Mt. of the Holy Cross (hiking alone)

Important things that you think about on long solo hikes: we say depth instead of deepness…but steepness instead of stepth. WHY!?!? I could probably find out why now that I’m home and have access to the internet, but I spent hours considering this serious problem on the trail.

This was actually at the end of the hike, looking cool

This was actually at the end of the hike, looking cool

I do love hiking with friends; people I knew before and some that I meet along the way. Casual conversation helps ease the steepness, helps you keep pace, pass the time, and especially not lose hope when the going gets rough (like miles of snowmelt flooded willows as you’re losing light). But there is something special about facing all of it alone from time to time.

The Mt. of the Holy Cross (elevation 14,003ft) starts off with a good amount of gain pretty quickly, in fact you hit treeline before you make it to Half Moon Pass in the first couple miles. At the top of the pass, two things happen: sweeping, epic views of MTOTHC, and now the trail heads steeply down (and loses not only all of the elevation you gained, but maybe even a little more).

The view of MtOTHC from Half Moon Pass

The view of MtOTHC from Half Moon Pass

At this point, the weather was pretty ominous. I was getting a later start than I planned (hit the TH at 8a) and I heard it was a good thing-it rained and hailed until about 7a, maybe a little later than that on the summit. It was still looking pretty dark up there as I descended Half Moon Pass and headed for the river crossing that would lead me to the ascent.

A big descent early in the hike is a bummer for so many reasons-you lose what you’ve already gained, you realize you’re going to have to gain it all back again (and then a lot more), and most importantly, the out-hike is going to have a long ascent on it when you’re already exhausted. And we all know, the main rule of hiking is, the way out always feels much, much longer than it actually is.

The main ascent was what I’d like to call arduous. I was in a hit-it-and-quit-it mood because of the weather, and because I had to be back in Denver by 5p to teach class at 6. So I burned up that mountain like a…I’ll have to come back and insert a clever simile here. Anyway, there weren’t a whole lot of hikers out, I came across two heading town that gave me weather reports from the summit (hail) but optimism as well-“the clouds are moving quick”. In total I think I saw 7 people (even though there were at least 20 cars at the TH-where were they??).

At the top of the ridge that leads to the final, the trail evens out for a bit, providing a break (although the trail is all small, loose rock, so is it really a break?) I had a good view of the final and the summit for a while (good news: the weather cleared, bad news: I thought it looked far and rough-with no conversation to distract you, that’s a fun mental game). Starting to attack the trail quickly gets lost and things get technical and scrambly very quickly. Luna was rock hopping, as usual (and, as usual, I think all 7 people on that mountain commented on her epic capabilities, grace, stamina, agility…), and I really wasn’t fairing poorly. I was rocking my trail shoes instead of boots, which has become my norm for summer hikes, and I passed a group of 3 older gentlemen who were shocked to see someone in tennis shoes (they don’t even UNDERSTAND about trail shoes, yo) and assumed my feet were pretty torn up. I told them not to worry about it, this is my 9th summit this year in these shoes and my feet feel great 😉

Rock Hopper

Rock Hopper

Because of all the losing-the-trail confusion (made even more fun by the cairn game-found a cairn, but where’s the trail?) and rock hopping fun, I hit the summit in no time at all and was shocked to realize that was it. The clouds had even broken and we had a few sunny minutes on the summit before I decided to roll.

Luna #caninebadass enjoying the summit sweetness

Luna #caninebadass enjoying the summit sweetness

The descent was fast and dirty. We even ran part of it, trying to get out as quick as possible. Well, I ran part of it. Lu ran the whole thing and then some. I made a mental note about getting Lu sponsored as a #caninebadass endurance athlete.

Do you see that mid-jump!?

Do you see that mid-jump!?

The clouds rolled back in as we were approaching that hellish up-hill back to Half Moon Pass, and it started to rain. NBD, we were already safely into the woods. McDonald’s fries and Coke for fuel down! Back in Denver just in time to teach my 6pm class and head to the climbing gym for 3 hours! (fun new fact about climbing: climbers are not only super friendly, but pretty lazy. Initially I was only lasting about 45 minutes at the gym because I just climbed non-stop…until I found out that protocol is this: you climb a route, you sit down with the other climbers, and everyone talks about it for 5 minutes. Then someone else climbs a route, sits back down, and everyone talks about it for 5 minutes. It’s awesome! Definitely the most welcoming community to any sport I’ve become a part of.)

Training (and psychology or something, probably)

You guys know I’ve been up to a lot of business lately. And by business, I mean activities. As I’ve been planning my upcoming amazing trips, I’ve realized that there’s a couple doozies coming up fast and in addition to the things I’m already training for, I have some areas to step up. It’s got me to thinking about the difference between working out (for the sake of working out), training for competition, and training to do epic shit.

I’ve been involved in competitive sports for basically ever, with maybe a 2 year reprieve after I stopped racing (road running) after college and before I picked up roller derby. Training for competitive sports is a discipline and an obligation. Sometimes, it’s awesome. As long as I’ve had something to work for, I’m able to train (even if I don’t always like it). But, like I say all the time, I road run to support my trail racing habit. And it’s exactly that. Most of my training for running is on the road, and it sucks. I would never be like “I’m going to crush 10 miles on the ROAD!” it’s more like oh dear god, 10 miles. 10 monotonous, repetitive motion injury, joint shaking miles that make me question my commitment to long distance running in general (more on this later). But I still do it.

I’ve never been one for working out. When I’m at the height of intense training for something, I can really crush a work out. And yeah, I like it, and it feels good. I’m never going to question the amazing effects of endorphins, et al. But I can not bring myself to work out for the sake of working out. Plenty of people do, it’s awesome, because exercise is really important for your health and not every human is willing and able to commit their lives to physical endeavors. I teach a spin class once a week and the beautiful souls who attend that class, I tip my hat to them. No music in the world would make me work that hard just to be healthy.

What!?  So many miles!

What!? So many miles!

So I’ve been keeping track of my bicycle commuting mileage on a calendar all month, without doing anything with it (like adding it up) and when I realized the other day that I MUST start training for my bike tours, I added it up. I ride 70-100 miles a week, and that’s mainly getting to classes. I don’t think I entered in when I ride to a restaurant for dinner or something, and I usually walk to the store. I was pretty impressed. Although with the Mt Evans trip (50 miles by bicycle, from Denver to Echo Lake, then summit Mt. Evans, then ride the 50 back) looming, I need to increase mileage by a lot. Something about planning and committing to this training feels very different. I rode an extra 30 miles yesterday, and it felt amazing. I haven’t been riding much outside of commuting lately, so that was probably part of it. But it was more than that. It wasn’t an obligation. It was a commitment to become stronger so I could live a stronger life. There’s been a tone of falsity in my race training lately, and that’s what it is. I consider that training obligatory so I can race hard and obtain a good time and all the glory that comes with competition. Whereas, training to walk and ride mountains; that feels very authentic and like I’m working to be better.

Yeah, this is how I ride training miles...get better sunglasses, Sarah.  And wear a MF helmet!

Yeah, this is how I ride training miles…get better sunglasses, Sarah. And wear a MF helmet!

How do I bring this into my race training?

Updates and coming up:
Monday Long’s (this should be 3/20 and my last winter ascent of the season, I hear the conditions up there are actually still WINTER)
6/11 Mt. Evans
July 2-6 Wanderlust Festival in Aspen
July & August Nolan’s Fourteeners 100 miles backpacking, bicycle tour to Estes via Peak to Peak Highway
Breakdancing: still working on the same two moves but they’re getting better!
Ashtanga: finally getting back on track

Long distance running & Ashtanga (DISCIPLINE)(I don’t have it)

Here are some ways to find out you have no self discipline:

1. You finally choose to pack for your trip instead of getting in the last 9 mile run before
2. The moment you start on a long run, you start justifying why you’ve cut your run short
3. When you get texts, you stop running to respond to them immediately (because, obv, you did not turn your ringer off)
4. You clean your house instead of doing ashtanga primary series. Then, you create yourself a hulu account so you can watch tv instead of doing ashtanga primary series (because you canceled your Netflix account so you’d stop watching tv)
5. When you’re doing ashtanga primary series, you somehow end up working on handstands. This is like if a mouse eats a cookie. Then, you start working on handstand transitions and pretty soon you’re trying to figure out how to footlessly transition out of astavakrasana and you’ve forgotten that you were ever doing primary series in the first place.

