The blog of the adventures (or mis-adventures) of an active mountain woman.

Beware the Bike Path

Note the exact positioning of the sun and puddle edge.

Note the exact positioning of the sun and puddle edge.

I really, really wish I loved running. It’s efficient and can be accomplished almost anywhere with minimal equipment. And best of all, my body seems built for it. But my brain is not.

My brain is usually saying something like “why can’t we be biking?” and “how long do we have to do this for?”. Trail runs are slightly more entertaining as they require some mental engagement navigating various obstacles, but I resort to coping mechanisms for the boring-est of boring, the bike path.

My favorite coping method is a good audiobook. To be fair, it is a luxury to be able to tune out and listen to a book in a valiant attempt to forget that I am indeed exercising. There are certain places where this is ill-advised, like in National Parks where you may inadvertently startle large hungry animals. But I was less concerned about the wilds of the Boulder Creek path. This was foolish.

The Boulder Creek path is 7.5 miles and traverses the CU campus and downtown Boulder. While there were undoubtably a few hungry animals along the way (Colorado did just decriminalize marijuana), I wasn’t exactly concerned that they would give chase. So off I jogged, laughing at the lanky college kids floating the creek in inner tubs and bike helmets (true story).

Screen Shot 2013-06-12 at 10.05.54 AMAll was fine and comical in a uniquely Boulder way until one of the many underpasses. I’m not sure if I even noticed the puddle (Where was I looking? Who knows…) until my ankle was suddenly wet. My entire foot, up to and including my ankle had stomped into an alarmingly deep puddle. I may have let out a sound mimicking the rare Colorado Macaw, which echoed nicely off the surrounding concrete. My shoes were throughly soaked in the sloshy soggy sort of way.

Which is a really long way of saying that you can’t really ever completely check out while exercising. And if you fall off your treadmill downloading a new book while updating your Facebook status, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Stay-of-the-day: Millennium Harvest House is in a great location if time is extremely short. You pay for the location, NOT the hotel or amenities.

Learning Humbleness

Ice

Image from my photography class, offered through the Continuing Education department of Casper College.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say if you’re an ‘expert’ at, well, anything, and find yourself in the teaching capacity (even if it’s an informal situation), you owe it to your students to learn something new. Why? Because it’s incredibly humbling/frustrating/rewarding AND it will make you a better teacher.

So what have I been learning? Oh, where to start? I took my first Pilates class a few weeks ago. It was a mat class, which means that the only equipment used was a yoga mat and, of course, our bodies. Confession: I kinda expected to be “good” at it. After all, I’m relatively young, in very good shape with a strong core and I’ve been practicing yoga for 10 years. I was wrong. From my limited, one-class experience, Pilates is an exercise in subtleties and micro movements that are learned, not inherent. While the same could be said of yoga, I’ve committed much of it to muscle memory to the point where many of the less-obvious yoga movements are blissfully ‘built in’. It will take a while to get there with Pilates.

And I’ve blogged about my recent escapades skate skiing. It still strikes me as odd that I can transition from a scenario where I’ll turn around, fish out chapstick or generally not pay attention to an adrenaline-inducing OMG-please-don’t-fall-scenario based merely on the type of skis underfoot.

Now, there’s a third scenario on the scene. It’s a sport I know and love in a new format. My favorite sports (skiing, mountain biking, kayaking, etc) are decidedly individual, but I’m struggling in my new home to find places to bike (I get lost) and trails to run (again, I get lost). Enter Windy City Striders and Fat Fish Racing. The Striders have running races pretty much every Saturday and I enjoy having a preset distance to run and the subtle peer pressure from running in a big group, as opposed to my typical “run until I feel like turning around” style. Fat Fish Racing is a group of mountain bikers with a monday night race series running throughout the summer, and quite frankly I have no idea what I’ve gotten myself into. My biggest rides to date have been in groups of eight friends that typically involve more margaritas than ribbons at the end of the ride. I entered myself in the intermediate “sport” category based mainly on the intel that the people in the beginner “rec” category can get a little agro. I am opposed to agro, unless it’s me versus hill. But me versus other bikers sounds like a losing proposition based on body mass. I’m just hoping my times will be a mild lesson in humbleness rather than a severe smack in the face. The first race is May 21, so stay tuned.

Over and out.

 

Running for Bacon

With 50,000 runners, the race begins in waves spanning over 5 hours.

I don’t love running, but I love that it’s low-cost, easy to do and almost year round. I also believe it’s an efficient form of exercise. I believe this so thoroughly that I assumed running a 10K (about 6.2 miles) would burn calories. However, in the home of the fit, known as Boulder, Colorado, I was able to debunk this myth.

When I was told that a group of friends annually ran a popular 10K known as the Bolder Boulder, I said I was in and mentally reminded myself to continue running the weeks before the race. In the weeks leading up to the race, I casually asked one member of the group if they trained much for the race. He laughed in my face.

The Bolder Boulder can be a serious race. I would like to think the runners from Kenya who finished the race in 28.13 minutes took it seriously (that’s 4.34 minute miles… for 6.2 miles in a row). But the Bolder Boulder can also be a circus. That was the race I was in. And I was running for bacon.

Bacon was not the sponsored cause for the Bolder Boulder but rather my personal mission once the face-laugher told me what the race was really about. I was going to find bacon and eat it while running. Thus it came to pass that my Bolder Boulder in-race tally came to include the following: bacon (turkey and pork), cotton candy (pink), beer (Fat Tire!), Doritos (nacho cheese) and a few other items I’m sure I’m forgetting. Along the way, my motivation/cheering came from Jake and Elwood, belly dancers, way too much 80’s cover rock, bag pipes and a complete marching band, to name a few. I also hit one slip-and-slide with vengeance. It was a fabulous Monday.

Cumulatively, I’m sure the 50,000 Bolder Boulder participants burned a few calories on Memorial Day. I roughly calculated my caloric burn to be about 550 calories (using the formula .75 x your weight (in lbs.) for each mile from this Runner’s World article). But my team also ate a few, and it was fun. With our bathroom and bacon stops we finished, as a team, in one hour and 20 minutes. The Ethiopians were much (much) faster and some were much slower, but ultimately there was a lot of fun had by all and I saw more than a few people pushing themselves towards a healthy goal. If there needs to be a little bacon involved, so be it. 

The Horseshoe CHALLENGE

Topo of 10K Course

Topo of 10K Course

Saturday, September 19th marked the 5th Annual Horseshoe Challenge, a 10K and 20K race in Driggs, Idaho. Because I had decided to participate on Wednesday night, I had no time to “train” for my first competitive run ever.

I’m not a person that “loves” to run. I appreciate it for its simplicity and efficiently. A pair of shoes is remarkably little gear compared to the majority of my athletic endeavors and just 30 minutes can be enough to get your heart rate up and feel as if you accomplished some sort of exercise. I think that’s brilliant, but the activity itself is, well, boring. One foot in front of the next, plod, plod, plod. Despite this,  I was interested to try it in a competitive environment and spend time with the women that invited me along, so I signed up.

The $25 registration fee went towards Teton Valley Trails and Pathways and what they called a “trail 10K” proved to be 7.5 miles instead of the standard 6.2. It was well-marked with a water station between the two significant hills. With sections of steep single-track, I truly enjoyed exploring an area I would have never ventured into on my own and although I was running without others in sight, I felt comfortable enough with the amount traffic to wear my iPod. But between tracks, I heard a steady rustling quite close and ripped my ear buds out while I spun around for the approaching moose, elk or deer. Seeing nothing, I started running again only for the rustling to also resume. It was the number pinned to the front of my shirt. Oops.

Other then the dangerous rustling sounds, the lack of anxiety over “which way is the car” was fantastic and the last two miles of downhill opened up some fantastic Teton views. They were so fantastic that I forgot to look where I was running and tripped over a menacing 1/2″ rock.

Horseshoe Challenge Ladies at the Finish- I'm #44

Horseshoe Challenge Ladies at the Finish- I'm #44

This wasn’t a slow “oh no I’m falling” type of fall. It was a “how the hell did I end up on the ground?” fall from which I jumped up and examined myself for signs that I had fallen more than signs of injury. Quickly dusting myself off, I realized that I had not only skinned both knees but my right shoulder as well. I’d gone down hard. As another runner passed me, I muttered something about “watch out for the killer rock” to which he asked if I was okay. “Just my pride, just my pride” was my sheepish response.

When my friend (who happened to place second overall) saw me approaching the finish, she jogged out to cross the line with me and my first comment was “I tripped- can you tell?”. She made sure I was okay and we laughed a little before I attacked the delicious table of yummy treats and water. The organizers waited for everyone to finish and started drawing entry forms for some pretty sweet raffle prizes. I won a Patagonia Capilne shirt right before a hornet stung my forearm.

The sting. Ouch.

The sting. Ouch.

Driving away from the trail head, I had dried blood on my knees, right shoulder and my left forearm was mottled with red and swelling considerably. But I don’t think it will be my last 10K.

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