Backside Loop via Bison Drive by billwright510 at Garmin Connect - Details
I've done this loop three times now and the last two Saturdays. This was my first time doing it solo. Last weekend I ran with Mark and expected to do a lot better than our previous effort. I felt this way because I'd been running the Old Mesa Loop and feeling strong at the end of that 10-mile loop. But I faded very badly after getting to Eldorado Canyon. Even running down the road - downhill, smooth surface - my connective tissue was seizing up. I could no longer take a regular stride. My groin, hips, and knees were just locking up. I was okay hiking up the Old Mesa Trail, but as we progressed along the difficult Mesa Trail back to the start at Chautauqua Park my gait bore a closer and closer resemblance to Frankenstein's walk. It was disappointing.
Mark tried to dismiss my poor performance by blaming it on my previous weekend attempting the Bells. I frost damaged my right big toe and it is still causing me quite a bit of pain on the downhills. Today was slightly better, but it is still very uncomfortable. I could have had a bad day or maybe I just need a bit more distance training. To be clear, I wasn't disappointed that 19 miles was hard, I was disappointed that I was falling apart after only 11.5 miles. I speculated that my pace rapidly slows once runs get longer then ten miles. Something like this:
So, I went back today to give it another try.
I had an appointment at 11 a.m. and knew it would be a challenge to break 4 hours, so I started at 6:35 a.m. I was pleasantly surprised to not need any light at all. I trotted over to Gregory Canyon and ran/walked up it. There were only a couple of sets of tracks up Long Canyon and it was completely snow-covered. I got to top of the Flagstaff Road in 52 minutes and prompted went down the wrong road - a long driveway. Doh! I backtracked and got onto Bison Drive.
It was still really early, but this road is so nice and smooth and almost all downhill and I was able to roll a 7:15 mile. I got to the Walker Ranch trailhead and ran down to the Eldorado Trail. I mostly hiked up this steep trail. After ten miles I saw my first people. I passed four people before arriving at the Eldorado Ranger Station to refill my water. I was in and out quickly and ran down the road much better than last time, doing an 8:38 mile. Sure, that isn't fast, but it was a normal stride.
I hiked up the Old Mesa Trail and found that I could still run semi-normally. This is a tough trail to run when you are fresh and I was far from that. I wanted to break four hours and now I figured if I ran well, I could break 3:50. I ended up doing 3:44, for an average 11:38/mile. Nothing miraculous, of course, at my very best I'm mediocre, but a solid improvement over last time. I plotted my actual run speed on this graph, though it isn't much data: