Left for Mad Creek trailhead this morning about 6:45am only to find the parking lot blocked off with a sign on it that read: "Voluntary Closure, Elk Migration Route, U.S. Forest Service." Shit. I had already felt like I was striking out all morning.
First, woke up not all that motivated and slightly congested. Still, I manned up, got my layers on and rounded up the dog. Then, passing the bank thermometer downtown, I got more good news. 2 degrees F. Damn. This meant it would be subzero around the Mad Creek area, known to some locals as the coldest place in Routt County. Sigh. The things we do for love, right?
Since I got shot down at MC, I drove another 1.5 miles up Elk River Road to the Red Dirt trailhead. The parking area was plowed of snow, so I pulled over and parked. Benihana and I climbed over a snowbank to get to the trailhead. I slipped on my MicroSpikes and started slowly hiking for a minute. I began a moderate jog pace up the hillside as I made mental notes about the trail condition. Although, Red Dirt and Mad Creek trailheads are close to one another, MC definitely gets more use. The climb up RD is more intimidating, while MC is a nice long, gradual ascent. Which is why I wanted to run it! To make RD even more challenging, it is not packed out by snowshoers. It's packed out by elk and deer. This means post-holing (punching through the snow deeply) and uneven footing and sections where you must break your own trail. Normally, it's challenges like this that really get me jazzed for a run. I like it when it's tough. But today, it was just tough.
I managed a solid 45 minute effort. Very intense at some points. Maximum heart rate that I monitored was 166 bpm on the ascent. Without checking the topo map, I'd say 750' vertical, maybe 4 miles in distance. My breathing was labored, at times, and had trouble finding my rhythm for most of the ascent. Even the downhill, my favorite part, was tough. The loose, deep snow had me all over the trail. I'm surprised I managed to stay on my feet the entire run!
More than anything, I'm just glad I went out and felt good enough to put in the effort. The numbers aren't impressive but I did just come off a nasty bout of illness and my body is still rebounding.
Going to go snowboarding now and stay active the rest of the afternoon. Should sleep like a baby tonight and, hopefully, go for a longer run tomorrow, probably on the bike path where I can get my legs turning over faster.