I was looking at some posts from last March, and was struck by “Drought of the Spring Equinox”, the one where I noticed how DRY the mountain was. In that post I mentioned how there was usually a month (yes, a four week time period) where we had to stay off the mountain because of the quagmire of mud that came in the spring. During that time we ran one of the County trails in the plains of Boulder, and patiently waited until the trails were passable.
It’s been almost three months since I’ve run a mountain trail. The mountains have been covered in perpetual ice and snow since December. Last year in mid-March I was noticing how dry the landscape was; this year it’s been moderately wet, but cold enough to allow the snow and ice to seriously wear out its welcome. Last year, the snow didn’t arrive in Colorado until the last week in March; when it finally came there was several feet of snow that blanketed the area and resulted in such an array of wildflowers that Colorado hasn’t seen in at least thirty years. This year… it’s too early to tell.
Today was my mid-week run. I look forward to Wednesday almost as much as Saturday. My husband is usually home on Wednesday mornings to make breakfast for the kids and get them out the door for their carpool. I can leave the house early at 7 AM like I did today, or I can head out at 8:15 after their carpool arrives to whisk them off to school. Either way, I keep my Wednesday mornings clear so that I can do an hour-plus run. Strangely enough, it’s worked out that Wednesdays are my “long run” days instead of the typical Sunday runs on most people’s schedule.
I took a different route today, as I’m getting to the point that I could run my usual “Louisville loop” while sleeping. I crossed South Boulder Road, the big street that bisects our town, and headed up the trail to the hill of open space that borders the boundary between Louisville and Lafayette. My eyes teared up in the cold for the first ten minutes, but after a few wipes they acclimated to the twenty degree weather.
The first thing I noticed along this new route was the beautifully rendered signs announcing that I was entering Coyote territory. The signs are similar to the ones located near many trailheads along the Foothills of Boulder, though all the mountainous signs warn visitors about the Bobcats and Bears that live in the corridors. They’re full of helpful information, like what NOT to do if you encounter a mountain lion (never turn your back on a mountain lion, you look like easy prey). I love that the Parks and Open Space Department is putting up signs announcing the Coyote’s presence, and that people are forewarned to keep their snack-size pets under close watch. I wish Parks and Open Space would put up a sign or two along the corridors I run on the southern side of Louisville, because there’s a number of coyotes that trot along the greenbelts. I’ve been followed by a coyote, passed within twenty feet of one during a mid-morning run, and heard my dog barking at a long-time resident coyote that passes by our house on an almost daily basis.
After the excitement of the signs wore off I focused on getting up the hill. It’s a good half mile in length and has a steady incline, which helped keep my speed in check and engaged my hip flexors. This hill is more consistent than the one I usually run from my house up to the Davidson Mesa, so I felt like I was getting a different workout even though I wasn’t on a mountain trail. I can’t believe I’m saying it, but I actually miss the North Fork/South Fork loop for the butt-kicking qualities of that workout. It all goes to show that variety is a wonderful thing, because we can come to appreciate that which we don’t have. When we get the same thing all the time, even if it’s a good thing, we get bored.
At the top of the hill I followed the trail through the greenbelts to the top of the Mesa, and crossed over South Boulder Road once again. I ran along McCaslin to Davidson Mesa and jumped onto the 3-mile loop inside the preserve, just to get away from the noise and fumes of morning commuter traffic. The trail inside the Mesa was quiet all the way around; I only saw one other person and no animals at all; the prairie dogs, coyotes and rabbits were all hidden away.
I ran the last 5K along the greenbelt trail to my house, finishing the 9 miles in 1:17:08. This is exactly the mileage I complete when I head up to Davidson Mesa in my typical “Louisville loop”, which is bizarre to think that my house is equidistant to both routes.
It’s hard running the same routes week after week, especially when the weather gets dicey. Often I want to simply run out the front door and get in a few miles. Getting in the car and driving to a trailhead adds precious minutes, sometimes even good sections of an hour, to the workout, and that’s time that I often don’t have. I’m looking to mix up my running routes in a super-easy way. I usually run by myself during the week in the early morning, and don’t want to drive somewhere. But maybe I need to suck it up and drive five or ten minutes to a new starting point, where the terrain is different and I get a new perspective? I’m open to opinions and advice here, because I’m going stir-crazy. I love my “Louisville loops”, but too much of the same is Plain Vanilla, and I’m a Raspberries in Chocolate sort of girl.