Distance: 10 miles
Weather: Sunny & windy
Tempo pace/effort run was the plan for the day. With the sun out and temps in the 60s, not even the fierce spring Chinook wind gusts could serve as any kind of excuse for not getting out for a good, hard run.
Ran tempo pace/effort from the office, up Mapleton Hill to the Mt. Sanitas trailhead. Paused at the picnic shelter to retie my shoes (the laces on the Brooks Cascadias will not stay tied without some serious double-knotting), then hit the lap button on the watch and began working my way up the seemingly endless collection of steps and step-ups that is the Mt. Sanitas Trail. I was feeling pretty good today, so I pushed it a bit, running everything I could and doing the hand-on-knee presses when I was relegated to speed hiking the biggest step-ups. Hit the summit a short while later gasping and feeling alive. Didn't know until I got back to the office and downloaded the Garmin data that I PR'd today's ascent with an 18:04, besting my previous PR of 19:51.
From the summit, I headed north and picked up the social trail that descends southwest to a turn-out a couple of miles up Sunshine Canyon from the Sanitas picnic shelter. From the turn-out, I ran a couple hundred meters uphill to Granite Drive and ran this dirt road down to Timber Trail and its intersection with Sunshine Canyon Road. Fifty meters downhill, I picked up another social trail that parallels Sunshine and leads back to the parking lot across from the Sanitas picnic shelter. From the lot, I headed up and over the hump to Settlers Park and Eben G. Fine Park and ran the paved Boulder Creek Trail to Naropa and took 23rd Street back to the office at Folsom and Spruce.
This was a great run. I loved this loop. The combination of surfaces (asphalt, concrete, gravel roads, rock, dirt), elevation profiles (flat, gentle incline, serious ups, serious downs, gentle descents) and paces (tempo, uphill slog, downhill glide and rolling joy) was like a running buffet -- it's all there and you get to pick and choose, taking only what you want. While the Sanitas ascent was, of course, strenuous, the full run felt effortless, as if the legs were on autopilot...just going. What's more, it was pure joy. My favorite part was the section of social trail along Sunshine. It's rolling and narrow. My favorite kind of trail to run.
2,312 feet of elevation gain. Average pace for the run (w/u, c/d, Sanitas, tempo) was 9:28. I'll have to make this a regular route.