I woke up for my first full day in Colorado in the running/cycling/hippie town of Boulder. It is residence to ultra greats Scott Jurek and Anton Krupicka. Both of whom will be in Leadville at the weekend; Scott is pacing and Anton toeing the line going for his third W.
I knew where I wanted to do my 10 mile run months before I got here; the famous Magnolia Road which is mentioned several times in the book ‘Running with the Buffaloes’. 12 miles west of our hotel, elevation 5,600ft is the start of Magnolia Road off the main canyon road. Starting at 8,000ft, it quickly climbs to 8,800ft with crazy switchbacks and insane views of Boulder below.
This has become a staple training run for many Olympians, worldclass marathoners and the University of Colorado Buffaloes XC team that has produced some great athletes from Adam and Kara Goucher to the Torres twin due to its ideal altitude level.
If I wasn’t a week away from Leadville, trust me when I say I would have started at 8,000ft. This was not the time to be a hero so I got my personal chauffeur aka Dad to keep driving to drive me to the top where the asphalt turns to dirt path road. We both really enjoyed the drive with some breathtaking views even if it was 7am. I went to do a blood test before I started only to realize it was still in the hotel room! Rookie mistake. Plan B. I was 270 at 6am and did a 1 unit basal adjustment to try and bring me down to 180. I had to assume that was correct so jumped out the car and did a 50/50 split of iced water and Powerade (about 20g of carbs) and was carrying back up gels as usual. I said to Dad see you in an hour and a half predicting an easy 9/min pace. What I didn’t allow for was taking lots of photos with my brand new camera though!
Off I went and soon found open land with nothing but pine trees, a solitary ranch and huge mountains in the background. Click. click. click. The pace just dropped to 10/min miles! Welcome to Colorado, the place is breathtaking.
Talking of such, I then climbed up a few hundred feet and for the first time I felt a slight difference in oxygen, the mountain thin air. A few heavier than normal breaths for mile 2 and I hit my next picture postcard view. Magnolia Road is great because of ideal altitude for athletes to train but also these views!
I got 5 miles out and really wanted to keep on going. I was buzzing with the excitement I knew better, plus my parents would be waiting for me back at the drop off point. I turned and saw a herd of skinny XC guys coming towards me at a nifty 7/min pace. The standard respectful wave took place and I knew instantly I had just seen a pack of University Buffaloes runners. Go Buffs!..apparently. Pretty cool.
I ran back east now watching the sunrise over a different set of mountains. More stops for photos! The old folks would have to wait a few extra minutes for me, sorry!i felt my blood glucose dip the very last mile. I didn’t want to take a honey stinger gel so I decided to wait until I got back to my parents with blood tester and hidden Powerade in the woods. As I had roughly predicted, my level was 70. I took the drink of about 15g carbs in 2 seconds and we hit the road back to Boulder for a big breakfast at Snooze that I highly recommend. My level was back to 150 before I stuffed my face!
Two big errors with the run; don’t leave your blood tester behind and don’t wait to take in more carbs as soon as you start to feel symptoms of a hypo. No errors choosing to run on Magnolia Road.