Friday, August 23, 2013

A Climb up a Mountain

Well, the day finally came. This week a friend and I went to Mount Bierstadt to climb. It was the first time either one of us would attempt such a thing.  I was nervous to say the least. All kinds of crazy thoughts would run through my head but most of all I didn't want to fail. To me, at that time, failure meant not making it to the summit. I have struggled all year with injuries and failing to complete events. I did not want this to be another time I failed this year...especially going with a friend. It is one thing if you can't finish on your own but to have a friend turn back because of you, well, that would have been too much for me to handle....or so I thought.

The day started out bright and early...okay not too bright but definitely early.

We got to the trailhead just after 6:00 a.m. There were a few other cars in the parking lot already, which made us happy as we were not sure how isolated the trail would be on a midweek day in the late summer. We prepped and got on our way.

We climbed and climbed. The first portion was through some sage brush and really wasn't that bad with the exception of crossing a cold creek. As we were a little afraid of slipping on rocks, we actually removed our shoes and socks and waded through it. Not sure it was the smartest thing to do but definitely better than risking wet shoes by slipping off a rock.

The day warmed as the sun rose and we approached the barren landscape of the trail. It was a beautiful day and we definitely had more layers than necessary..but at least we were prepared.

I was happy how my ankle was doing. I felt it on some of the steeper portions of the path but all in all, it was doing well.

At just below 13,000 feet, we ran into the talus field (I learned this new word after the hike and reviewing what we did). It was a lot of loose falling rocks and gravel.

It was during this portion that we started to meet people who were descending. I became a bit more anxious as I watched people slip and slide through the rock and gravel. We had made it a bit more than halfway through the first portion of the rock field, when I finally spoke up and told my friend that it was not a smart option to continue and risk injuring my ankle again. Of course, I felt horrible about it.

Looking at my Garmin, we were at about 13,550 feet. We had made it quite a distance but here I was wanting to turn around and head back down. The long way down gave me lots of times to lament about "giving up" and "failing". I put many positive posts about it on FaceBook and in texts to friends but really I felt like a failure.

So, here is where the real "climb up a mountain" was for me. After we ate lunch at a great restaurant in Georgetown and got back home, I actually went to circuit class that night. I had previously thought I would be going to the gym with a great tale of accomplishment and victory. I found myself only telling a couple of people about the hike and the words "but I didn't make it to the summit" were how the story started. I did muster enough strength and energy to do the cardio circuit class but was careful about what my intensity was. The trainer was one of the people I told about the hike so he helped me with suggestions about slowing down and such.

That night, I had a restless night sleep, feeling I disappointed my friend and myself. It wasn't until I was driving to the gym at 5:30 the next morning that I was struck by the fact that I had done something that I should be proud of and that even by getting up and going to the gym, I was doing something that should make me proud.

Yes, it is true that I did not summit the mountain peak but I did take on the challenge. Not only did I have the desire to climb a mountain, I actually made the plans to do it. I made it to the trailhead and started the climb without reservation. I climbed to 13,550 feet, which is not something easy to do. I made a decision to turn back NOT because I didn't think I could finish but because I didn't want to reinjury my ankle and set my training back again. I know I will reach the mountain peak some day. It just wasn't going to be that day.

Compared to the unhealthy place I was just a few short years ago, I think this is pretty incredible. I am proud of the changes that I have made in my life. I also now realize that I do not have live in shame of where I was at one point in my life but I can be proud of what I am accomplishing now. Maybe I can now start living without this chip on my shoulder...the one that makes me feel like I have so much to prove to people who underestimate the guy in front of me in the weight circuit who lowers the weight on the squat machine after he is done to try to "help" me when I really squat heavier weights than he the smirks (real or imaginary) of others in the cardio portion of class when I just can't get to the intensity I need being handed a 18 pound kettlebell to push press by my trainer when I really want the 35 pound one...

I really do not have anything to prove. I am truly doing this all for me. I am okay with the fact that I went out to do a 14er and ended up only doing a 13.5er....I am more than okay. I am proud that I got as far as I did. I went out to climb a mountain....and conquered so much more.

