Friday, August 20, 2010

Tenacious T.

TENACIOUS [tuh-ney-shuhs]:
1. holding fast; characterized by keeping a firm hold
2. adhesive or sticky; viscous or glutinous
3. holding together; cohesive; not easily pulled asunder; tough
4. my loogie, after 10.13 miles 

Yesterday, being as hot as it was, was gym day. I spent and hour and half at 24HR Fitness and was literally dripping sweat off my face when I was done. I started out with a 5K on the suckmill hitting that belt hard core. Then I focused on doing some serious upper body lifting. 

Helloooo delts and traps, It's me, T. 
Tricepts, bicepts, forearms, and pecs [gangsta nod] nice to see you too. 

Today, however, promised to be a cooler day which gravitated me towards the outside and onto the trails. 

I decided to head a bit into the mountains for even better weather since by the time I actually got up and out the door it was mid-afternoon (I never claimed to be a morning person).  Elk Meadows was calling my name from Evergreen, a trail I had always passed by but never ran before. I was up for something new and exciting. 

Wait, what you say? I should be tapering and chillaxing? 

I say Nay Nay....

So, with the pup loaded up and pack full with water, twenty minutes later I was at the trailhead and my car thermometer said 74 beautiful degrees. 

Gorgeous dahlin'!

I scanned the map, stuffing an extra one in my pack, and chose a direction to start. I figured once I met a cross-roads I would choose each way as it came. We started on Sleepy "S" to Elkridge to (left on) Meadowview to Bergen Peak Trail out to the overlook. It was a steep son of a b*** and I found myself being worn out quick. Admittedly I hiked-jogged it as soon as I hit Bergen Peak was rough.

I was frustrated at my lack of energy. Mind was in it but body was holding back. I finally deduced it to be dehydration. I was so gosh darn thirsty! There was water sloshing around in my belly but my lips and mouth were parched. I wanted to suck down even more water but knew from the sloshing sounds that all I was going to do was make myself puke if I added more water to the surplus already in my stomach. 

So I took it kinda easy on the ups knowing with utter bliss that what goes up must come down (yay for downhills!). The trail was pretty rocky with loose gravely-sand mixed with pine needles, not a lot of dirt until you hit halfway up Bergen Peak Trail. Then it turned into soft packed dirt and pine needles. Closer to the top it became rocky again and tall stoic aspen trees shaking with the breeze. The trail was delightfully void of people. I only met about four or five bikers and only three or four sets of hikers. 

Bergen Peak (the tippy top)

On the way down I came to a trail intersection with this sign:

So, of course I had to take it! Map said it was strenuous (yipee!). I had to see how long is "too long". It was a delight to fly down, although I could see the PIA it would be to climb up. That said, I think both ways (Too Long vs. Bergen Peak Trail) were a beast to climb and relatively similar distances- pick your poison. 

Too Long Trail was moderately technical with multiple switchbacks leading out into a meadow. Hence the next trail named (left on) Meadowview to (right on) Founders Trail leading me back to the parking lot. I had run out of water by mile 8 (geez, that was a first) and was seriously contemplating stealing the dog's last few mls of backwashed water so decided to cut the run short instead of doing the extra loop on Painters Pause Trail. 

Wildlife count was two bugs swallowed on the way down, a squirrel, a deer, two elk, and a few birds. 

On the way home, sans water, I stopped at a gas station and literally guzzled a 24oz Sweet Tea and a 12 oz V8....and I am still thirsty. yeah, I'd say dehydration was my enemy today.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Run The Rock 5K- Conifer, CO

Run the Rock 5K at Beaver Ranch in Conifer was a pretty fun course. I was hoping for more technical downhills after a handful of moderately steep climbs but they were more rolling and "easy" downhills. Blah. Overall good race with a fantastic start/finish lodge and super clean bathrooms.

I arrived at the race start an hour early so after packet pickup/registration I sat in my car facing the start line and just people watched. 

I love people watching. There were young and old, scrawny, athletic, and chubby. Couples, Moms with kids, high school track/cross-country, wifes cheering on hubbies, all sorts of people. I immediately picked out the sponsored clad elites: AKA those that will kick my ass pronto and sat there admiring. I got some good giggles out of some of the runner's pre-race routines and running attire. 

The last 5K I had done was on the treadmill with sucky weather, so my plan was to try to go as fast as I could and see where that left me. I stripped down to the bare essentials: no pack, no water, no GU (it's a 5K people...). I just had the shorts, shoes, and shirt on me plus sunglasses, ipod, and gaiters. That's about as light as I get. 

