Memorial Day weekend is a double header for us; our regular Saturday morning run and then a Monday morning run for anyone not running the Bolder Boulder.
The word for this weekend was “energy”. My energy was flowing and I ended both runs feeling absolutely high; so filled with endorphins and happiness that I could easily have run twice the distance on both days.
We ran Chautauqua on Saturday; an out-and-back to the old radio tower site. Massive uphills from the second we picked up our feet until we turned around at the radio tower; then downhill most of the way back. Have I mentioned that I love running downhill? If you didn’t know that about me, then it’s high time I let you in on that tiny secret. I adore downhills and how my hip flexors open and gravity carries me along like a current. I don’t fight descents; I lean into them and breathe deeply, catching my breath after the exertion of an uphill push, marveling at the rhythmic proprioceptor pounding my body is taking until I’m finally sated.
For Monday’s run we met at Doudy Draw and looped through Eldorado Canyon. This is my favorite run of all time. It has everything a girl could want; trails, hills, rocks, canyon walls, forests, meadows, downhills, rushing water, and an almost-flat mile and a quarter road at the end that allows you to let it all out and push tempo pace back to the trailhead. The only thing that would make this run even better would be if it were a mile or two longer.
When we left Chautauqua on Saturday I started feeling my glutes about two minutes into the run. I haven’t run hills consistently for a while and lately, every time I do it, I’m starting over from scratch. My base fitness level hasn’t peaked for the season, so I had to concentrate on breath and movement. Keep it moving, stay consistent, was my motto. Don’t go out so fast that you have to stop. Watch the heart rate. I kept my talking to a moderate level and when my heart rate felt too high, I slowed to a walk. Can you believe it? I’m getting smarter in my old age.
My dear friend Elorie ran with us for the first time on Saturday and pushed my sorry butt up the hill without getting winded in the least. That girl has the most amazingly beautiful legs I’ve seen in a long, long time. She rides mountain bikes on these trails and road-bikes all over Boulder; her legs are super strong, curvy, and powerful. Cross-training has taken the sinew out of her form and given her a look of strength and suppleness that my own runner-body does not possess. I mentioned earlier that after two minutes I was already felt the burn in my glutes; hers never burned because of the hill-work she’s done on her bike. Hence, my butt looked like a soccer ball since she was kicking it all the way to the old radio tower site.
The weather this weekend was intermittent, as spring in Colorado can be, but the mornings were absolutely fine. Saturday morning was warm and luscious and I was glad I remembered to bring my camelbak hydration pack. The temp was in the low 60’s when we started and there was a magical burst of warm air that parted like a curtain when I started my Garmin. At 7 AM there weren’t too many people out and about yet, but an hour later when we returned the trail was so packed it looked like a veritable crowd streaming into the gates at the amusement park, sans children.
The splits on this run were typical for Chautauqua:
Mile 1: 12:26
Mile 2: 11:11
Mile 4: 8:22
Mile 5: 11:05
Mile 6: 7:45
That being said, Elorie and I absolutely flew down the road when we hit the downhill. We were talking easily, breathing like we were standing still, and striding in unison. I knew we were haulin’ because of the way folks moved to the side of the service road when they saw us coming but I didn’t know how fast we were going until I pushed the stop button on the Garmin when we hit the bottom; apparently we were cruising at a 5:30 pace down the final stretch of that hill. Did I mention I love hills? What a fabulous way to end a run, with an all-out pounding at rejuvenates the body and soul. Yummy!
Monday morning was our own nod to the Bolder Boulder. As I drove parallel to Highway 36 along Marshall Road from Louisville I was extremely happy I wasn’t in that 10-mile-an-hour, bumper-to-bumper traffic trying to get into the heart of Boulder.
A friend and I went out for drinks and an amazing evening of conversation on Sunday night. A couple of tea-infused mojitos and martinis later, coupled with a 4+ mile walk in the silky cover of darkness, I felt fabulous even though it was several hours past my regular bedtime. That energy was still with me when I got up to run after 6 hours of sleep, and I marveled at how a brisk 4-mile walk with amazing company can boost the energy level of the soul so much that it has lasting effects.
Again, the day was a perfect early-summer morning with temps in the high 50’s. The meadow flowers were in bloom, the trail was dry and the shadows in the valley of the canyon appeared to hold mystery in the early morning light. Our little group of six was the only one on the trail at that hour, though later we would step aside to let two mountain bikers have the right-of-way coming down the trail.
Here are a few pictures I snapped of the morning:
I had a passing worry that my glutes and quads would give me trouble so soon after that epic Chautauqua run, but even though they were a little sore there was no lasting pain or twinges. Somehow, my muscles felt even stronger than before… maybe the drinks and walk stretched everything that was being held tight?
Eldorado Creek was high, and the sound of rushing water grew louder and louder as we ran through the rock walls of the canyon, high above. Snaking our way down the trail forced us to slow down, but once we were back on the open road the same thing happened that happened on Saturday. My hip flexors opened up and I leaned back just enough to keep the momentum going and not have to work at it. Jack, Beth and I ran along the Creek, until the angle of the hill forced Beth to drop back and watch her feet (she’s a strong hill runner, but doesn’t like descents). Jack and I plowed forward until we hit the straightaway, when suddenly Beth appeared from behind and Jack fell back. The last mile can be the longest, especially when you’ve upped the pace to a full-out tempo run. I listened to my friend’s conversation, felt her energy propelling her along, and concentrated on my steady breath. My shoulder felt a little tight and I consciously dropped it away from my ear. The slight breeze caused my hat to bobble with the slightest movement and it felt divine to have the warm air gently dry the sweat on my forehead.
Energy was flowing through me, above and below, and in my veins. We arrived at the trailhead and I had an urge to do another loop. The day was so clear, the sky was so blue, and I was absolutely, pulsingly ALIVE. I adore the movement my body creates so that my soul can fly, and I am so profoundly grateful that each and every day, I can get up and RUN.