Needless to say, I’ve been struggling on both counts. In fact, I haven’t been on a run since I went to Vermont (more on adventures in Vermont to come!), nor have I practice ashtanga primary series. So. Now we get back on the horse.

How do we conquer lack of self discipline? Friends help. I’ve also imposed a new post rule: 1 bagel for every 3 miles. The third bagel really makes the difference between 7 and 9 miles. Actually, this system isn’t a bad idea. Any suggestions on ideas for a post-primary series bribe? I’m going for a long run. With a friend. And bagels!

Week 2: Distance Running (why I do it) and snowboarding (one last time)

I didn’t post yesterday because I was CRUSHING THE GREENLAND 8 MILE. I was very happy with 1:06 for 8.2 miles of trails; my pre-injury goal time was under an hour so to bust that out after losing four weeks of training in March and April was a good showing in my opinion.

greenland

8 miles made it my longest race. And let me tell you, a lot of shit comes up during 8 miles of trails (particularly when you’re trying to keep your pace uphill). Mainly, WHY AM I DOING THIS. Running sucks. I really want to: take a break, sit down, go to the bathroom, STOP RUNNING. So by mile 6, I could feel every muscle in my body and although I felt stronger then that at any point before, I definitely felt like I was just a body. Muscles and bones, cannonballing forward and forward with no end in sight. Coming up on mile 7, I realized why I run.

Because I am not my body. I am so much stronger than this bag of bones. I am heart and endurance and fire and intensity. I am never going to give up. I will crush all the hills, and I won’t stop until it’s over. I am not lazy. I do not quit. I choose to race 8 miles over going to brunch and day drinking. Over watching other people play sports on TV. In the last 3 miles, I felt so alive. I kicked it in, and the last mile was so painful…but I finished strong. Your mind gives up well before your body does. I’ve come up with lots of reasons over the years why I run. Now, finally, I know. You can’t actually see how strong you are until you stop believing the limits you’ve set for yourself, then shed and shatter them. It is the trial of miles. How strong are you…really?

Then, today, I got up crazy early and went snowboarding. Most of the resorts are already closed, it was Loveland’s last day and I so desperately wanted to get out one last time. It was so windy and icy at the top, the bottom was hot and slushy. The first 5 runs pre-lunch were amazing, despite the iffy conditions. I was unbelievably happy to get up there, and now my legs know the real definition of “burn out”! Epsom salt and lavender bath, coming right up.

taking a break...yeah, this is what breaks look like.  MORE BREAKS.

taking a break…yeah, this is what breaks look like. MORE BREAKS.

Updates:
Still not doing yoga first and last thing. Still haven’t gotten back on track with Ashtanga (wonder why!? TOMORROW, back on track).
I’d say I’m winning at nearly everything else though. So. I feel pretty good.
Next races: Leadville Heavy Half in June, if we don’t do a 10k in Vail the week before also

Potential news: maybe giving up on driving entirely and spending my summer bicycle touring!?! Maybe.

NOW: Epsom salt bath!!!

WEEK 2: Running (the week before a race) & Slaughterhouse Five (thoughts)

So in March I was injured for basically the whole month with a sprained ankle from snowboarding. And by snowboarding injury, what I really mean is that I fell off the chair lift before I actually started snowboarding. So. My point is that I wasn’t running for at least 3 weeks, wasn’t even walking for a good chunk of that. Then when I did start running it took a lot of easing in to be able to rock mileage again. I had planned on racing at the Greenland Trail Race series (5/3) a while back, then after I was injured I thought well, I guess it’s out. But for some reason, I was like NOPE. STILL ROCKING IT. So this Saturday I’m going to Larkspur to crush 8 miles of trails. I imagine I won’t get anywhere near my goal (which was under an hour) but I hope to make a good showing/run the whole time at least.