It was actually a weird feeling, borderline f****g uncomfortable. 

I have been doing long distances for quite some time now that my hydration pack with all the "stuff" in it had become just an extra appendage to my body. When I shrug it off my shoulders after a long run, in all its foul B.O. smelling straps, sticky used GU wrappers tucked in one pocket, and sweat soaked back I kinda feel like a piece of me is removed. 

***on a side note, I keep telling myself I should wash this pack. Seriously, it smells. Smells real bad like a boys locker room after a week of games. The funk is so thick you could scrape it off and shmear it on toast. Gross. However, every time I convince myself "just after this run, I'll wash it. After this run" I then get home and think to myself, "why wash it when I am going out tomorrow for another run. It'll just get stinky again." Maybe I should at least wash it before the TransAlps, or would leaving it funky be like a badge of honor: THIS is how much I've trained for this bitch. 

Anyhow, what this race taught me? I need to work on my speed drills. BAD. Granted, I wasn't horrible, but I felt I could have knocked off at least 2 minutes to my time. 

3.1 miles of decently rigorous climbing and casual downhills in 28 minutes isn't shabby for a trail run. Horrid for a road run- FOR ME (i'm not judging anyone else but myself), but not too bad for a trail. I am going to work on some drills for a bit and attempt that 5K on my own to see if I can do it in 26. 

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Ascent Up Mount Evans

Mount Evans is the highest peak in a massif known historically as the Chicago Peaks.  The cirques around Mount Evans are the deepest cirques in the Colorado Rockies.The bottoms of many of these contain tarns, the most notable being Chicago Lakes and Summit Lake.
ECHO LAKE: start point 10,580 feet elevation

So I decided, just last night, to respond to a posting from DTR (Denver Trail Runners) notifying all who were interested that one of the members was going to be heading out to Echo Lake to run for about 3hrs towards the summit of Mt. Evans, one of Colorado's many "Fourteeners" at 0630. I typed out, "Will be there." and sent it before I had a chance to change my mind. I had never climbed Mt. Evans, nor drove it for that matter, but always thought about it. Now was my chance to finally attempt to run my first fourteener. 

I was a little apprehensive meeting "P.", some guy I didn't know and being secluded with him for 3+ hrs in the backcountry but took a few things into considerations, called cowboy to talk it over with him, had a back up plan if he turned out to be a creepy "Chester", and started to get my pack ready. I tucked into bed and set my alarm for 0530, damn that is insanely early for a third-shifter. 

I didn't sleep well at all and had very guilty feelings about Argos. Cowboy and I discussed the importance of getting my "game face" on and leaving Argos behind so he wouldn't distract me from my training. I do find that when I run with the pup big distances that I tend to take more breaks than normal to make sure he is taken care of, watered, rested, etc. I do not want to hurt the poor little dude and give him heat stroke or something.  So, with a guilt-ridden conscience amplified by his whining and begging as I slung my stuffed pack over my shoulders, I closed the door behind me and took one last look at his pathetic eyes crying out at me. I hardly ever go on runs without him anymore and it hurt deep [sob]...Ok pathetic, I know, but I love that furry boy so. 

Fifteen short minutes later I was at the Wooly Mammoth Park-N-Ride Lot for our "meet-up".  P. said there was going to be one more guy and a girl coming along. However, when the other guy showed up, but no girl, I took a look at both guys, assessed my situation, and chuckled to myself. Cowboy was on the phone as I told him my situation. "What's your backup plan?" he asked me, assuming I was going to bail being the solo girl in the group. "Eh, don't worry about it, no backup needed" was all I left him with. 
They were really no threat: I  may be small but I can be feisty. 

We carpooled to the trailhead at Echo Lake. It was a beautiful lake with just a few people already hanging around the water edge fishing. We synched our watches, tightened our shoes, locked onto satellites, and headed off down the trail.
It was quite forested and damp. At 0745 it was a bit chilly to start but we all knew it would just be a matter of time until the sun crested over the mountains and chased away the cold. After passing the reservoir, we hit the official trailhead to the summit of Mt. Evans. 
the trail was steep but the views were a nice distraction from the burning legs and lungs

A few times I had to look around real good because I felt for sure there was a black bear lurking in these woods. I was sure of it!

Half a mile or so of pure fun-loving trail mud! It was here that I found out how true my assessment of the "boys" were: "K." the second guy, started a full blown tantrum about wanting to turn around because he might get his feet wet and muddy. REALLY?! I nearly choked on my own saliva when I heard his whining.

