So, I was able to proceed with the exciting matter of having my 30,000-mile car maintenance done on Saturday.
However -- I usually do a fun run or bike while I'm waiting. This time, I'm looking at the hills rise up like a wall a couple of miles away, and another "see it and run it" course was born: I linked the visible high points: Lookout Mountain, Apex, and Green Mountain in Lakewood, ending at my place. Why not? I had all day.
This is the view of Lookout from about halfway to the trailhead, from behind the JeffCo Open Space offices:
Lookout Mountain/Beaver Brook
Headed up Chimney Gulch on the way to Lookout:
Near the top is the intersection with the Beaver Brook trail. I'd run parts of it, but never the part between Lookout and the waterfall. The rock formations all along this trail are fantastic, and opportunities for hospitalization abound (Mom doesn't read my blog regularly):
This was also about the time I'm thinking "I drop my car off for service and I get to jog this? Yeah, baby!"
The sunnier south sides of hills (er, mountains) are covered with brush, cactus, yucca and other desert plants.
Nature Center/traverse to Apex
After the Beaver Brook spur, I headed up to the Nature Center to fill up the water bottles and empty my shoes at the 11-mile mark. I also ate some jerky. I was already feeling tired and beat up :\
From there I had to take some neighborhood roads over to Apex park for the downhill section of the program. I didn't realize this beforehand, but the Lookout Mountain trail (a few feet off the road) links Lookout to Apex. Score! Apparently I'm not the first person to have thought of doing this :)
Coming down Apex trail, there was a bit of packed snow here and there, but for the most part it was covered with dirt and you could get traction on it.
It's not just me
Lest anyone think I'm just a curmudgeon making up stories about trail users, on this day I overheard some shouting back and forth below me, ending in the words "Downhill traffic yields?" spoken in a tone of admonition. Three bikers had just gone down. Shortly thereafter an athletic female mountain biker with the demeanor of a pro cranks uphill towards me at a good clip, and I got the picture. I said something like "You tell 'em" and she shook her head with a wry smile. I got a good laugh out of that, and a bit of vindication.
Yeah, it was Saturday and trails were infested with biketards (ahem). But then, there was the uphill rider on Green who, when I simply moved over to the rockier side of some doubletrack so we could pass each other, said "You didn't have to do that. Have a great day!" in a preposterously cheery Doug Henning kind of voice (dating myself a bit).
Expressions of respect and goodwill mean a lot in these days of anonymity and irresponsibility.
Trails needed here
The traverse from the bottom of Apex over to Green Mountain is the least enjoyable part of the run, and entails some travel on road shoulders next to fast-moving traffic and fumes. You have to get past Rooney Road, Highway 40, 70, 470, and a couple of highway ramps. I got honked at while I was taking a photo from the shoulder -- I was not in the road. WTF.
I ran along 40, then along Rooney Road, which felt like running on a highway on-ramp. I was also really tired and had some chafing on the arch from my footbed, which was nearly a blister, so I walked up to the top of the overpass.
I did get to run by these cool chalk formations along the road:
Off Rooney Road there is a spur of the 470 bike path, and you can finally leave the road. It passes under 470 before dumping you out next to Green Mountain, and from there I was on dirt and Jeep road all the way back to my neighborhood.
Right off the concrete 470 bike path is the aptly-named Box O' Rox trail, which I took uphill. After a right turn on a connector I found myself staring up at the west-side Jeep road:
I don't like running this thing when I'm fresh, let alone at mile 19. People on the ridge in the upper right look like tiny dark specks. I walked it, but still managed to outpace a bike and other hikers. No, I'm not competitive ;)
The downhill to my place felt better, but I was too pounded to enjoy it, and my arch was still getting chafed.
At this point I was thinking what running the Dirty Thirty 50k would be like, and whether I could finish by sundown. Heh. Based on this, I'm thinking it would take some serious work and focus for me to finish under 9 hours. The only thing that would save me is a lot of experience on technical trails, certainly not my speed, which I find people tend to overestimate simply because I run a bit. I am also disinclined to ever go back to running a majority of days of the week to train. But I could still do OK, and I really enjoyed hanging out last year even though I'm kind of a reclusive social dork (just being truthful, folks). So I'd like to finish before the food is gone and everyone leaves :)
Distance for this run was 23.51 miles, moving time 4:55 (actual 5:55), and elevation gain/loss 3,934 feet. Avg pace 15:08 min/mile, avg moving pace 12:35 min/mile.
Had zero knee pain during the run, due to watching even arm motion. However as a consequence I had cramps in the arms (lol), so I need to relax them a bit.
Bike to the car
I wasn't done yet; I still had to go pick up my car. So, still aching, I got into my bike gear with 45 minutes until closing time. Yikes. It usually takes me 12-13 minutes to get there when I drive the 65-mph Highway 6. In my condition, I had no idea how long it would take!
Cranking as steadily as I could up the (tiny) hills on the way over left me cursing out loud. Quads burning.
But it turns out I had no need to worry, I got there in 19 minutes even with traffic signals (3.4 miles, gain 175 feet -- seemed like more!).
Felt like death warmed over afterwards, but good microbrews helped with that. By the middle of the evening I was getting re-hydrated and muscles were starting to relax. Still a bit stiff every time I stood up. Sheesh.
Sunday I had pre-paid to demo skis at Loveland, but decided my knees and legs needed the rest, plus I'm really not into it and bought the ticket almost out of habit just in case. And I like the skis I have. I also tend to cramp up in ski boots the day after a long run, though that may be lack of hydration.
I can feel some minor swelling and muscle pain in a few spots, but nothing major.
The knee pain is typically on delay, so I anticipate next week I'll have a bit of soreness on the patellar tendons.
I have empirical evidence that sleeping on my stomach aggravates them after stress (pushing on the knee cap?) as well as flexing the leg (presses the tendon against the knee?) so I'm trying preventive icing and keeping my legs straight-ish.
Now that I step back and look at the summer, I guess it's no surprise I still have more discomfort in the right knee where I landed during my mountain bike endo in August. For example, I tore a PIP ligament in my finger and that took a year to feel normal and it will probably never be fully straight. I yanked a big toe in a tragic putting-on-my-pants accident last year and I still get pain there. Tendons just take forever to heal, and are easily irritated. But then, they have a tough job. So thank you, tendons; without you I'd be flopping around aimlessly.
Update: Corrected "Rattlesnake" to "Chimney" Gulch.