went shirtless for the first few miles. He said this was the first time he had been back into the mountains since last year. While he seemed to be taking it easy today, I don’t think he missed a beat. Getting his high altitude lungs back in shape for the summer to come.
Meanwhile, back in the slower group, I was proceeding up and I saw something that looked like a dog run across the road really fast. It wasn’t a fox. No orange. Bigger than a dog and much more mountain terrain maneuvering. Maybe a wolf? This was the best shot I got but still not sure what it was.
At mile 5 or so, we were above treeline and the wind they had called for had found us. Gusts were said to be 30+ MPH but they were double that. It would blow at me and I literally couldn’t move. You were better off to stop and wait a minute because it was blowing you backwards. I had to tighten my hat many times so that it didn’t blow off and end up in Denver. Attempts to pee had to be perfectly timed or else you could get a blast back. Stones and snowballs were pelting me as they blew up from the road. Par for the course on Mount Evans.
I was also having gut issues this morning. I experimented with diet a bit for this and failed that test. Oh well. That’s what its all about. My Mount Evans races are plagued with showing up for the race feeling fine then feeling totally shitty in a mile. I snacked on some Cheerios on the way out there. Maybe I ate more than I should have on the hour drive? Guessing I should just go out there empty and start using fuels right off the bat. Anyway, I was just content to be breathing 10,000 – 13,000 foot air in May and giving my lungs a wake up call for the months to come. I was more than cool with some walk breaks while listening to tunes and enjoying the views. Every other ascent here has been a race where I am trying to grind out some PR. Not today.
As I came around the turn where you start to descend into Summit Lake, I couldn’t see the guys so I wasn’t so enthusiastic anymore. Had been catching glimpses of them from time to time before. The wind here was terrible. Strongest of the day. I looked at my watch and I had passed the 1/2 point for my daily mileage requirement. So I happily turned tail and started back down. The wind instantly started pushing me to the point where I would stop running because it was getting too fast. I took it nice and easy back down the rest of the way. Sort of hoping yet worried that I was going to get caught from behind. Never did and made it back to the car, jogged around a bit, and stopped at 3 hours. Decent run for a Thursday. Relaxed and then the boys made it back down feeling all happy after a proper summit of Mount Evans.
Good times. More high elevation runs to come. Green Mountain just isn’t going to cut it. Leadville is at 10,000 feet after all!
I went 16.44 miles with an elevation gain of 2,256 feet in 03:01:06, which is an average pace of 11:01. Heart rate average was 154. View my GPS data on Garmin Connect.