Me: "Are you [f-bomb] serious?" I asked, not really believing what I was hearing. 
K: "I don't do mud" he said in a voice not unlike a two year old with his arms crossed and lip pouted out.
Me: "You seriously cannot be afraid of a little wet feet. We carpooled in one car (I drove) and we aren't turning back over a little mud. Stop being a pansy and cut the whining. Let's move, come on."

We had had a friendly jabbing at the beginning of the run near Echo Lake about how I had sworn off roads because I felt they were utterly put-a-bullet-in-my-brain boring and how trails were my mecca, my therapist. He couldn't understand my feelings on trails as he was all about roads and speed. Whatever, to each his own, I agree to disagree. Well, now I understood where all this whining was coming from...he was a roadie at heart. A roadie that didn't "do" mud. 

Regardless of his heavy resistance, I navigated him playfully through the mud to the other side and we entered Chicago Lakes area. Sourpuss was still grumpy but P. and I did what we needed to and ignored him. 

"Chicago Lakes" an upper and lower lake were both breathtaking. The lower lake has a waterfall cascading down the back. We saw a handful of tents scattered and tucked away on ledges with hikers just waking, standing on boulders enjoying their coffee. It was a fantastic feeling and view. I would love to come back here and camp with Cowboy one day. 
lower Chicago Lake
hike up to upper Chicago Lake

I can't believe I didn't get picture from here to the Summit Lake as it was the most brutal and time consuming climb of the whole trip. Maybe because I was focusing on breathing and not plummeting to my quick death off the side of the steep mountain? I don't know but as it was I didn't take a single picture until we made it to Summit Lake. 

It was slow going and my body was detesting the altitude. Legs burning, lungs feeling like they weren't filling adequately, and heart rate pumping hard trying to be efficient with the little oxygen they were permitted. My body felt it alright. I felt a little funny for a few minutes and stopped to rest. I don't know the actually feeling, just "funny". It cleared after a short rest then it was back hand on knee to hoist myself up to the next step. Whew!

Summit Lake (couldn't someone have told me to fix my shirt?) approximately 13,000 feet elevation.

P. and I wanted to continue the last 2 miles to the actual summit of Mt. Evans but Sourpuss wanted to turn around. He had a flight to catch and wanted to get back early. Oh well, ya gotta chose your battles I guess. I won the mud run and decided to give up the summit for sake of Sourpuss's plane. P. and I turned back around and headed our steep descent back to the car with "K" trailing behind. 

All in all, it was an amazing adventure/journey and a mighty good run. 3hrs 40 min. and almost 12 miles. Legs, butt, and back are all feeling it right now so I can pat myself on the back for a training day well done. I plan on heading back this week to the Summit Lake (hopefully with Cowboy) to climb to the top and summit Mt. Evans. It's not cheating is it if I just continue my hike from where I left off, or do the rules say I have to start back at Echo Lake again??

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Petzl Ultra Belt ACCU 4

After last night's glorious run, I did some thinking. I need a new headlamp. I own several headlamps for various purposes and all from Petzl. LOVE the company. 

I have:
TIKKA XP which I use for basic camping, not the greatest set of lumens but does the job, tucks away nicely, and batteries last forever.
TACTIKKA XP ADAPT- I own two or three of these puppies. They are my "go-to" light. I like them the best because they are lightweight, have a strap over the noggin to hold it in place esp. over a winter hat when bouncing around running, has a switch for an emergency flashing light, and has a slide plate to diffuse the light if needed. The light boost switch is great for identifying those glowing eyes you spot off to the side of the trail. It has a battery indicator light that lets you know when you're running low on juice- very handy. It also easily dismounts from the headstrap so that you can clip it onto your pack's sternum strap or hold it in your hand. It comes with a round disc mount for your climbing helmet and offers different colored plates for optional alternative lighting. The buttons on top are easy to navigate and press, even with gloves on. When I trail run I usually wear either this one or my Myo XP Belt and then hold an additional TacTikka XP Adapt in my hand to chase away the shadows that headlamps can create, giving me better depth perception. 
Myo XP and Myo XP Belt- I use the belt one occasionally on my head instead of the Adapt due to it's brighter light and noggin strap. The only complaint is that it is heavier. The belt option is great because I can slide the battery pack into the top compartment of my running pack and forget about it. It takes three batteries instead of two of the Adapt, and no color changing plates. The regular XP only has a single head strap and, due to the weight of it's battery pack, slides down my face while running. For general camping/hiking use it's perfect.

