Utah Trail Running Community: Thank you!

When I decided to do my internship out in Utah I didn’t know a soul out there.  I just knew that I wanted to do my internship in a place where I could be exposed to a variety of environments (rural and developed) that had responsibilities that are unique to the west and Summit County was a perfect microcosm.  However, after eight weeks out there not only did I come home with a massive amount of knowledge that I somehow have to convert into a 5-10 page paper (What I did over my summer vacation by Bernadette), but I also came home with family.

My very first run in the Wasatch was brutal.  However, the Wasatch Mountain Wranglers and the Park City Running Company were amazing.  What’s great about these groups is that they are totally inclusive.  There is always someone who knows the route waiting at intersections for those who may not know where they are going.  No “fend for yourself”.  No “figure it out”.  It doesn’t matter if you are a Western States Top 15 finisher (Dom) or if you are #teamcaboose everyone is welcomed.

As time went by I started to see familiar faces and started to make some friends.  Trail runners by very nature are friendly (most of the time), but these guys welcomed me in like family.  I had probably one of of my best running days on the trail, probably ever, with that new family.   I started to look forward to those runs.

IMG_4017My very last night in town I spent having dinner with #teamcaboose.  I couldn’t have even imagined a more perfect way to cap off my time in Utah.  We sat on her deck with a glass of wine, talking, and watched the sunset. I sighed a happy sigh.  Family indeed.

Thank you to all the individual Wranglers who were there along the way.  Thank you to Park City Running Company for creating the Sunday runs (and for feeding us afterwards).  Thank you to everyone who ever led a run or waited at an intersection to point the right way.  Thank you to MountainGoat for being your awesome self and being one of the first people who introduced yourself to me.  Last, but most certainly not least, thank you to #teamcaboose.  You are an inspiration to me in more ways than I can express.

If you all ever decide to visit or race in the DC region please know that you are welcome at my home any time.

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Kings Peak: The summit that wasn’t

For weeks I had been waiting excitedly for WindChime to join me in Utah.  She was coming out to do Kings Peak with me.  Not only is it the highest point in the Uintas, but it’s also the highest point in Summit County AND in Utah a trifecta.  For a geographic point nerd like myself that’s always an incentive.

We headed up there after work on Thursday and stopped at the USFS Ranger Station on our way out and the Ranger said, “Be off the summit no later than 1300.”  Got it.  We thought we had a good plan going in: set alarm at 0400, on trail no later than 0600, summit by 1200, and then back to camp.  Our plan included a mixture of running and hiking.  In my life things rarely go according to plan and this was no exception.

0400 alarm, indeed, went off.  We lay in the tent trying to figure out what we were going to wear as the weather decided to throw us our first hiccup.  It was cold now, we knew it was going to get hot, but when/if the rain moved in we were going to get cold.  Ah, Mother Nature she is such a fickle Queen.

We actually were on the trail by 0545 which was great, except the trail very quickly turned to mud that was as slick as a bar of soap in the shower.  So much for any thoughts of running.   We were pushing a really fast pace considering the distance that we had to cover taking few breaks.

As we went up and over Gunsight Pass we got excited thinking that we were almost there.  Then we dropped and dropped and dropped.  What the heck??  We checked the map twice.  Nope, we were on the right trail.  We crossed a snow patch and started heading up towards Anderson Pass.  The sky was turning an ominous shade.  We still had another 3-3.5 miles to the summit and we were going to start getting into the gnarly climbing.   We looked at each other and both said, “Well, what do you want to do?”

Neither one of us wanted to quit, but collectively we had enough miles (easily >10k) under our belts to recognize the danger.  Not only were we already above treeline, but we were going to be heading up and not a gentle up either.  We calculated that with the 3-3.5 miles left we’d most likely be on the summit by 1230 at the earliest.  That was cutting it a little too close.  Then not only would we have to beeline down the mountain, but we would have to go up and over Gunsight Pass again.  Oof.  With a heavy heart we made the decision to turn around.

