Lake Isabelle

Lake Isabelle

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Saturday, 03/13/10 Walker from Eldo

~20 miles

Our friend Emily drove up to Boulder to join us for a long walk/run to train for RRR in April. We started walking from Eldo (where the road turns to dirt), took the back way in on the Fowler Trail going casually, then took a short pit stop at the visitors center to use the facilities. Allison and Emily got a head start up the trail and I ended up not catching them until a few minutes beyond the switchbacks.

I walked with them for a bit, figuring out a plan on how to meet up later and was soon on my way running. The day was warming nicely and I was down to shorts and a tech T and was making good time, feeling strong and moving fast, though I took it super easy on the icy sections, as it would be too easy to take a fall.

I made it to the Walker Loop in 39 despite walking with the girls for a bit, stopping to adjust my Nathan Pack and going slow on the icy sections. Once at the loop, I decided to go clockwise, as the steep and icy steps through the clifs above the river scare me this time of year. The steps were mostly melted, but there were a few sections that were tricky to negotiate, even going up, so I knew this was the right choice, as it would be frightening going down. Even so, I had cleared this section and was on the ridge in 4 minutes from the junction and was soon making good time up the trail. From here to the lot, the trail was mostly melted and dry, except for several sections of snow, ice and mud that were not of much consequence as I was going up hill and not that fast anyways. Once beyond the outer lot, the trail was ice/snow covered as expected, so I took it pretty easy down to the river.

Once past the river, it was smooth sailing on mostly dry trails along the river, up to the main lot, along the ridge and over to the spot where the trail drops into the steep switchbacks on the N. facing slopes. This section was very snowy and icy and took some skill/careful foot placements to make it through upright. The next junction at the dirt road was thick with gloppy mud, the type that will pile onto your shoes and render you helpless, so I stayed in the grass for a bit, until the mud relented and I could get into some nice sloppy slush.

I made it back to the Eldo/Walker junction after a 1:16 loop. Not an impressive time, as the conditions were lousy, but when the trail was good, I felt like I was flying. I think if conditions were dry, I might have been close to PR time, but that is pure speculation. It just felt so awesome to be running fast on dry rolling trails (when possible) and I really feel like my fitness is starting to come around.

At the junction, I took a few minutes to eat a Clif bar and emptied the dirt out of my Injinji socks I had just purchased the day before. The mini crew is too short and does not have a snug band, so there are nice wide gaps to let in dirt and muck.... poor planning! I do like the individual toes which seem to prevent blistering, so I might get the crew length which will work better, but are a little tall and grandpa-ish. Wish they made something in the middle and with a snugger band. I also gave my newish Brooks Cascadias a whirl on their first long run. They were awesome for the first ~2 hours and I was positive these would be the shoes I took for RRR in April, but then my feet started to get sore in certain areas, so I am not sure if it is my tender/under trained feet or the shoes, but I plan to give my new Montrail Streaks a whirl soon on the same route for comparison.

After a short stop, I headed back up the trail in a counter clockwise direction, around the muck, up the snowy/icy switchbacks, past the parking lot and down the hill a ways until I bumped into Allison and Emily. I then walked the remainder of the way back with them and the whole outing ended up being 5:45 by the time we got back to the car. I felt great and could have easily run that entire time, but was trying to balance training with being a good husband.

Hopefully the warmer weather holds up, this route will improve by the day and I can't wait to get out there again soon.