This is a short daily run, but it made clear to me what a difference a few days rest makes. Here is the GPS track, starting from the South Mesa trailhead.
The route was Mesa to North Shanahan to Bluestem and back. I don't run N. Shanahan much but it's a nice crushed gravel road through fairly open pine forest. Distance was 7 miles, time 1:15, and an elevation gain/loss of 1,300 feet. I ran this at a steady pace to warm up, then at a pace that increased gradually until the finish, once I found I could maintain speed. Best pace was 6:12, which for me is fast. I think that was just a short burst and most of the faster cruising was at 7:30.
I was surprised how strong I felt after 3 days off (including one day of hiking). My body is definitely not able to dish out the energy like this when I run every day, several days in a row, especially with a lot of vertical gain. Rest works. It must be the secret to that "tapering" thing I hear about ;)
I also noticed the effect of the lack of rain. I ran at 6:45-ish, and the 95-degree mid-day heat had apparently baked all the moisture out of the area. My throat was dry even carrying a water bottle. It's also possible that I've become used to the more humid Green Mountain area of the park, with its deciduous trees and lush vegetation at the lower elevations.
I couldn't resist taking some pictures. Heck, even when running flat bike paths in the Midwest, I took photos; there's always something worth shooting. Looking east from near Mesa trail:
Dotted Blazing Star: