My weekend kicked off combining work and play on Friday afternoon: one of my coachees came over with his wife and baby to catch up over drinks on the deck! Unfortunately, the weather turned stormy right before they came over, so we had to relocate from the deck to the living room. But even though we couldn’t enjoy the summer weather, we had a great conversation about both work challenges / opportunities and personal life.
After they left, I puttered around making a light dinner, then headed to bed early with a book. But the book turned out to be slightly optimistic, as I ended up falling asleep pretty fast! Good thing, because I had big plans Saturday morning.
With Craig out of town, I headed over to South Mesa Trailhead with plans to hike South Boulder Peak. While I love that hiking with a friend means going slowly enough to always pass the “talk test” and discuss anything and everything, hiking by myself means I can turn on a podcast and then try my best to stay out of breath the whole way and treat it like a workout! I tend to listen to a lot of The Jillian Michaels Show while I’m hiking – it’s a good mix of informative and humorous. The time passed quickly, and I ended up making it to the top in just under two hours – much faster than I anticipated!
I enjoyed a Clif bar and some conversation with another hiker on the rocks at the summit, discussing the Skyline Traverse – where you hike all five of Boulder’s highest peaks in one day. I’ve wanted to do this for a couple years, but I’m finally thinking this may be the year I go for it. Being able to summit South Boulder so quickly has given me much more confidence in my hiking abilities!
Knowing how fast I had made it to the top, I wanted to try to hustle down as well. However, the middle section of the hike is really rocky and steep, and so not really runnable. I just tried to keep a relatively fast hiking pace for that, and then enjoyed the downhill run once I got to the Mesa Trail two miles from the end. It felt fabulous to run that last stretch, and I was really proud to finish just over three hours (3:02)… a huge improvement over the 5.5 hours two weeks earlier!
Each summer, I seem to hone in on one trail that I do a lot for the summer; I think 2019 is going to be the year of South Boulder Peak. Now that I see I can do it in three hours rather than six, it’s much more doable to hike it more often! I’d like to see if I can do it under three hours at least once this summer.
After the hike, I ran some errands in Boulder and Louisville, cooked a healthy lunch, showered, and did some chores at home. Before I knew it, it was time for me to get ready for my big event of the weekend – the Heartfelt Hugs Mardi Gras fundraiser!
Heartfelt Hugs is a nonprofit that plans events for children whose siblings have terminal illnesses. Often times the family is so focused on the child who’s sick that the other siblings don’t get much attention, so Heartfelt Hugs tries to ensure the siblings have an opportunity to shine and feel special, and also meet other kids going through similar experiences. I’ve really enjoyed volunteering at their events over the last year, and on Saturday night, I was excited to attend their murder mystery dinner to help raise funds for events over the next year!
My friend Kelly joined me at the dinner. It was so great to catch up with her, as it had been a while! After dinner, those of us playing “characters” in the murder mystery mingled with the others, while Kelly and the other “inspectors” listened in and tried to piece together the clues. Halfway through, one of the characters was “murdered” – and I had been standing right next to him at the time, so my character was a prime suspect! Yikes. I was looking the other way and talking to Kelly at the “time of death”, but since she wasn’t an actual character, that alibi didn’t hold water 🙂 Fortunately, as we continued sharing clues, the group eventually figured out it was someone else.
I had never been to an event like this before, so it was neat to see how it all worked. And once that was done, we turned our attention to the more traditional fundraiser activities – a silent auction and a game of Heads or Tails. At my table, I met a couple whose daughter was one of the first “super siblings” participating in Heartfelt Hugs, and we got to talking about the nonprofit they founded to honor their son who passed away. Daniel the Lion Day seeks to provide a totally free “birthday party” to honor Daniel while bringing the community together and giving hope to others going through difficult situations. I’m looking forward to volunteering with them in the future!
After collecting all the auction baskets Kelly and I had won (she needed to leave early), I headed to bed relatively early on Saturday night. Going to bed by 10pm meant I woke up just before 6am feeling great… and wanting to go for a run. I had been thinking I’d do a “long” trail run, but I hadn’t really defined what that meant, since I wanted to see how I was feeling Sunday morning.
When I headed out to run, I still wasn’t sure how far I wanted to go. I could tell just coming down the stairs at my house that my legs were sore from my hike Saturday, but I also knew I didn’t care about time and was content to go whatever pace felt easy and comfortable. I couldn’t decide whether to run Rattlesnake Gulch up to the Continental Divide (like I had hiked on Friday morning, when I was feeling too lazy to run), or if I should go to Flatirons Vista. But at the final turn, I went left and headed to Flatirons Vista. That particular loop is only about 3.6 miles, but if I connected over to Doudy Draw, I could tack on the Spring Brook Loop, which I figured would be about 7 miles total. And if I wanted to go longer, there were more options beyond that.
Right in the very first mile, I realized I was slooooooooooooow. Although I’ve run this loop a ton of times, I normally do about an 8:30-10:00 pace on the first mile… and Sunday, I ran over a 12:00 first mile. Whoops! That confirmed how tired my legs were from Saturday, and taught me to throw any expectations of pace out the window. But the day was so cool and peaceful (and yet sunny and beautiful!) that I was thrilled to be out there and still had no desire to quit early.
I took Prairie Vista to Flatirons Vista South, then turned left at the gate to head down to Doudy Draw. I knew that if I turned around at Spring Brook Loop, I’d be right around seven miles… but I wanted to keep going. Spring Brook South ended up being pretty pleasant, with not nearly as much incline as I remembered, so when I got to the intersection with Spring Brook North (which would complete the loop and take me back to the start)… I kept going again. I knew that Goshawk Ridge would be a big challenge, but I was so happy listening to music and running along that I didn’t care.
While I had seen a few people on Flatirons Vista, and lots of people on Spring Brook, Goshawk was totally deserted – I didn’t see a single person until I got onto the Fowler Trail by Eldorado Canyon. I loved the peace of the woods, and the climbs didn’t feel too bad (though I did take a few walk breaks). But the views at the top of Goshawk Ridge…
I think this is one of the most beautiful spots in the Front Range, and it’s so special to be in the midst of a field with views like this and no one else anywhere around.
I’m not sure which was better – the views on that far side of the Goshawk Ridge trail, or the downhill I got on the other side 🙂 The single track trail was a bit narrow / steep to really fly, but then it opened up to the fire road connecting to Fowler Trail – and it felt glorious to stretch my legs into a run, all while enjoying the Flatiron views! And just after passing the turnoff toward Eldorado Canyon, I came upon two deer in the middle of the trail, neither of whom seemed to mind me at all until I was right next to them.
Once I got back to Spring Brook North, the fire road turned uphill – and this part was definitely a challenge again. I passed a few groups of runners heading the opposite direction, but I wasn’t even all that jealous of them going downhill, because I knew I’d be doing the same soon. I could picture the rough map of the trails in my mind, and it was a lot easier to be going up now that I was headed back toward the finish line of my run, rather than when I was still outbound and going away from it. I turned into the woods for a short stint, and then the trail popped me out into the middle of the Doudy Draw fields, with views for just miles and miles.
The Flatirons were to my left, wildflowers were all around me, and throughout this section, I kept having butterflies flying ahead of me. It seriously felt like something out of a fairy tale! I was grinning ear to ear like a crazy person, especially because I knew I only had one more significant climb before the home stretch.
That climb wasn’t easy, and I took a few walk breaks on the lower half, but once I hit the hairpin turn with just a half mile back to Flatirons Vista, I didn’t stop at all. Well, except for a few photos… I took a lot on this run.
It felt great to get back to “the last mile” of Flatirons Vista (as the segment is named in Strava), but when I got to the bottom, I decided to add in one more short loop on the Prairie Vista trail (and then a little bit of back and forth turnaround on Flatirons Vista North) so that I could hit 14 miles for the day. Double what I planned! I felt fantastic.
And as luck would have it, when I got in my car to head home, I had a voicemail from Amanda – who was just finishing up her workout along with her husband. I dashed home for a really quick shower, and then we all headed over to Whole Foods for a healthy lunch to refuel and catch up.
And after that… pretty much nothing 🙂 I mostly just laid on the couch and read the rest of the day. Very unlike me to not be go-go-going, but after that weekend of workouts, it felt good 🙂