I always thought that it would be difficult to run the day after Berthoud Pass. I'm not talking in physical terms but mentally. How on earth do you follow that up?
I stepped out of the RV in Empire, Colorado just after 7 am and looked back at the mountains that were in the general direction of the pass. It was dull, overcast and raining. Nonetheless, I did feel up for a good run. This was to be the final day of running in the Rocky Mountains and in memory of my Uncle John. There was no place for complacency.
The main aim today was to get out of the Rocky Mountains and into Denver. A task made slightly more difficult by the fact that I changed the route slightly, adding on 4 miles. I didn't like the look of my original route. There was too much interstate for my liking.
The rain soon cleared and was replaced with bright sunshine. I met the team in Idaho, Springs after 9 miles of running. Chef Stephen had made another Full English breakfast and it would have been rude to turn it down!
Once I was out of Idaho Springs the route got a bit tricky. Shelli and Chef Stephen did a good job of keeping in reasonably close contact and there were no issues, thankfully. The route took me on to a bike track right next to Clear Creek. It was a fast flowing river and yet another really nice place to run.
I lost 1300 ft of elevation over the first 13 miles. I then gained 1000 here, lost 500 there and found myself on a climb up to 8000 ft in Genesee Park. The houses in the surrounding area were some of the nicest I've seen in the USA so far. Even the resident dogs barked politely!
Genesee Park was a wonderful place full of creatures such as Bison, dear and huge black squirrels. The views all around the park were amazing. There were the now familiar snow covered mountains to the west, forest as far as the eye could see to the east and the huge city of Denver to the north.
It was quite strange and very exciting to see not only a city, but also lots of flat land in the distance. I'm going to enjoy making up the mileage deficit on that kind of terrain!
I got to the 28 mile point and started the main descent into Denver and out of the Rocky Mountains. The descent took me down to 6000 ft and I managed to put in some quick miles to finish things off. At the 32 mile point the Support Team thought I was stopping for the day. I waved them on and finally met them after having ran 35 miles.
At the 35 mile point I was in 2 minds whether or not to continue. I felt absolutely fantastic. There was a noticeable difference with the ease of breathing at 6000 ft compared to the previous few days' elevation. I used that and the nice descent to my advantage.
Sadly, it was too dark too continue and I called it a day having ran 35 miles. The fact that I felt that I had at least another 5 miles in me was a huge confidence booster. Not just 5 miles but I'm certain that I could have rattled them off in a decent time. That's for another day, though. I've never ran more than 39 miles in a single day. It would be nice to beat that distance at some point during the run across the USA. Watch this space!
In the meantime, I'm out of the Rocky Mountains unscathed. Tomorrow I get to run through a major city in the USA and I'm looking forward to it immensely. Following that, I'm on the same road for over 1000 miles.
I feel that the run is entering a new phase. The sight seeing is over. I've had the difficulty of the Mojave Desert and the heat and climbs of Utah and Colorado. What is left is a mileage deficit that I must look to reduce. The next few days are, therefore, very important. I must make a statement of intent. That can only be done by running the big miles consistently. It's time to put words into action. It's time to get this run back on schedule.