Monday, August 12, 2013

It was only 20 what's the big deal?

This past weekend was the Step Up for Cancer at the local soccer stadium. I did this event last year as well. It is basically 1,765 steps or so up and down all around the stadium and raises money for various cancer organizations. 

Last year we did this event shortly after doing the Mile High stair climb and in the middle of my half marathon training. I felt like my cardio conditioning was much better last year than it was this year when I committed to the event.

This year I have struggled with injuries after the fall at Red Rocks and more recently the sprained ankle. Having been cleared from physical therapy and no longer needing to wear the brace, I was excited to do the event this weekend. I knew however that I had to take it easy so that my ankle would be okay. I certainly did not want to hurt it again or prolong the injury. 

So, I knew I would just take it slow and so I did. It was hot but not as hot as last year. It was loud. There were lots of inspiring people. I just started to do the steps. I knew I could have done it faster, especially the down portions, but I just wanted to keep to my plan so that I would come through the event without issue. I would like to say that I didn't care what my time would be but it would be a lie.

In the second half of the stadium, I knew I could push it a little more so I jogged on some of the flat areas but I still took care on the steps.

In the end, my time was 20 seconds FASTER than last year. With the care I took with the steps, I was quite pleased with that. I am still slow but I was faster than last year. I am learning to compare my current to my past and not to others. 

So to me, 20 seconds is a big deal. An even bigger deal is that I was more concerned how I did compared to how I did last year and not to how others did. The biggest deal is that I was able to do this walk in support and love for my one and only sister, who I hope will stay strong as she goes through the medical procedures that she has to go through. Cancer certainly does suck.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Catching up on things...

Let's see what to say. 

1. I have upped my step goal to 15,000. I am running again. On the treadmill for now. The ankle is feeling stronger but I keep being told to take it slow so I am trying.  Still loving my Fitbit. It is keeping me honest about my activity.

2. Yesterday I hit over 26,000 steps. I did this with a three mile walk with a pup in the morning and a long 6 mile walk in the heat of the afternoon. The walk was through the hills in the neighborhood behind us. It felt good...but hot. AND that was my rest day.

3. I went to Wisconsin in July and did a stair climb at Lambeau Field. It was HOT HOT HOT. I was still wearing my air cast so it was hard....esp. the down. So I really only did 80% of the climb but I am still glad I did it. 

4. I spent a lot of time talking to one of my older brothers about running and such when I was back in Wisconsin. It was interesting to have this change in our relationship.

5. My workouts are going well. Tomorrow I have my second personal training session. I can't wait to lift heavy things. I am hoping that it will lead to so good results over the next 90 days. I will be keeping up my cardio workouts. I am really into tabatas these days.

6. I have been eating a lot of kale of late....and my finger nails are so much healthier. It is quite amazing. They are smooth and strong. I think kale will need to stay as a big part of my diet.

7. I am caffeine free for almost two months. It is not as hard as it sounds. I found some good decaf coffees and love an iced decaf Americano every now and then.

8. A friend and I have taken her four year fishing a couple of times. I love how relaxing it is to just cast the little poles out into the pond. We are catching little fish and releasing them but it is fun. I consider it one of my peaceful mind exercises.

9. I am thinking of trying yoga or Pilates again. I just don't know when but it may be a good idea to try to cut down on stress in my life.

10. I can't believe that summer is almost over. Our garden isn't doing great but I made a batch of pesto this morning and it is amazing how much better it tastes with just pick basil.

11. So my friend (the same one mentioned in #8) and I are planning on doing a 14er in a couple of weeks. I am nervous about it but we will see how it goes. If we do, you can bet there will be a blog post about it!

12. I won't be doing a half marathon this year but I plan on being ready next spring. I would like to do the Cellcom Green Bay marathon in May.

13. Another stair climb this coming weekend for "Step up for Cancer." It has special meaning to me this year because of a recent diagnosis of a family member. I am ready for it.

14. The next stair climb will be on September 11th as a memorial for the firefighters lost on that fateful day. It is an important and moving event to attend.

15. Some blogs I have been reading lately: