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Aaron's Crazy Race Diary - 2008 Day 30

Two in a Row Isn’t Bad…
Sunday, May 18, 2008
7 Days Until Bolder Boulder

Committed to running the White Rocks trail two days in a row, I headed out at 5:30 am to meet my running partner. I thought I’d surprise her by getting there first for the second time in a row. I had done that last week and knew it was a rare event so I thought I’d repeat it.

I had gotten up early but had gotten six hours of sleep. It wasn’t as much as I wanted but it was better than five hours! We had done an agricultural burn yesterday and, unfortunately, the smoke somehow had gotten into my bedroom so, in the middle of the night, I got up and slept in another room. I was surprised at how being in your own home but in a different room could be disconcerting.

It was nice out when I awoke – about 45°F. I reached the trailhead and guessed it was about 40°F in the low-lying area by the creek where we usually started our run. As I had planned, Angela wasn’t there yet. I started reading the newspaper and didn’t realize how quickly time was passing.

My cell phone rang and it was her. She was still in bed and had forgotten to set her alarm. I teased her and said it was no problem. I didn’t want to wait for her and told her to just have fun taking the day off from running. The Sun was coming up on the horizon and I didn’t want to waste a minute getting on the trail.

It now was 6:00 am and everything was getting lit up quickly as the Sun rose. I hit the trail wondering how I would do. I could tell right away I was more tired and sorer than I thought. It was tempting to simply skip the run. After all, I had just done the 6.7-mile course 24 hours ago. Didn’t it make sense to give my body a rest?

Then I started thinking, “Hey, you big doofus, this is the last time you’ll do this trail run before the Bolder Boulder, so go for it.” Then I countered, “Well, Mr. Smarty-pants, if you run this trail and hurt yourself, you may not be able to run the Bolder Boulder at all.” Both arguments were convincing. I had felt some pain in my lower left leg yesterday at the midpoint of my run and wondered if it would return. “OK, Bright Bulb, you began to feel a minor injury yesterday. What makes you think running almost 7 miles is going to make it feel better? Aren’t the odds you’ll worsen the injury and be 3 miles from the car? Then where will you be?”

I rejoined with, “Hey, it’s my last long run before the Race so I’m going to do it. I need the exercise, I need it for weight control, and I can run slowly so I don’t get hurt.” That argument prevailed and I was off to the races.

I had run the trail in 82 minutes yesterday so my goal today was to finish under 90 and preferably around 85. There was no wind when I started and I liked that. My hands were cold and I wondered if it possibly might be closer to 35°F in the lowland where I started. I knew, however, I would warm up soon so it was no big deal. I now was wearing a headband to keep sweat from burning my eyes but had pleasantly found it initially served to keep my ears warm when it was cold. What a handy little item!

My pace was languid but I was determined to not stop. I had kept going yesterday and was pleased to have not felt the need to stop and rest. I actually never stopped but would switch from running to walking for anywhere from ½ a minute to a couple of minutes. And perhaps I shouldn’t use the word “running” because, admittedly, most of the time I was jogging.
I made it to the small lake at the one mile mark and watched two geese in the lake – one of which was honking vociferously. I kept going and soon hit the first of two major climbs. I did both and, when I finished the second, saw a man running towards me. As he passed me, at quite a good pace, we exchanged “Hellos.” He appeared to be in great shape. I figured, at the pace he was going, he might lap me.

At about 2½ miles into the run, a tall, attractive, solidly-built woman passed me going in the same direction. I was never enthusiastic about being passed by people unless they were riding a bicycle. We exchanged pleasantries and, within a few minutes, she was easily a quarter of a mile ahead of me. Talk about eating dust!

I felt the same way in the Bolder Boulder when I would be passed by 6 year-old kids and 86 year-old grandmothers. That wasn’t the way it was supposed to be for a macho guy. Oh well, “Get used to it,” I told myself.

Soon the speedy gal was completely out of sight after she had mounted a hill. I saw her briefly afterwards but noticed she took a turn on the trail down a path where I never went. And I wasn’t going there today, either. I noticed she had an accent. I guessed it was Australian but our exchange was brief thanks to the combination of her rapid pace and my sluggishness.

I was still headed to the water tower – my final destination for the first half of the run – when I next was passed by a bicyclist heading in the other direction. Traffic was increasing. I knew it was due, in part, to my late start – half an hour later than yesterday.

I hit the big hill leading up to the water tower and convinced myself to not stop. I made it all the way to the top but was so exhausted I had to slow down to catch my breath. At the top of the hill the views were spectacular. The Front Range was gorgeous and the Sun was brightening up everything. The moment I hit the crest, I stopped running and started walking – gasping for air and taking deep breaths. I told myself I would count to 100 and then resume my run.

Somehow, 100 turned into about 400 as I walked the entire distance around the water tower. As I headed downhill, I felt my time would be terrible today but, at this point, I didn’t care. I actually was rested enough to semi-sprint down the hill. I liked going downhill. If I could run an entire marathon downhill, I’d go for it.

