I've been wanting to add some elevation to my runs in order to prepare me for the trail running that I want to do this year. The nearest roads with significant elevation gains are Gold Camp and Rampart Range. I've run Gold Camp numerous times and wanted a change so I headed for Rampart Range. I arrived at Garden of the Gods around 8:00am and parked near Balanced Rock (and the beginning of Rampart Range Road). I donned all my gear and headed for the road. I hate wearing my heavy hydration pack full of water, GU, etc... but since I wasn't running a loop where I could stash supplies, I had no choice.
I've driven Rampart Range Road hundreds of times but I guess I forgot that it's pretty much straight up for the first 11 miles. I'm great on elevation gains as long as I have some minor reprieves in the form of slight downhills every once in a while--there were absolutely none on Rampart Range. By the time I reached the "top" my hamstrings and calves were on fire and I was totally exhausted. On top of that my stomach decided that it didn't want to agree with GU that day and I was battling pretty bad nausea. I sat on the side of the road for a few minutes eating, drinking, and trying to stretch out my hamstrings. After a while I continued down the road walking some of the steeper inclines and running when I could.
My initial goal was to run up Rampart Range and then down Mt. Herman Road into Monument. I realized about 20 miles in that there was no way I was going to make it all the way. I texted Lindsey and had her start heading up Mt. Herman and I figured I'd stop whenever we met up. I was going in and out of cell phone service so communication was spotty. I didn't even find out whether or not she got my text until an hour after I sent it. I finally made it to Mt. Herman road and started the descent. The road was still in pretty bad shape--covered in snow in spots--and running was treacherous. During a brief moment of cell coverage I got a text form Lindsey telling me that there were trucks stuck in the snow in front of her and she had to wait behind them until she could pass. I didn't know if she was 2 miles ahead of me or 10 miles--and I was struggling pretty well at this point. Finally a truck pulled up and stopped me, "Does your wife drive a Silver 4Runner?" the driver asked. I told him that she does. "She's stuck in the snow down the road" "Oh great" I thought, I was approaching 29 miles and I was in no condition to try to get a truck unstuck out of the snow. I think the driver saw the look of despair on my face and he assured me "There's a bunch of trucks down there helping her get out, it's only about 1/4 mile from here. I can give you a ride if you want?” I was relieved to hear that is was so close so I thanked him for the offer but told him I could run it out.
I made my way to the group of trucks in the snow and waited with Lindsey as the guys dug and used a high-lift jack to get the 4runner out of the snow. After about 20 minutes the truck was free. We thanked the guys and drove up Mt. Herman and then down Rampart Range into Woodland Park and down the pass into Garden of the Gods to pickup my truck.
Overall I guess the run was pretty "bad". My legs were weak on the inclines, my stomach was miserable all day, my time was ridiculously slow, and I'm sore as hell today. But, having said all that, there's not much I'd rather do than spend a day having a "bad" run in the mountains.
Total mileage: 29.28
Total Time: 7:18:28