Sunday, March 20, 2011

Green Double Double Mesa

30-31 Miles
? Elevation

On a gorgeous day, wanted to do something longer on trail. I signed up for CP, and was thinking about GC, so it was high time to at least do something in the 5+ hr/30ish mile range. Had some good overall weeks lately but no really good long runs, and had some concerns about a longer run with a right leg injury thing acting up a bit.

Was able to procure the car for part of the day, but wasn't able to make it up to Ft. Collins for the social run. Heard about GZ's mission to head uphill straight from his house -- that sounded like fun, but I didn't know how many miles I was good for. So I decided to head to the general Chatauqua area which could give me plenty of options: Double Mesa, Green, or Double Double Mesa.

How about all of the above?

First things first: an H2 pulls into the parking lot. Stickers on the back of the truck make various proclamations about the occupant's love of running, microbrew beer, and hard-rock Devil's music. Said music is blasting from the speakers, so all evidence points to one person. I introduced myself, joking about the loud music. It was good to finally meet him:I remember finding Brandon's blog a few years ago when googling the Silver Rush run, and back then it was apparent that his site was thorough about details. Also enjoyed his Boston training cycle and 'won' a mini-contest about guessing time (I was glad to be wrong about the final time!) in which he sent a Boston pint glass to my house. (So I still owe him a beer!)

I was planning on heading down Mesa and he was heading up Green, then Bear. I asked if he minded if I followed him up Green, having never been up there before. He was cool with that so we headed up the hill that everyone in Boulder has climbed dozens or hundreds of times before. It was nice to finally get up there, just as steep as advertised. He pointed out some of the other routes along the mountain as we headed to the top:

Then we headed down, a fun descent with little/no ice. At some point, he checked Twitter and found out where George was. I didn't even know where I was. But soon enough we were down at the Mesa intersection, where he was going to head up to Bear. I decided to stick to my original Mesa plan, and parted ways. I'd keep my eye out for GZ near some of the intersections, but didn't see him.

Saw plenty of other folks, though. Not enough to really clog the trail, as there are few blind corners and most of the trail is sufficiently wide. Despite (and provably, because of) the crowds, I really do think/agree that this is a classic trail run. The first (and sadly, only) other time I had been out here was part of what I called a 'triple double' from Ft. Collins: double-digit mileage from the run, and triple-digit from cycling from Fort Collins and back, irrespectively. That run I did on the Sunday before Bolder Boulder, which is absolutely the best weekend day of the year to do this run, as everyone else is either casually or non-competitively not running that day.

But today was also a beautiful day out, now shirtless-able. I don't like the boring, hot couple miles towards El Dorado (reminder: there's no fresh water there), but I like the mental break of cruising downhill. With the Green diversion (including a short summit break), it was now around 3 hours.

Helped some guy with the map who was interested in running the trail, then turned back to slog up the gravel. My leg was sore and stiff, protesting much, but after a few minutes it felt better. I realized that this return trip would put me solidly over four hours on the feet (with breaks), so it could be a decent day and I could call it good.

But running back started to feel alright. Not fast, but consistent. Got all the way back, hit the car, grabbed some more water and called the wife. She was still good so I checked if I had a few more hours. No problem. Headed out again. Saw some people again, couldn't remember which ones. Had I seen anybody 3 times already? I still like the trail enough that I wasn't bored. But, inexplicably (or perhaps, very explicably, given my history), I took a short 5-minute wrong turn/detour down Shanahan at a 3-way intersection, which I continued down until I saw some folks, verified my mistake, and turned around.

For food, I had a PB&J sandwich that I finished already, and I hit the grocery store the other day and picked up some bars that were on sale, as they didn't have gels. I didn't notice that some (but not all) were protein bars. Predictably, those took about 5 minutes per bite to swallow, and just sat in my stomach. Ugh. I was alright but could've used something different at the El Dorado turnaround, especially some quick salt. Good news: dug through my pack and found one more half sandwich, score! Bad news: it was partially mashed into my non-functioning cell phone. D'oh!

But the sandwich helped out (as sandwiches are wont to do), and I turned around for the last time. Still not fast, but happy to be in that cruising mindset where you just keep moving consistently. Definitely got through some mental and physical roadblocks, and enjoyed the final quad-pounding road downhill to the car. Over 6 hours on the feet, 5.5ish running. Just what I wanted! Cautiously optimistic as my leg actually felt better as time went on. I can't pretend to understand this stuff.


  1. Sounds like a great outing. Weather was awesome.

    Water is why I run Mesa from the south lot if I do the full loop. I can fill up at the ranger cottage.

    That gravel road ain't the best. Here's the route I usually take: It's the best if it's hot, since it has the most cover. I think it's the nicest too.

    I was over with GZ's group yesterday and met GZ, Brandon and a bunch of folks. Post to follow.

  2. Sorry we missed ya.

    Not for everyone, but some folks have been know to get water from the upper stretches of Bear Creek above the Mesa.

  3. Thanks for the suggestions. In high (but not mining-intensive) country, I've been happy with a Steripen for water refills, so I'm not opposed to swigging from a reliable creek with some insurance.

    When I saw a guy at the south TH asking about running trails, I told him he was doing it the 'better' way precisely because of the water situation. I've been too cheap to get a state parks pass though!

  4. Thanks for saying hi in the parking lot. Would have been a shame if you hadn't.

  5. We missed you in FC on Saturday, but it sounds like you got some good running in. CP? GC? what are you signing up for?

  6. Sounds like a good run...although based on the weather I would say it is about time to change your header pic!

    Also, I don't think you need a park's pass for parking at the south mesa trail head since it is still county open space. So you would be fine starting there.

  7. @nmp: Hmm, where did I get the idea that I had to pay for the south TH parking? Good call, I'll have to revisit that. The only other times I've been there, I've come from the North (FtC) so it made sense. Now the south TH is closer so I'll have to revisit that. Thanks!

    @nmp and Alex: Header pic changed to last week's Grand Mesa, combination of ski/snow and desert!

    @Alex: We ended up going to FtC on Sunday instead...but, we got to try the 'new' Walrus on Boardwalk!
    CPTR = Collegiate Peaks, check it out!
    GC = Grand Canyon, hoping to join some guys April 16th. Interested???

  8. I should say that I have never parked there so I am not 100% sure. You should probably check to make sure you don't get a ticket!

    Hope you enjoy a bit of a break this week.

  9. Collegiate Peaks looks like a great race. I was thinking about it, but it is the week after CM and it is Mother's Day. I would love to go to the Grand Canyon. I've been wanting to go back for years, but HTH is 4/17. Too many road races. I'm sure they were glad to see you at Walrus.