Monday, May 08, 2017

From snow to 85 to severe thunderstorms

 It's spring in Colorado, and the weather is all over the place. "If you don't like the weather, wait 15 minutes" is an observation that's been flogged to death again and again, but the schizophrenic skies are still a source of entertainment. On May 3 we had a lovely snowstorm, illuminated by flecks of sunlight. I stood on the porch in my bare feet for at least ten minutes, mesmerized by the dance of sparkling snowflakes.

These poor daffodils. They were completely buried by 14" of snow just four days prior. They emerged on Monday only to be pummeled again on Wednesday. I'd feel guilty for not protecting them from the storms, but they seem to bounce back just fine.

 May greenery and fresh snow — one of my favorite color combinations.

 By Saturday — three days later — temperatures spiked well into the 80s. Beat and I lathered up in sunscreen and headed out for a mountain bike ride. We stopped to admire the elk grazing in the elk pastures ... except these aren't domesticated animals.

 During the five-hour ride, we spent upwards of two and a half hours stumbling along ten or so miles of trails in the Blue Dot trail system. Beat was actually the one coaxing me away from the bail-outs as we both mused about how great these trails would be for running. There's certainly some beautiful segments for cycling, too — ribbon singletrack, tight switchbacks, roller-coaster descents. But like most Boulder trails, the beautiful segments are frequently interrupted by crumbling chunder gullies, root steps, unrideable rock outcroppings, and occasional severe erosion. There's little flow for a cyclist like me, who really prefers flow to being not-so-gently flogged by choppy terrain. I've joked with Beat that I'd happily turn in my mountain biker card if it meant I could ride ribbon singletrack and fire roads all of the time. However, I live in Boulder, so I'll likely continue to chip away at my flaccid technical skills.

 At least Blue Dot has hike-a-bikes with views. And the technical puzzles do distract from the heat. I'll have to remember this come July.

On Sunday we hoped to complete a long run, but lounged around for far too long and set out just as dark clouds were gathering overhead. It's getting to be that time of year where afternoons are not the best time to play, but it always takes a few hard lessons to adjust winter habits. As we climbed toward Bear Peak, an opaque gray wall obscured everything to the south. The cloud was approaching us at alarming speed.

"We're going to get pummeled," I said to Beat. Not really taking my own definition of pummeled seriously, we continued to climb. Within five minutes, sharp hail was raining down on us. We scrambled to cover up with our meager spring layers — I had a fleece beanie, but a woefully thin three-ounce wind jacket. Beat had a better jacket and gloves, but no hat. We still didn't think it was so bad, so we continued to climb into the deluge. When switchbacks turned into the wind, I couldn't even breathe through the gales. A chill rapidly deteriorated into vigorous shivering. My core was very cold, and my calves hurt from the hail stings. Then Beat saw lightning. We abandoned the "long run" plan and made a hasty retreat.

More severe thunderstorms were in the forecast today, so I rallied out the door before 9 a.m., hoping to complete one last medium-length run before Quadrock on Saturday. Quadrock is a trail race in Fort Collins that I signed up for months ago, back when I still thought I'd be riding the Idiatrod, so I put my name down for the "half" (25 miles.) After the thyroid diagnosis I figured there would be no racing this spring, but I've been feeling so good lately — so much better than I ever felt during the winter. My lab numbers are approaching normal, so the risks are diminished. And it's only 25 miles. Some of my weekend fun runs have been nearly that long. Why not?

The thing is, I am really nervous about the prospect of racing. My last race (January's Fat Pursuit) was a grueling failure. I haven't even started a foot race since January 2016. Quadrock has reasonably tight cutoffs, and they don't allow trekking poles (how will I stay upright without my running crutches? I don't even know anymore.) And now Beat has a knee injury that will likely prevent him from racing the 50-mile version of Quadrock. I'll be all alone out there! (Well, just me and the other 264 entrants in the 25-miler.) Anyway, I am weirdly wound up about Quadrock. I just want to finish the race, and not face-plant ... at least not in a way that will prevent me from finishing. And if I can't finish, ugh. I don't even want to think about it.

But I do want to start. The route I chose today had 4,200 feet of climbing and an equal amount of descending in a measly 11 miles. It was quite technical for "running," and I mainly wanted one more good practice on steep descents. The final descent proved that I actually have put in some good training over the past five weeks. My first runs back from Alaska were punctuated by plenty of soreness, but today my legs felt fresh as I picked up the pace for the final mile home. Just as I walked in the door, rain started to pelt against the windows. I'd escaped the storms entirely. One hundred percent success. 


  1. Good luck this weekend and have fun! Hope the weather is great for the race and there are no face plants involved!

  2. Blue Dot... I remember decades ago, in Boulder, I had a bag of mediocre marijuana, plus a few joints of killer Thai weed. In order to differentiate between the two, and save the joints of Thai weed for special occasions, I used a ball point pen to put a blue dot on each Thai joint. We called them Blue Dot joints.

  3. "Within five minutes, sharp hail was raining down on us...We still didn't think it was so bad"

    You guys are amazing!

  4. I saw on the news this morning that they had somepretty severe hail in the Denver area, and a few work-friends of mine are up in CO Springs working for the next few weeks (I would have been with them but I'm currently working a diff project)...and I wondered if they got hit again (they had a REALLY BAD hail storm last year, golf ball size, caused HUGE damage). I know the Springs and Boulder aren't THAT far from Denver. Good luck on your race, and here's hoping you can keep the rubber side (of your shoes) DOWN and the skin-side UP!

  5. re: New blog format

    It is pretty, but I miss having a "Newer/Older Post" at the bottom since I tend to catch up by reading several in a row.

    Since no one else has mentioned it I thought it might be the ad and pop-up blockers I have on Windows Firefox, but it's the same with Chrome and IE.

    Without the blockers I do have an annoying white bar taking up the top 10% of the screen with just a back arrow, "subscribe" and a search bar.

    And several ads. So if people are offering to pay you for specific ads you approve, I say go for it--we're already seeing ads chosen by the blog system.



    1. Thank you for your feedback! I will see if I can fix that. I appreciate your comments.


Feedback is always appreciated!