Monday, September 24, 2012

Leaves are changing

Dan, James and I at the Step Up for
Down Syndrome Walk

This week I continued to "run free". I have been seeing quite a few signs of recent lion activity at Apex so I decided to return to my old stomping grounds, Matthew-Winters this week. There are usually more people there and since the Hogback is surrounded by freeways I felt a bit more safe. I ran the Hogback loop for the first time since I had James and found out it is still not my favorite run. I like that it's more technical than most of the other trails in the area, but the way the slickrock is angled makes my footing more unsure and I don't get to just fly on the downhills. Regardless its still a good training run. I also did my old standby Red Rocks Slide lollipop route a few times. The first time I ran this route I remember thinking I was pretty sure I could run it in under 45:00 and I was sure the fast runners could break 40:00 I just thought that was a ways off for me. While I still haven't broke 40:00 I ran a 43:24 and followed it up the next day with a 41:12! If I can run a 41:12 I can definitely break 40:00. I felt great. Like I was really running free. It was just easy and felt oh so good!

On Wednesday when I was running at M-W I passed a high school cross country team. I saw one guy in the middle of the pack, struggling but pushing himself as best he could. He turned to his coach, who was standing on the side of the trail near me, and said "I know you said this was a trail run, but I didn't think you were going to make us run up a mountain!" I made sure to give some words of encouragement to all the other runners I passed on my way out. I know I had my moments in HS track where I could have used some encouragement to get me through.

I had some great runs this week, but didn't quite get the mileage I was hoping for, especially with only a few weeks until GT50. Saturday I managed only an 8 mile run by our house before we had to head down to Denver for Rob's memorial. While Saturday's run was short it was one of the best runs I've had in a long time. It was one of those cool, crisp fall mornings that provide the perfect day for a run. Just as it had all week running felt easy! As I crested the hill on Conifer Mountain I had an incredible view of the valley below. The gravel and fallen golden aspen leaves crunched beneath my feet, the sun beat on my face and I just closed my eyes, arms wide open, smile ear to ear, and soaked it all in. There are few moments in life greater than these, when everything comes together and you know all is right with the world, at least for a small moment in time. These are the moments you live and run for. The moments you'll remember for the rest of your life.

Sunday was James' first big "race" as we joined the Step Up for Down Syndrome walk for the Mile High Down Syndrome Association. What a great time! It's always good to see the other local Ds kids and realize the unlimited potential for James.

James and I at the Step Up for Down Syndrome Walk

Week September 17-23

Miles Running: 25.7
Hours Running and Hiking: 5

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A life that matters

Colorado Trail near Kenosha Pass

A life that matters...I was reading one of the readings for Rob's memorial coming up this weekend. One line that really resonated with me is "what will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught". I did a long run from Kenosha Pass to almost Georgia Pass on Sunday and had ample time to ponder this thought. It made me think about what I want to teach James. About how I want to teach James some of the things Rob taught me. And not just Rob, but what have I learned from my other friends and family, from others who have long since left this world, but are still stamped on my heart. I want to teach James to be patient and kind, encouraging and strong. I want James to be passionate and compassionate. I want James to be courageous and selfless. I want to point out sunsets and magnificent views. I want to show him what the world looks like from the top of a mountain. I want James to explore things and have crazy adventures. I want him to appreciate the little things in life, to never go a day without smiling. To know that life is precious and never take anything for granted. I want James to value work hard and most of all to never, ever give up. And mostly I want James to know how much we believe in him and love him.

The week started off with a much needed run along the beach. Yep, mixed that one up from last week. I actually ran the beach in New Jersey on Monday. It had been way to long since I've felt the sand beneath my feet, waves lapping at my legs, and the sun hitting my face. It was just what I needed after Rob's funeral and before the long flight home with James. I also managed another PR at Apex during the week. Overall I was feeling great out running. And then my long run came. I'm not sure why I always seem to think running from Kenosha Pass to Georgia Pass will be fun. It is a brutal section of the Colorado Trail. Its a gradual uphill that just goes on forever and makes you really grind it out. Then after your legs are dead and you're on the return you have a pretty good climb back up to Kenosha Pass. I ran pretty easily down Kenosha Pass to Jefferson Creek. The aspens were almost at peak so it was just absolutely beautiful. Like running down the yellow brick road. From Jefferson Creek up to Georgia Pass its all pine trees so no more beautiful yellows, but one deep breath of the amazing fresh pine smell was all I needed. As I climbed up Georgia Pass I began to have my reoccuring stomach issues. Dan had been shaknig a cold all week and I think I may have had a bit of it too; my lungs were not feeling too optimal. Dan had said he thought it would take me about 4 hours. As I neared the top of the pass I realized I was already at 3 hrs. Looking for any excuse to turn around I decided this was as good as any and headed back down. I'm not sure what I was thinking. I obviously still need to work on believing in myself and pushing all the way to the end. As a result I have to go do that run all over again to make it to the pass. Maybe that will teach me a lesson.

