Mount Bierstadt

At the start of the summer I had a list of things I wanted to accomplish.  As the end of the summer nears I realize I haven’t done too much on my list.  One of my main goals was climbing Longs Peak.  But, because of getting a shot in my foot for plantar fascittis just a day before our planned trip the trip was put on hold indefinitely.  But, instead of looking back I what I didn’t accomplish this summer I want to look at what I did accomplish.  I did get to climb at least one 14’er this summer and even though the snow is starting to fly in the high country I hope to get one more in before the end of the year. 

IMG_1189So, without any further delay I present Mount Bierstadt.  Bright and early on July 5th we left Denver and made the trek up 1-70 to Guanella Pass before the parking lot filled up.  With a short (but extremely entertaining) stop at McDonald’s in Idaho Springs to fuel for the hike, we were on our way.  We started at 11,699 feet and header the 7 miles towards 14,060 feet before 7:00 a.m. just as the sun was just starting to shine over the mountains. 

The first mile is a slight downslope and it was a great way to get used to the elevation.  It had been a long time since I had really been at elevation.  We came to a stream bulging at its banks with fresh snow melt and had to wade across.  Luckily for me a friendly stranger offered me their hiking pole so only one foot would end up soaking wet.  Even better it wasn’t the foot wrapped to protect my plantar fascittis.  Once we crossed the stream it was up, up, and up.  IMG_1203

It had been just a little over a year since I hiked my last 14er and have been running a lot and could definitely tell the difference.  While it wasn’t a piece of cake it was definitely a lot easier then previous 14ers. 

We climbed up higher and higher and could see our destination in the distance.  There is something wonderful and awful about being able to see the top of the peak while you are hiking.  There are times when it seems so close and you think “I can do this” and then you slip in to a feeling of despair as it seems to get further and further away.  I do prefer this type of mountain compared to the ones you never see.  With those you just keep going over new ridges hoping the next one is the one that will lead to the top. 

IMG_1190The mountain was busy and as we looked back we could see more and more people headed up the mountain like ants on their way to a picnic.  Some people looked very prepared for the journey while others just made you ask yourself what they were thinking when they were getting ready for their hike.  For the first half of the hike the trail is very clear but once you get higher the trail becomes less obvious and you have to keep your eyes open for the cairns pointing hikers in the right direction. 

As we got about 250′ from the summit the trail is just piles of boulders that you need to scramble over  to make it to the top.  After the successful scramble you reach the top and can look out and see for what seems like forever. 

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There are very few things more satisfying then reaching the top of a 14’er.  The sense of accomplishment is amazing and as you look our over all the mountains you know that you are in the minority.  Not everyone will hike to over 14,000 feet.  Not everyone will see this amazing sight and it’s something special you can cherish forever. 

 

Looking Back….Looking Forward

It’s been over six months since I set my goals for January-June. So here is a short recap and an update on some new goals for the rest of the year.

  • Continue to run.  January:  Polar Prowl 5k, February: Loveland Sweetheart Classic 4 mile, March: Running of the Green 4K, April: Beat the Heat 10K, May: Colfax Half Marathon  Pretty much accomplished. I ended up taking the entire month of April off for injury and spent time in physical therapy, which turned out to make my plantar fasciitis worse. By the end of May I was in some pretty incredible pain and finally went to an orthopedic doctor and got diagnosed and set-up with a treatment plan which to my relief involves me continuing to run. I did however run the Bolder Boulder 10k in May and it was AMAZING!! I really didn’t think I could do it but I did I am have to say I am pretty proud of myself.
  • Lose 10% of my weight by May 31, 2014.  Work in Progress.  I am just short of this goal but I am back on the wagon and working hard to achieve this goal.
  • Blog regularly – once a week minimum.  FAIL! FAIL! FAIL!   Enough said.
  • Hike a 14′er.  Still Work in Progress. We are deciding on our mountains for the summer and waiting for the perfect conditions – I am not a fan of hiking through snow so I think I’ll wait until it melts.
  • Go ice climbing.  FAIL! We did not go ice climbing this season.  Something to work for next year when the ice returns.
  • My more adventurous – try new foods, say yes instead of no, and try new things.  Accomplishing.  Continuing to try new foods, more beer, and just new adventures in general.  
  • Be more grateful for all the good things in my life.  Accomplishing. I really feel that I am accomplishing this goal. I appreciate the little things like a walk on a beautiful day, how blue the sky is, how lucky I am to live in such an amazing place, and having a supportive family I can always count on.

And now for my goals for the remainder of 2014:

  • My biggest goal for the rest of 2014 is running my first half marathon. I will be running the Lucy Town Half Marathon in Jamestown, New York in October with my mother-in-law. Yes, my plan is to train at altitude so I can race past all the flatlanders :-)  Just kidding!! I am hoping it gives me enough advantage so I can at least finish though! I am really excited and have started a more serious training program so that I am ready. I have also been focusing on getting my plantar fasciitis to calm down so I don’t have any more down time in my training.
  • I am running the Estes Park Marathon 5k on Sunday, June 22nd with my husband and am so excited to be running such a beautiful course but a little concerned about the 7,000+ foot elevation.
  • I have a really boring work goal to finish my National Resume Writer’s Association certification by the end of 2014 and will be presenting at their conference in September 2014, which I am equally excited and terrified about.
  • Try new recipes and cook at home more. In the past couple of months I have tried a couple new recipes that were well received by the family (Dutch Babies, Sweet & Sour Chicken and fried rice, and scallops and homemade fettuccine alfredo) – so I am going to continue to build my new recipe repertoire.
  • And as always – try to blog more. It seems to be the goal that I never achieve, but I will continue to try. With all the good intentions in the world I get sucked in another episode of Orange is the New Black and it’s all over!

What are your goals for the second half of 2014?

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I’m a Crazy Dog Mom

I have a confession – I am a freakishly overprotective dog mom. I worry about my dogs like they are my children and I am pretty sure I have ruined them for life.

This beautiful Colorado weekend we decided to take our two dogs to Chatfield Reservoir to the dog park so we could all enjoy the beautiful weather together. I want to start by saying this is one of the best dog parks I’ve been to. There are two huge ponds for the dogs to play in and since we have a golden retriever who was bred to retrieve things from the water this is the best place on the planet for him. He would play fetch with a tennis ball in the pond all day if we would let him. We started by walking the perimeter of the pond with Nittany and Paterno running in and out of the pond. Nittany was especially grumpy and was begrudgingly playing in the pond but mostly running around bullying other dogs. She would run up to other dogs and bark and growl and then just walk away. She is not a mean dog and has never been aggressive to another dog but she can be pretty intimidating looking and she knows it. So, my inner dog mom starts freaking out about Nittany not being able to play well with others and I started asking myself “Why can’t my dog be friendly and well adjusted? She’s not going to have any friends acting like this! What could I have done differently to make her nicer?!” At this point I have my eagle eyes on Nittany and am not letting her out of my sight in fear that she is going to try to intimidate the wrong dog and someone is going to take her out.photo 1

  This is Nittany – She’s a Bully

Fast Forward…We come almost full circle around the pond and Paterno found a ball so we could really get serious about playing fetch in the water. My husband would throw the ball to the middle of the pond and Paterno would excitedly swim out to get it and bring it back. This went on for quite awhile until I noticed that when Paterno brought the ball to us his nose was completely crooked. It was so weird looking – like he had broken his cute little nose. He wasn’t bothered by it at all and would just whimper for us to throw the ball back in the pond. We let him go back in one more time before I really started to freak out about the crooked nose and announced we were packing up and going home. I kept looking at his nose and again the crazy inner dog mom came out and I started thinking “we have to get him to the emergency vet immediately! and how is he going to breathe with this crooked nose?” I was nervous putting him in the back of the truck for the 30-minute drive home expecting the worse when we finally got home. We pull in to our driveway and open the tailgate and he begs to be lifted out so I pick him up and look straight in to his face and his nose is completely straight again. All that worrying (and Googling) for nothing! I had whipped myself up in to a frenzy over his nose and it turned out just to be some weird thing that fixed itself.

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This is Paterno – He’s a Klutz!

So here I am with my bully dog and my accident-prone dog and I am so grateful that they are dogs and they probably won’t end up in counseling one day talking about how much I screwed them up. It’s days like this I realize that we have made the right decision in sticking with fur children.

Are you an overprotective pet parent?  What’s the craziest thing you’ve done?

Unsuccessfully Dealing With An Injury

Today I was (really still am) in a foul mood.  I woke up pissed and that has pretty much been my attitude all day.  At first I had no idea what was causing my extremely bad mood and thought a bike ride around a local lake would improve the situation – a little fresh air and exercise are usually a sure bet to beating the blahs but today’s bike ride was completely the opposite.  I got home feeling more glum and down in the dumps than before I went.

Last weekend I ran a 5k on Saturday and was scheduled for 4.5 mile run on Sunday.  During the 5k I had a little twinge of pain in my right knee but nothing I couldn’t deal with.   I finished the race and went along with my day – there was a free beer token I needed to redeem!  Sunday I got up and threw on my running gear and headed out and about ½ mile in my knee hurt so badly I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it home.  When I ran I had a sharp pain in my right knee that made me want to throw up or cry (actually a little of both).  I would stop running and the pain was gone.  I walked a little ways and would start running and the pain was right back.  I made it the 2.5 mile loop home with a combination of running and walking (mainly walking) and got home feeling pretty helpless and hopeless.  To top it off I have been having this weird pain in my heel – it just felt like it was bruised and walking barefoot (my preferred footwear) was pretty much execrating.

I went to the doctor on Tuesday to find out what was going on and they said I had a tear in my meniscus and a heel spur.  This diagnoses was made by a nurse practitioner with no MRI or x-ray and I was given the number to some local physical therapists (none of which take my insurance).  I made an appointment and met with my physical therapist for the first time on Thursday.  They poked and prodded and finally came up with a new (less scary) diagnoses.  The heel pain was bursitis and the knee pain was being caused by a weak quad on my right leg that was letting my knee move all over the place when I run.  She seemed positive that both issues could be easily fixed with some physical therapy and I would be able to train and run the Bolder Boulder in May.  We went over some strength training exercises for my quads and calves and everything was looking good until she said the dreaded words “oh, and by the way, no running for a minimum of two weeks.”  My heart sank – I was hoping for a magical pill I could take and be back to running later than day. (Have I mentioned how beautiful it is in Colorado right now and how I know longer have to bundle up with a million layers when I got out to run?)  She continued the list of the things I wasn’t able to do and it was pretty much all the things I thought about doing when she told me I couldn’t run – no elliptical, no rollerblading, no skiing, no stairclimber…I was allowed to bicycle and swim.  Seeing as I am unable to swim because I do not float, bicycling it was.  I’ve been doing my exhausting strength training exercises religiously and today dusted off the bike and headed out for a ride and that lead me to our local lake.

I got on my cruiser bike hoping for the joyful feeling I usually get when riding my cruiser bike and immediately saw all the people running and jogging and rollerblading around the lake and I wanted to be doing that – I didn’t want to be riding my stupid bike.  Riding my bike was not preparing me for a race and it felt completely useless.

So, here I am back at home feeling as rotten as I did this morning, making life for those around my pretty unbearable, trying to figure out how to get out of this slump.  I know that runners get injuries.  I just thought I wasn’t going to be one of those people.  I started running as a much higher weight than I am right now and figured that losing weight and getting healthier would lead me further from the possibility of injury.  I understand the process of injury recovery – slow down and rehab and you’ll come back stronger – but knowing that isn’t much comfort when I’m living it right now and all I want to do it run.

This new feeling surprises me for a couple of reasons.  The first is that I don’t think I knew how much I needed running.  Yes it keeps me healthy and I am training for a specific goal but I need it emotionally too.  I need to run to stay balanced in all aspects of my life.  I feel happier and more centered when I start my day with a run. Also, it reminds me of how far I’ve come as a runner.  If I would have gotten an injury in the first month that I started running I would have thrown in the towel and just given up, but now the running is so ingrained in who I am I can’t imagine the thought of stopping and can only focus on what I need to get back to it as soon as possible.

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How do you deal with injury and will this feeling of helplessness get better?

I betcha can’t…

Every once in awhile my husband and I like to make little bets with each other to test our will power.  Last February we vowed to go a whole month without eating out.  For anyone who knows us knows this was a HUGE test of will power for us.   We did pretty good – but, I have to be honest, a couple days in to February we agreed to amend the agreement so that food delivered to our home was okay.  We were trying to get out of our comfort zone, we weren’t trying to starve ourselves to death and I was afraid the kind people at Sidewok Cafe might call the police and report us as missing.

So, this March we are having another battle of wills.  I have decided to go an entire month (a month with 31 days mind you!) without potatoes.  My husband has decided to greatly reduce his beer intake.  Please note I am completely cutting something out of my diet and he is going to not have as much of something – already not exactly fair.  For each day you successfully follow the bet you earn $5.

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I am to day nine without potatoes and it has been both surprisingly easy and painfully hard.   I knew that I ate a lot of potatoes – french fries and potato chips were two main staples – I didn’t realize all the things that I ate that had potatoes in them including my stockpile of soups I keep in my desk at work.  No Beef Stew or New England Clam Chowder until April…I guess it’s on to the Ramen Noodle – it’s like being back in college!

At first I thought my month of no potatoes would be super healthy but one day I replaced fries for chicharróns and another day for nachos grande at the hockey game – neither of these substitutions seem particularly healthy but they didn’t contain potatoes. I am still hopeful that my month of finding substitutes for potatoes will get me out of my comfort zone and maybe even try some new things that will replace potatoes forever!  Well – maybe not forever!!

But, I am happy to report with almost 1/3 of the month complete I am feeling strong.  Just 18 more days and I am a winner!!

If you gave something up for a month, what would it be?

A Blog Post Actually About Knitting?! What?!

The Happy Knitter is doing something the Happy Knitter hasn’t done in a really long time – blogging about actual knitting!! During the last cold snap I found myself wanting to curl up with some knitting. I was looking for a quick project where I could have a finished project in a day or two. So, I went online looking for a hat pattern to use up some of my chunky yarn and came across a very cool earband pattern.

I found the Emily Greene Blue blog and the Fourth Day Earwarmer Recipe. With size 13 needles and 40 or so yards of chunky yarn I could have one of my very own. It turned out to be a really quick and fun project. I think I worked on it for a total of an hour over the course of an evening and the next morning. Before I knew it I had a cute earband to ward of the chilly weather.

If you are in the mood for a quick, cute project check out the pattern on Emily Greene Blue’s website and make one for yourself.  I am debating making a few more in some different colors to spruce up my winter wardrobe.

photoExcuse the horrible picture – but you get the idea of what the earband looks like!

2014 Goal Check-In

Can you believe it’s almost the end of February?!  Two months of 2014 are already gone and I have no idea where they went.  Things have been a whirlwind since we got back from Christmas vacation.  Back to work and back to school with the day-to-day stuff mixed in and the battling of sickness and it’s been a little exhausting.

Even with everything going on our family has gotten into total rut. Get up, go to work, come home, eat dinner, watch the Olympics, back to bed, and repeat.  Even the dogs are lazy.  The weather has been cold and grey and winter is sucking the life out of me.  I seriously need to shake up my life and get back on track!

To top everything off I’ve realized I have been a total failure at my 2014 goals.  Let’s recap:

  • Continue to run.  January:  Polar Prowl 5k, February: Loveland Sweetheart Classic 4 mile, March: Running of the Green 4K, April: Beat the Heat 10K, May: Colfax Half Marathon  SUCCESS…so far!  Thankfully I have been successful in my running goals and completed both the Polar Prowl 5k and the Loveland Sweetheart Classic 4 mile.  I have changed my plans for running through May.  After a successful race with my husband in February he wanted to run another race (he found out there was usually free beer associated with races!) and we signed up for the Fort Collins St. Patty’s Day 5K for our March race.  In April I will be running the Cherry Creek Sneak 5 Mile Race and in May instead of the Colfax Marathon I am going to run the Bolder Boulder 10k.   I was reading some books on training for a half marathon and they kept talking about having the drive to do a half marathon and I realized I do not have the drive to run 13.1 miles. Maybe I will someday, but for right now I am going to stick with a 10k – it just seems a little more achievable. 
  • Lose 10% of my weight by May 31, 2014.  FAIL!  I have not gone crazy and gained any weight back but the scale is not moving downward.  My exercising and my eating has not been perfect and if I want to lose 10% of my weight by May I really need to get serious.  I may move this goal to June because I have a fabulous wedding to go to at the end of June and I want to take a whole lot less of me when I go.  
  • Blog regularly – once a week minimum.  FAIL!  I think I’ve blogged twice since the New Year.  But, honestly after being on a computer at work for 8-10 hours per day and then doing homework in the evening and the weekend there are times I just don’t even want to look at it.   I still want to blog, but I’m not that hopeful that it will happen every week.  But, I do have some good blog posts stored in my head so just wait!
  • Hike a 14′er.  Work in progress.  We are currently planning what 14’ers we are going to climb later this year.  This goal will definitely be accomplished.
  • Go ice climbing.  Work in progress.  The avalanche danger in the high country has been pretty high and the conditions not ideal for ice climbing, but I am hoping that this changes and we can get out before the end of the season. 
  • My more adventurous – try new foods, say yes instead of no, and try new things.  Work in progress.  While I cannot think of any specific examples I do feel like I am trying to be more adventurous and trying new things – I will report back with better examples. 
  • Be more grateful for all the good things in my life.  Work in progress.  I am trying to take things slower and enjoy the little things in life and be grateful for all the good things in life.  I am thankful for the quietness of my morning runs, the warm sun beating down on my after a string a cold days, and cuddly dogs in the morning.

Everything is a work in progress and getting back on track with my goals is also a work in progress.

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How are you doing with your 2014 goals?