Friday, November 26, 2010

Gobble *Burp* Gobble

I.      Am.      Stuffed.

As much as I tell myself not to overeat, it is always a struggle to turn your back and downcast your eyes upon so much delicious food. Friends who put in so much effort and time to cook such a wonderful meal, it would be almost sinful not to indulge. Thankfully, I don't tend to be an emotional eater and I know when to say when (except Thanksgiving) so getting stuffed to the maximous doesn't happen often.

Got home early this morning from work and headed straight to bed knowing full well 1pm was going to arrive way too quick. I was going to cook my newly crowned favorite recipe: Pumpkin Streusel Bread for the Thanksgiving feast Cowboy and I were to attend at our Colorado family's house by 4:00. Cowboy got home shortly after me and we spent, as we usually do, way too much time chitty-chatting and giggling about our nights while snuggled up in the cozy comforter. I finally got to sleep and sure enough, what felt like an hour later my alarm was chiming in my ear.

I threw the ingredients together (baking and pureeing the homemade pumpkin a few days ago helped speed this process up significantly so that I could use fresh pumpkin-yum!) and tossed them all in the oven. I made two loaves to take to tonight's meal, a loaf for each of us to take to work to spoil our coworkers, and a 9x9" to see how the bread turned out "coffee cake" style. With just a little bit of batter left in the bowl, I couldn't toss it out. I pulled out a mini loaf pan and filled it. I have no idea what will become of the little guy but I am really not concerned it will go to waste as I witnessed Cowboy jokingly attempt to steal the little bugger into his pocket. After all that pumpkin-y goodness the house was smelling divine! A wave of nostalgia swept over me as I remembered the smell of my mom's baking during the holidays. I missed my family but also submerged myself in the delight of spending my first holiday with my husband.

I was able to sneak in a treadmill run, a simple 5K "sprint", while the bread was baking. This is how it went:

Toss the stoneware loaf pans into the oven, slam the door, set the timers and dash upstairs magically transitioning from corduroy jeans into my running attire along the way.

Hit the incline to 2% and throw that baby into high speed #7.0 (I think that's about an 8 min mile pace?). Flick the switch on the ipod and away we go. Heart racing as I keep glancing at my bread timers and increasing my speed to #7.5. I was so distracted by the timers that my stride felt easy and I rejoiced in going fast!

8 minute timer dings, I hop of the treadmill (placing it in "pause") and dash downstairs to check the bread.

mmmm. smells so good...put bread back in oven, reset timer for another 8 minutes and dash back upstairs. Jump back on treadmill, switch the ipod back on, and pound another mile out. Repeat.....

After 3 strong miles the bread was done, I was in full sweat, and I was ready to FEAST! Show me to the stuffing!!! (Yeah I am much more of a stuffing girl than "the bird")

Our Colorado family presented quite the amazing spread, as they are known to do. Turkey, ham, stuffing, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, rolls, gravy...I am sure I am leaving something out here. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING tasted gourmet.

The Pumpkin Streusel Bread went over fabulously with coffee and all were happy and stuffed. It took a great effort to get up from the table so we all just sat around chatting lazily. There was definitely much to be thankful for and I soaked it all in.

Back to work now, ass dragging and eyes heavy. My bed is calling me and it's only midnight...I do not look forward to tomorrow's drive home through the misery of insanity called Black Friday. Seriously, this day should be renamed to "How America Shows It's Ass Day". Remember the year they had that massive Walmart stampede? Elmo dolls, Cabbage Patch Kids...this year if I hear the name Bieber one more time I am going to vomit on the person standing next to me.

I ventured out once....long long ago, on this fateful day and was appalled. Appalled I say. Truly appalled at the behavior of man-kind. Adults were acting like toddlers screaming "mine" and throwing temper tantrums in aisles over barren shelves. Children, in plain site of their parents, were running up and grabbing toys and such out of other people's carts. People shoving and being ruder than my ears would tolerate. It was sensory overload and I swore I would never ever go out shopping on this day ever again. I like to try to keep the hope that most individuals, if given a chance, are mostly decent and "good". Recalling the screen shots in my head of that day goes against that notion in a very big way.

So Happy Thanksgiving to all and please be responsible, polite Americans as you push through the crowds tomorrow in search for your bargains. For me, I will be happily sleeping the day away tucked down deep in my covers.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Argos' Trail

Spent yesterday discovering a new(ish) trail over at Apex. It was low 40's with a slight breeze- enough for me to throw on a thin long sleeve, but still warm enough for my cw-x stabilyx capris (I 'heart' these). Started out on Apex Trail up the hill and then swerved off onto.....

Yep, Argos Trail (and yes, Argos approves!)

I noticed the new addition sometime this summer but never ventured onto it. Today was the day and I admit it's a very nice trail. It is definitely going to be put into the rotation as it's good switchback climbing  training for the big ditch next year. Not unlike lower Mt. Falcon it climbs, climbs, and climbs some more. The views are slightly dull on the climb compared to so many of the other trails in the area, but not too shabby. The ground is fresh soft dirt, smooth and mostly even- excellent for letting loose on the downhills (although careful on the switchbacks as my shoes skidded out a few times trying to corner too hard *grin*). Argos Trail connects to Pick 'N Sledge Trail and then Grubstake Loop (at least the way I went). Once on PNS Trail, the path becomes a bit rockier, although still very enjoyable.

