Let it

Believe everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it.”
Harvey MacKay

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Barkley Training (No not really!)

Another Wednesday, another trail adventure with Katie. I seriously love this chick. Some friendships build in time. Ours is building on dirt, sweat, and loads of adventure. Today's was a doozy!
We had both run on roads earlier in the week and wanted some up... again... always. The conversation went a little like this:
Me: Where do you want to go?
Katie: I don't care. I feel like I always do East Kaysville.
Me: Have you done Hell Hole?
K: Nope.
Me: Okay. We'll do Hell Hole.

So we met at the retention pond at Davis Creek, and it wasn't until I pushed the start button on my naked wrist that I realized I'd forgotten my watch. Ah! It's like this run didn't happen already! It didn't really matter. I'm not fast and I'm not pushing any records or anything. I just like numbers. I like to know how far and how high I've gone. Katie has assured me that she will email me her .gpx file... if she can figure out how. Until then, my Strava account thinks I'm lazy.
If you've never hiked or run Davis Creek, know that it starts by going up... and then goes up some more, and then a little more up, and up even more. The first time we explored the Hell Hole trail, I thought I was going to fall backward off the face of the mountain and I was gripping the grasses and weeds as we climbed. It makes me laugh to think back on that. I've done it so many times now. I still have to hike most of it, but I assure you, there is no more dependency on shrubbery.
So I started by showing Katie the Indian Baths. This little hidden gem is a fun little shimmy along the rock face along side the downward course of the waterfall, up to the base of the falls to a little basin- a "bath".
I should mention that laughter was the theme of the day. And that's a good thing.

Again- the first time I thought I was cheating death. Not so much anymore. Still, I'm careful to check and see what my trail buddies are comfy with before charging in. I learned well from the one time I took a friend up the cliffs to see some pictographs and didn't know she was afraid of heights. Oops.
Katie has no such issues. She's a nonchalant bad*ss.
Katie being a nonchalant bad*ss.
.....except when it comes to snakes. Then she's an darlingly skittish little pansy. We came across a little guy (no rattle) sleeping in the middle of the trail just about the split off to Hell Hole. I stopped in my tracks. The local trail running community has been put on their guard about rattlers lately and we're all a touch paranoid. The moment I stopped to observe our slithery friend's lack of rattle, Katie gasped and began doing an adorable little 'grossed out' dance behind me. I tossed a few twigs and stomped a few times to try to get him to move along and he didn't even twitch. It took us a bit to find a good sized stick to nudge him with, and still the only response we got was just a slight twitch of his head. That's when I noticed that the coloring in his body was slowly changing as he began to move a little. He wasn't warm enough to move! I gently nudged him toward the side of the trail and eventually he got enough circulation to move along. I brought the snake nudging stick along for good measure and continued up with Katie exclaiming, "You're like Steve Irwin!" Did I mention I love her? Because I do. The grasses had grown tall around the trail and there was an abundance of overgrowth to make our way through. Up, up, and more up. I think I probably made at least a thousand spiders homeless today... with my face. Such are vegetated trails in the summer! We found flat enough ground to run again and shot through the tinderbox that was Christmas Tree Lane. This is where the lid flew off and the real adventures began.
You would think that I'd been up there enough times to find the right turn off, but summer over-growth got me all befuddled and we ended up bushwhacking in circles for quite some time. Oh, don't you fret, we were thoroughly enjoying ourselves.
A wild Katie in her natural habitat.

In hindsight, I think we just didn't go up high enough to find the right trail turn off, so I had the brilliant idea to go lower and bushwhack our way up the creek bed to the waterfall. Um. That was not brilliant. Katie was totally game. We charged right in and before we knew it, we stood with soaked feet, covered in spiderwebs and surrounded by greenery and so many branches that we ended up climbing trees half the time. It looked kinda like this:
Er.. exactly like this.
I was mostly game to move forward, but I kept apologizing to Katie and she kept laughing at me and saying, "I love this! This is my favorite! Let's keep going!" So we did. We got wet, we climbed trees and embankments and rocks, we put giant spiders out of their webs (which I'm sure are re-built by now). And eventually, we found the actual trail (which was still pretty overgrown) and with a triumphant "whoop!", the waterfall.
Katie immediately declared it worth the trouble and climbed up into it.

I joined her forthwith.

It seemed slightly anticlimactic to take a couple of pictures and leave. I kind wished I'd had a picnic to spread out and enjoy after all that time and work. But we hit the trail again and I came out smacking my forehead at how I had missed it to begin with. We took the loop up and over to Pretty Valley, and chatting happily and finally running again, wound our way down the familiar trail to Cannon Flat and back around to the cars.
I don't have the exacts yet, but I think it took us almost 2 hours to do about 4 miles. It makes me chuckle, because that was so. much. fun.
Our girl came through.
3.8 miles
1,690 ft of vert
16:55 average pace

Monday, July 7, 2014

Hello Monday. We meet again.

