Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Rocky Mountain High

"The choices we make lead up to actual experiences. 
It is one thing to decide to climb a mountain. It is quite another to be on top of it."
-- Herbert A Simon

Hello, friends! I'm fresh off a plane after spending the last four days with one of my best friends in Denver, CO. Denver was as beautiful as I remember it being in the fall, and I really enjoyed my visit. I did some walking with my bestie, some solo running, and a nice hike in Breckenridge on the Continental Divide before heading back to California today. (I really don't know how to relax on vacation! Ha!). 

You might have noticed that I threw in "some solo running" in that last paragraph. As you know, I've been training for the RunDisney Wine & Dine Half Marathon and 10K in November, so I was pretty determined to run at least a little while I was away. I tend to be an early riser, so I took advantage of same and squeezed in a run each morning while I was in town (my friend slept in). She lives near some beautiful trails, so I figured they would be the perfect substitute for my favorite trail at home.

If you didn't know, Denver sits at a little over a mile high with an average elevation of around 5,300'. I grew up in a small town that sits a little higher than Denver, and I ran in college in Albuquerque at roughly the same altitude. All that being said, I haven't lived at a high altitude since 2005. My current city (like the last three cities I lived in) sits at around sea level. I haven't done major cardio at a high altitude in a long time, and minor attempts at same (slow hikes; running last Thanksgiving at home; etc) have reminded me that I haven't acclimated to the higher altitude. Still... I decided to go for it  and planned my routes prior to arrival.

My first run wasn't fun. I took the running trail heading south on Saturday. I started my NikePlus app from my friend's apartment, approximately a quarter mile uphill from the trailhead. It's kind of sketchy getting to the trail as you have to cross a very busy street to get there. Once on the trail, however, it was smooth sailing! I felt pretty great until I started going uphill. At this point, I had to stop - my lungs were filling with liquid, and I found it very hard to breathe. I stupidly didn't bring my inhaler, so I had to focus on controlled breathing exercises to get everything back under control. Bah! Once my lungs calmed down, I walked the rest of the way back to her apartment. It was a low moment, y'all, and I felt like crap the rest of the day.

My second run went MUCH better. I started the second day run similarly to the first, only this time I headed north on the trailhead instead of south. I ran down the hill to the trailhead, but then decided to walk for about a mile to get my lungs in sync with my heart rate. I enjoyed it a lot - the trail is beautiful, and I used the time to call a friend back in California. At my turnaround point (I thought this was at 1.5 miles to make it 3 miles roundtrip, but I messed up), I hung up the phone and jogged back. The trail has a bunch of hills and stairs going back so my pace sucked, but it felt much better than Saturday's run. 

While I didn't hit the 3-4 miles I had planned on running on Sunday, I was pretty happy that I got my run in at all. The Becky of yore would never have had the motivation to hit the trail before her friends woke up. This Becky not only got up, but ran in high altitude! Woohoo! I was pumped for the rest of the day... so much, in fact, that I hiked another 2 miles on the Continental Divide (more on that in another post). It was a very productive day!

Alas, back to reality. My goal this week is to hit 45 minutes of treadmill running tomorrow and Thursday, another 3 mile run on Saturday (or 3 mile hike...), and an 8 miler on Sunday. We'll see how it goes. I have got to get my long runs in on time. I only have two more months until my RunDisney races!!!

Have a happy, healthy week, y'all!

--- Becky

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