6.14 of the Hardest, Snowiest Miles Ever and 9.81 of the Usual, Or, The Tale of Two Runs

HAHAHA. Another thing I love about running that rarely gets mentioned is how funny it can be. Today was a good example.

Somehow I got it in my mind yesterday that I’d run up in Indian Peak Wilderness outside of Nederland. I did a little research online and found a couple of great blog post by other runners. Charles Danforth’s account in particular seemed perfect: a 26ish-mile loop at around 10,000 ft. Awesome. I got excited, went and got some gear and was ready to tackle a gnarly 6-hour run at the highest altitude I’d ever hit for a run.

What I failed to notice (or perhaps had consciously subconsciously ignored) was the fact that every account of an Indian Peak run was in July or later.

Good reason for this. When I pulled in, the snowdrifts were still about 20 inches deep or worse.

This was the road. Not the trail.

Slightly daunted and yet still undaunted, I set out. Most other people there were in snowshoes. I was in my New Balance 101s. Just running/falling through snow up to my calves and sometimes knee. The workout was absolutely insane. It’s like running through mud but instead of being squishy, the mud can either be fine or instantly give way. Oh, and when it gives way, it’s also sharps so it’s scrapping up your ankles like an MF.

I pressed on, stubbornly. My original plan was to start at the Mitchell Lake Trailhead, loop Mt. Audobon, ascend and cross Buchanan Pass (ie, the Continental Divide) and then loop around and cross Pawness Pass (the Divide again) and make it back. Instead, half the road just up to the trailhead was closed due to heavy snow. So between the incredibly slow, painful, idiotic going in the snow and the desire not to die, my goal very quickly became to just make it to the trailhead I had originally intended to start at. It took me an hour. Three miles in one hour.

I guess I’m supposed to turn right?

Keep going? OK.

I will be back for this. Looks incredible.

When I finally made it to that stupid trailhead, the trail totally disappeared. No one had been there in days. And the snow was getting progressively worse. My very labored run has turned into a death shuffle.

Finally made it to the trailhead.

It’s a very bizarre sensation to be wearing running shorts and a short sleeve shirt, be knee deep in a snow drift and be sweating balls. The snow was miserable, but it was still 60 degrees out.

This what most of the day was like.

I’d finally knew I could go no further after about an hour. And I had reached the Mitchell Lake Trailhead so that was good enough for me. By this time, the trail had ended, I was exhausted, want to puke (triyng out new ultradistance energy drink) and feeling very dizzy. But now, I was turned back around and pointing home.

The Deails:
Time: 1:49:01
Distance: 6.14 miles
Elevation Gain: 526 ft
Average Pace: 16:58 min/mile
Temperature: 60 degrees
Shoes: New Balance 101

All The Gory Details: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/84164325

But seeing as that was just 2 hours of the 4 hours I needed to log today, I decided to head back to Boulder (where there was definitely no snow) and hit up my favorite, Mesa Trail.

Suddenly, I was in 80-degree weather with the sun cooking me. And no snow. Thank God. No snow.

No snow. Anywhere.

The run itself was pretty uneventful, but a combination of the altitude before, the insane workout of trudging through the snow, the baked sun and that new Perpetuem drink I was using did I number on me. I felt pretty terrible. And I was pretty spent. Probably the worse I’ve ever felt on a run. But I push on and get it done.

Love the Flatirons.

And, besides the great story, another souvenir I got from the day was a pretty gnarly sunburn. First time that’s happened too. Big day. Two different run, two very different experiences.

Combo suntan and dirt-tan.

The Deails:
Time: 1:54:07
Distance: 9.81 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,031 ft
Average Pace: 11:31 min/mile
Temperature: 80 degrees
Shoes: New Balance Minimus

All The Gory Details: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/84164325