Sunday, July 8, 2012

Smokey Colorado

June was the hottest summer on record in Colorado. The most days with temperatures over 100 degrees in a year before 2012 was seven. We have already had eight days over 100 and the hottest time of the year is yet to come. There was also little to no rain for much of the state; consequently fires started easily, whether by human carelessness or intent, or lightning several large forest fires occurred. Several hundred homes were completely lost along with tens of thousands of acres of forest.

Finding suitable conditions for running has been difficult. I seem to prefer afternoon runs but found myself leaving the house around 8:00am many mornings to beat the heat and I would still finish with the temperature over 90 degrees. There was typically less smoke earlier in the morning; fires tended to grow during the day. Occasionally here in Boulder we could smell smoke from the fires in Ft. Collins and Colorado Springs but normally there was just a heavy haze. There were about three days I didn't run specifically because of the smoke and there were about three days when I probably shouldn't have.

I managed to run 155 miles for the month of June which included 31 miles for the Golden Gate Canyon Dirty Thirty 50K on June 2nd. July is going well. I ran about 40 miles this past week. I have still had to run early, but now it is because we are experiencing the "North American Monsoon" which seems to have arrived about a month early like all of our weather since March. This weather pattern causes early to late afternoon downpours and thunderstorms for much of the state. Each morning starts fresh with clear skies or maybe some residual clouds and then the clouds just start building as the day progresses. After an early morning run yesterday with my son and his girlfriend my running clothes were completely drenched in sweat. Typically here the air is so dry that sweat just evaporates; turns out the dew point was 57 and the temperature was 68. I'd much rather run with a temperature of 85 degrees and 10 percent humidity.

I have been running a lot in the "open space" southwest of the house because it is convenient to get to without having to make an excursion in a gas-powered vehicle. Also, much of the best mountain running terrain was closed during and after the "Flagstaff Fire". Some of the trails that I like to run are in the burn area. Many of the nearby trails have reopened so I'd like to get back in there. I recently ran to the summit of Flagstaff Mountain from downtown Boulder. No fire damage was visible on that run. The fire was so named for the road near where the lightning strike started the fire which continues on after switchbacking up the face of Flagstaff Mountain.

The rains now pose a threat to burn areas because the land there no longer can retain the water and mudslides and flash floods are certain to occur. For now at least, the fire danger has dropped and the air is healthier to breath.

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