This was my first real long run of this build-up. It started out pretty chilly this morning after last night's blizzard (which really only netted about an extra inch of snow in town), so I had to turn around after about 5 minutes and get a stocking cap. Also, after feeling so terrible last night I wasn't sure how long I was going to be able to run this morning, but in the first mile I could tell that the legs were feeling good so I grabbed a water bottle and a couple gels in anticipation of a longer run.
It's always incredible to me what a good night's sleep will do for recovery. Last night, I didn't feel like running another step, but this morning my legs felt great and the run was completed without a hitch.
After an uneventful jaunt through Bear Creek, I headed up El Diablo with quite a bit of fresh, trackless snow. Things were slow-going for sure. Traction was tough, and for some reason I hadn't even worn socks this morning. Right before the final creek crossing before the Buckhorn turn-off things got really dire. I was post-holing through knee-deep snow and was still deep enough in the canyon that the sun wasn't getting to me. The run quickly went from "hey, this is a great mountain adventure" to "jesus h. christ, I'm f'ing cold and dying and can I please just get some love from the sun?" Once I climbed onto the Buckhorn ridge, I found some song but I also struggled through thigh-deep drifts that the wind had whipped up the night before. Despite the agony, it was still early in the run, and by time I had made it back down to High Drive I was mostly thawed out.
Next, I tackled the moderate Section 16 climb. This great 5-6ish mile loop is a favorite among locals, so it generally stays well-packed and completely runnable all winter long. I took my first gel (at 3 hrs) at the top of the climb, rocked it down to the Intemann and trail, and then took that all the way over to Manitou (instead of dropping down into Red Rocks).
I even took the Intemann Trail past Crystal Park Road all the way to where it becomes discontinuous because of some private land for about 1/2 mile. This is a great little trail that it seems like not many people use because it dead-ends. Hopefully, this trail will be continuous some day soon so as to connect Bear Creek/Cheyenne Canyon to Manitou and the plethora of great trails over there.
After running down Crystal Park Road, and stopping to use the restroom at the Sinclair, I took the road up into the Garden and then hit up the usual Siamese Twins, Buckskin Charly, and Niobrara Trail circuit before heading home via the Mesas. I took my 2nd gel at 4hrs, and finished up the last hour or so of the run with that satisfyingly spent, creaky old man, don't want to do nothing but lay on the couch and eat ice cream and drink hot chocolate feeling that I so value after long runs.
Unfortunately, I had to spend the rest of the afternoon fixing a flat tire on my car, instead. Although I felt useful and undeniably manly, I would've much preferred the ice cream/couch option.
Finally, the Pumas worked great on this run--I've been wearing them for the majority of my running and love them. I'm seriously considering racing in these at Rocky.