Run: Boulder Skyline Traverse and Back (24.18 mi / 05:26:10)

Activities15 Comments

Jim P. asked me if I wanted to get a long run in with him a few weeks ago. Then he got the sickness and couldn’t make it. I had felt some sense of relief because he was talking about doing the Boulder Skyline Traverse minus the car shuttle. How brutal could that be? Luckily, Jim got better and then proposed that we go for it today. With a big backlog of miles for the week, I wasn’t terribly excited to be honest. However, many have told me that I need to cut that shit out and get some long long runs in. Jim and I are both headed to Lake City to race in a few weeks. We are in the same ballpark as far as speed these days so it was a perfect opportunity to get out there with some company and maybe push each other.

We met at 6:30 AM down at the South Mesa Trailhead. We had the place to ourselves. Being Memorial Day weekend, I was sure the parking lot would be packed when we returned hours later. We headed up Towhee and then Shadow Canyon. I hadn’t climbed that route since last year so it was a good refresher in the fact that some routes are better hiked than run. I led up but Jim went around me as we hit the saddle. Ended up hitting the summit with a new PR on that route. Wasn’t particularly trying but not sure I could have gone too much faster this morning.

We stopped on SoBo for a bit and fueled up. Always good to get a little break after the first big climb of the day. I peppered Jim with questions on his Lake City plans. Its his first 50 so he isn’t exactly sure what to expect but I only have one under my belt so we are good company. A self-portrait while resting on SoBo.

Boulder Skyline Traverse

It was a quick jog over to Bear Peak for the 2nd summit of the day. That ones almost for free in the chain. A couple older guys were up there and they asked me how long it took us to get up. I told them about an hour to SoBo and less than 15 to Bear — roundabout. He was blown away because they were 2+ hours in route and thought that SoBo looked miles away. Made me feel immortal if not for just a few seconds. So here is my fellow immortal partner of the day, Jim, taking a breather on Bear Peak.

Boulder Skyline Traverse

From there it was over to Green Mountain. Always a little more work after that simple climb to Bear. We stopped at the stream and dunked our hats and such. Temps were on the rise and that cold mountain stream felt awesome. They should widen that thing so we can take a dip in it there. Would be quite the meeting place. As we got near the 4-way, we bumped into Tony who was out for a 6-7 hour ordeal. Some quick conversation, then Jim and I were on our way to the summit of Green. Up on top, we ran into Kraig Koll. He recognized me first but I was thinking that was him. We chatted a bit with him about the Jemez race. He said he was still contemplating LT100 this year and I told him that all the cool kids will be there so he better get on that! Then I took my photographic evidence of yet another Green summit.

Boulder Skyline Traverse

Green was my anticipated bailout point if things were going bad on the day. However, other than a little heat, I was feeling pretty great actually. Obviously, some fatigue from the week but I couldn’t complain. So I told Jim we should go for the whole thing. He wanted some extra miles so we opted to escape from Green via the NW ridge and hit SuperFlag. So another pitstop on the traverse. On the way down Flagstaff Road, I got a new and interesting cramp right in the middle of my chest were my breastbone stops. Seemed like it was related to the pavement pounding we were doing in this section. I called for a 5 minute pause while it subsided. Then we motored up the Ute Trail and over to the true summit of Flagstaff Mountain. Such an unimpressive summit. I gave it the one finger salute.

Boulder Skyline Traverse

Jim went over to water some bushes and I thought to myself…I have peed all morning. Oops. I drank a bunch of water and got myself to go minutes later. Dark yellow. Oops. Dehydrated. I had been motoring and not really concentrating on the important task of drinking enough. So from then on, I found myself sucking down water much more often. From Flagstaff, we made the descent down to Eben G. Fine Park. This is a nice run down but sucks that you lose so much elevation. However, the bathroom there at the park was like an oasis. Freezing cold water in the sink so we filled our packs and drenched our gear again. We headed out and up Red Rocks and over to Sanitas. This is the crux of the traverse because Sanitas just sucks at the end. I was feeling great through Red Rocks but as the Sanitas steps kicked in, I went to a hike and never came back on the ascent. Jim was out of sight but I knew he would be at the summit with the other 1,000 people we saw on the trail. Geezus it was busy out there today. I topped out on Sanitas and was ready for a nap. I remembered the last traverse where JV‘s car was down in the lot below. Not today. My H2 was miles away and I had to get back to it.

Boulder Skyline Traverse

We descended Sanitas and then made our way through city streets back to Chautauqua. I feel like I bonked on the way up Sanitas. The downhill felt better though. But the last of the city streets that ascended to Chautauqua were taking their toll on me. I walked the last section knowing that the Mesa Trail would save me shortly. We refilled at the Chautauqua Ranger Station and took a breather there. I downed the rest of my fuels and opted to put on my iPod. I needed a little soundtrack to finish this sucker out. Jim and I left and hiked it up to the start of the Mesa Trail and then started a march to complete our outing. The Mesa Trail is fucking gorgeous this time of year. So green. Here is Jim up ahead.

