It seems in Boulder we have been waiting all year for it to snow. There have several false starts to our snowy season, but its been light at best. Until now. The social network has been all a twitter with updates about the snow. All the locals had photos posted of snow piling high on back patio furniture, trees and front yards or what they saw on their commute.
All the discussion was getting me pumped to get out. See, I love running in the snow.
Well, let me clarify that: Freshly fallen snow.
When a bike path or trail have a nice 3 to 6 inches on it, it is the best feeling. Just enough cushion to soften the stride, not too deep in which to work really hard at lifting the legs. (when the snow gets tracked out, footing gets a bit more wobbly and your legs are working harder to keep you upright). The big plus: everything is bright, calm and quiet. What you mostly hear is your breath and the soft “crunching” of snow underfoot. Running Nirvana.
Trying something different
After shoveling the walkway and drive I figured I would go give it a spin at the park adjacent to my house. I have to admit I was a bit giddy with what I was about to attempt. I haven’t been running barefoot much at all. A football field, or park on occasion. But running in the snow, seemed intriguing.
The air was relatively warm as it tends to be on socked in days. Transitioning from my warm Sorrels into the snow was not as jarring as I expected. I snapped a photo of my naked soles and took off for a jog around the circumference of the park. Actually it was exactly as I had expected, soft cushy and yes a bit cold. A few hundred yards to the other side of the park my feet began to feel the sting of the cold and I started wondering how long the toes would take it. But as I ran through the foot and a half of snow I enjoyed the ease of my step and the brush of the snow against my legs.
When I got back to the start I attempted to put the boots back on and start the warming process. It was at this point I realized how numb my foot had gotten. I was unable to put my left foot back into the woolen liner of the boot, so I had to sort of jog/hobble back to the house with one bare foot.
Surprisingly, the toes warmed up nicely within minutes of being back inside. But it made me ponder, how long I really could have stayed out there. I just got back from a broken foot, last thing I needed were frost bitten piggies. Perhaps the Vibrams would be a better idea for me.
Later in the afternoon I got out for a real run, after all I couldn’t let my tweeps down. Shoes and all. I was reading a blog post of a local runner Jeff Vallierev in which he had already been up Green Mountain, Bear Peak and South Boulder Peak, in this much snow!! So I decided I would at least give the lower trails a try and get a few photos along the way.
Bear Canyon – Mesa Trail – Bluebell Baird – Chautauqua
This time with shoes.
For my warmup, I followed a few streets up to the Bear Creek Trailhead just off of Bear Mtn Drive. The trail is narrow for a few hundred yards until it joins with the access road which is Bear Creek. The snow had been well traveled at this point with hikers, runners and even skiers. The snow was soft, but uneven as I climbed. My legs working extra duty to keep stable up the steady climb. I took a few opportunities for photos as my reprieve enjoying listening to other soft sounds that were previously muted by my breathing.
At the trail juncture with Mesa, I headed north behind NCAR. I was glad to have others find the way before me, as I could just concentrate on the now well marked path. At this point I am still climbing although it is rolling under normal conditions. Back behind NCAR, the trail decends for a short while before climbing again, but its just enough time to give me a preview of how fun the decents will be later. The trail then climbs up a steep switchback then finally opening to a view of the valley. Along this stretch I pass a hiker and a skier and we briefly comment on how wonderful the snow is as we pass by.
Now the Mesa Trail lets out into the road down to Chautauqua. I take a right as I head up a short steeper section that leads to the Bluebell-Baird trail. I follow this trail up and over to towards the Gregory Canyon Trailhead. As I descend, I notice a few tracks that meander down the slope.
Now this looks like too much fun to pass up. So I head straight down the hillside bounding, gliding, landing softly with each stride. That was worth the whole trip right there!!
Following the trail just above the Baseline trail I crossed underneath skiers and snowboarders hiking up further to catch some fresh tracks. Closer to the park, there are many families up on the hill with sleds taking advantage of the massive run-out with nothing but tall grass and 2 feet of snow to pad their slide.
Now being an hour into the run, I figure I needed to get home. So I took the streets straight down from the park to get to Broadway. This was actually really fun as well. There was just enough left over snow in the street where they hadn’t plowed to leave about 8 inches of soft/slushy snow in which I could land my steps and provided some great cushion.
All in all the trip was 8 miles and took about 1:22 to complete, but so glad I was able to get out and renew my mind.
Shorten Your Stride
High Altitude Spine and Sport Twitter update: Runs on snow/ice force inner & outer thigh muscles 2 work 2x’s as hard 2 keep ur body stable: shorten ur stride 2 help minimize over activity. @Artsportchiro
Instep Boulder has a video of how to modify your running shoes. Shop owner RL has been doing this for years and many of the trail runners have adapted this method.
Great places for running in the light snow
- Any of Boulder’s bike paths ( they are the first on the list to be plowed when it snows)
- Boulder Creek Path
- Wonderland Lake
- South Boulder Creek Trail (Bobolink Trailhead)
- Around the Boulder Rez
- Teller Farm