Monday, May 26, 2008

The mother of all sinus infections

I had a follow up visit with my asthma Dr. last week and casually mentioned how bad allergies were this year. She looked at me, looked up my nose, down my throat and in my ears and said "it's not allergies, you have a sinus infection." All of a sudden my exhaustion the past couple of weeks made a lot more sense. She put me on some antibiotics and said "call me in 2 weeks if it isn't cleared up." I walked out and thought "cool, now I'll feel better."

Fast forward a week and I'll tell you right now, I do not feel better. This thing is holding on for dear life and WILL NOT let go. I'm tired and want to sleep all the time and my nose has become a constantly running faucet (sorry, that might be classified as TMI). I haven't worked out in 5 days- that's the longest I have gone without working out since the last time I was sick, over a year ago. I was on vacation, I worked out. Family funerals, I worked out. I NEVER miss my workouts. And here I am, 2 weeks before my next adventure race and the thought of actually going outside and running or biking wears me out. Not good.

It would probably help if I actually got some sleep every now and then. With school done for the spring (yeah!! another 4.0 semester, thank god) I had planned lots of fun stuff before I started feeling cruddy and couldn't very well cancel all those fun things :-) One such event was last week... I did something I haven't done for years: went to a premiere movie at midnight. I saw the new Indiana Jones movie Wednesday night - I have seen every single one of the Indiana Jones movies on premiere night and wanted to continue the tradition. The first one came out when I was in high school; I won tickets to the premiere night at midnight and from that night on, I was hooked. This time I went with my friend Aaron, who wrote a great blog on our experience that night. Check it out at Denver Metblogs.

The next night was a workshop on orienteering, a key component to adventure racing. It was a good intro but the true test will be next weekend; I will be spending the entire weekend at the Peaceful Valley Scout Ranch for training and a race. Saturday will be an all-day training session, then the next day will be an actual meet. I need all the practice I can get!

This weekend has been a blur of activity; a day of 4-wheeling, a Rockies game, graduation party and lots of yard work. Despite all that activity I have been working on getting more sleep, hoping to help this sinus infection move on.

But tomorrow... I WILL workout. I promise. Really, I will.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Is summer finally on the way?

Winter has had a tight grip on the weather here in Colorado and it appears it does not want spring to appear anytime soon. However, this weekend spring got the upper hand and we finally saw a beautiful, Colorado weekend; sunny and warm! Thank god for that, I was beginning to get depressed with all the gloomy weather we have been having.

With a nice weekend coming I, of course, planned a lot of outdoor activities. I'm already longing for the freedom I had last summer, when I could take off at a moment's notice with no worries. Not anymore, I have to plan for the weekends like all the rest of you mere mortals out there.

Friday night I saw "Ironman" (awesome movie!) then Saturday the plan was to run in the morning then help mom with her garage sale. My social plans the night before had me out kind of late so I bailed on the run and instead did what every good daughter should do and spent the day helping mom.

Sunday was my 'big workout day' - I planned a brick workout, which is a training session that involves two or more different disciplines (ie trail running, hiking, mountain biking, etc), one after another. I was planning on doing 15 miles on the bike, then spend three hours hiking Eagles Peak at the Air Force Academy. You know what they say about best laid plans?

I woke up and was not motivated AT ALL to get out there, so I dragged my feet for a couple of hours. I finally got my butt in gear and headed to the Santa Fe Trail with my bike, only to be derailed by a problem with my gears - I could only get into 3 gears; low, medium and high. I suppose it was kind of funny to see me pedaling like speedracer on crack - I even ran into a fence during one of my 'changing the gear' phases. At that point I was sincerely wishing the trail was somewhere else and not next to a highway - I got lots of honks during that little incident.

Because of my mechanical failure I turned around early and only did about 6 miles. I then headed to the Air Force Academy, one of the most beautiful places in the world and an outdoor paradise. It's one of my favorite places - I grew up not too far from it and have wonderful memories of attending football and basketball games and various other events.

I was meeting my friend Tori to hike Eagles Peak on the grounds of the Academy (see pic above)- we had been trying to get together to do this hike for months and our schedules had finally converged to make it work!