I’ve (obviously) been thinking a lot about how we prepare for racing (or other competitive events).
On Saturday I did 8 consecutive miles for the first time since before I was injured. While I was running, I thought the whole time about my pre-race training for the next week and how I was going to eat so well and this and that.

Here was my EPIC plan:
Sunday 4 mile recovery run
Monday (2) 4.5 mile tempo runs at 8 mile pace
Tuesday burn out thighs in a sculpt class since I couldn’t do trails for my Monday training. Bike recovery.
Wednesday 6 mile recovery run
Thursday 4 mile gentle run
Friday 1-2 miles gentle run

Keeping in mind that I still planned to do my normal yoga schedule, and to bicycle commute which for me is 15-20 miles a day of riding.

Here is what actually happened:
Sunday 3 mile walk with Luna
Monday (2) 4.5 mile tempo runs, one at 8 mile pace and one at 9 mile pace (hey, I won this one)
Tuesday burned out thighs in sculpt class
Wednesday 30 minute walk (didn’t have runkeeper on to track mileage) with Lu
Thursday it’s mid-day and I’ve already done 20+ miles on the bike…and haven’t run yet.

How have I been eating? Well, Sunday and Monday I had rice and lentils and veggies and it was all very healthy and lovely. Then after that, it turned into: pasta. tater tots. coconut milk ice cream. more pasta. chocolate covered graham crackers. white bread! What happened?! I haven’t eaten this poorly since my sister came to visit months ago.

My point is: even the best laid plans dissolve. What can you do? Keep going. I’m excited about the race, I haven’t stopped being excited.

I finished Slaughterhouse Five a couple days ago. I never read with the intention of analyzing or thinking really hard about concepts. I just read the whole thing then at the end I’m like “I liked it!” Which, I loved this book. The most memorable part for me was when they had a report about American prisoners of war and how to deal with them, and they talked about how Americans have no love for themselves, so they have no brotherhood, no compassion, no understanding. It was a huge concept to deal with for me. And I can’t help but see that, in our community. It’s made me think a lot about how to foster self love in my classes and in my relationships with people in this community. Now I’m working on Walden. I imagine I’m going to have a boatload to say about that 🙂

Updates:

Ashtanga: this has really gone down the drain. The last time I did all of primary series was Monday :/ MUST GET BACK ON TRACK! I’ve been so busy this week and it hasn’t been a priority, which my yoga practice needs to be a priority. I’ve really been feeling my lack of practicing in general this week; being busy makes important things seem less important. My practice is epically important and it’s not only what makes me a strong teacher and allows me to teach so much, but it keeps me healthy, sane, and protects my body so I can continue riding 20 miles a day and training for races and working with kids.

Yoga first and last thing: yikes I haven’t been doing this either

Drinking more water: winning!

Walking Lu: every damn day, most of the time 30-40 minutes. Plus we hiked in Evergreen on Tuesday!

Why I failed so hard this week at everything except running:
Running takes a long damn time. And it makes you tired. 😉
I auditioned at a new yoga studio AND GOT HIRED
I taught a big special event restorative class after a race in Cherry Creek on behalf of PrAna. It was awesome.
I did two Inspiration Day workshops for high school kids.

See? It’s not because I spent all my spare time in the bath eating ice cream all week. I didn’t even take one bath (because I found a spider in the tub…twill be a long while before I take a bath again).

Week 1: Breakdancing (is fun)

So as much as I knew this was going to be funny, I did not film my first day of learning how to breakdance. In my apartment, watching youtube videos. Because I’m definitely not confident enough to go to a class. Yet.

There are really a decent amount of learn-to-breakdance videos on the internet, I found this guy Vincani (http://www.youtube.com/user/VincaniTV) that I liked the most. Very clear playlists for different levels that go step by step, clear instruction. I did have to go back and watch his breakdowns over and over. Aside from a million beginner, intermediate, and advanced breakdance instruction videos, there’s also other forms of dance, martial arts, beat boxing, and other tutorials. You know, for when I’m basically a professional breakdancer and it’s time to learn more things.