As I finished what would be as close to a sprint as I did today, another runner passed me as he headed up the hill. I continued and promised I would not stop or even resume walking the rest of the way back.

The views now were great. The Erie Town Fair’s balloon launch from Vista Ridge was beginning its second day and I could see several of the early starters. When I finished the last hill I saw a whole gaggle of runners. Two guys passed me with military T-shirts. They were tooling. Then three women passed by and also were running at a good pace. Another male runner zipped by and then three more women. It was becoming Grand Central Station. I had never seen so many runners.

I was wondering if people were doing last-minute training for the Bolder Boulder. Some, like the woman who had passed me when I was running to the water tower, may have been getting accustomed to the altitude, especially if she had just come from Down Under. Others may have been on a regular run – i.e., it was yours truly who was running at a different time than usual.

As I crossed the little bridge over Boulder Creek, I saw a blue heron wading in the water. I guessed he or she was fishing. As I ran by the small lake, two geese were honking incessantly. And when they saw me, one of them started trumpeting at a rate I had never heard. This guy was something else. Even after I passed them, they were going nonstop.

As I rounded the path past the small lake, I faintly heard gravel moving. Someone was behind me and was catching up. I was about to get passed again. This time it was a man who looked like he was about 30 to 35 years old and in great shape who had passed me going the opposite direction only several minutes ago. Now he was going right by me.

We exchanged “Hello’s” as he passed but I noticed his pace wasn’t all that fast so I decided to see if I could kick it into gear and maintain his pace albeit at 100 yards behind him just to be courteous. I struggled to go faster but did it and found I could keep up with him fairly easily.

As I ran with a quarter of a mile to go, I saw my second blue heron. It was flying across my path and was so graceful as its large wings slowly flapped to propel the large animal.

We headed towards the end of the run but had to cross Valmont Road first. He was only 10 seconds ahead of me, based on a rough calculation I made using a stationary landmark (I guess all landmarks, by definition, are stationary). I was cut off by a vehicle and that added 5 seconds to the gap. Being game, and with only 400 yards to go, I accelerated to try and catch up with him. I knew it was unlikely but, for fun, did it anyway.

Then, with only 100 yards to go, he reverted to a cool-down walk. I passed him – making up for my poor performance – and finished the run. As I walked around the trailhead parking lot, he made it to his car and we started talking. He was a driver for FedEx and was in great shape. He said he was with the two speedy guys I had seen but just didn’t do a lot of long distance running anymore.

He lived in Louisville and seemed to be a genuinely nice guy. We had fun chatting and talked about the Bolder Boulder. He used to do it regularly but no longer participated except on occasion with friends. My guess was he could have run rings around me if he wanted to. He had to be in far better shape than I was.

My cool-down lasted only four minutes. I was eager to get back and felt good. Despite my walk around the water tower – or, perhaps, because of it – my time ended up being 78 minutes. While it was far from my best time of 69 minutes and my desired time of a sub-75 minute run, breaking 80 minutes today was a huge surprise. I savored it for a few minutes as I drove home.

My post-run weight was 197 so I hadn’t lost a single pound since yesterday and was concerned because today would be a “Big Eating Day,” thanks to a planned staff luncheon meeting at my favorite Denver spot – Pint’s Pub. Located just one block west of the Denver Art Museum, Pint’s had a great English pub atmosphere, friendly service, and both good food and drinks. They supported my television show and I tried to get there as much as possible.

At home I got cleaned up, took care of the dogs, dealt with some farm issues and worked on preparing for today’s meetings in Denver. I drank seltzer water and ate only one banana when I had a late breakfast with Holly. We got her homework organized and then went shopping. She had a list of “necessities” we needed to buy. Most of them were luxuries, as far as I was concerned, but we had a good time shopping.

Then I headed to Denver where I met with my production team to review the status of projects and to critique the initial version of the fifth U.S. Senate show. We made plans for the Iraq footage we had, looked at technical possibilities for the Aspen Ideas Festival, talked about the Democratic Convention shows, considered when we might go to Washington for some special interviews, discussed the U.S. Senate series, and considered how to best move forward with our energy information series.

At Pint’s I went hog wild. I was so hungry and thirsty, I just kept eating and drinking. I had six Arnold Palmers, five giant chicken wings with hot sauce and ranch dressing, most of a giant one-foot diameter cracker with Havarti cheese and slices of a Golden Delicious apple, and a huge chef’s salad with turkey, lettuce, red onion, other ingredients and lots of bleu cheese dressing.

To make it even worse, I took a hamburger and fries home to Holly and, when we sat down together, I ate an entire club sandwich with extra mayonnaise and a large glass of milk to keep her company. I figured I had easily consumed 5,000 calories in a three-hour span. I knew I had busted my diet but it all tasted so good.

At home I helped Holly, took care of the dogs, and worked a while. Then I decided at 8:00 pm to end the work day. I was tired from running and from eating. I needed to start winding down for the evening and was glad to do so. I was supposed to run five miles tomorrow morning and knew it would be a challenge.