Monday, September 3, 2012

This one's for Cassidy: Part 3

After a long and grueling 5 mile trek Cassidy and I finally made it to the first of only two aid stations on the course.  I quickly guzzled an entire water bottle, refilled my water, and shoved a few pieces of watermelon into my mouth.  I was about to leave and noticed Cassidy looking semi-bewildered.  I decided to say something, after all she was only 11 yr old.

Me:  "Ready to go?"

Cassidy: "Yeah, I just need to fill my water bottle."

I now felt obligated to wait for her. I waited another 30 seconds and we started jogging again.  The flat terrain soon started climbing once again.  Feeling re-energized I powered up the hill leaving Cassidy behind who had now started walking.  I figured that was the end of Cassidy, it had worked out that we were pacing each other for a few miles but I was still running my own race.

A few minutes later the trail ran through a downhill stretch and pretty soon Cassidy came blazing past me.  Cassidy and I were no longer running side by side, I gained distance on the uphill and Cassidy passed me on the down hill streches.  It seemed rather silly to yo-yo and Cassidy started making small talk again so I slowed my pace on the uphill so she could keep up.  Eventually there was no more down hill, we had started our assent up "Windy Peak". 

We were back to hiking but I was still feeling refreshed and going at a brisk pace...until I felt a little hand grab the back of my arm.

Cassidy: "You're going too fast"

Me: "Oh, uh...sorry?" 

Apparently I had made an unspoken committment?  No big deal, she was pretty much keeping up at this point.  We kept hiking but I could tell Cassidy was getting tired.  She soon asked me if we could stop for a minute.  I'll admit I was not completely thrilled about stopping for a break when I didn't need one but what was an extra 30 seconds at this point.  I stopped.

We started back up but within a few minutes we were stopped again.  I started getting a little frustrated inside, I just want to get this darn race over did I get stuck baby sitting the 11 yr old.  Call me a "softy" but I didn't feel right about ditching an 11year old.  We stopped several more times and hiked at a semi-excruciatingly slow pace being passed by other runners. 

Cassidy was now quite the chatter box telling me about all the other races she had run, what her dad does for a living, where they were staying after the race, etc.  She promptly informed me when I was going too fast and insisting we walk up any sort of incline if only for 7-8 feet.  Cassidy pulled me to slow down and I pushed her to keep up.  At one point Cassidy grabbed my arm and leaned her head on my shoulder as we walked, "I'm sooooooo tired."  I was a little taken back at how comfortable she had become with me and felt a little guilty about wanting to leave her behind in order to save myself 20 minutes on an already crappy race time. 

We soon made it to the top of Windy Peak and I was confident our pace would soon quicken as Cassidy loved barreling down-hill.  Yet I had underestimated just how tired this little girl was.  "Let's keep going, don't stop now, " I tried to encourage.  A lean guy with leathery looking sun tanned skin caught up with us.  " Daddy!" Cassidy screamed.  Yes...I was off the hook now.  "Daddy can I run with you?"  Cassidy asked.  "If you can keep up.  Just focus on running your own race Cass" her father replied.

You have got to be kidding me!!!!  I have been dragging your 11 year old up this mountain for the last 2 hours but you're not willing to run last last 2 miles with her?  What a joke.  I decided to make a dash for it.  I figured if I ran fast enough down the mountain I could leave Cassidy while she was still with her dad, hence not really ditching her.  I would leave the ditching entirely up to her father.  I was handing her off in my mind, and I was totally fine with that. 

I took off down the mountain trying to take advantage of my short window of opportunity.  Perhaps the universe was trying to scold me for my selfish decision because I suddenly caught my foot on a rock.  I was going down!  As if watching myself in slow motion I could see my face and hands were about to become raw hamburger.  Wait, my animal instincts were kicking in, my legs were catching up!  Woah, a little too fast! In order to catch my balance my legs had to catch up with my torso and I was now barrelling out of control down a very steep hill.  This was not going to end well.

Well, it did end well :)  Somehow I was able to regain control.  Cassidy and her dad had watched the whole thing and were applauding me for a 10 out of 10 on my recovery.  In addition I finally started to gain some ground on Cassidy and her dad.  Before I knew it I was completely on my own, not another runner in sight and I was maintaining a pretty good pace too!  Afterall I had to maintain headway on my little compadre. 

I eventually ran into Chris who had stopped to wait up for me. We ran the last mile and a half together and I told him stories of my new little friend.  I was able to cheer Cassidy accross the finish line and my guilty conscious was relieved to see her cross the finish line hand in hand with her dad.  It took me 3 1/2 hours to complete the 12 mile trail run and although I felt tied down by my little compadre at times, she also kept me going.  I enjoyed the distraction and the quicky circumstances made for a good story.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

This one's for Cassidy: Part 2

After a few miles I finally caught onto this trail running business…it’s called hiking.  Well sort of.  Uphill stretches, unless fairly short and boulder free, are hiked at a brisk pace.  Flat and down hill stretches are jogged.  I soon settled into a rhythm realizing I would be out on the trails much longer than originally anticipated.  Being a very small event I soon found myself in complete solitude among the forest trees.  It was almost a little unsettling to be completely alone in the middle of the forest. I actually considered sitting down and waiting for my mom to catch up.  After all the first rule of safe hiking is not to go alone right?

