I laced up my training shoes as Karen pulled up in the car – returning from teaching a Zumba class. A little after 1pm. I was seriously itching to hit the Heil Valley Ranch trail today for a big run. Partly because the front was expected to hit any minute. I would be fine in the rain and snow but my weather channel app showed the wind increasing steadily with each passing hour of the day. The other reason for my impatience was I just couldn’t wait to get out on the trail. I might be picking up a little addiction to the endorphins. Most of my runs go for an hour or more now. That’s enough time to fire up a nice runner’s high. My runs are becoming a nice little habit. Today’s 10.5 mile run was exceptional.
I got to the trail head a little before 2pm. I’m prepping for a mountain trail run in two weeks and decided I would use my weekend runs to replicate the race as much as possible. I wore my small pack with a 2 liter camelback. I added cytomax to the water. And I brought along a selection of running clothes to make the last minute decision on what to wear. The weather was cool and breezy, but no rain or snow yet. It will definitely be storming before I finish this in 2 hours.
I layered shirts with a summer-thin Under Armour long-sleeve high-tec fabric underneath covered with a light fleece pullover. The thought was the undershirt would whisk away sweat into the outer garment. This ensemble performed perfectly. I simply wore shorts for my legs. This was comfortable starting out although I pulled up my sleeves after two miles.
This course is great prep for Buena Vista. It rises non-stop until I decide to turn around. I turn after 5.5 miles where there’s a sign noting the trail joins a loop near the crest of the hill. My garmin actually shows this to be 5.25 miles. This garmin result link shows all the stats. You can see how the course rises from 5400 feet to 6400 feet where I turn. 1000 feet in elevation change over 5.5 miles. The CPTR rises 1000 feet in 9 miles – including a 200 foot drop on the 7th mile. So the steepness of the grade will provide decent conditioning to my legs. Then the rocks on this trail require constant vigilance. I decided against listening to a playlist so I would focus on the trail. The attention required for each footfall, thousands of repeating footfalls, is almost hypnotic. I could have run forever in this ultimate escape.
You have to plan each foot placement on the rocks in micro seconds. When a decision to yield to bikers coming the other direction must be made, I make it at the last possible second. So do many of the bikers. I generally feel like we can both pass without anyone stopping. The bikers were aggressive today and few ever yielded. I rarely yielded as well, especially as I was flying down on the return. Hills, footwork, gear testing, but the best part was the total escape of the run itself. I felt great.
Testing my gear was brilliant. Turns out I have a leak in my camelbak. I’ll pick up a new one tomorrow at REI. The drink leaked out over the back of my shorts. As the wind and cold increased near the end of the run, I got a bit chilled. So the dry clothes in my car came in handy. Good test run.
In honor of the Caballo Blanco, pictured above, this will be the summer of mountain trail runs. I’ll be training on trails every weekend that I’m not actually running a trail race. My first will be the Collegiate Peaks Trail Run on April 28th. I could feel Caballo Blanco’s spirit on the trail today. Hope to see him again tomorrow when I climb the Amphitheater Trail up the Flat Irons in Boulder. It should be snowing.