Friday, September 27, 2013

It Is Now Or Never...

(At one point I thought I would get lucky!)



Well, it is safe to say I jinxed myself last night when I mentioned the predicted weather change.

If you could only hear the moan I let out when I stumbled out of my bedroom to be greeted with "Hey...it is snowing on the mountains...look!".

*sigh* 

I tried to see the mountains and literally could not see a damn thing past the tops of the lower level of trees. Nothing but fog..mist..and snow.

The sun tried to come out a little before noon and that is when I decided to make my final attempt. Unlike yesterday, today I looked like I was heading to Antarctica or something. Long pants, two layers of shirts, buff, gloves, and my Summit waist/leg belt. Along with me I packed 2 water bottles, 2 gels, an extra cover up and phone. I was not sure how much of an effort the weather was going to require of me, so instead of the chicken I ate before yesterdays run I only ate a Cliffbar this morning. So far so good!

(You could not even see her from the water!)



I was actually surprised at how good the trail conditions were considering all the rain @ 9,600 ft. Yesterday, my Speedcross had some trouble on all the dry rock but today they took to the mud like a champ! I was surprised at what good time I made to where I left off yesterday. As I continued to go further the summit got closer and closer. I could not believe it!

(Ideal conditions at the start)


AND that is when the weather changed. I have to be honest. I was above 11,000 ft when I saw snowflakes really start to pick up, but I have never seen things get bad so quick. What was even weirder was that I think I *heard* it before I even saw it change. The roar of the wind coming down the mountain was insane. That was literally all you could hear before everything would go white. It was a friggin white out people! The sharpness in the air took my breath away and stung my skin like you would not believe. The temperature dropped so low at one point that my hands (which I kept in gloves) got too cold to operate the IPhone, making photos impossible past a certain point because we all know the phone won't work unless you have a special glove...which I do not :(

(I was so close....the end was just up there...I swear!)

(And then I was told to turn around ;) )




Anyway, it was at this point that I made the decision to turn around. While I really wanted to kiss that beautiful mountain on the lips....I ended up kissing the butt instead. I will say though, the amount of respect I gained for the mountain in a very very short amount of time was incredible. She truly is a part of Mother Nature....and like a mother...she will guide you and support you, even giving encouragement....but when she decides it is time for you to go home.....you will know it! I got a stern lesson today! When I got back down to around 9,600 ft and turned around I could not see where I was coming from. That was a clear indicator to me that I successfully listened to my instincts but at the same time got to experience something very special!

I may not have made it the whole 12,988 ft but I feel on top of the world and would do it again in a heartbeat. Up until the time I had to turn around, the trip up was very enjoyable. The ease at which my body was able to navigate is a good sign that my training methods throughout the week were on target. While at one point my legs started to go numb from the wind and temperature change, I am pretty confident that I could have made it to the top if the snow and wind had not picked up. Until the end there was no real point where I was too hot or cold. I had plenty of hydration and gels, as I only ended up using one water bottle. All in all....I made good decisions the whole time and for that I am grateful.





I will be back to conquer it again. I can't say I consider this an "Epic Fail" because I have experienced so much this week. I am also glad that I focused on one area. I really was able to see the true beauty of the mountain each time I went up, and was able to see her in all conditions....both when happy and not so happy :)

For now...that is it. I am happy. I head home tomorrow and until then I basically have nothing to do....which is a very nice thing. I may get out and wonder around a little bit.

(I failed at the selfie...could not get one once the weather started...but you can see how windy it was!)


OH...and man to I wish I had taken a picture. About 1/2 hour before I decided to turn around the wind and snow were picking up. I swear to G*d...I turned around and saw a gentleman running in nothing but a windbreaker and shorts. When I turned around about 2 minutes later he was gone. I can only imagine that he either turned around or shot up a hill before the trail I was on. I am kind of worried. He was not prepared at all. He looked to be making a good speed but I am left with a queasy feeling because he never caught up to be for me to make sure with my own eyes that he was OK. I can only hope he is used to this weather and is perfectly fine...all dry and warm from his run. At one point...I really did think I was seeing things...but I swear he was there! As for the rest of the photos I took....just check the FB...I am too lazy to upload them all here :)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Almost There!!


Totally amazing day people!

I almost made it all the way! Peak 8 is such a reality...I can hardly stand it!

(Heading back up!)