I've had a realization in the past few weeks.
Monday is pivotal.
Monday morning comes far too early. Often when the alarm sings, it is silenced and ignored. But if I don't make it out running on Monday, I hate myself all week long. I feel behind. On the other hand if I do get out, even for a little bit, I win. My whole week feels more productive and validated, all because of a Monday run.
So I met today with the mental gravity that the Monday dilemma deserves. Did I silence my alarm? Yes. Yes I did. But did I reset it for an hour later? YES I DID. And I got up, and went out, and actually almost ran fast!
4.14 Miles
9:51 average pace!

I declared victory on Monday before 8:00 in the morning. Then I showered, dressed, made breakfast, gathered, sorted and started laundry, packed lunches, and sent the kids off to their cousins house. I drove my niece to Provo with no AC in the car, got her checked in at EFY and settled in her dorm room. After that, I drove to West Valley where my amazing, darling, handsome, fit, generous, talented, genius chiropractor brother (I buttered him up to get him to see me on his lunch break) x-rayed my elbow and adjusted my poor, beaten body. It's been a rather unpleasant weekend on the pain scale, so I figured I should get things checked out. Since I depend on my body for my livelihood and sanity, and all that jazz. Turns out I not only have some gnarly bruising- which is also visible on the bone, but bit of slight stress fracture and maybe a little chipping. Drat. I've been advised to stay off of it for at least 3 weeks. We'll see how good I am at teaching yoga classes without demonstrating any vinyasa portions. No downward dog for me... or upward dog, cobra, chaturanga, hand and forearms stands, arm balances, etc.... Double drat. The good news is, Mike was able to put me back together for the most part, and the stress fracture is the worst of it.
If anyone needs a good chiropractor, I know a LOT of them. :)

Let's go up again.

My last adventure with Katie was so magically happy and beautiful, that I couldn't wait to do it again. Aaron suggested we plan it for Saturday. Katie and her favorite Chris were very much on board! We met at the pond at 9am, piled in Aaron's car and made the always-death-defying drive up Farmington Canyon to the gates. I had been slightly concerned about the climbing temperatures, but figured we'd just have to deal with them. This time we went left. I was still slow (what's new?), but I was pleasantly surprised that my injuries weren't complaining too much- just a little throb here and there. Katie humored my easy pace as we climbed and the fellas waited for us now and again so we could stick mostly together. It's amazing how much closer Gold Ridge's first false summit is when you go the right way! It turns out, Gold Ridge has about 4 false summits. Each is stunningly beautiful with views for miles, and the climb to each a little bit steeper than the last. We spent plenty of time taking pictures and goofing around at each. As we stood on the summit of Gold Ridge, an eagle (or some other majestic bird of prey) thought fit to soar around us just below the ridge and say hello. It was such a happy morning! The temperatures were actually really nice up high. We decided to make a loop of it and made the descent south toward the Bountiful campground side of things. The wildlife didn't disappoint. Plenty of adorable rodents, a magical young buck that leapt across our path, glowing in the warm morning sunlight, and at one point I think we may have smelled a bear... or it's scat.... either way, we ran faster. By about 6 miles in, my right knee and left hip began to twinge in protest, and my elbow and shoulder began to throb a bit uncomfortably. It was nothing I couldn't work through, but the others humored me with plenty of walk/hike breaks. The company was so very awesome that it caught me by surprise to be coming around the bend to the car.
8.6 miles
1716 ft of vert
14:39 average pace

