I’m quoting myself here (very meta of me, no?) When asked What is your favorite place to run? I replied,
Hands down, Colorado. If I could live and run there, I’d never do anything else.
It’s been almost a week since our return, and I’m still dreaming of running in the heavens of Carbondale, Colorado. It’s no surprise that it was voted as one of the “Top 12 Towns” and “50 Next Great Places to Live and Play” by NatGeo. Besides the ever-present Mt. Sopris looking down over the town like a protector, the many trails to hike and run, the Crystal River that runs through it, and the awesome restaurants that reward full days of outdoor activities with locally sourced, expertly prepared food… well, it’s my happy place. (I should also note that we have wonderful family there, and some really fun friends – best icing on the best cake ever.)
Carbondale is in a valley between Vail and Aspen. It’s only about 30-40 minutes from Aspen (depending on who is driving, natch) and in that span, you climb 1500-2000 feet. So, we’re talking high altitude here. I love it. I had 60 or so miles on the marathon plan for the week we were there, and I made the most of that high altitude with some great running.
One of those runs was with the hubby. We got to leave the minions with their grandparents on July 4 morning and trek up to Aspen for the annual Boogie’s Buddy Run, a 5 mile paved trail run that we do every time we find ourselves in Colorado for the holiday week. I love this race. It’s filled with happy, scrappy runners, dogs of all shapes and sizes, and a DJ spinning tunes on a solar powered unit. What is not to love, I ask? My husband would respond, “Cemetery Lane.”
Cemetery Lane is the Colorado equivalent of a hill. It’s so steep (and long) that you really could use a ski lift to get up it. Of course the race directors, who surely are way more bad ass than any of us running the thing, make us go UP the hill, not down. Oh, and did I mention, it comes at the early end of 1.5 miles of straight uphill? Not all of it is this steep, but it can get in your head.
I was determined to use it as a hill running training exercise. Lean in. Chest up. Elbows to the sky. It’s just road. Do. Not. Let. It. Win. I told the hubby that he could do it, put myself into my head, and took off. I won this time. In fact, this was one of those times that reminded me that sometimes, getting really cerebral about a physical challenge can take you away from the physical pain.
At the top, it seemed the hill was perhaps actually shorter than I remembered. Then I saw hubby – and about everyone else except this really wizened trainer (who was out with a 4×4 of a dude who was clearly more a lifter than a runner) – trying to win that hill, and realized I’d just gotten lucky with my distraction. I took a breather at the well-placed water station at the top of the hill while I gathered my sweetie, and off we went again, awaiting that final turn back into town where the smart ones were sitting in chairs, cheering, sipping Bloody Mary’s and coffee.
This was a Buddy race, so hubby and I finished together, happily sweaty and ready to enjoy the rest of what the day had to offer. (For me, that meant a killer trail run later in the afternoon that kicked my butt. That time, the hill won.)
Some photos for your enjoyment and envy. Only one more year until we can do this again, unless someone out there decides they can’t live without my talents as a marketing research and content specialist, and hires me. A girl can dream. Until then, Mt. Sopris.
Where is your happy place?