Now, I had not anticipated making it as far as I did but I cannot be happier that I went those extra steps today. When I took off this afternoon, I really only wanted to get about 1/2 way up the mountain and then turn around and reassess what I would have to do/need to make it all the way to the summit. I took off at a slow pace and really just tried to get a feel for the trails and the twists and turns a long with way. I won't lie... my legs and lungs burned! The hills were so rocky and steep. Each time I got to the top of one I would peak over, hoping to see some flat ground, only to see another set of rolling rocky hills!  It was hard to get discouraged though. Each time I thought I wanted to rest, I would just look straight ahead and see all the beautiful snow ahead. It was literally calling me. I cannot wait to stand on the very top and look all around!

(Trails)

(Lots of rock)



Tonight is calling for more snow at the higher elevations, so my next trip up could be very different than this one. I doubt I will see another 59 degree day with bright sun and high winds. I only had to wear a t-shirt and long pants on this run. The trails were dry and the snow was isolated to the very top of the mountain. If it snows again I will have to figure out how much and what type of clothing to take. Today's run only consisted of a hydration belt. If the temperature drops and I have to carry extra clothing I may have to carry my Camel Bak for storage. One things for sure, I will be taking more water. I went up with my UD hydration belt with one bottle of water. I had finished it just about 1/2 up. Tonight I purchased a second bottle with a hand belt, so hopefully I will be better prepared.



Anyway, after returning home from my amazing experience...things changed (but turned out wonderfully in the end.)

Now, if you read the blog from yesterday then you remember me mentioning that Team Grand Timber would be splitting up, with both the fun run at the Vertical Runner and a special event being covered for this entry. Well, turns out that we only have the fun run to share. Yesterday, I placed a call to the Boulder Running Company and left a message explaining that I wanted to reserve 2 tickets for Kilian Jornet's Q&A, but would be making a 2 hour drive to get there and could not just run in the store and grab them. I thought we were good to go until last night when the BRC website was pulled up and I was informed it was SOLD OUT. Yes, if you heard the sound of something breaking, it was my heart hitting the ground here in Colorado. I was crushed. I feel bad to admit it...but I got teared up. Now, as self proclaimed #1 SOML fan, I will admit...I had no clue. I really had not been paying attention to anything like that and never would have thought something would pop up in Boulder. Turns out they had 300 tickets to sell and I may have missed the boat. I got a call this morning from BRC and was told they had "skipped over some messages" and were now trying to figure out what to do, as they were "shocked" that it sold out. They told me they would call at 3:00 and let me know if they could do anything. Turns out they could not, so if you heard a random squishing sound at around 5:00 EST, it was my crushed heart being mashed into the floor.

So, as you can imagine, I was forced to "put on my big girl panties" (much love to Melodie) and get over it. That may have been the best decision I made all day.

Tonight we made it down to the Vertical Runner for the fun run with Sage Canaday and Ian Sharman. It was such a great event. Scott Running was also there and had plenty of demo shoes (both road and trail) to try on. Their reps were super knowledgeable and the runners even helped with fit and style questions. It was so neat to interact with them in such an intimate setting. To be able to discuss what I had done earlier in the day, what the conditions were up there, etc...with someone like Sage Canaday...it was just mind blowing! Oh...and let me tell you...his sister (who is also a coach)...is the greatest person on the planet. What a great group of people! Now,my legs were trashed from my little adventure today, so I only ended up taking some Scott demo shoes for a "run around the block"...but a group of about 15 or so got to take off and run the beginning portion of UROC. Now, it was described as a "casual fun run", but I was in awe of Ian Sharman when he literally took off like a rocket towards the trails! I also can't say enough about the Vertical Runner team and Scott Running. They made everyone, no matter what level of runner they were, feel like an elite. I am really going to miss that shop when I go home!

(New Stuff!)


After that, it was off to the Breckenridge Brewery and then a nice walk through downtown before heading home. Such a wonderful evening....it just keeps getting better!


For now that is it. I am forced to quit typing. In the past 10 minutes I have had reject Star Wars (Lego edition) from being allowed on the TV and now my skiing ability is being made fun of as Late On 8 is on showcasing Skimo. I can't win on somethings!





Wednesday, September 25, 2013

#Wind #Windsucks #Ihatewind

Hehehehe....if you don't get the humor behind all the # in the title...then before you go any further you have to watch this:



Anyway, moving on...today was a wonderful rest day. I had planned on hitting those beautiful vertical trails I ran yesterday, however, after I almost fell to the ground in pain after jumping out of bed, I decided to take it easy.

So with no running planned I did the only thing any girl would do (after eating only bacon and coffee for breakfast..ick). I went to the pool and then I went shopping (hey...but give me credit...I walked downtown and back!) It was a lovely day and at around 59 degrees it almost felt hot. Tomorrow is supposed to be about the same, so the run is sure to be a good one!