Friday, July 4, 2014

Let's go up

On Tuesday nights I teach a Beginner's Yoga class in my darling friend's living room. It is small. Sometimes there are only 3 of us. Usually I can get 3 or 4 students. This week I had 5. It was a happy, sweaty, shaky and calming practice. I had run Monday and Tuesday mornings and yoga felt amazing. I felt like maybe I could look forward to a rest day the next morning. Mother Nature had delivered her monthly gut punch. I was tired. Rest would be nice. I bid my students (my friends) farewell after class as they trickled out of friendly conversation and out the door. My new running friend Katie paused at the doorway to inquire how my 50k training was going. "Are you running tomorrow?" She asked with a hopeful look on her face. She was in a running funk. Boy do I know how that goes! So I agreed to text her in the morning and we'd run out of our funks together.
I slept in the next morning. We hadn't set a time and the sleep felt good. I was indecisive on where we would run and I knew Katie didn't much care. After some texting back and forth (We could do Ed's Peak? Ack. Too much vert for today.) we decided on location. I had been wanting to get high. I'd been wanting to explore the route to Gold's Ridge and didn't dare do it alone. Perfect. I fed the kids and left them with instructions to finish their chores and met her at the pond parking at 10:30. The drive up Farmington Canyon Road is slightly terrifying. Katie handled it like a pro. We fell into easy conversation as we made our way up, up, up past campers and ATVs, slowing for a pretty deer fawn whose natural bounding skills we envied aloud as she frolicked up the mountainside. We parked and the gate and went right. I hadn't paid enough attention to realize we were going the long way to Gold's, but the scenery was so lovely, I have no regrets. Within the first few yards I warned Katie that this would be a slow day. She waved off my warning with, "It's just good to be in the mountains." And it was.
Our conversation wandered with us. From jokes, to stories, to history and cooking instructions. We laughed and wondered our way through fields of yellow flowers, the towering trees silently watching us on our way. Katie has great stories. The miles just slipped on by until we reached a steep rocky incline and headed up to where we knew the views were. Aaron had warned me of a false summit. This was it. In the distance I could see the winding trail to Gold's Ridge Peak. False or not, good heavens it was gorgeous!
(photo by Katie Weller)
We took abundant trailfies (trail selfies) and mountaintop trail yoga pictures. Just then I got a call. My littles were Facetiming me. This is supposed to be an emergency measure, but they were just getting restless to play with friends. I guess we had been out longer than I'd planned. We were at mile 4.25. I hadn't really planned on an 8-9 mile run today and my kids' calls were taking a nip out of my wondrous communion with nature. So I drank in the view for a minute more, took a moment to gaze longingly at the rocky peak in the distance, turned my back to it, and continued back the way we had come.
As we picked our way, quick-footed down the rocky trail, our storytelling turned in the direction of "this one time I turfed it..." We told of how we got our scars and big feet that always seemed to be our down fall. This spiraled into other scar stories (Did I mention Katie tells GREAT stories?) as we let gravity have it's way down the easier surface of the ATV trail. And then wouldn't you know, I caught a toe and took flight. A moment of slow motion, quiet hang time and then spiraling impact. Right knee, left thigh, left shoulder blade and elbow? What? When I skidded to a halt, somehow now on my right side, I wanted to say something clever. To assure Katie I was alright. I was tough. I'd pop right back up. Or not. My body had other plans. I'd turfed before, but this one hurt more... more deeply. I could hardly breathe. Start there. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. I laid there for a few seconds as Katie calmly came to my side asking if anything was broken. Making my way to a seated position and cradling an arm I couldn't get to respond I answered, "I don't know yet."
"Okay." She responded, plopping down in the dirt beside me. Gosh, I love this girl.
"Well, crap." I exclaimed, "That sucked."
Katie just laughed, brushed some dirt off my shoulder, snagged my water bottle out of my Hydraquiver and handed it to me.
"That was a pretty good one! I'd give it a solid 9."
I smiled, "I'll have to work on my form and technique for next time."
As the initial shock subsided, I began a slow inventory. Mentally cataloging what was bleeding, what still worked. I wasn't sure if my arm was broken or if I'd just had the worst "funny bone" tap of my life. Eventually nerve signals began to get through again and I could at least move my hand, although shakily.
"I don't think I've critically injured any body parts that I need to get me off of this mountain."
Katie chuckled a little, "Well that's good. We'll just walk it off."
We made our way along slowly. Running when I felt like it, Katie letting me set the pace. Stopping at a creek crossing the clear away blood and dirt. The bloodthirsty deer flies had caught scent of my injuries and they accompanied us across the terrain, hunting me like the wounded animal I was. Darn flies.
Katie continued to distract me beautifully with more of her tales, and the next thing I knew, there was the car.

That's one thing I love about this sport; It doesn't take years to become friends. Just shared passion for the terrain, shared experience, the rawness and vulnerability that comes with placing yourself in such a present and real situation, and the willingness to open up and give someone the shirt off your back- or in this case, the emergency toilet paper from your pack.
When I got home to assess my injuries, I wondered how on earth I could have rolled in such a way as to procure such varied wounds. I think I'd have paid money to see slow motion video of that. Maybe in the next life.

I have no regrets about Wednesday's run. It was just what I needed. But as I type this, Aaron is descending Timpanogos with dozens of our Wasatch Mountain Wrangler friends, and I'm not with them. My deeply bruised quad and knee made sure of that. I'm a little sad to have missed out on the fun, but I think it will be rested and healed enough to go back up and take the missed Gold Ridge summit with Aaron on Saturday. Here's hoping anyway. I may still have to get my elbow checked out. It's kind of misshapen and still pretty tender.
Battle wounds.
It's all part of the game!
8.5 Miles
1181 feet of vert
14:23 Average pace

Cut and bruised right palm, 2 bruised knees, bruised and scraped left upper quad, scraped and bruised left shoulder blade, scraped and very bruised partially misshapen left elbow, sore left ribs, hip and side, slightly bruised ego.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Feeling good

I've been moody as all get out lately, so it feels good to be able to simply say:
I got up, I went out, I ran well, I smiled a lot, I danced through sprinklers, and I feel good!
Sure my hips and thighs were a little tight and sore from my mountain run less than 24 hours prior, but that's what we're going for here, right?

I really really REALLY want to run Timp with the Wranglers on Thursday night, so I am praying my body cooperates for not only an awesome long run, but a summit run too!

5.2 miles
111 ft vert(ha!)
10:41 average pace