As we crossed the snow field again we ran into a teenager and a chaperone who had decided not to make the summit.    The teenager looked rough.  We stopped and very quickly assessed his electrolytes were way out of whack.  WindChime gave him both Nuun and Tailwind in his bladder and I asked the chaperone if he had anything salty to eat.  There wasn’t much more we could do for them except hope that they made it to their campsite at Dollar Lake.

We started to pick our way back up Gunsight Pass when suddenly rocks started raining down from the pass itself.  Standing on top was a whole group of teenage boys who were chucking rocks down.  Every time a rock came careening over the edge Baby Trail Dog wanted to chase it.  “HEY! STOP THROWING ROCKS!!!”  we shouted up.  The other boys pointed at the offending boy, “Yeah, Carson, stop throwing rocks.”  When we crested the pass there was a group of about 10 boys with 4 adults sitting on the pass.  WindChime and I both highly recommended that they not summit.  We relayed what the ranger had said and the distance they have left to go. The adults in the group looked at us with disdain.  I mean, how could it be possible that two girls could actually know what they were talking about.   We shrugged and moved forward.  What they did was up to them.

Further down the valley trail we crossed paths with two guys that we had seen leaving the night before.  They had a wild dog that was not on leash.  We were surprised to see them heading up the valley so late in the day since they had hiked in the night before.  We passed along the same information that we had passed to the group on Gunsight.  The only difference was these guys had 3 additional miles before they even got to Gunsight. They brushed us off.  OK……

Back down the valley we went, through the muck, and over the river.  We debated back and forth.  Was that the right call?  Could we have made it?  Behind us the sky got darker and darker.  We caught up to group of three Rangers also heading for the trailhead.  When we exchanged our story with them and our decision not to summit they looked relieved.  “Good decision,” they said.  Well that answers that.

With approximately 5 miles left to the trailhead we began to hear the thunder.  We picked up our pace.  At least at this point we were semi-covered by trees.  The closer we got to camp the closer the storm got.  We decided to grab what food we could out of the cooler and dove into the tent just as the skies opened up.

Fourteen hours of sleep later we got up and made breakfast.  Just as we were packing up our campsite we saw the father/son duo that we had seen packing in on Thursday night come back to their truck.  We walked over to them.

“Did you summit?” Windchime inquired.

“Yeah, but boy were we glad we made it off the mountain. We thought about you guys as we were coming down.  Did you guys make it up?”

“No, we made it just shy of Anderson pass, but saw the storm and made the call not to go as we saw the storm rolling in.”

“Good choice!  There were some guys up on the summit when the storm rolled in and they got the crap scared out of them.”

She and I exchanged sideways smirks.  Huh, imagine that.

Even without summiting  we logged over 20 miles and we saw some gorgeous back country.  WindChime had two necklaces made one for her and one for me.  Mine has the latitude and her has the longitude of the peak.  While we may not have made it to the summit, we had an amazing time with tons of memories.

 

The perfect day: Unitas Lake Running

“I’m a tourist in my own state!” -MountainGoat

Some days everything just comes together. You wake up in the morning and make a snap decision to head to the mountains to run.  You reach out to friends at the last minute and they are remarkably free.  You get there and the weather and the trail are just perfect.  Today, was one of those days.

I’ve been incredibly lucky while I’ve been out here.  I’ve gotten to meet some really amazing, awesome, badass trail running women. They’ve welcomed me into their fold and have been incredibly warm.  I texted two of them this morning last minute and asked if they were interested in heading to the mountains to escape the heat.  It didn’t take much arm twisting, merely promises of a relatively flat trail and a milkshake, and MountainGoat was game.  After she had agreed she asked if it was ok if she brought a friend with her.  Hey, the more the merrier!

Neither MountainGoat nor Ibex had ever been up to this part of the Uintas so I was playing tour guide, which is funny if you think about it.  MountainGoat grew up here, but has only recently gotten into trail running.  I’ve been spending a lot of time for both work and pleasure up in these mountains and they have become comforting to me.  
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The trail that I had laid out was simple enough an out and back to Lake Seymour (or Meadow Lake depending on what map you were looking at) with only 1700 feet of elevation gain for the whole trip. One tiny caveat we were starting at over 9000′ and at one point in the course we were over 10k’.  We headed down the trail and it was SUPER runnable probably one of the most runnable trails I’ve been on in the Uintas.  MountainGoat and Ibex scampered off in front of me with Charlotte and I representing #teamcaboose for the day.  (Oh and in case you were wondering what that notch is I’ll get to that…)

IMG_3757The miles clicked by and we saw lake after lake after lake. The further away from the trailhead we got the fewer people we saw.  Up through Notch Mountain and over to the other side. The views were just amazing and the lakes just kept coming.

We arrived at Seymour Lake/Meadow Lake where we saw a wok hanging in a tree to which I said, “There is the endangered Wok tree, it’s the last of it’s kind.” Which of course elicited groans all the way around.  Hey I thought it was funny.  The mosquitos were thick so we didn’t stay too long.  I filtered some water out of the lake, filled my bladder, and we were off.

On our way back some of the campers had started a fire and, of course, the smoked followed me.  I wound up having to stop to dig for my inhaler, which turns out was in an accessible pocket all along.  Oops.  MountainGoat and Ibex were super sweet that they would occasionally stop and wait for Charlotte and I to catch up.  Where I would then apologize for being slow.  They were both super sweet about it.  Maybe some day I will be a fast kid….

IMG_3790As we came around the bend for the last lake they were waiting for us and I kidded in the typical whiny kid voice, “Mom….I wanna go swimming….” MountainGoat looked at me and said, “I’m game!”  We peeled off the trail and made a beeline for the shoreline.  Stripping our shoes and socks we waded into the ice cold water and it felt amazing.  (Hence the notch in the elevation profile.) By the time we got out to do the last mile to the trailhead none of us had any feeling in our legs!  Makes for some interesting running.

Today was one of those days that I will always remember.  I like days like today.  I hold on to days like today when I’m in dark places for days like today will always bring a smile to my heart.

Red Castle Lake: Eat you moron!

Do you know what happens when you pack food for your long training run but you don’t actually eat said food?  This….

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Friday afternoon I drove up to East Marsh Lake and snagged a campsite. I realized after I was settled that the actual trailhead was 2.6 miles to the south of where AllTrails said it was.  So my choices were to: move my campsite, drive to the trailhead, or suck up the extra 5 miles.  What kind of runner would I be if I didn’t suck up the extra 5 miles?  Plus. with the snow I was going to run in to I figured that by adding on the extra 5 I’d still be able to get the 20 in that I wanted to.

Saturday morning rolled around and the temperatures were in the teens.  Yes, you read that correctly teens.  In July.  I knew it was going to warm up as soon as the sun came up so baby trail dog and I snuggled up under every warm thing we had for another hour.   We got up and had some breakfast.  She managed to score a couple of sausages too.  Hey, she was going to run all the miles too.

I got my pack ready and I put all sorts of food in there.  I had Tailwind in my bag (with extra powder for my refill), M&Ms and dried bananas, and Picky Bars.  I tend to flavor my Tailwind light because mentally I need to actually chew something when I’m out there fora while.  So, I had 100 oz of water that should have had approximately eight scoops, instead I put four.  I packed the variety because I never know what I’m going to actually want.

As we started down the Forest Service Road I was in good spirits.  There was no time requirement I just wanted to get the 20 in.  We hit the trailhead and the trail was glorious.  No repeat of last weekend‘s rockfest!  Charlotte and I started clicking off the miles.  I’d stop for her to get a drink out of the creek at every opportunity.  Around mile 11 I realized something was wrong.  I was rapidly running out of gas, and that is definitely not a good thing when you are in the middle of no where.  That’s when I realized, hey moron you haven’t had anything to eat. I think the only reason why I didn’t crash and burn earlier is the little bit of Tailwind I had.

I reached into my pack and started shoving food down my face.  When I got to the creek right before Lower Red Castle Lake I stopped to use my filter to fill my water (which was almost gone) and add 4 scoops of Tailwind. I looked at the swollen creek and had to make a decision: push forward or turn around.  If I pushed forward I had to get my brain to function well enough to cross the creek without injuring myself and plan on a 26 mile day.  If I turned around I wouldn’t see the lake, but I’d get a 24 mile day in.  I opted for the turn around.

Going back was a struggle.  I was getting a hot spot in my foot from some sand I had picked up at some point.  I was ready for some shade.  Most of all, though, I just wanted to stop. My watch died after 6 hours.  I knew I still had another 5 miles to go.  When I reached the trailhead I was cursing my poor decision making skills.  As I trudged up the road to the campground all I kept thinking about is the food I was going to eat.  Irony, I didn’t think about food all morning and now all I could think about was food.

When we finally hit the campground (24.22 miles), I tied Charlotte to the picnic table, got her food out of the trunk and just as I started to get food out of the cooler I saw two notes on my windshield.  “This campsite has been previously rented 7/1-7/4 you must leave.”  ARE YOU KIDDING ME???  I burst into tears right there on the spot.  The whole reason why I decided to camp was to avoid being on my feet all day and then get in the car.  So, I threw everything in the car with no rhyme or reason and started making my way back to Park City.

Lessons learned: 2

-Drive to the trailhead.

-EAT!!!

Miles completed: 24.22

Total run time: 8 hours

Blisters: 1

Sunburns: 1

All in all, despite the challenges I’m very proud of my day.  Longest run in almost a year.  I’m still in one piece, my lungs felt ok(ish), and I live to run another day.

Brown Duck Lake: MMT100 Training?

No, I am not going to run VHRTC’s MMT100 although after the last couple of weekends I might as well consider it training.

Running sensei said, “Time on your feet and up!” I saluted smarted and started looking for something that was going to get me both. After much searching and Google Earth satellite image hunting (looking for snow) I headed out to Ashley National Forest with the intent of making it to Kidney Lake. Kidney Lake is a 18 mile round trip.  No problem, I thought.

IMG_3618Heading up the trail it started off sweet and innocently enough.  Then the rocks started.  Not little rocks, no, no rocks the size of basketballs+.  The picture to the left is one of the better sections of trail.  This is the kind of trail that you wonder if it truly is a trail or was it the bottom of a creek that someone had the “ingenious” idea of making INTO a trail.  7+ soul crushing miles later of doing nothing but picking, plodding and praying that I didn’t fall or sprain something Brown Duck lake came into view. It truly was gorgeous; however, at this point I was fried mentally and physically.  It took 2.5 hours to get 7 miles.  It wasn’t from a lack of trying to go faster it was just the conditions on the trail.  There was no way I was going to make it another 2 miles up, and then 9 miles back down to the car.  Enough was enough.  I spent ~20 minutes at the lake.  I soaked my feet and my knees in the cold water and headed back.   My watch died ~3 miles from the car.

All told (what I had) it was 2640′ of climbing.  With over 5 hours on my feet.  14(ish) miles.  I don’t think I’ve ever gone so stinking slow in my life, but…

I came home with all my teeth and no sprained anything!

Pegged my stupid meter

Running sensei said, “You need to do 15 miles this weekend.  Go find up and do it!” I saluted smarted and attempted to find 15 miles of up.  Unfortunately for me right now all of the snowless miles are in Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons which means that they are off limits as they are a no dog zone.  Anything in the High Uintas is also off limits as there is still lots of snow up there.  After much scouring I came up with a Plan A and Plan B. I notified Dad of my plans and off I went.

Plan A was do Notch Mountain to Trail Lake.  As we drove up the Mirror Lake Road the snow line was much higher than it was two weeks ago when I was up that way for work.  I started to get hopeful.  Maybe, just maybe……came around a corner and BAM! Nope.  Can’t even get into the parking lot for the trail head as it’s still under at least 3 feet of snow.  Crap…..We stopped and I let Baby Trail Dog out into the snow.  She dug, frolicked, and played queen of the mountain.

 

Plan B did not have the distance of Plan A, but it had the up.  Man oh man did it have the up.  Just as much up, but in a shorter number of miles.  Ok, Plan B it is. As we headed up the trail it was rocky. Not the kind of rock that you can get a rhythm on, but the “don’t trip fall and bash your head in” kind of rocky.  When we hit the 3.5 mile mark we ran into a Dad and his son coming down the mountain.  I asked them a couple of questions about the trail.  “There’s a few water crossings coming up and it gets sloppy, but you should be ok.”  Super!

IMG_3552Approaching the water images of last week were flashing through my head.  Don’t tell me I came the way for nothing, I thought.  I let Charlotte off leash to let her suss it out.  She won’t cross anything even remotely dangerous. She found a spot and waded right across.  I followed her path.  This repeated itself four more times.  At this point the trail was more of a unstable boulder field and straight up.  One of the water crossing was actually a waterfall!  I was exceptionally grateful for having had something to eat at this point.  That could have been really bad.  Now, I know that in summer NONE of this water is here, but thanks to the heavy winter snow they got this year and the super hot temperatures it’s water water everywhere.  At this point my feet were soaked and we were approaching 10k feet.  No big deal, we just kept moving, and my Lone Peaks drained beautifully.  Amazing things wool socks and the right shoes.   Right up until the trail disappeared.  Um….

IMG_3549I pulled out my topo map and compass.  I also looked at the gps breadcrumbs I had of the trail.  Theoretically the lake should be just over the ridge line.  I saw how the trail was suppose to stair step and loop around.  There was a big meadow that I started to make my way across.  About half way I stopped.  Warning bells were going off.  This was STUPID.  Not only did I not have any surveyors tape with me to mark my trail, but my feet were wet and I had no idea if the trail even started again. Nopenopenope.  I turned both baby trail dog and I around, found the trail where we left it and headed back down the mountain.

By the time we reached the car I had had time to process.  I’m willing to bet that the “creek bed” wasn’t actually a creek, but was the trail under water.  Well….crap.  Oh well. The bad news is that I pegged my stupid meter.  The good news is that I didn’t let it actually go off.

Total miles: 9.2

Total up: 2327

Best part, I live to run another day.

Unitas: Would you say that to a man?

I am not a city girl I grew up in Adirondacks.  When we moved from the mountains to another rural part of Upstate New York Dad would take us back there as often as he could.  We were raised with a healthy respect for the wilderness.  Up until a couple of years ago part of his Continuing Medical Education every year would be at the Wilderness Medicine Conference in Big Sky and if we didn’t go with him he would bring home the latest information and shared (whether we liked it or not).

Twice this week by two different men here in Utah I’ve been told not to go into the mountains alone.  I was gobsmacked.  I wanted to ask them if they would say the same thing to a man. However, I didn’t.

Anyone who has ever hiked with me knows that I do not mess around when it comes to time in the backcountry.  I always carry a first aid kid that I could practically do field surgery with.  I always, always, always  carry an emergency blanket (there is always one in my trail running pack too, which is probably why I’m still alive).  Water purifier, map, among other items.  It may not be the lightest day pack in the world, but I know that if something happens I’m prepared.

Dad also raised me to provide a plan.  He always gets an email before I go of what my plan is, where I’m going, how long I expect to be gone and what I’m wearing.  In the past couple of years I’ve also invested in a SPOT device.  Not only will this give me an emergency backup plan, but it lets him live vicariously through me as he tracks my dots.

This leads me to Saturday.  After letting these two men climb into my head almost pulling the plug on my day I finally had a moment of clarity.  I’ve gone hiking and camping all over some of the most remote sections of this country.  I’ve been stalked by a mountain lion in Oregon.  I’ve seen more moose, elk, and deer than I can express some of whom were very angry.  Lucky for me I’ve never seen a bear when it wasn’t running away from me.  Why in the hell was I allowing to strangers to climb into my head.  Fuck.  That.  Shit.

I made a plan of where I was going to go and let Dad know.  Charlotte and I drove out to IMG_3441the trailhead and headed up the trail.  The plan was to do 10 miles round trip or snow which ever came first.  When we got to the 2.5 mile mark we got to the creek.  You could see where the bridge used to be.  With the level snow that they got this year all of the water sources are raging right now.  I looked to the other side of the creek and there was a deer.  He looked up and down the creek for a spot to cross just like I was doing.  We looked at each other and both turned around and went back the way we came.  Neither one of us had a death wish.  That water is running too cold and too fast to even attempt a water crossing.  Well, crap.  As I headed down the trail I came across a group of Boy Scouts and a couple of hikers.  I told them about the bridge.  I think the kids were actually relieved.  When we got back to the car we saw a bunch of horsemen loading up to go check the fields for grazing.  I told them about the bridge (and the water level).  They said thank you and then pointed in the direction they were headed.  We chatted for a couple of minutes about other snow free options and they were off.   I made a sign and hung it on the gate that you were required to go through.

I pulled out my map while I munched on a snack and figured out my next move.  This kids is one of the reasons why you always invest in the $10 Forest Service map.  I decided to go up a nearby dirt road to see how far I could get.  As we hit the 8000′ mark I got a brief moment of cell.  I texted Dad and let him know of the new plan.  I still had the SPOT on so he knew I was in the car anyway.  As we climbed we met a ATV rider on the road.  He told me the road was going to get rough, I smiled and told him that’s why I drove what I drove.  He laughed.  I asked him if there was a spot I could pull over a little further up and he explained where the next good spot was.   When we got to the spot we were sitting at 8800′.  When I opened the door the cold air cut through me.   I broke out my hat, vest, and gloves and off we went following the road.

She was having a grand time rolling in the snow, like a dork.   We managed to get 2.5 miles up the road (after the 5 we had already done) before we were both starting to tucker out.  I knew we had to actually get back to the car so I made to decision to turn around.  It was a tough one, but I knew it was for the best.  We were sitting at nearly 10000′ the snow was around, but spotty.  We still hadn’t hit the full snow line, yet.  We completely passed the trailhead I was looking for (it was numbered not labeled), but that’s ok.  We will go back.  By the time we hit the car she curled up into a ball and promptly fell asleep.   We stopped at the ranger station in town and told them about the bridge and all the blow downs that we came across on the road.  I try to tell the rangers what I can about conditions because they can’t be everywhere.  They were shocked about the bridge and said thanks.

Saturday was a good day.  Yet, I almost let two strangers crawl into my head.  I know my limitations.  I’m not going to go up any mountains right now covered in snow.  I don’t have the gear and haven’t been to a self arresting class in a couple of years.  I suck at the glissade unless it’s on my tush.  I have an exceptionally healthy respect for all of the possible ways that I could die in the backcountry.  To be honest, though, I’m more fearful of the two legged creatures than the four legged ones.  All of that being said, what gives any man the right to tell a woman that she shouldn’t go to the back country?

 

Week 2: Sprint to the Summit 12k

My second week at elevation can pretty much be summarized by this number: 5,062′. That is the amount of up I have climbed in the last seven days.  No wonder why my ass is sore!   I’ve managed to meet this awesome group of runners: the Wasatch Mountain Wranglers. Between the runs during the week and the Sunday runs out of the Park City Running Company I’m starting to meet some really amazing folks.

Earlier this week I went out water testing with Nate one the guys from work.  We went up into the Summit Park neighborhood.  He brought me by the trailhead and said he’d never done it, but had always been curious about it.  Little did I know I’d be running it TWICE this week on Thursday and once on Sunday.

IMG_3420Thursday I met the Wranglers at the same trailhead Nate had pointed out two days earlier.  I have to say this, despite my absolute slowness there is always at least one person waiting at the intersections.  I try to keep one of them in view, but sometimes I just can’t go any faster.  Charlotte on the other hand, I think, would much rather be with the fast kids especially now that I bought her a cooling coat.  However, sometimes letting the fast kids go has its perks. Like when I run up on them and ask them why they are stopped.  They all pointed. “SNAKE!”  Yep, sometimes it pays to be slow.

After being tortured with overhead squats at CrossFit on Friday and going out to the mountains on Saturday (which will be it’s own post), Sunday I was back at the same trail head only this time for a “race”.  It’s more of a potluck fun run, but the course was IMG_3471marked and we get times and bibs so I guess you could call it a race.  Having been out there on Thursday I knew that some of the sections of up were going to be brutal.  I tucked myself and Charlotte into the back and watched the fast kids scamper off.   Man are they fast!  I saw one of their splits just above mine on Strava.  His per mile time? 11 minutes.  Mine?  16:45.  Sigh.  Charlotte and I managed to hang with a couple of the Wranglers until the 12k/5k course split.

I had given a ride over to a bunch of folks from the Running Co. and Linda was one of IMG_3474them.  She is an experienced road runner who has just come over to the dark side to trail running.  This was her 5th trail run.  She and I stuck together for the rest of the course encouraging each other along the way.   Team Caboose!  It was nice having someone to chat with along the way.  She’s a super interesting human with lots of stories to tell.  I hope I get to spend more time with her out on the trails.

We chugged long on the trail going only as fast as the other could go.  We joked that maybe we should have pulled the course markings as we went along to save them a trip.  When we hit the road to the finish line we finished it together.   She even managed to win an award for her age category!  Granted, almost everyone else was gone, but I’m damn proud of that 7 miles.  Probably the hardest 7 miles I’ve ever put in.

Each run is slowly getting better.  I won’t say easier, but better.  My lungs don’t necessarily want to explode any more.  I will take that as progress.

 

 

 

 

My 1st week at Elevation

I survived my first week at elevation granted with battle wounds, but the same could not necessarily be said for baby trail dog, Charlotte.  She and I rolled into Park City on Tuesday both of us thrilled to be out of the car.  She immediately got dropped off at dog day care for her temperament test.  What better way to see her true colors than after being cooped up in a car for a week?  I had a couple of days before I had to start work which was good.  I think after a week in the car and the constant go just sitting still for a little while was nice.  Oh wait, that’s right I don’t sit still very well.  While I was waiting for the apartment to open up I took the mountain bike off the back of the car and went for a short ride.  I thought my lungs were going to explode out of my chest.  Ah, yes, 6800′ in elevation…

Tuesday after I got everything unpacked and picked her up from doggie daycare I thought it would be good for us to go on a short (flat) walk.  Charlotte had other ideas in mind and shot straight up a trail.  Nearly 500′ in straight up later she had enough.  Note to self don’t let her pick the trails.

Wednesday morning I showed up at CrossFit.  Not only have I not been going to CF at home due to my school schedule, but sure let’s add on the elevation.  Nothing says pain like your first day back in the gym.  Wednesday night at Park City Running Company a running group met.  Charlotte and I showed up knowing full well we were going to struggle.  While the “big kids” threw down a 7+ mile run she and I did the truncated course of 4 miles.  Both of us huffing and puffing on the uphills.

Thursday was CF again.

Friday after work she and I headed out on a trail run.  We wound up missing a trail, had to bushwhack for a while, and then I wound up eating dirt.  My elbow and hand are black and blue while my leg looks like I got into a fight with a cheeseIMG_3361 grater.

Saturday she and I headed up the mountain.  I wanted to hike up until we couldn’t go up any more due to snow.  She had other ideas in mind.  3 miles into the up she laid down in the grass and said “I’m done.”  I’m going to have to get a cooling coat for her.  I wound up carrying her 1/2 mile downhill until she caught sight of a ground squirrel she couldn’t live without and promptly used me as a launching pad.  We found a patch of dirty snow on our way back down the mountain and the promptly threw herself in it.

IMG_3370Sunday we went out with the Sunday Run group from Park City Running.  My plan was to do the 10k route.  We were slow, but there was a sweeper behind us who had to keep her heartrate down so I didn’t feel awful about myself.  (I lie, I felt awful that she had to wait for me.)  When we got to one point in the course there were two chairs and what a view!  Wow.  A bit into that route the woman I was running with realized that she needed to get back so we truncated our course.  On our way down the mountain Charlotte decided to cut a switchback while I went around.  Yep, you guess it, I ate it again.  We wound up doing a little over 5 miles though.

Totals: 6 days

CrossFit: 2

Runs: 5

Total miles 15.2

Total up:  3,596 ft

 

Sonofabitch

**Disclaimer: Yeah, yeah, yeah I know I shouldn’t have hiked/run the mountain.  However, some things in life are worth it and this is one of them.  I wound up coming home, taking a shower, taking extra asthma meds, and crashing for 2 plus hours.  I will pay for this, but totally worth it.**

0400 this morning my alarm went off and I bounded out of bed.  I can hear you now, why in the hell would you bound out of bed at 0400?? I was going to go climb mountains.  More importantly I was finally going to get to show Sainted Mary Shenandoah!

0500 I was on the road making the two hour trek out to the mountains.

IMG_58150650 We both pull into the parking lot having basically followed each other the last 15 miles to the park.  As she got out of the car my jaw hit the floor.  She was in shorts.   It was 40 degrees at the base of the mountain and the top is always at least 10 degrees cooler.  I relayed this to her.  Thus started the “Sonofabitch” hike.  As she attempted to call her husband to let her know we got there I let her know that we probably weren’t going to have signal until we got up the mountain a bit.  We took a proof of life selfie, though, that I promised her we’d send him later.  This btw is why I normally hike with my spot device it let’s my loved ones know I’m ok.  However, it only seems to work when you turn it on (oops).

0700 We rolled out of the parking lot.  We were within the first 5 cars in the parking lot.  This is why we were starting early.  I joked with her that we should enjoy the quiet because in a few hours the mountain was going to be crawling with a two types of people: 1.) The “let’s take Mom for a hike” people even though Mom never hikes and would much rather be at home taking a nap or 2.) The “I’m taking the kids out to the mountains” also known as “Dad has no idea what he’s doing” with all the Dad’s who brought the kids out to the mountains, alone, so that Mom could have some peace.

We hit the rock scramble and ran into a couple of 20 something guys who were obviously struggling a bit. “They don’t have mountains where we are from.”

“Oh yeah, where’s that?”

“Florida.”

I snickered.  They followed us for a little while, but in the end I think the combination of a heavy nights drinking and the elevation just slowed them way down because they didn’t keep up.

Mary popped into the lead and immediately headed off course.  “Um, where are you going the course goes that way.” (points to blue blaze going in opposite direction and straight up)

“Sonofabitch.”

We laughed.

IMG_3983As we ascended the mountain the clothes that we had taken off at lower levels came back on.  I think I must have taken on and taken off my layers at least 7 times as we traversed different climate zones.  As we neared the top the temperature bottomed out.  Then we came around the corner and got pushed forcefully back onto the rocks.  The wind was hollowing.

SONOFABITCH!

There was definitely no lingering at the top to enjoy the view today.  As we headed back down to the trail split to take the fire road back Florida boys were finally summiting.

IMG_3003Mary and I headed jogging down the trail that leads to the fire road.  The creeks were raging due to all the rain we’ve had in the last couple of days.  We stopped at one of them and washed the salt off of our faces.  As the trail widened, ultimately turning into the actual fire road only then did we start to see any people.  First it was a trickle but by the time we crossed the last bridge before the pavement to the parking lot a deluge.  As we jogged past them in my head I was sorting them by type.  Mary turns to me and says, “You were so right.”

IMG_43141100 Parking lot.  We were both rungry.  After a quick change of clothes and shoes for me (and a “I need to plan better.” comment from Mary) we were off to lunch.  Yeah it was a good day.