Well, perhaps I misspoke.  Alone except for one other visible runner about 20 feet in front of me.  It was a little girl, outfitted with a purple trail running fanny pack and pink visor.  Besides us there was not another visible life form in sight.  She seemed to be keenly aware of my presence and determined to keep her 20 ft lead on me.  Any time I started to jog she would tune into the audible change in my pace and start to run.  We continued to run/hike in this unspoken but clearly coordinated fashion for a few miles before curiosity got the best of me.

I was slightly embarrassed to barely be keeping pace with probably the youngest racer in the event. Despite my advanced degree in the field of Exercise Science, I foolishly felt like my previous running experience, although a good 3 years in the past, would have had more carry-over to this event.  I wanted to know how young my competitor was…I had to know!  Besides, if the next 2 hours was going to carry on this way I may as well strike up a conversation with the little runner. 

Me: “So uh, how old are you?”

Little Runner: “Eleven.”

Me: “Wow, I am impressed!  I never did anything like this when I was your age.”

Little Runner:  “Yeah.”

Me:  “Is this your first time doing this race?”

Little Runner:  “Yeah.”

Me:  “Cool, this is my first trail run too.  It’s a lot harder than I expected.”

Our conversation carried on this way for a while, me asking general questions and the Little Runner providing brief responses to the friendly stranger.  Neither of us felt the need to exchange names as this point. We were both just enjoying the distraction of commiserating over our circumstances together.  I figured our paces would eventually differ and one of us would drop off behind the other until it was no longer reasonable to keep talking. 
The Little Runner eventually became more relaxed.  As we settled into a rhythm together she began to volunteer more information about herself. Her father was running in the 30-mile race and her step mom the 7-mile.  I was a little shocked they would leave their eleven year old to fend for herself on a 3 hour trail run through the forest, but then again she had experience running and could find support stations along the way.

Stay tuned for more on the Little Runner and our ascent up Windy Peak!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

This one's for Cassidy: Part 1

I have abandoned my blog.
I’ve turned into a bitter shriveled prune
I’ve lost all humor, wit, and zeal  

I’ve not yet figured out how to share hospital experiences without violating HIPAA (although I really should share my experiences with rectal tubes) J Yet in my miserable pseudo intellectual career/life I find glimmers of hope

Hope that school will soon end
Hope that an employer will deem me worthy of hire
Hope that I will not accidentally kill a patient my first year on the job
Hope that I will one day bear children

But this is not about my miserable existence; this post is a dedication to Cassidy, my 11 year old compadre.  You see, back in January, in the midst of absolute frustration with school and work, I decided to bite the proverbial bullet and sign up for a race.  The Golden Gate Dirty Thirty, a backcountry trail run in the mountains of Colorado (except I was only signing up for the 12 mile trail run…not the 30).  Now you have to understand my concerns at the time…TIME!  No time to sleep, eat, study, void, etc.  Where would I find the time to run??  Yet I decided that I would no longer leave my life in the hands of an evil socialist dictator (school/work) but I would take control and force myself to enjoy the finer side of life (paying too much money to go run in the woods with a bunch of hippies).

Anyhow, I somehow mustered up the energy to “train”.  I shall use the term loosely as I never ran more than twice per week.  However I was quite proud of my effort, as it is more than I have done in the past 3 years.  My longest run was only 9 miles, but considering I had run a dozen or so half marathons in the past, I figured I could bust it out.

Well, I couldn’t have been more sorely mistaken!  If you’ve ever done a true backcountry trail run you’ll know that they are not comparable to any type of road race.  I probably could have figured that out pretty easily by checking out these trail photos on their website, but that would have been far too easy. J

The morning started out with the usual pre-race jitters, concomitant feelings of dread, excitement, anxiety, and four trips to the Port-a-John.  Talking with my brother I was informed that the trail, which started out on a dirt road, would soon become a single tract trail. 

Me, being my egotistical self, was fearful of getting stuck behind a bunch of slow trail walkers once we hit the single track.  Being a natural problem solver J I did the only rational thing I could think of…I positioned myself in front of the whole pack of runners at the starting line. When the gun went off I sprinted to secure a position in the lead. 

Within a ¼ mile I was panting for air…after all we were at an altitude of 9,000 ft and running uphill.  Between dry heaves, I soon realized what an idiot I was. Now I would be holding up every runner behind me as soon as we hit the single tract.  I desperately tried to maintain a jog but quickly had to stop and walk as my throat was slowly constricting and it was taking every ounce of energy to keep my breakfast down.  Finally I just stepped off the trail, humiliated as dozens of runners passed me by.

To be continued…since I’m supposed to be doing homework.  Stay tuned to hear more on Cassidy and the end of my 12 mile expedition.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Nun-chuck skills, bow hunting skills, computer hacking skills

Hopefully you are catching my Napolean Dynamite references. Girls only want guys with good skills! Perhaps Chris married me for my awesome dinner making skills. Let me explain, it's not about just making dinner. It's about being too lazy to go to the store even when our pantry and kitchen are seemingly empty. Don't know why I hate it so much, I just do. Perhaps it's the fact that dinner takes enough of my time, preparing, eating, and cleaning up. Ugh...I was not cut out for this. That is when the skill and creativity come into play. What can a I make with pickled jalapenos, ketchup, cottage cheese, and a few brown banana's.

Nothing right? Yes, acutally I don't think I could make anything with that set of ingredients. Luckily I had just a few other things to combine with the pickled jalapenos; two cans of black beans, a purple onion, and a few key spices (minced garlic, cider vinegar, chili powder, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper). Simmer everything together in a pan for an hour and serve with some left over grated cheese and sour cream. Delish.

I pride myself on my skillz :)