Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hiking and Biking and Lessons Learned

The mountain behind my house has been my place of refuge lately. My husband grew up just around the corner from where we live now and the mountain was his hide out as well. He played there all the time, went there when he was mad, and generally just spent a lot of his childhood up there. Not running is hard. I know that most of you have been there. It's like wanting chocolate cake and someone telling you that you can have other flavors of cake, but no chocolate. Vanilla and lemon cake just aren't the same. I have been filling my need of the outdoors (especially in winter time, my favorite season to run) with hiking. While it's not running, it's still o.k. It gets my heart rate up, provides me with a sense of accomplishment, and gets me out in the cold, crisp, winter air.

Last time we hiked to the top of the mountain we decided to come straight down the face of the mountain. Not so smart. This picture does not do it justice. It was really really hard mostly because of the rocks. They weren't small enough to ski down on, they weren't big enough that they didn't move, and there was the constant danger of falling or getting your foot squashed by a moving rock. We moved strategically apart from each other so that our slides didn't cause problems for the other person. And when we weren't on the rocks we were climbing through trees and maneuvering around cliffs. I will admit that I got pretty frustrated after about two hours of this. We did get down though and to a trail with help from my son at home and his binoculars and it was a great trip. At the very least it was certainly an adventure!

I've perfected a little 3.5 mile loop that takes me about an hour to do. It has about 1000 feet elevation gain in just over a mile and then I take the long way home.

It's hard to believe this is January in Utah.

Now that's a little more like it. A week ago Saturday we got a little snow. I had gotten some super cute new snow boots that I tried out on the mountain. We did the 3.5 mile loop and had so much fun.


This wasn't even staged. Promise. Why is it so much fun making tracks where you know no one has previously been that day?

Those super cute warm boots that I wore gave me some silver dollar sized blisters on each heel. That wasn't so fun. I'm still recovering from those suckers. And it didn't help that the skin peeled off when I took my socks off. I knew they were going to be bad, but didn't realize how bad. Don't worry, I spared you the pictures of those.

Gotta love it when the sun hits new snow and makes it sparkle.

I went up the next Monday and was chastised by my husband for hiking again before my blisters healed. Bandaids and socks should be o.k., right?

We made the 3000 ft. ascent to the top of our mountain again this Saturday to retrieve a nice water bottle that we left there last time. It's a little over 3 miles up to the summit. We came down the trail this time instead of down the face and made it back in half the time. It ended up being over 7.5 miles and a really good day. Last time we did the ascent my quads were sore for about 5 days afterwards. It was reminiscent of downhill marathon recoveries. This time was minimal. I can't wait to go up again. I am not allowed to go clear up to the top by myself though...(can you say mountain lions?) so any takers?

It was really cold and windy up at the top so my man, dug into his primal need to make fire, and made one with flint and steel to impress and warm his woman. I will admit that it was nice.

We were down in a little valley out of the wind and we took a break and ate a little lunch. Coming down was not nearly so frustrating this time. Note to self: always stay on the trail.

I went and did the 3.5 mile loop again yesterday. It had snowed again and made the footing a bit tricky. Ice underneath and powder on top. Makes for an interesting climb.

Again, I love it when my footprints are the only ones up there.

I really don't know if it gets better than this. Oh wait, yes it does. I could be running it.

This herd of deer are my friends. I've seen them often. Unfortunately they don't want to get too close.

I've been going to the gym for a weight class twice a week and to a spin class twice a week as well. I've also been able to use my trainer in the basement for a ride once or twice a week. That little purchase was really good timing. Thank you all for your TV suggestions. I'm trying to keep myself busy and my cardio up. I've done some stupid things in weight class that have not helped my ankle (pulsing step ups and backward lunges) but for the most part I've been pain free for a week and a half (even hopping on one foot!). The countdown is on. Around 3 weeks left.

I'm finding that I'm grateful for this time to focus on something different. I usually avoid the mountain because it's so hard, but I'm really enjoying my time spent up there and the beauty that I usually don't see.

I'm learning to trust myself more. I think I knew deep down that this was a bone issue and not just a tendon problem. But when someone is telling you that it's not, you want to believe so that you can still accomplish your goals. I'm finally the one who took charge and said that I was going to get an x-ray to make sure. I'm glad I did. I only wish I would have done it sooner. I need to trust my body more. Speaking of which, I need to listen to my body more as well. I was running in 2 days what I used to run in a week. I just ramped up the miles too fast and am paying for it. Lesson learned.

I'm also finding alternative ways, other than running, to make me happy. Sometimes I find it's hard reading about and talking to people who get to eat chocolate cake right now when I can't. It's even hard seeing those happy runners out on the street. But I'm realizing that life does go on. This isn't permanent. I'm one of the lucky ones. But what if I couldn't ever run again? Could I find other things to fill that void? Could I really be happy again? I'm not sure if I'm in a zen enough state to answer to the affirmative on that yet. Thank goodness I don't have to. But it does make one think.

I finished reading Matt Long's book "The Long Run" yesterday. As the tears were streaming down my face multiple times throughout the book, I wondered these questions, "could I ever be truly happy without running ever again?" "Would I feel like the same person if I couldn't run again?" If you haven't read this book yet, it's worth it. Life altering, changing your thinking kind of book.
If you have read it, did it make you ponder the same questions too?
What do you think your honest answers would be?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Embracing the Suck...again

"A life without problems, limitations, or challenges; life without opposition in all things, as Lehi phrased it, would paradoxically, but in very fact, be less rewarding and less ennobling than one which confronts, even frequently confronts difficulty, disappointment and sorrow."
-Jeffrey R. Holland

Back when my youngest went to kindergarten this fall, I worried about being alone or wasting time while he was gone. One of my goals to rectify that situation was to try to memorize a quote or scripture a week. While it hasn't ended up being exactly one a week, those that I have committed to memory have been implanted in my heart. And the great thing about having them there in my mind and heart is that when I least expect it but when I need them the most, they are there when I need them. And this quote came to my mind in just one of those moments.
Giving up this goal of mine and coming to grips with a stress fracture is not easy. Not only is it frustrating to put so much time and effort into a goal that's not realized, my mind can't help go to the place that says that I'm not cut out to run. Feeling sorry for myself is not something I like to do nor is it something that is fun to live with, so after having a little cry to a best friend and then a little cry to my husband in bed after a day of putting a smile on my face, I decided to make the best of it. I had a funny little chat with myself about a post that I wrote a while ago where I said how I was looking for the lows in running instead of the highs to learn and to grow. I told myself that this was a definite low and in a weird way I had found what I was looking for. The next day I got this comment from Mike. It said what I was thinking more eloquently. "This is one of those moments where all we can do is embrace the suck. Several posts ago you spoke of searching for the lows -not the highs- in running for this is where we find the truths about ourselves. I absolutely love this concept and the frame of mind that understands and accepts this as wisdom. This is a low for you. Embrace it for, in a weird sort of a way, it'll make you tougher than you already are, and you are one tough girl. It's a good day to be alive, but it sucks, eh? And that's ok."
So I'm embracing the suck once again in a different way than I had planned. I am truly lucky. I am not in a boot. No crutches. Just no running for 6 weeks. I can still bike, walk, do yoga, even hike if I'm careful. I could even swim if I was desperate enough. My husband bought me a really nice bike trainer for Christmas to use during the winter. It was a perfect gift, even before I knew about my little setback. It's set up in front of the TV. Now I just need something good to watch. (Suggestions please...) I got to ride it 3 times last week and then went for a hike on Saturday. It was a great week even without running.

And yesterday my husband and I hiked to the top of the mountain behind our house. It was hard and good. A great way to start the new year.

And though it was really windy, I was even able to do a little yoga on top of the mountain. Doesn't that just seem like something you should do when feeling like you're on top of the world?

It was awesome and I'm embracing this time to recover and come back stronger than before.

That 37 mile run is still going to happen. And that song still rings in my mind..." lock me up, that's what you'll have to do if you're gonna stop me from getting where I'm going to. Or try to keep the sun from coming up or the tide from rolling in now that I know what I'm capable of. Cause every time I wanted to stop I kept running and every time I hit a wall I climbed. I'm breaking the bands of my self limitations going go into line... going past the point, beyond the mark further than I ever thought I could, out of the dark into the light just like He always knew I could. And when heaven tells me I can I believe it."