I stand at the bridge mulling it over. I could go right and have the much easier run. A mostly level jog, but with a lot more people and a more citified experience. Being a rather a warm evening, I chose the more difficult path, but the cooler one. I turn left, knowing that I will be in for a grind for the next two miles, a steady uphill climb of around 400 feet, it tests your perseverance as well as your fitness level. That may not sound like a lot for the active fitness crowd of Colorado, but for me, the non-natural runner person, it is a challenge.
I can tell within the first mile whether I am having a good night of running or not, as the trail quickly ascends along the roadway heading steeply up the canyon. I also have to focus on my own pace, and Boulder is full of great athletes, including runners half my age who can easily smoke me. But the bonus for going left brings beauty and a bit of cooler weather as well. During late spring and summer, wildflowers abound along the path. And there’s something about the rushing sound of the creek alongside me that comforts me.
I’ve run this trail so often, that I know the landmarks well, and that encourage me as well. The tunnel underneath the road signals the end of the first long climb and brief reprieve to head downhill if only for a moment. Exiting the tunnel brings a transition from the concrete that jars my knees to crushed gravel that provides for a gentler, more forgiving trail. The first bridge tells me I’ve made it halfway.
A popular trail for both runners and bikers, I see others who have also waited for the time right before sunset to take advantage of the slightly cooler weather. Spotting another woman running at my pace, I give her a slight smile both as encouragement, but to acknowledge our sympatico of being part of the recreational runner community.
In 2013 as a result of the historic September flood, the path suffered great damage, where entire sections were closed for several months. Thanks to the efforts of trail workers and the commitment of Boulder County, they reconstructed the path quickly and it wasn’t long before runners, walkers and bikers were again able to enjoy this refuge from the hectic city life of Boulder.
While listening to my favorite music provided courtesy of iTunes, I must focus on my surroundings, wary of the careening biker barreling down the trail towards me. A few weeks ago, I almost got wiped out by a biker cutting the corner on a blind curve on my side of the path, having to leap out of his way at the last second. It’s a problem on many of Boulder’s multi-use paths, finding a way to share the trail with respect and courtesy, and something that provide a constant point of contention to both hiker/runners and bikers.
I cross back under the road one more time, and know there is one more short uphill, before leveling out and reaching the end. Victory! I circle the post near the port-a-Potty and know my reward is over two miles of easy running heading back down the canyon. I run freely with purpose, knowing the hard part is over. I can take more time to now look around me, admiring the beauty of the canyon and the trail. Feeling a bit empowered because faced with two paths, I took the harder one and for this night I survived.