So I’m too lazy to do a really long write-up of the trip, but this will give a good general idea. I’ll do a separate Pike’s Peak post soon, hopefully, because that was an amazing experience. (Note: I realized, quite randomly, on my run this morning that I probably did see Kilian after all… not at the Pike’s Peak Marathon as I’d hoped, since I had to leave Saturday and the race was Sunday, but doing a training run five days prior to the race. Now, I’m not 100% sure it was him, but what other extremely lean, dark-haired, white-Salomon-clad runner would be running down Pike’s Peak, eschewing the switchbacks as Kilian (and other European runners) do? I’m betting it was him, which is awesome.)
Generally, my days went: run 1.5-3h in the mountains by myself, come back to my friends’ house where I was staying, chill and eat and rest and hang out, another short run in the afternoon, and more hanging out in the evening. I was in Colorado Springs, so the best trails were in Pike National Forest – about a 20-30 minute drive to the trailheads where I was running. Usually I hate driving to where I run, but 15 of the minutes spent driving were on a gorgeous winding mountain road, so it was acceptable. 🙂
(Note: Most of my pictures were, unfortunately, taken on my phone since running with a DSLR isn’t exactly ideal.)
Saturday: I arrived early in the afternoon. It was about an hour and a half drive. Almost as soon as we got to their house, we left again and ran about an hour at Garden of the Gods.
Sunday: an easy acclimation day. luckily, I didn’t have any altitude issues throughout the duration of my visit. (I did have a little discomfort dealing with the dryness, but nothing debilitating). ran half an hour at a crappy little park we biked about 45 minutes to get to (we got lost), then an hour at good trails about ten minutes from their house.
Monday: first day of good trailrunning in Pike National Forest. did 1:48 in the morning there, and another 45 minutes or so at Red Rocks. had stomach issues this day.
Tuesday: PIKE’S PEAK. 4:42. I hiked up alone, running a couple miles in the middle and the last few switchbacks (to the cheers of some older runners I’d met near the top). this was a truly awesome, incredible day – spent mainly alone on Barr Trail, either zoning out and tuning into the mountain, or contemplating things, or – occasionally – thinking about how hard it was at the moment, or trying to ignore the rubbing on the backs of my heels that had started three miles in. the moment I reached the treeline and looked back on the sweeping vista which lay behind and below me was just so awesome (in the original sense of the word). I got choked up looking at it, soaking it all in. the absolute silence of the mountains, incomparable to any other silence, so massive and enveloping… then you turn and look up and see the peak hovering huge and grey and rocky above you, knowing that somehow you will be at the top and will have gotten yourself there… it’s a feeling like none other, one that I crave constantly. sustaining. inspiring. filling. there’s almost something spiritual above hiking a mountain. I’m going to write something really good about this hike, and I’ll post that. I hope you get the idea a little. it was easily one of the top three things I’ve done in my life, the other two probably being my 50Ks. spent the rest of that day lazing around and eating.
Wednesday: did 2:30 in Pike National Forest; definitely felt yesterday’s hike. not sore, but towards the end my legs were definitely tired. heard some thunder behind me on the return trip, which made for some good motivation. didn’t run that afternoon.
Thursday: in the morning, my friend dana, her dad, and I did this thing called the Incline in Manitou Springs. it starts near the Barr Trail trailhead and climbs up one mile, 2000 vertical feet, in a series of not entirely stable and very steep stairs. I made it up in 43 minutes, not too bad, but hear this: the record is around 16:45. disgusting, yes? my friend and I ran just a half an hour or so at the trails close to their house in the afternoon – I underestimated how tired my quads would be from the climb (and the 2.7-mile run down on Barr). not sore, just tired.
Friday: one last run in Pike National Forest, about two hours with dana. we did a run/hike combo, with a little climb down to a mini waterfall. while running alone on mountain singletrack is definitely gorgeous and a fantastic experience, there’s something to be said for sharing that experience with a friend. 🙂
Saturday: last run, about 1:40 in Pike National Forest. Drove to Denver in the evening for my 6:35 flight the next morning. We spent a few hours just hanging around the 16th street mall area there, mainly sitting in a plaza outside starbucks and people-watching and talking about writing and life.
Sunday: the flight back to good ol’ Michigan. It’s flat here, yes, and it can get miserably hot and humid… but it does have that nice fresh green smell.
Total mileage: no idea.
Total hours run/powerhiked: about 15
All in all an excellent trip.
peace love and mountains!