So back to my original question: I need brighter light and have been eyeballing the Ultra Belt ACCU 4...anyone use one and want to give me some info on it? Likes/Dislikes? Other brand options? At $500 a pop (*gulp*) I want to make sure it is a kick-ass light before I drop serious cash on something like that. I have found though, that a high quality bright lamp is worth the investment when you are out in the dark trying to squint at that rustling sound in the distance. 

I have looked and lusted a bit after the Surefire Saint but at only 100 lumens, my Petzls beat that hands down. I'm kind of disappointed that for such an amazing headlamp company, Surefire doesn't put out a top of the line high lumen headlamp. The Saint is their biggest and it falls short in both lumens and (from other trailrunner's feedback) battery life. 

I've contacted Petzl to try to learn more about the Ultra so I'll post as soon as I hear from them. Til then, help me out with some live feedback.

The Beauty of All Things Wild

After working last night and watching the dawn appear in vivid oranges, yellows, and reds

I crawled into bed looking forward to my night run. My third shift schedule prevents me from enjoying a lot of my group runs lately so I have to be extra diligent on getting my training in on my own time. Unfortunately that doesn't leave me with a lot of daylight to work with. Tonight I headed out around 2030 to Matthews/Winters Park in Morrison armed with two lights and my dog.

Some days I hit the trail knowing the exact route and mileage I will be taking, especially if I don't know the trail well ahead of time. Most days, however, I play eenie-meenie-miney-moe as to what trail I will run (as I nosh on breakfast: "hmmm what trail calls me today?") and then don't make a route choice until I have already started running. I like it that way. Although kinda crazy, it gives me a nice dose of internal suspense.

The trail was a breath of fresh air- soft packed dirt, well-placed (by nature) rocks to leap and bound off of, great climbs and descents with a fair amount of greenery to add a dampness to the air. The sun started setting fast once I reached the top of the climb and began my descent down the other side, casting bright pinks and purples over the city.
the climb was off to the right of this pic

As always, I clicked off the ipod as soon as dusk hit so that I could hear the chirpings of the night and become better aware of my surroundings.  I switched on my handheld lamp first to chase away the beginning shadows and then eventually flicked on the headlamp for better depth perception. I like to wait until there is absolutely no more visible light before I put on my lights. It is fun to concentrate hard on foot placement and feel like a child of the night before succumbing to our "human-ness" and lack of night vision. The air cooled off to the perfect temperature as I began to sweat and feel my heartbeat pulse in my ears. 

It was a gorgeous night as I looked up to see the stars peeping out into the night sky. Seven miles, five deer, one snake, one mouse trying to get a drink from the stream I crossed, a bunch of birds, and a baby skunk later I jogged back up to the car. What a wonderful run to remind me of all things lovely in Colorado. My legs felt the burn going up but were given enough downhill to stretch it all out and make them warm and cozy.

And...right now I have a sacked out pup snoring at my feet and pumping his giant paws chasing that deer I refused to let him run after tonight. Life is grand.

-oooh and mid-run, cowboy texted me a surprise: a picture of one individually wrapped giant Granny B's pink frosted cookie we now dub "the crack cookie" that he discovered at a store on his route to work. He hasn't notified me yet where he bought said crack cookie but be darn sure as soon as I find out I will be marching in demanding them sell me a case!! Maybe I can even get them to put me on a frequent buyer discount program, ya think?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Mr. & Mrs.

Ok, so this was after the dress came off and into a pair of jeans as we danced our way into the night post wedding. That's our best man I'm bumping my booty against and yes, the guy to the left is not just the coolest online ordained minister around, but one of our bestest friends evah and superhost to the backyard wedding. His family put together the greatest wedding in history folks. We had a dance floor pumping with music, lights strung all around, white tents and awnings, blooming gardens, kick ass homemade Italian meatball sandwiches, lemonade and sweet tea, and hospitality galore. These people are a rare find and believe me, we are holding onto them with both hands for dear life. I love my colorado family.

So, long story short, the run down:
Engaged May 31 to wedding July 24. Mark it down people that is one superfast wedding planning and all went down so smoothly and relatively stress free that I am astonished at how perfect it all turned out to be. I can't imagine doing a wedding any other way, seriously. I mean, sure you can be all into the year planning drawn out with cake testing, couple arguments about minor details, food choices, please-put-me-out-of-my-misery seating charts, calligraphy invitations and date reminder cards, over-priced and unattached ministers, flower arrangements that die in a day, expensive and stressful family interventions....should I list more or are you already overwhelmed? I thought so....