In not so good news, the weather is showing quite a bit of wind in the higher elevations over the next couple of days. We are talking about possible wind gusts around 40 mph. Now, I love me some wind...but I am not sure if I love me that much while trying to achieve what I have set out to with this trip. I am going to keep an eye on it and will let you all know how it goes. It helps to have knowledgeable people around me who are taking a look at the maps and finding other fun and amazing things to do in the mountains if need be!

Speaking of fun and amazing things...LOOK OUT...tomorrow is going to be an interesting entry. For the first time ever (*drum roll*)...this blog will be covering two separate topics at once. Team Grand Timber is splitting up. One half is going to the Fun Run with elite runners Sage Canaday and Max King (woohoo!)  and the other half is taking off with special guest (and uber cool friend) Melodie on an adventure that will probably go down in history as both hysterical and embarrassing. I will give no more away...you will just have to wait and see :) If you can guess...you will get a prize :)

** Update...not so much on the surprise fun adventure  :(  Fun run is still on people!

That is it for now. Nothing to talk about because this is what I did most afternoon:

(And yes...it was only 59 degrees)


Hate me...no wait....#hateme :)

I can't wait to write tomorrow and tell you all about everything. Then...Friday...and attempts that will be made before returning to the Bluegrass state at the end of the weekend!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Oh That Vertical High!!

Oh Happy Day!

Today was the first real test of the legs with some vertical trail and it was beyond wonderful! It has me so excited for the end of the week....I can barely stand it!

Of course, the day started off like any day should...with a trip to the local donut shop! I decided it was up to me to be the "early morning hero of the house" and head out down the hill to provide everyone with good old fashioned nourishment (hehehe...ok....so it was 8:00...still early in my book.) I suited up and managed to only partially freeze my ass off on the way down, making amazing time along the way. Upon arrival I quickly started heading south when I needed to be heading north and managed to go over 1/2 mile out of the way before turning around and backtracking. Turns out the donut shop I've been looking for is RIGHT NEXT to the Vertical Runner, the running shop I have visited just about every day since I got here. How I did not know this before today is beyond me...but lesson learned. I even got props from the donut man since I was "working out and getting donuts".  Unlike yesterday, this morning the streets were a little busier. I felt kind of odd running around there because it seemed like everyone driving through town was staring at me out their window. I mean...common...there is UROC starting from here in a few days...people are going to be running!

(This is such a big thing for me)




Anyway, after making it back up the hill it was pool time and I can honestly say my legs have never been happier. It is such a wonderful way for me to stretch out my muscles and get my legs ready for the day ahead. I took it easy this afternoon, mostly lounging around the house and taking a nice nap before heading back downtown to do a little shopping. Like this morning, the streets were busier and I can't say I am a real fan. The UROC banner is up...and while it is mostly transparent (so as not to hide the beautiful mountain behind it) it is still a very intimidating presence. It almost has me terrified that any of the participants would actually see me running. Why? I don't know. Perhaps it is because I am here working on a dream of mine which is like *teeny tiny* compared to what these guys and gals will be doing in a few days. They probably do what is a huge thing for me before breakfast! Still, I try to remind myself that it is the passion and love of the mountains and trails that bring everyone to the same place...so I guess we are equals when it comes to that.

(The start of some amazing trails)


Once I was back home I hit the trails around 6:00. I was not too worried about losing sun since I knew I was heading quite a bit up hill and had a pretty direct route down. The run was amazing. I will admit, my legs were burning about half way through, but just when I started to crap out I was able to get some incredible views of the mountains. They were right in front of me almost the entire way. All I wanted to do was run to them. It was such motivation. I even came across a lake about 1/2 way up that had the most amazing reflection of both the sunset and the snow covered mountains. It was like something out of a book. I had never felt so alive!! I sat for a while and just soaked it all in...trying to find trails up the hills to the mountains that I could take in the next few days. It was almost heartbreaking when the sun let me know it was time to head back by rapidly setting behind the mountains. Quickly I made my way back down hill (working my quads quite a bit along the way) and arrived home...winded...exhausted...and so happy! As you can imagine, the pool was needed but really did not feel that good. I am skipping the gym tonight and letting my legs rest. My poor calves ache and are sensitive to the touch, so I see some ice and compression in my future.

(Stopped me in my tracks...)