Let me just start by saying that I have found the perfect trail for training - this trail had everything; boulders, scree, icy climbing, incredible views, all in a very steep climb (2000 vertical feet in 1.25 miles). I figure if cadets use this for their training then I should definitely add it to my list.

Tori has climbed this thing numerous times and knew all the ins and outs of the trail, which was good because there were times when the trail wasn't visible and without her I would of been hopelessly lost on my way to the summit. It started fairly mellow but then proceeded to a relentless climb - it just never ended. It took us 2 hours to get to the top (mostly because I kept stopping - I have got to get my hiking legs back!) and from the top we were rewarded with an amazing view of the Academy and the front range. It made the climb worth it.

Coming down was fun - scree on a steep slope is pretty hard to navigate when you have forgotten your trekking poles (what a dolt I am). There was a lot of sliding on my butt and of course the day wouldn't of been complete if there wasn't a fall (there was) and blood coming from some part of my body.

This was a great trail and one I would recommend if you want a challenge, but the best part of the day was spending it with Tori. We haven't been able to spend much time together due to crazy schedules and I loved spending time with her. Thanks for a great time hon!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Want to know a surefire way to flunk your finals?

...just spend the weekend before finals at an Adventure Race - that should do it. It certainly worked for me.

I spent a crazy weekend in beautiful Buena Vista, volunteering for the Adventure Xstream Adventure Race. Being the good student I am, I had brought my books, fully intending to study during some of the down time. If the title above is any indication, you can imagine how much time I spent studying.

I actually went up early Friday so I could get some mountain biking in before the race. Someone had told me about a great 'beginner' trail in Buena Vista, so I was planning on spending a few hours on this 'beginner' trail, which ended up being anything but a beginners trail!

The first mile of the trail was all single track, rocks and climbing - it scared the hell out of me. Being alone and the ultimate beginner, I felt completely out of my element. I ended up walking the entire first mile and finally came to a nice, simple road. From that point on it was fun - the road went about 3 miles before the trail started again and this is where the fun began!

The trail was all fairly simple single track - it followed an old railroad track and had some gorgeous views of the Collegiate Peaks and Buena Vista. I got over my disappointment from the beginning of the trail and actually had fun, which is what it is all about, isn't it?

I rode about 10 miles total, although I figure I walked about 2 miles of that. I have to admit I was frustrated and discouraged at parts - I just would like to be able to do more technical rides and it's frustrating that I can't seem to get to that point. Fear has a lot to do with it and I'm not too sure how to get beyond that. I guess that is something I have to work on.

That night I helped with the check in and registration for the race - I met some great people and got to see some people from camp. One of my all-time fav's was there, Jari from Team Salomon/Crested Butte and my mountain bike/ropes instructor from camp. She had a great present for me, some of her homemade granola (which is absolutely yummy!) plus the recipe. Her and the team were running the 24 hour race and did an Adventure Racing Q&A session before their race began at midnight.

Just as the 24 hour racers began their trek at midnight, a wet and cold snowstorm blew in. Yet none of the teams quit, they kept moving despite the crazy weather. Team Salomon/Crested Butte had some bad luck with their compass and ended up getting lost, and for what I think is the first time ever they ended up dropping out of the race. They were the expected winners so it was a big surprise to everyone.

Saturday morning was the beginning of the 6 and 12 hour races and I was there bright and early to direct traffic and parking. It was freezing and windy and miserable but I think the excitement of the race helped everyone bear it easier. My friends James and Chelsea, who I also climbed Elbert with (pic above), were there to run the 6 hour race (they placed 4th in their division, congrats guys!)

The racers took off for their race and I took off with Caroline to man one of the mountain biking checkpoints. Let me just tell you that I have a great admiration for anyone willing to do a 24 hour race - by the time they reached us they had already ran/climbed/trekked/mountain biked about 80 miles and they looked exhausted. But everyone kept pushing themselves to finish the rest of the course, which included about 20 miles more of mountain biking, a 400 foot travolean traverse and another orienteering course. Impressive!

We sat at the checkpoint for about 8 hours, keeping track of all racers and making sure they were ok and didn't need anything. The day had cleared up some by then but the wind was a brutal reminder of the storm that night. The racers came to our CP after 5 miles of what was suppose to be an "easy, downhill ride." Instead they fought into the wind, making it feel like they were climbing uphill the entire 5 miles. Just another aspect to adventure racing, the unexpected always seems to happen!

The day didn't finish until late into the night and in the end the top team for the 24 hour race was Boulder Performance Network, who finished at about 17 hours - an impressive performance despite the weather. Good job guys!

Here are some of the Pics if you want to see more.

I headed home that night, I needed to be back for mother's day. But the weekend was a blast and it makes me even more determined to try a longer race - anyone want to run a 12-hour race with me in July???

Oh, and I didn't flunk my final, although I did end up putting in a very long all-nighter, which I imagine will take me weeks to recover from. It's just not as easy as when I was 20!

Friday, May 9, 2008

The weekend cannot get here soon enough

Never has a weekend looked so good.

Have you ever had one of those weeks where you feel like chucking it all and living the life of the unibomber? Yup, that about sums up my week. I'm not going to go into details but if there ever was a perfect time to have a 3 day weekend, this would be it.

I am heading to Buena Vista for my much needed long weekend - I'll be volunteering for a Gravity Play Adventure race . I figured this would be a great way to see what a longer race entails (they have 3 races to choose from: a 6 hour, a 12 hour and the 24 hour race). This is the same company that put on the camp I attended in March - there should be lots of people from the camp there, including my wonderful instructors Team Salomon/Crested Butte. Can't wait to see Jari and the rest of the guys!

I'm heading up early Friday to do some mountain biking for the day - I haven't been outside all week and can't wait to do nothing but breathe fresh mountain air and think about nothing but my heavy breathing and burning legs - "clear your head, flush your brain" will be echoing in my head, I am sure.

Friday night I'll be helping with registration and all-day Saturday I'll be at a mountain bike checkpoint, tracking racers and cheering them on. I plan on taking lots of pics, so be prepared for a nice long, report.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

A Beautiful (and cold!) day in The Garden

The picture above was my view as I took my place at the starting line of the "Take 5 in the Garden" race Saturday at the Garden of the Gods. Can you imagine a more perfect setting for my first running race?

It was a cold morning, 25 degrees when I arrived at 7am and it only warmed up a little bit more by the time the race started at 8am (I was wishing I had my long johns on!) The race had 2 options - a 5K or 5 miler and since I'm a gluten for punishment I chose to do the 5 miler. When I signed up for the race I was given the warning that this course was "hilly and strenuous and only for people in excellent shape." You know what, they were absolutely right. It was a tough course, one hill after another that pushed me, my legs and my lungs hard - I heard one runner call it brutal, I would say that was a fair description!

One of the more difficult hills was at the beginning of the course - a 1 mile climb that felt more like 10 miles! Lots of people fell behind fairly quickly but I did something I have never done before, started out strong and fairly fast (for me anyway). I got into a good rhythm and started to move pretty quickly down the other side of the hill.

The hills started taking a toll on me at about the 3 mile mark. My legs were doing fine but my lungs protested. Despite using my inhaler right before the race, I was having difficulty breathing and I had not brought my emergency inhaler with me. I started to walk more in an effort to catch my breath but it didn't help much. I just couldn't breathe well and decided to just press on - I had the goal to finish under an hour and I was determined to make it, no matter if I could breath or not. (Note to self: ALWAYS take your inhaler to races.)

At about the 4 mile mark I met a great lady by the name of Laura and we began to chat - she said she had been trying to catch me the entire race but I was too fast (that made me laugh... me, too fast? that is just too funny). Once I started to walk she caught up and we decided to finish the race together. We had a great time on that last hill and she is a big reason why I pushed it even harder at the end - well, that and her sister (who just happened to win our division with a time of 42 minutes), who was waiting at the last 1/4 mile and encouraged us to speed up to the finish. I ran hard for that last section - my lungs and legs were burning but it felt so good to finish strong and hear the crowd cheering us on!

My goal had been to finish under an hour and that is exactly what I did - my official time was 58:50. Not too bad for a first-timer who couldn't breath for most of the race :-)

It was a tough race to pick for my first one but I'm glad I began with it - might as well get the tough ones out of the way now. I'm already planning for next year - the course we ran is being added to my training schedule and by next year you can bet I'll be one of those running at the front of the pack.