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Riding Lift One at Loveland Ski Area on Friday, the author starts her third sport of the day.
Riding Lift One at Loveland Ski Area on Friday, the author starts her third sport of the day.

Just before the fourth leg of Multisport Extravaganza, I was starting to let myself think, “This is easy.”

I’d already gone for a trail run, climbed and skied that day. But as I unloaded my mountain bike for the finale at Marshall Mesa, my back ached, my stomach churned and that this-is-easy feeling vanished into the ether.

Multisport Extravaganza was born in a conversation at a recent Boulder Mountainbike Alliance event, where someone asked me:

“You have to be pretty multisport for your job, eh?”

Yes, but lately I’ve been climbing exclusively. So amid last week’s good-for-everything weather in the town that’s good for everything in outdoor sports, I hatched a plan to cram four sports — trail running, climbing, skiing and mountain biking — into one blow-out day.

A Multisport Extravaganza.

I plotted: Loveland because it’s the closest open ski area right now. Marshall Mesa because I knew I’d need easy riding by day’s end. (The whole thing required moderation, or I wouldn’t make it.) Gregory Amphitheater, where I could both run and climb, wham bam.

Thursday night I packed the gear for a Friday morning start:

8 a.m.: I drop my husband at the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine (the BCSM has become an integral part of our outdoor lives this year) and zip to the trailhead to run and climb — the two things he can’t do right now — without him.

It’s chilly. I worry my hands will be too cold to climb safely without a rope (I’m soloing for efficiency’s sake), so I run first and hold out for more sun… which works out perfectly.

A note on soloing: It’s pretty foolish. I don’t recommend it.

Unfortunately, I only climb a couple of pitches before I get a text from my husband and realize I’m already behind schedule. We wanted to get to Loveland by 11. I run down the trail, sad to leave so soon.

11:15 a.m.: With the running/climbing high still with me on the first ride up the lift at Loveland, I say to my husband:

“You know, this is totally possible, especially since we’re doing it in moderation. We’re not trying to ski 20 runs or mountain bike 20 miles or anything.”

“Yeah,” he says, “We can do that next time.”

I let out a nervous laugh.

We ski for a couple of hours. It’s warm in the sun but snow conditions are surprisingly good.

2 p.m.: Driving back to Boulder, I confess my legs are tired as I scarf lunch. But I’m convinced that not only was this one-day quadrathalon of outdoor sports possible, it wasn’t that hard.

But my legs are tired.

Really, though, I feel good. Mountain biking’s in the bag.

2:40 p.m.: In Golden, I say for the fourth or fifth time that my legs are tired.

3 p.m.: At the Marshall Mesa trailhead, my good, fit feeling wilts in the sun. I wander between gear in the front and back of the car, aimlessly searching for a snack until my husband says:

“You’re doing that thing.”

“What thing?” I mumble.

“That thing where you’re indecisive and say you’re hungry but don’t eat.”

Oh, that thing that usually signifies I’ll be face-down in the dirt soon if I don’t either shovel calories or nap. So I shovel and think of the adventure racers I interviewed recently who do this and more, much harder and much longer — at least 24 hours — with few breaks.

I feel like a wuss. I mount my bike to distract myself from the feeling.

While riding, I have to admit I’m fading fast on easy, flat singletrack. I tell myself, out loud, to “have some PMA” (positive mental attitude) and just log enough miles to count sport No. 4.

3:45 p.m.: I admit I’m not having fun any more.

4 p.m.: No celebration back at the car. We load the bikes and head home, not even considering the traditional stop at Southern Sun.

6 p.m.: At home, churning over, I’ve refueled and feel good again. Then doubt crept in: I don’t feel totally destroyed… could I have done a fifth sport, an outdoor quintathalon, a Mega Multisport Extravaganza?

We can do that next time.

Jenn Fields’ Field Notes runs every Monday in the Colorado Daily.

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