Grubstake Loop is surprisingly an amazing trail. The previous path held views of mostly dried out grass and desert-y fields with the city of Golden/Lakewood in the distance. Once you got onto Grubstake Loop you curved around the mountain into a few lengths of shaded wooded path- I love wooded paths. 

I took PNS Trail back towards the Argos Trail. If I had more time I would have taken Sluicebox or Hardscrabble down to Apex Trail and ventured up to Lookout Mtn. I have always taken the Enchanted Forest back down and never gone to Lookout, so that is something that will have to be done in the near future. 

Once I connected back to Argos, I took a quick right down to Apex Trail, turned around, went back up (for extra mileage) and then back down Argos to the parking lot (tail end/beginning of Apex Trail). All that totaled six miles in about an hour. Not too shabby for all that climbing, map navigating, and stopping to let bikers/hikers pass. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Gore-Tex TransAlpine Trail Run: Stage VIII

Niederdorf im Pustertal to Sexten
33.4 km (20.7 miles)
Vertical Distance: 1269 meters ascent, 1123 meters descent
Total Time: 5hrs 45 min

"The final stage of the Gore-Tex® Transalpine-Run 2010 leads from Niederdorf in Puster Valley to the beautiful location of Sexten in the Dolomites. Before crossing the finish line in Sexten, there are again nearly 34 kilometers to run which are going to be quite intense due to a total altitude difference of more than 1200 meters. But the backdrop of this stage couldn’t be more beautiful and breathtaking, because with the Three Peaks, the symbol of the Dolomites, the field of participants will finish in truly inspiring surroundings!"- TransAlps website

Let's just say Stephanie and I rocked our last day. I am glad now that we took those two days off so that we could finish strong and happy. 
We woke up early and headed to the medic tent to get our gimpy parts pre-taped. The lady took one look at us and expertly cut, wrapped, and pressed our limbs into place with brightly colored Kinesio tape. We jumped off the table, high fived each other and headed for some breakfast. 
Groan....I am soooo tired of deli meats and cheeses. I dream of oatmeal, buttermilk pancakes, french toast dusted with cinnamon, cool milky cereal with blueberries, toast with peanut butter, eggs.....someone feed me some REAL breakfast foods!!! 
During breakfast Steph and I had our patience tested with DF (aka Douchebag "F"- name withheld)- a guy we met a few days before that was now permanently out of the race due to a bum knee. He was blonde with a soccer player's body and oh so cute...
until he opened his mouth. 

The dazzling British accent created a diversion while his stupidity and self-centeredness flanked you, hitting you upside the head. Just pure ignorant cockiness. We were annoyed to say the least. DF went on and on about how, "it would be one thing if I had to drop out of the race because I was tired, but my knee is busted, know 99% of runners get injured at one point in their life...blah blah blah".


Steph, known for her ability to say exactly what was on her mind, practiced great restraint and said quite honestly and politely, "well, I don't know about you, but I'm fucking exhausted! Injured or not, I'm totally wiped out." I nodded in agreement and we excused ourselves from his company, brushed off our shoulders and stood a little taller. With that we headed to the start line.

We gathered alongside our great friends Carl and Dave, Jerry and Linda, Emily and her husband. We cheered, whooped, hugged, and snapped pictures. It was a great morning. We patiently waited for the Highway To Hell songs and such to get over with and we headed out the gate.

The first 5-7km were on the road. We passed a yard full of odd naked statues. Of course we had to stop and take evidence!

Once I got onto the crushed gravel path (not quite dirt but hey, I'll take it over asphalt) I kicked it up a notch and chic'd a bunch of runners. I was feeling fantastic and the music was making my heart soar. Each aid station I noticed Steph was right on my heels (atta girl!!) and we took off climbing up the mountain with the Dolomites looming in the distance. 

At the top of the mountain, still feeling great, I unwrapped my last Granny B's pink frosted sugar cookie and savored it while I ran. I got so excited about my cookie that I noticed I was eating some of the plastic wrap with the cookie. oops.

On a delightful sugar rush, I FLEW down the mountain. The music in my ears, along with the great views just put me over the edge in happiness and I opened it up, giving it all I had. A team of guys from Spain were on my tail, so I put on the brakes and stepped to the side to let them pass."no, no, you go ahead, we follow" they said in broken English, "you going super fast! You go girl! we follow you".

I decided right there and then...yep, I had achieved PACE BOOTY status. I grinned to myself and opened back up.

The trail was incredibly rocky and technical all the way down. I scanned, leaped, jumped, and glided over the big rocks, navigating several feet ahead of myself. It was as if my body was part robot and calculating all the highly technical mathematical equations of body position + terrain - obstacle = where to place body next. My torso, legs and arms automatically adjusted their fine movements to create a gazelle leaping effortlessly down the mountain.

ok, so I probably looked like a total gimpy goon and out of control on a sugar high, but a gazelle is how I felt at the moment, so let me live in my lovely fantasy. 

