The first days of summer have been full of winter in Colorado, but I love watching a front come in while running the East Boulder hills. There’s no better feeling than running into the oncoming weather. Summer rain dropping the chill of mountain snowmelt.
I’m doing all my runs lately on the East Boulder Trail. It’s nostalgic for me. I ran this trail daily, nearly thirty years ago when I lived in the Gunbarrel Country Club area, across 75th from Heatherwood.
I was in my upper twenties and I acclimated to high altitude running on that trail. I ran a 41 minute Bolder Boulder that year – 1990. A decent time for that course. I ran 43 minutes, twenty-five years later. I still plan to break 40 minutes. I like the idea of getting back into shape on this trail.
The grasses along the East Boulder Trail have grown quickly with all the moisture this spring. The stems are waist high and my fingers brush through the spikelets as I run. I think their lushness makes the trail cozy. I like the experience. It feels early in the season for the grasses to be so tall. I hope they keep growing.
I remember running this trail in 1990, when I found my high altitude speed. Half a year earlier, I’d lived at sea level. I always launched my runs from the west side of 75th and my first mile took me to the top of the water tower hill. The water tower is the high point and is a half mile climb, then a quarter mile flat stretch across the top, and a quarter mile drop into the hills.
I found my speed when another runner, young twenties, probably in college, passed me from behind on the far-side downhill. He’d passed me on other days and I always let him go. This time though, warmed up from the hill, I chased after him once he gained a good fifty meters lead. I caught him easily and we ran together, chatting, for a couple of miles. We were easily running a six minute pace, maybe faster, through the hills. It felt good.
I rediscovered my speed on that run and I’ll never forget it. I maintained my fitness for the rest of the year, until I got a job downtown and had to start commuting. Then I had kids. It would be another twenty-five years before I would run this trail fast again.
I’m not running fast now, but I can run the hills without walking. That will get me back in shape. Eventually. The hills on the East Boulder Trail never disappoint.