"Joe! Too slow Joe!" 4 year old Elle in reference to my "high five" skills but also accurately describing my day of running.
It seems like whatever direction I do this run in, I set myself up to have a difficult day out on the trail. Last time, when Geoff, Scott, Dakota and I ran from Nederland to Boulder, I thought it would be a good idea to run 30 miles the day before, to make for a good weekend double. Shuffling along the Mesa trail some 25 miles in, I had doubts as to how wise that decision was. This time I figured what better way to get back on track after fighting off the flu for most of the week than to run 41 miles with 10K+ of vert.
I met up with Geoff, Scott and Rickey
at the Boulder transit center and we set off for the peaks at a leisurely pace just after 9am. Of course we had to poke fun at Geoff for wearing pants on this bright sunny morning, particularly since the day before had been a shirtless run in the 70s, the warmest since last October. However, by the time we’d passed Chautauqua and picked up Dakota on the way through, the sky had turned to grey with an impending snowstorm ahead. The pant jokes subsided giving place to more inquisitive remarks such as “those are wind pants, hey? fleece lined?” and by the time we reached the summit of Green thoughts like “I wish Geoff wasn’t so damn small, cause I’d steal those pants,” were running through my head.
Rickey had to cut the run short to go catch a flight to France so we switched him out for Aaron Marks who’d made the trip down from Fort Collins with Dakota. Aaron had started ahead of us and was waiting out of the elements hunkered down under the Green summit rock. As we made our way over to Bear and then to South Boulder peak the weather turned from bad to worse and the views to the West left little promise of any reprieve over the next 30 miles.
As we entered Eldorado Springs, Dakota was contemplating bailing but got a mouthful of expletives from us all and decided it would be less painful to carry on than to bare shameful retreat. Everyone appeared a little more haggard than expected at this point, except for GRoes enjoying his comfy pants and continental breakfast strapped around his waist. We refilled our water at the ranger station and I ate three gels at once, which I don’t think I’ve ever done. These early signs of depletion were a clear indicator of the grim shape of things to come. Shortly thereafter, we left Aaron behind for legitimate reasons as he’d been running blind for the past hour or so with his glasses fogging up due to the rain. How he got down Shadow canyon intact, I still do not know.
Five hours or so into the run and with another three looming ahead, I’d basically polished off my stash of 10 gels and putting my pride for fending for myself aside, I accepted anything that Geoff and Scott would hand over my way – a mouthful of burrito, a cliff bar, shot blocks, chia coconut, whatever – nothing seemed to pick me back up. I often speak of the primal, raw instinct that running brings out in me and never is it more revelatory than in a state of acute weakness and depletion. Our destination ahead holds the relief from my discomfort and answers my craving for the basic, simple needs of food, clothes and shelter. With a mile to go, Geoff takes an abrupt turn off the trail up a short steep side bank, I watch and yell at him in disbelief. He assures me that this is the shortest way back and sure enough we all slog behind him finally getting to his cabin after over 8 laborious hours.
Corle, his girlfriend, greets us with what Dakota described as “the best thing he’d ever eaten,” (to which I agree) a sumptuous curry dinner accompanied by cups of chai and beer. Jlu treats us to some vegan baked goods for desert and I find myself being way more proficient at the whole eating and resting thing than the running that worked up my appetite. Good friends and good times, thank you all – hopefully next time I’ll have a little more pep in my step.
The elusive Rickey Gates
Corle and Elle
"The best thing I've ever eaten" Dakota