The day after climbing Mount Audubon, I ran my usual 8 miles on the East Boulder Trail. I start with the half mile hill climb to the water tower and turn around just past Valmont Road. I cross the road and run to the first gate which is where I figure the 4 mile point is. A few feet beyond the Teller Farm – North parking lot. I then turn around for another mile of flat running before climbing back up the rolling hills that lead back to the water tower.
On Sunday’s return I passed up a young woman runner who was waiting for traffic at the Valmont Road cross walk. I didn’t wait. I darted across forcing the traffic to friggin stop. It’s a cross walk. It appeared this girl had just started her run from the parking lot. A mile later I hit the first hill. It’s brutally long. It starts steep for about 200 yards and then stretches out with a continuous ascent for another quarter mile. It turns 90° right (east) at the summit and holds essentially flat for nearly a quarter mile, before turning north again through yet more hills.
About three quarters through this flat section the girl (I can say girl because she’s at least half my age) passes by me. It’s not unusual for other runners to pass me regardless of sex although they are typically younger. This was odd in that I had passed her a mile and a half earlier as she was apparently warming up. That might have been what woke me up from my recovery pace. Whatever, the point is what I did next. I determined I wasn’t as tired as my speed indicated. I picked up my pace and passed her back within the next 200 yards.
I didn’t pass her so fast that she couldn’t have fended me off. But I did begin to unwind and put some distance between us. Turning to look over my shoulder at a bend a half mile later I noted that I had the same 50 yards on her that she had on me initially. This means she let me gain a little ground but then picked up her pace to match mine. With a mile and a half to go, and a monster hill, the question was would she try to retake me. We had ourselves a little trail race. How fun is that?
I was feeling and running strong. I couldn’t stop her from catching me but I wasn’t going to let her pass. I was confident I could hold her off. That is until we reached the big final hill. All bets were off then. I couldn’t race that hill. Most days I’m lucky to make it up without walking. So I resigned myself to let her pass me on the hill if she was set on making her move then. I know my limits.
Turns out she turned back around before the bottom of the hill. She was evidently running 6 miles and avoiding the monster hill. Just as well. I was still racing her in my mind as I climbed it because I didn’t turn around to look for her until I reached the top. She might not have ever been trying to catch me period but I was having a blast imagining she was. Racing is a kick.