Boulder Skyline Traverse

While we were both pretty tired, we were having some good fun through this section. I was powerhiking a lot of the ups while Jim kept on a good run. Then I would try and reel him back in on the downhill. Then on another section, he went to the hike and I stayed on the run and promptly blew up minutes later. It was fun to see the various strategies play out. My music was really helping me stay focused and motivated through the last few miles. As we were passing by the front of Bear Peak, we saw a group of three runners descending towards us. I knew who it was because I could hear them chatting away. Justin, Nick Clark, and Nick P. were out doing a WS100 training pacer orientation thing of sorts. We all stopped and chatted for a bit. As we got out of the trees into the final miles, we found ourselves descending and putting down a 6:30-ish pace which seemed awesome after all.

Finally, we crossed the bridge and were back at the South Mesa Trailhead. Over 5 and a half hours after we left it. What a great training run. I think it will pay big dividends for both of us at our upcoming event. Jim was a great partner out there today. I enjoy running with him. It was also great running into so many familiar faces. Summer has arrived and everybody is out enjoying the hills.

Boulder Skyline Traverse by fullerbra at Garmin Connect - Details

Jim and I both got in our cars and headed off. Both of us were starving. Need real food. I totally had been having visions of Larkburger since the mid-point of the run. Food. Food. So I started driving and bad things started to happen. I was literally about to fall asleep. When you stop running after long periods of time, your legs stop pumping that blood and you just get super tired and sort of dizzy. I was not going to make it to Larkburger. And suddenly I didn’t want to eat. My body decided it was done for the day and started making me feel not so hot. Payback! I ended up hitting a gas station in Boulder and bought a huge Gatorade, a Diet Dr. Pepper, a Diet Mountain Dew, and a bag of Lays potato chips. I had the Gatorade and chips ingested within miles. Started to feel a bit better. Ended up picking up Chipotle and barely could finish it back at home.

However, the second I walked in the door, I was in the dog house for being gone so long and more importantly….not getting the pool setup yet. The water will be freezing but the kids do not care. They want the pool up. So instead of crashing out, I had to drive to our storage unit, load my truck up with pool stuff, drive back home, and then proceed to assemble the thing. Took me a few hours but its up and filling. At least I will have a cool place to relax after future long long runs.

OK, so given this was a training run, I need to jot down lessons learned. Hey, Team Shart crew, pay attention!

1. I really did a better job drinking on the run with my TNF hydration pack over handhelds today. I just don’t do as well sucking it down. Found myself running with the hose in my mouth and taking bigger sips and not gasping for air when I was done. Plus, the water just stays cooler. However, it does take longer to refill.

2. I went shirtless today and my hydration pack at a hole in my back above my butt crack. Just was rubbing. I had a shirt so I wrapped it down around the bottom of the pack and that helped but it kept shifting. I might need a seamstress to just sew it on there.

3. I didn’t take enough fuels. Had 3 GUs and 2 GU Chomps and 1 Cliff Blocks but it wasn’t enough. I felt like I was eating it frequently but that bonk on Sanitas should have been avoided. Probably could have been if there were an aid station with some Gatorade and some carbs of some sort.

4. Adding music mid-run really re-motivated me to keep it moving. Took the focus off my tired self and had me running to the beat of the music. Seemed good to start without it and then treat myself to it later on.

5. La Sportiva Crosslites are working better than ever. Not a single foot issue today. No blisters. Nothing. Enjoying the ride in these shoes.

6. Felt great this morning. Ate and drank nothing beforehand. Put down some GU Chomps while I was parking the car. This strategy worked well for me today.

7. My Garmin 405 was 100% charged going into the run. It died in the parking lot as we finished. Its not going to deal at Lake City or Leadville. I don’t need it. But I want it. Must figure out solution. Maybe to the mid-switch to the 305 backup.

8. I need to figure out a “real food” strategy.

So while it was a training run and I felt dead when it was over, I am feeling much better here this evening and no limps or pains to speak of. Hoping that a taper and a positive TSB value will put me where I need to be on race day.

I went 24.18 miles with an elevation gain of 7,662 feet in 05:26:10, which is an average pace of 13:29. Heart rate average was 138. View my GPS data on Garmin Connect.

  • Jeff Valliere

    Great Run! We drove past Larkburger in the afternoon and I actually looked for you there. As far as the chaffing, maybe a white shirt? Keeping the sun off of you actually keeps you cooler on hot/sunny days in my opinion. Nice work getting the pool set up. When I arrive home trashed after a long/tough outing and don’t want to do anything but eat and veg out, I try to imagine what it will be like in years to come with Allison AND twins demanding my attention.

    • It almost wasn’t a traverse without JV. Shirt? Excuse me!

  • Glenn

    Epic.

    • Still waiting on you to visit so you can run one of these.

  • jpetterCO

    Great run. Glad we hit it early. Without that breeze, it would have been a wee bit harder. Really enjoyed the run. The five-plus hours went quick. See you in a few weeks down in Lake City. It’s going to be fun. I’ll drop you a line and let you know where we’re staying. We’re at some cabin complex in town. Forgot the name…

  • nataleejean

    Lessons learned are noted Captain Shart. I received my homework today and will create my spreadsheet and graphs this week for your review.

    • Ha! Its a big book. Mostly results. Pay attention to focus like Brownie from last year. Good target times.