(Lovely trails)



I will probably do the same vertical route for the next few days to really get my legs used to the grade change. I am slowly getting used to the fact that compared to Kentucky, Colorado has no oxygen. Plenty of air...but no oxygen....hehehe :) As for pictures...I took quite a few...just jump on my FB page...I made them public :)

So that is it. I am resting once again...fire place going....door open....blankets on...and soccer on TV! I hope everyone is having a great week! From what I have been reading, Kentucky is having some amazing weather. We got to 59 here and it felt like summer! I can't imagine how long it is going to take to get used to the heat when I get back home. Hey...at least I will be ready to ROCK Bourbon Chase!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Sucking Wind

Isn't it amazing how every time you get a little too confident the Universe is there to knock you down a notch or two!?

For me, this evening's run was the perfect example of that.

(Morning snow)


Now, like I have mentioned...I thought I was doing pretty well with acclimating to the altitude here (not). So much so that today I decided to hit the trails and show them what I was made of. I am pretty sure they got a good laugh because I sucked ass. My pace per mile was normal but I felt like I was running with a small VW Beetle strapped to my chest. What an experience! I have never felt anything like it. I was able to run but boy was I sucking wind! I was literally trying to inhale as deep as I could with each step in some desperate attempt to convince my body that we were back at like 1,000 feet in Lexington. It was an enjoyable EPIC FAIL.

The run totally exhausted me for a while but I was able to come across some pure vertical trail that I totally plan on hitting up in the morning. Straight up the ski slope. While I am pretty sure I am still a few days off before I try Peak 8, I figure this back and forth up the slopes will really help me prepare.

(Yes...the picture sucks...but the trails were awesome!)


After a little while on the trails today, I decided to run back to downtown Breckenridge. I was really surprised that I had the whole town virtually to myself. The sidewalks were almost empty and I can tell you that I was the only one running them. It was kind of nice. I made my way back down to the Vertical Runner to pick up some GUs and try on that UD hydration vest I saw yesterday. I have never run with vest, let alone with one that had hydration bottles on the front. I wish someone was there to take a picture of me...my chest....and hydration bottles strapped to the front of them. It was both amusing and friggin awesome at the same time. I believe the sales guys response was something along the lines of "well...women are mixed on the vest because of the chest...which...as you can see...you have." It was hysterical honesty but the system itself felt really good. I may have to head back down tomorrow and pick it up. $39.99 for the system (which includes two front bottles) is really not a bad price at all! It was the perfect end to the run. I got to hit the run shop AND grab a bottle of wine before heading back home. I am not going to lie...the people I passed thought I was damn amazing running with a shopping bag full of wine ;)

Other than that I plan to hit those vertical trails tomorrow. Thursday's Fun Run is a 4-5 mile trail which will be really really laid back (I was promised by the VR guy) but I still want to be able to stay within sight of the elites, so I am going to work my butt of until then :) For now, I am heading to the gym after finding out that the hamburger I inhaled after my run was fried in bacon grease. It was amazing but I just can't go to sleep knowing my burger was fried in bacon grease and I did nothing about that :)  Actually...I do have a little confession. Being out here in Colorado and being as physically active as I have been in a higher elevation really has me confident about my body and how she can perform. My build and muscles are something I am embracing here and am really not at all self conscious. It is a nice change. I feel my body constantly working and it is something so wonderful I really cannot describe in words. For once my mind is at ease. I really don't think this trip can get any better.....

OH WAIT...and yes...total snow this morning. Most of it is here to stay, as some of the mountain sides don't seem much snow. What a wonderful sight to wake up to. That with a morning hot tub and out door pool swim and I was in heaven!!!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Mountain Weather - 1 Andi -0

Well...I called it yesterday when I said the weather may keep me from the trails today.

Rain and thunder...*ick*

Now, normally a little rain wouldn't stop me from heading out for a run, but the weather up here in the mountains can be pretty unpredictable at times and the last thing I wanted to do was get stuck up in a higher elevation during a major thunderstorm!

(A morning spent at the pool...staring at this mountain....trying to see the best trails to head up)


Instead, we made the best of the day relaxing and just putzing around. The morning was dedicated to pool time. I got some good lap work in and loved every minute of the 90 degree heated pool outside during a 46 degree morning with rain! Talk about adapting to temperature change. Jump out of hot tub...freeze...hit 90 degree lap pool....relax....and repeat!  The amazing thing about our pool is that we have a view of peaks 8,9 and I believe 10.  Each time we swam out we would look up at the different peaks, deciding which trails would be best and how many practice runs would be required before we tried the total 12,988 feet. In the end we changed our plans a little and decided that peak 8 would be the most enjoyable and feasible during this trip (check out my hot map!)

