Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Chasing the Sunset

I spent all afternoon sitting in the Bookend Cafe on Boulder's Pearl Street (semi-) dutifully attending to my studies while hunkered in the corner with a steaming cup of spicy chai to take the chill off the brisk October afternoon and legitimize my wi-fi usage.  My running has been feeling a bit sluggish for the past week, so I was surprised when I finally stepped outside at 5pm, walked to my locked bike to gaze at the western horizon (notably, Green Mt.'s summit) and felt a tangible pull towards its upper ramparts.  The sun was moments from dipping behind the skyline and I immediately resolved to bike home, make a quick change of clothes and hopefully charge to Green's summit in time to witness a vibrant sunset over the Indian Peaks.

Clouds concealing the Indian Peaks at dusk.

Running up the street towards Chautauqua there was no magical spring in my stride, but my legs were more or less accepting the effort, which is more than I have recently been able to say about them.  I climbed the Amphitheater trail at a moderate pace, determined not to force an undue effort but definitely interested in what my initial split (the junction with the Saddle Rock trail) would yield: 6:33 it turns out.  Decent, for me, but not blazing.  Despite not feeling any exceptional strength, my legs weren't faltering either and I was surprised when I passed the 1st Flatiron cut-off trail only 5:39 later.  Anything under six minutes for that stretch is remarkably quick for me.  

I kept the effort steady as I passed the Greenman junction in 18:12 and was given a spurt of energy by both the ensuing flatter terrain and the fact that I could now briefly see the glowing western horizon.  I knew I likely still had another 13 or 14 minutes to the summit, though, and would miss the best part of the sunset, but I was also on PR pace for the ascent so I figured I might as well keep on pressing.  I attacked the upper stretches of the mountain with renewed motivation and after passing the upper railing in 28:23 gave everything I had through the upper switchbacks in order to ensure a sub-31min clocking.  Sure enough, I arrived at the summit post in exactly 30:50, 38 seconds under my previous PR.  Maybe if I hadn't been carrying the camera in my waistband I could've found that extra second to break into the 30:40s...

Of course, by the time I arrived on the wind-whipped summit and had regained my wits the sunset had devolved into a slate and ash amalgam of curling clouds roiling over the Divide rather than the orange and purple explosion I had been chasing, so I only took a few moments to snap a couple of pictures before dashing down Bear Canyon in the quickly dwindling light.

First time I've seen Longs Peak in almost a week.

Even though I didn't quite catch the sunset, I did snag a particularly timely and satisfying PR, which isn't a bad consolation prize.


Pez said...

I can only smile...
Nice,...very nice.

Ferran said...

Lovely experience Anton! Thanks for sharing it,


Ferran said...

Both comments are from Spain! You're achieving a lot of fans here. Call to NB because the spanish section of NB are working hard now!
We'd like to see you running some races here.

Have a nice time!

The Trail Jogger said...

Lovely run. Thank you for sharing it with us.

SJMR said...

No doubt that credit for the PR is due to the caffeine in the chai...

Anonymous said...

Would love to run in the mountains there sometime soon. Thanks for sharing such a great experience!

brownie said...

I drank a PBR up there a few weeks ago. Might have taken me a little longer to get up there though.

You coming down to do the CS Fat Ass or what?

Scott McMurtrey said...

Someday the sunset may just sit there and wait for us all.

Jay said...

Congrats on the PR. Sounds like a great and inspired run. Do you ever bring a light or just try to manage in the dark?

Dieselryder said...

Hi there. I´m from Spain and you have a nice blog and running psyche. Good job and keep going that uphill running. maybe someday you will be psyched for running in the highest mountains in the world. All th best.

Larry Linux said...


Thanks for another great entry. The mountains there are much different than here in the Carolinas. Our peaks are not near as tall, but they are plenty steep!

Any advice for a "old enough to know better" middle distance trail runner who is considering racing longer distances? My "long" run now is only about ten miles.

Thanks again - Chris

James W. McCue said...

nice post. i never seem to be quite fast enough to catch the sunset. dig the new main pic. good post that included the walkmen too. hope you enoyed 'em. they put together a solid album...again.

AshleyD said...

Anton, awesome new picture! It is incredible. Any big running plans this winter? Wonderful post-amazing how nature can inspire us to do things we never thought possible.

PunkRockRunner said...

I was in town on Monday and was lucky enough to be able to run in Boulder again. During the run, I was talking with my friend about your weekly mileage and your (almost) daily pilgrimage up Green Mountain. I can’t remember the last time I was lost in the scenery and energy of my surrounding while running like I was on Monday. You are extremely fortunate to have this environment as your backdrop.

All the best,


Barry Bliss said...

You're on a new plateau, bro.
You agree?
A PR while on the downside of you're summer peak shows me this is so.

Anonymous said...

thanks for the inspiration; reading this definitely motivated me to do 3xk2 yesterday.

Joel Toews said...

Thanks for your regular posts. It is awesome to hear how your training is going, and as you already read in so many posts, you are an inspiration.
I also enjoy your frequent musical inserts. Just heard a great song from an indie band from Michigan, Capital F, have you heard of them? Their song Inseparable Cities is pretty great.
Keep rockin' those runs!


Anonymous said...

Hey Anton! I totally second Ferran's proposal. Come to Europe, we'll welcome you really well. Lots of delicious food and mountains are awaiting! :)

Barry Bliss said...

I apologize for all of the useless posts I have put on here.

Shane Wilson said...

"the sunset had devolved into a slate and ash amalgam of curling clouds roiling over the Divide rather than the orange and purple explosion I had been chasing"

Thanks for using your blog to paint a picture of your runs and sharing them with us.

Joe said...

Hey Anton,

I am running 500+ miles from DC to Toronto (30 miles a day for 17 days) next February to raise money for the World Food Program...I know you are a very busy man, but we would love for you to participate in some way...check out our project site at

All the best,


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