Sunday, March 18, 2007
The LONG RUN!
I love long runs. When the fitness begins to come around, and the tolerance for the longer miles starts to add up, I love running long. I have a few great loops here in Boulder, and I'll generally alternate them in an Ironman build. This year I did a long run down in Austin, and one in Tempe. So this really only left me with three up here on my home courses. Well, the first one sure was a memorable one...
Two weeks ago, late in the afternoon, I was finally getting myself together for a 20+ mile run. My sister-in-law, Diana, was in town for the weekend. And Jarrod, my brother-in-law had also come up with his girl, Carrie. We were enjoying family time all weekend, so the normal start times were pushed back a tad. (This is my excuse for starting a long run at about 1:00pm on a Saturday afternoon!)
Well, the run I had chosen was a loop from the house. It involves a few challenging, but short, climbs, a lot of rollers, and plenty of false flats (and some flats). It's pretty much got it all: dirt, trails, concrete, ashpalt. The nice thing is that it starts and finishes at my house.
The nice thing about this run, my first one back at altitude, was that I had some company. Diana decided she would accompany me on Amanda's cross bike. She's a great athelte, but it's been a few days (weeks, months) since her days of regular bike riding. I assured her we'd only be gonig about nine to ten miles per hour, and the terrain was moderate.
This assurance was only partly true.
About five miles into the ride, we took a turn to the north on Lefthand Trail. This one winds up north from the Rez area and connects with some great dirt roads. On a normal day, the path is a fairly mild one, and a cross bike is well suited for the trip. That particular day was, evidently, a bit too soon after Boulder's last snow fall.
For about three miles, we were faced with a nasty combination of soft dirt, sticky-thick clay-mud, snow, deep snow, crusty snow, and other various debris and obstacles. Let me just say that Diana is one hell of a good sport; and one heck of a tough gal!
Considering this was her first ride in several months, and she was only up from sea level for about 2.3 days, she hung in there very well. A highlight (in between segments of serious huffing and puffing) was when she took a break from following the actual trail to forge her own route. Rather than follow the more dangerous switchbacks (covered with snow drifts), she bravely cut her own trail straight down the slope, over cactus and weed, to reach the bottom ahead of me. I looked over, and truly wished I had a camera to capture her masterfully throwing her weight about ten inches behind the saddle to keep from nose-diving into a yucca plant. Ah, that photo would have been priceless.
After an eternal three miles, we finally made it back to the more manageable terrain I had promised her. We both picked it back up, while easing up the effort!
The remainder of the long run was quite enjoyable. Diana managed to drop her heart rate back into the safe zone, while I pushed it a bit harder (in great part due to Diana's spirited cheers and coaxing).
A second highlight was when we were making our way back to the 'hood, on Jay Road. In the midst of Diana's hooting and hollering, we heard a car horn honking. To our surprise, Amanda was making her way back to the office, after showing several houses to some clients. As all occupants of the vehicle craned to necks to get a look, Amanda grinned ear-to-ear as she realized they were overtaking her sister and husband!
To make up for my lack of photographic evidence of the SERIOUS mud and grime, I will include a pre-ride/run photo; one which clearly shows off our knack for workout style.