life love mountains run

Rattlesnakes, Rain showers, and Ridge Lines, Oh My!

By on June 19, 2013

Oh my, what a weekend! It was full of “adventures” that I didn’t even have to get my hair cut. I’m not all that concerned about skipping my hair cut since it hasn’t been cut in over a year so an extra week won’t make much of a difference. 


This weekend’s adventures actually started Friday afternoon. I got to work super early (before 6am!) which meant that I was able to leave at 11 and work the rest of the day from the BFs house in the mountains. Since I had already put in 5 hours at the office, I didn’t have to work too late during the afternoon. I decided to take my new bike out for a repeat of last weekend’s ride. I made it to the top of the thigh-burner hill without stopping to rest my legs (I had to stop twice last weekend) and started down the single track. Although I was still white-knuckling every descent, I did feel more comfortable letting off the brakes slightly (I got up to 15.7 mph on the trails!). I also felt more confident on the uphills. Last week I had a mental barrier when I was in a low gear and pedaling furiously and not going very far or fast. This week I decided to ignore how fast my feet were moving and just focus on climbing the hill. This worked and I only had to get off and walk my bike twice (both times because my foot slipped off the pedal and I stopped before I could get it back on). I felt so good when I finished the single track section that I turned around and did it backwards instead of riding on the road back to the house!


 The next day (Saturday) was the Tough Mudder. I’ve already expressed my feelings about obstacle course racing (see here if you missed that post) and this race further cemented those ideas in my mind. It was a beautiful early summer day in the Rockies, with temperatures hovering around 60 degrees at the start and a forecasted high of 72. I had mapped out the approximate course the night before using mapmyrun and it showed an elevation gain of 1700 feet over 10.23 miles. Considering there were 20 obstacles between the start and finish and I was running with a team, I estimated a finish time of 3-3.5 hours. It actually took us over 5 (5:09:57 according to my watch). The first “issue” occurred less than half a mile into the race when one of my teammates started having stomach issues. The “issues” continued throughout the day when another teammate had sustained calf cramps, his son couldn’t get warm (that made me glad that I have some fat on my bones 🙂 ) and I pulled my shoulder. It was a good experience but I think we were all thankful when it was over. It’s weird to think that the Tough Mudder could very well be the last obstacle course race I do for a long time. Ohh well, I’m not at all upset that this phase in my racing is over.


Since I’m hanging up my obstacle course racing hopes and dreams (if they ever existed?), it was absolutely necessary that I get in one quality long run this weekend. I woke up Sunday morning and didn’t exactly feel like going on a run. My shoulder and hamstring hurt, I was exhausted, I had a headache, I had to drive 2 hours back to Denver. Luckily my running buddy, Laurie, and I had decided on a Sunday run a couple days beforehand. I dragged my butt out of bed, went to Caribou Coffee for an actual coffee (not tea) and a scone, but the scone turned out to be kinda gross so I also went to Whole Foods for a delicious peach walnut scone. Laurie had originally mapped out a route that would take us from her house to Eldorado Canyon up to Walker Ranch and back. That route turned out to be ~27 miles, so we decided to cut it a little shorter and drive so we could start closer to Eldorado Canyon. 


We started on the run, both complaining of heavy legs but happy to be out. About a mile into the run, we were stopped on the trail but a couple who told us a rattlesnake was on the trail and had rattled his tail at them. It took about 20 minutes, a couple thrown rocks, a growing crowd, and a quick trip up and around the rattlesnake before we moved on. I’ve never seen a rattlesnake in the wild, so it was a pretty cool experience, made even better by the fact that no one was bitten. We continued on, past families out of a Father’s Day picnic along South Boulder Creek in Eldorado Canyon. The sky was blessedly cloud-covered but that didn’t stop the air from being sicky and humid. The climb out of Eldorado Canyon seemed to take forever and we kept commenting on how nice it would be on the way back (we turned out to be wrong about that). We finally got to Walker Ranch and had planned on dipping our legs into the creek (that looked like a raging river), but the water level was too high and moving too fast for us to comfortably go in. We continued on and decided we would dip our legs in further up the trail (which was also further up the river). 


We continued on, up the staircase from hell that gained so much vertical feet in so short a distance that it looked like it went upside down on my watch. When we reached the water again, we did stop and ate a snack (I had Starburst!). We both realized we were close to running out of water and decided to fill an “emergency bottle” in case we ran out. The water was so cold that I gave up on the idea of wading out to the faster moving section and instead just dipped the bottle in near the shoreline. After less than half a mile, the wind suddenly picked up (to the point that it was breaking the surface tension of the creek so about 40 mph or so) and the sky turned black. We decided to continue on and hope for the best, with a backup plan of hanging out by the bathrooms at one of the parking lots if the storm became too violent. Luckily we didn’t have to resort to that. After spitting rain for a couple minutes and quite a few very angry bursts of wind, the storm dissipated and the blue sky came out. We made it back down to the Eldorado Canyon trailhead and realized we were both dangerously low on water (or as dangerously low as you can get with only 5.5 miles of a run left). We decided to take our chances and drink the water from the creek. If we’re both ill in a couple of weeks it probably means we have Giardia. The water was heavenly, cool, crisp, and oh so refreshing. We made it back to the car with no other issues besides the fact that the trip back on Eldorado Canyon felt like it had just as much uphill as the way out had felt. We ended the day with 18.6 miles, 4200 feet of elevation gain, and an average moving pace of 15:20. Not bad for a run where we had wildlife, weather, and water issues!

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