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?


Jerilee E. said...

Wonderful pictures- you are beautiful!
It's amazing how much more aware of your body you get after an injury. The not running is no fun, but this too shall pass.
Thank you for the book recommendation- I'll looking it up right now!

Laura said...

3 weeks isn't too bad... although I'm sure it still feels like an eternity. Every time I have an injury, I wonder about that question... what would I do if I couldn't run again?! It's a hard one to answer, after running has become so much of our identity. Haven't read "The Long Run", but I'll add it to my list. :)

Ewa said...

What a hike! No wonder you are smiling in every picture!
Hiking on rubble like that on your first photo is challenging, especially going down.
I can't believe you guys also don't have snow. We are totally dry here but they are rains in the forecast, oh, sorry, now they are forecasting showers instead. :(
I love winter hikes, they seem so much more peaceful.
I hate blisters! At the first sign of any discomfort I take my shoes or boots off and address the issue. At least I try to do that. :)
(what a looooong security word to enter!)

Penny said...

Like Jerliee said those pictures are amazing. You are lucky to live in a beautiful place. I glad you are finging other things just as good as running to keep you healthy, strong and balanced. We all need balance in our lives.

Yo Momma Runs said...

Now I have to read The Long Run. And I love your rainbow mohawk hat. I'm coveting that and the snow! Not seeing any of either in the southeast.

Jen @ Run for Anna said...

I know how you feel, but you'll be back to running before you know it. And, you're doing all the right things. Hang in there!
Gorgeous pictures!

Raina said...

Only 3 weeks left! That is super!!
Utah might be the most BEAUTIFUL place in the world, i think. SO pretty. SO are YOU!
What a manly man to build a fire. That must have been nice:)

Alma said...

As usual, gorgeous photos! I can't believe 1,000 ft elevation gain in a mile. Phew! Keep up the great outdoor fun, remembering to just have some fun.

Rachelle Wardle said...

Great post, great persepctive, great pictures. Your questions has me incredibly distraught. I have been sidelined with a very minor injury and even the thought of taking a few days off has turned me into a mess. It is so important to find hapiness outside of running and I am very proud of you for exploring your other passions. Always an inspiration to me Jenn. Thank you for that.

Cotter Crunch said...

keep that biking going. I know you are injured now but its acutally a good time to heal, yes?

Coy Martinez said...

Those hikes look like so much fun!!! They look beautiful! You're lucky to live in a place so nice! I bet it feels good getting out and hiking even if you're not running!

I want to read that book. I can't imagine what it would like to not be able to run. I try and not think about it. Ever. Too sad.

One heart and mind said...

Love your pictures Jen and you'll be back before you know it....hopefully a little with me!

Julia said...

i can TOTALLY relate to your running/chocolate flavor metaphor. i am totally in that stage right now...running out of things that keep my mind off running and my similar feel of a tough workout. i cant wait to maybe go for a tough hike when i get back to satisfy that need for an increased heart rate!!

beautiful pics friend!

Sara said...

GORGEOUS pictures. Thank you so much for sharing this post, your pictures and your lessons learned. Thinking of you! :)

Michael said...

how are you?

Anonymous said...

Beautiful pics my friend!!! I Hope you are doing well and I am thinking of you healing. ((hugs))