Just as I was nearing the bottom, I miscalculated a move and rolled my foot off a muddy patch on a boulder. My leg flew out from under me and in a fleeting self-sacrificial attempt to prevent myself from falling I braked hard, real hard, with my right leg. 
Pain like I've never felt radiated up my ankle, into my shin, and pierced every single friggin nerve in my body. I crumpled to the ground and balled up instantly, holding my entire body in the crouched position with my head between my knees for extra measure and just breathed hard through the pain. Stephanie appeared out of nowhere and made sure I was ok.

"I'll be fine, keep going, I'll meet you at the bottom. I just need the ground to stop spinning and the stars to go away for a sec." I breathed. "you rock".

I got up eventually and gingerly made myself down. It took about 3km to finally feel stable on my leg. Steph cheered me into the aid station, we filled up our water and took off with only 6km left in the run. I blasted my music and melted my body into the rhythm of the ipod. My steps matched the beat and it helped me keep going forward at a great stride. We flew past a handful of teams and paced each other into the finish line. 

I was E-X-H-A-U-S-T-E-D...and proud. Proud of Stephanie, proud of myself, and proud of every single runner that came in. 

There was supposed to be free pizza and cokes at the finish line, however the boxes were empty when we arrived. A few runners ahead of us explained that a bunch of teams took entire boxes of pizza over to a chair and ate them. How RUDE! Irritation flashed across my face for a second before I sucked it in and declared myself unable to be annoyed at a time like this. I refused. Fuck 'em, rude people....

Stephanie and I posed for a pic with our medals and headed to the concession stands to buy some grub. I picked over a few things until I craved a shower and bed. After talking it over, we decided to try to find us a room. Camp was going to be miserable after all the drinking and partying that was going to happen in celebration. We really did not wish to be part of that. 

We hiked several miles to try to find a room. Every single place was full (we later found out there was a separate race happening the following day that had filled the town up). Accepting the fact that camp was the only option, we limped back into the "barn" and took a communal shower. After a short nap, we headed to the pasta dinner and met up with Dave and Carl. Hugs all around and a quick phone call to the parents and was at a very high point for me. Steph and I opted out of the after party and awards again and decided to have a little post celebration of our own. A "girls night out" if you may. 

We ducked into a small restaurant called Willy's and settled into a booth. I ordered a hot apple pancake dessert with vanilla gelato and a macchiato while Steph ordered a hot chocolate gelato. YUM. We both ordered a red wine (which ended up being on the house!) and toasted the night away.

The table next to us, consisting of an older couple from Munich, struck up a conversation and we chatted for several hours. The husband was running the race the following day and was eager to pick our brains about the TransAlps. He was openly excited for the both of us. They were an incredibly sweet couple and by the end of the night, they offered us a place to stay in Munich if we couldn't find a hotel the night before we leave Europe. I was floored at their generosity and almost feeling that they viewed us like daughters. As we were leaving I paid for their beverages. It was the least I could do. You don't find hearts like that in the world's so very rare. 

In fabulous spirits, Stephanie and I headed back to camp while we discussed what the night held for us. We each took two Percocets for our injuries hoping to make our night a little more tolerable. We decided against taking our nightly Ambien due to the wine consumption and the pain killers. Neither of us had a great amount of weight on our bodies to hold everything together, the last thing we needed was to be physically revived. On our walk we discussed our plans to hop on a bus to Venice tomorrow and see ITALY!

What a PERFECT ending to our day and our amazing adventure through the back-country of Europe. We felt loved and had no regrets about our decisions. We both worked our asses off and gave 110%. 

Head to toe assessment: ankle/calf is sore and swelling, back is abraded from my pack but tolerable, left 2nd toenail slightly black (no pain), no blisters (yay!), hips tight and tender but the rest of the body feels top notch. I done good....

Good night.

I am now sitting upright in my sleeping bag. Watch says 2356 and I am

AWAKE. What the hell....

My belly throws out a grumble of dispair and I realize I am starving. Peel open a Bonk Bar and nosh, looking around the gym. I put my backpack at the foot of my sleeping bag and elevate my throbbing legs. There is incessant coughing, snoring, and general rustling around. Ugh. A handful of runners come in drunk and stumbling to their sleeping bags after snapping a few photos of themselves. For the most part everyone is quiet and respectful though. I lay back down and pull my Buff over my eyes to help me sleep.

Annnnddd someone's watch alarm just went off along with a loud fart.  Nice.

I sit back up and pull the Buff off my face and sigh. This is going to be a long night. I make a rash decision and move quickly so I can't change my mind. I slip out a little pink pill and swallow the tab of Ambien. Please don't let me stop breathing, please don't let me stop breathing.

I know in reality I will be fine. I am wide awake, feeling pain in my leg and not drowsy one bit. Ambien is not going to be the thing that puts me over the edge.