|The MKT Trail in Columbia, where I did my first runs|
One reason I like Boulder is that Columbia is also a college town, home of the University of Missouri Tigers. There's more in-your-face stunning natural beauty in Boulder, but the two towns have a lot in common: reasonable size, young people, good restaurants, laid-back vibe. Towns like this are my natural habitat.
While Columbia doesn't have the Mesa Trail, it has a lush hilliness that is beautiful and comforting every time I go back to visit my mom and sister. It's hard for a runner to avoid hills in Columbia, unless you opt to run on the MKT trail (see photo), a pancake-flat former railroad track. I plan to run a lot while I'm there, starting with a 15-miler (I hope) on Saturday morning that will have both the MKT and lots of hills.
Going to sea level makes me both excited and nervous as a runner. Excited because, well, it's just easier to breathe and therefore easier to go further faster. (The excited part of me is tempted to sign up for a 5K just to see how fast I could do it down there--but there really won't be enough time for this, and the 15-miler is more important for my long-term goal.) Nervous because I have to come back and be ready to run Green Mountain, Mt. Sanitas and the 8,000-foot Magnolia Road when I return to altitude. Supposedly a week isn't long enough to wreck altitude adaptation, but I swear I do notice a difference every time I come back and have to readjust.
For this reason, much as I love the MKT with its easy surface, neat mile and half-mile markers and green vistas, I'm going to stick to hilly roads for most of my runs in Columbia. These hills are not trivial. The Heart of America Marathon, held there every steamy Labor Day since 1960 (and on my bucket list for after I qualify for Boston--everyone should do their hometown marathon!), has an elevation chart that rivals that of any of my Boulder runs in terms of steep ups and downs. The higher humidity can add a running challenge, too, but I'm hoping that will be minimal at this time of year. In my opinion, heat and humidity are even worse than giant wind for running.
I'll write again from Missouri! Happy Passover and Easter to those of you who celebrate those holidays! And Happy Spring to those of you who worship Nature! :^)