Week September 10-16
Miles Running: 40.7
Hours Running and Hiking: 9

Colorado Trail, Georgia Pass

Colorado Trail looking up to Georgia Pass

Colorado Trail, Georgia Pass

Colorado Trail, Kenosha Pass

Friday, September 14, 2012

Miles and miles of smiles

There is a magic captivated in the smile of a small child. It was through tear-stained eyes at Rob's funeral I couldn't help but smile at the promises of the wonderful future that James held. There is something to be said in his ability to light up a room by throwing his head back and giggling. Like Rob, James has a way of evoking a smile out of just about anyone. I need to make sure his smile never fades. I need to make sure I continue to keep taking steps forward each day so I can give James the life he deserves and all the opportunities of a typical kid.

While I was out running at Apex and looking down at James' daycare I couldn't help but burst into an ear to ear grin. He just seems to have that affect on you. I ran for James that day and pushed it hard, knowing James will have to push it hard every day.

Traveling this week made running difficult. I was able to get in a much needed run before Rob's funeral and I pushed it hard on that run. Of course I'm sure being at sea level helped some. I'm never really sure what you actually say about a funeral. It was a funeral. It was so nice to meet Rob's family though, the people that shaped and created him. I hope I can draw at least a little bit from them in shaping James. Truly beautiful people that I will forever look up to.

After the funeral James and I drove down to New Jersey to see family. I'm not sure this was actually on my bucket list, but I can now cross off "driving through Times Square". We finally made it down to Jersey and went to see my Grandma. I knew this would be a tough trip. She is not quite all there anymore and doesn't always know who people are. Yet I knew this was a trip I had to make. James had to meet his Great Grandma. It took awhile but after 30-45 min she began to light up. Just like James always does. His smile is infectous and she just lit up playing with him. I'm not sure she understood he was her Great Grandson, but for a few hours that day nothing could take away the joy she felt over holding a baby in her lap and kissing him over and over.
"There is nothing that a long sleep and a laugh can't cure" -Irish Proverb

Week September 3-9
Miles Running: 11.4
Hours Running and Hiking: 3

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Is that all you've got?

While this week was about getting back to training it was a heartbreaking week to do so as well. I got back out for my first run of the week on Wednesday. The endless bombardment of James' doctor appointments that a 4 month birthday brings us kept me from running Monday or Tuesday. Wednesday I went back to Apex to run the first trail I ever ran with Rob. Needless to say it was not my best run. Every corner I turned I remembered something else we had chatted about in that very spot, just weeks before. Remembering all the upcoming races we chatted about. I slogged through that run and am sure I'm a better runner and person for it. I've always said no matter how hard I may be crying when I start a run the tears are always gone at the end. If they aren't you just haven't run far enough. Dan made a comment after he went running on Tuesday how he channeled his "Rob legs". Well I made a point that from now on I would do just that. And low and behold I found out that maybe there was something to it. 
View from the lower portion of Baldy

Saturday I went out for a short run at Meyers park. I pushed those uphills like never before. But at the same time my legs didn't feel tired or sore, I just kept pushing and trying to enjoy it. And turns out I PRed by almost 2 minutes. Sunday I channeled those same "Rob legs" while I was out on a 18 mile long run in Buffalo Creek. The same route I have run numerous times over the past few months. This time I felt amazing! My legs just turned over and kept going and going. As I came flying down the Gashouse downhill there was a large group of mountain bikers getting ready to head up the Baldy uphill with me. As I turned off Gashouse onto Baldy one guy yelled at me "Is that all you've got?". And I thought, he's right, if I'm going to be out here I needed to give it all I've got. So I smiled and turned it up a notch. This section is fairly ridable if you're a good mountain biker so I struggled to stay ahead of the stronger riders. Every time I started to slow down though I just remembered how I told Rob I wanted to be paced. I told him if he went in front and just kept moving I would follow at any cost. I did just that, I followed those mountain bikers until they finally stopped on the side of the trail and I just kept going. At the top I realized I would be close to breaking 3 hours, I knew it would be a stretch (7 min miles for the last 3 miles), so I kicked it into high gear and kept running. I finished in a 3:02, not quite breaking 3 hours, but pretty darn close and a huge PR for me, over 30 minutes off my best time. I know not every run will continue to feel this good, but I know I'm capable of good runs and hopefully that will translate to a fantastic performance next June. If I'm going to have the run of my life at the Leadville Marathon next summer I'll definitely need to be channeling my "Rob legs".

This week I also decided I couldn't wait until next summer for redemption on Leadville. I signed up for the Glacial Trail 50 Miler in October. I distinctly remember telling myself I would never run in the Midwest again, but alas running 50 miles on the Ice Age trail seemed too good to pass up.

Week August 26 - September 2
Miles Running: 37.5
Hours Running and Hiking: 7