Weekend Running + Riding: Allenspark + A Ride to Spruce Confections

Another big weekend in the books.

I’m not great at holding back once Friday night rolls around. I have all the time and almost none of the responsibilities on Saturday and Sunday, so I try and cram in all the activities, which leaves me feeling like I need another weekend to recover from the weekend when Monday rolls around. Anyone else?

On Saturday I tried to run my August 13.1 but it didn’t quite pan out. Ever since dreaming up this personal challenge of running a 13.1 every month, I’m realizing how quickly 2019 is moving. Mid-August. How? When? I turn 30 in less than two months. Make it stop.

Looking back on my last couple 13.1s, I also realized how little effort I’ve been putting into running new trails. I ran the same route over and over just to get the thing done, which isso notthe point. And even though it’s one of my favorite places to run and hike, the thought of heading back there again this month for another 13.1 didn’t sound fun, which is what this challenge is supposed to be! It’s supposed to be a great excuse to get out into the mountains or onto some of Central Colorado’s most beautiful trail systems and explore. There’s so much to see over 13.1 miles, and I wasn’t taking advantage of that. I was clicking off boring miles to check a box and earn a Strava badge. This month I decided to get out of town and up into the mountains. Mountain-y miles are always a bit slower and sometimes more painful than low, flat miles, but what’s the fun in that?

I pulled out AllTrails (I seriously need to earn a salary from them based on how much I endorse the app—it’s seriously amazing) and searched some northwest of me. After some digging and a little Googling, I found a trail outside of Allenspark called Finch Lake and Pear Lake Trail. It was supposed to be more than 13 miles out and back with a big, beautiful lake nestled in the mountains at the halfway mark. Sold!

On Saturday morning I was dressed, packed, and out the door with a banana, Bobo’s bar, and coffee in hand a little before 7:30 a.m. The drive to Allenspark is almost an hour and then it’s about 15 or so more miles to the trailhead. Since it’s in a national park, I got to use my park pass and that saved me $15. It’s worth every penny! My car bumped along the sandy path toward the parking lot, which I found out was already full so early in the morning. There was overflow about half a mile away, so I hopped out, strapped on my backpack and hiked deeper into the forest.

One of the reasons I got there so early was because rain was in the forecast. But 30 minutes into the hike, which is what this “run” turned into, the skies unleashed a very cold rain that didn’t quit for another hour. I was so cold at one point that I thought it was sleeting. It wasn’t, but as I continued to climb, and got close to 10,000 ft., the temperature dropped into the high 50s-low 60s. Then the spins set in. I made sure to have food and drink a lot of water before heading up so high, but I could only do so much. I don’t spend a lot of time at that elevation and I think my body just wasn’t used to it.

When I hit 3.5 miles of pure climbing and almost no running, I decided to head back down. I was cold, my headphones were dead before I started, and I’m pretty sure I would’ve started puking had I gone any higher. The trail was also not very runnable. Big, huge rocks took up most of the trail, so there was rarely any smooth ground safe enough for a foot fall. I wasn’t interested in slipping or twisting an ankle or falling off the side of the mountain, so I took it slow on the way back down.

The lower I got, the better I felt, but I was still bummed I only got to run about 7.75 instead of the full 13.1, but I will try on another weekend with better weather…and maybe not up so high.

The weather was beautiful back in Boulder, so around 4 p.m. on Saturday, I went for a hike on a trail just out my front door. I feel so lucky for that. If any locals read this, I took the NCAR Bear Mountain Connector all the way to Chatauqua. Round trip I did a little over 7 miles, which felt even better than the hike/run earlier that morning in Allenspark. As you can imagine, I slept really well that night.

Sunday was all about riding. Steamboat Gravel is in four days…HOLY TOLEDO. Basically, I’m panic training at this point and not gaining any real fitness from my rides. My Florida friend, Dave, asked if I wanted to do a little gravel that morning, so we headed out around 8:30 a.m. for some easy dirt miles and a couple climbs before riding back to Boulder for coffee and snacks at Spruce Confections on Pearl St.

I always forget how great this little place is. Their coffee is rich and delicious, their sweets are homemade and always stocked up, and on the weekends, they have live music outside in the sunshine. It’s absolutely delightful.

We hung out sipping our coffee and catching up for about a half hour, then we parted ways and I finished up my 45-mile ride with one more climb. Just as I got home it started to rain, which was excellent timing because I needed an excuse to stay inside and fold all the clean laundry that I shoved into the corner of my room for “another day.”

Awhile ago, I promised myself I’d try something new every weekend out here because it’s easy to get caught going through the motions on the weekends in the Boulder Bubble. It didn’t have to be a big thing—a new coffee shop was new enough, and I’m really trying to stick to that since our summer weather is unreal and we’re enjoying extra daylight. It felt good to try a new trail even if it didn’t work out quite how I imagined.

Say your prayers for me this weekend as I’m suffering in the mountains for 100 miles.

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