Out of Bed.

My headlight bounces in the dark and I suddenly notice some glowing eyes on the concrete path in front of me. The deer seem as shocked as I am to see someone running down the path in the chill October night. My breath puffs a steamy cloud in front of my face and I trundle down the path.

I’m not sure what propelled me out of my warm bed with Sprocket curled up against me. I felt required to put down my excellent book, don shorts and headlamp and run. The relatable prose had somehow pulled me in so far it has pushed me out and demanded I live, right now at this minute. Life has impeded these moments of clarity and running—or rather, I’ve let my excuses get in the way of exercising. No one blames you for not working up a sweat when you lack shower facilities. No one gives it a second thought when you say, “But I work seven days a week.” No one, that is but the yourself as you feel continually less fit, less confident, less whole.

I reach the old railroad bridge and hear rustling in the bushes near the river. It could be a bear or a skunk, it is likely more deer, and in a worst case, could be a mountain lion. There is nothing to be done about the creature minding their own business out of sight and I run on. The bridge looks like the set of a Halloween movie and I attempt to capture it in a photo because I find it so ridiculous. I fail, as I knew I would.

A mile from my house, I force myself to turn around. I haven’t been running and I didn’t warm up and it’s cold. There is no need to risk injury more than I already have and I really should get to sleep. As I cross the bridge again on the return trip, I can feel my mood rise a little bit like the mist off the Uncompahgre. “I need to do this everyday,” I tell myself.

The impossibility of that looms before me; even just this week I have evening work commitments and I question how realistic it is that I’ll sort out how not to smell at work. Part of me, a big part of me, doesn’t care though. I want to feel strong again. I’ve started rediscovering social parts of myself but this, the part of me that can agree to any hike and is ready for new challenges has been in hiding. Perhaps I’ll try to reclaim that part in the dark where no one can see a bit longer; I know that’s better than not reclaiming it at all.

Running past my appliances in my yard, I glance at the house before I go into the shed. That’s mine. That’s why I’ve sacrificed the feeling of the chill on my legs and the hours for words to enter my eyes and also to exit my fingers onto the screen.

I’ve been feeling like there’s some moral to my story, the larger story, not just this run or the house or processing of lots of old feelings I’ve ignored but I can’t put my finger on it. I need to write about it more, both publicly and privately. I need to move my feet to ruminate on it more. Back in the shed, I pulled off my clothes before I could really start sweating in the warmth of my tiny home. Baby wipe basics done, I crawled in bed, pulled my pup to my chest, finished the page I’d been reading and wondered if this is what it feels like to have the pieces come together.

McMillan Peak and Ohio Peak

I’ve been complaining about this on Twitter but it’s a real problem: getting an alpine start when you work until 11pm and then you’re wired and can’t sleep is next to impossible. I’d had some ideas about bigger peaks in the Sneffles range and elsewhere along Red Mountain Pass but ultimately settled on a pair of 12ers above Brooklyn Road because I could leave the house at 7:30 and have plenty of time.

Things went according to plan until I wound up behind a herd of sheep being driven up onto a chunk of private land around Red Mountain 3. I sat stopped for a bit while the herders seemed to be taking a mid morning break. Since none of them signaled to me or said anything, I put Ruth in 4-low and just started creeping through the herd. It seemed to work.

Finally, reaching US Basin, I started a pretty direct ascent up the western slopes of McMillan Peak. Sprocket was delighted to find some snow on its flanks and before long we’d reached the 12,804′ peak.

I ran down the slopes of McMillan while Sprocket frolicked his way along.

It wasn’t long before we reached the Ohio Peak-McMillan Saddle where some old mining remains were.

It was sunny and gorgeous and the mountains were making me smile so we took a little break to lay down in the alpine grass.

Or I did, anyway. Sprocket seemed to want to move on. We made out way to the summit of Ohio Peak, 12,673′, where I briefly considered continuing on to another 12er, Anvil Peak but decided against it worrying about the endurance of the SP. We made our way back to US Basin along the ridge and then descended through the most beautiful wildflower bloom I’ve ever seen back to the road.

#Joyrunning (and Hiking) Spring 2017

After Spring Break, all I wanted to do was hang out with my Sprocket. The first thing we did when we were reunited was hike/jog (aka #joyrun) the Perimeter Trail in Ouray. It was just a little muddy but almost totally snow free!

We’ve explored Mailbox Park near Norwood:

We’ve taken some runs near Dallas Divide that turned into snow trudges (it all gets the heart rate up!):

Had wonderfully warm sunny runs on and between mesas above Norwood in the Uncompaghre National Forest:

We woke up one Saturday morning to 6″ of snow in Ridgway and I was over it so we drove down 1200′ in elevation to run near Olathe:

I’ve gotten to run more in Ridgway:

I even made it up to Miramonte Reservoir one day for a run with this sweet view of Lone Cone:

Lately in #joyrunning: Sanborn Park

I admit it, I let the grind and the darkness take over for November through January. I was trying not to fall behind on school while working all weekend. It was kind of tough. I holed up in front of the woodstove instead of dragging myself out in the waning daylight.

As always, I suffered with that a bit. Sprocket and I are easing ourselves back into action and our February spring weather snap hasn’t hurt. We headed out to run at the top of Sanborn Park road last week and it was glorious. I wore shorts, just because.

 

Last Week In #joyrunning

I had a slow start to the week with some yoga on Monday and then took Tuesday off because it was cold pouring rain sideways. I didn’t have my winter running fortitude or anything going I guess.

Norwood, Colorado

Wednesday I got out for a lovely little road run. I got to say hi to the cows. I forgot my sunglasses and got tired of squinting into the wind. But I did it and the weather couldn’t have been lovelier.

Cows

Thursday, I headed out to complete the last of the four Thunder Trail loops. I guess I must have taken all my photos on Snapchat and they’re lost to the ether now… But it was pretty! This week’s run, Naturita Rim Loop, seemed to be less on the rim than Portis Loop but was less rocky than Portis and less steep than Thunder Loop.

I think I need to find a race to train for. My aerobic capacity in the mountains has increased back to a point where I don’t feel quite as embarrassed and I need something to kick my butt into higher gear. Any 4-Corners region runs to recommend? Trail runs in central New Mexico or Arizona would be awesome sauce (aka potentially semi-warm escapes?)

Running Natural Bridges National Monument

Natural BridgesYes, I know, running is not the first thing you think of when you think of Natural Bridges. When I passed by the entrance sign on my way home after exploring the Henry Mountains a bit and checking out Bluebell Knoll I figured with Sprocket nursing his broken nail it was as good a time as any to check it out. I didn’t want to leave him in the car alone too long so instead of doing what I really wanted to, hike under all the bridges through the canyon, I ran down from the road below each bridge and then back up.

Visitor Center Natural Bridges

Sipapu from above

Well, ran up is a gross exaggeration but I did mostly run down! The first bridge, Sipapu, was my favorite hike but I think Katchina was the coolest looking bridge. I even tossed in the short run to the Horse Collar Ruin overlook.

Sipapu

Sprocket stayed nice and cool thanks to a stiff breeze on the rim above the canyon that was blowing through the open Jeep windows. I, on the other hand, spent the entire afternoon a sweaty mess: sports bra running forever.

Not flashing gang signs, just proud of finishing bridge 2 of 3..
Not flashing gang signs, just proud of finishing bridge 2 of 3..

The hikes are all pretty short (the longest is 3/4 mile, I think) so it didn’t amount to much but it was a fun challenge. I briefly felt guilty for “rushing through” the highlights of the park but it sure beats just looking from the overlooks and driving on!

All three complete!
All three complete!

Last Week(s) in #Joyrunning

Oh man! I never got around to a Week in #joyrunning post last week so here’s two in one!

Week of September 4:

I started out with a bunch of running around Natural Bridges National Monument on Sunday (more on that this week!) that was AWESOME. Tuesday I toughed it out through an under-fueled 3 miles around town, and Wednesday I headed up to the Thunder Trails for my weekly loop (Thunder Loop). Thunder Loop has a pretty killer uphill on the southern end and Sprocket and I definitely engaged in some power hiking between small running bursts there!

Thunder Loop

Week of September 11:

The week started out … poorly. I worked a bit on Sunday and then just relaxed when I got home. Monday, I was in a terrible mood and convinced myself that I didn’t “need” to run. By Tuesday the “I don’t wanna” had magnified itself to a point where I was in a terrible mood and I rationally knew that getting out and doing something was the fix. I convinced myself to get dressed and tackle two miles and that I could quit then if I wanted to. At just over a mile, I realized I felt human again and threw down five…

Goshorn Loop

Back in the groove, I reeled off 6 road miles Wednesday and about 4 miles on Thunder Trails’s Goshorn Loop Thursday. I kept things rolling with a fun ridge hike on Saturday!

Lone Cone from Goshorn Trail

Last Week In #joyrunning

I only got out for a couple of runs last week but they were both on the long-ish side for me (one run at 5.5 miles and the other at 5.7). In February and March I was averaging about 20ish miles a week of hiking and running only to see that fall off in April and May and wither away to almost nothing in June, July, and the first part of August. It feels so good to be back to moving at least 12-ish miles a week (and hopefully climbing at bit as we move into fall.

Beth and Sprocket

I’ve really been granting myself “permission” to drive somewhere between five and ten miles to get to a trail or quiet Forest Service road to do my runs on. I’m finding that on the trail I’m way more likely to do more miles and more hills. Sprocket approves of this choice.

Joy running

I’ve found some sweet trails to run on around here and I’m finding more all the time. A lot of the time I just drive around until I find a jeep road or ATV track and run that. During the week I almost always have it totally to myself. I’ve also been checking out the newly constructed Thunder Trails near town. My longer run (5.7 miles) was running the Portis Loop. It’s my goal to run one of each of the four loops every week in September so I can check them all out before the snow flies.

Portis Loop

Beth on Thunder Trails

The views from here can include the La Sals, the Abajos, Lone Cone, and the Wilsons depending on where you’re at and how the hills and the trees are. Makes it hard to complain.

Lone Cone from Portis Trail