Sunday, July 1, 2012

Elkhorn 23k Warmup

Running has always been about addiction.  There’s nothing logical about hurling the body over rocks, hills, and dales to just say its been done.  Yet, I still do it.
I ran into Dave at Alive at Five.  I’ve always liked Dave’s running style, which is about keeping a steady pace.  I still tend to over thunder at the beginning, and I pay for it down the line.  He asked if I wanted to do the Elkhorn 23k course with him on Saturday.  I had a few plans that I had been juggling, but I realized that I needed to do this to get used to distances before doing the 50k in August.  So, I agree. He asks what time we should leave.  I suggest that we leave the Women’s mural at 5:00.  Yep, I get to discover that it is possible to encounter 4:20 without the influence of drugs, just to get ready to go run 23 klicks.
I decide not to pack music, which was greatly wise.  We get to the parking area, and head up the road toward the trailhead.  There is an amazing view alongside the road, with all the green fields and forest, along with a bunch of no hunting signs, which are all in green.  The sun is barely up, and things are nice and cool.  The upside of running super early is that there is plenty of cool weather, and one doesn’t get overheated.  There’s a good upslope to the road, but not enough to switch from running to power hiking.  We hit the trailhead, and see a bunch of ugly shotgun shells.  I know that shooting is allowed on federal lands, but it still seems a good place to pick up the brass (or plastic or steel).  Plus, it’s littering, in a bad place to litter.  Go find some ugly BLM land, and leave the forest alone.
We head up the mountain, I manage to get the shoes wet, running through a stream that took over the path.  There’s a strange combination of running and power hiking here, along with many places where there just isn’t good traction.  We get up to the Casey Meadows.
As we are moving from cairn to cairn, and figuring out how to move over a path (trail does not describe what we were on), I see a coyote running across the trail ahead, chasing something.  We stop for a moment, and watch the coyote run.  It’s the closest I’ve even been to one, and the first time that I’ve ever seen one while out running.  It’s a very cool experience.
From the meadows, we continue to head up toward the top of the mountain.  It’s great to have Dave, because he keeps me honest.  My natural tendency is to sprint and trudge, he keeps me at a goodly pace moving up the mountain.
We eventually reach the top, and I realize that I cannot see my place, but I could if I lived in the valley.  Yet, looking out over Casey meadows, and down, I realize how amazing it is to see an entire watershed and the amazing valleys formed by erosion and uplift over the millenia.  So, we head on back down the mountain.  Near the bottom, we run into a bunch of the running group, which is cool.  Once we hit the road, we end up thundering back to the vehicles.  We get done around 9:00, and have a whole day to find new challenges and adventures.

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