(Just a hot little map showing ALL my options thanks to the USFS)


After the pool I got to head downtown. I love downtown Breckenridge since it really does remind me of Woodstock, NY.  Of course it was raining with thunder off in the distance but I could care less! The only downside of the whole trip in was that the donut/coffee shop (not the one that opens back up TOMORROW) I was looking for had closed. Figures. They all can't be as cool as North Lime Coffee and Donuts I guess :)

(A little stop on the bridge before hitting downtown)

(I have become obsessed with running past running water :) )




The highlight of the afternoon was a trip in to the Vertical Runner run shop. It has pretty much everything you could need for a good solid week of trail running. They had some of the latest styles Salomon has released as well as Ultimate Direction (including an awesome hydration vest which I may have to pick up!). BUT the BEST THING OF ALL is that they are having a Fun Run this Thursday with Sage Canaday and Max King leading the way!!! People, you can not possible understand how excited I was. I mean, honestly, picture me just trying to suppress my "big expressive eyes" and "random hand gestures" that those close to me have come to love!  Now, UROC is taking off from Breckenridge on Saturday and I believe both are participating...but to have them doing a fun group run?! It is just awesome. They are some of the best in the Ultra Running/Trail Running world and I just about peed myself when I heard this news. It is just cool beyond belief. UROC does not stay in the same place each year, and to have it here....amazing to begin with....but to have the Vertical Runner put this together....just wonderful! I mean...how many people get to just "head out for a run" with some of the best in the sport they love? Argh! So amazing...ok...I have to stop........


(Saw this posted inside the Vertical Runner!)


Anyway, in the end the rain forced me to hit the gym today instead of the trails. I used to hit the gym all the time and loved every minute of it. I was a total gym rat. Tonight...not so much. I got an awesome workout in but it made me realize how much I love running outside. I did the standard cardio on the elliptical and some strength training on the universal. I also tried to run on a treadmill, which was a friggin horrible experience. I eventually had to give up because I could not get a good stride going. Instead, I cranked that b*tch up to an insane incline and power hiked for a while. With winter coming I think I will just purchase more layering gear instead of heading inside for runs.

(Such a wonderful thing...but at the same time...not so much)


So that is about it. I hope to hit the trails tomorrow. For right now I am sitting here in a friggin amazing robe from the spa....with both the patio door open and the fireplace going. Life is wonderful and I am so happy that I get to share this with you all.

OH....AND THERE WAS SNOW TODAY! I went out this evening and saw the beautiful mountains with a good dusting. Severe thunderstorms are expected tonight but perhaps some snow later on. So happy :)

(SNOOOOOOOW!!!)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Art Of Breathing

I finally made it to Breckenridge!

(I love the drive to Breckenridge!)

After a day and a half of travel, which included an amazingly uneventful trip through the entire state of Kansas,  I am happy to report that all went well and I am at what I call "The Trail Runner's Crash Pad" safe and sound (and totally unable to breathe.)

(So yeah....Kansas....I70...not a fan)


Acclimating to the elevation change (around 9,600 feet) has been a challenge this afternoon. I know it will take a while but I hate the time it actually takes to feel like you can take a deep breath again. Just lugging things upstairs was a workout...I can't imagine what the trails will bring in the morning! In the end I am looking to make it up to just around 13,000 feet...which is an additional 3,400 feet to get used to after getting used to this initial change! Like I mentioned before...most the pictures may be of the ground ;)

(The start of the climb up out of Denver)


Speaking of trails, they are all around me. I have no idea which one to explore first! I hope it is tomorrow, however, the mountains may have different plans. We are expecting thunderstorms in the morning and afternoon and then snow showers in the evening. I am not a fan of running in thunder and lightening so we will see what it brings. I have to remember I have a wonderful week to explore and appreciate all the beauty around me. If I have to spend the day exploring downtown Breckenridge or just the pool....then that is not a bad thing!

(The view from my porch....)

(My fav (besides West Sixth that is!))



For now I am laying in bed...feeling quite worn down from what I fear is the start of some brutal altitude sickness. The only good thing is my headache went away after a few ibuprofen and Breckenridge Brewery Avalanches :) The time zone change, while only two hours has me all out of wack since I am still running on EST. Not the stellar first night I was expecting of myself (the night itself is great...I am the bummer at this point) but there will be plenty more.

I can't wait to share all this amazing place has to offer! For now, I am going to rest up and hopefully be ready to roll soon! OH...and my toe is doing very well...thank you for asking ;)