On Sunday I drove up to Kenosha Pass to run some of the Colorado Trail again. This is a repeat of a run I did last fall.
The dynamics of a group run can be different from a solo outing, and last time: my friends would run faster downhill and on flats, and I would run ahead somewhat on the hills. On the second (downhill) section, this meant they pulled ahead. Yet by the end the pace caught up with us and we were doing more walking and resting.
This time, I made it to the top 5 minutes faster, rather surprising consistency on a 12-mile, 3-hour uphill mountain run. On the downhill, I just kept going steadily at an easy pace, yet I chopped around 50 minutes off the descent. I'm also in better shape now, although I was still pretty fatigued by the end.
Part of the reason I was running easy was that I have some minor ongoing overuse injuries: some mild PF in the left heel, and tendinitis at the base of the Achilles tendon on the right. I was taking quick, soft strides the whole way.
Georgia Pass is just to the right of the peak on the far right:
I should note that the bad weather in this photo is far in the distance:
While taking this picture, I'm thinking "wow, cool storm way over there across the valley". It was maybe 6-7 miles away.
This hill is a kick in the pants after 21 miles:
Shortly after that last photo, the thunder and lightning had moved overhead, all within a matter of 20 minutes. I was on a high ridge above the valley, and lightning strikes began nearby: one... (a couple of minutes)... TWO!... (a few more minutes)... THREE!!! The last one was only about 200 hundred yards away, and I jumped up in the air like a freaked-out cat, simultaneously putting my fingers in my years to muffle the sound. Holy hell. The adrenaline kicked in, and I was running as if my life depended on it, to get off the high areas and into the woods.
Loved the smell of burnt wood that followed me from that last strike.
So, I'm doing 7:30 miles in the near dark in the woods over rocks and roots (it was a while before sunset, but the clouds overhead blotted out the light). Rain fell and I noticed white spots of sleet on my shoulders. At least it made the last two miles fly by!
I was not too excited about getting in my car either, almost a high point on the very flat crest of Kenosha Pass, but I got in and drove the hell out of there. Lightning and sleet followed me along the highway almost to Aspen Park, then I was clear.
I've only been in a couple of situations like that, one on top of Mount Lindsey and another years ago in Rocky Mountain National Park. I've been good about avoiding lightning, but this time things didn't turn out the way I expected and turned south in a hurry. For most of the run, skies were cloudy but calm and non-threatening.
Distance was 24.10 miles, time 6:08 (moving 5:24), elevation gain/loss 4,370 feet, avg. pace 15:23 (moving 13:32), and best pace 7:24.
Amazingly, very little impact on my nagging yet mild injuries, in spite of this tough run and mileage of 15, 8 and 12 the prior three days. Hopefully I've found a way to heal while still running, provided I adjust what I'm doing a little.