Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Run Forest, Run!

I spent the last week working in Cheyenne, WY. I don't even know how to begin blogging about that town. Woah.

After 9 straight days of 14 hour work days my guys rebelled and told me I was giving them the day off. I complied. They took a tour of the Budweiser factory in Fort Collins. I decided to check out Estes Park and Rock Mountain National Park.

It was a running day but once I got to the parking lot and looked around the long-dormant mountaineering spirit deep down in my gut wriggled it's way out and made other plans. Spectacular 12, 13 and 14,000 foot peaks surrounded me on every side, each of them flaked by massive cliffs, escarpments and vertical granite buttresses. In my minds eye I saw myself ascending every one of them. I had to get to the top of one of these babies so I devised a plan; run to the top of a mountain. Diabolical!

I was anxious to see what effect my running/training would have on my stamina and cardio system at that altitude. Six months ago getting to the tree line would have killed me. I feel better than I have for a decade, though, and this was the perfect opportunity to see what I was capable of. I chose a well traveled trail to the top of Flat Top Mountain. The map said it was a constant grade with no quad and calf burning steep stuff near the top. Perfect. I also chose it because I was alone but knew that there would be plenty of other hikers along the way. Dying of heart failure or oxygen deprivation is best done with a little company, even if it is a perfect stranger. I loaded a small pack with the essentials, donned the new boots I bought at the Sierra Trading Post the day before and took off up the trail.

The long and short of this story is that I made it to the top and the summit was spectacular. The guts of the story is that it was five miles to the summit and 3200' in elevation gain and I did it in 2 hours 23 minutes. And, I went from the truck to the summit without stopping. Well, I stopped for about 3 minutes at mile two to put some moleskin on a blister and at mile three I had to explain to someone that the little critter was not a mouse but a Pika. It's actually in the Rabbit family. That took about 30 seconds.

I was passing people left and right and never felt excessively winded. I actually got a huge ego boost when a group of girls I passed told me that I made them feel bad about stopping to rest. Am I wrong to feel good about that? Anyway, it felt great! I'm pretty sure that ALL of my friends, including Kristi, Amy, Kim, Cory, Joe, Hillary, Jared, Jaren, Tracy, Curtis, Jamie, Chris...could have shaved 45 minutes off of that time with little effort. But I know for a fact that six months ago I would have hacked up my spleen making it to the top of that hill.

I rewarded myself with a Gatorade and Wheat Bagel with Nutella then fell asleep under a huge boulder. It was bliss. Then I ran most of the way down and made it back to the car in 1 hour 12 minutes.

It was, like, the best run E-V-E-R.

And I was told that the Budweiser factory is pretty interesting.

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