With these day's weddings averaging somewhere around 27K (Holy F__!!!!) we thought it a much wiser and healthy start to our lives together by knocking off a few grand and KISS it (Keep It Simple Stupid). Like about 22-24K less...seriously.

We decided to go backyard style and *in leu of gifts* bring us a dish for a potluck dinner with the recipe attached to add to our recipe book! All the research I had done online brought frustrating results in the beginning. I found a lot of "how dare you do that to your guests!" and "I wouldn't be caught dead at a trashy potluck wedding!"
Our feeling, "if you feel that offended, then don't come". We were a little unsure of how people would take it but after reviewing our 50+ guest list of close family and friends we realized that there is a reason why these people are our friends. They think like us and don't carry attitudes such as above. Potluck it is! We were very excited to see what everyone would bring. If everyone brought potato salad then so be it.

(note- after a bit more researching I did find a few arguments supporting a potluck reception. Many people focused that this is how it used to be in the past. Everyone got together to support the married couple in their joining of lives and brought food to celebrate. It is modern times that resort to fancy chip dip platters, crystal glasses, and expensive linens).

The few days before the wedding everyone was abuzz setting up tents, chairs, lights, decorating cupcakes, rolling meatballs and sausage, and general family gathering. I made wedding favor gift bags homemade complete with a wedding CD, homemade sugar cookie scented candles, and chocolates. It was hard work for all but it felt as if we were all at a family reunion having fun at the same time. Badminton and volleyball was broken out, pizza was ordered, and those that didn't get hit with water balloons were found napping in hammocks and lounging on couches during breaks.

The day of the wedding came and excitement was in the air. My parents went with me into the foothills to watch me run a 10 mile trail race adorned with a BRIDE tank top and black running skirt. It was a very strenuous but mentally clearing race. I felt invigorated when done then promptly took a one hour nap at home! Cowboy joined his side of the family for breakfast that morning and told me someone had commented, "boy isn't she going to be exhausted tonight?!" His reply, "you have no idea. she is going to be pumped that she got a run in, she'll have plenty of energy!"

After getting my hair styled, I had my MOH (maid of honor) and mom help me get into my dress and my makeup applied. My future MIL and her sisters came to watch and cheer us on. A few tactical hairsprays later by my MOH and I was in the arms of my dad waiting to walk down the "aisle" by the garden. I heard the music playing "Feels Like Home" and we began our walk down to cowboy. OMG he looked incredible and I kept peeking a look at him thinking, "He's going to be my husband!" I fought back instant tears as I saw him welling up too as well as my dad. To prevent this I turned my eyes to my MOH for support. Dang, she was crying too!

The ceremony was non-traditional with a little story of how we met (all told via our "mentor" and best friend- who was there from day 1) and how all that knew us felt "what took us so long!". Vows were said, rings exchanged, and the kiss planted. I couldn't stop grinning. Pictures were snapped from many different family and friends with one good friend taking the "professional" pictures. We are still currently getting in new pictures as they get sent to us. THANK YOU!

MIL was the main coordinator and maker of the cupcakes (instead of a wedding cake) and they were a HIT! So darn good I had to fight hard not to start stuffing them down my dress to shove into my mouth in a dark corner somewhere.

Food turned out even better than expected with no duplicates! It was all so delicious. My MOH had collected baby/kid pictures of both cowboy and I from the parents and made several collages showing our lives growing up in parallel. We both enjoyed the outdoors to the point it was almost humorous how identical we were as kids. It was a beautiful touch and a lot of hard work on her part. 

Dancing started pretty early and continued on into the night. We left around 12:30/1am and the party was still going strong. How awesome is that! We met back the next afternoon for brunch and opening gifts from out of towners that couldn't make it. With the rehearsal dinner at a small mom and pop Italian restaurant, it was as if our wedding lasted 3 days!

Oh yeah, and if I forgot to mention, our wedding was an open carry wedding!! My mom had the privilege of sewing me a garter holster for cowboy's little Derringer.

The next day, my parents, Argos, and best man climbed Mount Bierstadt together. It was Argos and my parent's very first "fourteener" (14,000' elevation and NOT to be taken lightly). It was exhausting and empowering.
Argos had to take a "few" naps....

next big event......The TRANSAPLINE RACE!!!