This DailyMile thing is a hoot. I’ve met some seriously cool people through the start-up, athlete-oriented, social networking site.
Dave organized a run that took place yesterday morning around the north Boulder back roads. This was one of his long runs for his training program for the Boston Marathon, and he wanted some company. He promised that the pace would be an average 8:45/mile, so I signed on. This would be my longest run since CIM back in December, though I’ve been ramping up since getting the go-ahead from my Physical Therapist.
Those who wanted to run 20-22 miles met Dave at his house and headed north at 7am into the Boulder Reservoir area. Those of us who wanted to run a much shorter version, only 12 miles, met the group at the Eagle Trailhead on the northwest side of the Rez. We were ready and waiting at 8am, but realistically should have known that they wouldn’t show up until almost 8:15am. The extra time of standing around in the parking lot gave us time to introduce ourselves and get chilled by the north wind that was whipping through the area.
Karen and AJ had come up from Castle Rock, so we discussed the differences in terrain between the north and south sections of the Front Range. After a while the group appeared on the Eagle trail to the west of us; Karen and AJ picked out Jon in his bright green jacket, Rick in his black, Jen in the pigtails and Dave wearing his DailyMile wicking shirt.
They were 8 miles in at this point, and it was a good pausing place to introduce ourselves to the ones we didn’t know yet, get directions for the next loop from Dave, and then resume our run. Dave is the only one that I had met before, though I knew of most of the other runners virtually.
When I left the house at 7:30 I hadn’t fully decided what I wanted to wear, so I layered up. Shorts underneath running pants, a t-shirt and arm warmers underneath a longsleeve. The temp was around 43 degrees, which is right on the cusp of shorts/pants weather. Depending on the wind and cloud cover, I might or might not opt for shorts.
I kept all the layers on when we started the run. The wind was up and the clouds blocked out some of the warmth. I was carrying my Nathan hydration pack and would take off a layer if need be, and toss it in the pack. Easy.
Jen showed up with the same hydration pack, so we were Twinsies! Karen had been asking if it was comfortable to run in; maybe seeing two of us use it convinced her to try it.
As we started out around the Rez I had a massive moment of déjà-vu. I could have sworn that we had already done this loop and were repeating ourselves for the second or third time. Maybe this is a sign that I’ve been running at the Rez a lot this year; either that or it enters my subconscious a lot and I spend more time running in circles than I thought.
The wind blew us hard. I tucked in between AJ and Rick and drafted for a few minutes, and our group run in a tight bunch for my first 1.5 miles.
At mile 2 (remember, this is MY mile 2; some of the group were on their 10th mile at this point) Dave stopped to remove a rock from his shoe and discuss routes again. I used to pause to remove my running pants and stuff them in my pack. Some of the group wanted to tack on and make it a solid 22 miles. We had the option of circling Coot Lake and gaining a mile at this point, which would also push us 12-milers into the 13-mile range. Everyone was in the agreement, then looked to me for my vote. “I usually just bow to peer pressure in situations like this,” I told them. Thus, it was decided. We headed around Coot Lake.
The wind died down a little here and I got a boost in my energy. Dave and I did a few pick-ups and ended up ahead of the group where we had a lovely conversation. As we headed over the dam we both became acutely aware that the wind was gone. A very mild breeze was blowing. Dave, being the perfect host, ran backwards for a few paces while he told them how lucky we were to dodge the dam wind-bullet today. I’ve had my hat blow off more times than I can count on this dam. Dam wind.
He had his eye on a port-potty near the boat storage, and led us into our next pit-stop. I took the opportunity to pull out my camera. Jen noticed a guy working close by and jogged over to ask if he would take a group picture.
In return, I took Sam’s picture. Thanks Sam!
We finished our Rez loop and ended up back at the Eagle Trailhead. I put my pants back on and left them on for the remainder of the run. It just wasn’t getting any warmer, and the fabric added warmth to my muscles.
On the Eagle Trail we meandered along the single track. Jon and Dave joked about the “chicking” that Dave received on a recent run, and I knew that the challenge was on. These guys were going to get chicked by us not once, but many times.
“Come on,” I said as I touched Jen and Karen lightly on the arm, “let’s go.” They picked up the pace and we blasted past the guys.
“Oh, we just got chicked!” they laughed.
A few minutes later my shoelace came untied. I pulled over to tie it and Jon said “You just got duded!” as he and the rest of the group ran by. Yup.
So naturally I picked up the pace and called “Make a hole!” as I blew by them all to the front of the pack again.
The friendly ribbing was one of the highlights of the run. Another highlight was the scenery at the top of Eagle Trail. I pulled over, reached for my camera and snapped a picture.
Dave and I made up the caboose and finished the climb. At the top we found Jon and Jen doing laps on the dirt trail as part of their add-on.
Things get fuzzy for me at this point. I was in new territory and simply enjoying the run, so mostly I stopped paying a lot of attention to our location. At this time of year a lot of North Boulder trails end up looking similar; dry, dead grass, packed, dry dirt… who can really say where one ends and the next picks up?
We crossed over Highway 36 and entered a very colorful, very modern subdivision. Dave gave us directions to do another small add-on, then quickly broke left and took the shortcut to the park. He’s been recovering from the stomach flu and then a cold that attacked a few weeks later, and had to dig pretty deep on this run.
At the park I stood with him as we watched the group add on yet again. We cheered and told them to run faster, especially that slow-poke, Jon.
From here it was an easy 5k back to Dave’s house; one hill and the rest would be downhill, with the last mile being the fastest mile. Dave and I started out slowly and let the others catch us, then pass. Jon and Jen picked up the front, AJ and Dave were in the middle, and Rick was in front of Karen and me.
Karen and I chatted easily together, getting to know each other a bit more. I was telling her about my love-affair with trail running; “I like the uphills just fine, but the downhills are the best. The more technical they are, the better. You have to be fully present when you run downhills, but you can’t over-think your footing otherwise you’ll bite it in two seconds.”
At that moment we crested the hill and saw nirvana… a full quarter mile of sweet downhill, hairpinning its way down to Wonderland Lake. Karen laughed and let me go as I opened up and flew down the hill. It was wonderful; the only thing that would have made it better would have been if it were pocked with rocks.
At the bottom I reined it in until Karen rejoined me, then we exited the trail system and entered the residential area. At that moment we both slowed and looked around. Where had everyone gone?
The road curved sharply to the left and right, and there was a small footpath directly ahead of us that disappeared from view less than 50 yards away. After a brief discussion we decided to head down the street; Karen thought she had seen a movement out of the corner of her eye as we came off the trail, and this seemed like the most likely direction.
A minute later Dave came huffing around the bend. He had noticed that we weren’t right behind Rick and came back to sweep the trail for us.
The three of us ran easily down the last street and spotted Jon’s bright green jacket on the left side of the road with a small person. Dave smiled big; his son was out cheering on the runners, waiting for Dad to come home.
Dave took a final picture of the group; he said we looked like gangsters from a Quentin Tarentino movie with how we were spaced around the yard. Thus, we became cast members in a movie called “Reservoir Jogs”.
Dave drove Karen, AJ and me back to the trailhead to get our cars. Next time we get together, it’ll be in South Denver at the stomping grounds in Castle Rock.
It was fabulous to get to meet and run with other local runners! There was a lot of ribbing, a lot of laughter, and it was a great way to tick off the miles as spring training ramps up. Thanks gang!