I wrote down some of what I said out loud (in my one bedroom apartment by myself):
“but wait-”
“what?! how is he staying in one place!?”
*sustained, pitiful laughter*
“oh wow…bandhas”

By the third video, I’ve decided Vincani and I are friends and I’ve begun addressing him directly:
“oh really, Vincani, just like that”
“can you do it slow again?”
“where is your left foot!?!”
“it’s not that easy, man”

I asked the internet about breakdancing. It originated in 1970’s NYC. Pioneers site James Brown and Bruce Lee movies as sources of inspiration…it’s very clear that there are also gymnastic elements, and I’ve been able to see obvious elements of yoga in some of the moves where they hold (don’t worry, I’ll eventually do a post on this specifically). Oh- and people who breakdance apparently don’t call it breakdancing. It’s bboying or breaking. The internet is clear about this.

“B-boy… that’s what it is, that’s why when the public changed it to ‘break-dancing’ they were just giving a professional name to it, but b-boy was the original name for it and whoever wants to keep it real would keep calling it b-boy.” -Santiago “Jo Jo” Torres

santiago

There are four basic moves: toprock, downrock, power moves, and freezes. So basically, I can do two moves (I’m not implying I can do them “well”) called “6-step” and “CC”. Quite unsure, but those two must be toprock or downrock because I definitely wouldn’t say my beginner footwork is a power move.

I think it speaks to how “cool” I am (not) that my breaking research started on Wikipedia, and ended up listening to an episode of All Things Considered on NPR’s website, “The Return of Breakdancing” (this title shows how uncool NPR is, too). You can find it here: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1144040

While it is physically demanding, I think that, like yoga, it’s really accessible. I learned the moves quickly even though I’m highly uncoordinated…it will just take a lot of practice for me to get faster and cleaner!

If you’d like to follow along, here’s the videos I learned today:

Updates:
drinking more water? yes!
FIRST TRAIL RACE OF THE SEASON: THIS SATURDAY 5/4 Greenland 8 mile. I was unsure if I’m ready to race yet after a snowboarding injury kept me off training for several weeks…but here we go!
*Almost* done with Slaughterhouse Five to meet my one book a week goal. Also going to tackle Walden this week.
This week or next: first sewing project, BOLSTER for restorative yoga in my own house!!
Biked 80 miles over the week commuting. Just need to get out on a day trip to get consecutive miles in.
Must improve getting up ten minutes early to do yoga in the morning before I leave to bike to class…this didn’t even happen once.

Week 1: Ashtanga (is hard), Running (which I’m crushing), Slaughterhouse Five (is awesome)

Welcome to my first update, internet and friends! Since I started on Monday, I think it’s safe to say that the bit of progress I made is a win.

So I ran 5 (road) miles on Monday and it was so, so boring (I road run to support my trail running habit). But then, I had a big breakthrough. In the form of a flat tire, which I got on my bike on my way home on Monday night. This meant I had to run to my 8am class on Tuesday morning, which is 3 miles up to the Highlands (soooo muuuch uuuphiiillll). Important discovery: when you run to work, once you leave you have to keep truckin’ and maintain a good pace or else you’re not going to be on time. Then you get a break, then bam! Only half the run to go and you’ve got to do it in order to get home. I love this new method of running, I think it’s going to be very successful for increasing my road mileage when I can’t get on the trails.  I’m also planning my next attempt on Pike’s Peak, hopefully in the next week or two.

photo

really cool picture of my foot. Because I guess it proves that I was running? Got my running shoes on…

 

My book this week is Slaughterhouse Five (Kurt Vonnegut).  I’ve read it before but it’s been a while, I’m a big Vonnegut fan.  I’ve made a dent in it, I’ve been listening to Into the Wild on audible before I go to bed instead of regular reading, so now that I finished that yesterday I can get back to real life books!

 

I also managed to do Ashtanga Primary Series on Monday and Tuesday. What I learned: it’s been a while since I’ve committed to primary series, and that shit is hard. I had kind of forgotten what it feels like to practice with discipline. It’s going to be crazy good for me, but the first time was a struggle. I knew it was going to be, so I filmed it. It starts off great, then quickly deteriorates.  Here are the picture highlights (you’re welcome):

ashtanga 1 montage

Then, after a lot of confusion and humility:

savasana
Coming up on Saturday:  breakdancing?  sewing?  am I drinking enough water?!