Last Sunday Ean and Alex hosted the second FCTR March Madness Horsetooth circumnavigation series. Like the year prior the weather was nice, spring was definitely in the air. Fun was had both running and back at the Mays' afterward grilling, eating, drinking beer, walking the slackline, telling tall tales, and of course giving The Nick Clark shit. Also like the year prior I shared in a running first with Stella, this year it was her first 5K at the Sharin' O' the Green 5K on St. Patrick's Day (last year her first trail run, up Towers to Stout and back).
|The 8:00 Gang|
For March Madness I started with the 8:00 crew. I planned on at least the 23 mile route with them but hoped to summit either Arthur's or Horsetooth along the way. As we took off things stratified rather quickly and by the top of the first climb, about a mile or two down the road, I was running with Marie and Ean and we spend the rest of the day together. We ran around the south end of the reservoir and through Soderberg to the Arthur's trailhead where it was decision time. I was willing to forgo Arthur's to stick together as though I enjoy Arthur's I enjoy company even more. Marie, of course, was all for going up and it it didn't take much to convince Ean to do the same. The views from the top were great as always. We hung up top a bit, ate some food, chatted, and rested from the 1200 ft climb before we started down Timber. All reports from a week prior were that Timber was an awful mess but we were treated to mostly dry trail with a bit of slush here and there, but not much. The run down Timber was a blast, easily my favorite part of the day. Rather than take the swing to the west at the bottom of Timber we cut down the Wells Gulch trail where we saw our first wildflowers of the spring.
|Marie on the way out of Soderberg|
As we hit the north end of Lory we opted again for a course detour and took the trail from Satanka Cove to the boat landing by the north damn. Trail is a generous word in some spots. Some was trail, some a faint game trail, and some was just plain bushwhacking or scrambling up rocks. We made our way across though, more successful than some of our other trail running buddies were at finding the route. The run/climb/bushwack is about a mile shorter, but probably takes longer. It was surely more fun though, and it earned us some bragging rights.
|Ean coming down from the top of Arthur's|
Marie and I ran MM together last year too, and we both commented on how we felt much better leaving Lory this year than we did last. We turned south for the last 7-8 miles and turned straight into a wind that for most of the day was light or non-existent for most of the day. It wasn't my first choice, but what can you do. I've done versions of this run a half dozen times, ranging from 23-30 miles, and I always have a tough time at some point along the Foothills trail, sometimes barely out of Lory, sometimes not until we're approaching the top of Centennial, but always before Maxwell. Maxwell and Pineridge then turn into a slog back to the Mays', complete with some 14 minute miles on what really is some easy trail. To my surprise that didn't happen this time. Though I didn't have the same pop in my step as I did leaving the driveway that morning I did manage to keep up a reasonable pace all the way back as we pulled back into the driveway at just about 25 miles. I was tired but not really pushing the wall like I typically am. We did take it slower on the climbs in the park and spent a good amount of time on Arthur's and lost time in our adventure from Satanka to the boat landing, so maybe that was it. Maybe it was conditioning, maybe it was hitting the food and drink and electrolytes just right. Maybe it was my new batch of energy bars. Or the PB&J on Irish Soda bread - my newest trail food of the gods. Maybe it was just the good company. Rating how you feel at the end of a 25+ mile run from 1-10 this was a solid 8, hard to complain about that.
|Spoiling the best view of Fort Collins you can find|
So back as we left Lory I commented that we were going to finish right around 25 miles and knowing Marie she would egg us on to do a bit more to get a marathon in. As we neared the finish we all said we were OK with just 25 though. And then 5 minutes after stopping Marie and Ean told me they were going after the last bit. So off we went.
I went back and read my post about the 2011 MM run because I remembered it also being a lot of fun. Everything I said then still applies, the FCTRs are still a great group of runners and friends and they more than anything are the reason I train. I train so I can be in good enough shape to run and have fun with them.