We played hard July 4 weekend - Amy Schmitz

We played hard July 4 weekend

July 7, 2016

I ran in Kansas City this morning. 

And it sucked. After the early storms, I was left with 90 percent humidity. My speed work did not go well, and I had to do it without Winston. But all weekend, the hooligan and I ran all the miles we wanted with lots of elevation gain. The air in Denver is so crisp, even in July. Even after a storm system had passed through.

Winston doesn't usually get to stick his head out the window. The Element's back windows don't roll down.


We arrived Saturday afternoon and went for a little shakeout run on a paved path near our hotel while Mikey slept off the drive. (We left EARLY.)

Sunday morning Winston and I ran at Apex Park. It's a good climb with nice views of surrounding parks. We got to run a portion of trail that had been filled with snow and mud last time we checked it out.

He did not want to cooperate for a selfie at the top. This seems to be a common theme with him.


After about 8 miles, we cleaned up and ate lunch. Then the three of us drove an hour west to the Herman Gulch trail. It's right off Interstate 70 at exit 218. It's a steep climb. Mikey felt a little sick from the altitude, so we took our time with plenty of rest breaks.

Mikey guessed this was the highest I'd ever hiked. So I did a little research after we got back and confirmed it. This hike started at 10,291 feet, according to Garmin.

So many flowers in bloom!


Good views, but in terms of reward-to-work ratio, this one was a little low.


This trail is part of the Continental Divide Trail. Near the top, you can finish at Herman Lake or continue on a long loop. We saw a few backpackers on the trail and one guy setting up camp on our way back down.

Beautiful skies as we approached the lake.


As we approached the top, some strange, rude woman told me my shorts were cute but said I'd be cold. We felt the temperature drop as we climbed, but it was tolerable, especially when the sun escaped the clouds. We relaxed and ate a snack at Herman Lake. Our peak elevation was 12,020 feet.

Winston expressed interest in my bar. After declining to eat his breakfast, he finally got hungry, I guess. 15 miles in a day will that to a mutt.


We descended almost twice as fast as we ascended but still caught some pretty views of the wildflowers.


I was a touch stiff and sore the next day, so I took Winnel to the Elk Meadow Dog Off-Leash Area near Evergreen. We got in a nice little recovery run.

Doesn't he look so happy? Look at that tail go in circles!

When we got back to the hotel, I realized I'd worn red, white, and blue on my July 4 run! Happy accident, but sorry, no pictures.

Lots of access to the creek.


We took the Fourth easy. Mikey and I got in some of our favorite food and pool time! With no contacts! Mikey was amused at my childlike behavior. I was seriously excited to swim for the first time in decades without contacts. BTW, a week and a half ago, my vision was up to 20/40 in my left (dominant) eye, and it has improved since then. I'd say I'm up to equivalent to my daily contacts. (But not my 30-day contacts or glasses). Today is three weeks since surgery. I follow up with my regular eye doctor in one week.

That night we watched fireworks from our room. It was bittersweet not to have Stinkers under foot hiding from the booms. (Last year she even jumped into the tub to hide and take a nap.)

Summit Loop: watching out for snakes while taking in the blooms.


Before heading home Tuesday, Winston and I got in 8.5 miles on Green Mountain. As I started the run, I thought to myself, "I am losing patience with this park." People tear these trails up far too soon after rain, and the damage is rampant. But as I explored a trail I'd never completed before (Summit Loop in the photo above), I recalled the flowers from our foggy run here in May. There is different growth on every face and at every elevation in this park. A lot of mountain bikers make fun of Green Mountain, but it's still a good one for this trail runner.

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