A week ago Saturday I ran the pretty but tough marathon-ish loop over the Continental Divide via Buchanan and Pawnee passes, and it ended up being slightly less of a suffer-fest than last time.
I ran it a bit faster (9:03 -- under nine if I had been able to find my car in the maze of little roads) than last time, but only because I didn't mess around and I didn't bonk on Pawnee. I can't seem to run many steeps after Coney Flats (counter-clockwise route) so I'm not sure how I can better my time for this loop.
On the plus side, it's damned scenic.
Looking southwest from Buchanan Pass:
This is about 1/3 of the way through the 3,000 feet of descent:
By mile 16 running up Cascade Creek my legs were beat, but the numerous waterfalls are worth it. This is an amazing canyon and trail.
I found a great vantage point on this meadow before the turnoff to Pawnee around mile 18. You veer off-trail to the right, over some rocks and you get an open view:
The weather turned worse near Pawnee Pass with thunder and light rain.
Looking back down:
Distance was supposedly 28.41 miles, time 9:03, elevation gain/loss 7,995 feet.
I don't know if I trust these numbers since they're a couple of miles over what I did last time, even with a couple of detours thrown in. Whatever, it was long.
I had in mind Ted's comment "eat, eat, eat" as I ran, and managed to keep up on that.
The last five miles was about the worst running I can imagine on tired legs: steep, rocky, no two steps the same, and I couldn't get a rhythm going. There were pointy rocks, angled rocks that pinched my feet, teetering rocks that threatened to strain my ankles, big drops that jarred my legs, and I just wanted it to be over.
Sometimes a run is just hard.
And the next day I had two 14ers scheduled. Because... if people can run Hardrock, I can sure as hell do this.